Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where the hobby might be if "the magazine" did not exist

I've been thinking about writing this post for months now, but have never got my thoughts together for a post.  I then spied Play at the Plate's post about the Toppsopoly, and wondered to myself:

What would our collecting atmsophere look like if the magazine never existed?
Now I know that there were assorted pricing guides/magazines that existed before Beckett Media was founded in 1984. As far as I know, none of them were as widely accepted in the sports card world as Beckett has been over the past 30 years. 

Again, the collectors that were born in or around 1980 or later probably have never known a day where there wasn't a price guide that could give them a rough idea of what their collection was worth.  Guys like me, who were kids in the late 70's and started collecting cards such as this,

pretty much had no idea what the card was 'worth'.  Cards were collected because they were fun, because they portrayed players that young kids idolized and wanted to be like.  It was a shock to my senses when I returned to the hobby in the early 90's, went to a card store to look for hockey cards and saw random prices on each of the cards.  Upon questioning the woman behind the counter I learned of the magazine and how it was used to determine pricing.

Speaking of the early 90's, many years after Topps monopoly on producing baseball cards ended, card companies saw that the industry is booming.  I'm sure that marketing geniuses at the big 3 were seeing the amounts of money that were trading hands for cards, and were trying to think of new ways to extract more dollars from the collectors pockets.

What do we start seeing?  Serial #'d parallel cards.  Inserts.  Autographed cards such as this..

image borrowed from

The hobby just ate these cards up.  Signed cards were going for hundreds of dollars.  The next progression in the great chase was relic cards.  Jerseys, bats, seats, bases, pants and anything that could be associated with a baseball game became a part of a card.  Cards such as the 500 Home Run club that Upper Deck featured were a smash hit.

Image borrowed from

Imagine if you will a cardboard universe today that has no price guides.  No concept of monetary value for baseball (or any sport for that matter) cards.  Do we even see cards like the Sandberg and Thomas shown above?

It's hard to say.  At least for me anyhow.  I would hope that common sense (yes, my definition of common sense in this case) would have won out and cards would have remained as simple as this:

Bat on shoulder.  Pitcher in a pitching pose.  A catcher in his squat getting ready to receive a pitch.  Cards as simple as the '64, '77 or '86 Topps sets that you've seen me post on here dozens of times.

But who knows, marketing people can be quite creative, and may have come up with the concept of relic cards and die cut inserts such as these anyhow, even if the money hadn't been flying around as it was:

Do these exist today without pricing?

I am not lamenting the progress that the last 20+ years has seen in the card collecting industry.   That is not what this post is about.  Some of the most "insane" ideas I've had for putting sets together have come from the progress we've seen over a generation:

#51/499  thank you Max!

I've wondered for several months now what people thought the state of our hobby would be like if the magazine had never come to fruition. 

Maybe there are people out there that can educate me further with facts, opinions or ideas that may shed some light on what the hobby would look like now if we had no idea what the value of the cards we collect were worth.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, June 29, 2012

Have you ever worn something made of wood?

It's not too often that my posts are centered around just one card, but after looking at this card a couple of times, I just had to poke some fun at it.

This card arrived in the mail today, courtesy of a win on eBay earlier this week.  This was one of those deals where you say to yourself  "I can't leave it there for that price".

2005 Topps Pristine Game Used bat card featuring Joe Carter.  99 cents plus shipping.  Card is in great shape, couldn't have asked for anything better.

Then I look again.

Title Threads, with a piece of bat.  Am I mistaken, or would threads suggest a jersey piece/swatch?  I'm sure that I've seen these kinds of errors before, but the wording still seems kind of odd. 

I love the whole idea of the card however.  The top of the card is great!  1993 World Series Champion Blue Jays in nice big lettering. 

The pic of Joe Carter reminds me of the endless number of ABs he had in a Jays jersey.  When Joe was at the plate, there was never a dull moment. 

The back of the card tells how his walk off HR in Game 6 of the '93 series was the 2nd in World Series history (I'm sure you're tired of me talking about that moment, so I will not go any further with it).

I can't for the life of me think of anything that would be considered "threads" that are made of wood.  I even tried to recall anything that I may have read from George R R Martin's series of books that would lead me to believe that people in medieval times wore anything of wood, no luck there as well.

Book 4 of the series, if you're into medieval fiction, I recommend highly

OK...I've picked on this card enough.  It's still a great add to my collection.  I would still like to add something to the Jays collection that says "20xx World Series Champions".

20 years since the last title is already too long a wait.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I love when cards remind me of home

I've been here in western PA a little over 14 years now, and despite all my grumblings, I'm very happy with my life here.  The cost of living is fairly low, and thankfully the key component of it all, my loving wife, puts up with my hobby. 

It's funny how things happen suddenly that give you a taste for your hometown.  A taste I really haven't had in a while, even though I love the city.

Within the past week, I found two cards, and one blog, that reminded me of Toronto.  (Trevor, if you're reading, check your email)

I got the first card at the card show I hit last Saturday, it's a jersey card of a young Leaf player that I hope very soon will make the lineup and start scoring goals as Leaf fans have wanted him to do since he was drafted a few years back.

#'d 31/499
Great City Lights jersey card featuring Nazem Kadri, and the best part of the card for me is how Panini incorporated the CN Tower (or the Bell Tower, or the Rogers Tower, goodness knows one of the corporate cronies may have bought the rights to it by now) into the "City"  The shot also features a great view of the skyline, including the Sky Dome on the left (screw it, I refuse to call it the Rogers Center). 

The 2nd card that reminded me of home is a card I received from Nick over at Dime Boxes as part of a group of Jays he sent my way:

Again the CN Tower is featured, this time on the Donruss Studio 2004 card of Alex Rios.  This card also has a nice view of the Toronto skyline, and the Sky Dome is there, although a little difficult to see.  I could be a sarcastic bastard here and say that the only thing really wrong with the card is the player featured on it....

Nope, didn't say it...

I have no intentions of going back to Canada to live.  The US of A is the best country on this planet, and one of the proudest days of my life was becoming an American citizen back in 2006.  However, no matter where I may end up here, these two cards that are part of my collection now will always remind me of why I bleed blue and white.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stupid stuff

What I see more and more on posts is that guys (and gals) are just having fun with their posts.  We tend to forget after a while that collecting/blogging is not all about ripping on Topps (although that is a common theme for the '12 release), or some other great concern to come to mind at the current time.

It's about fun.  Once in a while, posting about nothing at all, and having fun with it.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of this when I'm sitting here watching the smoke rise from my skull as I try and think of something to write.

Sometimes, all I want to do is write stupid stuff on my blog, and laugh at myself while doing it.

That's right.   I said stupid stuff.

I wonder about stupid stuff I see on cards all the time, such as this one.

Did I miss something?

Please someone tell me when Manny appeared in an Oakland A's uniform?  Honestly, Manny wore the #1?  Maybe I'm not following as closely as I should be.

Or the pleasure I get when I see red parallels on my favorite blue and white teams.

Seeing Red...thank you Nick!!

Now from a company with a name like "Pacific", you'd think that I'd be able to dig up some blue parallels of my blue and white team....wrong again...

Red, white and blue, the hard way.  thank you Max!!

Sometimes my stupidity is pretty simple, I see a card and think that somebody may be getting high fived, or somebody may be getting slapped in the face.

Raise your hand, raise your hand.....if you're Sure!

I bet you all had no idea that when Joba Chamberlain went to Nebraska he was called "The Faceless Pitcher"?

Somebody tell me how this pic gets on a baseball card.

Can somebody tell me why every time I watch an Indians game and I hear this guys name I start singing "Oye Como Va".  (Or for you younger bloggers, Smooth)

The previous 3 cards were brought to you in part from a trade with PATP.  Thank you Brian!

Maybe it's wondering if Ryan Kalish is actually going to climb the other 29 feet (approximately) to get to the top of the Green Monster

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea thinking I could take a HR away"

Or wondering whether the sticker on a card received in the mail is the price someone paid for it, or if the sticker is actually an informal invoice.  The actual joke here is on me...I didn't notice the sparkle on the front of the card until I looked at this scan...seriously

PATP....autograph....what autograph??

Even piling on to another bloggers' posts could leave me "seeing red"

One of the many that Anthony sent me...thank you again!

Bet you're wishing you had the last 3 minutes of your life back don't you?

Or maybe I got lucky and some of my stupid stuff got a laugh out of you....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's been over 25 years already?? Say it aint' so..

Bloggers my age will understand what I'm talking about here.  Have you ever opened a trade package in the mail, looked at the cards and said to yourself  "Oh my God I remember when..." then of course you can fill in the blank at the end of that sentence.

Well, a few days after receiving a great box of '86 Topps from Anthony at the Get the bat off your shoulder! blog, I took a good look at the cards today, and a flood of memories came to mind about a lot of the players in the box. 

I just couldn't believe it's been more than 25 years since:

Vince Coleman broke the rookie record for stolen bases in a season:

110 steals!!  Think we may ever see triple digits again?

It's been 25+ years since we had a guy by the name of Razor (and yes, Razor was his middle name)

Even better...his manager was Buck Rodgers (a character from science fiction for those of you who may not be familiar)

It's been 25+ years since Dave Kingman wore a porn mustache...

I can never recall Dave Kingman wearing a mustache...guess I was wrong

I wonder if Mookie Wilson knew that he was going to make history during the '86 World Series

I sure fire don't remember Tommy John pitching in the Bay Area....ever

LA, check.  Yankees, check.  Angels, check.  A's?? 

Finally, this guy 25+ years ago could have been considered Rickey Henderson's "wingman"

Fast, hit for power, and roamed center field in Oakland while Rickey was in left.  Why do I bring him up now?  Dwayne is the hitting coach in Toronto, and the team seems to resemble him quite a bit.  Can hit for power, strike out quite a bit, steal some bases and hit in the neighborhood of .250...

I could have easily scanned 50 of the cards and came up with little blurbs on a lot of them.  Names such as Charlie Leibrandt (Jays killer in '85), Nolan Ryan in an Astros uni, Lou Whitaker, Phil "Scrap Iron" Garner, Orel Hershiser, and the list goes on and on.

Oh, and the fact that I scanned three Oakland A's cards out of this massive pile is purely coincidental.

Anthony, thank you very much for the 86s!  They are much appreciated.

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My how the landscape has changed

I admit it, when it comes to cards, I am spoiled.  I grew up in a very large city, and the shows that I attended when I was younger were pretty damn good.  Mind you, when I was attending shows regularly, it was during the boom period between 1989-1993, when everybody and their brother was trying to make a buck selling cards. 

It was fun attending shows on a weekly basis, getting out and meeting people.  Looking for the latest and greatest cards amongst a group of 30-40 regular dealers. 

My how the landscape has changed.  I hit a mall show down in Pittsburgh yesterday, and if there were a total of 10 tables set up, I'd be surprised.  Even the mall show that was closer to my hometown here usually had about 20 tables up and running. 

Hopefully this is just an indicator of the time of year that we are in; summertime usually means more people outside, and card geeks like me having a harder time finding good card shows. 

I didn't fare too badly at the show however, I managed to pick up a few cards that were interesting.  First off, I always get a kick out of seeing a pitcher featured on a bat card, and this card here is no exception.

195 career hits..0 career HRs

It is a 2010 Topps Tribute card, #33/50 of Don Sutton.  The bat portion is kind of cool, it is so rough that you would think that you could get a splinter if you rubbed your finger the wrong way on the card!

I also snagged an auto of a 70's Dodger pitcher that is sure to make a Dodgers blogger happy.  (At least I hope it does, cause he's been waiting a while for my end of our trade)

My quest for the elusive 'dime box' came up empty again (do these things actually exist in the world?), the closest I could find was a 3/$1 box.  I was able to find a handful of vintage cards in there that were in decent shape, so in the pile they went...

The Dalton Jones card is actually in excellent shape, one of the best vintage cards I've ever got my grubby hands on.  The '64 Dick Williams is kind of rough, but still it's one more to check off the list. 

For those of you that follow hockey at all, one of the big themes of the weekend seemed to be the movement of brothers around the league.  Luke Schenn being reunited with brother Brayden in Philly, and Jordan Staal moving from Pittsburgh to Carolina to be with his brother Eric to name two. One of the best stories of the weekend was the brother of Montreal defenseman PK Subban, Malcolm, being drafted by the Bruins.  It was very cool the joy that PK expressed when his brothers' name was called; the rivalry that should develop between those two should be fun to watch for years to come.  I managed to snag a jersey card of big brother PK at the show...

Black Diamond has always been one of my favorite UD 'brands'

Maybe the lack of shows is another sign that I should be saving my money for the National at the beginning of August.  After all, 5 weeks isn't that long to wait, right??  Let's see if I can get there without the budget being dented too badly.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's not often I take a couple of days off

You ever get that feeling when you're away for a couple of days from work/school because you're sick, or you decided to take a mini vacation, that you are behind the rest of the world?

That's how I feel today.  Like the blogosphere has passed me by.  I didn't write on Thursday because I was kind of wiped out by the time I sat down at the keyboard, and the inspiration just wasn't there.  I didn't write yesterday because we have friends in town and I wanted to spend some time with them.

Well, this evening is another matter.  I am at the keyboard and ready to go.

I could talk about lots of things.  One of them being my attendance at the 2nd day of the NHL draft today.  For me, that was quite the experience.  It showed me how the first round of the modern day drafts have become a shmaltz fest for the networks.  The first round took 4 hours last night, I was there for 1 hr and 45 minutes today and watched 3 full rounds and part of a 4th.  What a difference. 

The best part about the event, which was also unexpected, was a few tables of cards were set up!  I didn't spend a whole lot of time looking at what was there, because I had a card show that I planned to attend later in the afternoon, but I did manage to find a couple of Leafs jersey cards for $2 apiece...can't leave them there at that price.

I was kind of Russian, so I grabbed these two really quick

The card show was a bit of a disappointment...not as many tables as I'd hoped for, but still there was some goodies to take home. 

Those I will show you tomorrow..

Thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blogger generosity puts a smile on my face

I've spoken on this topic a few times before.  Sometimes there is nothing better than coming home from work and finding a totally unexpected envelope waiting for you.  Today was one of those days.

A totally unexpected surprise arrived from across the pond, in the form of an envelope from Martyn at the Arbitrary Crap blog.  Across the blue from out of the blue you could say.

Martyn has followed my progress on the insanity set project, and sent me a few more cards to put another dent into the wantlist.  There was one card, however, that really put a smile on my face.

Now I'm sure you all think that I've gone off the deep end here.  You're probably thinking why a Blue Jays fan would be ecstatic about a Red Sox card.  Check out the back:

The serial number is in the lower left.  #5!!!  I've been trying to find a #5 serial numbered card for quite a while now, and here it lands right in my lap.  What does this mean you ask?

Page 1 is finally done.  I now have all the single numbered serial #'s, and can finally show off a binder page towards the set.

It's funny, because I thought the lower serial #'s were going to be the most difficult to pick up, and here I finally complete a page towards the set and it's the single digits.   Great stuff.  ( I love the Torrealba card at #9 in the lower right by the way)

In the envelope there were other cards as well, 7 more as a matter of fact.  Martyn took the time to hit some teams that were starting to lag behind the others in terms of card count (Rockies and Twins to name 2).

Martyn, thank you again for the cards!  Rest assured they really did put a smile on my face.

thanks for reading, Robert

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Upon further review: 2012 Topps Series 2

I saw a post a few days back, from Brian over at the Play at the Plate blog, wonderfully titled "Topps Gives Collectors the Finger".  In that post, Brian laments the fact that Topps has decided in their series 2 blasters to not give collectors the chance to pull an auto or relic.

Brian, I must say thank you (politeness...yes it is a for doing what I failed to do, which is reading for comprehension.  I had decided to start buying blasters for series 2 after not buying any of them while completing Series 1.  Had Brian not posted this on Sunday, I probably would have busted a couple of more blasters in the process of completing the series 2 set, all the while likely not being aware that the possibility of a 'hit' was nil.

I took this to mind while traveling last night for work.  I decided to hit a Wal-Mart not too far from the hotel I was staying in, and grabbed 3 rack packs of series 2.  I'm forever obsessed with my luck changing when I visit different towns, hoping that I'll pull that card of cards that I can never get locally.

Well, let's just say I got kicked in the teeth this time, and I think I've learned my lesson.....


I know that there are a couple of math majors out there that will tell me that this is possible, but it is still damn depressing when you buy 3 rack packs, and in 2 of the packs you see the exact same 2 cards back to back...

Damn Yankees

Plus, the sequence of the inserts was the same in the packs as well:

1 Golden Giveaway (I now have 7 of these bad boys collecting dust)
1 '87 Topps Mini
1 Gold Parallel
1 Other insert (Mound dominance, A Cut above, Golden Moments, etc.)

I wouldn't say the feeling that I have is fed up, I can't say that I'm that far gone yet. 

I think I'm somewhere between disappointed and disgusted.  The word that will best describe my feelings will come to me in a couple of days after I've had time to think about it.

What few Topps base sets I've put together over the years, I've enjoyed.  Maybe the collation this year is similar to what it was in years past, and I've never noticed until now.

Whatever it is, it may be time for me to let the base set go.  2012 may be the last year that I put together the base set, because I just don't get the thrill from the packs like I used to.

I've got plans for the 2012 set that I build, but I will not reveal them until I finish the set.  But after the three ugly rack packs I bought in Duncansville, PA on Monday night, I'm going back to the blasters.  I may not have a chance for a relic or auto (not that those are the determining factors for me anyhow...), but at least it was fun pulling a manupatch...hey, I'm weird, leave me be...where else can you pull something off the wall like this?

Hey Tommy

I actually got more of a kick this week seeing these cards in the mail...

Thanks Greg!

Upon further review, 2012 Topps Series 2 is not a bad set on the whole. However, the gold theme is still overdone, and outside of a couple of new inserts that I liked there is nothing that makes me scream WOW!

That word will come to me yet....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Broken Wings

The old saying holds true for my Blue Jays this week:  "You can never have enough pitching"

Three starters went down this week, including maybe their most effective starter Brandon Morrow who strained his oblique.  (Has anyone noticed that this oblique strain is becoming a common injury nowadays?)

The Jays are going to have to rely more on these two guys now to pick up the ball every fifth day and get a win for them..

Even though Romero is 7-1 so far this season, statistically this is his worst season in terms of ERA, K/BB ratio and HR/9 innings.  Alvarez is following up his incredible 10 start run last year with a decent second season, although I would like to see him strike a few more batters than the measly 24 he has fanned in his first 13 starts.

The biggest potential loss however is this guy:

Drabek is going to Dr. Andrews this week for a 2nd opinion, but it appears that his torn UCL in his elbow is going to require Tommy John surgery.  Although his numbers don't really show it, he has made some strides this year towards becoming the pitcher the Jays hoped he would be when they acquired him in the Roy Halladay deal a couple years ago. 

Unbelievably, if he does require the surgery, it will be his 2nd Tommy John ligament replacement procedure.  I don't think that I can recall anyone who has ever had that surgery twice.  If this is indeed the case, it will be interesting to see if he can come back a 2nd time and be effective.  I'm sure that something such as this happening twice to the same person has to have a devastating mental effect.  (NOTE: Jason Frasor, who pitches with the Jays, has had 2 TJ surgeries, the 2nd being in 2002 and has gone on to a solid big league career)

With all these injuries, Brett Cecil is getting another chance to show what he can do in the bigs, and everyone involved with the Jays is hoping he finally realizes his potential as a supplemental first round pick in the 2006 draft.

Only time will tell.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, June 16, 2012

the Kings are finally the Kings

I may be a few days late with the post, but I have to pay homage to one of the greatest Stanley Cup runs, well yea I gotta say it, in the history of the NHL.

Led by guys like Drew Doughty, the Kings lost a grand total of 4 games in the 4 rounds they played.

I still love this card, great photo

They wiped out all 3 division winners in the western conference in just 14 games, 12-2!  Yes, they did let their guard down in games 4 and 5 in the final, but when they had the chance in game 6 with the 5 minute major, they grabbed the series by the throat and scored 3 power play goals, and you could see the Devils were just deflated after that.

What I really like about this win?  This group of Kings did something that these two guys couldn't do in the late 80's early 90's....

The closest that these two came was reaching the finals in the 92-93 season, only to bow out in 5 games to the Montreal Canadiens.

Finally, for anyone who cares about my ramblings, there is an interesting pattern developing for Stanley Cup champs.  Over the past 4 seasons, the winners look like this.

11-12  Los Angeles Kings  West Conference    Pacific Division
10-11  Boston Bruins          East Conference    North East Division
09-10 Chicago Black Hawks West Conference Central Division
08-09  Pittsburgh Penguins  East Conference     Atlantic Division

The pattern is alternating conferences winning the cup, with a different division being represented.  If the pattern were to hold true in 12-13, the next cup winner would come from the South East division.

Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Winnipeg, Florida...hmm  any takers here?  I wonder if any hockey fans out there think that any of these 5 have a chance next year (if there is hockey....more on that later)

Thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, June 15, 2012

Something you don't see too often on a baseball card

I love getting boxes of cards in the mail.  No, not boxes of unopened packs, but a nice 200 count box of singles from various sets.  Sometimes, the possibilities can go on for days at a time.

I received one such box today from reader Greg A., who sent me a load of cards from a couple of sets I'm working on, along with a bunch of Blue Jays (of course!!).

But leafing through the cards for a 2nd time, this particular card of Pat Borders caught my eye, because there is a lot of something that you don't usually see on a baseball card.


I had to magnify this card for you to give you an idea of just how much blood is on the card.  The towel has a fair bit of blood on it, but look at Borders' neck and jaw, a nice stream of blood running down.  I would have to say that this is a result of taking a batters back swing right in the side of the melon. 

I've always liked the 90's SP sets from Upper Deck, even though I own very little of them, and this card just gives me another reason to do so.  Love the expression of pain on Borders' face; he was a tough son of a gun during his playing days. 

I've seen hockey cards and football cards with blood on them, but baseball cards?  Anyone out there have a baseball card with blood on it?  Would love to see them in posts out there in the blogosphere...

Thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Halfway to another 2012 goal

One of the goals I set at the beginning of the year was a bit lofty, and pricey at today's mail rates.  I had set a goal to get 100 envelopes in the mail during 2012, because I felt by doing so it would keep me more involved in the blogosphere.

Mission 1/2 accomplished.

The 50th envelope went in the mail today to Matt over at the Once a Cub blog, returning the favor for the onslaught of Jays cards that you saw in this afternoon's post.

What's actually been good the last couple of weeks is that the trade fires have been heating up again.  I've got at least 6 on the go right now, and working on a couple of envelopes for other folks as well.

One fellow who's been very patient with me (at least I hope he has), is Jim over at GCRL who sent me a package of Blue Jays and 77's, including this Vernon Wells jersey card which is another great addition to the Jays jersey/auto collection. 

Jim, I haven't forgotten about you, I'm hoping to get a return envelope in the mail very soon.


I am actually quite glad that the trade front is heating up again, because I've been fortunate enough to complete a few sets by trading, which certainly is a lot cheaper than hitting places like Sportlots and eBay.

Keep the trade offers coming!!  It'll keep me off of the mean streets of New Castle...

thanks for reading, Robert

Don't adjust your screens for this post

Well, my practice of skimming over emails and posts got me again.  This time, not so bad though.

I received an email from Matt over at the Once a Cub blog just after I got home from vacation, asking if I would like the Blue Jays proceeds from a case of Topps Archives.  I said sure that would be great, so I provided him with my address, and about a week later, a thick envelope arrived.

By the way, yes, I did say a case.

Check out these scans...

Topps did a good job at least with the '71 cards

A lot of Yunel?  Yu betcha

On a roll..19 HRs now

Plus!  The inserts and SPs to go with them

I had no idea what a deckle edge was till I received this card on the right
Even though they are reprints, still cool to get a couple of Jays from the glory years.

Anyone need a Jays team set from this years' Archives, I'm your man!!

Thank you Matt, I sent a return envelope your way...enjoy!

Thanks for reading, (and hopefully not squinting) Robert