Wednesday, December 31, 2008

100th Post

Last day of the year and I managed to sneak my 100th post in just in time! Like I've said before, I may not update this blog as frequently as others, but I'm glad I've stuck with it. 100 posts means I'm updating the blog about twice a week, which is fine with me. For my 100th post I've decided to show off one of my favorite vintage cards, the only Mickey Mantle card that I own.

Growing up, I had a friend whose father really got into collecting cards with him for a while. His dad actually bought about 5 or 6 Mantle cards as an investment (or at least that's what he probably told his wife). I remember going over this friend's house and being in absolute awe that he actually had a few of Mantle's Topps cards. Ever since then I've wanted one of my own. I picked this one up on Ebay a while back for a couple of reasons.

The card was a bit cheaper than most graded Mantle's since it's an All-Star card and not a regular base card, I think it set me back about $100 with shipping. Ironically, the fact that it's an All-Star card is the very reason I wanted it though. 1958 was the first year that Topps introduced All-Star cards, so it's kind of significant as far as the history of trading cards. I love the look of the All-Star cards from this year too, with the cropped photo of the player against a star-spangled background.

One of my collecting goals is to complete a PSA-graded 1958 Topps All-Star set. There were only 21 All-Star cards released altogether in '58 (#'s 475-495). I've already got 6 of them, and the Mantle was the most expensive, so I'm well on my way.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Collecting New Year's Resolutions

I started this blog with the intent of giving myself a venue to write about my interest in sports cards. My goal has always been, and always will be, to write about my experiences collecting and about cards and the sports that interest me. If anyone else reads it, or agrees (or disagrees) with me then that's an added bonus. While my favorite blog, dayf's Cardboard Junkie, is often updated multiple times in the same day, I am realistic enough to know that I don't have the knowledge or the time to devote to my blog or collecting on that level. That being said, I have really enjoyed my first year of blogging and have gotten to know and traded with some really great people.

As I approach the third year of my second stint at collecting, I think it's time that I set some goals for myself as a collector. One thing that I've learned about myself in the past year since I started this blog (wow, that went by fast!) is that I tend to get distracted really easily when it comes to collecting cards. I tend to be a great starter and planner, with grand ideas, who loses interest and has trouble crossing the finish line. Here's what typically happens that prevents me from focusing my collection on any one particular thing:

  • A great looking set is released (or I discover a set that I'd never heard of but love)
  • I instantly deem the set the best looking bunch of cards I've ever seen, and resolve to collect the entire set
  • I buy some of the product, sometimes quite a bit, sometimes just a few cards
  • My interest starts to peter out as I run into hard to find short prints or am unable to locate some of the cards I need, or...
  • Another great set is released, and the cycle continues...
As a result, I really haven't finished many sets or refined my collection in any way. I find that after 2+ years of collecting, I really have a huge variety of random scattered cards, and very little in the way of organized collections or completed sets. So, here are my card collecting New Year's resolutions. It will be interesting to look back on these at the end of 2009 to see how well I stick to my goals...
1. Finish Some Sets! - I need to get my Want List updated, start looking through other's Have lists, and hit the web and local card shop to finish some sets. I want to complete at least one large baseball set and 2 hockey sets in 2009.
2. Make a Decision on the 1953 Topps Project - The one major goal that I set for myself when I started collecting cards again was to finish a PSA-graded 1953 Topps baseball set. When I set this goal, I had just gotten back into collecting and was really only focusing on purchasing graded vintage baseball cards. Well, I've learned a lot in 2 years. I'm not as big a fan of graded cards anymore, and I've discovered so many other things that I want to collect as well. I have made some pretty good progress, I have about 25% of the set and have picked up a few of the expensive cards, like Warren Spahn, Phil Rizzuto, and Satchell Paige. I need to decide whether I want to:
  • Stick with the plan. This is my favorite baseball set of all time, even if I'm 60 before it's finished it will all be worth it.
  • Can the whole idea. Can I really see myself finishing this thing when the Mantle, Mays and Robinson cards are going to add up to about $4,000 alone? Should a full grown adult even spend $4,000 on 3 baseball cards? Do I ever see myself dropping over $100 on a no-namer just because he's one of the 50+ short printed high series cards when I could buy two hobby boxes of the latest hockey releases for the same price?
  • Stick with the plan, but modify things. Keep the graded stars and Red Sox cards I've purchased but sell the rest. Use the money to buy some "loved" or "gently used" un-graded 1953 Topps cards at a much more reasonable price. I've gotta say, I'm not too proud to admit when I've set my sights a little too high, and I'm leaning towards this option.
3. Focus My Collection - Another thing I've learned is that you can't have it all. I'm very fortunate to have a decent job and a steady paycheck, but there are more important things in life than little pieces of cardboard with pictures of sports stars on them. I think when you first get into collecting you are tempted to just buy up everything that is out there, but I've learned enough now to know that I need to focus my collection. That 400-count box full of pack-fresh 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights that I probably haven't even opened since I took the cards out of the packs would probably be better suited for someone else's collection. I'm hoping to clean out my card closet, get some trades going, and maybe even make some cash on eBay that I can use to buy the cards I want. I plan to collect a wide variety of hockey cards still, but any basketball or football that I have is going, and when it comes to baseball, if I'm not going for the complete set, I'm going to try to stick to vintage Red Sox cards like the ones pictured here.
4. Organize What I'm Keeping - I've got stacks and boxes of cards everywhere in my spare room. Once I determine which cards I actually do want to keep, I want to get things organized to the point where I can locate any card I own with a minute or so. I keep digital scans of all of my cards to use for blogging and for reference when I don't feel like digging out boxes, so I'd like to get every card that I own scanned in as well. I use Excel spreadsheets to keep track of what I have and need, but I would love to find a better database solution with a nice graphical front end. I've checked out Beckett's online organizer (thanks for the tip Steve) as well as some other third-party applications, but still haven't found what I want. Anyone have any suggestions?
Considering I have a habit of planning things that I don't follow through on, I'm going to cut it at just those 4 items. If I can complete those 4 I'll be a long way towards the collection that I envision. What are your card collecting New Year's resolutions?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ryder's on Fire

The Patriots overcame a barrage of injuries to finish the season strong, yet became the first team since the NFL expanded to the 12-team playoff format in 1990 to miss the playoffs despite an 11-5 record. The Celtics had their monumental win streak snapped by the Lakers on Christmas day. The Red Sox had Mark Teixeira snatched out from underneath them by the Evil Empire just last week. Yet all is not lost for New England sports fans.

The Bruins continued their red hot play over the holiday weekend, winning both of their back to back road games on Saturday and Sunday, and pushing the team's winning streak to 8 games, a feat they have not accomplished since the early 90s. David Krejci has points in all 8 of those wins, including an assist (his 26th of the season) on the game winning goal in last night's 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

But perhaps the most pleasant surprise lately has been the play of Michael Ryder. Ryder looked like he was going to be an elite goal scorer in his first 3 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. He notched 25 goals in his rookie year and then scored 30 in back to back seasons for the Habs. Last year he had an off season though, scoring only 14 goals over 70 games. The Bruins were criticized in the media after signing him to a multi-year deal over the summer, but I don't hear any criticism now. Ryder scored the game winning goal in both contests over the weekend, and leads the NHL with 7 game-winners on the year. In 36 games he's already equaled the 14 goals that he tallied last year.

Hopefully Ryder and the rest of the team can stay hot and continue this win streak into the new year. Tomorrow night will be a tough contest when Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. It's a good time to be a Bruins fan...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Hockey Blaster

Saw this at Target and couldn't resist. I don't have a lot of time, so I'll just go with the quick and easy writeup. These blasters come with 12 packs, 5 cards a pack, for a total of 60 cards. Of course there are Target Exclusive Super Skills cards that just waste a spot that would've been occupied by a base card, but anyway... I had purchased a bunch of hobby packs of this stuff before buying this blaster, and had already accumulated 4 short-printed Young Guns rookies, and about 80 cards out of the 200 card base set. So, how did I do?

Well, this did not turn out to be a good blaster for me no matter how you look at it. I pulled a total of 47 base cards, but believe it or not I already had 20 of them. I got 3 of the Target Exclusive Super Skills insert cards, but they are not even worth scanning and posting. I also got a Winter Classic insert from last year's Pittsburgh/Buffalo game and the Hockey Heroes Crosby insert pictured to the left. I'm not really sure why they call the insert set Hockey Heroes instead of Hockey Hero, as Crosby appears to be the only player depicted on these cards.

I actually beat the odds and pulled 3 of the short-printed Young Guns rookie cards (which I believe are seeded 1:6 packs). There's just one problem, 2 of the 3 were the same card, Mattias Ritola. I hate doubles within a pack, and duplicate short-printed doubles within a blaster is just as annoying. On top of that Ritola was one of the 4 Young Guns cards that I already had. The other Young Gun I got was Ilya Zubov of the Ottawa Senators, and guess what, I already had that one as well. What are the odds of that?

Everything I've described so far only adds up to 55 cards. What about the other 5? One entire pack of cards was damaged so badly that I actually decided to use them as bookmarks. Each card in the pack had a huge roller mark across the bottom that was so deep the bottom portion of the cards were actually missing. This was very aggravating given that I needed 4 out of these 5 for my set, including what would've been my first Milan Lucic card. Oh well...

The Verdict: If you want to collect the 2008 Upper Deck hockey set, stay away from retail and stick to hobby if you can find it. Most hobby shops sell these in packs of 8 for $3.50. At that price you can get 6 hobby packs, 48 cards total, for the price of a blaster, but you don't have to deal with the crappy Target inserts and you probably have better odds at pulling some of the more desired auto or game-used cards. For $20 I essentially got 3 short prints that I already had (which I might be able to flip on Ebay), 27 base cards that I needed and a bunch of doubles and crappy inserts.

To end on a positive note though, I still love Upper Deck's outstanding photography. Here are my 5 favorite horizontal cards from the blaster:

I appreciate it when a card shows something unique, rather than the same generic poses that are featured on so many other cards. This shot of the Red Wings bench with their veteran captain in the foreground is great.

How did the photographer manage to get this shot?

I seem to have a hard time pulling Crosby's cards, so this was one good thing that came out of the box.

Awesome overhead shot of Mike Smith.

I like this Henrik Sedin card only because it's weird to see his twin brother Daniel seated right next to him on the bench.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Card of the Month - December 2008

2007 Upper Deck SPX - #205 - David Krejci - Boston Bruins

I consider myself a set collector, and don't usually go for high-end product or chase the big pull, so I didn't buy any 2007 Upper Deck SPX hockey at $120+ a box last year. But when I saw this card on Ebay a month or so ago, I had to go for it. I decided on my limit, placed my bid, and was shocked when I won the card for under $10. I can probably count on 2 hands the number of autographed cards I have in my collection, and I think this is the only dual-patch, autographed and numbered card that I own.

I watch every single Bruins game courtesy of NESN and David Krejci has quickly become one of my favorite hockey players. This guy is only 22 years old and in his second season in the league, and he's already one of the most exciting players I've watched. I had a feeling he was going to explode offensively this season, and I grabbed this card and a couple of others just in time. A lot of the national focus on the Bruins has centered around Phil Kessel, and deservedly so as he goes into tonight's contest against the New Jersey Devils with an 18-game point streak.

To me though, Krejci is just as exciting a player as Kessel. In his last three games he notched his first career hat trick in a Bruins win over Toronto, scored a key go-ahead goal in the second period in a Bruins win against the Carolina Hurricanes, and tallied 3 first-period assists in Sunday's win over the St. Louis Blues. The streak has bumped him up to 16th in the league in scoring, and I think people are starting to take notice. This very same card is up for auction on Ebay and is already going for a few bucks more than I paid for it with a couple of days left.

This has instantly become one of my favorite hockey cards, one that I will enjoy looking at for years to come. If you haven't had a chance to see this guy play, here's a clip of his first career hat-trick the other night against Toronto. The second goal especially is a thing of beauty...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dock Ellis

I heard on the local sports radio station last week that Dock Ellis had passed away, and I remembered instantly that I had just picked up a 1977 Topps card of his out of the commons bin at the local card shop. I am learning new things every week when it comes to baseball history, and I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Dock Ellis before picking up this card.

Only today, when I read a post about him on Cardboard Gods did I realize how interesting this guy was. Josh already linked to this YouTube video, but I wanted to link to it here in case you didn't bother to check it out yet. Dock is describing a no-hitter he threw while under the influence of LSD...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sundin Signs with Canucks

Mats Sundin finally ended his hold-out and signed with the Vancouver Canucks this week. I was definitely glad to see him go to a Western Conference team, instead of the Rangers who are currently fighting with Boston for the top spot in the East.

I don't think there's any doubt he will help the Canucks, but even with Sundin I don't think they have what it takes to overtake the West's elite teams, the Red Wings and the Sharks. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ridiculous Cards - Bill Butler

1970 Topps - #377 - Bill Butler

Tell me this isn't one of the worst photo touch-ups you've ever seen? Look at that hat!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Minor Changes

I've made a couple of small changes to the blog. To make trading easier, you'll find convenient links to my Have and Want lists to the right. Just above that, I've changed the way I'll be using the slideshow feature from now on. Turns out the "free" Flickr account only manages up to 200 photos, so I've made the jump over to Picasa Web Albums and am no longer limited by the 20-item RSS feed limit of Flickr. Since I can show more photos, I'll be scanning in and displaying entire sets for your viewing pleasure. First up is 2007 Upper Deck Series 1 hockey.

I'm a single card away from completing the 200 card base set, anybody out there have #56, Ian Laperriere?

1953 Topps Project - Post #33

#38 - Jim Hearn - New York Giants

Wow, I have not featured a 1953 Topps card since October 30th. I swear I still intend to complete this set, work has just been crazy and I've been on a hockey card kick as of late. Time to get things rolling again with card #38, Jim Hearn.

Jim signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942, but ended up a World War II veteran before he finally took the mound for the first time in 1947. He was claimed off of waivers by the Giants in 1950, and had a decent season, posting a 2.49 ERA. He continued to pitch well in 1951, winning 17 games and helping to propel the Giants to the World Series. He won his only appearance in the World Series that year, even thought the Giants ultimately lost to the Yankees.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Jim was involved in a strange incident towards the end of his career, in 1959...

"On May 10, he pitched 1⅓ innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates and gave up two runs before the game was suspended. He was given his unconditional release 12 days later. The suspended game was resumed in July, and Pittsburgh held on to win. Thus Hearn was charged with a loss, weeks after his career had ended."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hammerin' Hank

I've been featuring a lot of hockey cards lately, time for a quick and easy baseball card post. 1969 Topps is my second favorite set of the 60s, right behind 1960 Topps. I showed off my Clemente from this set a while back, and I figured I'd break up the hockey card monotony with this beauty.

Hammerin' Hank is still the all-time home run leader in my book. Barry Bonds is a cheating, lying scumbag as far as I'm concerned. Some people disagree I'm sure, and I've heard all the arguments, but this is my blog so too bad. I've spent a considerable amount of time learning about the controversy and have read Game of Shadows cover to cover. I know that Bonds was only one of many cheaters in the "steroid era", but he is just a pompous ass that irritates the hell out of me. He's left a black cloud over the game of baseball and has done more to damage the game than any modern player, save maybe Sosa and McGwire. At least McGwire knew enough to just shut up and disappear.

I'm glad that there is a ball sitting in Cooperstown with a big asterisk branded on it, and I wish we could somehow go back and strip him of his records, although I fully realize this is not practical or even possible. I hope that a bust of Barry doesn't someday end up in the same hallowed halls where the asterisk-branded ball currently sits, although this is a real possibility.

I don't get a Hall of Fame vote, so the best I can do is to pay tribute to the true home run king. I don't collect Bonds but I sure hope to acquire a few more Aaron cards like this one...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some More 2008 Upper Deck Hockey

I picked up two hobby packs of 2008 Upper Deck hockey a couple of weeks ago, and ripped one on A Pack a Day. The cards have really grown on me, so here are two more hobby packs:

Pack 1

#145 - Michael Peca - Columbus Blue Jackets - What are the odds, I already pulled this card in one of my first two packs...

#16 - Vesa Toskala - Toronto Maple Leafs - About to make an outstretched glove save. I think Upper Deck's great photography stands out even more on the goalie cards.

#119 - Andrew Cogliano - Edmonton Oilers - Crap, already pulled this one too...

#142 - Jared Boll - Columbus Blue Jackets - Alright, this is not funny.

#92 - Francis Bouillon - Montreal Canadiens - OK, don't have this one yet!

#157 - Adam Burish - Chicago Blackhawks - This is ridiculous, damn you collation!

#51 - Zbynek Michalek - Phoenix Coyotes

#HT9 - Henrik Zetterberg - Detroit Red Wings - Hat Trick Heroes - Perfect way to finish off a terrible pack. I already pulled this card as well. So, let's get the final tally here...I opened two packs of this stuff previously, for a grand total of 16 cards. In this 3rd pack I already had 5 of the 8 cards. Chalk it up to bad luck I guess, the doubles have already been added to my Available for Trade list if anyone's interested. I think the Zetterberg insert is already spoken for by someone who was at the game depicted on the card!

Pack 2

#22 - Paul Ranger - Tampa Bay Lightning

#160 - Duncan Keith - Chicago Blackhawks

#181 - Tim Thomas - Boston Bruins - Sweet, just four packs opened and I've already pulled both members of Boston's outstanding goaltending tandum.

#76 - Rick DiPietro - New York Islanders - See what I mean about the goalie cards?

#192 - Erik Christensen - Atlanta Thrashers - No idea who this guy is...

#64 - Mike Fisher - Ottawa Senators

#29 - Paul Kariya - St. Louis Blues

#153 - Jordan Leopold - Colorado Avalanche - Much better pack, I needed all 8 of these. Once again Upper Deck does not disappoint, I will definitely be picking up some more of this.

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