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...

Saturday, April 18, 2020

2013-14 Panini Crusade Hobby Box Break

I promise you; I'm not that guy that takes his took his stimulus check and blew it on cards. I'm very fortunate to still have my job, and although the current state of affairs will likely have some sort of long-term affect on my career, I'm secure right now. I'd be lying if I said the stimulus didn't play a small part in the splurge on a hobby box... but I probably would have pulled the trigger on this anyhow but maybe the extra capital helped take away the guilt.

I'm not sure what the MSRP on these boxes was when they launched, but this puppy set me back $200 from Blowout. For what basketball hobby boxes cost these days, that's on the low end. The price is reasonable because the 2013 rookie class is absolutely atrocious. 2013 was the Anthony Bennett year, so uh, rough from the very first pick. Seven years later, there are only three players from that draft that have made an All-Star team: Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gobert, and one Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

No slight to 'Dipo and Gobert, but this draft is now about one player and one player only, and that's Giannis. The shot at hitting a Giannis Rookie brings some real intrigue to this product for me. 

Each box promises one autograph and one memorabilia card. More importantly to me, it includes 18 Crusade cards which is what draws me in. That's roughly a one in 15 shot at a super badass Giannis Rookie. Not great, but there are bigger long shots out there. 

The Crusade cards are really appealing to me and they're the driving force behind the fun of this product. I've always gotten the feel that the low-numbered Crusade cards are often more sought after than most of the autographs in this set and that's a refreshing change of pace. The Crusade inserts came into existence right around the time that Panini Prizm started to get really big. The way I remember it, way back around 2012-2014, these cards were actually hotter than Panini Prizm. They were Prizm before Prizm, if you will.

On to the break:

Starting out with the base design. I'm not that big of a fan of this design. It's a bit busy. I like the 2012-13 design much more. Lucky for me, I'm not buying this Crusade for the base cards. Not complaining with the two names represented here, however!

Knight Court and Royalty are two of the various inserts. Again, busy and unimpressive, so let's get to the good stuff...

Ahhhh. The scanner does these cards a lot of justice, but I swear they're even prettier in person. Out of my 18 Crusade cards, 11 were of the blue variety which are the base design. Any other colors are serial numbered parallels. Pictured above are eight of my 11 blues. Anthony Davis in the top right is the highlight on a really solid second-year card. You'll notice some retired greats in there as well - the "Retired" checklist has 50 NBA Greats and Hall of Famers.

Red parallels showed up with two retired greats. These parallels are numbered /349. The retired checklist is heavy on Hall of Famers, but isn't exclusive to HOFers as we see Glen Rice pop in. Rice is well remembered for his All-Star seasons with the Heat the Hornets, but I'll always remember him as a Knick for one year in the early 2000's.

I pulled four Teal Crusade parallels, which are numbered /249. The highlight here is definitely Yao Ming backing down an invisibly opponent who is undoubtedly shorter than him. Yao was three years retired in 2013, and this set was released two years before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Fun fact: Did you know Yao is only 39 years old right now? 

The last parallel that I pulled is this sweet Khris Middleton purple parallel, numbered /49. Not the Milwaukee Buck I was hoping for but I'll take it. He's a two-time All-Star and one of the most-under-the-radar stars in the NBA. He'll never be the first option on the Bucks as long as Giannis is there but there's a reason the bucks have signed him to a 5 year deal... twice.

My first hit, a Michael-Kidd Gilchrist patch #/299 and rocking a Bobcats jersey. Definitely an underwhelming pul in 2020, knowing what we do about MKG's career. If this was pulled upon the release of this product it might have been a different story. A former #2 overall pick and a guy that many thought would easily pan out to be perennial All-Star.

And finally: The crown jewel of the break. I was floored when I flipped this over to see a beautiful on-card autograph from one of the best to ever play the game.

And how sweet is it that he signs his name "Abdul Jabbar."!?

I really wasn't expecting much from the autograph in this break. This comes from the "Sultans of Springfield" checklist which features 25 Hall of Famers. I feel like you always see those checklists when buying, but you know in your heart you'll have no shot. I took a look over the rookie checklist - which yes, has Giannis - but it also has the likes of Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Len, Shane Larkin, and so on. I had already accepted my fate of pulling one of them. 

Coincidentally, I was also on Twitter today and saw some rumors that Panini is no longer honoring expired redemptions. Painini hasn't issued an official statement on the matter but there were some tweets from an alleged Panini employee with an unverified account. I'm 50/50 on believing it so take it for what you will.  Of course I stumbled upon these Tweets a day after buying this box, so I was all but certain I would be pulling an expired redemption. Luck was on my side today. All things considered, this break turned out to be a lot of fun - everything I was hoping for aside from a Giannis rookie of course!

I'll tell you what - I certainly wasn't expecting to be adding a signature from the NBA's all-time leader scorer to my collection, so I'm grateful.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Weekly Additions to the Pirates Gold Room

The quest for gold bordered Pirates cards continues. This week features another pair of 2019 rookies who will play a large role in the success of the team moving forward.

Bryan Reynolds - 2016 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Gold Refractor #/50

Bryan Reynolds - 2019 Topps Update Gold Refractor Autograph #/50

With regards to the card on top, I'm bending the rules a bit for the Pirates Gold Room. The idea of collecting gold parallels was to "match" the gold border with the gold colors the you'll find on all Pirates jerseys. Reynolds was still with the Giants for his coveted 1st Bowman card - and orange sure as heck doesn't match with gold. Thankfully his almost-all-black jersey is pretty close to the Pirates colors. I'll let it slide.

I've learned something about myself as a collector: I don't mind collecting cards that picture my favorite player on their former teams. Ideally all of my Pirates cards would have the guys in Pittsburgh jerseys, but if they came via trade, I'm perfectly fine with them donning another team's threads. Even the Yankees... *eye roll*

How about you - will you collect your favorite players wearing their former team's colors? Or do you want your PC cards to only display your teams' logo?

Both of the cards above came to my attention through one of my eBay saved searches, which is about as broad as they get: "Bryan Reynolds Gold." I'm a huge fan of the saved search option on eBay.

The listing was for three cards total - it included both of the Reynolds cards above - but it had two copies of the 2016 BDPP Chrome! It was a Buy It Now, and the price seemed a little low to me. The price would have been fair if it were for just these two cards, so the extra copy of the 2016 BDPP seemed like a real bonus. I jumped on it just hours after it was listed. It might have flown a little under-the-radar since the cards were in a "lot." I've read that eBay sellers that are looking to maximize profit should avoid selling in lots since high-value cards in the group can get watered down by the rest of the cards. I'm thinking I may have been on the right of the the deal!

Cole Tucker - 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Gold Refractor #/50

Gold refractor, or mustard yellow refractor? 

It seems that some time between 2014 and 2016, Topps changed their definition of gold. The two Reynolds cards seem to shine and pop a little brighter than gold refractors back in 2014. Not complaining, this card is still a beauty and looks better in-hand than on the scanner.

I wrote a bit about Cole Tucker in my previous post when Gavin hooked me up with my first Tucker auto - he's a first round draft pick and should be the Pirates shortstop of the future. It's kind of crazy to think that this card is already six years old, and Tucker is only 23 years old and made his MLB debut last year. When this card was printed, Tucker had just turned 18 and just graduated high school. I can't imagine being printed on baseball cards a few months after I graduated high school. On the other hand, it's also hard to fathom grown men paying lots of money for those cards, and yet here we are!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Mailday! ...And I Finally Joined TCDB

One of my oldest trade partners, Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown came through with a sweet PWE this week. I dug way back in the blog archives and discovered that Gavin and I first traded in November of 2013. Almost seven years of trading sports cards - that's a hell of a run and I'm pretty grateful for that.

I sent Gavin a stack of random stuff - a handful of players on his PC and an extra Joe Musgrove autograph that I had. There were even some basketball cards thrown in. In return, Gavin sent me back some great Buccos cards.

(L) Jordy Mercer - 2018 Topps Big League Gold Parallel
(M) Ralph Kiner - 2001 Fleer Greats of the Game
(R) Ralph Kiner - 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites

I've never purchased any Topps Big League packs, but many of these cards have made their way to me through trade. I'm cool with that. The first card I pulled out of the PWE was the Jordy Mercer BL card. Even better, a gold parallel, which of course looks awesome on Pirates cards. This marks my third Jordy Mercer gold parallel.

(L) Jameson Taillon - 2016 Bowman's Best Blue Rookie Refractor #/250 RC
(R) Tyler Glasnow - 2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects Green Refractor #/399

Bowman's best is another product I haven't purchased any boxes or packs of, but have acquired a lot of cards individually. The cards are clean and they've had some great checklists for Pirates. This Taillon rookie is really nice. My favorite part of the card is the gold "P" logo in the background. The Glasnow prospect card is a great addition as well. I don't look for it any more, but I opened a ton of Bowman Platinum back in the day. 

The big prize of the PWE comes in the form of my first Cole Tucker autograph. The Pirates first round draft pick in 2014 is (or was?) likely to be their starting shortstop this year. His autographs have been a little too pricey for me. At only 23 years old, I suppose he's still considered a high-ceiling prospect. I was really excited to get my hands on this trough trade. Big thanks, Gavin!

James Conner - 2016 Donruss Rated Rookie
Austin Meadows - 2018 Topps Update
Tyler Glasnow - 2017 Topps
PNC Park - 2019 Topps

In other news, I finally joined the TCDB a few weeks ago. Not only did I join, but I'm proud to say that I have finished cataloguing my entire collection of 4,730 cards. Compared to most collectors on the site, I realize that less than 5,000 cards is an incredibly small number. I live in an apartment. I also move a lot for my job, and frankly I just hate having a ton of cards eating up storage space.

The bigger story here is that I catalogued every last one of those cards one-by-one, card by card. Boy did it take a while. That's the real reason I think it took me so long to sign up - I found the prospect of manually uploading thousands of sports cards to be a bit daunting. Furthermore, I organize my cards by team - not by set - so it really made things interesting. Eventually I figured out a system and was able to get several hundred cards uploaded each time I sat down. 

This was all possible because of quarantine. Without the extra time, I don't know if I would have undertaken the project. Cataloguing cards has become a fun and productive use of my time to fill the random gaps during the day - between work calls and such. 

I received my first trade proposal last week. A collector from Florida requested four cards that I had, and he asked me to check out his trade list. I found the four cards above and the deal was quickly accepted. The PWE was in my mailbox just a few days later. I'm really excited to continue on, hopefully turning lots of random base cards into Pirates cards that I want. That's the whole idea, right? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Mailday: More Cole

Last week blessed me with two awesome mailers from fellow bloggers. First off was a nice fat bubble mailer from Kerry at Cards on Cards. Despite the fact the Kerry is a supporter of one of the Bucs biggest rivals... I love reading his blog. I also have a knack for pulling Cardinals so I'm really happy to send them to a good home. I sent Kerry a nice stack of "Cards" on his wantlist and he sent me an excellent assortment in return. Some highlights:

(L) 2020 Topps Series 1 Gerrit Cole Variation SP
(R) 2019 Topps Update Gerrit Cole 1984 Insert

This year's release of Topps Flagship brought us the first (photoshopped) look at Gerrit Cole in a Yankees uniform. I hate it... like, a lot, but I'll always support the guy. 

2013 Topps Update Gerrit Cole RC

Ah, thats better. He looked so much better in black and gold. This card is Gerrit's first pro rookie card. He made his debut in June of that year so his first rookie appeared in Topps Update. I was at his debut. It was a beautiful summer night. Cole went six and two thirds and out-dueled Tim Lincecum. He helped his own cause by knocking a two-run single to deep center field in his first career at-bat. As an AL guy now, I bet he doesn't miss being in the batters box.

2015-16 NBA Hoops Great SIGnificance Jerami Grant Auto 

Switching gears to basketball - here's one of the few Syracuse alum that is having success at the NBA level. Grant played two successful years at 'Cuse and then jumped to the big leagues. He was drafted in the first round based strictly on potential, and he's panned out quite nicely. 

This is my first Jerami Grant auto so I'm super pumped to add to this to my Syracuse Alum collection. Thanks for the trade Kerry.

I also received a PWE from John at Johnny's Trading Spot. Yes - he managed to fit all of this safely and cleanly in a PWE! The top row has three of the 3D mini-cards that Kellogg's included in their products back in the 1970's and 80's. Two of them are the Candy Man - John Candelaria - and sandwiched in the middle and out of view is Manny Sanguillen. 

John also threw in three vintage steelers cards. Two greats. I don't actively collect old-school stuff so I'm always excited to have these cards show up in the mailbox. The Terry Bradshaw is my favorite, from 1978 Topps. This card was produced right in the middle of a pair of Steeler Super Bowls. A truly iconic decade for the team. 

Top it off with a nice little stack of Pirates from 2007 Topps, this was a sweet PWE. Thanks, John!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Random Card Post: 1988 Score Phil Niekro

Posting about Tim Wakefield last week got me thinking about other knuckleballers in the MLB, so here's a random post to honor the greatest knuckleballer of all time. 

Nothing to see here, just a 48 year old, then-active player on a baseball card...

1988 Score Phil Niekro

"It's like watching Mario Andretti park a car" 
-Ralph Kiner, after watching Niekro's knuckleball.

"Trying to hit that thing is a miserable way to make a living"
-Pete Rose

"Niekro struck out a hitter once and I never touched the ball. It hit me in the shinguard, bounced out to Clete Boyer at third base and he threw the runner out at first. Talk about a weird assist; 2-5-3 on a strikeout."
-Bob Uecker, one of his many catchers.