Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Island of Misfit Cards

I'm planning to mail a very important package this weekend, and also a PWE -- or two, if there are any takers for these...

Recently I organized my card collection to make room for all the 50/50 trade packages (I'm still waiting on two, but I'll have to assume they're lost) and upon closer examination I found some of my cards were creased or miscut. 

I seem to remember someone on the baseball card blogosphere collects miscut cards but I can't remember who it was. If you're interested in these, leave me a comment and claim them. Here they are, the island of misfit cards:


This Rivera "Rookie" has been in my collection for 15 years or more; it was part of a complete set I bought for $5 at a card show. I can't believe I didn't notice how miscut it is.



 The first ever New Jersey Devils card...

...with stats from the 1981-82 Colorado Rockies. This was part of a team set my brother-in-law bought us as a Christmas gift.

This Cliff Johnson 1979 O-Pee-Chee was part of a Just Commons order, along with these two:

These aren't miscut, but they're way off-center. I probably paid about 15 cents for each.


This isn't miscut either, but Fleer mis-stamped the gold foil.


I won't include the creased cards in this PWE unless you ask for them. Here they are:

Some hockey Hall of Famers. I'm really bummed about that Gretzky mini.


PC cards that needed replacing. There's a '-6' embedded into the Bogaerts. I'm assuming that was meant to be a price, but it could have also been his postseason WAR. 


Again, if you'd like to claim these, leave me a comment and/or e-mail. I'm not looking for anything in return for these - I just want to give these misfits a good home.


~

Monday, October 2, 2017

Today's Best: Starting Pitchers

At the end of every baseball season I sort through the league leaders in batting and pitching categories, paying special attention to superstars building Hall of Fame careers, rookies who took the league by storm, and breakout seasons from players who might be better than I realize

I also do this for card sorting purposes. My star player box usually has a small bit of turnover after every season as I re-evaluate which veteran players are under-performing and which young guns or late-bloomers have earned their place among the superstars of their sport. 

Though I do analyze the just-completed season's stats as a guide, I don't consider a player a "star" based off one good season (unless that player is a record-breaking rookie.) In my book (er, box) a player's performance over the last three seasons is the key to considering that player a star. 

In some cases, an established veteran can stay in my star box even if their last three seasons have been sub-par. It might be difficult to get in, but it's even harder to be kicked out. This is partially because I dislike going through the trouble of making room in my commons binders - but mostly because it's hard for me to give up on a player who was once a perennial All-Star. I'm talking about players like Joe Mauer, Ryan Braun, and the player that inspired this blog post - CC Sabathia.

 
On Saturday, as the Yankees desperately tried to prevent the Red Sox from clinching the A.L. East crown, Sabathia took the hill for Yanks against Toronto. The Yankee broadcasters - specifically David Cone and Ken Singleton - discussed Sabathia's chances of reaching the Hall of Fame and the 300-win mark. 

That got me thinking. Not about CC's HOF chances (I think he's two good seasons away, the YES homers said he's one away) but what they said about 300 wins. I can't remember the exact quote, but the gist of it was that Sabathia is the last guy that has a shot.

Here is my rebuttal to that:


Clayton Kershaw is 29 years old. He plays for the best team in baseball, and the team with the league's highest payroll. Assuming Kershaw's arm doesn't fall off (not a given considering his recent injury trouble) he could easily duplicate the 144 wins he's already banked. That would give him 288 before he turns 40. 



Justin Verlander has an outside shot at 300 wins - and I would give him slightly better odds than CC Sabathia. Verlander will start next season as a 35 year-old with 188 career wins, nearly 50 behind Sabathia's total of 237. But if the longtime Tiger stays healthy (he's made 30 or more starts in all but one season) and stays with the Astros (who are built to win for the long haul) he could add another 75-80 wins to his total before he turns 40. 

Sabathia is only 63 shy of the magic mark - but he's already 37 (not that 37 is old, mind you!) and even with a stellar comeback season in '17, he's averaged just 8 wins over the past four campaigns. CC would have to exceed that into his age 41 season (or pitch until he's 42) just to reach 270 wins. Btw, 270 would match Mike Mussina's career win total, and Moose is not in the Hall of Fame (yet?)



Zack Greinke could get there as well. He'll be 34 this month, he has 172 career W's, and he pitches for a playoff team. Greinke's a gamer, but his social anxiety issues could lead to an abrupt retirement (he had to be talked out of retiring early in his career.)  Aside from that it's no sure bet Arizona will contend each of the next six years - but if Greinke can manage a 15-win average with the D-backs (or another team) he'll have about 260 wins banked before he turns 40.

What do Sabathia, Kerhsaw, and Grienke have in common? They started accumulating wins at age 20 (Verlander was 22 when he made his MLB debut) Pitchers just don't do that anymore. 


Felix Hernandez won more games at age 20 than he did at age 30. He's got 160 wins and won't turn 32 until early next season, but he's trending downward for a below-average Seattle team. I've considered pulling his cards from my star box, but I'll give him one more year to dig out of this decline.


In conclusion, while I disagree that Sabathia is the last potential 300-game winner in baseball, I can't imagine anyone other than these aces getting there. That's because all of today's top starting pitchers are approaching or exceeding 30 years of age.

These are the 12 active starting pitchers in my "star player" box, listed youngest to oldest:

Madison Bumgarner (8/1/1989)

Chris Sale (3/30/1989)
Masahiro Tanaka (11/1/1988)
Stephen Strasburg (7/20/1988)
Clayton Kershaw (3/19/1988)

Yu Darvish (8/16/1986)
Felix Hernandez (4/8/1986)
David Price (8/26/1985)

Max Scherzer (7/27/1984)
Zack Greinke (10/21/1983)
Justin Verlander (2/20/1983) 
CC Sabathia (7/21/1980)

I've combed through the list of other active starters to consider, and most of them are in the same age bracket:

Cole Hamels - quietly putting together a stellar career
Jon Lester - my Red Sox-colored glasses cloud my judgment on Jon
Jake Arrieta - late bloomer who may already be descending from his peak
Dallas Keuchel - I need to see what he does next year before I decide
Jacob deGrom - see above
Corey Kluber - it may be time to demote Darvish and send in the Klubot



It might also be time to acquire some Kluber base cards.

This is when I realized that one reason why there are no young aces anymore is because two of them - Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura - tragically passed away. 

Which leads me to another question - who is baseball's next great starting pitcher?
Is it Luis Severino? Noah Syndergaard? Robbie Ray? Julio Urias? Because unless Shohei Otani is coming to pitch in the majors next year I don't see any young pitcher breaking through the baseball world, the baseball card hobby, or my star box any time soon.


~


Friday, September 29, 2017

Great Trader Giveaway Contest - Winner #1

Six weeks ago I proposed the idea of a 50/50 card swap, not knowing if anyone would take me up on the offer to send 50 cards of a team or set they collect in exchange for any 50 cards they don't want or need. I was a bit worried that the idea would be a flop, or that I'd get nothing but 1991 Fleer baseball in return. 

Instead I got hundreds of great cards, mostly of the three teams I collect. Nearly every trader sent well over 50 cards, and more inserts/parallels/relics than I was expecting (and more than I was sending!) Some of you even included a note that you thought 50/50 was "a great idea" and, to me, that meant just as much as the cards.

So for those of you who participated I thought the best way to say Thank You! would be to host this Great Trader Giveaway.




As I stated two weeks ago, anyone who has completed a 50/50 trade with me is eligible for the First Prize. The ten bloggers who sent return packages are:

Brian O (Highly Subjective & Completely Arbitrary)
Paul (Card Boarded)
Brian R (Captain Canuck)
Adam (Infield Fly Rule)
Jim (Cards As I See Them)
Douglas (Dollar Store Cards)
Julie (A Cracked Bat)
Eric (Old Red Sox Cards)
Brett Alan (no blog)
Tim (no blog)



These names were entered into the randomizer, and after four spins the winner is...


List Randomizer

There were 10 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
  1. Paul
  2. Julie
  3. Adam
  4. Douglas
  5. Brian O
  6. Brian R
  7. Jim
  8. Tim
  9. Eric
  10. Brett
IP: 96.225.123.71
Timestamp: 2017-09-29 18:41:17 UTC
Don't use this service for video giveaways! Use Multi-Round Giveaways instead
You have randomized this list 4 times.



Congratulations, Paul! You may choose any of the prizes below:

A $10-15 COMC shopping spree - you pick the cards and I'll purchase them*

*Please note - Your cards will be mailed to you in December


A sealed box of 2016 Topps Archives 65th Anniversary Edition



or the Mystery Box


which contains up to 200 cards from unclaimed 50/50 lots.


Once Paul has chosen his prize I will run the randomizer again for the Second Prize. This is open to anyone who sent me anything this summer, including:

Brian O (Highly Subjective & Completely Arbitrary)
Brian R (Captain Canuck)
Adam (Infield Fly Rule)
Jim (Cards As I See Them)
Douglas (Dollar Store Cards)
Julie (A Cracked Bat)
Eric (Old Red Sox Cards)
Brett Alan (no blog)
Tim Henson (no blog)

Wes (Willinghammer Rising)
Gavin (Baseball Card Breakdown)
Greg (The Collective Mind)
Dennis (Too Many Verlanders/Manninghams)
Corky (Pack War)


Thanks again to everyone who participated. See you back here for round two. Enjoy your weekend!


~



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Recent COMC purchases (and Great Trader Giveaway prize reveal)

Throughout the summer I considered - but never followed through on - writing a month-end blog post recapping my best find(s) on COMC. And now that I'm actually doing it I don't have any specific September steal on par with my July or August finds. That's partially because I've done a lot less shopping on COMC this month. 

I had a lot of 50/50 trade packages come in earlier this month, which sated my need for new cards, and even when I was browsing COMC the challenges were almost always closed until this week. With very little credit to earn and burn I was limited to making just a few small purchases, none more than $2.

I didn't even think they were worthy of a blog post - especially since I don't have any of them in hand yet - but Shane (Shoebox Legends) and Billy (Cardboard History) have discussed their recent COMC purchases and I haven't posted anything in a few days so I thought I'd share mine:

Al Jefferson 2015-16 Panini Immaculate Memorabilia #d/25 ($1.67)

Basketball relics seem to be cheaper than those of other sports, at least in my observation. I can understand a low-numbered single-color swatch of an undrafted D-leaguer being this cheap - but a low-numbered patch of an established NBA veteran? I'm gonna go ahead and call this my COMC Find of the Month.

That said, here are some other singles I bought for roughly the same amount:

Calgary Flames 2008-09 UD Trilogy Three Star Spotlight ($2.00)

I'm not a Flames fan and this card isn't serial numbered, but it seemed like a good value for a toonie. All three players were part of the Flames 1989 Stanley Cup championship team.


Bobby Ryan 2011-12 Panini Certified Fabric Of The Game #d/25 ($1.85)

Another two-color patch card numbered to 25. This one isn't as nice as the Jefferson and cost a tiny bit more, but Ryan is a Jersey guy and played like a superstar in the 2017 playoffs.


John Starks 2015-16 Panini Totally Certified Fabric of the Game #d/99 ($1.23)

I've never been a Knicks fan, but I know Starks was a fan favorite and I don't have many basketball relics. I might trade or flip this card if the opportunity arises.

Steven Stamkos 2015-16 UD Ultimate Collection Honored Materials #d/99 ($1.36)

Stammer plays hockey in Florida, and gets hurt a lot doing so. Those are the only reasons I can think of as to why he is so underrated in the hobby. This card in particular should be at least $4, but thanks to ePack you can get any one of a handful of stars for less than that.


Dave Duncan 2017 Topps Heritage Buyback 1968 ($1.05)

The only baseball card in this post - though I did buy about 20 cheaper baseball cards this month. This Duncan comes from one of the box topper packs that are randomly inserted in hobby boxes of 2017 Heritage (two of my five boxes contained an original buyback pack.) I picked this up because it's in good shape and as possible trade bait for any buyback hoarders who might need it (it's #261, btw.)


Jim Calhoun 1990 Star Pics ($1.00)

I've been watching Calhoun cards for a while and when the "Medallion Edition" parallel sold out I decided to pull the trigger on this one. This will be a nice addition to my Connecticut collection, which I haven't been adding to as much as I'd hoped. 


John Gibson 2016-17 OPC Platnium Retro Orange #d/49 ($1.83)

Another ePack product, which is why I was reluctant to spend even minimal coin on this card. But even though I dislike the Ducks I couldn't resist the orange border surrounding Gibson's orange jersey, which represents Orange county's NHL team.



These nine cards cost me a total of $11.99. It's amazing what you can find on COMC for that price. And so I thought it would be fun to offer a small shopping spree as a prize in my Great Trader Giveaway. The winner (which will be announced Friday) will have a choice of one of these prizes:

  • A "mystery box" of up to 200 cards from unclaimed 50/50 lots
  • A $10-15 COMC shopping spree - you pick the cards and I'll purchase them*
  • A sealed box of 2016 Topps Archives 65th Anniversary Edition


*please note that I will not request shipment of my COMC order until Black Friday so you will receive your cards in December.

I'll have more specifics about the Great Trader Giveaway on Friday but as I mentioned previously, the First Prize is open to anyone who completed a 50/50 trade with me, and the Second Prize is open to anyone who sent me anything over the past two months. 


Thanks again to everyone who participated. See you back here on Friday! 


~
 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Don't Want To Grow Up. I'm a Toys 'R Us Kid.


Yesterday it was reported that Toys 'R Us has filed for bankruptcy. According to this article over 1,600 stores will remain open, but with crippling debt and the decline of brick-and-mortar retailers it feels inevitable that Toys 'R Us stores will soon become extinct. 

I don't often have an opinion on corporate bankruptcies, but TRU was such an essential part of my youth that if it does go under I'll miss it a heck of a lot more than Bradlees or Blockbuster Video. I've bought (or been gifted) countless action figures, video games and accessories from their stores.. and even some baseball cards, like these oversized Master Photo cards from 1993:


I don't remember much about these, other than a faint recollection of a corresponding regular-sized card set that is long gone from my collection. I'm not sure how (or why) I managed to hold on to these Master Photos, or if this is the complete set (I doubt it) but it's a good mix of Hall of Famers:


Borderline Hall of Famers:


And All-Stars of the 90's. I scanned the back of one next to this Baerga card, so you can see that there's nothing to see on the back of these. 

 

There's also a few "Young Stars" that never made much of an impact:

 

Some of the corners on these are pretty dinged up. I haven't handled them all that much but I have moved them around a few times since bringing these back from my childhood home in Connecticut. 

I do have a handful of appropriately sized binder pages, but they're being used by all my box topper cards, so I've had to store them in a graded card box with some other oddballs - like my collection of 1964 Topps Giants cards, and these:



I have three others, but these are my favorites. How cool is that Hull?


Do you have any oddball sets from retailers like Toys 'R Us, K-Mart, Bradlees, etc.?


 


~

Monday, September 18, 2017

Season Ending Retail Break - 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers (and some hockey)

Y'all remember my five-box break of 2017 Topps Heritage? I spent about $300 on those five boxes but considering what I pulled (and how much fun I had) I'd say it was worth it. I still haven't finished the entire set - I need 25 of the 100 SP's - but I knew I'd have to set some money aside for High Numbers.

However, when I searched pre-sale prices at my favorite online retailers I found that many of them didn't have any in stock, and those that did were charging $90 for a single hobby box. I wasn't willing to pay more than the $65 that a "low number" box cost, so I had to go the retail route. 

As soon as I got word through the blogosphere that High Numbers hit stores, I made a trip to my LCS (Target) and grabbed a little bit of everything:


I also bought a fat pack of 2017-18 O-Pee-Chee hockey because I like to sample the season's first issues, and I usually prefer it to MVP.



But this year... blecch! I liked last year’s design a lot better. When I opened the pack I saw a shiny sticking out...


...figures it was a checklist. At least I got one Devil. Domi is a guy I kind of collect, and Mitch Marner is better than I thought (I guess he was overshadowed by Auston Matthews.)


My favorite card in the pack is definitely the Jagr playing card insert. As Shoebox Shane said, someone sign him! The fact that the scoring-starved Devils signed Drew Stafford (21 points last season) instead of Jagr (46 points) boggles my mind. Even if he can only manage half that total, the experience he'd bring would be invaluable for Jersey's young forwards like Pavel Zacha and Nico Hischier.


I was hoping to pull a RC of Charlie McAvoy – who I will be collecting because McAvoy is my wife’s maiden name – but instead I got White and Keller. Can't complain with those two.

Now back to baseball, and the Heritage High numbers. My first thought when opening these is that the black wrappers are much cooler than the yellow packs from the main series:


The second thing I noticed is that there were no "Rediscover Topps" buybacks included. Bummer.

I have to admit I didn't study the checklist before opening the packs, and so I assumed there were only 25 SPs in the high numbered portion of the set, numbered 726-750. I was half-right. There are 25 SP's, but the set "only" goes up to 725. I pulled four: 712, 715, 722, and 723. 

Here are the inserts, including the Target exclusive Topps Game rookies:


I got the "wrong" Dodger. Oh well, at least I pulled a Kris Bryant. The Thames and Schwarber cards are cool, too.

As for the base cards, I’m disappointed my guy Trevor Williams isn’t in this set. (Maybe 2018?) But I'm even more disappointed in the repeat packs I picked.

Of the 114 base cards in these packs, 42 of them were duplicates:


 And some were triplicates (is that even a word?)


Aanyone waant to taake these extraa A's off my haands?



Even though I'm planning to build a second (base only) set - as I did with the low numbers - I still have plenty of trade bait because... 

I bought the whole High Number base set from Just Commons. It cost me $25 and arrived the day after my retail break, but I still think it was money well spent, for one reason:


A couple hours after this set arrived I watched Bellinger tie an NL rookie record with his 38th home run. It's a good bet that he'll break that record and end the season with at least 40 bombs. It's an absolute lock that he'll win NL Rookie of the Year.

         And we all know who the AL's ROY will be.


This concludes my card buying for the 2017 baseball card season. I spent over $400 on Topps Heritage products, including the boxes/packs, base set, and SPs I purchased on COMC. It was a lot of money but it was also a lot of fun. I haven't bought this many cards in a single season since before my daughters were born. 

But now I've got to gear up for Black Friday. It's only two months away!


How much have you spent on baseball boxes/packs this season?


~

Friday, September 15, 2017

The State of the Sawx



It has been a rough year to be a Red Sox fan.

First there was the beanball war with Baltimore.

Then there was the David Price-Dennis Eckersley feud.

Then some moron(s?) shouted racial slurs at the Orioles' Adam Jones.

Then there was the sign stealing scandal. 

And now this:

Is this pro or con? And why would anyone bother to display such an ambiguous sign? I don't even know. All I know is that there are great stories all over baseball: the Indians, the D-backs, the Twins, the Mighty Giancarlo Stanton, the Judge, the Dodgers (until about a month ago)... but aside from a hot start by Chris Sale and a red-hot debut by Rafael Devers, every story about the Sox this year has been negative news. And we're in first place!


Not all of this bad karma has to do with the players. The Red Sox roster is deep and talented enough to win the division and maybe even a playoff series. But the bad mojo will negate that. Even if our lefty aces Sale and Price don't turn into pumpkins at the first sign of fall, the talent on other teams is better - and the mojo is much better.

Let's say the season ended today. The Red Sox would have to go to Houston for an ALDS series. The Astros are already the better team on paper, but the flood-ravaged city will rally around the team, and vice versa. It happened in Boston after those Russian asshats bombed the Boston Marathon. 

And even if the Sox somehow beat the 'Stros, they'd have to win a best-of-7 against the Cleveland Indians, who might never lose a game again

This... is not our year. And that's okay. I don't expect my team to win championships every year; I'm not a Yankees fan. Honestly, as long as we hold them off for the AL East crown and they don't advance any further than we do (which seems like a safe bet considering the Yanks would play Cleveland in the DS) I'm good. Just as long as the news from now on concerns the players and their performance on the field. 

 
Since this is supposed to be a sports card blog I thought I'd show off a few cards from a new PC project - Cleveland skipper Terry Francona (I wish that guy was managing my team)


I haven't been actively collecting Francona cards, but he nearly won a third World Series ring last year and the Indians appear to be even better this year. Three titles as a manager is basically a ticket to Cooperstown, so I figure now's the time to build my collection. It's pretty basic so far:



I just tossed a few more Titos into my latest Just Commons order, which should be here in the next week or two. And I've got a box break post on deck from today's visit to my LCS (aka Target.) But before I get to that, here are some Red Sox cards from my most recent 50/50 trade, with Julie of the blog A Cracked Bat.
 

 and a Hot Dog

Julie claimed two lots - Tigers and Astros - and sent me about 110 cards in return. (I'm still debating whether that earns her an extra entry in the contest.)

Unfortunately I was a bit hasty in sorting/seeding them into my binders and I forgot to scan them all. But here are some highlights:



 My apologies if any of these did not come from Julie.

I should have scanned them right away. But it was 110 cards!


 That time when Brock Holt was our only All-Star:


 Obscure player alert!


And we'll end with a celebration:


I hope we'll see more of this down the stretch. 


Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a great weekend!


~