Sunday, August 25, 2019

Farewell to Captain Luck

As you've heard by now, Andrew Luck announced his retirement last night. When you take into account his injury history - torn abdomen, lacerated kidney, torn labrum, his recent calf issue, and probably a host of concussions - it's hard not to respect his decision. Congrats to Andrew on a great seven years in the NFL, and congrats to him for his bravery and for making a decision that he feels is best for his life.

I have a sports card association with Andrew Luck, and it's not sunshine and rainbows. Is there a certain card, or cards, in your collection that you entirely regret purchasing, for whatever reason? So much so that you don't even looking at them?

Looking back at 2012, I can't recall an NFL draft where the #1 pick was so certain. From the last day of Andrew Luck's college career right to the minute that Roger Goodell called his name, the world knew who was going number one. Number two wasn't in much doubt either as Luck and RGIII went back to back. 

And that doesn't happen too often. As the card below says on the back: Luck and Griffin going 1-2 was the first time since 1999. It may have started a trend, as we've seen it twice since then - 2015 with Jameison Winston and Marcus Mariota again in 2016 with Jared Goff and then Carson Wentz. 

All of that hype is exactly why, in 2012, I found myself needing to add these two guys to my collection, and there was a lot of dual cards out there of these guys. Autographs were insanely priced, and memorabilia cards were still cool. 

So what did I do? Right when these cards started to come out I picked up a 2012 Topps Prime Dual Jersey /25 ... for an absolutely insane price tag. 

I wish I was kidding, but I can't even look at this card without smirking and shaking my head and muttering to myself, "You're such an idiot." 

Enough self-deprecating It is a nice card. It's fine. But you know the phrase "The one that got away?" Whatever the opposite of that is... that's what this card is to me. The one that didn't get away, but I sure wish it did. 

All in good fun. The collector's plight, I suppose. Again, congrats to Andrew Luck on a short, but excellent career.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Contest Over at Collecting Cutch

Brian over at Collecting Cutch is holding an awesome contest featuring a Troy Tulowitzki auto. It's for an excellent cause - a cause that is sadly close to many of us. 

Head over his page, check it out, and enter!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Collecting the Fantasy Team

Before I start - there are some questions at the end, and I’d love to hear from you.

This year a friend of mine from college invited me to join his fantasy baseball league. It’s my first time playing fantasy baseball in about 5 years, and I have to admit: I’m having a blast. I’m definitely a little rusty, and it took me a little while to get the hang of things. My team is sitting at 7-10-2 and I’ll likely miss the playoffs. The league had a higher buy-in than I’m used to, but I’ll admit, the investment alone has kept me... invested. It’s a 14 category league (7 batter categories, 7 pitcher categories). During the draft, I definitely over-valued relief pitching and under-valued starting pitching. I usually win saves and holds, but I rarely come close in K’s. I usually win steals and runs, but I’m short on HR and RBI, and so on.

I have experienced a completely unforeseen side effect from playing Fantasy Baseball: It gets me interested in random players from around the league because they’re on my team (I bet you’ve never seen a better Jason Vargas fan, at least this month). Not just that, but it makes me want to collect those guys. And I’ve started to do so. In the league, our rosters sit at 24 players total and about five of those spots consistently rotate different waiver pickups, spot starts, etc.

I consider myself to be somewhat of an autograph collector. I am by no means exclusive to autographs but I’m always looking to get my hands on them for an affordable price. I have some superstars on my team of course – Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Grienke – but for the sake of affordability, I’ve focused more on the middle-tier players on my team. When I can’t get an auto for a decent price, the next choice is a serial numbered rookie card – so there’s a mix here.

Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox – 2013 Bowman Chrome Rookie Refractor Auto

About the dude: This guy has been great this year, and man, he has flown completely under the radar. The White Sox being mediocre hasn’t helped. He missed about a month with an ankle sprain, but in 334 ABs this year, Timmy is hitting a cool .332 with 13 HR, 44 RBI, 14 steals, and has a .503 OBP. Oh, and he’s also insanely fun to watch. I drafted him late as backup/bench player, and his emergence and contribution allowed me trade my second overall pick, Francisco Lindor, for a huge haul. He’s now my every day SS and one of my favorite players in the show.

About the card: One thing that drives me crazy about 2013 Bowman Chrome is that for whatever reason, they didn’t add serial numbers to the auto refractors. I have a real fondness for gold #/# stamps. Either way, this is a beauty. Looks like Tim is about to unleash a 90 mph cross-body throw for a bang-bang play at first.

Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins – 2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects Blue Refractor /250

About the dude: Similar to Anderson, I would categorize Berrios as “under the radar.” He shouldn’t be. He’s the Twins best pitcher. 10-6, 150 K in 157 IP, 3.37 ERA and 17 Quality Starts. He’s currently hit the roughest patch of his season, giving up 15 ER in his last three outings. That should change tomorrow when he faces the Tigers.

About the card: This is right in my wheelhouse. Chrome, Rookie, /250. Picked up for the price of a hobby pack.

Side note – My desire for a Berrios auto drove me to do one thing that I really don’t love to do, and that’s get in a last-second bidding war on an eBay auction. I think this dude really could be a future Cy Young winner. I want his dang autograph! I was watching a 2013 Bowman Chrome rookie auto of his on eBay, graded 9.5. I ended up winning and…. had instant buyer’s remorse. I listed it on eBay for Buy it Now OBO, and actually sold it a few weeks later for more than I paid. I was thankful to recoup the cost and get a small profit in return, paying for the blue refractor.

Eduardo Escobar, 2B/SS/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks – 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor /799

About the dude: Would you believe me if I told you that this man just crossed over 100 RBI, just two RBI behind NL League leader, Freddie Freeman? It’s true. He’s also slugged 28 homers to go with them. Extremely productive numbers for a guy that gets little-to-no recognition.

About the card: More of my M.O. – Chrome, Rookie, Serial #. Nice little card picked up for a few dollars.

He doesn’t have any autos hanging out there from early in his career, but he has a ton of “buyback” cards popping up from 2019 Archives. They’re reasonably priced, look cool, and come encased and sealed. I don’t know much about these cards. Can anyone shine some light for me? What’s the story with these?

Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles – 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor /799

About the dude: Not that it matters because they’re a dumpster fire, but Baltimore is probably stoked about this guy’s performance. .278 BA, 17 HR, 28 Steals from a middle infielder… you’ll take that all day. He’s on pace to break his career highs in both HR and RBI while chipping in 30+ swiped bags.

About the card: Cost me a dollar on COMC. 

Three other players that I’d love to add, but are just too dang pricey right now:

Oscar Mercado, OF, Cleveland Indians 

Oscar has enjoyed a small breakout this year – .281 BA, 10 HR, 11 SB in 375 AB. He was a waiver pickup about a month ago when I was in need of steals. Bowman rookie autos of his start at $25… too rich for my blood.

Franmil Reyes, OF, Cleveland Indians

Broke onto the scene this year because of some early power in San Diego and was sent to Cleveland at the deadline. He’s currently sitting at 29 HR, but only 53 RBI. Sounds like a lot of solo shots. His Bowman rookie autos are starting around $15…. I’ll wait.

Domingo German, SP, New York Yankees 

Currently leading the MLB with 16 wins and only three losses – you can thank the Yankees murderous lineup for that. Give him some credit, though. He has struck out 131 in 121 innings with a 4.15 ERA, and is probably the best starter on the Yankees right now. Bowman rookie autos are going for around $50… nope.

Now, I’d love to hear from YOU! Do you play Fantasy Baseball? Have you the past? Has it ever inspired you to collect players you normally don’t?

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!