Saturday, May 31, 2014

Updating My Pack Stash

If you read many of my posts, you might get the impression that all I do is buy vintage singles, and that I'm against purchasing modern product.  The truth is, I love the anticipation of ripping open a pack as much as the next collector, I just feel that often times the value isn't there, and I then suffer from buyer's remorse.  My solution to that is to keep a stash of unopened product (obtained on the cheap) in my card room so that I've got packs at the ready whenever I get the itch.  The top shelf of  my bookshelf is dedicated to this, in fact here's how it's looked for the past 2-3 years now:

If it's a bit tough on the eyes you can click for a larger image.  At the far left, we've got a couple stacks of random packs, everything from an '84 Topps baseball rack pack to 1991 Fleer football to 1995 Topps Embossed baseball, and some hockey thrown in too.  Continuing to the right is a wax box of 1991 Topps Traded baseball plucked from the hobby shop around 3 years ago for $5.  Next in line, a box of 1993 Pinnacle fat packs, which I've been sending out to other bloggers in trade packages.  After that, my current favorite go-to option, a wax box of '92 Upper Deck baseball, a set I'm working on hand collating.  Last but not least, to the far right a box of '88 Topps rack packs.  Paid $10 for this about 5 years ago at a hobby shop and have opened exactly 2 packs so far.

I'm grateful that I have the space and will power to keep something like this, but I have to say I've been a little bored by the selection lately.  At this point I'm really just sending the Pinnacle stuff out to others, don't plan on opening any more of it myself, so I decided to remove that and find a replacement.  Well, it just so happened that last weekend Dave & Adam's Card World had some pretty unreal prices on a lot of their unopened wax as part of their Memorial Day sale.  Here's my replacement for the Pinnacle box: 

This is a retail box of 2012 Topps Series 2 baseball.  24 packs in all, and unlike many sets it has a decent pack size of 12 cards per.  This is basically the display box you'd be buying your single loose pack from in your local big box store back in 2012, here it is opened up:

I chose this for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I'm sort of a classic collector in that I'll always gladly accept nearly any flagship base card that I don't already have.  I have next to nothing from the 2012 base set (6 total Red Sox cards obtained in trades, only 2 from Series 2), so I know that virtually every card from this box will be a keeper for me.  Secondly, the price was $14.95!  For $5 less than a blaster I've got 24 packs to rip through over time.  That's $.62 per pack, so if I get a total dud I can forget about buyer's remorse since you pump more than this into a vending machine for a candy bar nowadays.

I do have a tradition where anytime I plop a new box on my shelf I have to open that first pack, so here's a sample of what awaits me in the future with the top pack from the box...

Can't get off to a much better start to the box than this.  This is Stanton's last flagship card on which he's referred to as Mike, beginning with the 2013 set it's Giancarlo.  Whatever he wants to go by, he's crushing it this year to the tune of .317/16HR/51RBI and an OPS over a thousand.

Don't know much about Ryan, he's now with the Braves.  One gripe about this set is the lack of player position on the front.

Kind of a cool card, since it looks like 2012 was the end for Andruw Jones.  He's 37 now and playing over in Japan.  This is not his proper "sunset card" though, since he did appear in the 2013 flagship set.

Boy has this guy been in a decline the past couple of seasons.  I like that this card is from his career monster season, which it appears as though he may not come close to achieving again.

After all those years in Oakland, and all those Chavez A's cards pulled from packs, it's weird to see him in another uniform, especially the pinstripes.  He's with the D-Backs now...

Had a decent 2013, appearing in about half of the Mets' games, but has struggled mightily in limited time this year.  Just 3 hits in 34 plate appearances, yikes.

I forgot about these Golden Sparkle parallels.  Bryan hasn't played an MLB game since 2012.  He signed a minor league deal with the Rangers this off-season and is currently playing with their AAA affiliate.  This one's now on my Zistle trade list.

Awesome, a new Red Sox card for me, and of the most recent guy to throw a no-hitter no less!  Still glad the Sox made the trade, there would be no 2013 World Series Championship without that deal.

Great shot of an electrifying pitcher.  Wood's career ended after 2012, and this is actually his final Topps base card, he wasn't in 2012 Update and was only on an insert in 2013 Topps, no base.

To me, the most boring card in the pack.  I don't catch as much NL baseball as I should, and couldn't really tell you much about Jason Kubel.  Looks from the stats on the back like he had a couple of monster years in 2009 and 2012.

Great shot of Lance making a catch in front of an ad for broiled turkey burgers that looks oddly like the Cardinals logo.

Don't know much about Kyle, career-long Phillie who's about a .500 pitcher with an ERA over 4.00.

That was a very solid first pack, hopefully a sign of things to come.  If I rip this box at my usual rate I'll be done sometime in 2020.

There we go, much better!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Look Back at the 2004 Champs - I'm Getting Old

Last night the Red Sox game was sort of on in the background at our house, as it is most nights, and I caught the end of a pre-game ceremony honoring the 2004 World Series Championship team.  I have fond memories of that team, as a 22-year-old living out on my own with an opportunity to attend a few games that year it was a great time in my life as a fan.

What I was amazed at was just how many players from that team were available to attend last night's ceremony in person, which means no longer playing Major League Baseball.  I'm 31 now, and for one of the first times in my life I sat there and thought "crap, I'm getting old!".

I decided to take a look at the members of that famed team and see where they are now 10 years later.  Since this is a card blog I'll be supplementing with some cardboard from my Red Sox collection.  First, the starting 9 as I recall it...

Johnny Damon went on to play for a few different clubs, including the Yankees.  While he hasn't officially retired, he hasn't played since the Indians released him in August of 2012.  Score 1 for retired.

Played for many other teams after leaving Boston, retired after the 2011 season.  Another point for retired.

Here's one of the only exceptions to the trend, Big Papi is still chugging along amassing home runs and RBI a decade later, and has played a huge part in bringing two more World Series Championships to Boston since.

Retired amid questionable circumstances and just 17 at-bats with the Rays in 2011.

Team captain Jason Varitek retired after 2011, that's 4-1 retired if you're keeping score.

Retired, last action seen in 2010 with the Cubs.  Now hosts a show that I've never seen, but automatically hate based on its stupid name.

Retired, last played in 2007 with the Reds.

Retired after 2006.  Starting to see why this ceremony made me feel old?

Finished career in 2008 with the Mets?!?!  I can honestly say I completely forgot about that, if I ever knew it at all.

So, out of the starting 9 every player but David Ortiz is now retired.  How about bench depth?  In fairness, a couple of guys I couldn't find Red Sox cards of...Dave Roberts (how can that be?  I need to remedy that ASAP), Gabe Kapler and Pokey Reese.  All three are retired though, with Reese actually never having played another game after that '04 Series (strange).  I did find cards of a few bench guys though...



Playing baseball in Japan now.  I consider that retired for the purpose of this exercise.

How about starting pitchers?  Schilling is retired, and facing some serious health challenges.  Although he completely screwed the state I call home via his now-bankrupt, state-funded video game company, I do sincerely wish him good health and good luck in dealing with his illness.  It was good to see him on the field for the ceremony.



Retired.  Still the best pitcher I've seen in my lifetime as a fan. 

I couldn't find a Sox card of Bronson Arroyo (may have torn them all up when I heard his terrible cover band), but he's still playing, so he joins David Ortiz in that club so far.  How about the bullpen?  Couldn't find cards of Curtis Lescanic (retired) or Alan Embree (retired), but here are the guys I did find in my boxes...

Won another championship with Boston in 2007 (plus was on both of those early-'90s Blue Jays winners), retired in 2009 with last MLB action in 2008.  Mike was an absolute workhorse, with over 1,000 career appearances.  Hope he's resting that arm now!

I only have half a card of Mike Myers, but it's something.  Also retired.

Last but not least, the closer and the man who got the final out, Keith Foulke.

So, out of the entire 25-man World Series roster from 2004, exactly two players are still active in the league.

Man, I'm getting old.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1953 Topps Project - Bubba Church

Today's post features the 69th card in my ever-growing 1953 Topps baseball set...

Emory Nicholas "Bubba" Church enjoyed a relatively short MLB career at just six seasons spanning from 1950 through 1955.  Before his pro baseball career started he, like so many young men of his generation, served in our country's military.  Church was actually deployed to India and saw some action with the US Army during the latter part of WWII.

After returning to the states Bubba's pro ball career got on track.  His rookie season in 1950 with the Philadelphia Phillies was going very well before it was cut short by a line drive to the head (which was traveling at such speed that the ball ricocheted off his head all the way to the outfield without a bounce!).  There's an interesting anecdote about the ball-to-the-head incident here if you enjoy reading those sorts of things.  He made 18 starts total that year and finished with an 8-6 record and an impressive 2.73 ERA, good enough to actually garner some Rookie of the Year votes (he finished 4th).

After turning in another good year with the Fightin' Phils in '51 (career highs in most pitching categories), Church was dealt to the Reds in the early part of the 1952 season.  He'd finish the 1952 season and begin 1953 with Cincinnati, which is why he's depicted as a Red on this card, but found himself on the trading block again in 1953, this time being sent to the Chicago Cubs.  Bubba never really recaptured the magic of those first couple of seasons in Philadelphia though, and suffered some arm problems as well.  Just two appearances into the 1955 season his professional baseball career came to an end.

Church wasn't a total slouch with the bat either.  In the three seasons where he saw more than 50 plate appearances he hit .229, .235 and .256.  There's a few position players on the Red Sox who I'd love to see hit the .256 mark this season!  Bubba even managed a few home runs during his career as well.  Bubba Church passed away just a few days after his 77th birthday in 2001, in the same town in which he was born.

Set Progress:  69 of 274 (25%)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thorzul's May Group Break

Recently Thorzul of Thorzul Will Rule held one of his cheap-o breaks consisting of a large lot that he acquired.  I've done a couple of these before, and just happened to catch the sign-up post while the Red Sox were still available.  They weren't exactly the best draw in this lot, but Bill was nice enough to supplement with a couple of cards from his own collection to make up for it.

This was one of the bonus throw-in cards, an interesting idea for an insert from 2006 Topps.  I liked Mueller quite a bit during his time here, and was sad when he was dealt, although I don't recall him doing a whole lot after his days in Boston.

I scored a couple of cards off of the 2013 Topps Update Series checklist that I needed in the form of Drake Britton...

...and David Ortiz.  I actually got the emerald parallel of this card from Thorzul previously in this past year's 'Trade Me Anything' series, nice to have the base card to accompany it.

There was some pretty recent stuff included in the break, like this awesome Opening Day Stars insert of David Ortiz, which hails from 2014 Opening Day, a product that hit shelves not too long ago.

Here's the other game-used card I scored, also a pity throw-in from Thorzul.  This one is numbered to 99 on the back, and if my research is accurate it's a Clubhouse Collection Copper relic from 2004 Topps.  Kind of cool to get a relic card from the year the team broke "the curse".

I don't know too many collectors that aren't drawn by the allure of a good shiny refractor.  Even though my scanner made part of it appear blue, this is a purple refractor from 2013 Topps Chrome.

I might not have come away with a ton of cards overall, but I did get some new cardboard featuring Boston's bright, young prospects.  This Jackie Bradley Jr. insert is from 2013 Topps Update, and commemorates his first big-league appearance in April of last year.

I've seen these black retail parallels from 2014 Heritage on a few blogs, I think they come with the purchase of a 3-pack retail blister pack.

Last but not least, my favorite card from the lot, a 2014 Donruss Xander Bogaerts RC.  Although he's gotten off to a slow start (along with virtually everyone else on the squad), Xander is one of the young players on the team with the most potential to become a bona fide MLB star.  I'll gladly accept any of his rookies, especially one from a product I completely avoided.

Thanks for the cards Thorzul, I'll definitely keep my eyes open for any future breaks!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Douglas Boosts My Whalers Collection Again

Recently my buddy Douglas from Sportscards from the Dollar Store once again did some shopping on my behalf at one of the big expos up there in Canada.  I've never been to one, but I picture these as similar to the huge card shows I can remember as a kid when the hobby was "booming".  Douglas might be the single most generous blogger out there in terms of the number of people he sends cards to regularly, it seems to me he spends about as much time picking out cards for others as he does for himself.

He actually reached out to me a few days before the show to confirm that my Whalers want list was up to date!  A couple weeks later I received a package with some great additions to my Whalers collection, including this Ulf Samuelsson rookie.  I've basically got all the Topps Whalers cards at this point, but my O-Pee-Chee collection is sort of lacking.

It's in much better shape now though than it was before I grabbed this bubble mailer out of my mailbox.

1987-88 is one set that I actually did have a few cards from, but thanks to Douglas checking my want list on Zistle these three were all new to me.

I also received a trio from that set's predecessor, '86-87 O-Pee-Chee.

Yup, that's definitely way too easy to read to be a Topps back!

This would have been my favorite card in the package had it not been for one other which I've saved for last in this post.

Horrendous airbrushing job on this one, wow!

Some more airbrushing here, what an awkward photo with Richie looking off to the side and an empty arena behind him.

Now that's much better!  So many awesome things about this card, such as:
  • So much green
  • Cooperalls!
  • Denim-on-denim fashion violation occurring in the seats
  • Don't recall seeing the "Playing in Europe" designation on too many O-Pee-Chee cards
  • Dude's name is Merlin
Maybe I should have ranked that my favorite card in the pack looking back on it...

I swear one out of every two Whalers cards from the '80s is airbrushed.  I do like this one of the current 'Hawks head coach despite that fact.

I think 1982-83 might be my favorite O-Pee-Chee design of the decade.

This Dave Debol represents my very first 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee card.  Same deal as Topps except without the terrible scratch-off-puck gimmick that Topps used that year.

I don't do the best job of keeping up with recent releases, but Douglas sure does.  I can't tell you how many times now he's sent me a Whalers card I didn't even know existed yet.  This would be one such example.

This would be another.  In fact, Douglas has virtually kept me up to date with nearly every Whalers card released in a modern base set for the past couple of years now.  The only shame is that Upper Deck thinks Ron Francis is the only guy who ever played for the team apparently.

This was my absolute favorite card in the package.  I love that it illustrates the team's transition from the WHA to the NHL, since Al is shown wearing his fantastic New England Whalers sweater.  I don't collect memorabilia other than cards, but my one sports jersey is a Gordie Howe New England Whalers sweater just like the one in this picture.  Great logo.

The best part about '79-80s though are the backs.  Best back design of all-time on a hockey card.  That cartoon rules.  I like it so much that I've made it my avatar for the time being, so you'll be seeing it whenever I comment for a while.

Thanks again Douglas!  I sent you off an envelope a short while back but I've already got another stack building up for you.  This package and the recent one from Dave H have really inspired me to get moving with my Whalers collection (and long-neglected blog) again.
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