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!