Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Most Epic Trade

It all start when I was reading through a blog post from Brian over at Collecting Cutch.

In a blog post two weeks ago, Brian included a bit about his #1 most sought-after card – a 2014 Topps Opening Day Andrew McCutchen variant. I was super active in scooping up every Pirates card I could find between 2013-2015, and tucked away deep in my giant box of mostly-useless Pirates cards, I have a small stack of short prints and variants.

Sure enough, I had what Brian refers to as his unicorn. I am happy to say that it’s been delivered to a more deserving owner. As you’re about to see, this card must have really meant a ton to Brian, because OH MY GOODNESS did he deliver in return.

This is without question the largest trade package I’ve ever received – over 100 unique Pirates cards. A common theme will be “This is my first auto of this guy!” and “I’ve always been meaning to pick up a card like this.” There is some seriously incredible stuff in here. This is recap of some of the “highest highlights” – and there’s still a ton that I left out.



Yeah. Five envelopes, all with instruction/detail about how to dig in and enjoy. We’ll start out light and pick up the fun as it goes along:


A pair of Frankie Liriano’s to kick it off. He’s been in his prime on about three separate occasions in his career – the first being his early years with the twins. If you didn’t know, he’s back with the Pirates for his second stint. The 2019 Buccos are abysmal in every way that’s not named Josh Bell or Brian Reynolds – although Liriano has actually been a quality bullpen piece.



While exchanging trade ideas, Brian had asked me for some of my favorite players. Gerrit Cole, in a sad way, is one of them. A #1 overall pick that actually panned out for the Pirates. I wasn’t opposed to trading to him to Houston because I was 100% certain he wouldn’t sign a second deal with the Pirates. So any return was a good one. What he’s doing now in Houston would have never happened in Pittsburgh… but that doesn’t make it sting any less. I still root for him, quietly.

How sweet are those cards? All numbered /99 or less.


Continuing on the Cole train and now joined by his friends Pedro Alvarez and Mark Melancon. The patches are this card are so bad ass. Melancon has enjoyed a small revitalization of his career thanks to Shane Greene immediately imploding in Atlanta’s closer role. As for Alvarez… man, it seems like just yesterday that he was swinging for the fences in the 2013 home run derby. After failing to make the Marlins Opening Day roster (ouch), he’s out of the majors.


Back to Liriano: a Case Hit from 2016 Topps. This baby has a metal border on it. It feels like a dang paperweight and is officially the only metal card that I own. Numbered to only 16.


Printing plates, anyone? 2011 Topps Jose Tabata and Joel Hanrahan, and 2012 Jeff Locke.

Everyone remembers Jose Tabata a little differently. The word “Bust” comes to mind. I've written about this before: I remember Jose best for failing to move his elbow out of the path of a two out, 9th inning fastball… that broke up a perfect game.


2014 Topps Supreme Oscar Taveras/Gregory Polanco Dual Auto /25. Wow… to think what could have been. Polanco still has a chance to make something of his career, and Taveras sadly does not. Beautiful card.


Three brand new players to my auto collection. Believe it or not, I’m a Pirates fan that didn’t previously own a Freddy Sanchez auto. That has now changed! Clay Holmes and Jose Osuna are two guys that have bounced between AAA and the majors for two years now. I’m a sucker for a nice Bowman Chrome Auto – especially a refractor.


Another awesome patch, this one capturing the corner of the buccaneer bandana on the Pirates logo. /99. Marte has been a staple in the Pirates lineup for six plus seasons now. I’ve collected him heavily and I’m happy to add several more awesome cards to the collection.


Almost an entire team set of 2017 Topps Chrome Blue Refractors.



Some great humor here from Brian. But seriously, he’s not kidding. He sent me enough printing plates to open my own card factory.


Yet another first auto for me: Pedro Alvarez. I never bought any Alvarez autos because A. They were always overpriced B. He never signed for a licensed product. I’m somewhat of a snob when it comes to certified autos, but this one I can get down with. This is also my first jersey letter patch card, from any player. 

Also pictured is a beauty – 2015 Gypsy Queen. Tri-color patch /5.


A couple more Marte autos, a Gerrit Cole Leaf auto, and a Cutch auto from the Cutch Collector himself.


And for the grand finale, an incredible Tyler Glasnow patch from Panini Immaculate. This might be my favorite card of the bunch, capturing what looks like the “S” in Pirates. You’ve probably heard of Glasnow by now due to his insane April/May with the Rays. If he stayed in Pittsburgh, you probably wouldn’t know who he is. His career was becoming somewhat of a mess but he’s clearly figured it out in Tampa. Like Gerrit Cole, I’ll quietly root for him as long as he’s not pitching against the Pirates.

Brian, again, I can’t thank you enough. It took me a solid 30 minutes to work through each package and enjoy each card. Carefully looking over each card for serial numbers and looking through each package to come across another note from was more fun than any hobby box I’ve ever opened. Your generosity is unparalleled.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

2019 Allen & Ginter Blaster

I'm not necessarily a Ginter collector. I'm not much of a set builder either. 

However - A&G is such a staple within the collecting world that I have a hard time not grabbing a blaster when I see one. This was my first and likely only A&G purchase this year and I had a lot of fun breaking it.

Everything below is available for trade. 


2019 Allen & Ginter Blaster Box: Blends well with my granite.


Here are the baseball minis. My strange magnetic attraction with Jacob DeGrom continues. Really cool border on this mini.

Trevor Bauer rocking the "I just got traded to a non-contender" look.


Non-baseball minis. Giraffes are cool. So are weiner dogs! I believe that some of these are retail exclusive. If you're building a set or if you have any interest in these what-so-ever, please drop me a line.


The aviation inserts are pretty sweet. I wouldn't necessarily consider myself an aviation guy, but I can certainly appreciate some nice artwork. The top insert is titled "Man, I wish that's how my lawn looked. Plus an airplane."


I grew up near a historic race track. I have fond childhood memories of visiting the track and placing 10 cent bets on different horses. The picks were always based off name, color, and other completely meaningless traits. 

Quarter horses are super speedy in very short distances. They get their name from that notion - they can beat almost any breed in a quarter mile race, and they can eclipse 50 mph.


The interestingly biblical/mythological "Incredible Equipment" inserts.


I'll leave you with a nice little rookie. The kid has a ton to learn, but he's certainly getting his shot at the MLB level this season. A sub .300 on base percentage won't cut it for ever. Pulling for him.

Overall, very average retail box. Sadly no Pirates.

Everything here is for trade. If any of these cards can help fill a void in your set, or a void in your life, drop a comment or an email.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 1, 2019

2019 Topps Chrome Hobby Box Break

A few months back, I placed a pre-order for one 2019 Topps Chrome Hobby Box and one 2019 Bowman Chrome Hobby Box. This has become somewhat of tradition for me. I always place the order a few months in advance, I forget about it, and I'm usually pleasantly surprised when I get a UPS notification about a package shipping.

The Topps Chrome box just showed up yesterday and I was able to dive right in. 


My card collecting peak was 2013-2015 and for that reason, I really miss full borders on Topps Baseball cards. Starting in 2016 they moved away from borders and now they take the images right to the edge of the card. Minor complaint, just a matter of preference.

In the spirit of being picky, the Last Name-First Name format is an interesting call. I can't recall the last time that Topps went this direction. Not something I really care about, merely an observation. 

Overall I'm a fan of the base card design. It's clean, and there's half of a border. We'll take it!


Kicking us off is one of the most promising young pitchers in the game. Man, I hope this kid pans out and recovers well from Tommy John. There's no reason to believe he won't. I've found myself pulling for the White Sox because I really want all of these prospects to pan out. They committed to the rebuild 110% and it would be nice to see that pay off.


I was lucky enough to pull three Pirates - and they're all over the map. This is only my second Colin Moran card, the other is his rookie auto from 2013 Bowman Chrome when he was donning a Marlins jersey and a clean shave. Kevin Kramer is still in the wings as one of the next-up AAA prospects and will likely be up next year. 


My two autos, both Rookies. Certainly nothing that will blow me away - but this box wasn't a total loss. Ryan Borucki is a new name to me. As a Pirates fan I very rarely catch any AL baseball unless they're on national TV... hence why I haven't seen a Jays game all year. Brad Keller is more familiar to me because I've streamed him a few times on my fantasy baseball team. He's been acceptable or better for KC and seems to have a future in the MLB. I'll hold onto these two and hope for the best.



These two are arguably bigger "hits" than the two autos. Full transparency, I actually had no idea that the card on the right was a refactor until I took this picture. Nailed it!

Really happy to see the Polar Bear show up twice. I'm pulling for this guy and hoping he's here to stay - I'd hate to see a sophomore slump. The Mets are starving for a bonafide slugger like him. 


Anddd this is officially a Mets box and that's quite alright because this a sweet card. You have to love when a parallel color blends perfectly with the team colors. Nothing like black or gold parallels for the Pirates, blue parallels for Dodgers/Rangers, red parallels for the Cards, etc. etc.

This card is the perfect example. It's numbered to 25, and according to my research, this is a photo variation.

Overall, a nice little break. Thanks for reading!





Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Six Years in the Making: 2013 Topps Chrome Baseball Blue Parallel Set

Way back in 2013 , I chronicled my desire to build the entire 220 card set of 2013 Topps Chrome Baseball with a twist: Not only did I want to build the full set, I wanted to build it entirely of blue parallels which are numbered to /199.

I’m happy to say that I achieved that goal two years ago during my blogging hiatus when I finally hunted down Madison Bumgarner. I sat on 219 cards for almost a year before the Bumgarner card finally popped up an eBay saved search. I’m a huge fan of that eBay feature. 

Last week I pulled the set out and went through it card-by-card. Man, there are some memories in here. It was hell of a journey that took a lot of time and effort. To commemorate the journey, let’s hit on some random thoughts.



There were some cards that are a steal for the price, looking back:

  • #1 Mike Trout
  • #25, Hyun-Jin Ryu RC
  • #65, Didi Gregorius RC
  • #78, Nolan Arenado RC
  • #179, Aaron Hicks RC



There were cards that I paid way too much for, looking back:

  • #12, Manny Machado RC
  • #57, Jurickson Profar RC – ouch
  • #73, Trevor Rosenthal RC
  • #138, Yasiel Puig RC – This was the most expensive of all 220 cards. I remember all the “mania’s” around certainly players when it comes to collecting (Darvish, Tanaka, Ohtani), but I think Puig-mania takes the cake. A lot of THREE of these cards sold for $7.50 on eBack in June. Brutal.
  • #220, Bryce Harper



There are things about this set that make me really sad:

  • #104 Roy Halladay, #88 Tyler Skaggs and #32 Jose Fernandez left us at way too young of an age.
  • Christian Yelich did not have a base card in this set, only autos. It was his rookie year.

What the hell happened to:

  • Evan Gattis?
  • Allen Craig?
  • Robbie Grossman?
  • Mike Olt?
  • Mark Trumbo?

There are some bonafide future Hall of Famers towards the end of their careers:

  • #10, Derek Jeter
  • #34, Felix Hernandez
  • #68, Paul Konerko
  • #79, David Ortiz
  • #100 Miguel Cabrera
  • #168 Alex Rodriguez



Now that the set is six years old, we have a very good idea of what these 220 players careers look like. The rookie class is strong with names like Machado and Arenado, and the Trout card has the “All Star Rookie” trophy stamp on it, so that boosts it’s value. Because of that, I sent these three cards of the Beckett for grading. Grading was never my plan necessarily -- but I guess that’s kind of the point of building a set and then holding onto it: Looking back and seeing what's changed. Digging up memories and preserving value.

I’m hoping the three cards come back with decent grades and further add to the intrigue of this set. Either way, I’m excited to place the set back in storage and pull it out in another two years.

This was a huge challenge but it's been fun and rewarding to build it up card by card through trades, hobby shops, COMC, and eBay.

What do you think? Should I try something similar again?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Hello, I haven't perished: New Blog!

Well, well, well. Let’s give this another shot. After a three-year blog hiatus, I’m making my glorious return.

Hello friends! It’s me, the operator of The Bucs Stop Here, formerly known as “Big 44 Cards.” Does anyone remember me? I’m certainly not offended if you don’t.

Let me refresh your memory: As far as who I am on the blog-sphere: I suppose my identity was a Pirates-faithful, cardboard loving junkie living in Pittsburgh. My passions were collecting all things baseball, all things Pirates, reviewing and sharing hobby box and retail breaks, and of course, connecting and sharing cards with fellow bloggers.

Things have changed a bit. 

Nowadays, I have relocated out to Ohio because of my job (no complaints!) and sadly my cardboard habit has slowed over the past three years. My purchases shrunk to one box of Topps Chrome and one box of Bowman Chrome upon their release, and the occasional Pirates auto. I have a weird thing where I try to own an authentic autograph of every current Pirate, regardless of what jersey they’re repping on the card. Even the trade deadline rentals. This has left me some super random cards names – Marlon Byrd, John Axford, George Kontos, and Joakim Soria, to name a few of the "bigger names". Trust me, it gets even weirder.

One of the reasons I got away from collecting was the way I was collecting – the feeling that I was gambling. I’m not much of a set collector. I PC the Pirates, but there really aren’t any specific players or types of cards that I look for. So I’d find myself buying packs and boxes, both retail and hobby, just hoping for hits. Hoping that I’d dig up some great Pirates cards, but also hoping I’d hit that Tanaka auto, that Ohtani auto, and so on. I was pouring money into cards that I didn’t even want (I’m not talking thousands or anything, it wasn’t out of control), but I started losing touch with WHY I love card collecting. And I started to feel weird about my hobby.

Hopefully, this all about to change. When I first started blogging, the goal was simply to have an outlet for a passion of mine. I had no idea that I was about to connect with some incredible fellow traders. And I’m ecstatic to see that many of those blogs that I began following back in 2013 are still kicking today. I’m looking at you, My Cardboard HabitChavez Raviningfoul buntMint Conditionall the way to the backstop...Bob Walk the Plank, and so, so many more.

Anyhow – I’m done being sappy. I’m going to rebrand my blog to focus less on “hits” and focus more on my Buccos. I used to collect a decent amount of football and basketball. That may make an appearance at times, but I’d really like to zero in on the baseball/Pirates theme. Will I stop buying hobby boxes entirely and hoping for a big hit? No. There’s a certain boyhood magic in ripping open packs. But in three years, my prospective has changed. I’d rather spend my hard earned dollars on my Pirates PC than anything else. 

In an effort to hold myself accountable, here are some goals moving forward:

  • Continue to grow Pirates PC, specifically certified autographs
  • Get a Twitter up and running
  • Post at least once monthly
  • Build a set of 2017 Topps Chrome Purple Parallels /299 (monster task - more on this later)
  • Send some packages out to you 
  • Connect with some new, kick-ass collectors

I'll have some posts coming soon. Farewell “Big 44 Cards,” and welcome to The Bucs Stop Here!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Marte Par-tay

Judson over at My Cardboard Habit and I were able to work out another easy deal. The plan was essentially: "Hey Judson I really want that Marte auto..."

And his response was "It's yours, just send whatever and I'll send you Marte."

...pretty sweet deal. I sent Judson just about every Ranger in my collection. Sure enough, he fired back the autograph. Not just the autograph, but also an awesome GQ Jersey Card. 


Judson, thanks so much for the cards. The Stadium Club autograph is easily one of my favorites out of my whole Pirates PC. Although I wasn't a huge fan of Stadium Club overall, I absolutely love the poses and the photography captured in the set. This card is no different.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tabata Time!

Gavin of the well regarded Baseball Card Breakdown has a been a consistent trade partner of mine.  I've probably gone back and forth with Gavin more than any other collector. I was trying to figure out why that is today, and I think it's simply because... Gavin has about 50 different player collections (ranked by high, medium, and low priority). That sure makes for an easy trading partner!

Before I get to the cards I'll present a quick aside:

I NEVER enter web addresses until the URL bar. I google EVERYTHING. So today, when I wanted to get to Gavin's blog, I just googled "baseball card breakdown." Some images popped up, and I got curious. This is what you'll see in google images:


I thought this was pretty cool for any blog. He and Adam do a lot of trading, Matt too. Just another way to navigate some old posts and see some different material, but using images rather than text... nice for us visual people.


Gavin was kind enough to throw in some extra cards, seen above some good-old-fashioned (and very 90's) household Bucco names: Kendall, Garcia, Hermansen, Guillen, and fan favorite Andy Van Slyke.


Gavin also threw in three Auto's. Far left is a nice base auto from prospect Wyatt Mathisen, who I believe resides in Bradenton Florida with the Pirates Single A affiliate. From I've read he shows some promise, but is at an early stage in terms of development.

Next is Brad Lincoln, who is *actually* back with the Pirates down on the farm. He was with the Bucs from 2010-2012 before he was dealt straight up from Travis Snider, who has made an appearance on this blog before.

Lastly, to the far right, a very nice looking card of the Pirates pinch-hitter-of-choice:

 Jose Tabata. That name sound familiar? Can't figure out why? 


Tabby was getting quite a lot of press this weekend after he may or may not have ruined Max Sherzer's perfect game. With two outs and two strikes in the ninth, a breaking ball got away from Maxxy and ran inside. The rest is history. 

Funny timing, but I received the Rookie auto from Gavin just a few days prior. It's a beauty.



Lastly, a COMC purchase- treating myself with some extra store credit. I've been hunting A.J.'s autographed products for a while, and they're hard to come by. He shows up often in base sets but I don't believe he's signed any Topps products in a Pirates Jersey. Could be wrong.

Happy to add my first A.J. Auto.


Thanks for reading!