Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Present Day Minis

I feel like sometimes I can come across as a bit of a dour, brooding sort when it comes to present day cards. After getting past the initial few weeks of "hey, I'm not 12 anymore and I have money and can buy packs to my hearts content whee! and aren't they all great!", I think I spent most of the spring complaining about parallels. 

Some of that criticism is warranted. Like TV Networks churn out copycat show after copycat show -- often, like CBS, for instance, copying itself by churning out a newly located CSI show with a new cast (I'm pretty sure that the next one on the list is "CSI: Missoula") -- Topps watched its competition in the previous decade issued literally dozens upon dozens of parallels and quickly nosedived their companies directly into the ground. One would think that Topps would have recognized that and limited parallels, but, alas, the parallels for a player appearing in Bowman this year 

I think I have found the set that is the happy medium that Topps should aim for: the Mini set.

I broke down and bought a box of them from Topps this past week. So what makes it a happy medium? Well, there are only 5 total types of parallels -- Gold (Serial numbered to 63, inserted 1 in every 7 packs), Pink (SN to 25, inserted 1 to every 16 packs), Black (SN5, inserted 1 to every 77 packs), Platinum (SN1, inserted 1 in every 381 packs), and printing plates (inserted 1 in every 96 packs). 

The only insert is a mini version of The Future Is Now (1 in 4). And, each box contains either an autograph (1 in every 142 packs) or a relic (every 29 packs).

In my 24 packs, I should expect 3-4 gold, 1.5 pink, none of the other parallels unless I get lucky, 6 TFIN inserts, and one relic/autograph (one guaranteed, after all). 

How did I do?

Pretty much right on target. I got 4 gold -- including the sidelined and seemingly spray-painted-into-that-jersey Prince Fielder. My one relic is the famous SuperMax Scherzer (for those of you who don't know, our highest security prisons are called Supermax prisons...I represented a guy once who was in one of these).  I nailed the 6 Future cards right on the head. 

And, there's the pink card I knew I'd get.  

Now, this box also had Brewers, of course. I didn't get a Braun or a Gomez or any Seguras -- insert or otherwise -- so I'll be looking to backfill that omission somewhere/somehow. But, I did get a number of Brewers:

Right up front, two of my PC guys in Lucroy and Gallardo. Not bad at all. I mean, having six current players as PCs means that I should get something for them.

Wooten had some bad luck this year with giving up hits. His groundball-to-flyball ratio shaded more to ground balls -- a good thing, generally -- and his K/BB ratio was 3.63. But, where he got killed was on BABIP: on balls in play against him, batters hit a whopping .380. Yikes.

Thornburg was placed on the disabled list on June 7 with a right elbow strain. Rest didn't help him recuperate, so he received a "PRP" (Platelet Rich Plasma) injection in August and was shut down for the rest of the year. He's a possible swingman next year. Doug Melvin didn't really replace him in the bullpen until picking up Jonathan Broxton at the end of August. 

Garza hit the DL in August with an oblique problem -- the second time in two years he had the issue. He missed most of that month with the issue, which allowed Mike "We Didn't Start, oh wait, we did start the" Fiers to worm his way into the starting rotation.

Gennett is the guy who has made Rickie Weeks expendable. Well, he's the guy other than Rickie Weeks who made Weeks expendable. He reminds me of a new-age, non-mustachioed, Jim Gantner -- a decent player who probably will never be an All-Star. Then again, Gennett is doing much more at age 24 than Gantner ever did. Gennett has more pop for sure (Gantner's best SLG: .401 at the age of 30 in 1983; Gennett's career SLG through 704 plate appearances: .449).

At any rate, hopefully Gennett will have Gantner's staying power, so that in 2021, I'll finally get around to starting to collect his cards as a PC.

Gindl has all the makings of a Quad-A player right now. More worryingly, he hit terribly this year in Nashville and the organization turned to trading for Gerardo Parra instead of calling Gindl up in late July.

Finally, I did get Rickie Weeks.  Two of them, in fact:

Weeks played well for many years as a Brewer, and I pulled that Pink Weeks (SN24/25) in the first pack I opened. Right behind a Gallardo.

Weeks almost certainly will be somewhere else next year. A lot of teams could use a second baseman with a career OBP of .347, especially if they can platoon him effectively to avoid tough righties. Maybe Oakland?

Anyway, the final insert in the box was this one. Use it if you wish:

That offer is good on "non-trading card products." So, if you're jonesing for those All-Star insert cards, now's your chance to save a little money on them!

Thanks as always for stopping by.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A second eBay win

And, to be fair, it's not much different than my last win. A couple of weeks ago, I paid -- probably too much -- for a Carlos Gomez 5x7 card that Topps had/gave away at the Fan Fest at the All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis this summer.

I think the cards were made only for the guys who were voted in as starters and/or started in the game. At that point in the season, Milwaukee looked like more than a .500 team -- which is what they are, it seems -- so three of their players made the starting lineup: Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, and Jonathan Lucroy.

I collect Gomez and Lucroy as PCs, so of course I had to go after a Lucroy. I paid about $4 less overall for Lucroy than I did for the Gomez, so that made me happy.

Here it is in all its glory:

When I wrote about the Gomez version, I asked you whether you had bought anything directly from Topps of this nature.  Well, I broke down and bought a couple of items...and they should get here in the next couple of days.  I'll be sure to share when I get them.

Thanks for reading!

A Contest from the Cynical Buddha

The Buddha and I both share a love of the Brewers. He's way ahead of me in terms of being a Robin Yount collector, but we share that too.

One thing we don't share is this contest.

Go over to Collector's Crack and make your pick for the "almost easiest World Series Contest on the Web 4" to see if you can guess who's winning the World Series, who's losing the World Series, in how many games, and how many homers will be hit.

Click here for details!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The First Package from the Elephant in the Room

Wes a/k/a Jaybarkerfan is well known in the blogosphere for sending out both massive boxes of stuff and high quality relics and autographs to other collectors. For the first time in my 7 months online and back collecting, I got a comment from Wes saying that it was "time our paths crossed." 

I'm glad they have.

JBF sent me a plastic card holder with a number of awesome cards:

Bill Hall Goudey jersey relic from 2008. I'm still torn about whether to try to collect Bill Hall or not. His numbers and his career give every indication of possibly being...ahem, wind-aided...but he was a good player for many years in Milwaukee.  

See, and this is why I keep thinking about it. A serial numbered 50/200 relic. I'll probably just look for a current player. 

Look, kids -- it's Shaun of the Dead!

Big Brad Nelson. The Brewers let him go after 2009, when he went 0-for-21 in the major leagues. With that total and the fact that he has not played in the major leagues since that time, Nelson qualifies as the player on the Opening Day rosters from 2009 who has yet to get a hit. The Brewers released him, and since then, Nelson has bounced from Seattle to Texas to the Cubs to the Twins who, in July of this year, released the 31-year-old from Triple-A.

Mike Cameron could go get 'em in centerfield. By the end of his career, though, that was all he could do. I feel assured that the bat from which this relic was harvest must have flown through the strike zone without making contact on numerous occasions.

A Serial numbered card from Pacific Omega in 2000.  Perez played 24 games for Milwaukee in 2000 and hit .173/.290/.212. The Brewers traded him to the Padres after that performance, and he hit .198/.320/.210 there. That's impressively bad, even though he did get on base at a decent clip.

Rigdon came to Milwaukee in the Richie Sexson trade. He started a total of 27 games for the Brewers with a 5.19 ERA (5.67 FIP) and generally had problems walking way too many guys.

Pretty sweet mustache with that old-school "M" logo on Mr. Fosse there. I have to admit that I still like that hat.  

The 1970s were such a simpler time. Often more colorful, but simpler.

JBF also hit a couple of my PCs with a relic, an autograph, and a serial numbered card:

That's Absolutely Ben Sheets Ink there. I haven't gotten to Ben Sheets in my cataloguing quite yet -- I'm just at Dan Plesac, meaning that I'm still on guys who debuted in the 1980s -- but I know that I did not have either the autograph or the Swatch.

I have catalogued the Ryan Braun cards, so I know very well that I needed that card. 

Wes, thank you very much for the cards. Or, as he put it in his note to me:

I agree completely! 

Thanks again.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Breaking Donruss

Probably about a week and a half ago, I got an envelope in the mail from Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown.  It was an interesting envelope. I mean, I sort of wish that he had sent the envelope earlier so I could have taken advantage of this great deal!

It's not like I was anywhere near Louisville to go to the Louisville Slugger Museum, but seeing the art of Warner Bros. Cartoons at the Museum might have spurred me on to find a reason to head that way.

The envelope Gavin sent included nothing but Donruss 2014 cards. In honor of that, I got out my plagiaristic artistic skills and made a banner just for this post:

It's "Breaking Donruss", live here on Off Hiatus.

Gavin knows I'm a team collector -- though he couldn't have known that everyone in the blogosphere who opened Donruss was sending them to me -- so he sent me two Ryan Brauns:

The card isn't a bad-looking one for being an unlicensed card. I am starting to wonder if MLB and its constituent teams threatened Panini with litigation if Panini were to be so bold as to use the proper jersey/pant color combinations. I've complained in the past about how the Hometown Heroes set from last year put uniforms on the Brewers that did not look anything remotely like anything Milwaukee has ever worn.

Now these colors, at least, appear to be one of the alternate combinations that the Brewers wore this year.  But, why are all the cards in those colors?

Okay, enough analysis of uniforms.  Here are the other four cards that Gavin sent:

Davis has proven the eyes of the scouts wrong so far in his career -- those scouts who said that he wouldn't hit enough to be a major leaguer. In fairness, he's awful at getting on base and/or taking a walk. His OBP is .299. Ugh.

Then again, that's pretty much the story of the Brewers offense this year. The only guys who play regularly who have an OBP over .340 are Diamond King Carlos Gomez (.355), catcher Jonathan Lucroy (.369), and Rickie Weeks (.351). 

One final "word of defense" though -- the league OBP this year is just .312, and the team OBP is .310. So, it's a pretty close to league average team in that regard.  

Finally, I've talked a lot here about whether the Brewers will pick up the option for Yovani Gallardo for next year. Well, according to Jon Heyman, that's a done deal -- and to most observers, it's not a surprise. I guess it's been so long since I pondered such thing that Milwaukee spending any money seems to surprise me.

Many thanks, Gavin, for these great cards. I needed a couple of them, and anytime I can add more to my Brewers I appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chrome Box Break with Chavez Ravining

As a Brewers fan -- and after all of my complaining about how Topps ignores Milwaukee -- I should definitely know better than to sign up for any box breaks of any kind. I really should. It's not like suddenly a pack full of Brewers refractors numbered to 10 are going to show up in one Brewers hot box of some kind.

And then, even if that did happen, I probably would end up with the Yankees in that box break.

Alex at Chavez Ravining announced a break of four boxes of Topps Chrome earlier this summer. I decided to join in the break in hopes of getting a complete Brewers team set out of the stack and to get a hit or two -- you know, something fun. As part of Alex's break, I also got the Phillies.

So, of course, the two X-Fractors and one on-card auto that I got were from the Phillies.  
Indeed, it was an Ethan Martin hot box, with a Chase Utley X-Fractor thrown in. Are there any Phillies Phans who would like to send me Brewers for these?

The Brewers that Alex pulled were not terribly inspiring. Now, I didn't help myself with my impatience in buying some Chrome at my last card show, but it turned out to be a good idea. In fact, the only real insert of any kind for the Brewers was this one:

I know it's been 25 years since that design hit cards, and Topps has been fixated on bringing back the days when everyone could buy a pack of Topps -- I mean, literally, they printed enough packs for every man, woman, and child on the planet to have their own.

Anyway, enough old jokes.  Alex felt bad for my lack of quality in the box break, so he was kind enough to throw in some other Brewers as well.

Mini Insert!


Mini Black Border!
Alex definitely made the break worth it for me with these add-ins. I mean, I still got the entire Brewers team set from Topps Chrome -- I just didn't get anything else. 

Alex, thanks for running the box break and for kicking in a bit extra over and above the cards from the break. I definitely appreciate those cards. I do need to send you some cards soon!

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A reminder from ARP Smith

Back in July, I made a big mistake on my e-mail system. I deleted a bunch of e-mail and forgot to check whether I had completed all the trades/packages that I'd meant to complete in them.

And then I forgot about doing it. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the big mistake.

I was reminded of this recently when I received a package in the mail from California from ARP Smith of ARPSMith's Sportscard Obsession. I had told Adam that I'd send him a card from 1983 of the Famous Chicken (at that point, Ted Giannoulas was no longer simply confining his antics to San Diego) that I had sent to Donruss to have autographed. Back then, we trusted that Donruss would gather the cards in Memphis, the Chicken would stop in an autograph them, and then we would get the card back.

At any rate, as a bit of a prod and reminder, this package had my e-mail in it...that I'd deleted...saying I'd send the card to him.


Thankfully, he's been good-natured about my act of omission. The card is packaged up and will be on its way to California shortly.  And, in the meantime, I received some great new-to-me Brewers cards -- and a few that weren't new but are still really cool.

There are a few obvious highlights -- the Donruss "Press Proof" of Jimmy Nelson, the high-school yearbook pose perfected by Bill Wegman (all he is missing is a huge class ring with a red stone on his left hand) and, of course, that huge and thick Ryan Braun Rookie Cup Manu-Relic. Those rookie cup Manu-Relics are just plain cool.

Thank you very much for the trade, Adam! It is appreciated and this time I won't forget to send you the card I promised (and some others too)!