Monday, May 25, 2015

What a Relief!

Lately... I've been needing a Costco supply of Rolaids, because watching the Oakland Athletics bullpen is like watching Faces of Death as a ten year old kid all over again.  It's painful to watch and leaves me feeling sick... but I just can't turn away.

But who really wants to read a post about me complaining about guys like R.J. Alvarez, Dan Otero, or Fernando Abad.  I mean... it's a holiday weekend.  Let's celebrate with some positivity and avoid any discussion involving the 2015 Oakland Athletics or San Diego Padres.

Instead... let's focus on some of my favorite all-time relief pitchers who don't add stress to my life on a daily basis.

At the top of the list has to be Rollie Fingers:

2007 Sweet Spot Classic Memorabilia #CM-RF

Growing up... Rollie was one of my favorite players... not only because he was an Athletic and a Padre... but because he's my old buddy's uncle.  Plus... he had the coolest mustache in baseball.

Right under him is another hall of fame reliever... Dennis Eckersley:

2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition Auto #TA-DEC

Outside of that painful pitch to Kirk Gibson... there weren't many times that Eck let down A's fans.  He's their all-time saves leader and was a key reason for the A's success in the late 80's/early 90's.

Down in San Diego there's another reliever who's made a name for himself...

1996 Leaf Signature Series #NNO

Trevor Hoffman is the only MLB pitcher, not named Mariano Rivera, with 600 career saves.  He earned 552 of them during his 16 seasons with my beloved San Diego Padres.

I'll wrap things up with a handful of other guys I enjoyed watching close out games over the years...


What about you?

Who are some of your favorite relief pitchers?

As I prepare to enjoy this holiday and hopefully watch both of my teams turn things around... I'd like to take the time to thank all of those who have served in the armed forces.

Today we honor all of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

One of those heroes is former Arizona Cardinal safety, Pat Tillman:

2001 Fleer Tradition Glossy #325
2001 MVP #7

Tillman went to high school a few miles from where I grew up and obviously the story behind his misfortunate death was both saddening and upsetting.  Fast forward eleven years to last weekend when I went to watch a soccer game over at Leland High School.  It was nice to see that they named their football stadium after the man who chose to serve and protect his country, rather than earn millions of dollars playing the sport that he loved.  Now that's what I call a real American hero.

Have a safe holiday weekend.  Happy Monday and sayonara!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Night Five: Meet the Mets


The New York Mets have always been my favorite New York baseball team.  Now you won't find me wearing their memorabilia, but every now and then I'll pick up cards featuring players I've enjoyed watching over the years.

Tonight... I'll be showing off five Mets I've actively cheered for at some point in their New York careers.  


#1 Dwight Gooden
1985 Topps #620

Clemens vs. Gooden = The Great Debate.  Clemens might have had the hall of fame career, but back in the 80's... I was always in Doc's corner.

#2 Ron Darling
1984 Donruss #30

I have close ties to Hawaii.  Both of my parents were born and raised there, and most of my family still resides there.  So there's always a strong following for certain players who come from the Hawaiian Islands.  Darling was one of those guys.

#3 David Wright
2005 UD Origins Signatures #DW1

His nickname says it all.  David Wright is a class act and a true baseball player.  He'd easily be number one on my list if I wasn't such a nostalgia nut.


#4 Darryl Strawberry
2009 Topps Tribute #TDAR-DST

During the 80's, Darryl was pretty much a permanent member of the hobby's hotlist.  I looked forward to seeing Sports Center highlights of him... pretty much on a regular basis.

#5 Lenny Dykstra
2005 UD Artifacts Auto Facts #LD

Off the field... this guy was a train wreck.  But I remember holding onto every single 1986 Topps rookie card of his... thinking he was going to become the next big superstar.  He had a solid career... but those Topps rookie cards are now dime box fodder.

2000 Upper Deck Hawaii #TS

I really wanted to add Tom Seaver to this list, because I enjoyed watching him play as a kid.  Unfortunately most of those memories took place during his Cincinnati years.


Now you're probably wondering... why the random New York Mets post?  Well... last month I entered a contest over at Home Run Apple's blog and was one of the winners.  I figured I'd thank Keith by honoring his favorite team.

Plus... the way the Oakland A's and San Diego Padres have been playing... it's been hard to write a positive post about my two favorite teams.

So let's check out the prize package Keith sent:

2014 Topps Tek Autograph #HT-YS

There were three winners in Keith's contest.  I was the 2nd winner, which meant I was the 2nd person to pick a prize.  Jedi Jeff chose the Carlos Quentin autograph, which suited me just fine, because I really wanted this beautiful autograph of Solarte.  He was acquired from the Yankees last season by my beloved Padres and started off the year really well.  However... he's really struggled the past three weeks.

Keith also threw in a nice stack of cards, highlighted by the following:

2014 Topps Chrome X-Fractor #197

Cashner might be the greatest 1-7 pitcher in the league.  Speaking of greatest... here's the greatest San Diego Padre of all-time...

2014 Stadium Club #161

I was excited to add this Gwynn to my binder.  I was fortunate to pull two of them out of my boxes, but both were part of complete sets.  I'm so glad Topps decided to bring back Stadium Club.  Here are two more Stadium Club cards:

1995 Stadium Club #415 and 2014 Stadium Club #95

I'll wrap things up with this Ichiro insert that I needed for my Ichiro binder:

2008 UD Starquest #SQ46

Thanks Keith for the generous prize package.  I'll get some Mets cards out to you as soon as I wrap up the school year.

Happy Saturday and sayonara! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Flea Market Finds #83: Bunch of Blippity Bleep

When: Saturday, May 16th
Where:  Branham Flea Market
What:  Heap of Haphazardness
How much?: $22

I'm proud to be a bargain hunter.  Some people use drugs to get that rush.  Others exercise.  Me?  I track down bargains.

The problem is... I often end up purchasing stuff I don't really need.  That's exactly what happened last weekend.

Purchase #1:  1996 Zenith Racing Wax Box $7


Do I own racing cards?  Yes.  Do I actively collect them?  Not really.  But for $7, it's a cheap box break the next time I'm bored.


Purchase #2:  1994 Tamiya Kawanishi N1K1 Model Kit $6


Do I build models?  No.  Do I plan on learning?  No.  But I love the box design and will make room on my Japan shelf in my office.


Purchase #3:  Forever Dan Marino Bobble $3


Do I like Dan Marino?  Yeah.  Do I collect Dan Marino?  Kinda.  I mean... I have a section in my insert binder for him.  But the only reason I purchased this bobble head is because it was $3.  I might try flipping this next month at the De Anza Flea Market.


Purchase #4:  Deluxe Dirty Words Board Game $1


Do I collect board games?  No.  Do I play board games?  Not often.  Do I plan on playing this board game?  Definitely not.  I purchased this, because it's sealed... it's from 1979... and it cost me a buck.  I'll be flipping this.


Purchase #5:  Sports Cards $5


Do I like 90's inserts and parallels?  Yes sir.  Do I like cheap 90's inserts and parallels?  Yup.  Do I like cheap 90's inserts and parallels of players I actually collect?  Hell yeah!

Here are some of the highlights...

1996 Ultra Call to the Hall #3

Were there a bunch of Gwynns?  No.  Don't I already have this card?  Maybe.  Was I glad to see this card in the stacks?  Very much so.

1992 Ultra All-Star #3

Another Ultra card?  Yep.  Whoever sold these to me had an obsession with 90's Ultra products, which is okay with me.  1992 happens to be my favorite year for Ultra baseball.


Wait.  There were other sports too?  Of course.  But most of it was hockey and baseball.  Nothing that's going to allow me to retire early, but pretty cool cards nonetheless.

1996 Metal Platinum #107

What's my favorite card in the lot?  You're looking at it.  Back in the 90's, I though Fleer Metal was gaudy and a bit too much.  But these days, I just can't get enough.  

This post is starting to drag on and on.  Shouldn't you wrap it up?  Yeah.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Unconditional Love

Last week I started watching an excellent series of YouTube videos showcasing collector's Bottom 5 PC Cards.  In other words, cards that collectors own... but don't necessarily love.

You know... those cards that reside in your collection because you're a team or player collector... however they make you wonder what the card manufacturers were thinking when they created them.

The videos inspired me to create my very own list, which I really enjoyed putting together.  It gave me an opportunity to sift through images and appreciate what a beautifully designed card looks like.

However... I'll save those cards for another post.


Today... it's all about cards that make you go hmmm:

1998 Stadium Club Co-Signers #CS14

I've had a love/hate relationship with this card since the late 90's.  Yes, it features my favorite player of all-time.  Yes, he actually held this card and signed it.  And yes, it even features a Montreal Expos' player... which happens to be another team I collect.

But I never understood why Topps decided to pair Gwynn with Grudzielanek.  They didn't play the same position.  Grudzielanek never played for the Padres.  They didn't go to the same college.  And even if there is a specific reason for having them on the same card that I'm not seeing... the fact is it's not a super obvious reason.  And that bothers me.

2012 Goodwin Champions Authentic Memorabilia #BB

Here's another card that's not too shabby on the surface.  I've always been a fan of Goodwin Champions and even though Bosworth was a tremendous bust for my beloved Seattle Seahawks... I still love the guy.

My problem is he's wearing a gi, instead of a jersey, yet the card supposedly features a piece of a game worn jersey.  Let me fill you in on a little secret.  I purchased this card for my Seahawks PC, not my Martial Arts PC.


Up next... the latest addition to my Steve Carlton PC:

2014 Topps Tier One #TOA-SC

When I first saw these on the internet, it was love at first sight.  It's made of acetate.  It features an on-card signature.  And the design allows the signature to jump off of the card.

Pretty sweet, right?  Wrong.

When I received the card in the mail and pulled it out of the top loader and penny sleeve, I noticed something to the left and right of Carlton's head.  At first I thought they were water stains, so I got a microfiber towel with a little water and started wiping.  When they didn't disappear, I took a closer look at the card and figured out that it's actually part of the design.  Topps intended the card to have sort of a "smoke-like" background, but it was poorly executed and collectors are left with cards that look like they have scratches on them.

Okay... let's leave baseball and look at a card from my San Jose Sharks PC.  I'm not sure if I have a hobby pet peeve that bugs me more than "sticker autographs" and "redemption cards", but the following issue is definitely in the running...

I wish card manufacturers spent more time pairing the photo used on a jersey card to the color/team of the swatch used.

2007-08 UD Artifacts Treasured Swatches #TSJT

But this card takes my pet peeve to the next level.  If Upper Deck still has game-used jerseys of Big Joe from his Bruins days... can't they use them for throwback themed cards?  Upon release of this product, Thornton had been with the Sharks for almost two full seasons.  That's plenty of time for Upper Deck to acquire a game-used Sharks jersey.

Finally... I saved the best (or should I say worst) for last.  Feast your eyes on this monstrosity:

2013 A Sign of History

Who came up with the idea of taking a certified autographed card... cutting it up... slabbing it... then labeling it a one of one?  The better question is... why did I purchase this card?

Survey says...

It's called "unconditional love" for cardboard... especially when the cards are for specific players, teams, or genres that you collect.

What's unconditional love?

Let's put this into context that even non-collectors can understand.  It's the love that Don Mossi's mom felt for her son:

1966 Topps #74

What about you?


Are there cards that reside in your collection, that sometimes leave you shaking your head?

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

New Era of Trading

Although I can't remember the first trade I ever made, I'm 100% certain it involved my neighborhood friends back in the early 80's.  If I were to guess, I'd say it took place on one of our porches and involved some 1981 Fleer or Donruss and some guys with silly mustaches or crazy facial hair.

Trading back then was simple.  I had a stack of cards that contained cards deemed untouchable and everything else was up for trade.  My friends and I would sift through each others' stacks looking for something we wanted.  There were no penny sleeves or top loaders... only rubber bands and shoe boxes.

A decade later... in the early 90's... trading was completely different.  There were price guides, card protectors, and a whole new community of trading partners.  None of my neighbors collected anymore, but I still did.  I started working at a card shop and began attending card shows.  Both venues allowed me to meet other collectors who shared the same interest in collecting and exchanging cardboard.

By the mid 90's, people began trading online using sites like the AOL Message Boards.  This allowed me to trade with others around the country.  I would even chat online with fellow collectors.  By then Beckett had established itself as the number one price guide in my neck of the woods and I'll admit... their prices were sacred and I lived by them.

This trend continued until I left the hobby in 2001.  When I reentered the hobby in 2008, I immediately started buying Beckett again.  I also began meeting fellow collectors on sites like: Sports Card Forum, Sports Card Radio, and Card Collector's World.

Some of these websites were using feedback ratings and my goal was to meet as many people as I could... and trade as often as possible.  Most of the time... I still used Beckett as a resource.  However... I eventually started seeing the light.

I discovered that an insert with a book value of $50... might sell on eBay for only $5.  Whereas... my memorabilia card with a book value of $50... might sell for $20.  In short... I'd be a fool to trade that memorabilia card straight up for the other guy's insert.

The problem was different collectors traded using different standards.  Some used eBay completed sales... while others used Beckett values.  As for me... I pretty much stopped trading specific cards for specific cards.  These days 99% of the trades I complete are blog related... and the majority of those are "blind trades".

In other words... whenever I have some extra Los Angeles Dodgers laying around... I'll divvy them up between bloggers like Night Owl Cards, GCRL, and Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle... and ship them out.  Sometimes it's because I owe them packages.  Other times it's because my Dodgers stack is overflowing and I need to tidy things up.

Either way... I don't expect anything in return, so there's no need to look at a price guide.  On the flipside... if I owe a person a package, I'll try my best to send them an equivalent amount in card value... if not even more.

Thankfully... this system has worked well for me the past few years.  In fact... I can't even remember the last time I set up a trade that involved one specific card for another and I'm 100% okay with that.

Speaking of blind trades... Mr. Night Owl sent me a package last month and I finally got around to cracking it open.  He included a stack of cards for me and my students.  My personal favorite was this hand cut 1991 Baseball Card Magazine Dennis Eckersley:


I'm a sucker for oddballs... especially those from 80's and 90's price guide magazines.  In addition to the Eck, he sent me a bunch of Oakland A's cards, including these sweet Canseco's:


My scans make these two cards seem like they're equivalent in size, but the 1987 Donruss All-Stars card is actually three times bigger than the 2014 Archives Deckle insert.  But the tiniest card in the lot was this 2009 Goodwin Champions Laird Hamilton:


The rest of the cards were your standard 2.5" x 3.5" pieces of cardboard.



Some of them were new additions to my inserts and oddballs binders... while others were cards that I already have.  But don't worry... they're not headed for the trash.  Some of them will go to my students, while others will go into teams stacks which will be shipped off to other bloggers around the world.

Thanks for the package Greg!  You know the deal... as soon as I get some more Dodgers, I'll get a bubble mailer out to you.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!