Friday, June 5, 2020

Mailday: Bump and Run

In April I posted about joining TCDB and how I've been having a lot of fun with it early on. I've been a member for about two months now and I've already completed eight trades. All of the trades were PWE swaps and almost all of them consist of me sending a set-builder some set needs, and them sending me Pirates rookies in return. In a nutshell, TCDB has become a way for me to hoard Pirates rookie cards via trade and I'm totally cool with that.

After seeing my April post, Trevor at Bump and Run Cards shot me a note about trading for some of my 2020 Opening Day cards. He came across me on TCDB and we worked out the trade through there, which saves us a ton of back-and-forth emailing. He helped me continue my journey in hoarding Pirates rookies but moreso helped me add to my Steelers PC.


(L) Le'Veon Bell - 2016 Score
(C) Le'Veon Bell - 2017 Panini Prestige Phenomenal Athletes Insert
(R) Le'Veon Bell - 2013 Panini Prizm RC

Lots of great to stuff to unpack from the cards above. I'm still a Le'Veon Bell fan and I still collect him. I'll admit that I was annoyed by his contract shenanigans two years ago... then Antonio Brown happened and it made Le'Veon look like saint. How quickly we forget. I was shocked to see that his Prizm rookie card was from 2013 - I can't believe that he'll be going into his seventh year in the league this year. That flew by. I think he still has some juice left in the tank but he plays for Jets, where careers go to die.


(L) T.J. Watt - 2018 Panini Rookies and Stars RC
(C) Terrel Edmunds - 2018 Donruss Elite Terrell Edmunds RC #/699
(R) Bud Dupree - 2015 Donruss RC

I picked off another three rookies from Trevor's For Trade list. While Watt and Dupree are the stars, my favorite card here is the Edmunds card. It's short printed to 699 and has a really nice foil finish to it. I'm still high on Edmunds, although after two years of mediocre-at-best performance, he's entering potential bust territory.


Trevor is the opposite of most of us: A football collector with a side collection of baseball. It seems that it's usually the other way around. Judging by these two cards, he still rips some modern baseball products and I'm happy to be on the receiving end of another pair of Pirates rookies.

Thanks for the trade, Trevor!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ripping Some 2020 Bowman

I like to get a taste of most new baseball product releases. For the products I really like - Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome - I usually pick up a hobby box. When it comes to the next tier of products, I usually stop by my LCS and grab a few hobby packs. That's been my approach with Bowman for the last few years. Of course, things are a bit different this year. I hit a few Targets last week and was unable to find any Bowman on the shelves. I checked eBay and the 200% or greater markups were just too much for me. 

Browsing the Twitter universe the next day, I came across a user who buys and sells through Twitter who was selling some unopened Bowman for a very fair price. Since I was making a small bulk purchase, I was able to negotiate with him and got the price down a bit more. When it was said and done, I ended up paying $25 over MSRP for a lot of three value packs and four "fat packs." It was far better than what I would have paid on eBay.


Each value pack will give you 24 cards plus 5 camo parallels and the fat packs have 19 cards, so I was looking at 163 cards total. 


Starting out with the Buccos: I pulled six Pirates cards total with only one dupe. Lots of familiar faces here. I didn't realize Oneil cruz had an insert in this set until I pulled it out of the pack which was a neat little surprise.

Here's my "probably headed to eBay" group:


The prize of Bowman 2020 is Jasson Dominguez, the 17-year-old outfield prospect that signed with the Yankees in 2018 out of the international prospect pool and earned himself a cool $5 mil. He's the top prospect in the Yankees system and one of the top prospects in all of baseball... but, ya know... he's 17... and the odds are better that he'll flame out than be a star. That's true of all MLB prospects, but the hype around this kid's baseball card is pretty wild. It's going for $25 on eBay and the price is too juicy not to take in order to recoup some cost.


Curiously, I pulled exactly two copies of each of the top rookies in the set. The hype is real around all four of these guys. The one that jumps out to me the most is Gavin Lux because his name was floated for a week last June as a trade candidate for Felipe Vasquez. At the time Vasquez was one of the most dominant closers in baseball and would have made sense for any contender. The rumor was that Pirates were asking for Lux but he was the one player that was untouchable, per the Dodgers. The deal fell apart from there (so did Vasquez's career and probably the rest of his life as he's currently in jail facing 24 felonies. Ah, the Pirates).

These cards will be stashed away until one of them becomes the 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout Rookie. That's how it works, right?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

7 Day Trading Card Challenge: Day Two

Today's Challenge: A card from current release year (any sport) with a unique photo.

Does 2019 count?


2019 Topps Series 1 - #48 Pittsburgh Pirates

This year in the flagship set, Topps included ballpark photos from all 30 major league clubs. Card #48 is a shot of PNC Park taken from the press box. I've spent many, many hours of my life at PNC Park and I know the building inside and out. It's consistently ranked in the top three or four best ballparks in the majors. I truly believe it's one of the best places on the planet to watch a baseball game. I've been to Fenway, Wrigley, and Petco Park. I'm biased, but PNC Park is a strong contender for #1. 

Sadly, I don't believe Topps did PNC Park any justice by choosing this photo. It's a cloudy day and the crowd looks to be maybe a 2/3 capacity at best. The left field bleachers are empty. While the Pirates rarely sell out games these days, there are a few dates that will always get to capacity - the first of which is Opening Day. 

When I saw that Topps was including a 15-card insert ballpark photo set in 2020 Opening Day, I was certain PNC Park would grab a spot and redeem itself. I was wrong. After some light research, I believe that only parks that hosted a true opener were included. The Pirates opened as a visitor. 

Either way, Opening Day in Pittsburgh deserves it's own baseball card. As you'll see below, a home opener at PNC Park is worthy of a frame. I took that picture at the Opener in 2016. I'm no photographer and it was shot on my iPhone using the panoramic feature. 

@Topps: I'm for hire! I'm sure we can work something out.. 


This inspired me to mess around with the Custom Card feature on Topps.com and I was able to whip this up:

Not bad!


Thanks again to Tim at Cardpocalypse for the great idea. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

7 Day Trading Card Challenge: Day One

When browsing the Blogosphere yesterday, I came across a fun idea from Tim at Cardpocalypse


I'll do my best to pump these out as quickly as possible but seven posts in seven days will be a stretch  for me so I'll be going at my own pace. The good news is I've already picked out a card for each post!

Today's Challenge: Favorite card acquired during quarantine

Like so many of us I've been really active with collecting over the past two months. Picking just one card out of the many that I've acquired was a challenge. I'm going with the "flavor of the week" approach here: I purchased this card about a week ago and it's been setting out on my desk for me to look at since - which is a funny little habit I have when it comes to cards. When I buy a card that I really love, I let it sit on my desk for a few weeks before putting away in storage. I don't display my collection anywhere in the house so this my way of giving my favorite cards some admiration. Most PC pickups go straight into storage and only the luck ones make it on the desk.


Stephen Curry - 2019-20 Donruss Optic Holo Parallel

There's been a total hysteria around basketball cardboard this season, and buying basketball packs or boxes is basically an afterthought. Donruss Optic is probably the second "hottest" product offering during basketball season. The big chase was for rookies of course - but pricing inflated across the board, especially LeBron. Then came The Last Dance and MJ cards blew up. During all the madness (which is still going) I've felt that Steph Curry has really flown under the radar. A year or two ago, Steph was that dude. An ankle injury knocked him out for essentially the entire 19-20 season, and the Warriors were the worst team in the NBA (worse than the Knicks!) so Steph was absent from headlines.

I'm not a Warriors fan and I'm not necessarily a Steph Curry fan. Just wanted to add a cool card to my collection. For the price of a blaster, I've a got a sweet parallel of one of the NBA's top five players. 

Thanks to Tim for the idea. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Another EPIC Mailday from Collecting Cutch

If you've ever traded with Brian at Collecting Cutch you've probably been a on the receiving end of some the greatest generosity in the hobby. I hit Brian up a few weeks ago because I had an extra Cutch relic that I wanted to send his way. It was a nice card - nothing too crazy - a dual relic from Topps Tribute #/50, but obviously a better fit in his collection than in mine. In return, he asked if I'd prefer to work out specific cards or if I'd rather be surprised. The last time Brian surprised me, he sent me the single most generous trade package that I've ever received. It was loaded with autographs, memorabilia, and 1/1 cards. It was a quick decision and I opted for another surprise, and once again, I'm absolutely blown away...


This is exactly what the box looked like when I opened it up - sitting on top was a slabbed Cutch GOLD REFRACTOR! 


Andrew McCutchen - 2011 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor #/50 PSA 8

If you're a reader of the blog, you've seen that I've been targeting black and gold refractors. Nothing better than opening this box to see a Gold Cutch form the King of Cutch himself! 

I can't make this stuff up - there were over 50 cards, many of which were memorabilia and autographs. It's too much to show all at once, so I'll show a few of my favorite cards from this lot.


Andrew McCutchen - 2014 Topps, Camo Parallel #/99

More Cutch! I actually really like the camo parallels and I couldn't tell you why - maybe because we're used to seeing camo jerseys in baseball now and MLB does an excellent job with military appreciation.


Trevor Williams - 2018 Topps Gallery Autograph

The art work of Tops Gallery is undeniably beautiful. This is such an easy-on-the eyes card - and somehow, the sticker autograph really works here. A welcome addition to my small collection of Trevor Williams autos.


(Left) Quinn Priester - 2018 Leaf Perfect Game Green Shimmer Autograph #1/1
(Center) Adam Frazier - 2017 Panini Chronicles Prizm Red Autograph #/25
(Right) Oliver Perez - 2005 Upper Deck Origins Old Judge Autograph

Three firsts here. This the first 1/1 autograph that I'm adding to my collection - and it's no small name. Quinn Priester was the Pirates first pick in the 2019 draft and projects to be a big part of the rotation in the future. 

The Adam Frazier autograph is also a first for me. For whatever reason, Adam Frazier has only signed autographs in non-licensed products, which I typically don't purchase. But my goodness, for a non-licensed card, this is as good as it gets. That red ink pairs beautifully with the red ice background. 

Oliver Perez was one of my favorite Pirates in the mid 2000's, which was a very very dark time for the franchise. Outside of Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Brian Giles, and Jason Bay, we didn't have a whole lot to cheer for. Ollie made his debut in 2002 with the Padres, but he really broke out in 2005 when he went 12-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 239 K's for the Bucs. He was one of the best lefties in the league that year, and would have had a shot at 20 wins if he was on any other team but Pittsburgh. 

Oh, and this dude is still pitching in the major leagues. He moved to a reliever role around 2012 and has a made a living there ever since. Aside from Albert Pujols, I can't think of any player that is more tenured than Oliver Perez. This is my first autograph of his and I'm excited to add to this to my collection. 


Pedro Alvarez - 2015 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor #/50


Andrew McCutchen - 2009 Bowman Sterling Rookie Gold Refractor #/50

Saving the best for the last. Even if shiny gold cards aren't your thing, you can't tell me that this isn't a gorgeous card. Seeing Cutch here in the old pinstripes is a reminder that he really was the central part of the Pirates turning the ship around (pun intended) and becoming a competitor. He joined the big league club in 2009 and had to compete every day for three years before even dreaming about the playoffs. The card embodies his rookie year: his dreadlocks starting to grow in, the dirt on the pants, and following through on a big swing demonstrating his signature bat speed. This card is a competitor for the top card in my Cutch collection, and is an early contender to be in the top 5 coolest cards I've acquired this year.

Thanks again, Brian! I'm grateful to have friend like you in the hobby. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

So Close You Can Almost Taste It

Since the release of 2019 Topps Chrome Update, I've been chipping away at my first ever rainbow - that of Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds. I'm not sure what exactly constitutes a rainbow in the sports card collector dictionary but I'm making my own rules. I'm not looking for any printing plates (all that grey would sure dim a rainbow), and sadly I think I can write off the superfractor. It was pulled right around the product launch and immediately sold on eBay for a hefty sum. It hasn't resurfaced since so I'll infer that it has found a happy home with a big time Pirates collector. 


Yesterday in the mail I received the orange parallel (#/25). It came my way via eBay, and I believe this was the first time I've made a purchase on eBay in this fashion: The card was listed beginning at .99 for a standard 7 day auction. Interestingly, the seller had the "Make an offer" option enabled, so I went ahead and did just that - despite knowing that I would probably get the card for a lot less if I just waited out the auction. This was a risk I was willing to take. I've been looking for this card for all of 2020 and then some. This is the first time one has surfaced in over 6 months. I made a fair offer - right around what others had sold for - and it was accepted. I probably overpaid and I've never been more at peace with it!

With the addition of the orange parallel I am now just one card away from completing my rainbow. The final one is the red parallel which is numbered to just five copies.

And boy, is it elusive. I haven't seen any on eBay, ever. There also haven't been any postings on COMC and no activity on TCDB aside from it showing up on a few Wantlists. I fear that these five cards may very well be sitting inside packs inside of unopened boxes in a warehouse somewhere. And since this a retial-only product that could create even more complications. We can only hope that one of these "Breakers" out there does a massive, 100 box break and one of them makes their way to the resale market.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Anyone Familiar With SGC Grading?

We'll get to that question in a minute - first some PC adds. Over the past month or two I've spent a lot of time searching for, purchasing, and showcasing the Pirates gold refractors. While the gold has been flowing in and that's my top collecting priority, I'm also constantly on the hunt for black refractors as well.


Mitch Keller - 2019 Topps Update Silver Pack 1984 Topps Baseball Chrome Black Refractor  #/199

This came to me through through a recent PWE swap through TCDB. I must say, as a newcomer I'm really enjoying trading on the site. Even though I'm not a set builder, I'm a team collector, and I'm finding that it's a really great way to turn unwanted cards into wanted Pirates cards. The "cost" of acquiring this card was a Miguel Andujar base rookie, a 2018 Mike Trout base card and a few other commons. My trade partner also sent me two Bryan Reynolds rookie cards and another parallel that I'll highlight in a future post. This card would run me $5-$10 and chances are I would have eventually bought it - so this a big win.


(L) Cole Tucker - 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Black Refractor #/75

I wish someone had this available for trade too, but the black refractor on the left is my most recent eBay pickup. Two weeks ago I spotlighted the same card but that was the gold refractor (pictured right). This is the first "black and gold" combination I've acquired. 


Gerrit Cole - 2013 Topps Chrome Black Refractor #/100

On to my SGC question.

I've been keeping my eye out for this card for a while. It's been the most difficult component of the 2013 Topps Chrome black refractor Pirates team set, which consists of four other cards - Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin, Startling Marte, and Justin Wilson. I don't own that many graded cards. Maybe 12-15 total - but all of the ones that I own are either from BGS or PSA. In fact, I'd never even heard of SGC until I saw this card, so needless to say this is the first SGC in my collection. I wasn't searching for a graded copy. In fact, if I had my pick I would prefer this card raw, but the price on the card was the same as the raw cards have gone for. So I pulled the trigger. The condition of the card isn't of terrible importance to me in this case.

I am curious, though. I see that it is "Mint" and looks to have received a grade of 9 for *something*, but also a grade of 96. Is that a scale of 1-100? If so, what's the 9 under Mint for?

Has anyone reading ever graded with SGC? Any and all advice is appreciated...