Sunday, December 31, 2017

1975 Topps Gary Carter RC #620

I want to be greedy in adding traditional rookie cards of legends / icons from old school/vintage years when possible - there maybe tiers as far as rookie card wants go; a rule of thumb is cards have to be at least be 20 years old to make the list.

As a last minute purchase for 2017, I had to get this rookie card of a Hall of Fame catcher since it cost as much as a discounted blaster - I don’t think it’s too weird anymore but it maybe a little peculiar to commit to buy a baseball card, when I’m out in BFE somewhere in a daze, tagging along with my parents on a casino trip late at night.

Multiplayer rookie cards are ugly, especially if it becomes the RC of a Hall of Fame legend who has to share it with one or more marginal players - but it’s part of the quirkiness of old-school/vintage cards to squeeze multiple unproven players on a card.

Carter was a prime time star with the Montreal Expos from the mid 1970s through the early 1980s - however, I was only aware of Carter's playing days through the junk wax era cards he showed up on during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Favorite card of 2017 - Mega Box Ohtani

This is in response to Tom's contest over at Waiting 'til Next Year.

I'll throw this up as my favorite card of the year because I actually pulled one [#BCP31] after not even sure if I was going to bust any of the 2017 Bowman Mega Boxes - as a baseball fan, I was excited to see which MLB team Ohtani sign with this off-season, whether it was the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners or San Diego Padres.

It's only much sweeter when the 23-year old wunderkind signed with the Angels as opposed to other teams in pursuit of the pitcher / slugger - I figure this will probably be my best Ohtani card and I'm hoping he lives up to the hype and this card stills holds some relative value at the end of next year, even after the market is flooded with his MLB cards.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

1991 Fleer Alex Cole #365

As something to do, I'm trying to go through loose cards in my collection and pull the ones that might not be relevant - but can be listed and put away in some sort of mini-collection.

The junk wax Cole was probably a repack pull, so it was in limbo, not yet squirreled away in my main A-Z archives of commons - I thought it may have been a reach to add this as an 'awesome action' card, but I've always liked the image of speedster Cole take a lead off first base, with his eyes on the pitcher.

With its garish yellow borders, 1991 Fleer was the poster child of the junk wax era - there just isn't a whole lot of lingering nostalgia for a set that didn't take much imagination to design.

I dug up a big book of baseball cards from 1991, which profiled players with snapshots of their mainstream cards and considered their profit potential - back in the day, the book was a guide to learn about players and helped figure out which was the card to get, maybe the best looking and/or potentially valuable [lol].

In addition to the Fleer, which was chosen as the best out of his five cards, I like Cole's 1991 Upper Deck [#654] issue - where Cole shoos his bat away after collecting a walk.

Monday, December 18, 2017

1978 Topps Eddie Murray RC #36

I want to build up a traditional rookie card collection [consisting of cards at least 20 years old, cards that aren't serial numbered, autographed or glow in the dark] - but on a relative budget however, it’s hard to be picky as far as finding notable RCs with decent eye appeal; many of the mid level options I've seen listed on eBay just look a bit too rough for my taste.

I probably sent out an APB for a copy of this card after seeing it ranked No. 7 among the greatest cards of the 1970s on the Night Owl Cards blog - I did trade for another copy of the card years ago, but it probably compares best to 'well loved' ones on eBay I'd disregard otherwise.

This card is a little off-center, which I'm sort of a stickler on - but seems pretty clean otherwise.

While the Hall of Famer's prime years was with the Baltimore Orioles in the 1980s - I remember him playing past the junk wax era and through the mid 1990s as a player gunning for both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Featured autograph - Zack Cozart

Even though he is sliding over to third base, Cozart's acquisition gives the Angels a good defender and a guy who can transition over to second base if Ian Kinsler doesn't stick around past the 2018 season - while Cozart has really been up and down with the bat as a big leaguer, hopefully he can build upon the past two years [.346 on-base/.484 slugging, 40 home runs 52 doubles, 9 triples 40 home runs in 902 at-bats].

I don't remember the particulars, except I got this card signed at the Arizona Fall League back in 2009 - I knew I had gotten Cozart's autograph at some point, so I had to look for it in an old archive of signed cards.

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Bowman Draft Jo Adell #95

The plan was to get one of Adell's 2017 Bowman Draft Chrome autographs and/or a corresponding parallel - I was willing to spend as much as $75 for at least one or two copies, figuring while he was a first round pick, he probably wasn't the clear cut guy to get.

As is, Adell's Bowman Draft Chrome autograph were rumored to be short printed and thus is currently commanding at least $250-$300 on eBay - I realize die-hard prospectors are going to prospect, but there is just no reasonable buy in at this point.

Adell was the top prospect in the Angels system about a week or so ago - I can't imagine how much the new Angels' top prospect [Shohei Ohtani of course] MLB rookie-card autographs are going to command once released.

The best case scenario the SP issue is kind of bogus and more first-year Bowman Chrome autographs will come out - if not, all those speculators better hope Adell is the next coming of Willie Mays.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Featured autograph - Ian Kinsler

It's hard for a big league team to carry a veteran player past their prime because sometimes it's just the end - I do like the Angels' trade for the 35-year old second baseman, because he seems like a player you can plug and play for next year.

Presumably he can still hit for some power, defend, run a little bit and all things considered, otherwise be Dustin Pedroia lite - if Kinsler stinks it up, there is no team commitment past 2018.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 Topps on-demand mini pack break

I looked this up on and I ordered a pack [there was free shipping promo] since for just about a price of a blaster box - I get an 'on-demand' product that is not available at a big box store.

I do see where Topps makes these 'variation' products off their flagship card set alone and by the end of the year - all these releases are just kind of redundant.

Shipped in a bubble mailer, a black box contained a foil wrapper placed inside a 150-count two-piece box.

#351 German Marquez #87-136 Chipper Jones - 1987 All-Star serial #’d 03/25 #56 Danny Salazar - serial #’d 1/5 #249 New York Yankees team card - serial #’d 05/25; just had to picture Starlin Castro among other random Yankees [Headley, Teixeira and maybe Gardner]. #US260 Carlos Correa - serial #’d 05/25 #656 Todd Frazier - serial #’d 01/10 #494 Tom Murphy #422 Andrew Miller #US213 Yovani Gallardo #486 Aroldis Chapman #4 Mark Reynolds #US110 Corey Seager #48 Brian McCann #US173 Chris Coghlan #636 Allegheny Armada - feat. Jaso / McCutchen #36 B’More Boppers - feat. Trumbo, Machado, Davis and Jones. #599 Cincinnati Reds team card #175 Houston Astros team card #246 Hunter Strickland #613 Jonathan Broxton #US66 Jose Osuna #440 Eduardo Rodriguez #US93 Jesse Chavez #526 Jake Marisnick #95 Chris Davis #US241 Ryon Healy #75 Carlos Correa #356 Brad Miller #492 Avisail Garcia #US269 Craig Kimbrel #369 Mark Canha #47 Gregor Blanco #341 Alex Bregman #US159 J.T. Riddle #270 Jake Arrieta

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When borderline HOF guys get their call

It's refreshing to see Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, a pair of longtime teammates whose accomplishments seem more recent and tangible [they starred in the 1980s and played through the mid 1990s, not the 1880s] - get elected the Hall of Fame through 10-name Modern Baseball Era ballot.

I didn't think either Morris or Trammell were getting into the Hall of Fame any time soon but their candidacy was given second life after falling off the ballot - in particular, I guess something had to give in Morris' case.

While Morris' numbers was scrutinized by the sabermetric movement as inferior to retired star pitchers who aren't getting any serious consideration - there was enough push back [particularly among the people that put him in now] that Morris eventually was able to sneak into the HOF.

Trammell was destined to become the next Bert Blyleven or Tim Raines among sabermetric inclined baseball experts - Trammell was a guy who was part of a shortstop evolution, putting up strong offensive numbers that combined with everything else, were too hard to dismiss.

Monday, December 11, 2017

1991 Upper Deck Charlie Hough #792

I listed this card as an awesome action 'want' because it brings to mind the image of a crafty [knuckleball] pitcher working on his game during a spring training situation perhaps - even going as far throwing batting practice to teammates.

I don’t know if it puts things in any sort of perspective but for a professional baseball player, Hough has always looked like a grandfather - he’s only 43 on this card, but probably looks like he's 20 years older and it’s just hard for me to imagine looking as old as Hough does in five years.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Featured autograph - Billy Eppler

I was able to get the Angels general manager's autograph in spring training this past year on a blank card - there is a bit of schadenfreude, when Eppler may have closed the deal to snatch Shohei Ohtani away from the hands of other prospective suitors, particularly the Seattle Mariners.

I don't know if the narrative of Ohtani's motivations to join the Halos have been exactly spelled out - but reading the screenshot above, there is a little 'what if' for disappointed Mariners fans, when considering the screenshot from 2015.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Andruw Jones - a borderline HOFer?

I have this 1995 Bowman rookie card [#23] in a miscellaneous binder and I recoil whenever I see it - I remember buying it for something like $30 at the 2000 National Sports Collectors Convention and thought it was going to be a 'money card' of a superstar for years to come.

Maybe card values of any number of random cards probably declined over the past 20 years as players come in and out of collectors' consciousness - but Jones accelerated the dip in values by how his playing career fell apart after leaving the Atlanta Braves.

He got fat when he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2008 season and then bounced around for years - even playing in Japan for two seasons before wrapping up his playing career.

After the fact, the most interesting thing is that Jones was probably the best center fielder of his generation and may actually have an argument that he's one of the best to play his primary position of all time - this Sports Illustrated story spells out the idea that he's unlikely to get to the Hall of Fame, but pores over his numerous achievements as well as his decline.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Kevin Maitan - all things considered

As an Angels fan, the addition of Maitan is a nice pickup since he's only 17 and was the most intriguing prospect heading into this past year - the Angels' farm system has been depressed for a while and hopefully Maitan starts building on his promise, giving the Angels a nice little core of position player prospects [along with Jo Adell, Jahmai Jones, Brandon Marsh] to build upon the next few seasons.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Featured autograph - Brad Peacock

Peacock was part of the Houston Astros World Series team this past year and while he didn't pitch well in his outings during the American League Division and Championship Series - he appeared in 4 games during the World Series and struck out 8 batters while allowed 2 runs in 7 innings.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017 collecting topics achievements

I've tallied up all my mini-collection adds for this year - from 2016, it looks like I've picked up 202 less cards, though with a month to go, the numbers are subject to change

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Topps retail factory set pick-up

During a stop at Target, I was looking through the usual Topps factory sets on the shelves and got one with the 1997 Topps Derek Jeter reprint relic card with a pinstripe swatch - I bought a factory set last year at Walmart because it had a Mike Trout stamp card and now Topps got me again with this impulsive purchase.

I was hoping to find a reprint of Jeter's 1993 Topps card, but the 1997 Topps card has a nice image - though these factory set may be mass produced to a point where they aren't going to be hard to find, these could be something to put away because of the Jeter factor.

FWIW, I might have seen something on Twitter about the factory set cards being marked ‘complete set' on the backs to differentiate itself from the regular cards - if I wanted to pick up a complete factory set, I wouldn't want a completely different set over the cards I'd pull out out of packs.

I didn’t know if the marking was indeed something Topps had started doing, but after finding this thread on the Trading Card Database - I see, it’s just the 5-card rookie image variations that are designated and not the 700 cards from the base set.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Featured autograph - Mark Appel

Designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies, Appel seems destined to be a first round pick who maybe a failed prospect - still, as I see Appel as a baseball player who may not reach the big leagues, I'll always look at this clip as something to digest and really think about.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Closing out the year - award winners

There is usually some excitement as far as adding another set of cards to my binder to celebrate the most prominent individual player accomplishments - even if there were no particular surprises among the guys who won and I don’t have fancy cards [something shiny like a parallel and/or autographed] to show off.
Maybe something like a Topps Now card would be nice and relevant, but I stick with random base / inserts I may find since I have my share of them - knock on wood, maybe I'll try to look for more jazzy cards in future years.

For my MVP collection, I went with a 2017 Topps Stadium Club Jose Altuve #116 [American League] and a 2017 Topps Finest Giancarlo Stanton [#29] - the Altuve is a horizontal card and while I sort of want my cards arranged vertically on a nine-pocket page, my award winners collection is kind of made of a claptrap of assorted cards anyway, so I'm not going to be a stickler.

In my Cy Young collection, I dug out a 2017 Topps Chrome [#159] of National League winner Max Scherzer - it’s a current year card that's moderately shiny, so it might as well be the card for him.

For American League winner Corey Kluber, I just went with a second card [2014 Topps #279] I’d stored in the same pocket where I had his 2015 Topps Chrome Sepia parallel [#79] for winning the Cy Young four years ago - it’s kind of a boring card but it serves its purpose.

In my Rookie of the Year collection, I’d already put away a card for Aaron Judge [American League] and Cody Bellinger [National League] sometime during the regular season - I went with a 2017 Bowman rookie card for Judge [#32] and a 2017 Bowman yellow parallel prospect card [#BP149] for Bellinger.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 Bowman Mega Box Shohei Ohtani

It wasn't recently, but when I finally saw them for the first time, I bought the six Bowman Mega Boxes I found at Target - I went through four boxes and pulled Ohtani's first English card, even though it's sort of a 'phantom' issue since the 23-year old never played for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.

The biggest story this off-season is which MLB team Ohtani sign with once he gets officially posted by his Japanese team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters - I've heard about him for at least a couple of years and with his ability to pitch and swing the bat, he has the potential to make the most impact out of all the baseball imports from Japan in the last 25 years.

I took a picture of Ohtani signing autographs and taking pictures early in the morning a couple of years ago - when he was in Peoria Arizona for his team's spring training workouts.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

TTM autograph received: Steve Balboni

Balboni signed and returned my card in about three months or so - his big league career was winding down the time I started watching baseball, but I'm vaguely familiar with the lumbering, all-or-nothing slugger through his random junk wax era baseball cards.

Balboni's Kansas City royals record for home runs hit in a season [36] was surpassed by Mike Moustakas - who ended up hitting 38 in 2017.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

2017 Pro Debut 'Ben's Biz' insert finds

I'm not really sure where these three might fit into my collections but during a card shop trip, I snapped them up - just to add some quirkiness to whatever stash I'd built up.

Through the eyes of a baseball writer who travels around the country, stopping at minor league outposts to chronicle the goofy promotions and nuances of different minor league teams - I see where the cards help flesh out a mainstream minor league card set besides just focusing on individual players.

2017 Topps Pro Debut Ben’s Biz Toilet Paper First Pitch #BBB-3

2017 Topps Pro Debut Ben’s Biz Synagogue Turned Team Store #BBB-8

2017 Topps Pro Debut Ben’s Biz Whitewall Ninja #BBB-15

Monday, October 30, 2017

$1 Michael Jordan baseball card finds x2

Jordan is the iconic professional athlete of my time and while his dalliance with professional baseball seemed to be a novelty - Upper Deck tried to ensure a little crossover appeal [not that he needed it] for the sporting icon, inserting an MJ batting practice card [SP1] into 1991 Upper Deck packs.

Jordan would step away from the NBA to play one season of minor league baseball in 1994 and while there were other licensed Jordan minor league cards - his Upper Deck baseball cards always looked the best, even as the one time Chicago White Sox farmhand hit only .202 with 3 home runs in 436 official at-bats.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

2017 Topps Heritage Minors pack breaks

Pack one
#165 Sean Reid-Foley
#155 Thomas Szapucki
#18 Ryan Helsley

#203 Nick Gordon - SP
#71 Anfernee Grier
#161 Josh Staumont
#156 Matt Thaiss
#44 Shed Long

Pack two
#131 Braxton Garrett

#1 Amed Rosario
#167 Francisco Rios
#65 Nick Williams
Make Your Pro Debut code / info card
#151 Keegan Akin
#30 Greg Allen
#24 Eric Lauer

Pack three
#127 Jorge Ona
#83 Ryan Mountcastle
#115 Kyle Funkhouser
Make Your Pro Debut code / info card
#186 Nick Neidert
#34 Logan Shore

#126 Keibert Ruiz
#7 Jazz Chisholm

Pack four 
#165 Sean Reid-Foley
#155 Thomas Szapucki
#18 Ryan Helsley
#220 Victor Robles - SP

#156 Matt Thaiss
#44 Shed Long
#132 Tomas Nido
#27 Meibrys Viloria

Friday, October 27, 2017

Loose card finds - the mini collections

I had some time to rummage through an out of town card shop's '15 for $1' boxes - I'm not going through anything but loose nickel and dime cards, but I'd like to think 'the hunt' means different things to different collectors and there are still distinctions I keep in mind as build my piles of loose cardboard.

Going through random monster boxes of cards can be a free for all and there maybe opportunities to be 'freelance' a bit more and grab completely random cards - that still end up fitting whatever criteria I have in my head as far as mini-collections.

Instead of buying a repack of some sort outright from a big box store, I get to sort of dictate the content of the cards I want to take home - I ended up with 120 assorted cards for $8 and change [tax], many of which are just are just squirreled away as 'card depth.'

Awesome action
2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations Michael Brantley #SC-9
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Carl Crawford #29

2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations Brian Dozier #SC-11 - more like Glen Perkins’ card with Dozier in the background.
1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond Greg Gagne #79
1998 Topps Chris Gomez #117

1994 Upper Deck Scott Leius #322
2016 Topps Stadium Club Willie McCovey #18 - I have this card among my collection of other McCovey cards, but I can add this particular copy to my awesome action collection.
1994 Upper Deck Mike Moore #316
2004 Topps Chrome Mike Piazza #31
1998 Topps Kevin Polcovich #79 - this card features a cameo by Larry Walker and I thought I could add it to my 'bonus babies' mini-collection, but I had a copy of it already.
1998 Topps Marlins Win World Series #283 - feat. Edgar Renteria

1996 Upper Deck SP Alex Rodriguez #171 - wearing the Jay Buhner Fan Club t-shirt
1991 Topps Stadium Club Sammy Sosa #6 - a whimsy, more innocent Sosa wearing a throwback uniform; I had this card in my 'retro uniforms' mini-collection already, so this goes into my awesome action mini-collection.
2011 Topps Chrome refractor Rickie Weeks #147
2014 Topps Stadium Club Jayson Werth #52

2016 Donruss Optic Yannick Ngakoue #150 - football

2011 Press Pass Head of the Class Kyle Busch #82 - auto racing

Awesome outfield
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Melky Cabrera #134
2002 Fleer Jacque Jones #260
2012 Topps Chrome Kirk Nieuwenhuis #192

Beyond the glory
2011 Panini Americana Matinee Legends James Dean #1

2016-17 Donruss Gary Payton II #198

Bonus Babies
1994 Upper Deck Joey Cora #371 - on the reverse, Rickey Henderson

1994-95 Topps George Lynch #20 - Chris Mullin and Chris Webber

1992 Stadium Club Members Only Dave Eiland #14
1994 Bowman Frank Thomas #18

Inking it up
1995 Topps Stadium Club Frank Thomas #400

Pitchers hitting
1993 Upper Deck Bill Swift #118 - on the reverse image

Retro uniforms
2002 Fleer Edgardo Alfonzo #158
1994 Upper Deck Tom Henke #367
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Jason Vargas #218

1993 Topps Stadium Club Mariano Duncan #276

Tools of ignorance
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Alex Avila #131

1992 Stadium Club Members Only Gary Carter #9
1993 Topps Stadium Club Geno Petralli #232