Monday, December 17, 2018

COMC Blaster - Preparing for Black Friday

My relatively small COMC Black Friday haul has arrived.  I'm excited to open the box, it's been such a hectic few weeks that I barely remember what I even picked up this year during the promotion.  Before I get to those cards though let's clear out some of my backlog of scans of previous COMC pick-ups.  Buckle up and get ready for a Monday night "COMC Blaster"!

A less common non-sport card kicks off this evening's blaster, showing just how all-over-the-map my COMC purchases tend to be.  I can never seem to get enough of the 1966 Topps Batman sets, and this one was in nice enough shape that I wasn't leaving it behind at $1.45.  I have 9 of these Black Bat cards now, not that bad considering there are just 55 cards on the checklist.

Without looking it up, I'd venture to say that Xander Bogaerts is easily within my top 5 in terms of players I've purchased the most cards of from COMC over the years.  I really, really, really hope the Sox don't deal Xander in the off-season here.  As currently constituted the team is going to get killed by the luxury tax, and I've heard Bogaerts' name thrown out there as someone that may be available.  I hope I'm wrong, as he's been my favorite player since his emergence in 2013, and I've built up a nice collection of his cards over the years.  Shelled out $1.13 for this Blue Refractor from Topps Finest, #'d to /150.

Alright, I know this isn't a particularly attractive card.  My reasoning here is that I was a 12-year-old rabid baseball fan when the Norwich Navigators (AA) team was founded, and a new stadium built only a few towns over from where I grew up.  I have many fond memories of enjoying summer nights of live baseball with my family and friends those first couple of seasons in the mid-'90s.  Worth the 35 cents I paid for the nostalgia factor alone.

Every one of these posts seems like it ends up containing one purchase that, while I don't necessarily regret, I would not make today.  This Bryce Brentz purple parallel from 2015 Bowman, at 48 cents, is that card in tonight's post.

I've shown these Allen & Ginter "Monsters of the Mesozoic" mini inserts before.  I'm fascinated by dinosaurs and plan to complete the 25-card set.  Tonight's post gets me three cards closer with Spinosaurus...


...and Triceratops.  Total for the trio was $1.56, picked up from the same seller.

The Spinosaurus in particular makes me chuckle.  This past weekend I was corrected by my soon to be 3-year-old nephew at his birthday party when I referred to a dinosaur on his birthday cake as simply a dinosaur.  "That's actually a Spinosaurus" I was told in a very nonchalant manner.  Duly noted!

If you've read any of these COMC Blaster posts here previously, it will probably come as no surprise that I have a few 1959 Topps cards included in tonight's.  I'm working on the set, but it's not my highest priority by any means.  Instead, I'm painstakingly picking away at it at a snail's pace over a period of years.  This Danny O'Connell has a soft lower left corner, but it presents well and that's really all I care about for this project.  64 cents and I took it home, not many remaining cards that I need for my set available at that price point.

Herb Moford checks two boxes, one card closer to a '59 set and also a new Red Sox card.  At 85 cents it's really inexcusable that it took me so long to pick this card up.

Just one more '59.  This one was not so cheap, coming in at $1.75, good for the third most expensive card in this post.  That's because it's a dreaded high number, from the final series of the set.  There's a small surface crease that you can see extends from the 'City' in Kansas City down to the bottom of the card.  Honestly, it looks great to me though, and you don't see cards from that high series in this condition at this price point very often.

One more card towards my crazy pursuit of a complete 2011 Topps Chrome set in Atomic Refractor parallel format.  I'm a whole lot further along than I ever thought I'd be, as Josh Thole here is my 183rd card.  37 left to chase out there.  My cost was 95 cents.  I don't think any of the 37 I have left are available at less than a dollar presently.  This is a project that requires extreme patience.

I grabbed this Xherdan Shaqiri Red & Blue Prizm parallel from the 2014 Prizm World Cup set for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost these parallels are among my favorite soccer cards, period.  Secondly, my favorite club Liverpool picked up Shaqiri for the 2018-19 season.  I've been enjoying watching him play in the club's Premier League fixtures, and wanted to have him somehow represented in my collection.  Mission accomplished for 81 cents.

I probably had ten copies of this 1989-90 Topps sticker insert of the greatest player to ever lace up skates when I was a kid.  I may still have one or two of those with my childhood cards, but wanted a nice mint one for my run of '80s Topps sets that I keep in binders on a bookshelf in my office.  A pretty nice Gretzky that can be had for under a dollar for those who are interested.  I snagged this one for just 74 cents.

Speaking of great ones, here's a cheap addition to my ever-growing Nolan Ryan collection.  I can't say I'm all that big on '88 Fleer, but I will quite literally take any Nolan Ryan card that I don't already own.  The price was certainly right here at just 35 cents.

After a serial-numbered parallel of Xander Bogaerts earlier in the post, here we have just a regular ol' insert from 2016 Donruss.  These were loosely done up in the style of 1982 Donruss, however like most Panini baseball products these days they suffer some from the lack of licensing.  Either way, another Bogaerts card in my quest to maintain the #1 Xander Bogaerts collection on the Trading Card Database.  Only set me back 50 cents too.

You've likely seen one of these 2014 Bowman Chrome Bubbles Refractors here on my blog before.  They're gorgeous if you ask me.  Enough so that I've accumulated 23 of them now, despite their relative scarcity (each is #'d /99).  I always liked Evan Longoria during his tenure with Tampa Bay, and happily spent $1.13 in credit on this one.

Here's a card that maybe outdoes even the Bubbles Refractors in terms of pure shine.  Back in 2015 I got hooked on these Topps Chrome Update cards that were available in the holiday retail boxes at my local Target.  So much so that I completed the 50-card set.  There were a couple of parallels available, this one is obviously the Gold Refractor, numbered to /250.  These parallels have really held their value, so even a guy like Eduardo Rodriguez who doesn't generate a ton of hobby interest still cost me $3.63.  By far the most expensive single card in tonight's post.

Apparently Topps put out a set called Star Wars A New Hope - Black & White sometime this past year.  I don't recall hearing anything about it, but I did like this card when I stumbled across it.  It's actually a Sepia parallel (really Topps?  A Sepia parallel in a set called Black & White?), which I don't care about, I just love the photograph.  Besides, at 75 cents it was a lot cheaper than most of the other cards from this set seemed to be.

Funny, I just showed my first Anders Bjork card a few days ago, sent to me by my pal Kin, and here we have another.  If you like shiny cards like I do, O-Pee-Chee Platinum is good for an interesting parallel or two each year it seems.  From last year's set, I particularly like these "Violet Pixels" parallels.  Thanks to the e-Pack promotion between Upper Deck and COMC the majority are available for less than 50 cents too, although I paid $.75 for Bjork.

Throwback to my childhood here.  I know I had this one as a kid, and for 43 cents I can now say that I own it as an adult as well.  I can understand that they're not for everyone, but I was at the perfect age to really enjoy the caricature-style All-Star subsets in those early '90s Score releases.

Finally, how about one more nice Nolan Ryan?  ---insert obligatory comment about how I would love to own every Cognac parallel in existence---  I'd been looking for a copy of this Ryan in particular for a very long time, but refused to pay north of $5 for one.  Patience paid off when a seller accepted my low-ball best offer of $2.25.  Score!

That last Nolan Ryan actually takes our running total for tonight up to $20.50.  Whoops, went over by two quarters there!  Let's pretend I used a 50 cents off coupon and call it a blaster, okay?  Hope you saw one or two cards that interested you, and either way thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Uni-brow & Stars

It's been a good couple of weeks here since I took a crack at my Buyback Franken-set project.  Let's snag another ten cards from my stash and see how they fare!

1964 Topps #353 - Wally Moon

Off to a real strong start here!  Wally Moon's uni-brow has long been celebrated by collectors young and old, and it sure is on prominent display on his '64 Topps issue.  I stumbled across this card months ago when looking at other items being offered by a seller I'd won an auction with, and immediately threw it into my cart.  $2.99 and another new number gets crossed off the list, welcome to the binder Wally Moon!

1990 Topps #172 - Tom Lampkin

Next up, catcher Tom Lampkin.  I bought this buyback for one reason and one reason only, to strengthen my 1990 Topps buyback set.

Since I already had this 1979 Mike Bruhert (who?!?!) in slot 172...

...that's exactly what will happen.  Into the 1990 Topps buyback binder goes Tom Lampkin.

1999 Topps #385 - Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling's 1992 Topps card has been in the franken-set for some time now, and has defeated more than one challenger to retain its spot too.  Will his 1999 card join it?  Yes it will, since it's my first #385 buyback.  This one may stick around for a while too, since Curt had a solid season in 1999, hitting the 15-win mark for the third consecutive season for Philadelphia.

1990 Topps #119 - Billy Hatcher

Billy Hatcher was actually dealt to the Reds at the outset of the 1990 season.  He'd appear in over 130 games with Cincinnati, and would win a World Series that year.  I'd say that trade was a favorable one for Mr. Hatcher here.  Unfortunately, his franken-set match-up is not so favorable...

It's going to take a real winner of a buyback to unseat a '60s combo card.

1990 Topps Billy Hatcher is not that buyback.

2006 Topps #468 - Johan Santana

I grabbed this one because it was dirt cheap, and because Johan Santana was one of the better pitchers of his day.  Even better, this is a 2006 Topps buyback, and in 2006 Johan was arguable the best pitcher in baseball.  He lead the American League in starts (34!), innings pitched, wins, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, and a host of other categories.  This one has to make the binder, right?

Oh man!  Look, Tom Griffin is no Johan Santana, but this is about as good as it gets when it comes to '70s cardboard.  Close to perfect if you ask me.  What an agonizing decision here!

In the end, I can't turn down a Cy Young year buyback.  I do feel a pang of guilt though in removing Griffin from the binder.

1990 Topps #371 - Jimmy Key

Back to 1990 Topps, this time with lefty Jimmy Key.  Key went 13-7 for the Jays in 1990, with an ERA on the wrong side of 4.00.  Not exactly the most exciting card in the '90s Topps set if I'm being quite honest.

Sal Bando's 1969 card has held down slot 371, and I don't see a reason to remove it for Jimmy Key.

Off to the 1990 binder with Jimmy.

1988 Topps #14 - Sparky Anderson

Love this one, what a great shot of the aged baseball lifer.  Unfortunately for Anderson, his Tigers would finish one game behind the Red Sox in 1988.  With a very low card number of 14, I figured this would not be an open slot in the binder.

That was indeed the case, as Sonny Siebert's 1973 card was found there.  I love the Red Sox as much as anyone, and really enjoy 1973 Topps as well...

...but I have to go with Sparky Anderson in this case.  The Red Sox may have had his number back in 1988, but he ousts a Sox card to push his way into the franken-set here 30 years later..

1990 Topps #338 - Dennis Lamp

I know, I know.  Another 1990 Topps buyback.  Dennis Lamp answered the call to the pen quite often in 1990, as he appeared in 47 games that year, just one of which was a start.

Already had this 1970 Paul Schaal in the franken-set in slot 338.

The Schaal is just fantastic, and certainly won't be displaced by Lamp.

1987 Topps #212 - Mike Fitzgerald

Next up, Mike Fitzgerald, who seems like he was a serviceable if unspectacular catcher for a few years there.  His '87 Topps card is a good one though, perfect photograph and equally important is the fact that it's perfectly cropped.

Greg Brock looks concerned.  He's been in slot 212 for a bit, but will he remain there?

Nope, looks like Greg had cause for concern after all.

1969 Topps #423 - Bert Campaneris All-Star

Last card for tonight, another impressive one if you ask me.  1969 wasn't Campaneris' best year offensively by any means, but he did swipe 62 bags nonetheless!  It's just too bad nobody told him to put his hat on here.  Still, an interesting buyback and a nice-enough looking card; I never get tired of these '69 All-Stars.

Had this 1990 Fred Toliver in slot 423.

But he's off to the reject box.  Why not the 1990 Topps buyback binder, you ask?  Well, I've already got the blue foil version of this buyback in that set.

I've completed the page where this card number sits, here's a look at how it looks now after Campaneris supplanted Toliver in the lower right:

Not bad!  The highlight here for me is the '87 Will Clark, a card I remember fondly from my youth, and one that I sought out in buyback form specifically for this project.

A couple of new numbers, a couple of cards that battled their way in to strengthen the franken-set, and a whopping four new additions to the 1990 buyback set.  I'll take that any day!  Thanks as always for stopping by...

Franken-set Progress: 636/792 (80%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 105/792 (13%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 541
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,282

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Where I've Been/Christmas Kin Part I

There are a few paragraphs of music talk at the beginning of this post.  If that's not your thing, there are indeed cards below, just scroll down and I certainly won't be offended (or even know that you did!)

Well, I inadvertently stepped away from the blog for a little over a week there.  Quite honestly, there has been little to no time for sports cards since I last posted here.  Since my previous post the Sunday before last I've been busy traveling all over New England for work, spending time with family, dealing with an injury that our dog sustained, and attending holiday parties for my job in multiple states, in addition to the normal day-to-day load of responsibility.

Oh, and that's not all.  If you've stopped by here with any frequency over the years you may know this already, but I'm a huge music fan.  It's maybe the only hobby that trumps sports cards for me.  I play the guitar, and have been pretty well obsessed with all aspects of music since very early grade school.  Because of this, I'm an admitted live music/concert junkie.  In fact, earlier this year I posted here on the blog that I caught one of my all-time favorite bands, Radiohead, twice this summer during a vacation from work.  Then, in September, I was fortunate enough to catch another favorite, Pearl Jam, play two shows at Fenway Park.  Well, this past week I capped off one of my greatest years for concerts ever with the third band in my "all-time favorite artists triumvirate"...

...Dave Matthews Band!  I expect to get some flack in the comments from someone, as I know there are a lot of folks who don't care for Dave Matthews for whatever reason.  To each his own, but I think they're one of the most talented groups of musicians that I've ever witnessed play and have been a devoted follower since the mid-'90s or so, really as soon as I reached an age where I branched out and developed my own taste in music.

From just about the moment I got my driver's license in 1998, my friend and I caught every show the band did that was within conceivable driving distance.  This went on for years, through high school and college, and obviously those are very formative years for taste in music and many other things, further entrenching the band among my all-time favorites.

Well, that same friend is still my best friend all these years later, and he now manages a hotel by the casinos in Connecticut.  He managed to get free seats to the Dave Matthews Band concert at Mohegan Sun Arena last Sunday through a business contact, and as you can see from the picture above they were damn amazing seats, too.  In fact, I've seen DMB play probably more than 20 times now, and this might have been the best seat I've personally ever had.

Sitting at work on Monday, I couldn't stop thinking about what a great time I had.  I'd been reading online how many fans feel that the band is really pursuing this year's new album and tour with a renewed vigor that has resulted in some of their best live shows in close to 20 years.  I couldn't agree more.  I found myself looking at the tour schedule (old habits die hard I guess), and it turned out they were playing SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on Tuesday.  Well, guess who has an office across the street from that arena, and was already scheduled to be in that office on Tuesday?

There was no way after the amount of fun that I had on Sunday that I was going to be parked a stone's throw from the arena just three hours before the show and not go to this concert.  So, I did something I hadn't done in years and bought a single ticket.  Had a couple beers and some dinner when I got out of work at 5, and had an absolute blast at the concert, this time sitting on the opposite side of the stage, as you can see above.

My work validates my parking when I travel, and my mileage payout for driving to Manchester was more than my ticket set me back, so it was pretty much my second "free" Dave Matthews Band concert in the span of three days.  You can probably piece together what happens next here...

Yeah, there was one last show within reach, this time at TD Garden in downtown Boston Friday night.  Picked up a pair of good seats, made some dinner reservations beforehand and made a date night of it with my wife.  Man was I blown away by how talented these guys still are.  I could watch Carter Beauford drum alone for 2 1/2 hours, they were that good. 

So that is the brief story of how I saw Dave Matthews Band play three times, in three different states, in one week.  I will absolutely see them this summer if they tour this area again, fingers crossed.

Anyway, as you can see, baseball cards just haven't been on my mind (or my calendar) since I wrote here last.

That all changed yesterday though, when I arrived home from work to find an unexpected early Christmas gift in the mail!  My buddy Kin, who writes Bean's Ballcard Blog and is active on Twitter, sent me a fantastic package of cards completely out of the blue, and out of the kindness of his heart.

Inside were a handful of team set bags containing a variety of cards.  I haven't opened them all yet, preferring to stretch these out over a period of days (and a few blog posts).  Tonight I've got the contents of the first team set bag to share with you, and if it's any indication I think this is going to turn out to be a whopper of a surprise package.

This first bag contained a nice mix of both hockey and baseball cards.  First out of the bag were a couple of obscure Boston Bruins Young Guns rookie cards.  Zane McIntyre was a 2010 draft pick by the team, and he's still with the organization today.  He actually made it to the NHL for an 8-game stint in 2016-17, but went a pretty rough 0-4-1 with an GAA close to 4.00.  I love cards of obscure, short-term players though, and this fits the bill.

This one's cool too.  O'Gara was a 2011 draft pick for Boston, after a solid career playing defense for Yale University.  He got into a handful of games with the Bruins over the past couple of seasons, and played in over 20 games for the Rangers after being traded to New York in February.

Along with those Young Guns, I also got this great Artifacts Rookie redemption card of winger Anders Bjork.  Still just 22 years of age, Bjork has already appeared in 50 career games for the Bruins.  This is my very first card of Anders, great stuff!

Kin rounded out the first team set bag with some great additions to my Red Sox collection.  As an example of just how few modern cards I buy these days, not only did I need this base Archives card from two years ago, but it's just my second card from the set (the other being Xander Bogaerts).  I'll never complain about a new Mookie Betts card.

From the glorious 1990s, a Bowman's Best Franchise Best die-cut insert.  Everything was done to the max in the '90s, and so there are multiple versions of this card I discovered.  This is the "Mach 1" version, serial-numbered to 3,000 on the back.  Love it.

Much more rare than the Garciaparra, this Gold Refractor Josh Beckett from 2006 Bowman Chrome is numbered to just /50.  I'm six cards in here, and already I'm blown away by Kin's generosity!

Perhaps the most interesting card in the first section for me was this 2015 Choice New York Penn League card of fan favorite Andrew Benintendi.  This is from his time with the Lowell Spinners, the AA franchise for the Red Sox.  I truly enjoy minor league cards, but had never even seen this Benintendi, this one really brought a smile across my face.

To tie back to the first part of this post, I once saw Wilco play a show at the Lowell Spinners' stadium in Lowell, MA!

I got not one new Mookie Betts card from this first bag, but two!  Actually there was a third, a copy of that recent insert based on the vintage Transogram cards, but I already owned that one so it's been shuffled off to my trade stack.

We'll close it out with a rookie card of 22-year-old World Series champion Rafael Devers!  This is hard to believe, because it's one of the few modern sets I truly enjoy year in and year out, but this is actually the first 2018 Stadium Club card to enter into my collection.

Kin, I can't thank you enough for sending me this fantastic batch of cardboard, but I'm certainly going to try a few more times anyway!

To everyone else, thank you for stopping by, especially after a somewhat lengthy absence by my standards.  I'll try not to make it so long between this and my next post.  Until then!
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