Monday, January 29, 2018

A TTM From On High

Last year, the Lost Collector posted about his TTM success with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. He simply sent a letter to Manfred and received an autographed ROMLB ball in return.

Since I read that post, I kept telling myself that I was going to try my luck with Manfred. And then, as it usually does, life got in the way. I got busy with school, returned home to be with my dad when he was sick, etc., and I eventually forgot my intention to write Manfred.

Last week, I remembered. Strangely, I remembered while I was giving a lecture on media effects theories - literally, the furthest thing from Manfred and baseball. I returned to my office and wrote the letter, put it in an envelope and stamped it. When I left for the day, I stopped by the post office and dropped it in the mail.

Yesterday, I had a bubble mailer waiting in my mailbox when I got home.

For the price of a stamp, I received an auto of the sitting commissioner of professional baseball. I couldn't be happier. AJ, thanks for the heads-up!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

More eBay Pickups

Okay, it's starting to become extremely noticeable that I'm targeting cards for my Yu Darvish collection. I honestly don't go out of my way to grab his stuff, but it is happening. I'm blaming separation anxiety. Darvish needs to just re-sign with the Rangers and stop making me feel this way.

Anyway, I've picked up a few cards over the last couple weeks. Let's take a look.

First up, this is a photo varitaion of Darvish batting from 2015 Topps. When this card came out, it easily sold for $10 or more. Patience paid off - I snagged this guy for less than $2.

While we're on the topic of photo variations, here's the 2016 Topps Update photo variation that features Darvish in a Dodgers uni. This is my second card of him pitching for LA. Still don't care for it. This card was also had for less than $2.

This is a red refractor from the 2017 Update Chrome set. It's numbered to 25. I don't really know what else to say about it.

That's it for now. We'll see if I keep subconsciously snagging Darvish cards in the future. 

Is there a player that you tend to unintentionally collect more than others?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

TCDB Trade #2

I recently completed my second trade via The Trading Card Database. Another was interested in a couple of Cardinal parallels that I had and made a really good offer for them, so I jumped. Here's what I received in return:

The first three cards were on my Yu Darvish wantlist. The top card is an amethyst parallel (can't we just say purple?) from 2013 Topps Triple Threads. I really like the Triple Play card. I think Panini does a great job creating cards that are designed (and priced) for kid collectors. It seems that outside of one or two lines, Topps forgot that kids can't afford $100 for a box of cards. Finally, the third card is my first card of Darvish "featured" in a Dodgers uniform. Without logos, I use "featured" loosely. Regardless, I don't like to see/think of the big guy in a uniform that doesn't read "Texas" across the chest.

The final two cards I received were for my Rusty Greer PC.

The top card comes from 2001 Fleer Triple Crown. The second is from 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars. 

Here's to hoping I can begin to swing more trades on TCDB!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Trade With Cards on Cards

A while back, I saw a post from Madding on Cards on Cards asking if anyone had any Ginter dupes from 2017. I did (spoiler alert: I still have plenty from Ginter and other sets like Heritage on my trade bait page that I am happy to send away!), so I put together a box to send his way.

I received a padded mailer back and was stoked to see what was inside! Included with a number of my set needs were some pretty incredible Rangers. Here's a look at some of my favorites!

I've really been falling for all the unique oddball sets I come across. I believe this Topps Bazooka set is a bit more "mainstream," but it's still an oddball to me.

Speaking of oddballs, I love these Denny's Grand Slam cards. Juan Gonzalez was a stud for the Rangers. For a while, he had a rocky relationship with the organization after he retired. That relationship seems to have thawed a bit, as the Rangers inducted him into the team's Hall of Fame (though he wasn't present - his son represented him).

These Franchise Flashbacks are a pretty cool Opening Day insert. This one features Adrian Beltre wearing the uniform of the Fort Worth Black Panthers, a team associated with the Texas Negro League of the early Twentieth century.

If not for my Sage Steele autograph from Allen & Ginter, this would have been my vote for Best Card of 2017. Though Lucroy isn't with the Rangers any longer (and though he suppposedly didn't enjoy his stay), this card is beautiful. I can assure you that this was take after a rain delay for two reasons: first, we only get clouds like this after storms; and second; the stands appear to be near empty, suggesting that everyone was taking shelter and hadn't returned to their seats yet. Either way, it's a beautiful card. Kind of shocking that I didn't have it yet.

And here was the big surprise of the package: a Fan Favorite auto of Jeff Burroughs from 2016 Topps Archives. Burroughs spent seven seasons with the organization (two of which were in Washington before the team relocated). He was the 1974 AL MVP, hitting .310 with 25 homers and 118 RBIs. Burroughs would be a two-time All Star ('74, '78) before retiring after the 1985 season. 

Madding, thank you for the cards! I love 'em!

Monday, January 22, 2018

My First Blog Bat-Around

This weekend, I planned on doing two card-related activities: first, going to my first card show since rejoining the hobby back in 2021; second, finish scanning in cards that Madding of Cards on Cards sent my way so that I could get them posted.

I accomplished neither.

The bug that seems to be going around made a not-so-friendly visit to my home, so I have been in bed most of the time.

However, I did make a point to read my blogroll. Fuji posted about his would-be Hall of Fame ballot, and noted that "First Ballot Hall of Famers ≠ Other Hall of Famers." This got my wheels turning, and it left me wondering:

How true is this statement?

Here's why I was wondering. If I counted right, there are 52 first-ballot hall-of-famers in Cooperstown. The most recent is the second Texas Ranger in the Hall of Fame, Ivan Rodriguez (the other Ranger was also a first ballot HOFer, Nolan Ryan). 

Now, I believe that Pudge is a hall of famer and I certainly believe that he deserves to be a first ballot HOFer. However, he received - by far - the lowest percentage of votes (76%) of any other first balloter.  Only three other men to make it on a first ballot received less than 80% of votes to make it in: Robin Yount (1999, 77.5%), Lou Brock (1985, 79.8%), and Jackie Robinson (1962, 77.5%). Now, let's remove Jackie from the conversation - though I wasn't alive, I have to believe that racism still held back his vote total. That leaves Yount and Brock. Both wonderful players, but both fall somewhere in the middle of first-ballot guys in terms of talent.  

My question, then, is this: If first-ballot Hall of Famers are in a class to themselves, is there any other way to examine or compare them? Here's what I mean: as much as I love Pudge, he's not The Kid (who should have been a unanimous pick, by the way). The vote percentages would agree with that statement.

However, that vote percentage can be deceiving, especially when comparing players in different classes. For example, Mike Schmidt (96.52%) was an incredible ball player, but he wasn't better than the Mick, who received only 88.22% of the vote. Ernie Banks made the Hall in 1977 with 83.81% of the vote, while Ozzie Smith made it in 2002 with 91.74%. Ernie hit a career .274 with 512 home runs and 1,636 RBIs. Banks also collected two MVP awards, was a Gold Glover once and an All Star 14 times. Smith hit a career .262 with 28 home runs and 793 RBIs. Ozzie never won an MVP award, but won 13 Gold Gloves and was an All Star 15 times.

I share all of this, ultimately, to say that voting percentages are subjective. While I agree with Fuji that first-ballot hall-of-famers are not equivalent to other hall-of-famers, I do believe there is quite a bit of difference among the first-ballot guys. Some stand head and shoulders above the rest (ahem, Junior). Some guys are definitely Hall of Fame players, but maybe didn't deserve it on the first ballot (Pudge, you're my dude, but I'm lookin' your way). Unfortunately, a lot of this depends on the ballot. Some of the guys like Pudge make it in on a first ballot because they have few other players to "steal" ballots away from them. Others, like Junior, are first-ballot regardless of who else is on the ballot (though that gives some writers to reasoning to not vote for them, since they will make it anyway. Stupid logic.).

So here is my blog bat-around question: Are first-ballot Hall-of-Famers truly set apart from the other Hall-of-Famers? Is there a statistic or statistics that we can use to "rank" Hall-of-Famers?Let me know, and I would definitely appreciate it if you would leave a link back to your post in the comment section below so I can be sure to read your response. 

Thanks for playing, everyone, and I hope you have a great week!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Some Sparkly Gold Darvish!

In my post yesterday, I mentioned my love of the 2012 Topps set. That's the year I began buying cards again, so that set will always be one of my favorites. (Though, I have to say that I love 2013 Topps flagship just a tad more)

At one point, I had the gold sparkle parallel of Yu Darvish's rookie card. However, back then I wasn't terribly interested in keeping parallels. Needless to say, I no longer had it in my collection.

Until earlier this week. I found one on eBay for a reasonable price and decided to pull the trigger:

I love it. It just pops. 

I haven't been doing it intentionally, but it seems that the only cards that I have been picking up are of Darvish. 

I know not everyone is a big fan of parallels, but I know some of you are. If you are, what is your favorite parallel and from what year/set? 

If you aren't a fan of parallels, which ones do you especially dislike?

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Gift from Daniel

Last month, Daniel of It's Like Having My Own Card Shop and I made a deal to fill in a few set needs for each other. I was late sending my end of the trade his way, so I wanted to make up for it by including something for one of his collections.

Last week, I received another package from Daniel as a thanks for the card I sent him. I wasn't expecting anything, certainly not anything this awesome!

First up was this purple refractor from the 2012 Topps Chrome set. The 2012 set gets a lot of flack from collectors, but I loved it!

Next up is this Yu Darvish blue parallel from 2013 Topps Museum Collection! My scanner stinks and didn't do a great job of picking up the numbering, but this guy is numbered 1 of 99!

This may have been the biggest shock. Again from 2012, this is the platinum parallel from the Topps Mini set!

And it's numbered 2 of 5! Sweet!

Daniel also included a handful of other cards, but naturally, I put them away before thinking to scan them.

Thanks again, Daniel! I truly appreciate it!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Matt Harrison Update

Last week, I posted about three new cards for my Matt Harrison PC. At then end of that post, I teased about another low-numbered Harrison that I won but hadn't yet received.

Well, I've received it:

This comes from 2013 Topps Tribute. I love the image on the card: throwback uniform and Harrison is clearly looking to chase down a popup...which must be very, very shallow (as in, between the pitcher's mound and catcher).

Yup, I'm a fan.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

I Got The Group Break Bug

I'm so far behind that this post is about the release of Bowman Chrome which, at this point, has to be months ago. 

I couldn't sleep one night so I decided to watch some group breaks on YouTube. As I watched, I decided that I needed to get in on a Bowman Chrome break. After checking out prices on eBay, I realized that I couldn't afford the entire Rangers team in a break; rather, I took the player break route and purchased a couple of Ranger players. I selected Jose Trevino and Andy Ibanez. The best part about the break, however, was that the breaker made this a "keepers" break, meaning that you could purchase the same players for the same price for the following two breaks. I was in.

(After reading all of that, it sounds a little confusing, I think. Apologies if I lost anyone).

Anyway, after the breaks were all said and done, I ended up with six autos total. 

I got a redemption for a blue refractor of Andy Ibanez. Not pictured: a redemption for Ibanez's base auto.

Speaking of base autos...

I snagged three base autos of Jose Trevino. I'm pretty stoked to get these. Trevino is the Rangers catcher of the near future, and he's a pretty good defender behind the plate. He has quickly become a fan favorite and was the Rangers' Minor League Player of the Year this year. 

This was the best card I received in the breaks, though:

I believe this is called a "blue mojo" refractor. Whatever it's called, it's a good looking card!

Have you been in any breaks recently? What was your best "hit"?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Another eBay-centric Post

I miss Yu Darvish. I was exhilarated to see him pitch well for the Dodgers leading into the World Series; I was crushed to watch him get crushed. I was furious that Yulieski Gurriel made a racist joke toward Darvish's Asian heritage, and even more pissed that MLB essentially gave him a slap on the wrist for the action.

I'm still holding out hope that he re-signs with the Rangers. 

In the meantime, I've picked up a few Darvish cards via eBay. I have to admit - these were low bids that I didn't expect would stand up...but they did! I'm not complaining. Let's get to it.

This is a gold wave refractor from 2017 Topps Chrome. I've never been one to complain about parallels, but when Topps essentially has two gold refractors, both numbered to 50...well, perhaps we've gone a bit overboard.

I also snagged this no nameplate variation from 2017 Topps Gypsy Queen. Whereas the gold wave was a bit too far, I think these are just lazy. "How can we make a new variation?" "Hmm. Let's just leave the name off the front. It worked for Frank Thomas, right?" Yet, I still purchased it.

Speaking of variations...

This is one of the photo variations from 2017. As you may remember, I complained about the over-abundance of photo variations in 2017 Topps Update a little while back. I'm clearly biased, because for some reason, I don't mind this one (or the other Darvish photo variation featuring him on the mound in a Dodgers uniform). I'm going to give myself a pass.

When I began writing this post, I definitely did not mean for it to become a gripe-fest! I apologize! What are your thoughts about some of the "variations" in the various 2017 sets? 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Some Recent Pickups At My LCS

I haven't really bought a lot of cardboard at my LCS lately. For the most part, he sells hobby boxes and rarely packs anything out. On one hand, I understand. It can be hard to move product one pack at a time. On the other hand, with the prices of baseball cards this year (thanks, Judge), many people - myself included - can't afford an entire box.

However, there were a few times that he did pack out a few products. For instance, I was able to buy a few packs of Bowman Chrome. In one of those packs was this:

A base auto of Mitchell White. Or, as I like to call him, "Mr. Squiggly Line."

Okay, I get it. The number of autographs these prospects are asked to sign is astronomical. That's on us, as collectors, for wanting an autograph in every product. However, there has to be some blame placed on the player, right? I mean, this is absolute garbage. It is ridiculous that cards like this make it into products. I could keep going, but I will digress.

Anyway, I went in earlier this week to grab some top loaders and a ball cube when I noticed that the owner was packing out some Bowman's Best and Topps Chrome from this year, so I bought a few packs of each. In my packs of Bowman's Best was this:

I haven't heard much about Adell, other than he was a first round pick of the Angels. It seems he is a "consensus" five-tool prospect. I think I will hang on to it and see how he does. 

No autographs came from my Topps Chrome packs, but I did pull a pretty decent rookie card:

A prism refractor of Cody Bellinger. This is a beautiful card. I know Bellinger made a splash this year, but I still wonder if he will be a future star in the game. Just in case, I'm holding on to this one, too.

So, not a bad few packs of cards. Has anyone else had a problem with their LCS not selling packs frequently?

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Matt Harrison-Centric Post

Player collections can be funny, at least for me. I can go weeks or months without adding a single card. This is especially true when you are down to pretty much a handful of low-numbered cards as the only ones you need.

Such is true with my Matt Harrison PC. It feels like an eternity since I picked up a card that I needed for this PC. But, as the cardboard world seems to go, I've added three within the last month. Crazy.

First, I received a care package from none other than Greg, the mind behind the Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle blog. A while back, I sent a 2016 Topps Gold Label black-framed Julio Urias auto to Greg. Greg said this package was for that card, but I am pretty sure that he has already sent me something for it. I guess this means that I will have to keep sending all the Cory Seagers I pull his way!

Anyway, here's the card at the center of that package:

This comes from the 2004 Just Rookies set. The card always makes me crack up - who's the poor schmuck in the lower-left that had his faced blurred and half cropped out? One day, I'll figure it out. This is the black version, numbered to only 25!

Just a couple days before receiving the package from Greg, I won an eBay auction for the following card. It arrived the day after Greg's:

This is the 2013 Topps ERA leaders black printing plate from Series 1. I honestly never thought I would see this card or, even if I did see it, I had even less confidence I would win it. I guess I'm fortunate that David Price and Jered Weaver have kind of taken a step down from the star players they were in 2013 (well, Weaver retired, but Price certainly isn't what he was). 

I always hate the "1 of 1" tag on a printing plate. It is misleading. I think we should petition Topps and all other card companies to label printing plates as "1 of 4." That's a losing battle. 

Finally, I noticed another card hit eBay that I have been looking for since I began collecting Harrison's cards. I had seen others in the set and fell in love, but Harrison's never popped up anywhere...until last week. Behold:

The 2011 Topps Lineage 1952 Canary Autograph of Matt Harrison! These are limited to only 10 copies. I love the gold shimmer (hey Fuji, not a gold refractor, but I think that Gwynn would look good with this background, too!). The only "knock" I have on the card is that it's a sticker auto. Regardless, I love this card. It looks perfect to me (the scan is a little off because of the crop), so I am thinking about sending it in to PSA to get slabbed to keep it that way.

So there you have it: three cards in a month for a player collection I haven't added anything to in a while. Do you have any player collections that you are finding it hard to add cards to?

**UPDATE** Naturally, after I finished and scheduled this post, I won an auction for yet another low-numbered Harrison that I needed (for less than $3, at that!). I'll get that post up as soon as I receive the card!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Looking Ahead to 2018

Now that I've put a bow on 2017, it's time to look ahead to 2018.

This post will be much shorter than my last.

The reality is this: my only goal for 2018 is to enjoy collecting. Whatever brings me enjoyment will be the path I follow. As I was mentioning in the last post, setting goals - at least for me - made collecting less enjoyable because I felt like I had to do certain things.

There are a couple things that I hope to do, however. First and foremost, I want to build the 2018 Heritage set (including High Number). I've got every Heritage base set dating back to 2013 (those high-numbered short prints can be a pain in the butt to gather!) and the High Number sets from 2016 and 2017 (though I think I also have 2015 somewhere, I just need to find it).

I would also like to keep getting my collection organized in the Trading Card Database. This has been an incredibly useful tool for me recently, and I hope to get everything put in by the end of the year. I crave organization!

So there it is: my 2018 non-resolutions!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Looking Back on 2017

I didn't have a post-op breakdown of 2017 put together in my queue prior to the new year, so I guess now is as good a time as any to look back. Here were my goals and my analysis of how I did.

1. Get my hands on a 1969 Mickey Mantle
Nope, didn't happen. One of my resolutions that didn't make it to paper was to not force myself to work on sets or collections. I did that in the past and it really took the joy out of collecting for me. That being said, I didn't force the '69 set in 2017. When I felt like snagging a card or two or found a deal I couldn't pass up, I went for it. I also accepted set needs in trade packages. But I didn't force anything. A Mantle that I could afford never crossed my path and that's okay. 

2. Finish organizing my collection
Sort of happened. I got about three-quarters of the way through organizing my collection and then found the Trading Card Database. This site is by far, the most detailed and in-depth organization website I have found. Therefore, I am in the process of get my collection organized there.

3. Start and complete the 2012 Topps Heritage base set
Nope, didn't happen. Never got there, for the same reason that I didn't get my hands on a 1969 Topps Mickey Mantle.

4. Add 50 new cards to my Rusty Greer player collection
This definitely happened. Beyond all of the trade packages and small purchases here and there, I bought a 75-card Greer lot on eBay back in January. In all, I'm willing to be that I snagged a hundred and fifty Greer cards during the year.

5. Find a new way to digitally share my growing Rangers cardboard collection
Check! As I mentioned, the Trading Card Database has become my go-to for organization. It is also perfectly suited for sharing my collection. I still have a lot of cards to add to the database (mostly scans).

So there it is. Two-and-a-half goals completed, two-and-a-half failed. However, it doesn't matter that I didn't complete all of the goals. In 2017, I really just wanted to enjoy my collection more than I did in 2016. Though I had some serious down moments in 2017, it was fun.

Now, let's look at some of my favorites from 2017!

Favorite Card

This was kind of a given, right?
Favorite Set

Favorite Insert Set
It's a tie among 2017 Allen & Ginter inserts!

Sporting Fish & Fishing Lures

World's Dudes
Best Pull of 2017

2017 Topps Heritage Mike Trout Clubhouse Collection Auto Relic

Runners-Up for Best Pull:

2017 Gypsy Queen Marcus Stroman Auto/Relic Booklet

2017 Clearly Authentic Aaron Judge Rookie Redemption

2017 Heritage High Number Addison Russell Clubhouse Collection Auto Relic

Best TTM Return

1972 Bobby Valentine

Best Photo Not to Appear on a Card

No Caption Needed!!!!!