April 30, 2016

Listia Win From a Fellow Cardsphere Guy

I've mentioned it before, I regularly explore the Land of Listia hoping to find cards that for my collecting preferences. Occasionally, I'll find a card that I irrationally feel is a must have even though it doesn't really fit. Recently, I found such a card and made sure I won the auction. Honestly, it wasn't even until I sent my verified address that I realized who had posted the auction. It was 'madding', author of Cards on Cards blog and St. Louis Cardinals fan extraordinaire.

It's a random insert card of Big Mac, what's the big idea, right? Well, I remembered pulling a few of these Opening Day 2K inserts from packs back in 2000 and it made me feel nostalgic. I had forgotten the specifics of the set, but winning this made me research it to refresh my memory. All told, it was a 32 card, cross company, retail only promotional insert set. It was available only at K-Mart. I didn't buy much retail product back then because I was fortunate that my favorite LCS was still operating at that time, but I did pull one or two of these back then. When I first heard that it was a cross company set, I was thrilled. It was quite a novel idea to me back then(still is). I remember wanting to collect the set, but it disappeared from my radar shortly after pulling those singles and it's been gone ever since. Unexpectedly seeing this card listed and winning it may very well provide the spark I need to chase the rest of this set 16 years later. Hey, better late than never, huh?

When the card arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were a few 'bonus' cards included in the envelope. There was a mini GQ Alex Cobb from 2015 and then there was this:

I only have a small handful of singles from 2015 Bowman's Best and I only had one Garrett Whitley. This was an excellent 'bonus' card and I think it will look great with some ink on it if I get the chance to see Whitley play in Durham sometime in the future. Thanks for the great trip down memory lane and for the unexpected bonus cards Kerry. I'll be rounding up some more Cardinaks to send your way in the near future. Thanks for reading.

April 28, 2016

My First Look at 2016 Bowman

Tuesday, on he eve of its official release, I stumbled onto some Bowman 'value packs' at the local Target. I hurriedly picked out two and used a few of my Marketplace coupons to get $1 off each pack. I opened them and am just getting around to being able to scan them for a post.

Here is the 'exclusive' yellow parallel pack out of the first 'value pack'. I'm pretty happy with the Maeda, especially considering how dominant he has been in his first few starts.

Regular pack number 1 provided the money card. In my neck of the woods, Swanson is quite the hot commodity since the Carolina Mudcats are easily within driving distance. I'm hoping that I'll have a chance to shoot over to he stadium for either a game or one of their open practices to get this signed before he is promoted to the next level. That's also my first Chapman shown with the Yankees. The Guzman is #/99. I don't know much about that kid, but it's a relatively low numbered parallel which could end up being a decent piece of cardboard.

I really like the Vlad Guerrero squared card. I'm going to look into the rest of that checklist, it looks like a nice set.

Wow, I was beyond thrilled to pull the base Maeda from the same value pack. Piscotty is pretty decent too. Let's move along to the second value pack.

As awesome as pulling the yellow Maeda was, this pack was better. Moncada and Wade will hopefully end up with some ink on them at some point.

I'm digging the Mondesi RC. Since he made his MLB debut in the World Series, it's cool to see the WS patch on the sleeve of his uni. Compared to years past, I'm loving the Top 100 this year. It doesn't hurt to pull such a highly rated prospect, but he design is pretty sweet.

BOOM! Sitting in he middle of the second pack of my second value pack was a retail exclusive paper prospect auto. Try saying that five times fast... From my understanding, McGuire has some pretty decent potential in the Pirates system, and he's in his age 21 season this year so he still has time to develop.

The final pack was a bit anti-climactic, but it still yielded one of this year's RC Flashbacks and a unique, press conference card of new Diamondback, Zack Greinke.

Overall, I was really pleased with the packs. I always say that I'm not going to buy a lot of Bowman, but this season, I really like the design. Team that up with the fact that I am doing my best to get back into autograph hunting when I'm able to make it to the ballpark and maybe his is the set for me this year. I'll reserve judgment until I've picked up a few more packs, but my initial reaction to the product is quite positive. Thanks for reading.

April 25, 2016

Fitting Farewells(not those kind)

I briefly posted this Thursday night, but realized that the title was extremely misleading given the passing of both Chyna and Prince. I therefore took it down and figured I'd repost in a few days. Sorry if anyone saw it and thought it was insensitive in any way.

The 'Big Papi' Farewell Tour is underway. As a Yankee fan, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm going to try to enjoy as much of it as I can. Until recent years, I couldn't appreciate David Ortiz for the great player he is. I was too busy hoping he wouldn't do something to beat my favorite team. However, looking back at his career, I'm really glad that he was such a huge part of the Sox-Yankees rivalry. His knack for late inning heroics made for incredibly dramatic baseball. I can truly say that I will miss him when this season ends. I'm happy that he decided to announce his intent to retire prior to the season so that he can have the 'Bon Voyage' he deserves, much like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera before him. I'm quite interested to see what the MLB clubs come up with to give as retirement gifts. 

For now, this is my favorite Ortiz card even if it doesn't fit the 'sunset' or farewell theme of this post(I'm getting to that). This is the blue parallel of my favorite card from my lone Opening Day blaster. While I hope that Ortiz gets a 'sunset' card as great as Jeter's from last year's flagship, that's also not the point of this post(I swear, it's coming up). Speaking of Jeter and Rivera, one club in particular created an awesome going away gift for fans during their team's last series with each player.

The Angels created this as a SGA for The Captain back in 2014. Up next is the one they made for Mo the year prior.

I love everything about these. Granted, I'm quite biased since these are two of my favorite players, but still, these are great tribute cards. They are quite a bit larger than your standard card and are made of stock that is more like paper, but they are wonderful nonetheless. I hope that come July when the BoSox roll into LA for Papi's last series against the Halos that fans will be treated to something like this devoted to him. I'd love nothing more than to add such an awesome oddball to my incredibly small collection of the sure fire HOFer. Thanks for reading.

April 24, 2016

Completing an On Again, Off Again Quest

Sometime last year, I received a trade package from Julie over at A Cracked Bat which contained my first certified auto of former Michigan Wolverine/NY Yankee/Dallas Cowboy Drew Henson. It stirred up a want I'd had since 2003. That's right, 13 years ago, Henson was supposed to be the Yankees future third baseman. I scrambled to pick up a few of his cards from that year, but late in the card season, Fleer released a higher-end product called Legacy. It contained an autographed hat in each box(you read that correct, I said hat) and autographed RCs of many of that year's rookie class. Henson was on that checklist with an autographed RC. I couldn't afford a box, but I had friends that busted a few and assured me they would trade the Henson to me if they pulled it. Well, that never happened and I gave up on owning the card since it was one of the hottest in he hobby at the time. In the years since, I would occasionally search for it on eBay, but those auctions always had the card priced out of he range I wanted to pay, especially since Drew ended up being a two sport bust of a prospect. Then I pulled that Henson auto from Julie's trade package(not the Legacy RC) and my desire to own that card was stoked up again.

A week or so ago, I found a copy while I was browsing in the land of Listia and I decided that I would have to win that auction. Sure enough, once the dust settled on the bidding, I was the winner. Granted, I probably 'overpaid' but finally owning this card is oddly satisfying. Besides that, I hunk I probably look at Listia a bit differently than most that complain about it. I figure that I have never spent any money to obtain credits(with the exception of the cost of stamps). I consider it a form of trading. I post cards that I don't want(and probably aren't worth selling on eBay), ship them to new owners, and get credits that I can use to pick up cards that I really want in my collection. Simple as that. I don't attach any monetary value to cards or credits and as long as I'm happy with my winnings at the end of the day, I'm a happy guy. At the end of this auction, I was ecstatic! I didn't realize how much I really wanted this card until I had it in my hand. Thanks for reading.

April 22, 2016

Walking the Plank Again

Next up on my trade post agenda was the latest, incredible package from fellow Supertrader Matt over at Bob Walk the Plank. As has been the case the few other times I've been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a package from him, it was all about the quality. Four cards packed quite the punch.

Here's a Ray that I never got to see in Durham, but I have a soft spot for him thanks to his time in NY pinstripes. He was a key player in the Yankees most recent World Series championship and the more of these Ginter mini relics I accumulate, the more this design grows on me.

Crawford is the only non relic/auto of the bunch, but you can see it is quite limited. This reminds me of the days when he was actually still a rising talent, not a bust of a FA signing. I enjoyed watching him play in Durham back in the day, so I'll certainly take reminders of his time in Tampa.

This was my favorite of this package. I have fond memories of watching Aubrey at the DBAP. He was there during the days when I was frequently on the hunt for IP autos. I never did make it to the home team to ask for 'graphs before he got the call to the bigs. I guess there was always a visiting player that I wanted to meet just a little bit more. He's got a really nice signature and I'm happy to finally add one to my collection. As a side note, I really like this design too. I first saw it when I pulled a Scott Kazmir auto from this set out of one of those 100 card repack boxes. I should probably see if I now have the Rays auto team set from this product. While this was my fave, Matt snuck one card into the package that I appreciate, but probably should have ended up with another Supertrader.

There is is, my first Headley auto which also serves as my first Topps Tribute auto. This is a beautiful card and it's #/75. The only reason it wasn't my favorite of the trade is simply due to the fact that I have no attachment to Chase Headley. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have such a nice looking Yankee auto and I don't dislike this card in any way. I just have a bit more connection/history as it relates to Aubrey's auto. Man, yet another great package from Mr. Scott. I've got some Buccos ready to pack up and send your way. Thanks Matt and thanks for reading!

April 21, 2016

My Best Blaster of 2016(So Far)

For quite some time, I've been reading about folks finding discounted boasters of 2015 Stadium Club. I thought they were a myth because despite my best efforts, I hadn't seen one in person. Well, that all changed a few days ago. I happened to be in one of the local Toys R Us stores and even though the card prices are way more expensive there, I can't help but to check out what's sitting on the shelves. On this particular trip, I literally did a double take when I saw this staring back at me:

I searched behind every blaster hoping there would be one more, but alas there was only one. I got a little bit excited and started to rip the plastic open before taking this photo. Going into this break, I hoped to put a dent into my remaining set needs. Let's go pack by pack and see how I did.

Best card of pack one goes to the Ortiz, hands down.

Ummm...pack two blew me away! Greinke at the bat probably would have won the pack if it wasn't for that Javy Baez auto(more on that a little later).

Just a few days after Jackie Robinson Day, pack three provided a belated celebratory JR hot pack!

Cal interacting with all of those fans is definitely the best of the pack four bunch. The A-Rod is the first gold parallel of the blaster and will take up permanent residency in my collection as well.

The Abreu Triumvirate takes the cake in pack five. It'll be sent out to JediJeff soon, assuming he needs it.

As far as photography goes, pack six was pretty weak. That Xander is the black parallel and because of that, it easily is the winner of the pack.

Pack seven was the weakest of the blaster. Even hitting the Longoria insert didn't help it. There is not much about that insert set that I like. So, winner here goes to the DeGrom...by default.

A gold Elvis sighting wins the eighth and final pack. Here is the blaster break down:
- 8 packs, 5 cards each = 40 total cards
- 7 total inserts; 2 gold foil, 1 black foil, 1 Contact Sheet, 1 Legends, 1 Triumvirate, and 1 auto
- 13 of the 33 base cards were needed for my set build

The Baez auto was a huge surprise pull, let's take a closer look.

When I first flipped through the pack, I didn't realize it was the gold foil auto. Only 25 copies!!! I hope Baez can get himself healthy and figure out a way to cut down on his strikeout rate. All in all, I wish I pulled a higher percentage of base cards that I needed for the set build, but I certainly can't complain. Maybe I'll get lucky and find another discounted blaster or two to help me complete my set. Thanks for reading.

April 16, 2016

Double Dose of Supertrading and a Contest Plug

Happy Saturday! Before I get to the first in a series of slightly overdue trade posts, I want to take a second to plug a contest currently going on over at Sport Card Collectors. Do yourself a favor and check out this really great review of the recently released Topps Museum Collection. It's really a beautiful product.

Alright, as previously mentioned, I've been accumulating a small backlog of trade packages due to a limited amount of time available to scan said packages. This past week, I was able to get the scanning started. Today, I hit you with the contents of two separate packages from fellow #supertraders. First up to the plate, Play at the Plate. This was my first trade(my side is pending) with Brian and it was a PWE that packed a nice punch.

I dig those older Tek cards and I loved Canseco! I think the Floro will end up getting signed before we get too deep into the Durham Bulls season. There were a handful of other Rays that definitely found a home in my collection, but I'll move on to the most underrepresented portion of my collection, both physically and on the blog.

New Jersey Devils! It's always great to receive a new Martin Brodeur, but I needed both of these so it was even better. The Claude Lemieux brought back memories as he was one of the big offensive threats on the team when I first started watching. Good stuff all the way around. Thanks Brian!

The next package arrived from Brett, he of the relatively new blog Cooperstown Exit 3:16. If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend you do. This bubble mailer was packed full of Tamp goodness. Here are the highlights.

I'll start off with some shiny cardboard. Everyone loves that, right? I have fond memories of James Shields in a Rays jersey. He toed the rubber in the only game I've been able to make it to see at the new Yankee Stadium. He faced off against Andy Pettitte and it was a heck of a performance. I'm not even bitter that the Yankees lost that afternoon. The background on the Crawford kinda reminds me of Pinnacle Museum Collection parallels, definitely not a bad thing!

Here, we've got more shiny, a gold parallel, an RC, an IP auto and a card that will hopefully end up with some ink of its own later this season. I am especially fond of the Matt Moore RC and the Roberto Hernandez auto. I have written about my time spent 'graphing at the ballpark before. This card just reminds me of those fun times. I don't get much of a chance to do that anymore, but I have my heart set on getting that Cobb signed later this season when he rolls through Durham on his rehab assignment. Thanks so much Brett. I've got your return package mostly crafted. I'm aiming to get it sent out in the near future.

Thanks for reading!

April 15, 2016

Happy Jackie Robinson Day

Today marks 69 years since Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color barrier, changing the game(and the country) forever. Everyone knows that his jersey number is retired by every MLB team, but today, every player in MLB wears number 42 as a tribute.

I know there are at least a few cards out there that showcase photos taken during previous Jackie Robinson Day games, but I don't own any of those(that I'm aware of). Fortunately digital trading cards can help me fill that void. 

Thanks to Bunt, I pulled my first card of a current player(other than recently retired Mariano Rivera) wearing a number '42' jersey. 

To make things even better(for my collection), I pulled former Durham Bull, Tim Beckham. I really love the design of these. That seems to be a recurring opinion of mine as it relates to Bunt exclusive insert sets. I find that I dig those designs better than most of the tangible inserts that fall out of flagship(1, 2, and Update). 

For good measure, I also pulled a Charlie Blackmon '42'. Happy Jackie Robinson Day everyone! In celebration of the man, I'm going to go watch the new Ken Burns documentary(on my DVR). Thanks for reading.

April 14, 2016

When 60 > 73

On the last night of the NBA season, there was some seriously interesting math at work. For at least one night, the number 60 was greater than the number 73. Perhaps it is just my perception, but the vast majority of the media coverage after two of the late games last night was heavily focused on the 60 points that Kobe Bryant scored in his final game on an NBA court. I didn't watch either game, and at this point in my sport fan career, watching NBA games is usually limited to catching a game or two of the finals. However, in my estimation, the Golden State Warriors breaking the wins in a season record set by the Chicago Bulls is the bigger story. In those days, I watched an awful lot of NBA games. While I wasn't a Bulls fan, it was incredible to see that level of dominance. As many have said this season, that was a record that many thought was unbreakable. I'm sure that as emotions about Kobe's farewell fade and the playoffs intensify that there will be much more said about the Warriors, especially if they go on to win their second straight title. 

Since this is a card blog, these are the best cards I own of Kobe and the leader of the Warriors, Steph Curry. I sure wish I had,t given up collecting basketball until a year later. I'd probably have had one of the Topps Curry RCs to show off here...oh well, hindsight, right?

Thanks for reading.

April 13, 2016

I Had to Wander Like A Gypsy to Find Some GQ

Here it is, a full week after the official release date for 2016 Gypsy Queen and despite my best efforts it's been quite elusive. Apparently today was my lucky day though. I'm not a huge fan of the product, but each year I sample at least a few packs. Here's a look at my first sampling of the year.

I walked out of good ol' Target with this 'value pack'. I even saved a buck thanks to the coupon found in the Marketside pizza packs. Since I had no expectations going in, I hoped to avoid disappointment. Here's a look at the best base card I pulled(really the only one worth showing off).

I still don't love the design, but it continues to move in the right direction for me. The look is even cleaner and less cluttered than last year, but still has some useless, extraneous design elements book ending the 'Gypsy Queen' text. It's still nice to pull one of the best RCs available in the product. Year after year, I tend to enjoy the inserts in GQ more than the base cards. I pulled one insert from the three packs.

Power Alley seems like a decent enough set. I like he crossed bats with the career HR total in a baseball in front of them. That being said, I find the decorative, blue design to be superfluous. Hey, I can be unnecessarily showy too! That's all for the post worthy standard size cards since I didn't pull any variations or SPs. I was fortunate that 2 out of 3 of the minis were pretty decent.

First up, an MVP insert of Willie Mays! The more I look at the insert designs, the more I feel like my 6 year old daughter just scribbled some random lines around the pictures. At least it's a new card of one of the greatest players of all time.

This Sparky Anderson is probably the best card of the 'value pack'. It's a green mini parallel. What does that mean? Well, let's take a look at the flip side.

It's pretty tough to read, but that serial number is 38/99. Granted, it's nothing Earth shattering, but still it was the best card of the bunch. Now, my favorite card(s) of the bunch came from the exclusive framed parallel pack.

I really like the way these blue parallels look. Similar to previous years, the blue frame is raised like the photo was matted. I was pleasantly surprised to find the look of these so much to my liking and was equally surprised to find two cards that actually fit into my collection. The Robbie Cano and the Greg Bird are staying put, but I could be pursuaded to trade any of the others if there's any interest. Thanks for reading.

April 11, 2016

The Key is in the Breadsticks - Marketside Update #2

I'm totally falling behind on posting trades. Between #supertrader packages and my other great regular trading partners, I've got about 7 packages that I need to write up. I will definitely get to them and finish crafting return packages as well. At this point, my rate limiting step is getting to the scanning of all that great cardboard. In the meantime, I've been scrambling to make the time and find ideas for other posts to keep the activity on the blog going. So, against my original plans, I present another update on my quest to complete the Topps Marketside pizza set. After my last update, I had slowed considerably. I mean, I love pizza as much as the next guy, but there's only so much I can eat. Enter a post by Night Owl. During his late night trek to Walmart to track down some of these oddball goodies, he found the packs tucked inside Marketside breadsticks. Upon learning this, my search shifted to breadstick hunting. The product contained is not as big which means I can eat them quicker and the cost per package is significantly less. It doesn't hurt that the Garlic Parmesan variety reminds me an awful lot of the Crazy Bread from Little Caesar's. Not gourmet by any stretch, but for some reason I sure did like those when I was younger. Anyway, I have grabbed three packs of breadsticks since my last update. Here are the goods.

I was pretty psyched to rip this pack. Crossing both Trout and Correa off the list from the same pack made me a happy collector. All I can say about pulling Tyson Ross is at least I needed him for the set as well. Here are the results of pack number 2.

That's another big pack there!  A World Series MVP and a hot rookie. It's a shame that Schwarber will be n the shelf for the rest of 2016. Here's hoping he recovers quickly and is back at 100% for next spring. Oh yeah, I needed the Freeman as well. Two packs down and one to go.

Another huge pack! There's a heavy hitting rookie, the reigning NL MVP, and the reigning HR Derby champ! All three were needed for the set build. Additionally, I have received three cards from trade packages. Those will be shown in their respective trade write ups, but they are being counted in my set needs update. Three packs yielded four of the biggest names in the set. Wow, it looks like the breadsticks are the key to building the set.

Where does that leave me? I'm glad you asked! Set completion stands at 28/50 or 56% complete. In fact, I've actually added this set to my set needs page. If there is anyone out there that isn't planning on chasing these down, I'll be happy to take what you've got. Thanks for reading.