Call me crazy but…

I’m not exactly stoked over Allen and Ginter.  I like my baseball cards to feature…ya know…baseball players from time to time.  I get the inclusion of a few obscure atheletes and celebrities here and there but watching the break going on over at Nachos Grande has me feeling a bit relieved that I missed the boat on that one…the hits they’ve opened are all either 1.  Former Chicago Cubs featured as Chicago Cubs or 2.  Everyone Gets a Shot Randoms like Michael Phelps.  Phelps is cool, I get that.  Short prints and/or hits of video game master Fatal!ty and a strongman?  Blech.

That being said I’ll happily take any 2012 (or any year for that matter) Allen and Ginter Dodgers off your hands!  I mean look at some of these just beautful cards featured in this post at Card Raven for examples of when Allen and Ginter absolutely gets it right…pure elegance, indeed.  So conflicted…but at least it’s not National Chicle or Goudey which I completely despise.

In other news, my first Listia loot came in today.  I signed up and got a bunch of credits for free and a few weeks later finally won something (I haven’t been paying that much attention) and managed to score a 1982 Donruss Steve Garvey.  I’m pretty psyched…it was absolutely free.  Listia isn’t even spamming my free e-mail alias I used to sign up!

1982 Donruss Steve Garvey

Check him out…what a man’s man.  Wait…what is wrong with his arm in this picture?  He looks like Benny the cab driver from the original Total Recall after he takes off his fake arm!

Benny from Total Recall

Folks this just goes to show you that NOTHING in Hollywood is original.  /smh and giving up

Topps Baseball 2012 Hits and More

Talk about the agony and the ecstasy.  My experience with flagship 2012 Topps Baseball is a combination of highs and lows that can only be described in gratuitously detailed blog post.  I started this post EIGHT days ago.  We had a nasty storm roll through and basically take out the entire state of West Virginia for about a week.  We’re fine…we got power back relatively quickly and opened up our home to family and friends that weren’t so lucky…but anyway on with the flagship thoughts!

First, I went and visited my uncle this week and we talked a good ninety minutes about the Dodgers.  This team is in complete disarray.  I predicted we’d knock the crap out of R.A. Dickey that night and it was a slaughter but not in the direction I was hoping.  I was banking on my gut feeling about Dodgers hitting “aces” pretty well over the years…I remember doing pretty well on a regular basis against a Randy Johnson for example or in more recent memory Tim Lincecum.  This feeling could be completely irrational…but my spider-sense had a feeling…plus it was great to sit down and talk with my uncle who isn’t in the best of shape these days.  We both agree that it’s tough to judge our pitching when the offense has been so decimated…here’s hoping we can avoid another shutout sweep tonight on ESPN against the Mets.  Thankfully that was all written eight days ago and although things got worse they also got better.  Kemp is rehabbing and will be back soon.  Carlos Lee thankfully rejected a trade to the Dodgers (THANK GOD).

Back to Topps 2012.  I’m not sure where to go with this…generally speaking Topps flagship sets aren’t known for “hits” they’re known for the large base set and fun inserts, right?  I feel like I’ve been getting the MAD hits…short prints, autos, dual relic, etc.  It’s like a jackpot every time I open one of those sweet, sweet, 72 card “bulk” box packs sold at big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R Us.  I think that’s the key.  I have this theory that all the good retail hits are in these boxes.  Ever since reading that Topps decided to make blasters a complete waste of time as far as autos are concerned, I decided to take a different approach with these box packs.  The way these are packed all the inserts and hits are in a clearly defined section of the shrink wrapped internal pack within the box and are easy to find.  Here is what I’ve pulled from various Topps Series 1 and 2 this year thus far:

Topps 2012 Series 2 Hits

Topps 2012 Series 2 Hits

Now to be fair, this is a mix of retail and one hobby box of series 2.  The hobby hits were the Bryce Harper SP and one of the Golden Moments relics.  The rest are all from retail box packs.  Yes the Cut Above Hanley Ramirez numbered to 15, yes the Golden Moments dual Pujols/Musial, yes the Golden Moments Jordan Zimmerman auto, yes the short prints shown (and the ones not shown: I also pulled the Derek Jeter celebration variant but misplaced it and there may still be more once I finish my sort).

Crazy?  Tell me if you’ve had similar luck.  Until I’m shown other evidence, I say that 72 card jumbo box shrink wrapped goodness is where it’s at in 2012 Series 2 Topps folks!

Mini-rant:  The Golden Giveaway can go straight to hell.  It’s impossible to get the 30th coin for everyone out there trying to get them and an automatic Willie Mays autograph.  You won’t find the St. Louis Cardinals, Babe Ruth, or Justin Verlander for each of the respective 30 coin sets, just FYI.  I liked the previous years, even if I was unlocking a bunch of junk wax, SO much better.  Let’s hope Topps goes back to something similar next year…this coin nonsense is just that…nonsense.  I wish I had researched this before I put way too much effort into trading and getting more codes to get more tradeable coins.

I’ll work on a review of 2012 Topps later on…my thoughts run way too rampant to add them into this post…I also received several mailings of loot from group breaks and trades/clearance specials from other blogs I’d like to share so I’ll get to working on those posts as well.  So much to do, so little time.

Redemption Monday – You Take The Good, You Take The Bad…

You take there rest and then you have a replacement Topps Redemption!

In my stack of old cards I have been sorting through, where the aforementioned Marquee Derek Holland Museum was found, I also found a Topps High Number Redemption for a Real One Raul Ibanez.  Not super excited but still happy it hadn’t expired, I put it in the magic computer and look what came back!

Topps Replacement Redemption Letter

Yup…apparently they’d already ditched their stock of Raul Ibanez Real One Autographs from the 2009 set.  Instead, they sent me this:

Bowman Sterling 2010 Jason Heyward Auto

I’m pretty conflicted.  I collect the Heritage sets for a reason…I love the old-timey cardboard and the on-card autographs, so even though I’m not a Raul Ibanez fan by any means, it is somewhat disappointing to get this as a replacement.  From a pure monetary standpoint I probably did better, as I am not sure about the Raul Ibanez Real One but I’d guess it’s nowhere near the $50 book value on the Heyward.  Plus I imagine the market for Heyward collectors is about ten times that of Raul Ibanez, especially considering it’d be a card for a team he doesn’t even play for anymore…

Anyone have a comparable Dodger for trade?!?  As always, the Heyward is available!

One of these days I’ll get around to updating my trade haves and wants…today probably isn’t that day however!

Have a week!

Thomas

Clutch Hits – Carl Mathias

First, how about Dee Gordon?  Gotta love seeing the Dodgers rebound after a blown call should have had the game tied up before the 9th inning even arrived…I’m calling it a favorable balancing decision by the baseball gods.  I really feel like Dee Gordon is starting to come around too…as scrappy as this Dodger team is I can’t wait until Matt Kemp is back healthy and maybe even a potential deal for Ryan Dempster.  How this team continues to win still baffles/scares/surprises me on a daily basis.

I’ve been slowly organizing and sorting my collection, which until a month or so ago was loosely organized into various sets but with no real sorting other than “this box has Heritage”.  While putting together sets and figuring out dupes, trades, etc. for my recent yard sale I came across a 2009 Topps Heritage Real One Autograph of Carl Mathias that I honestly had forgotten I even had (isn’t it sad we end up with so many cards we forget hits like this?).  I really like how Heritage does their autographs…on card and they’re the nice old-style cardboard that really takes to a sharpie signature (so much in fact that my next autograph project after the 88 Dodgers Project might be something more modern with a recent Dodgers team set from a Heritage release).  Anyway, I got curious as to who and what this Mathias guy was all about so I used the internets and did some research…turns out like just about everything else in the world there’s more to this story than the card below indicates:

I think it’s really cool how Topps goes back and gets players like Carl Mathias to sign for these sets…it’s one of the cool parts about Heritage and keeps me coming back for more (even though my actual Real One hits are few and far between, boo to non-auto relic “hits”).  It’s just a shame that a hobby box of Heritage doesn’t guarantee an autograph.  Look at how well the Fan Favorites-style Topps Archives 2012 autographs have been received this year alone?  This proves you don’t have to have a high-end list of autograph hits to stir up interest in today’s hobby market.  I’m dying to get the Dodger autos from that set…and I’m talking about guys like Brett Butler and Maury Wills.  Anyway, here is a look at the original 1960 Topps Carl Mathias card which the reprint is based…look not so closely and check out the key difference:

Notice anything different?  I’m sure you did…firstly the Real One Auto has Carl playing for the Senators and the original has him with the Cleveland Indians.  This discrepancy is what got me started…plus I also wanted to know what else Carl did as far as a major league career.  You may have also noticed the now defunct SPORT Magazine has been replaced with Topps Magazine; which makes sense because the magazine finally ceased to exist in 2000 and I’m sure there are all sorts of legal-ramifications to having it on the reprint.  The one change I thought I would see?  A “Topps Certified Autograph Issue” in there somewhere like non-rookie star cards from the set have…but it’s suspiciously missing.  I guess there wasn’t a convenient place to replace text with the designation for the rookie stars.

I’m not sure why they did it;  Carl didn’t end up playing for the Senators until the 1961 season after he was picked in the expansion draft by Washington.  Why did Topps choose to change the card?  Carl had much better numbers in 1960 with Cleveland and he never saw the big leagues again after his 1961 campaign with Washington.  There’s not a lot of history there, I found a dead link to a podcast from 2010 for the Reading Indians minor league team where Carl was the 2010 “King of Baseball Town” but unfortunately couldn’t hear more about his story.  He hung around the minor leagues through the 1964 season in the Mets organization…never recapturing his earlier minor league success that seemed to prompt his promotion in 1960.  As far as I can tell the 76-year-old still lives in his hometown of Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania.  Here is a link where you might find some more history if you’re interested, mostly of Carl’s time with the Reading Indians and the aforementioned dead podcast links.

I thought this was cool.  I love discovering older baseball players…you never know what sort of information you might find out.

From Here to Ethiernity…

Bad, bad pun I know.  I can’t resist a really horrible pun.

So…the Dodgers opened up the checkbook and signed Andre Ethier to a pretty hefty 5 year 85 million dollar extension today and with an option year triggered with x plate appearances we could very well see Andre Ethier in Dodger blue through the 2018 season.  Ethier is 30 years old so this is likely his last and probably only big payday, so congratulations to Andre Ethier!  You did it buddy!

Ethier Through The Years

I’m generally happy to see the Dodgers lock up Andre for the next few years but I feel like five or six more seasons is just way too long to commit to any 30-year-old.  There are lots of factors…age, injury, performance vs lefties, etc. that I consider when looking at this contract that makes me wish it was more like three years with a fourth year option.  I mean as recently as last season there was talk that platooning Ethier versus lefties would be a pretty logical move since he hit them so terribly.  According to Fangraphs as recently as 2009 Andre was hitting .200 against left handers…and only this current season (which was a contract year until today) he was significantly worse against left-handed pitching for the past four seasons.

However, all negatives aside there is a lot to back the idea of keeping Andre.  The organization is pretty void of any real OF prospects and aside from Matt Kemp he’s really the only hitter in the lineup that is much of a power threat.  Andre does hit for a high average with power which isn’t always a given and he’s a decent fielder.  His hot and cold streaks scare me but when he’s hot he’s really, really hot.  I dream of a day when Kemp is healthy and Ethier is on because that makes our lineup really interesting for opposing teams to try and figure out a way around/through.  If Mattingly would ever get A.J. Ellis batting ahead of them with his high OBP I think we’ll be in really great shape.

So long as this doesn’t hamstring the organization from locking up Kershaw (I don’t see how it would do that, even the idiot that Ned Colletti is knows how valuable Kershaw is) and from signing others and maybe picking up some players at the deadline then I will be happy.  There’s a lot of money to be saved by say, letting James Loney walk after this season and not paying him 6.3 million dollars to be a replacement-level player.  Put that money to Ethier/Kershaw and let Scott Van Slyke man 1B in 2013?  Sign me up.  I just don’t want a shored up OF of Kemp and Ethier making 35 million dollars to prevent us from upgrading at 1B and 3B which I think is just abysmal.  Ned stop giving journeyman utility IFs two-year deals, you are killing me!  Seriously how the hell does Ned Colletti still have a job?!?  Isn’t new ownership supposed to bring in their own guys?  Argh.

Current state of the Dodgers tangent:  I love the play of Hairston but he’s probably not an everyday guy…more like Jamey Carroll spot starting and playing 4-5 days a week to keep everyone fresh at 2B/3B/LF/etc (which is nice since Mark Ellis has been out and will continue to be for a while and hopefully Uribe pulls another something any day now).  I think Dee Gordon can turn it around and be decent at SS.  Herrera at 3B is OK but I’m worried about him now that Uribe (who along with Adam Kennedy need DFA’d immediately…please promote Aaron Miles (I can’t believe I said that) and jettison these two immediately).  Guerra will be back and the bullpen has been pretty solid and I love what our starters have done, especially Nathan Eovaldi in the absence of Ted Lilly.

Looking at my personal collection of Ethier I just have a lot of base.  Thankfully his rookie cards are not Dodgers so I don’t have to worry about those…but he’s had a lot of relics and autographed cards the past few years and I’d love to get my hands on some of those…maybe with the group breaks coming up at Cardboard Collections and (hopefully) at Cardboard Conundrum where I have the Dodgers!

For more on the Ethier contract check out Jon Weisman’s article over at ESPN and thanks to Greg at Night Owl Cards for probably giving me the Allen and Ginter Ethiers in the picture above.

Redemption Monday – Museum Edition

I’ve been going back through lots and lots of cards the past few weeks preparing for our big community yard sale…I got rid of roughly 12,500 cards for a song (and not a lot of junk wax involved either) just to reduce the sheer number of cards that are taking up space in my basement.  During that process, I came across a redemption or two that I had neglected to ever turn in.  One of those produced this shiny marvel that came certified mail last week:

2011 Topps Marquee – Museum Collection Derek Holland

I remember going off and buying a couple of boxes of 2011 Topps Marquee on a whim (as always) and I was super stoked to get the “case” hit of the Museum Collection redemption and then when I saw it was Derek Holland I was a bit let down.  I’m obviously not a Rangers fan so if any of you out there are interested in this (or any previously featured hits) please let me know.  Still a very cool hit…would’ve died if it was a Dodger instead since Koufax, Kershaw, even Ethier are on the 2011 Marquee Museum Collection checklist but alas the big Dodger hit still eludes me thus far!

This is the biggest hit out of my Marquee but I pulled some other decent stuff too; I will post pictures of that up later today as well.

Bring out your dead…

In what very well could have been a team of Walking Dead, the Dodgers were no-hit last night by a combined six Seattle  pitchers.  Unreal.  Somebody posted that we were no-hit in 1981 and had a perfect game pitched against us in 1988.  I’ll take the long-term results with the short-term sorrow if this turns out to be some sort of binding precedent.

Eovaldi escapes with a no-decision on the night of the no-hitter.

Nathan Eovaldi looked pretty good once again…talk about a hard luck case, he’s gotten absolutely no run support (to be fair it’s debatable if ANY starting pitcher on this team has either)…I can only restate what the Mariners announcers were describing on the XM feed I was listening to while running some late night errands but it doesn’t seem like Eovaldi has command over anything except his fastball.  This is pretty concerning, but again it’s all slanted play-by-play from the Mariners announcers.  He seems to have a bit of a penchant for getting out of jams though, which I dig…but at the same time I feel like it’s only a matter of time until he gets torched.  Let’s hope I’m just being paranoid.

According to Beckett.com there’s only two known Eovaldi rookie cards out there (To this day I am still confused as to what actually warrants a rookie card or not and whether or not that MLB-approved RC logo has anything to do with the matter) and they are both Bowman Draft Pick 2011’s, one regular and one chrome.  One thing I have noticed with this years releases is there seems to be a lot of Eovadi autographed cards out there so I am hopeful that I will be able to secure some of those soon:

Eovaldi Certified Auto – Topps Gypsy Queen 2012

In other news, I’m back.  I will be updating with some haves/wants later and re-focusing my collection efforts.  I am somewhat conflicted because I’d like to only collect Dodgers, end of list.  However, the pack animal inside of me wants to bust boxes and packs which is largely wasted if I’m only keeping a card or two per pack at best.  That’s why originally I intended to set build Heritage and Topps flagship sets but the more I think about that the less enthused I am as well.  Conflicted.

In the meantime, I have signed up for several group breaks which have worked out nicely when I can guarantee Dodgers, even if I miss out on the hits as was the case with the recent break over at The Daily Dimwit.

Group Break Results – A Couple Nice Hits

 

Break Loot

I’m going on a couple weeks now without a TTM success for my 1988 Dodgers Project, so I haven’t had much reason to update.  However, that’s not to say that things are not in motion.  Yes, things are certainly in motion and the plan is in effect.  What plan you might ask?  Who knows…but I’m confident that as soon as I devise one it will be in motion and things will be moving.  Always got to keep moving.  Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, ain’t nobody gonna slow me down.

I did partake in an online group break last week and the results arrived today in the mail from Joe Collector.  Joe has a nice blog where he does monthly breaks and I decided to give it a shot hoping for something better than my last results (random group break, San Diego Padres, no hits) which was almost an absolute worst case scenario for random team assignments and hits in a group break.  This time I did much, much better.  The break was 15 spots, two teams per spot, of five boxes of 2009 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection.  This was started right after Ultimate hit the scene earlier this month and seemed to fill up quickly so maybe Joe will do it again soon.  I got the Phillies and Cardinals as my random teams which from what I had found online both had some pretty tasty hits.  Despite a couple of trade offers, including the Pittsburgh Pirates which have jumbo Clemente relics in this set, I held firm because I figure any hits I got I could trade for Dodger hits anyway.  I ended up with two of the five big hits so I was pretty happy.   The other hits are on his site, I remember a Rick Porcello auto and a jumbo Hanley Ramirez patch but can’t think of the other one.  All in all very impressed.  Joe shipped them quickly and safely, and I now have additional trade fodder for more Dodger goodness.  If you are looking to partake in an online group break I suggest checking with Joe Collector, he’s a standup guy…although getting in to his monthly group breaks seems pretty rough as they tend to fill up quickly from what I have seen.  Speaking of trades, I am working on getting trade haves and wants posted.  Pretty much any hit I’ve shown here is for trade, as well as basically any non-Dodgers base or inserts, etc.  I just have so many cards to go through the task is one I just haven’t had the energy to continue with so that’s why I haven’t posted any trade lists or what not yet.  I do have some compiled, somewhere, maybe for Heritage and others.

I also need to shout out to Night Owl for hooking me up with a metric ton of Dodger extras…I think I didn’t have roughly 85% of the cards he sent me and he spent nearly ten bucks shipping them to me without even asking for anything in return.  He didn’t even Bip me!  I also received a big eBay Dodger lot with a couple nice cards I will post about next when I give Night Owl his due later this week.  Thanks a lot Greg, the cards are very, very appreciated and I will get you back something uber very soon.  As those who are deemed too fat to fly say, have a week.

TTM Success (and failure) – Two Howells Are Better Than One!

I recieved two returns in the mail this week.  It started off bad and got much better.  First I got a return to sender from Franklin Stubbs known “good” North Carolina address.  The recipient kindly repacked my envelope in another and restamped and sent it with the written note “doesn’t live here, I don’t have an address”…so they managed to save me stamps and also tacked on nearly a dollar out of their own pocket to send it back!  The kindness of complete strangers continues to amaze me…

A Tale of Two Siggys

My other return I recieved today in the mail and was my lone piece of correspondence waiting for me in the mailbox today…it was that brief feeling of euphoria and excitement that comes with seeing your own hand written SASE…and then the sheer Christmas-like joy of ripping it open that continues to fuel my desire to send out more of these.  Jay Howell not only returned my 1989 Topps for my project but also included his own signed 1991 Topps Dodger card to boot!  Jay Howell, class act I say.  His signature is pretty sweet.  Apparently he liked my note…I’ve tried really hard not to embelish or downright lie about my appreciation for the players from each request I send out.  In Mr. Howell’s case it was easy beacause he was so good.  I think it must have been really cool to shut down the team that traded him away in the previous offseason…especially one where he was stuck behind Eckersley for who knows how long without ever getting a shot to close.  Anyway, what a day…now I’m stuck with seriously considering the 1990 Dodgers/1991 Topps cards as my next TTM project!  Thanks again Jay!

As I promised I just prepared five more outgoing TTM requests for the project to go along with a re-assembled request for Mr. Franklin Stubbs.  I figure it’s a good time to start going for spring training requests so I’m going to knock those out as I get returns.  So far this experiment has been more rewarding than any collecting venture or hobby I’ve ever done…and to think I’ve only recieved two successes and one return to sender thus far!  I guess it doesn’t hurt when your first return was from Fernando freaking Valenzuela and your second was the closer of the 1988 World Series Champions!

TTM Success – Fernando Valenzuela

Fernandomania Strikes!

Unreal.  It’s been exactly one week (ONE!) since I sent my first set of TTM requests out and I already got my first response today.  Not exactly the one I thought would get back to good old West Virginia first, mind you.  I assumed I would probably hear back from one of the ones going to Ohio or other closer states but no…today I opened my mailbox to find a glorious return and a fitting one for my first ever TTM success:  Fernando Valenzuela!

I first found the envelope and got really excited…see Mr. Steve Sax also has a California address and I saw the postmark went through Los Angeles…so my hopes were high I’d have a sweet signature from my favorite player of all-time but I was not disappointed at all to find this beautiful piece of work alone and undamaged in my return envelope.  I can see why people really get into this TTM hobby…it’s painfully addictive…I’ve been plotting my second wave of Dodgers to send out all night and I am ready to subscribe to SportsCollectors.net right now to get a better array of addresses and be able to share my success with even more people than the ten or so that read this blog…and one of those is my wife!  Thanks for the support, honey!

One of the interesting things about this card now that I have more closely examined the signature…it appears that Fernando marked through the Topps logo on the front.  I’m not sure if it is a part of his signature or an intentional “diss” on the Topps Company…maybe there is a story there or maybe I will just make one up!  Either way that’s one down…twenty five or so more to go.

Thanks again, Mr. Valenzuela!