Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cards From Julie

Julie of A Cracked Bat fame sent a mailer full of Ranger goodies my way a couple weeks ago. It came at a perfect time - my dissertation was getting the best of me and making me a cranky person. It was nice to receive cards as a pick-me-up!

Let's take a look at some of my favorites from the package, shall we?

This Frank Catalanotto Status diecut comes from 2002 Donruss Elite. To make it more interesting, this is a NSCC exclusive...

...numbered 5 of 5! Sweet! I always enjoyed watching Cat play. He was one of the few highlights in some pretty lean years.

A Topps Finest Rookies card of Mike Lamb. Gotta love that Finest feel!

A beautiful, shiny foil Upper Deck card of Mr. Ranger, Michael Young. There is nothing wrong with this card. It's perfect!

These three came together in a cello-like pack. Produced to bring awareness to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, this were distributed...somehow. I'm not certain if they came in a package of something or if they were given away at games...there just isn't much information out there about the set.

All of the cards share the same backside. These have immediately become some of my favorite cards.

Julie, I can't thank you enough! Thanks for thinking of me!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Yet Another Case Break With Hawks Breaks

Well, a few cases to be exact. I bought into a three-case player break for 2014 Bowman Draft (I chose Luis Ortiz, drafted by the Rangers but traded to the Brewers) and a single team case break for 2017 Bowman's Best. You know how this works, so let's get to it.

I've always loved the silver ice parallels. These, along with atomic parallels (which I believe are essentially the same thing), are always some of my favorite cards. This was the only parallel I got from the Draft break.

I also snagged this refractor auto in the third case of the break. It would prove to be the only auto I got, but I am happy with my haul.

As I mentioned, I had the Rangers in the 2017 Bowman's Best single case break. 

Willie Calhoun is featured on these inserts. On the top is the Baseball America Gradebook insert. Below is the Prime Cuts insert. The Baseball America insert also has a few autographed parallels, though I didn't get one.

This would have been my best hit from the break. It's a green refractor auto of Christopher Seise. I also got a base auto, but I forgot to scan it.

Not too bad of a haul. As they say, "them's the breaks!"

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

2017 Elite Extra Edition

My LCS had box of 2017 Elite Extra Edition for sale for a really good price. Though I'm not normally a Panini guy, I decided to give it a try. The box came with eight guaranteed hits, at least six of which were autos.

This is a base auto from the set. It's an on-card auto. Most of the autos in the set are on-card, though there are still a number of sticker autos.

There are also auto parallels. This is a diecut "Status" parallel featuring Detroit's Alex Faedo, numbered to 75.

The box contained a number of parallels, also. Unlike Topps, these parallels really pop.

Some parallels are diecut, like this one. 

My box had two relics. The first was this one:

This jumbo Future Threads relic features a jersey swatch from Rhys Hoskins, numbered to 99.

My last relic was this:

A jumbo patch auto of Ynmanol Marinez, now a member of the Miami Marlins organization. It's a nice patch and a low number. The only problem I have is the sticker auto. But hey, it does no good to complain now. 

I enjoyed this break. Having seven autos in my box (though not all are shown here) was pretty awesome. I also really enjoy the parallels. As I mentioned above, they really pop and stand out from what Topps would consider a parallel. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

A Violation of Common Sense

BEFORE I BEGIN: I am currently working on my "What I Collect" post for Night Owl's Blog Bat Around. It's taking me a bit longer than I anticipated (because my dissertation is ruining my life, as I have mentioned previously). I promise it will be published this week! Now, on to today's regularly-scheduled post...


I'm really growing to love the Trading Card Database. It is a fountain of cardboard information and even facilitates trading with new people. This is great...until it isn't.

I recently completed a trade with a user that would net me the Adrian Beltre Players Weekend manufactured patch. I know, just last week I complained about these cards. Still, this is a card featuring a Ranger and I collect cards featuring Rangers, so you do the math. Full disclosure: I sent only four insert cards to the other person (who proposed the trade), so this "problem" wasn't a big deal. 

Fast forward to the day that I received the card. The other person sent the card in a PWE. Not a problem, but it is a relative thick card. So long as he put it in a toploader, the card should have made its way to me safe.

But it didn't. 

Turns out that the other trader doesn't really care about packaging, as he just threw the card in a team bag and then an envelope. No penny sleeve, no toploader. When it arrived, it had a vertical crease down the middle.

The crease isn't visible in the scan, but it's there.

This really bothered me. It still does. However, I decided not to say anything about it to the other trader. I felt that the card was essentially free so I shouldn't complain. Now I'm kicking myself because it is definitely outside of the acceptable timeframe to complain.

Still, it's a violation of basic common sense that anything sent in a PWE will go through an automated sorter, meaning that extra thick cards are at serious risk for damage. I wonder if he even felt the slightest built guilty when he received the bubble mailer from me that had each card in a penny sleeve and top loader. Doubtful.

Am I making too much of this?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Sportlots Comes Up Big (And Silky)

It's been a while since I last visited Sportlots. I love the site - I find that I can often get commons there as cheap or cheaper than anywhere else. However, I just haven't been purchasing many cards as of late.

That all changed a few weeks ago when I decided to look and see if any sellers had posted any cards that would fit into my player collections. I can usually spend $10 on Sportlots and come away with a bubble mailer packed with awesomeness. So I logged on and ran a search for Matt Harrison.

And there is was: a card I've been looking for for what seemed like ages!

This is the silk parallel from 2010 Topps Update, numbered to 50. If you take a look at my Harrison PC, you'll notice that I don't have any cards from 2010. I'm not sure why, but I just can't seem to find Harry's cardboard from 2010 Update (his card number is US248, in case you happen to have any!). I was stunned to find this on Sportlots; I was even more stunned that it was listed at $5. I couldn't click "Add to Cart" fast enough.

As I always do, I checked the same seller for cards that would fit my other player collections. I only found two:

You can't tell, but this is the Emerald parallel of Rusty Greer from the 2000 Metal set. I really like these cards, but it is abundantly clear that my scanner does not. 

I also picked up this Gold Medallion diecut of Greer that hails from the 2003 Ultra set. Nothing really special about it, other than I needed it.

Moral of the story: always check Sportlots when you're looking for a hard-to-find card for your PC!

What's the strangest place you have found a low-numbered or harder-to-find card for your PC?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

WWE and a Group Break

A few weeks ago, I went to a local WWE house show here in Lubbock with a classmate and her husband. House shows are events that occur during the week and are "dark" - that is, they aren't broadcast on television. I've never been to a WWE event, though I have watched plenty of wrestling. Who cares if it's fake? The performers are all incredibly athletic and the show they put on was great. 

My favorite part of the event, however, was watching the seven-year-old boy in front of me with his dad. It was clear that they watched WWE regularly together. I found out it was the boy's first live event and he was hoping to see his favorite wrestler, Randy Orton, that night. When the next-to-last match was set to begin, Orton's music hit and the kid went crazy! He brought a sign that he made and held it high, jumping up and down and screaming Orton's name. The dad watched with a huge smile on his face, clearly enjoying watching his son enjoy the moment so much. The match lasted about 10 minutes, and when it was over, I heard the kid say to his dad, "That was the coolest thing I have ever seen!" The little guy literally had tears in his eyes. 

Maybe this world doesn't suck all that bad, after all. 

When I got home, I jumped on YouTube to watch the video recap of a case break I was in. A couple of months ago, I mentioned that I participated in a break with Hawks Breaks, and that is who was running this one also. If you are interested, I suggest joining his Facebook group, as he often posts his breaks there first and then puts the leftovers on Facebook. Pricing is about the best that I have found, so joining is a great idea.

Anyway, back to the break. The case featured eight boxes of 2017 Bowman's Best for a total of 32 autographs. This particular break was a team break, so I purchased the Rangers. My spot pulled two autographs. First:

A Christopher Seise base auto. Seise is the #9 prospect in the Rangers organization after spending his first "year" in at Low-A Spokane. He was drafted 29th overall in the 2017 MLB draft, where he was considered one of the best shortstops available (though that particular draft was a bit thin at that position). 

My second auto was familiar, yet different:

Seise again, but this time was the gold refractor version. This card is numbered to 50!

The best part was that I got both of these cards for a team spot that I paid all of $10 for!

Well, that's it for this post. I have more scans in the folder that need to get published, so keep an eye out for new content coming soon!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Capitalism With A Heart: A Non-Cardboard Post

I don't know about you, but I've really gotten to the point where I dread watching or reading the news. It seems like the world is full of tragedy, heartbreak, and evil, and I just can't stand to see that anymore. So when I see some good news, it really brings light into my day.

A couple of months ago, I was running through my Facebook news feed - because I can't make it a day without knowing what my friends are having for lunch or who is complaining about who - and I came across a video about a young man with Down's Syndrome who took his love for crazy socks and turned it into a multi-million dollar business. Take a look:

I was so moved by the story that I decided to check out the website. Not only does John have a ton of socks for sale on his website, they are all reasonably-priced, as well! I took the plunge and ordered a couple pairs:

I went with some pretty basic argyle socks for my first pair...

...but then picked up a pair featuring the man himself, Ronald Reagan! Nothing keeps my feet more comfortable than the Gipper himself! (Please note - this is not a political post, so please don't leave nasty comments. Better yet - visit John's Crazy Socks and check out his presidential collection, which features Washington, Jefferson, Obama, Clinton - Bill and Hillary, and even the Donald with crazy hair, among others!)

Just like the video says, my order was shipped the day I placed it and it came with a personalized note from John himself:

My package also came with a bag of M&M's, but those didn't last long enough to get a photo.

John also has a ton of socks featuring sports. Some players even have their own socks, like Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott!

If you like crazy socks, or if you are interested in being part of something that is genuinely good, I encourage you to visit John's Crazy Socks. John and his dad are definitely a bright spot in a sometimes-dreary world!

(And before you ask, this is not a sponsored post. I truly believe that John and his dad are doing a great thing and I want to share that with everyone that reads this blog!)

I Dabbled in 2018 Topps Series 1

When 2018 Series 1 was released, I was figuratively dying to open something new. Because of the ridiculous prices of 2017 products, I didn't really open that much (other than my standard Heritage, Gypsy Queen, and Allen & Ginter). It left me wanting. 

I decided to buy a couple jumbo packs from my LCS and a couple of blasters from Wally World. Let's just say that I didn't snag anything really exciting. 

Topps has really stretched the definition of "relic" recently by creating and including "manufactured" relics. It seems that one "hit" in every jumbo hobby box is some kind of manufactured medallion. Case in point:

This is the Chris Sale All Star Game medallion. I really don't understand the purpose. I know that medallions have been featured in past products, as well. The "First Home Run" medallion immediately comes to mind. I think Topps would do better to consider these an insert rather than a hit, as this would probably leave the consumer feeling less cheated. 

Not to be outdone, each retail blaster also comes with a manufactured relic:

Whereas the medallion correctly identifies itself as such, this card labels itself as a "Players Weekend Logo Patch Card" (italics added for emphasis). This seems to be made of PVC or plastic; it isn't remotely close to being a patch. Again, the consumer gets the short end of the stick.

However, there are cards that feature genuine relics. For example:

Here, we have a plain gray swatch from a jersey. Unlike the previous two relics, this one actually has a direct relation to player on the card, as noted with the "Game-Used Memorabilia" designation on the front. However, in classic Topps fashion, the reverse-side of the card throws us a curveball (pun intended): "The memorabilia contained on this card is not from any specific game, event, or season." Well that kind of puts a damper on the game-used memorabilia notation on the front, doesn't it? Topps tells us it is game used on one side, the refuses to acknowledge that it is game-used on the reverse. Okay then.

Okay, okay...enough complaining. One thing Topps did do right this year was to dial back the photo variations of the cards. Unlike 2017 Update, which had what seems like hundreds of variations, 2018 S1 featured only batting practice photo variations (SP) and an extremely limited amount of player celebration variations (SSP). I pulled two of the BP variations (one retail, one hobby).

First up was this Yoenis Cespedes. I've always liked Yo, but it seemed like after his initial trade from Oakland, he kind of fell of the earth (in terms of coverage). 

The second variation I pulled was this Manny "soon-to-be-Money" Machado. When he hits the free agent market this winter, he will land a massive contract. Then, everyone will know him as "Money" Machado. Take it to the bank! I love the card and the hoodie, but I've never liked that particular style of Oakleys, even when I played. Regardless, still a nice card.

So there you have it, my dabble in Series 1. What are your thoughts on "manufactured" relic cards? As consumers, have we created an over-demand for "hits" that brought us to this place? Thunderdome!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

So, 2018 Topps Heritage Is Here

I am going to break chronological order and talk about Heritage before I talk about my foray into '18 Topps Series 1. Heritage is my favorite release every year, so I want to go ahead and talk about it while it's fresh.
Last year, Heritage was really kind to me. In short, this year was not so kind.

I purchased two hobby boxes the day Heritage released. Here are the cards of interest:

The biggest pull of two boxes had to be this nickname variation of Francisco Lindor. The fact that this was the biggest pull should tell you something. 

Both boxes contained a base relic as the "hit."

And that's the extent of my '18 Heritage adventure. No other variations, no parallels, nothing. In short, it may be the single most disappointing break that I have had lately. 

To make things worse, the second box I opened essentially had the same cards in it. In fact, outside of the short prints, there were only 12 unique cards in the second box that I didn't pull in the first. It was absolutely awful.

I'm working on getting my needs list posted on The Trading Card Database. Hopefully, it will be accomplished by the end of the weekend. I'll also post the cards I have available for trade. I'm going to be transitioning all of my tradebait and wantlists to that site to keep everything organized. 

I hope everyone is well!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

All of You are Good People

First, I must say "thank you" to those that offered kind words and words of support after my last post. I was and still am in the dumps about the whole ordeal, but after your comments and watching one of my best friends defend his dissertation and becoming an "official doctor" today, I'm inspired to get back to the grind. Sometimes, people are just obstacles that need to be hurdled, so that's how I will treat my committee. (I think that sounds worse than I intended, but oh well)

Beyond the nice words, I've come to learn that cardboard bloggers/collectors are also some very, very generous people. For example, Kin Kinsley - the man behind the blog I Feel Like A Collector Again and the @beansballcards - sent me a bubble mailer full of great oddballs!

I know what you're saying, "These are scans of oddballs!" Oh, but they are! What you can't tell from the scans is that these are 5" x 7" cards! 

Clearly, the Greer falls nicely into my PC of the player. The Gonzo and Pudge are also welcomed additions!

Not seen in the scans are Topps Chipz Kin sent, along with a few other minis and PC cards that I excitedly logged into my collection on Trading Card Database and put away into their new home. All of these additions were a surprise that came at a time when I needed an awesome pick-me-up! Thanks a ton, Kin!

Monday, March 5, 2018

I Guess I Need An Update

I ran into the new year, planning to post more frequently. It wasn't a goal that I necessarily put out there publicly, but I wanted to spend more time writing on my blog as a way to clear my head from the whole dissertation process. I was getting a bit overwhelmed at the end of the year and decided that I needed "me" time as a way to keep a healthy work life/personal life balance.
For the month of January, I was extremely successful. Well, successful by my definition. I posted 14 times during the first month of the year. My last post came on January 29, where I was stoked to receive a TTM of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on an official league ball. 

And that was also my last post in general.

February got here and gave me a swift kick in the junk. The dissertation commanded my full attention. I busted my butt on it, working a ridiculous amount of hours trying to get my proposal in order. Then, the week before last week, I defended my proposal. I've never felt so humiliated in my entire life. My committee ripped almost the entire proposal apart. At least that's how I felt. A couple members told me the proposal wasn't that bad...but it's evidently a right of passage to go through that ordeal.

Right of passage or not, it made me feel like crap. In all honesty, I came out of the defense feeling pretty depressed, and I haven't really recovered. All of last week, I rarely slept. When I did sleep, it was usually only for a couple hours immediately after I got home from work. Then I would be up all night. There were three nights where I couldn't sleep, so I would head to my office around 5 am and go back to work making changes to the proposal.

Anyway, enough with the whining. I chose the path I'm on, so I shouldn't complain. I'm just having a hard time with things at the moment, that's all.

in an attempt to brighten things up a bit, I decided to dive head-first into my childhood with a random purchase at the grocery store. As I was walking down an aisle, I saw boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups and decided that I literally could not continue living unless I bought them. It was a great decision. It even came with a bonus - a bonus that ties into this blog. 

The box included three Pokemon cards, the last of which is all kinds of sparkly (the "Cosmog" on the right). I have no idea how to use these.

I guess these are three out of a set of 12. I wouldn't know. 

Again, I have no idea how to use these. So, I a happy to send them to whoever would like them, free of charge. Just be the first to claim them in the comments below!

Sorry again for the whining above!