Thursday, July 2, 2015

National League Pillow Fights

If you are not a fan either of the Milwaukee Brewers or the Philadelphia Phillies, you are excused if you did not realize that those two teams are squaring off against one another. The Brewers and Phillies are the owners of the two worst records in baseball, though (oddly enough) the Brewers actually own the longest winning streak in the majors at 4 (and I know that means that the Brewers will lose tonight).  

With such bad records, fans like myself and Brad -- the proprietor of the Phillies-centric and eponymous Brad's Blog -- are left to focus on our baseball card collecting and the race to see who will own the right to select perhaps A.J. Puk from the University of Criminal Activity....I mean, Florida or high school pitchers Riley Pint or Austin Bergner or whomever emerges as the top pick next season.

That "in the meantime" for Brad and me means that we get to swap cards. I sent Brad a ton of cards that he needed, and he returned the favor recently.  Here are a few of the highlights.





Rickie Weeks looks so happy that he was not involved in this week's series in Philly. He should really calm down -- it's not like the Mariners are above .500 or anything.  Maybe he is in Philly and thought that the Pillow fight would look like this:


Clickbait?  Of course.



Ryan Braun is in Philadelphia. He and Ryan Howard are likely to be trading stories about snookering their respective teams into long-term contracts far longer than they ever should have received.  But, at least Braun didn't get tackled by a pitcher...

video

It's the little victories that matter.

Brad also sent me a couple of Greinke cards, as if to remind me of the time when the Brewers had a pitching staff that did not require heavy doses of morphine to get through the pain:




Finally, my favorite card from all of the ones Brad sent is a parallel from the 2014 Topps set:


Back when the Brewers actually won more games than they lost and had reason to celebrate, Getty Images captured an overjoyed Jonathan Lucroy getting mobbed by his teammates and, directly behind him, a guy who looks like the lead singer from the Spin Doctors.

Brad, thank you very much for the great cards and the great trade.  Hope we can trade again soon!

And so do they:



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Package Barrage & I Get Cards from the Dime Box

My wife's parents came through town this weekend on Sunday, so we met them for lunch -- Mexican food, to be specific. I was stuffed and, as often happens after that, I skipped dinner. When we got home from the restaurant, though, I spent the next 9 hours putting together some packages to go into the mail.  So, if you live in one of the following ZIP Codes/cities, there's a package coming your way:

48005 (Armada, MI)
55419 (Minneapolis)
19713 (Newark, DE)
03801 (Portsmouth, NH)
76380 (Seymour, TX)
02766 (Norton, MA)
83605 (Caldwell, ID)
02919 (Johnston, RI)
13601 (Watertown, NY)
91770 (Rosemead, CA)
CT8 8BH (Westgate-on-Sea, Kent)

78235 (Orcemont)

And yet, I still have more packages to put together. But those will come, soon. 

Last week, I got an excellent PWE from Dime Box Nick. Nick and I have sent envelopes and packages back and forth over the past year or so, and Nick never fails to amaze.  This time, he sent me a note saying he was "bequeathing" his Ryan Braun collection to me. Since Nick is an old soul at heart, I feel like a song from the 1980s is appropriate here:



Not sure if you're into the Pet Shop Boys at all, but I certainly remember it.  Now, Nick did not limit himself only to Ryan Braun.  

But, since I'm in an 80s mood, how about some 80s songs to go with the cards Nick sent? These are all taken from a playlist I used to have on an iPod that's been reconstituted (sort of) on Spotify now.  I'm not sure how much these songs have to do with the cards, but we'll see how it goes as I go along.

Card 1, 2, & 3: 2007 Braun Allen & Ginter Mini & Mini A&G Back Parallel and Braun's 2008 Allen & Ginter Mini





Let's see...what song goes with a guy who came into the league seemingly as a superstar immediately and whose later work seems a bit ... uneven ... since his steroid supply was cut off?



Yeah, I gotta start with the boys from Waukesha, The Bodeans, and their hit from 1986, "Fadeaway." That's a video from a live show from the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee -- and man, I wish I had been at that concert.  Just great roots-rock that probably wouldn't see the light of radio today.

Card #4: Corey Hart 2008 Baseball Heroes Black Parallel 

Now, I could go with a Corey Hart song here -- yes, "Sunglasses at Night" might work, even if Hart is pictured in a day game without sunglasses -- but for me, a Corey Hart card talking about him doing good things reminds me of how injuries have sapped his abilities. Maybe Pirates and Mariners fans might agree with me after watching Hart's shambolic efforts at playing baseball over the past two years too, but Crowded House seems appropriate here.



Corey should stop dreaming and realize that he's had a good career but, "Hey now, hey now, don't dream -- it's over."

Card #5: Ryan Braun's 2010 Topps Wal-Mart Black Parallel



This one is easy.



Sorry, no AC/DC "Back in Black" (though that would work too), but rather Depeche Mode's "Black Celebration."  To be fair, I wasn't one of those goth kids back in the 1980s, but my musical tastes weren't that far off from being goth.

Card #6-10: 2008 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee Insert, 2008 Bowman Gold, 2008 Topps Turkey Red, & 2012 Topps Heritage Target Parallel







With so many Ryan Braun cards, I needed to group a few of them together for fear of running out of dubious analogies, songs, or readers.  So, an appropriate song for Braun's career?



Danny Elfman provided the musical scores for approximately half the movies released during the 1980s. "Weird Science" accompanied the movie by the same name. To be fair, I actually like the song "Dead Man's Party" more, but it doesn't fit here as well.

Cards 11, 12, & 13: More Ryan Braun: 2008 Heriage Chrome SN411/552, 2009 Topps Heritage Mayo Insert, and 2011 Topps Lineage Popup






God, I wish the Brewers could trade away Ryan Braun and his contract. I would be shocked if anyone would take it on, but it's fairly clear that either the steroids were keeping his thumb from feeling pain, the steroids destroyed his thumb's internal musculature and tendons, or that the cryogenic therapy on his thumb works only in small doses.  Braun has gone from being a .319/.391/.595 hitter in 2012 at age 28 to being a .266/.328/.466 hitter over his last 200+ games (876 plate appearances) starting at the beginning of last season. 



Yeah. The Brewers are pretty much wrapped being held hostage by that thumb and the contract to which it is attached.  God, it's going to be a long five more seasons.

It's more depressing than Goth music.  Just thinking about it brings Morrissey, Johnny Marr, and the boys to mind..."Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now."

Cards #14 & 15: Ben Sheets 2005 Donruss Elite and Studio


Sheets was a workhorse, so how about a favorite R.E.M. song from the 1980s?



I don't know why that song always was a favorite, but it was.

Card #16: 1992 (?) Robin Yount Sports Cards News and Price Guides #30



Let's close this post with the coolest card in the entire envelope -- a fantastic Yount oddball that doesn't even appear in the Beckett listings.  Such a great card deserves an upbeat song, but I have to admit -- I tend not to be a big fan of poppy, cheery, upbeat songs. It's not that I'm a dour person. I just find a lot of it to be very shallow and forgettable.  But, there's one song that I'm okay with here:



I mean, if the Outfield doesn't get you upbeat and singing along, what will?

Nick, I have no idea whether you like any of this music, but I do appreciate the cards greatly despite the Black Celebration of being Miserable Now!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Blog Bat Around: Regrets? Maybe One or Two



Garvey Cey Russell Lopes posed a question on Friday about cards that he used to own that he traded away or sold that he wished he still had.  I commented originally that I could not think of any cards that I regretted getting rid of at this point.  

Then I read Night Owl's post about the cards that "disappeared when I was collecting as a child." It reminded me of a card that I have not seen since the mid-1980s that I know I had. 

It was beat up -- badly beat up, in fact -- with rounded corners and a few creases. As a result, I didn't give it the proper care and attention it deserved. My thought process then, skewed as it was, was that I didn't need that old, beat-up card. Plus, it was too big for my plastic sheets, so over time it just sort of disappeared.

What card was it?


Yes, that one.  

Seriously, I don't know if I just didn't appreciate the card because of its condition, or if I was embarrassed that I had a "poor" condition card, or thought some baseball card bullies (or just some older guy at a show with the social skills usually reserved for the Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons) would make fun of me for thinking that a card in such bad shape would have value.

For whatever reason, I lost track of this card. It has yet to resurface in all of my trips back to my mom's house to look through my old stuff there. So, I'm resigned to the fact that I'll probably have to pony up and buy one of these to complete the 1954 Bowman Braves team set at some point in the future.

Come back, Hank. I promise to treat you better this time.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I Went to a Card Show Last Weekend

I'm a lucky collector in that I have two card shows a month within a twenty-minute drive from my house. Before last weekend, though, I had only gone to one of those shows. Wanting a little different experience and hoping for a few different vendors, I decided to go to the other one.  It's the further away of the two, but I mean, really -- it was a twenty-minute drive instead of a fifteen-minute drive.

This show had some ups and downs for me. Let's start with the bad stuff first.

I was excited when I saw one table with nearly every card from 1952 through 1976 in his boxes for sale, but I soon found out why all of those cards were still in those boxes: the seller relied solely on book value to price his cards. I was in the middle of pulling basically a complete Milwaukee Braves team set from the 1954 Bowman set out when a guy next to me pulled out a 1958 Topps Ernie Banks that was missing about 5% of the card because the corner was ripped off. It looked like someone hated Ernie Banks and used the card for BB-gun target practice.

So, the guy next to me asked about the price of the card.  The dealer laughed when he saw it. Then, he pulled out his Beckett Magazine.  If you're at a card show and you meet a dealer that relies on Beckett, it is a sure sign that the dealer either (a) is greedy, (b) is out of touch with card collecting, or (c) is so worried about missing out on a quarter in a sale that he or she will be impossible to bargain with.  

I know this now.

I learned this when the dealer laughed again and said, "usually, I never price a card at 5% of book value, but that's a 5% card.  So that card is $5."  If I had had a drink in my mouth, I would have sprayed it all over the cards and the guy behind the table.  Sure, it's a $100 card in mint condition -- and one graded 7 sold on eBay for $135 but, then again, one graded 7 sold on eBay for $34 (including shipping). But we're talking about a card missing a corner

So, when I heard that price and his justification for that price on that card, I knew I was in trouble with my 1954 Bowman team set. It took him a while to add it all up because he checked his handy-dandy Beckett magazine with its ridiculous pricing.  He told me "for these, $180."  I immediately put nearly everything back into his boxes, and I should have put all of them back on the sheer principle of the matter.  He tried to justify that cost by saying, "well, you have Bruton in there, and he's the last card in the set, so that's a $40 card right there and you have most of these cards in top condition, so that's what the price is."  Or he said something to that effect. By the time he was saying that, I was putting cards back.  

In the end and from that vendor, I bought only two cards:




And I should have put all of them back. I know I overpaid for these two cards, and I should have never bought any cards from a person who thinks book value is real. Never again.

To be fair, though, that was the real spoiler to an otherwise enjoyable show. When I first arrived, I stopped by the table of the guy who promotes these shows, Frank.  As I was sitting there, a guy came in and mentioned he was in town from Texas for a boys' baseball tournament and wanted to get a card of his coach -- Bump Wills.  Bump didn't make an appearance at the show, but I did find a couple of his cards for the guy. The kids looked at the cards as if in disbelief that Coach Bump really played professional baseball.

It made me smile to see that.

From Frank, I bought a few reprint Braves:










So, yeah, that's pretty much the entire Milwaukee Braves team 1953 Topps Reprint set from 1983, along with Warren Spahn (more from him in a moment) and a "rookie card that wasn't" of Hank Aaron.

And, there were two other reprint sets that Frank had that I grabbed from:


First, it's a reprint from 1983 of the 1953 Bowman Color set of Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn. I have tried to find out who reprinted these without much luck.  But man, the color on these cards is just incredible.


These cards were from the "Baseball Favorites" 1953 Bowman Black & White extension set from 1979. They were a part of a sixteen-card set that a company put out to add some star power to the 1953 Bowman B&W set. 

The great thing about the reprints is that you can find them reasonably priced and can have them in your collection while you look for the real McCoy. And, for an obsessive completist like myself, I feel like I need to have both the originals and the reprints in my collection. They are different cards, after all.

After I left Frank's table, the next table I stopped at was another of my usual stops at my other show. I know -- I come to this show for new vendors and end up spending my time digging through cards that I probably could have picked through any other time. But, I enjoyed going through his books and pulling out a bunch of great old Braves and finding a couple of cards on his table well worth my time:










 









Talk about filling in some needs!

But, those weren't the only cards that I was able to find at this table that I needed.  Indeed, I found a bunch of cards for my player collections too, such as Joe Adcock:



And Lew Burdette (since I have this one in my Spahn collection already:

Speaking of Spahnie:




Yes! The reprint and the original in the same day. Unlike my book-value-wanting friend, who probably would have looked at his book, saw that the EX-MT price is around $135 and wanted $15 for this card, I paid $2. Now that's what I call fair.

And, Harvey Kuenn appeared as well:


Finally, from this table, I was finally able to finish off my 1981 Topps Brewers Team set by picking up the 1980 Home Runs leader card with Ben Oglivie (and two other players who may be better known than Benji) on it:


Whatever happened to that Jackson guy?

My next stop at the show brought me to a table manned by a gentleman who had decided to come to the show to sell 1990s inserts for a quarter a piece.  I grabbed up every Brewer in sight, including a few fun cards to add to some PCs.  The highlights only, please:









To be fair, not all of the inserts were horizontal, but this gives you a feel for what I found. All the Dufex you could want (and I do like how those cards look!), a bunch of the Topps Gold (and not the Gold Winners from the same year), some Electric Diamond Boogaloo, a Fleer All-Star of Molitor, a bunch of Stadium Club Golden Rainbow Parallels, and that Molitor SP hologram. Just 25 cents each. Also, if anyone has a few thousand dollars to spend on cards, this gentleman is selling off a bunch of old sets from 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and into the early 2000s. I thought about it...for a little while...but thought I'd rather have my mortgage paid instead.

Stupid need to have a roof over my head.

At the next table I stopped at, I found just one card I needed at the cost of $1.  It's pretty off center and all, but it completed my 1975 Topps Team set:


While most people look at that and say it is a Keith Hernandez rookie card, all I see is Bob Sheldon crossed off my list.  

Finally, I stopped at a table and chatted for a long time with a guy who specializes in top-condition cards and graded cards from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.  When I say his cards were in fantastic shape, I may be understating it. Things like a 1971 Topps Thurman Munson graded at a 7 -- and I cannot understand how it wasn't higher. I don't deal in graded cards, but he had a few "raw" cards that really caught my eye.  First, a 1964 Topps Felipe Alou:


I am not kidding when I say that this card feels and looks like it just came out of a pack.It's that sharp. The scan has a line in the middle of the card, but it doesn't appear on the card itself. 

To be fair, though, this is the least impressive of the three cards I bought from this gentleman.  

Second most impressive? 1954 Topps Harvey Kuenn Rookie Card:


Yes, those corners are sharp -- on a 61-year-old card. I'm telling you that this guy really had awesome cards.  

Finally, the card that I spent the most on was well worth the $40 I paid.  A Hall of Famer oddball from the 1950s?


Yes sir! A 1954 Johnston's Cookies Warren Spahn!

The discoloration on the scan isn't on the card -- I don't know why it looks yellowish in the scan because it's pure white in my hand.  With sharp corners.  Just blew me away, and when I saw it I had to have it.

Thankfully, with the good deals from most of the sellers at this show, it was well within my budget. If I were inclined to get it graded, and say it graded at a 7, well, one just sold on eBay for $96.  

How's that look for book value?