Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From Delaware to Rhode Island

Without question, the person I exchange the most frequent trading packages with would be Mark Kaz of This Way to the Clubhouse.  Aside from being an all-around nice guy, he has his collection digitally organized on Zistle like I do, so it makes figuring out what he needs a breeze.

I've sent dozens of PWEs full of Mets and other goodies down to Delaware, and Mark's been assaulting my mailbox here in Rhode Island with Red Sox in return.  Here are the latest 9 cards sent my way in a plain white envelope just a week or two ago now...

Yet another Wal-Mart blue parallel.  I have no idea where Mark finds so many of these, but I'm grateful that he's been kind enough to send some of the Red Sox my way!

I haven't bought so much as a single pack of 2015 Donruss, but thanks to the kindness of other bloggers/traders I'm getting near a complete Red Sox team set at this point.  If these were licensed and could show logos, I'd buy some packs for sure.

One set I have bought retail packs of two or three times now is 2015 Bowman.  I can't explain why really, but I like the design more than the flagship Topps set everyone was raving about when it hit the shelves a few months ago.  I picked up a lot of the Red Sox for cheap money at my local hobby shop, but did not have this Rafael Devers Chrome Prospects card.  Thanks for filling that gap Mark!

This is my third card of Anastacio Martinez, whose Major League career consisted of 11 appearances in 2004 with Boston.  I should try to grab a few more and see if I can end up with more cards than he has career games played...

A nice Double Up insert from 2003 Ultra.  This is the second one of these I've got in my Red Sox collection, and in looking at the checklist on Zistle it appears I have one more to track down...

Sweet!!!  This 1986 Fleer Mini Nolan Ryan was an unexpected and much appreciated card.  I'm at over 250 unique Nolan Ryan cards now, not too bad given that I am often so distracted that I'm not really looking too hard for them.  Really like the retro logo on the card, and the uniform that Nolan is sporting here.  Count me as one who's glad that the Astros are finally relevant again this year.

Mark hooked me up with a pair of Gypsy Queen Sox from this year's release.  I still can't believe the unreal decline that Allen Craig has gone through since arriving in Boston.  I don't think too many people could have predicted that he'd be in the minors at this point in his career.

The other Gypsy Queen card was this Rusney Castillo rookie.  I'm still waiting for this guy to really hit his stride, he's definitely a step behind Betts and Bogaerts at this point.  I enjoy picking up his cardboard nonetheless, and this wasn't the only new Castillo Mark hit me with this time around:

I think the Studio inserts in this year's Donruss set came out quite well, a job well done by Panini if you ask me.  It was nice to walk around the card show a couple weekends ago and not have to overpay for this card.  Anything Boston seems to get marked up around here, which makes sense, and I saw this one at a couple of tables with a $5 price tag.  So much nicer getting it in a trade.

Mark, you're the man!  Thanks again for another great envelope my friend.  You know I'll have one headed your way soon...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Au Revoir

This is a "virtual post" of sorts, as I've taken off for a week's vacation in France with my wife.  It's a much-needed break from my high stress job, and I'm looking forward to totally disconnecting for a few days.  In fact, by the time you read this I should have landed and adjusted from my jet lag, gotten a good night's sleep, and will hopefully be enjoying a nice confit de canard and a glass of wine somewhere with a view.

In the week before I left I managed to get PWEs or small bubble mailers out to a few folks including Commishbob, Jeff W, Dave H, Mark Kaz, Douglas Corti and Joe Shlabotnik.  If you're on that list and haven't seen anything show up yet, you should be getting something soon.  I apologize to Mark Hoyle, Douglas Corti, Brian O'Neal, Jeff W, Hackenbush, and probably a couple of others as I simply ran out of time to get the thank you posts that I owe you all scheduled before I left.

Here's a nice, new addition to my Hartford Whalers collection for today.  A big swatch from a jersey number with a couple of colors and some thick stitching.  A HOFer to boot, and numbered to just 25 copies as well.  Dominion sure was a nice set while it lasted.

Enjoy your week everyone!  I managed to schedule enough posts ahead of time to have new content here every day until I return...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Signature Sundays - Cal Ripken Jr!

For this week's installment of Signature Sundays, I've got probably one of the biggest names in my autograph collection so far, Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles!

I think it was virtually impossible to be a baseball fan growing up when I did and not be a fan of Cal Ripken Jr.  I turned 13 years old just days before Cal broke the record for consecutive games played.  I was still totally obsessed with sports at that age, not yet prone to the distractions of a high-schooler, and to me Ripken embodied all that was good about the game that I loved.

As an adult,  I've got a more well-formed opinion on the significance of Cal's streak.  I can't help but wonder if he didn't hurt the team at times by never taking a day off for rest or healing for that long a stretch.  That doesn't change the fact that I think his record for consecutive games played is one of those records in sports that will never be broken.  I just don't see any way, with the amount of money committed to and risk taken on star players these days, that anyone will approach anywhere near this number of consecutive games played ever again. 

No matter what, I'll always associate Ripken with one of my favorite periods of my youth.  A time when I'd spend my summer days and evenings batting tennis balls around the makeshift "stadiums" that were mine and my friends' backyards until it was too dark to see.  Cal was definitely a core member of my "lineup", aka the players I'd pretend to be while taking my hacks, in those days.  Simpler times!

Rookie of the Year, World Series Champ, AL MVP winner (twice!), All-Star Game MVP (twice), multiple time Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner, 19-time All-Star, and boyhood idol.  Welcome to my autograph collection, Cal Ripken!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I Bought a Box and Boy Am I Glad I Did!

While running some errands yesterday to prepare for my upcoming trip, I had a couple of minutes to swing by my LCS.  Turns out he had just gotten four minty fresh hobby boxes of 2015 Topps Stadium Club.  Since it was my first day off from work, and since I had enough store credit left still to cover all but $20 of the cost of the box, I decided to pick one up to kick off my vacation in style.

You've probably seen the images on a dozen other blogs by now, so I'll just say that I fall on the side of the folks who love this set.  I know the cost is more per card, but I haven't seen a photograph as unique or fantastic as this one on a flagship Topps card in a good long time.  Have you? 

I think hobby boxes might be the way to go here if you can afford to.  The cards cost $.50 a piece retail, which is something I've heard a few folks complain about.  If you do the math on a hobby box (currently $69.95 for 128 total cards), you're paying just 4 cents more per card.  You're guaranteed two autographs, and also have better odds of getting significant inserts of parallels, so to me personally that small price increase is worth it.

Here's the box all opened up, four rows of four packs per row.  I will echo what some others have said in that these cards definitely have the same smell to them as high-end cards from the early '90s did.  The card stock is glossy, thick and sturdy, and I did not receive one single damaged card in my entire box.

Apologies if you've seen some or most of these already, but here are a few of my favorite base cards from my box...

Card #1 on the checklist is an incredible one, the perfect way to kick off a set that's based on great photography.

The framing on the horizontal cards in particular is done well nearly every time.  Had this been a standard horizontal card of just Herrera pointing to the sky it wouldn't have been nearly as cool as getting to see the dejected opposing catcher in the same shot.

I still don't have the Jackie Robinson card from last year's Stadium Club set that everyone raved about, so I'm glad I pulled this year's already in my box.

My first Joc Pederson card.

I know the post-game celebration cards like this are kind of old hat at this point, but this photo is just awesome.

My favorite Red Sox card that I pulled from the base set was this David Ortiz.  A wonderful shot of Fenway Park.

What would Stadium Club be without the obscure?  I can honestly say I'd never seen the majority of the photos used in this set before.

There are 12 Red Sox cards on the checklist, and I pulled 9 of them.  Not bad getting 75% of a team set from a single box.

I chose this one to illustrate the point that it doesn't have to be some crazy action shot or off-the-wall photograph to make for a nice card.  The set also does a very good job with your standard portrait shots as well.

Closing out the base cards we've got Larry Doby with a cameo appearance from Jackie Robinson.

All told, out of the 128 total cards in my box, 110 of them were base cards with no doubles.  Pretty reasonable actually!  To me, the base cards are the highlights here, so it would have been a mistake to have 2-3 inserts/parallels per pack.  Basically, you get 7 base cards and 1 insert/parallel per hobby pack.  The only exceptions in my box were that the two packs that had autographs also had the standard insert/parallel, so those two contained just 6 base cards.  Speaking of inserts/parallels...

The Gold Foil parallels are seeded 1:3 packs.  You should receive around 5-6 per hobby box at those odds, however I pulled 7 of them.  I didn't do particularly well with these in terms of player selection, no retired greats.

I did get one Gold Foil Red Sox parallel out of the lot at least.

The other more parallel that will show up in your average hobby box is the Black Foil, which fall at two per box.

I think probably my lone complaint are these Contact Sheet inserts.  These look like the crap that Topps churns out for inserts in their flagship set every year.  I'd expect something a little nicer than this for a mid-tier set like Stadium Club.  I pulled this one, and a Robinson Cano, and they're both already relegated to my trade box...

The True Colors inserts are a little better.  Not a bad pull with Cabrera either.  There are refractor versions of this insert as well that look really sharp.

I pulled two Triumvirate die-cut inserts.  As someone who first collected in the '90s I've kinda got a thing for both die-cuts and shiny, so I enjoy these cards.

Especially since the second one I pulled is one of the hottest players in the game right now.

I felt like I chose the right box out of the four at the shop when my lone Legends Die Cut was a brand new card for my Red Sox collection.  These will be going for 50 cents on COMC within a few months I'm sure, but it's a cool card regardless.

I can't say I pulled anything fantastic with my two autographs, but at least they're visually appealing and on card.  I'd be open for trading either of them away, particularly for a Red Sox autograph I don't have.

Though the player selection isn't the greatest, I did kind of beat the odds with my second auto in that it's a gold parallel, serial numbered to /25 on the back!  I want to say these are something like one-per-case or close to it.  If I stopped here, I'd be satisfied with the box on the whole, especially since I was really in it for the base cards anyway.  As it stands though I pulled two other pretty great cards:

This Matt Holliday is a Foilboard parallel.  They fall one in every 4-5 hobby boxes, and are serial numbered to /25 copies as well!  I could have done a lot worse with the player I pulled too, as it looks like Matt's going to be an All-Star Game starter again this summer.  This one's up on eBay already with 6 watchers already, I bet you I'll recoup most of what I spent on the box outside of my store credit.

There was one card I pulled that I knew was something great though.  In every pack either the 5th or 6th card in would be your parallel or insert.  This made it really easy to identify the parallel in those packs that had one, which I appreciate.  As I was flipping through one of the final packs I caught a brief glimpse of the foil and saw that I had my second Black Foil parallel of the box.  When I finally got to the card and revealed it, I couldn't believe my luck...

Yup, one of my two-per-box Black Foil parallels was this Kris Bryant rookie, which is selling for crazy money on eBay right now.  The base version of this card has been fetching between $15 and $20.  Two of these Black Foil parallels have sold at the time of this post, one listed for $250 and the other for $200.  They were accepted best offers on each so I'm sure they sold for a good deal less than that.  There are currently 4 of them listed on eBay with prices between $150 and $175.

So, do I sell this card while it's hot, knowing full well that it will probably be worth a fraction of what it is now within a few weeks, or do I keep it?  I'm tempted to list it with a 99 cents opening bid and no reserve for a 1 or 3 day auction, but another part of me wants to keep it just to remember years from now pulling it at the height of the Kris Bryant hype.

Either way, this was one awesome box, and I'm really glad I decided to pick it up.  I will definitely be buying some more of this later in the summer, whether it's hobby or retail.  Job well done Topps!
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