February 26, 2015

Snowy Mail Day

This is the scene out my window when I woke up this morning. Granted, it's nowhere near what the Northeast is dealing with, but I live in North Carolina. This is far more than NC knows how to deal with. So, it was a stay at home and take care of the kids kind of work day today. I've got care packages prepped and ready to send to a few of you out there in the blogosphere, but getting to the post office will have to wait until another day. Sorry for the delay. I am also expecting a PWE or two and a few items I won from either eBay or Listia. So, I had at least a little motivation to go out and shovel the driveway, in hopes I'd be rewarded by at least one package.

I took my girls out to play in the snow for a bit, then we went inside and got lunch and hot cocoa. Then it was time for them to take their naps. Once they were fast asleep, I told my wife(who was taking conference calls from the home office) that I was going out to finish up the driveway. I found out two things. First, I'm getting too old for this shoveling out stuff. It took quite the toll on me. Maybe it's just because I'm not used to this anymore. It has been 18 years since I moved to NC from the Hudson Valley region of NY. As an aside, I think I'm the only transplant that actually misses the winter weather, but I digress. Second, when I made my way to the mailbox, I did have a bubble mailer waiting as a reward for my hard work. From the packaging, it was obvious that it was one of the eBay items I was expecting. The only question left was which one was it. I got back inside, took off my snow clothes, and opened the package.

THIS is what was waiting for me. I was hoping that it would be this one! I'm not going to go all crazy and try for a rainbow for either of Jeter's cards this year(no way it'll fit into my collecting budget), but I feel like at least picking up the gold and rainbow parallels of card #1 and card #319 should be reasonable. This is the first parallel in that quest. If any of my readers have any leads on these, I'd appreciate he heads up(especially since I wasn't lucky enough to pull any of the DJ parallels in my own packs). All I can say is I'm thankful that the USPS motto 'neither snow nor rain...' held true on this snowy day and they were able to make their deliveries as normal.

The Goods from Johnny's Trading Post

A while back, I initiated a trade with John from the great blog, Johnny's Trading Spot. I had inquired about an item I saw on his John Elway collection blog and fortunately, it was available. I had just seen his post about finishing Diamond Kings sets and I knew I had the entire Yaz puzzle that I could send to him. So, I emailed and asked what else it would take for him to part with the Elway item. He told me to send the puzzle and whatever I thought was fair from his Braves want list. You can see his post highlighting the stuff I sent to him here. He was impressed by the volume that I sent and told me he was going to come up with some extra things to send my way. When I got home yesterday, there was a bubble mailer sitting in my mail box. I couldn't wait to tear it open and see the new additions to my collection.

I'll start with three Bernie cards that I needed. As previously stated, he is one of my favorite Yankees to collect and it was a great sight to see these peek out of the stack.

Next up, a sparkly CC and a Pettitte that I hadn't seen before. I also needed the Pipgras since there are like a million cards in that set(6,743 to be exact).

The Torre is actually a sticker and it may be one of my favorite things to come out of the stack. I love both of see Cones. At another time in my collecting career, I had the Smoke 'N Heat insert, but it went missing. Now I have a replacement copy! The other highlights his perfect game. Both have pictures of him wearing jerseys that honor fallen Yankee greats. Though it's hard to see, the card on the left shows the number 5, honoring DiMaggio, on his left sleeve. The other clearly shows the number 7, obviously a nod to Mickey Mantle. Great stuff!

A former Captain and two new Tex cards. It's hard to tell, but the one in the middle is die-cut on top and bottom.

Three awesome overproduction era, box set cards of the Yankees closer of the late '80's.

I hadn't seen that Toys R Us set, but I love the red border. A Black Gold Mike Stanley brings back memories of trying to trade with my friends to get some of these when I was younger. I like the Myers/Longoria, but am bummed that Wil has moved from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast for this season.

Two cool inserts, showing 4 great players.

Vintage! That is my first 1958. It's always great to find great and unexpected vintage cards.

Now on to the Elway item that started this trade in the first place. While searching a post that was showing a bunch of duplicate Elway items available for trade, I saw something that I've wanted for the better part of 10 years. It was a John Elway 7-11 NFL Slurpee disc from his cardboard rookie year of 1984!

There it is, top and center. Yeah, it's an oddball item. Why the fuss? I had one of these when I was younger, and like so many things from my childhood, I don't even know when and where I lost it. Now it's back in my collection for good. John was nice enough to throw in a few other extras to sweeten the deal. I love the throwback uni on the UD card(I have the base, but needed this parallel) and any card that shows the pre-1997 season jerseys is OK-by-me! He even tossed in a Warren Moon disc for good measure. I don't collect him, but I remember watching him play and I'm glad to give this a good home.

Thanks for the generosity John! I had a blast searching through the stack of cards you sent me. I hope we can set up another trade really soon!

February 25, 2015

Cards From Nachos Grande

I know I've written about how much fun I had taking part in my first group break a few weeks ago courtesy of Chris over at Nachos Grande. I appreciate that Chris takes on the challenge of hosting breaks so that guys like me can potentially score some really great stuff at a price inside my budget. I'm almost as excited to join this new break which will include a case of 2015 Topps Heritage and a bonus box of 2004 Topps Clubhouse Collection(which is full of hits). There are still some really great slots available and Chris has started making deals to make some of the slots a bit more equal in terms of potential hits that can be pulled. If you've never joined a break or have had fun with them in he past, do yourself a favor and check out the details over at Nachos Grande.

Chris' generosity doesn't end with hosting breaks. He recently opened some Topps series one for himself and I inquired about the availability of some cards to help with my set needs. A few days later, a PWE with these arrived in my mailbox:

I know some don't care for this design, but it is OK in my book(except that there are black, silver, and gold variations, really Topps?). For me, the real draw of this set is the write-ups on the back that describe each player's first home run.

It sure isn't going to be the easiest insert from series one to piece together since it has a 40 card checklist AND is retail-only. I'll get them all someday. Cross three more of my list(which I recently posted, BTW). Thanks again Chris!

February 23, 2015

Last Series 1 Packs

Note: before I officially begin this post, let me start by saying that I have Nacho Grande's group break of series one to partially thank for jump starting my decision to complete the set this year. Chris has announced his next group break which will involve 2015 Topps Heritage and a bonus box of hit-laden product. There are still a bunch of great teams left to be claimed. Do yourself a favor and go here to check out the details. It's a LOT of fun to be involved in one of his breaks! C'mon, you know you want to...

Okay, public service announcement complete.

I've been out of the 'Hobby' aspect of collecting for a while since I do t really have a local card shop that I can frequent. I was searching for some info about series one last week and I came upon the following promo poster:

I quickly searched the attached list of shops that were participating in the promotion. I found one that's about a two hour drive from my house and called them hoping that I'd be able to get my hands on a pack. Fortunately, they still had a few redemption cards, so I hopped in the car and made the drive. 

Once I arrived, they didn't have much product left in stock. I grabbed their last jumbo pack and four out of eight of the hobby packs they had left. Once I made the purchase, they handed me the redemption card with my receipt.

It's been really difficult, but I've saved the packs because I wanted to open everything together once I was able to pick up the Spring Fever pack. This week I made the drive back out to pick it up. As an aside, there happened to be a Toys R Us close to the shop, so I stopped in to see if they had any of the blisters that had the purple parallels and picked up their last two. Here is what I plan to be the last pack purchases of series one this year(if I can control my impulses).

My intent was to make these packs last for a few days, but that idea went out the window as I was opening the first pack. It seems I have gained the control that I can have packs sitting in the house unopened, but once I start, all restraint goes out the window. Here is the haul.

I could have done much worse on the purple parallels from Toys R Us. The corners are even in pretty good condition. I like these much better than in past seasons, but they still need to be distributed differently. A separate pack(preferably with more than 3 cards) would be a good start because just putting them in the blister pack isn't cutting it. I'll be holding on to the Mitchell and Kiermaier, but I think the Corcino and the Chapman will be heading to a new home very soon.

Two pretty decent parallels. I certainly could have done much worse in this area. The LL card is a keeper for sure.

I think I'm going to try to put together the Robbed insert set, so pulling this Gomez was a good thing. Unfortunately, no autograph in my Spring Fever promo pack. However, the five regular cards I pulled from it couldn't have been much better. I really like these and if the checklist wasn't 50 cards, I might actually try to build it, but for now I think that's unlikely. Maybe I'll just hunt down a few other singles and leave it at that. I also did really well in pulling base cards still needed for my set. I got my needed cards number down to 39 from 80. I'm almost there. 

So, there you have the highlights of what I plan to be my last series one packs of 2015. I hope I can manage to control those impulses.

February 20, 2015

2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Team Set Highlights

Several weeks ago, I stumbled onto a post from Colbey at the Cardboard Collections blog purely by accident. I had typed Cardboard Connection into my browser(or so I thought, gotta love auto correct) and I was taken to Colbey's blog's home page. Boy am I glad I found it. Not only did I find another great blog to read, but the post that was most recent was one offering  team sets from the 2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary limited factory set to fellow collectors for only $4 to cover shipping. I jumped at the chance to claim the Yankees set. There are two differences between these cards and the regular issues:

1 - the Diamond Anniversary logo replaces the regular Topps logo
2 - the words 'Factory Set Limited Edition' are printed above the players' names

I sent payment to Colbey and was all set to add some new Yankees to the collection.

Three of the Yankees' Core Four. I love the Jeter since it shows his patented jump throw.

I like Mantle as much as anyone else and it's great to add this one to my collection, but I'm happy that Topps didn't make a card number 7 in the 2015 set. This is a great team card with Jeter and Rivera at the center of the action with a supporting cast of Cano, Posada, and Teixeira.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought about additional singles that I wanted from the set. So, I emailed Colbey and asked if I could claim two additional teams. He told me I could, and actually cut e a really good deal since he could ship all three teams together. So, I added the Mariners and the White Sox to my claimed teams.

Ichiro and King Felix! Ichiro is a sure fire Hall Of Famer and I loved watching his time with the Yankees over the past few seasons. With each passing season, I appreciate the career that King Felix is crafting more and more.

Colbey included these two since they featured CC and Felix.

Another Ichiro and the main reasons I claimed the Mariners And White Sox. RC's of Pineda and Chris Sale. I ave hogh hopes for Pineda to be productive this season, the Yanks are gonna need him to be if they have any chance of seeking out a wild card berth. Chris Sale is a great young lefty who doesn't get much hobby love plus he's been a staple on my many fantasy teams over the past few seasons.

That's my long overdue recap of Colbey's generosity. It's rare, but this is one occasion that I'm thankful for auto correct changing something I typed in. Thanks Apple!

February 19, 2015

Burn Baby Burn!

NOTE: I began writing a draft of this post a few weeks ago. I'm actually glad that I didn't get around to finishing it until now.

I LOVE Bernie Williams! He is one of my favorite Yankees of my generation. He was a great hitter(won an AL batting title) and fielder(won 4 Gold Gloves) and was a part of four World Series Championship teams. Addendum: the Yankees announced that they will be retiring Bernie's number 51 this Summer. This is a well deserved honor in my opinion and I'd love to be able to make the trip for the ceremony at Yankee Stadium. 

Despite playing in one of the biggest markets in MLB and putting up solid numbers over 16 seasons, he gets relatively little love in our hobby. That's actually alright with me though. It simply means that I have the chance to pick up his cards on the cheap.

Exhibit A:

This is a quad memorabilia card from 2005 Absolute. I've got plenty of relic cards, some dual, even a triple here or there, but this is the first quad relic I have. On top of that, it's the first shoe swatch embedded in a card to make its home in my collection. I was able to pick this up on eBay for just a few bucks, so I jumped at the chance to add a new Bernie.

It's hard not to love a hard working, home grown, low key, loyal player like him. 

February 15, 2015

Group Break Spoils courtesy of Nachos Grande

Yesterday I received the flat rate box that contained the haul from my first ever group break. I must say thanks to Chris over at Nachos Grande blog for hosting this. While I have no frame of reference, I really enjoyed the whole experience of being a part of his break. I found myself looking forward to watching the videos, filled with anticipation at what might be revealed from each pack. I've been eagerly anticipating each posted update with the highlights of each box as well(especially since it was hard to get a great look at some of the cards on the videos).

On to the contents of the box. The base additions brought my set needs down to 80 to complete the 350-card set(slowly but surely getting there). I'm still deciding which insert sets I'll try to complete(if any), but it was really great to check out the write ups on the Yankee and Cubs players that were sent my way. Chris also kept things interesting by throwing in a few unexpected bonuses for me to find as I was opening the multiple team bags within the box, like these:

Here are two of the Munnatawket custom minis that I've read so much about. I'll take whatever Jeter's I can find, so it was a nice surprise to see this fall out of the middle of a stack. Also included was this Chipz of CC Sabathia:

This is the first of these that I've laid hands on. They're an interesting idea, but I'm not sure that I'd actually buy packs of these. It's probably better that way, one less product to find funds for.

I won't lie, I was hoping that a gold parallel of one or the other of DJ's cards would be pulled, but no luck there. However, I am happy with the Tanaka and Gardner golds and I really like the gold Cubs team card. That was not the end of the parallel goodness either. These two were also pulled:

The Junior lake is one of the snow camo parallels numbered /99. I like the design, but more than likely this one will eventually find a new home elsewhere. I really haven't been a fan of the pink parallels in the past, but this one does look a little better than previous attempts. It doesn't hurt that it is a Yankee and...

There are only 50 of them! I've got big hopes for Pineda this coming season, if he can stay healthy and keep his hands out of the pine tar!

As I watched the videos, I kept seeing the Gallery of Greats inserts being pulled, but never a Yankee. I believe it was the final box and finally I saw that one would be coming my way!

This set truly is beautifully done. I'm glad to have one in the collection. It's a long way to complete that set, but I may have to tackle that task.

When I took the Cubs and was able to add the Yankees a bit later, I had visions/daydreams that one of the relics pulled would be a Mariano Rivera or Ernie Banks auto(I couldn't even dream that one of the 1/1 cut sigs would be pulled), but in the end, I'm just happy that one of the hits made its way to my collection. It turns out that it was one of my favorites out of the entire break.

I think Topps has done a really good job withe the manufactured relics this year. I like the design of the retail First Home Run relics(looking for the Jeter, Deion Sanders, Longoria, and Mattingly). These Future Stars pins are very well done too! This looks even better in person. I guess I'll have to start the search for a Tanaka to add to this Betances. 

I saved the best for last. Above are all of the cards from the actual break. Here is the final bonus card that I received:

Awesome! It's not a super rare, blogger relic/auto, but it is the first example of the creativity this blogosphere has to offer. This gets my gears turning. I'll have to try to produce my own little insert to send out in packages. This is going straight into one of those tobacco sized top loaders I found a few weeks ago!

Really great job overall, in my opinion, Chris. Thanks for hosting this break. I hope to join another of yours sometime in the future. 

February 11, 2015

Set Collecting in 2015 - Topps style

It's happened. For the first time since 2001, I've decided that I'm going to put together the Topps Flagship set. There's not a lot that I can say that hasn't already been said. I like the design, there are some solid rookies in series one, and it has final tribute cards to The Captain.

I previously discussed my decision to take the plunge into my first group break with this set as the product. So, with those cards soon to be en route, I couldn't wait to get my hands on some new cards. Once I finally found some at my local Target, I had to settle for a hanger box. No big inserts, but it was great to have my first taste of the new set. Over the next few days, I found some packs here and there, but my search for a blaster or two had come up empty until yesterday. I happened to stop in to a different local Target and I was able to pick up two of these.

I got home from work late last night, so I spent the little bit of time with my daughters that I could before tucking them into bed for the night. After they were asleep, I had some additional work to do, so I was able to wait until this morning to crack these open. With my goal being primarily to put together the set, I did fairly well with these blasters. In regards to great parallels or inserts, I'm on the fence. Without further delay, let me share the highlights so you can decide.

Of my two manu-relics, the one I prefer is the Goldschmidt shown above(the other is Adam Dunn). Hands down, the best card from either blaster was this gold parallel Paul Konerko send-off card. I'm not a Chi-Sox fan, but he was a great player and like many others, I think this will be a contender for card of the year. Of course, I would have been happier if this had been either Jeter's base or checklist card, but I'm definitely happy with this one. The Stanton comes from one of my favorite insert sets of this product. Great shot, great defensive play, great player, what else can you ask for?

I am also quite find of the Target-only, Jackie Robinson insert. I pulled three of the 10 from the set, so I'm on my way. Honestly, I was disappointed that I didn't pull the card of him playing college basketball. I do like the one of him holding his HOF plaque though. I think it's a clean design and the subject matter is great. I'll also be putting together the Babe Ruth Story insert, but I haven't decided if I will do all 10 cards or just 6-10(skipping his Boston years). The last noteworthy card is the Matt Kemp. If you look closely at his right pinkie, you may see that this is the 'sparkle' variation. I'm not a Dodgers or Kemp fan, but it is the first sparkle card I've pulled since they began doing them. I don't really care for them, but I thought I'd share since it is kinda a tough pull. If anyone out there is interested, I would listen to trade offers.

So, that's it. Two blasters down, though I did OK on base card collation, I'm still a ways off from the complete set. I'll at least pick up a few loose packs so I can use my Target coupons that came in the blasters, but I'm not sure how much more money I'm going to sink into busting packs. It sure was fun cracking packs of the first product of the year though. Sadly, my search for that Jack White will have to continue...for now.

February 8, 2015

From Super Bowl to Spring Training

Oh, what a difference a week makes! Last Sunday, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson came thiiiis close to winning back-to-back Super Bowl titles, but instead of celebrating another championship, he'll be turning his attention towards BP and taking grounders during infield practice. Let me just say, I am not a Seahawks fan. Nor am I a Rangers fan. However, I DO like Russell Wilson for a few reasons.

1. He is a former NC State guy(my alma mater). Granted he did transfer to Wisconsin, but he's got Wolfpack ties.

2. He's a great player and has no quit in him. At 5 feet 11 inches and just a hair over 200 pounds, he's not your prototypical quarterback. Though he's often been an underdog due to his size, he's worked hard and accomplished a great deal in his short career.

3. Most importantly, he is a class act! Yes, I just said that about an NFL player. He has handled himself with great composure and dignity despite throwing the interception that sealed their loss in the biggest game of the season. He didn't make excuses or try to place blame on the coaching staff that made the call. 

He is truly one of the great role models in today's professional sports landscape. It's a shame that he's not likely to join modern-day, former two sport stars like Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, and Brian Jordan by playing in MLB. With the retirement of Derek Jeter after this past season, there's plenty of room for a classy guy like Russell. 

For the record, I don't own the card shown above(though I'd like to), but I do own this one:

February 5, 2015

Searching for a New Local Card Shop

I don't really have a 'local' card shop, but the one that I've most recently considered that(about an hour and 15 minute drive away) and visited a handful of times over the past 6-8 months announced that it would be closing its doors at the end of this week. It is always sad to hear of a shop closing up, but I especially liked the atmosphere of this place. The owner even shipped a box to me at no additional cost when I had driven out to pick it up and it wasn't in hand due to a shipping delay. It was always worth the trip to check it out. SO, with this news in mind, wallet Wool E. and I decided to check out another shop located in a mall the other day... Now, I've never been a fan of mall shops because they're typically overpriced due to their high overhead, but we had to explore options.

I'm not fond of malls in general, and it had actually been several years since I had set foot in this one. I had no idea what to expect. We began by documenting our visit with the above pic, and once I stashed Wool E. safely back in my wallet, I went inside and did a quick lap around the shop. It's about the size I would have expected and most of the singles' sticker prices were, in fact, quite high. However, it was very well stocked with supplies and I was able to find a few singles to add to my collection without breaking the bank.

I completely avoided the display cases and was rewarded with some $2 boxes to search. A few cards in, I came across this DJ to add to my PC. Somehow I hadn't picked up a copy of this parallel. After that,  I ran across a number of cards from Collector's Choice and early 2000's Fleer base, stuff that would be more welcome in dime or quarter boxes. 

Next I found this Jeter that illustrates 'The Flip' play. I probably overpaid, but I needed to add this card as well. It's one of the plays that I'll always remember watching.

Towards the end of the final row of the box, I came upon this card of the reigning AL MVP. It's hard to tell from the scan, but it's the refractor version. I don't collect Trout, but I had to pick this one up to make it seem like the trip was worth my while..

Next to the $2 box was a small 'priced as marked' box. Not much of interest in that box, except this:

I'm not the biggest fan of the UD Goudey product, but this Kershaw was marked at $8. I couldn't pass up the chance to add another Kershaw RC to my collection at that price.

There was a decent amount of product devoted to pack sales, some of which dated back 10 years or more. Unfortunately, the pricing was through the roof. I'm pretty sure that if I decide to open product, I'm gonna have to order it online somewhere.

As I mentioned, the shop was well stocked with supply options. I had not seen these tobacco size top loaders before and had to pick up a few packs.

All told, I wasn't blown away by this shop, but I was able to find enough value that I didn't feel like it was a wasted trip(all of the above cost me $20). I probably won't make frequent trips here, but it is certainly better than having no option at all. At least wallet Wool E. finally got a chance to get out for a moment.

February 4, 2015

Waiting for Topps

I am (im)patiently waiting to crack some packs of Topps series one. Unlike some other folks, my local Target and Walmart stores not only didn't have any product out early, but here we are on the official release date and still no packs or blasters to bust. So, I took to eBay to at least see what I'm missing.  So far, I've resisted the urge to place impulse bids on some of the parallels I eventually want to end up with. I'm betting on the prices being lower on some of them once the initial buying frenzy subsides.

I happened to do a quick search for the first pitch inserts because they caught my eye in the pre-release info. I particularly want these two:

Eddie Vedder and Jack White. Two of my favorites from the music biz. What I found was that apparently there is quite the demand for these two right now. One Jack white auction was at $21 plus shipping with 4 hours left, a whopping 26 bids so far(as I'm writing this draft)! A few Eddie presales topped $18 and most of the auctions ending in the next few hours were hovering around $10-15. Fortunately enough, I have a decent chance of getting at least one of the EV cards since I've got the Cubbies in a jumbo case break that should be happening pretty soon. Hopefully finding a Jack White for the collection won't end up breaking the bank.