Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ebay and Shipping

The great conundrum of my return to card collecting is the fact that if I want to buy a handful of Mets off of ebay, I wind up paying more (sometimes 2x 3x more!) for shipping than for the cards themselves! 

This is frustrating, and ultimately makes me question why I do this in the first place.  I know some of you buy cards elsewhere (sportlots? comc?) but I don't really know how those work, and don't really know if I'll feel the same way there!  Since I try to follow a budget, and also am quite haphazard in my colleting tastes, I struggle with my approach to building my collection.  Right now, it's old Mets that have me intrigued, and I've bought 4-5 small lots from ebay in the past few weeks.

So, help me out here...  is this a terrible approach?  I don't feel like chasing down auto's and relics from the past 10 years - and I seem to get more joy at looking over these old cards and learning about my favorite team's past.

Thanks for reading, and here are the backs, if you'd like to look them over!


Please forgive my sloppy scanning, but this was my second ever completed trade, and I just wanted to share my experience and "how it went down."  For a couple of years I have been reading the Nachos Grande blog - and honestly, with a name like that, how can you pass it up?  (And yes, I am always hungry after visiting!)

Anyway, two great features on the website are his running poll on Great Barry Larkin cards (which for me is a tour through all the great and varied collecting options of the last 20 years), and his "trade stacks."  Basically, he adds one (or more) cards to a stack that he is offering, and if you simply post a comment to claim a card (by offering one of your own cards from his wish list - and there are PLENTY of options), the entire stack is yours!

I had followed these for awhile, casually, and always wanted to jump in for the fun of it.  And when I checked in last, there was a bunch of cards (and one Met card) that caught my eye. 

I had never purchased a Topps Lineage card - that was fun to hold, love the nice cardboard feel!  And I also have never owned a Bowman card, so the Nava and Hunter intrigued me, as well.

There were a few Allen & Ginter cards that I didn't scan, as well, but I just wanted to thank FanOfReds for providing such good nourishment every day!  Check it out:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meet the Mets... thanks to "O" No!!!

For the first time since I joined the blogosphere, I have completed a trade!  I have a couple that I recently finished, and first wanted to highlight Ryan from  I had sent him some O's shiny gold cards, and a Brooks Robinson Golden Great, and got back a group of Mets to add to my collection!

I am still "hunting and pecking" when it comes to collecting - trying to decide what I want to specialize in, if anything!  I've been chasing some vintage Mets cards, stalking ebay and a couple of local card shows - just trying to figure out what "feels right."  And thanks to Ryan, I have added a nice sampling of Mets from the last couple of years!

Thanks to him, and sorry for being slow to post over the past couple of days...  LIFE has crept back in and tried to steal my attention away from cardboard... but don't worry, I have some new posts in mind, including sharing some cards from my Second-Ever card show!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Sabermetric Analysis of My Trip to the Card Show

Well, it's not truly Sabermetric, actually.  I just want to take a look at Nick's (at advice, an see how well I did with it!  (ps- I stole that picture from the web - unfortunately I didn't take any photos)

Tip #1: Try at least one dime box!

Well, tried it - but didn't find anything old or rare.  Probably need to hunt around a bit more and see if I can find some variety - and maybe even need to venture into a nearby .25 or .50 box to see what I can find.  As it went, I spent at least 15 minutes thumbing through the one box - I have a feeling this takes some time to master!

Tip #2: It doesn't hurt to pick up a few "tradebait" cards.

I made sure I picked up "extra" '87 mini's - since I know a bunch of people are working on that insert set - but otherwise, didn't really know what's good bait, yet!

Tip #3: Cards you're not sure if you already have or not...

My collection is so new and sporatic (mostly just new base sets) that I don't really have much that I'm not aware of.  I have a lot of old 80's cards, but I wasn't looking to buy any, so this didn't really come into play.

Tip #4: Discounted vintage is a must!

While I did pick up some vintage cards, I am not sure how "discounted" they were.  I probably spent more than I planned on on the few cards I did pick up...  which means I've gotta find that discounted vintage box!

Tip #5: Don't be afraid to wait sets out.

I think I may have accidentally stumbled right into this tip.  In the dime box I scored 10 cool A&G and Gypsy Queen cards (all Mets) that I may have spent much more money on had I been trying to complete that set initially.  Now these were just "fun buys" for me - but I see how this tip could really pay dividends!

Tip #6: They don't all have to be discount cards.

There was an old Tom Seaver card and an old Nolan Ryan card that I was eyeing.  Probably should have pulled the trigger on it.  I wimped out!

Tip #7: You can always go back to some tables.

I don't know if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I actually left the show after picking up my 2012 remaining cards to complete the set and then finishing the '87 mini set.  But I got back to my car, sat for a moment, and then decided to go back in and try to find some nice old cards!

Tip #8: Help out your fellow bloggers!
I tried.  I really did.  I thought the Wilhelm card was going to be a hit - but I am sure Nick appreciated the gesture.  I'll get something, next show... I'm on a mission!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The last thing I read before heading to the card show, was to try to find something for another blogger out there.  But honestly, I haven't really been around long enough (or am not really organized enough) to see and remember who is collecting what!  But I do remember seeing on Nick's page that Hoyt Wilhelm was a guy he likes collecting.  Since Nick is a dime box collector, I wasn't sure exactly what he owned, but when I was thumbing through some 1970 cards, this card just jumped out at me!  Surely he needed this card, right?!?

Well, when I got home that afternoon, I made my way over to Nick's wantlist, and saw that it was NOT the 1970 that he needed, but the 1961...  well - I guess I was off by nearly a decade, but this card will at least remind me of the blog and blogger who got me to attend my first card show!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's in a name?

At the vintage table with binders of old cards, I wanted to grab a REALLY old card.  I wanted a guy I had heard of, but didn't want to spend a ton on a single card.  And that's when I spotted Herb Score.

I don't know exactly why I remember him - perhaps it's simply his name?  Actually, I once played in a Strat-O-Matic Retro League that "began" in 1955 - that was the year of our first draft, and when I looked up Score's stats, it does make sense that he would be sought after.  Score led the league in strikeouts in '55 and '56, compiling a 36-19 record during those 2 campaigns (including 20 wins in '56).  He was named rookie of the year in '55, and made the all-star team in both of those seasons.

But then, what happened?  Score would win just 19 games during the next 6 seasons, and was out of baseball at the age of 29.

And this is what I learned from wikipedia:

>>>On May 7, 1957, against the New York Yankees at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Score was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald, breaking numerous bones in his face and leaving him bloodied. McDougald reportedly vowed to retire if Score was blinded as a result, but Score eventually recovered his 20/20 vision, though he missed the rest of the season. Score returned late in the 1958 season.

>>>Though many believe he feared being hit by another batted ball, and thus changed his pitching motion, Score himself rejected that theory. He would tell Cleveland sportswriter Terry Pluto (for The Curse of Rocky Colavito) that, in 1958, after pitching and winning a few games and feeling better than he'd felt in a long time, he tore a tendon in his arm while pitching on a damp night against the Washington Senators. He sat out the rest of the season but, returning for 1959, he'd shifted his pitching motion in a bid to avoid another, similar injury. "The reason my motion changed," he told Pluto, "was because I hurt my elbow, and I overcompensated for it and ended up with some bad habits."

You know, I sort of remember hearing this story - probably told by Keith Hernandez or maybe even Ralph Kiner in the 6th inning of some game that the Mets trailed by 8 runs (yes, Ollie Perez probably started the game...) - but it is a reminder of just how fragile success at this level can be.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

vintage table at the card show

After failing to locate any cool old cards in the dime box - or in any of the other boxes I rummaged through - I found a table with binders full of old cards.  I began my search... for Mets!  I figured, "Hey, pick up a few old Mets," and that will be my "vintage" achievement from the card show...  problem was, I couldn't find any!

After thinking about it, I believe the table was stationed by a guy who comes to the monthly show with his old cards (which were in pretty good - but not great - shape), and sells what he can.  So my thinking is that living in the tri-state area, somebody had cleaned out most/all of his Mets.  After spending a solid 20 minutes, going through about 10 different binders, Johnny Lewis is the only card I found.

Lewis played his only "full" major league baseball season in 1965 and smacked 15 homers that year (he finished his career with just 22).  He played mostly right field, but did start a number of games in center, as well.  Since he was gone after '67, he never got to share in the glory the Mets would finally achieve, and that's probably why I had not remembered his name when I saw the card.  (Also, the card dealer gave it to me for free, when he noticed the writing on it.)

My frustration growing from not finding any Mets, I leaped at the chance to grab one of the early Mets, two-time all star Ron Hunt.  Hunt finished 2nd in the NL rookie of the year voting that season - do you know who finished first?  (I didn't - had to look it up - it is a BIG name!)  He played just four seasons with the Mets, with only '63 and '64 being solid, he tailed off in '65 and '66, and wound up playing just one season - 1967 - for the Dodgers.

Starting in 1968, though, Hunt's career really took off.  Sort of.  He moved to the Giants, and proceeded to lead the league in the same category for the next SEVEN CONSECUTIVE SEASONS!  That is truly remarkable!  Can you name the stat?

So, my card show search for vintage Mets yielded a guy I had never heard of, and a ex-Met (not named Ryan) who would go on to rewrite the record books!

Monday, February 20, 2012

I found a dime box

After picking up the '87 mini's, I continued to stroll through the card show.  Nick told me to find a dime box, so I searched each table - but I would only find one.  And it didn't have anything old-ish; instead, it was filled with mostly new cards, including a bunch of things I didn't really recognize.

What caught my eye quickly, though, were the Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter cards - tons of them.  I know a lot of people that write blogs have talked about these sets, but truly I am not that familiar with them - other than the look.  And they are good looking and good "feeling" cards.

After about 15-20 minutes of searching, I decided to pick up some Mets (and of course, the Gary Carter) - 10 cards for a dollar.  I was hoping to make more of a splash in the dime box - but I will have to refine my skills, and hopefully finding a bit more variety will allow me to sharpen up next show!

In any case, I got 10 cards that I really enjoy looking at - and I think that is the spirit of the dime box, as I understand it!

Kev at the card show - post 1

Inspired by Nick at, I ventured into a local card show for the first time - perhaps ever!  I may have gone to a couple as a kid, the memories are vague... but let's just say that this is my first one as a "returning" collector!

The first thing I will say is that it was incredibly intimidating when I took my first few steps into the hotel ballroom.  It wasn't a big show (from what I'm told) - it was about 30-40 tables, but the sheer variety of offerings assaulted my senses as I walked in.  Once I got my bearings, I figured I would quickly spot something I felt comfortable and confident about - yup, Topps 2012. 

By the way, have you read any of the series of posts about Topps 2012 from  A great - and fair - feature that is well-written, well-thought about, and pretty darn entertaining.

I found a not-so-busy table, with a nice guy who had a small plastic case of '87 mini's - and since this was an insert set that I was interested in completing, I started to thumb through his offerings.  He sold me all of his mini's, about 20 of them (and I needed 17 of the 20) - and gave them to me for $5.  This was my first purchase - and I was happy to make it!

As I started to walk away, I noticed that he had a cardboard box of loose Topps 2012.  I needed 15 cards to complete my series one collection, and after 10 minutes of looking, I forked over $3 and I was done with Topps 2012 Series One! 

So do you see those pictures at the top of the post?  And did you think they were celebrating great moments from the past baseball season?  Nope - Nyjer and his teammates were joining Josh Reddick and a few Red Sox in congratulating ME on finishing off Series One!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I have completed my first ever insert set!

I consider myself a new collector, even though I've collected baseball cards for many years.  In fact, like many of you out there, my collecting dates back to a time when cards were numbered 1-796, and you simply bought pack after pack trying to get close to completion - or at least close enough until trading with your friends in your neighborhood got you even closer!

The reason I feel so new is the change in what is out there for the consumer to ummm... consume.  Specifically, I am referring to insert sets - and it appears that this is where the "value" in cards lays.  I don't really care about value, but I liked having all the cards, and for a budget-conscious collector, inserts make this basically impossible.

I THINK I understand why they exist, but that doesn't mean I love it - or love what choices they force me to make.  For the last couple of years, I've simply admired the few inserts I received, and not bothered to do much about them.  But this year, probably inspired by many of the bloggers out there - and also inspired by a Topps design which reminded me of my early baseball card days, I decided to try to complete a set.  And inspired by Nick at I decided to attend a card show.  More on that in a future post, but for now, this became my opportunity to actually complete an insert set!

At one vender, I picked up a loose pile of about 20 minis, 17 of which I needed.  And then, as I was getting ready to leave, a vender had stacks and stacks of minis, allowing me to pick up the final 18 cards I needed for $4.

I left happy, and enjoy looking at my COMPLETED stack!  Now - how do I store them?!?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thanks, Kid

Thanks, Kid. 
You helped define my baseball childhood, and were a role model as a man. 
You will be missed, but never forgotten.

Rod Carew, Dale Murphy, and last summer's addiction

As I continue to take stock of my under-the-bed collection - a collection I probably haven't visited in upward of 25 years, I sometimes am confronted by something that I don't really remember collecting.  I have a vague, hazy memory of a book with stickers that I religiously applied, and these two loose stickers in a shoebox are probably a remnant of that time.  But I think that my memory is enhanced by a much more recent memory from last summer.

Did any of you guys go World Cup crazy?!?  Now, I have to admit, I am a "soccer guy" so I had more than a passing interest in the tournament prior to the first games; but truth be told, I can't think of many sporting moments in my lifetime that will rival the last-seconds goal by Landon Donovan to push the United States through into the round of 16.

I chased these Panini stickers everywhere, and because of the scarcity of ANYTHING soccer, it took some work to score them.  My best source?  A local liquor store!

Do any of you guys collect stickers?  Looking back, it seems like kind of a waste, especially since most are stuck in a book that I can no longer seem to locate.  It would seem that, if I could do it all over again, I would have preferred to have found some soccer cards instead.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hey Dickey!

As I mentioned in other posts, I am not really sure what "kind" of collector I am.  It seems that I like to complete sets, and I definitely have an affinity for tradional set-building, focusing almost exclusively on Topps flagship.  However, the story of certain players has drawn me to at least consider "player" collecting - and if there was a current player to start with, this MIGHT be my guy. 

Dickey pitched a couple of years ago in Buffalo, the Mets AAA affiliate, and I kept seeing him put up excellent numbers.  However, despite numerous injuries to the Mets staff that season, it seemed that everyone got called up before him.  But when he did get his shot, he pitched beautifully.  He has truly had a second career as a Met, and it's been solid.  He was 11-8 with a stellar 2.84 ERA in 2010, and followed it up with a better-than-it-looked 8-13 with a 3.28 ERA in 2011 (and a 2.87 ERA in the 2nd half of '11).  Although I'm not sure you would say his "first career" was much of anything - he was a true journeyman - and sported an ERA around 5.50 in his pre-Met career.

His card this year is wild.  I hated it at first, but the screaming face and bizarre camera angle is definitely growing on me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Mets WIN!

Sometimes, I like to look at a different type of baseball card.  Have you ever seen anything like these?

Today marked my own Strat-O-Matic Baseball Opening Day.  The new cards were actually released on friday, but I was unable to make the trek to Glen Head, NY to pick them up - instead, mine will be shipped UPS and may arrive as early as tomorrow.  I was able to download the new computer game, and for baseball stat geeks like me, the game is (as always) incredible! 

I am a "re-player," which is a Strat term for a player who enjoys going back and replaying all of a past seasons games, using the "as-played" feature - which basically means that I play the game exactly as the starting pitchers and lineups and rosters were lined up on that particular day in real life.  Hmm, maybe that sounds confusing.  Here's an example:

Last year, the Mets opened on 4-1-11, Pelfrey vs Johnson, in Florida.  So earlier today, after downloading the game, I played my first game in a probably long and brutal Mets season.  And guess what... the Mets WON!  Pelfrey outdueled Johnson, and even hit a two-run double.  Here's the box score, if you are interested:

(my apologies for the layout - that's always a challenge for me using blogger, but you get the idea!)

[1]BOXSCORE: 2011 New York (NL) Amazins At 2011 Florida Fins            4/1/2011
[1]  Amazins            AB  R  H RBI AVG     Fins               AB  R  H RBI AVG
  J.Reyes SS          6  1  2  0 .333     C.Coghlan CF        3  2  1  0 .333 
  W.Harris LF         4  3  2  0 .500     O.Infante 2B        4  1  1  0 .250 
  D.Wright 3B         4  0  0  0 .000     H.Ramirez SS        3  0  0  0 .000 
  C.Beltran RF        5  2  2  1 .400     M.Stanton RF        4  0  1  2 .250 
  A.Pagan CF          4  1  3  4 .750     G.Sanchez 1B        3  0  0  1 .000 
  I.Davis 1B          5  0  1  2 .200     L.Morrison LF       3  0  0  0 .000 
  B.Emaus 2B          4  1  1  0 .250     J.Buck C            3  0  0  0 .000 
D-C.Hu 2B             0  0  0  0 ----     D.Murphy 3B         3  0  0  0 .000 
  J.Thole C           3  1  1  0 .333     B.Sanches P         0  0  0  0 ---- 
  M.Pelfrey P         3  0  1  2 .333     J.Johnson P         1  0  0  0 .000 
C-L.Duda PH           1  0  0  0 .000   A-E.Bonifacio PH      1  0  0  0 .000 
  T.Buchholz P        0  0  0  0 ----     R.Webb P            0  0  0  0 ---- 
                                        B-G.Dobbs 3B          1  0  0  0 .000 
                     -- -- -- ---                            -- -- -- ---     
[1]         Totals      39  9 13  9                 Totals      29  3  3  3
A-Pinch Hit For Johnson In 5th Inning
B-Subbed Defensively (3B) For Webb In 8th Inning
C-Pinch Hit For Pelfrey In 9th Inning
D-Subbed Defensively (2B) For Emaus In 9th Inning
Amazins......... 3 0 2  0 2 1  0 1 0  -  9 13  1
Fins............ 0 0 0  2 0 1  0 0 0  -  3  3  0
[1]Amazins (1-0)            IP       H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR  PC    ERA
M.Pelfrey WIN(1-0)        8       3   3   3   2   4   0 110   3.38
T.Buchholz                1       0   0   0   0   2   0  11   0.00
[1]Totals                    9       3   3   3   2   6   0
[1]Fins (0-1)               IP       H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR  PC    ERA
J.Johnson LOSS(0-1)       5       7   7   7   6   3   0 107  12.60
R.Webb                    2 2/3   5   2   2   0   0   0  56   6.75
B.Sanches                 1 1/3   1   0   0   0   2   0  19   0.00
[1]Totals                    9      13   9   9   6   5   0
ATTENDANCE- 19,303 DATE- Friday, April 1st 2011 TIME- Night WEATHER- Average
UMPIRES- Tim Tschida, Jeff Nelson, Marty Foster, Bill Welke
T- 3:07
LEFT ON BASE- Amazins:10  Fins: 2
DOUBLE PLAYS- Amazins: 0  Fins: 0
DOUBLES- J.Reyes(1st), C.Beltran(1st), I.Davis(1st), M.Pelfrey, C.Coghlan(1st)
STOLEN BASES- W.Harris(1st), A.Pagan-2(2nd)
WALKS- W.Harris, D.Wright, A.Pagan, B.Emaus, J.Thole-2, C.Coghlan, H.Ramirez
STRIKE OUTS- D.Wright, C.Beltran, B.Emaus-2, L.Duda, M.Stanton-2, G.Sanchez,
             L.Morrison-2, J.Johnson
BALKS- J.Johnson
2-out RBI- M.Pelfrey-2, A.Pagan-2, M.Stanton
Mike Pelfrey pitched 8 strong innings as the New York (NL) Amazins topped the
Florida Fins by a score of 9 to 3 at Sun Life Stadium.
Pelfrey(1-0) pitched a fine game.  He surrendered 3 hits and 2 walks in 8
innings.  New York (NL) ended up with 13 hits for the game while Florida had
Josh Johnson(0-1) was the loser.  He was knocked around pretty good, giving up
7 runs in 5 innings.

Well, opening day 2012 feels much closer today than it did just a day ago!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Art of Fielding

I have had this book sitting on my bookshelf since Christmas, and figured I'd wait until spring to break it open.  I've done little but pack-ripping and reading Cardboard Gods in the meantime, since my free time has become a bit limited.

Has anyone read this?  It made the New York Times books of the year list (i think one of five, for fiction) - so that's quite impressive.  I don't know much about the book, other than that - and I know that baseball is part of the setting.

Without spoiling anything, has anyone given this a look?  Any thoughts?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Trivia Puzzle #2

Can you connect these three cards?

National Hockey Card Day

I received an email from my Local Card Shop that today was some type of holiday, and that a pack of Upper Deck hockey cards would be given out to celebrate.  Well, "free" is right smack in the middle of my price range, so I took a ride over.

I have nothing much to say about the cards, except that they smelled kinda weird.  That doesn't really come across on a blog, though - so I guess I have no comment.  Except perhaps that Stale Gum will prefer them to Topps 2012.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Topps 2012 Series One - Hobby Box Final Stats

Finished rippng the last of the packs, and figured I would post the results, in case anyone wants to compare - or is curious about what to expect.  I'm not going to review or rehash, since that's been done alot on this blog and others, so I'll just stick to the numbers.

Base Cards:  293/330  (didn't see any SP variations, but i'll have to look more closely tomorrow)

"Hit" was Golden Moments Alex Gordon Game Used Memorabilia:

Home Run Legends - #2 and #4 (redemptions from local hobby shop)

Topps Golden Giveaway - 6

Classic Walk-off - 4 (Bench, Ortiz, Soriano, Ordonez)

Golden Greats - 9 (7,16,24,31,37,50,58,66,72)

Timeless Talents - 6 (5,6,11,13,14,22)

Gold Standard - 6 (1,6,10,11,17,20)

Gold Futures - 6 (2,8,12,15,19,23)

Golden Moments - 9 (7,16,18,24,27,32,33,41,45)

87 minis - 9 (4,7,9,18,27,32,39,41,45)

Gold Shinies - 9 (hosmer,m.taylor,parmalee,trumbo,pence,c.davis,herrera,teixeira234,cairo)

Quick Hit

Just a quick post here, I am running around a bit.  In the last hobby pack I opened, this was the hit I pulled.  What are your thoughts on these?  I heard a lot of people talk about these inserts being designed specifically for the "hits" - and I huess it is better than the team logo on the base insert. 

What do you think of this Gordon card?  A "big hit" - or medium?  Or kinda small?


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trivia Puzzle #1

Going to try a different type of post here.

Can you connect these three cards?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Silk and other inserts...

At my local card shop last week, I picked up 6 packs from a hobby box, just to get a taste while I was waiting for my own hobby box to arrive in the mail.  And honestly, if I could do it all over again, I probably wouldn't have shelled out $30 at Target the moment I heard the cards were out.  But then again, I've never been known for my patience.  The impulse purchase their yielded a frustrating amount of duplicates from a hanger box, and a pretty good haul from a $20 blaster - like many have said, the more appealing manu-patch this year makes the blaster a bit more worthwhile.

Here is the best of my hobby packs, with an obvious focus on the inserts:

The Napoli silk is my lucky hit, but that Koufax insert is kinda sweet, as well.  That's a double for me of Adrian Gonzalez on the '87 mini, so I can send it to someone who needs it.  The Trout Gold Future is a card I like, as well.

My favorite here is probably the card with Nolan Ryan, although the Bench walk-off is a close second.  Someone on a blog I read earlier today correctly pointed out that Topps did a less-than-perfect job with the walk-offs they chose to celebrate, leaving out some true baseball classics.  (Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter, etc.  I haven't checked these out, but that's a pretty glaring omission, if true)

Halfway There

I am about halfway done with Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker, a really nice book that is not at all what I expected.

I had read Mint Condition last year, a great read focusing on a middle-aged narrator who reconsiders his long lost love - baseball cards.  And in that book, he analyzes how the industry began, and where it's been - including a fascinating focus (for me) on the last 20 years of the hobby.  I found it fascinating, and figured Cardboard Gods would be more of the same.

I was wrong.

Cardboard Gods is fascinating, but for wholly different reasons.  I should have recognized the allusion to Augusten Burroughs or Dave Eggers on the back cover - two writers who produced captivating memoirs.  That's what Cardboard Gods does - and quite brilliantly, once you are used to it.  Wilker uses each baseball card as a vehicle for a vignette about his childhood, telling memorable stories - often painful - that he is reminded of by the card.  He connects to each card - laughing at one, crying at the pain recalled by another.  He fills page after page with evocative experiences that each stay with you for awhile.

It is truly the study of a boy and of a time - and well worth reading.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Three Old Mets

Step away from the 2012 Topps.  Step awayyyy from the 2012 Topps...

Ok, I did.  Briefly.

Here are three old Mets.  Since I have recently returned to collecting, and have little idea how to approach building my collection (the absurd number of different inserts and relics in recent card sets - and even the sheer number of different sets is overwhelming!), I decided to take my favorite team and hunt down some of the old cards that remind me of my first days watching baseball.

I'll start with a guy who I actually DON'T remember at all - Jerry Grote.  But as a Mets fan, since we only have two titles, it's important to know the guys who won the first one - and Grote was one of them.  In fact, he started behing the plate in all 5 games of the '69 Series.  Not much of a hitter, he did slug a career-high 6 homers in '69 - and hit a respectable .252 for his career.

Next is Joel Youngblood, who I have a faint memory of as a player.  I remember a game played in San Francisco and the fog was rolling in late in the game.  Youngblood hit a fly ball to right, and the ball simply disappeared in the soupy mist.  Youngblood managed a triple, and if I remember correctly, the umpires called the game immediately after.  Does anyone else remember this game?  I may be mis-remembering, but that's what my elementary school consciousnes recalls.

Youngblood actually hit .350 in 1981, but that's a bit misleading.  He only had 143 AB's that season - but WAS named to the N.L. All-star team.

Lee Mazzilli, our final subject, was the first star name I remember with the Mets.  In '79, at just 24, Maz was named to the all-star game, but (and I hadn't realized this until I looked it up) never made it back.  He left the Mets after the '81 season, but did return to the squad in '86, just in time to appear as a pinch-hitter in the team's World Series victory.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My first silk - and my wife was watching

One of the great things about being a "returning" baseball card collector is the blissful ignorance regarding what is a "hit" and what is a "really big hit" - and what is just a pretty cool insert.  And honestly, I am still not sure what this Napoli silk (mine is 25/50) counts as - but the moment it created was priceless.  My wife was sitting on the opposing couch, holding our 8-week old daughter, and watching me open a few packs that I grabbed at my local card shop.  I had torn through a hanger pack and a blaster from Target, but I was intrigued by what treasures awaited in the hobby box pack - no doubt dreaming of a monster hit to blog about. 

As I hit pack 3 of 6, it felt a little different.  My wife watched as my eyes lit up while going through the pack... a card I had never seen before!  It was blue and thickish, with a window - and inside, a piece of silk with a Mike Napoli baseball card upon it!  Na-po-li!  Na-po-li!  My eyes grew bigger when I saw it numbered 25/50 - wow, only 50 of this card... in the world?!?  I explained this excitedly to my wife, who vaguely remembered Napoli's heroics during the postseason.  (What a great sports fan she is - humors my infatuation with watching 150 Mets games like a champ) 

I then made the mistake.  THE mistake.  You know, like when you look up a possible symptom (an itchy elbow) on WebMD (and find out you probably have 6 weeks to live).  So, to the great Ebay I went, curious to find what this rare, sure-to-be-relic card would be fetching on the open market - you know, if there were ANY other humans on the planet who were lucky enough to pull it...

$25, for sure, right, like as a minimum?  $50, I mean, as a best case?

Well, not exactly.

$1.25, if you act now.

See, that's why I have loved getting back into cards.  Keep in mind, I left collecting before inserts and parallels cluttered up the potential understanding of what exactly was a good card.  It 1987, it was easy.  Gooden?  Great card, can't miss Hall-of-Famer!  Strawberry?  Ditto!  Well, maybe it wasn't quite so easy - but you know what I mean...

So, even if I didn't pull the relic that for about 2 minutes I was convinced I had, that rush was palpable - and very hard to describe to anyone outside the hobby.  But my wife saw it in my eyes.  And you guys out there - you know it, too.

Happy hunting.

Topps 2012 - What a Target Blaster Box buys you - Stats and more!

First, a quick picture of the best cards in my final 3 packs.  Ripken, Mattingly, Hosmer, Jeter - a nice set of names!

And that wraps up my journey through the Target blaster box, 10 packs, 80 cards, plus 1 manu-patch.

Here's my haul: 

62 base cards, with not a single duplicate.  (Contast this with my rantings about my hanger box!)
1 Retired Number Patch of Al Kaline.
1 Gold Standard - Frank Robinson (GS-7).
3 Gold Shinies - Olivo, Whiteside, Pelfrey (118,127,214).
2 Gold Futures - Hosmer, Lavarnway (GF-5,22).
2 Golden Moments - Berkman, Maris (GM-27,32).
3 1987 Mini's - Jeter, Uggla, A. Gonzalez (TM-16,24,33).
2 Golden Greats - Ripken, Seaver (GG-42,57)
1 Classic Walkoff - Soriano (CW-8)
2 Timeless Talents - Mattingly/Hosmer, Sandberg/Uggla (TT-3,10)
2 Golden Giveaway - Mays, Ichiro (GGC-7,9)

And in the mail today, I received my hobby box!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Topps 2012 - Blaster results (2) - four more packs

These are the next four packs from my blaster - and I gotta say, the blaster has yielded more than the hanger box, plus I haven't had to deal with the rash of duplicates that the hanger produced. That said, a first disappointment was that seeing that the Gold Standard insert was the exact one I had already received in the hanger box! Oh, well - anyone interested in trading for the Frank Robinson? The Eli Whiteside gold shiny is nice - these are growing on me... And Hanley, oh Hanley. My number one pick in fantasy baseball last season. And I am sure this is a card of him popping out to short right field. It will be interesting to see how his petulance surfaces with Reyes aboard...

I am going to say that I like the color scheme better on the "Timeless Talents" insert than last year's iteration of this (diamond duos? was that what it was called?). The red-white-blue here is visually appealing, at least. And the Uggla mini - remember when he was hitting like .115 at the all-star break? (i'm exaggerating - but only a bit...)
Yessss! A Seaver insert! And I read someone write about the Kyle Blanks card a few days ago, but this is the first time I saw it in person. Definitely movie-esque...

And the inserts from the final pack include the Gold Futures, which I have already said that I really like... And the kinda boring Golden Moments, Lance Berkman. I can't believe this guy put up the season he did after what I saw with the Yankees the year before. Had anyone ever looked more done than Berkman in 2010?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vintage??? From THIS guy?!?

Well, after my 250th consecutive post about Topps 2012, I thought it was time to up my game. And judging by some of the blogosphere's rantings about "final topps 2012 post" or the allusion to "another topps 2012 post," I felt I needed to branch out a bit. And as a Mets fan in 2012, unless I am thrilled by seeing Justin Turner and Jason Isringhausen on a card, I decided I needed to bring back some Mets names that elicit a different reaction.

Agee looks to be about 75 in this card, but best I can figure, he's 30. In the Mets glory year of '69, he hit 26 homers and finished 6th in the MVP voting. He followed that up with his best overall year in '70, hitting .286, scoring 107 runs and stealing 31 bases. His last good year was '71, and his steep decline resulted in being out of baseball after the '73 season.

Kranepool is a name I remember, and looking at the back of his card, I'm not really sure why. A trip to baseball-reference shows why: he actually played long enough to be playing when baseball entered my consciousness in the late '70s. A lifetime .261 hitter, he played his entire 18-year career with the Mets.

Bud Harrelson's real name was Derrel. I didn't even know that was a name. He was an all-star in '70 and '71, but for me, was more noteworthy as Mets manager in 1990 and 1991. He replaced Davey Johnson in '90, and playing "Buddyball," the Mets went 71-49 under him. But the team flamed out badly in '91, ending his brief tenure.

Topps 2012 - Blaster results - 3 packs

Doesn't everyone just LOVE when I try to lay out three pictures in one blog post? I decided to post some of the inserts and/or interesting cards in each of my first three packs from the target blaster - perhaps I'll review the base card haul at the end of the ten packs. So, here we go! First, the "Yankee pack" featuring Soriano and Maris. Looking more closely, the Soriano card is growing on me. The color pic in the left corner is cool and high-def looking, and the end result in the bottom right is murkier, but still pretty interesting. In comparison, sorry to say this, but the Maris card is just plain boring.
Looking at the "Pelfrey pack" - my apologies, I am a huge (and hugely disappointed) Mets fan, so I guess this is as good as it gets for a gold sparkly. I like them, but I think (as I mentioned in an earlier post) that the card looked better last year with the diamond sparkly. As for the other card - I really like these Gold Futures. I haven't seen many people talk about them on the blogs - but look closely at it - I really like how the black outline works with the gold trim. And the team logo is nicely featured in the front, and the picture is solid, as well. I don't know, guys - do I just like this insert more than everyone else?
The only insert in this one was the '87 mini, which everyone - me, included - loves. I wanted to include a "play at the plate" for another blogger out there, and then finally another Met. I am glad Izzy got to have some success in the uniform last year... if you are a Mets supporter and somewhat near my age, perhaps you can remember the "Generation K" flameout that marked the team's demise in the early 2000's. Anyone remember who the 3 Mets phenoms were from that generation? (Izzy is one, who are the other two?)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Topps 2012 - Blaster results (1)

Here's a peek at "the patch" - the much-maligned reason (only reason? best reason?) to buy the blaster from Target.
Interestingly, Hall of Famer Al Kaline never won an MVP. He was second twice, in '55 and '63, though. He led the league in hitting in '55, at just 20 years old, hitting .340. He did make 13 consecutive all-star games, though, and helped lead the Tigers to the World Series title in '68, hitting .379 and slugging .655 in that series.

Reasonable Prices at my Local Card Shop

Since I've read a lot of things to the contrary, and actually wrote some negative things about pricing at a different store nearby my work, I just wanted to share a positive tale. I had waited this week to go to my local card shop, aptly named "The Hobby Shop" to take a look at their selection of Topps 2012. With a new baby, finding 45 minutes to take the ride there and back became a bit of a challenge - but today I was able to find the time. And to my pleasant surprise, I found packs priced at 1.99 and a hobby box for 69.99... not too shabby, especially if you consult ebay at the moment. Jumbos, which I did not purchase, were 12.99 per pack, and I believe 129.99 for the box. I am not exactly positive on the jumbo prices, but that's what I remember. Anyway, kudos to them for being reasonable, and pleasant to talk to.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

topps 2012 - some good base cards

So these are the four base cards I chose to highlight - narrowly missing the cut were my two Mets (Turner and Niese) and Billy Butler's really happy face... So instead, I picked Ben Revere's diving (no-look?) catch - real nice photo, huh? And Marlon Byrd against the green ivy. I have a feeling he made this catch look harder than it was, but isn't that what getting a cool photo on a baseball card is all about?
For my other two selections, I decided to pay respect to blogger "play at the plate" by picking a couple he could appreciate. I know the Avila is a few moments after the fact, but the Montero is in action, even if the cropping of the beheaded runner is a little strange...
Enjoy, fellas. Now that I've put that hanger box to rest, I can open my blaster...
(ps- my closing thought on hanger box: avoid.)

Topps 2012 - less impressive inserts

Well, my inability to create an aesthically pleasing layout continues, but honeslty, I just want to finish up the analysis of this hanger box. So here goes: First up, the red parallels - I don't know, I really have no connection to these at all - no desire to collect them, no interest in them - and honestly, they don't even look very good. Are they a Target thing?
Gold Shiny - The Luke Scott is a pretty cool card, and the gold shiny is fun as well... IF it hadn't been done better last year with the diamond shinies...
Timeless Talents - As many other bloggers have said, this has been done, in some form or another, every year. And this year's version is no better or worse...
I'll try to post later on my base cards...
Dinner time!