Sunday, June 28, 2015

#MyCardMonday

I have been thinking a lot about Albert Pujols lately, so I am going to give this week's #MyCardMonday to The Machine.  If you have been paying attention for the last few weeks you would probably know that there is no hotter hitter in the Majors right now than Albert Pujols.  He looks like he finally has his legs underneath him and he's hitting the ball like he did before he left St. Louis.

Besides his hot start Albert is also starting to close in on some cool milestones.  Just a week or two ago I watched the Angels games with intent as he was passing some great players on the all-time home run list.  It was cool to see a guy that I watched for years go past players on the all-time home run list Mickey Mantle.  Albert is also closing in on 3,000 hits, but that is likely going to happen next year.

Sadly, I feel somedays like I am in the minority of baseball fans who still watch Albert.  I tweet about Albert and I kind of get a meh response some nights.  Maybe I need more Angels fans in my Twitter feed.  Maybe.  In the meantime, if you are interested in catching up on Albert I suggest you check out this great article written by Rick Hummel in Sunday's St. Louis Post Dispatch about the historical numbers he is now reaching in his career.

And now the card.  I had to go with a rookie card.


This card is from the 2001 Topps Stars set.  I see quite a few Albert Pujols rookies, but I don't see this one too often considering it is not a serial numbered card.  That giant star thing in the background looks a little bit like the burst from the Rays jerseys.  I am not so sure about that, but I do really like the dark blue coloring with the red outline around Albert.  Very nice card and one of the more affordable Pujols rookies.  

Two New Cardinals Pick-Ups

I added two new Gypsy Queen Cardinals cards yesterday afternoon from another local collector.  I had not really gone out and tried to pick up any of the Cardinals relics/serial numbered parallels from this set, so I might have to take these two new cards as a good starting point to add a few more of these.



First up is this Wacha relic.  No serial numbers or anything here.  Just a nice looking relic card.  I do like the framed relic pieces better than the non-framed.  The frames on the cards seem a little bit tighter this year.  In past year's the cards would slide and move around inside the frame.  This year's seem to do less so.  Maybe it's just this card....



and finally a brand new Lackey card.  This is the one per box framed card that is numbered out of /499.  A nice looking card.  I have not really done much with Lackey since he was traded to the Cardinals last season.  He has pitched well and has a lot of cards.  Maybe a project for my upcoming summer break.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Two Off the List.....

Two cards are coming off my Top 10 Wanted List tonight.  I started my list a few months back and it started off slowly.  I have mixed up the cards a bit, some simple targets and a few hard ones, and the pace of cards coming off the list has really picked up.  Tonight's two are one of each: One card that has been up for a few weeks and another that has been on the list since day 1.


Let's start off with the 10th Card on the list first....


I have already picked up all of the autographed copies of the Bowman Flashback cards, but still had one of the non-autographed cards to pick up.  I pulled a few out of packs and boxes and traded for a few of the others as a lot which left me with just this Baerga.  I ended up finding this in an envelope from Tim who writes the blog I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning.  I am putting together a return envelope and I thank you for crossing a card off of my list.

Which brings me to the second card on my list which has been there since the first day it was posted a few months ago.....



Justin Ruggiano is one of my favorite all-time former Durham Bulls players.  I have a ton of his cards and enjoy collecting him.  Even that year he was on the Cubs.  I love the acetate cards and have been looking for an opportunity to add one of these cards of him and I finally found one last week on Ebay.  I probably slightly overpaid for the card, but knocked more than $40 off of the asking original asking price of $60.  It's an acetate, the first one on a 2015 card, so we have to look at the back of the card....


Just an awesome piece of cardboard.  Again, thank you to Tim from I Love the Smell of Cardboard and I will update my Want List with two new cards at some point this weekend.  




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Sets From 2002


5. Topps Total- There were two mega sets issued during the 2002 summer: Topps Total and Upper Deck 40 man.  The boxes of Total were pretty cheap, but with a total of 990 cards collectors needed several boxes and loads of patience to assemble this set.  However, even if you are not into putting together this gigantic set, it's still a plus for team collectors and individual player collectors.  There are dozens of players in this set that do not appear in other sets and honestly, where else can you find a set with 30 players from your favorite team?  Not many Mark Little cards floating around, but he was on the 1998 Cardinals which makes it a keeper.



4. Upper Deck Vintage- If Upper Deck had decided to rehash the wrong Topps set and pass it off as a Vintage set I would have gladly walked the other way.  However, a rehash of the 1971 Topps set is always worth your time and effort.  These cards were really cool with 1971 players and they are also really cool with 2002 players.  The set is not too big and not too difficult to find at low prices.  I loved putting this set together and went through and picked up a lot of the insert sets too.  There are relic cards and autographs too, but you might actually have to spend time and money to land them.  Overall a really good set.



3.  Topps Pristine- I got a bunch of these when they first came out and just remember being completely annoyed at the fact that there was a pack of cards inside another pack of cards.  It reminded me a little bit of the 2001 Donruss cards with the "retro" packs stuffed inside of the regular packs.  Over the years I seem to have ended up with a whole lot of these cards in my collection.  A big chunk of the base set, a ton of the transparent autographs, and some of the encased rookie cards.  For me, the autographs are the real stars of the show.  The signatures are mainly younger players from that era, but that includes nice autographs from Pujols and Jimmy Rollins.  If nothing else, these are fun cards to look at and worth a little bit of your time and money to track down a few.




2.  Topps Super Teams- This was a fun little set and flies under the radar a little too often.  The set focuses on 11 different World Series winning teams and features cards of their key players and manager.  There are foil parallels, autographs, and relic cards too.  Not the most popular set, but it's one of my favorites from this year.  A lot of good names from good teams, cool pictures, and the autographs are aren't too expensive either.  I cannot remember the last time I saw a complete set floating around.....



1.  Topps Heritage- Based on the 1953 Topps set this is the second rehash set to appear in my list this week.  However, Topps rehashing their own card design in a product that is one of the most popular releases annually versus whatever Upper Deck did with the 1971 Topps set (it's beautiful) is a completely different story.  I liken the Topps Heritage sets to Godfather Part 2 with the original design of these cards being the original Godfather.  I almost liked this set better than the 2001 Topps Heritage set for several reasons.  It has the short prints and logo variations and night card variations and everything that goes into a good recreation of the 1953 Topps set, but the extras that come with a modern baseball card set were a little bit more achievable in this set.  I am still looking for the Edmonds autograph....one day.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trade with Michigan and Trumball

There are so many cards sitting on my desk at the moment that I need to catch up on during the next week.  Missing posts the first half of this week did not help, so let's get started.  I picked up these two cards in a trade from fellow blogger Matt over at Michigan and Trumball.  


First up in a new card from my favorite new Cardinals prospect, you might know him as Alex Reyes, I am going to just start call him Big Al.  This newest autograph of the Cardinals pitching prospect comes from the 2015 Bowman set and features a nice on-card signature.  Big Al is having a great summer, so hopefully Topps will throw out some more cards of this great prospect.  


This is a really cool card that I have had my eye on for awhile.   I picked up a whole bunch of the acetate cards last summer and now own about 7 or 8 of these cards with a whole bunch of them coming from the Rays and Cardinals.  Or players with connections to the Rays and Cardinals.  We also always have to look at the backs of these cards......

Love the reverse look on the back with the black and white player image.  Very nicely done by Topps.    Really enjoyed these cards and I am looking forward to a few more trades with Matt.  Be sure to check out his blog in the coming days to see what went back the other way.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Odorizzi, The Machine, and Kolten

A short quick post for Saturday afternoon.  I picked up a few cards this week in a trade with Tim from I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning.  Good blog if you have not checked it out yet.  Tim had a few holes he was trying to fill in his Archives set and I swapped out a few inserts for a couple of nice cards for my collection.  Here's a look at the four newest cards in my collection:






I love the look of all four cards.  Sometimes I wonder why I do not make trades like this more often.  I always have a ton of doubles and love picking up some of these variations.  I am still not chasing down the complete rainbow of cards, but cards like the xfractor parallels always look cool.  I need to update my want list.  Perhaps some cards like these should be added.....

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Sets From 2001

It's time for a Friday post which means the top 5 sets from a past year.  This week we are going with 2001.  It was a really good year for card collecting, at least in book it was, so here is my strong top 5 products from that calendar year.  Much of the awesomeness of 2001 can be credited to Albert Pujols, Ichiro, and some really cool and innovative sets.  Here's this week's list......







5. 2001 Pacific Private Stock- So Pacific had an MLB license and they lost it in 2001.  Some people say it was a Manny Ramirez bat card that used a corked bat others say MLB was just tired of them and wanted to rip up their license for no good reason.  Whatever you believe, Pacific give MLB the middle finger on the way out and collectors were the winners.  Did Pacific have an agreement with Mark McGwire?  No, they still made a bat card of him in 2001 Pacific Private Stock.  Sammy Sosa, nope, but he's in there too.  Pacific put out their final baseball product as a per pack relic set which featured bats, jersey pieces, and patch pieces.  Many of the cards from this set can be found dirt cheap, but there are some really cool pieces out there.




4.  2001 Archives- Topps tinkered with the idea of an Archives set back in the mid 1990s when they released a rehash of the 1954 set to celebrate the legendary set's 40th birthday.  The 2001 product was a celebration of the first 50 Topps sets and featured great players from the entire run of Topps base sets.  Each player in the set was showcased on a remake of their rookie card and final card in a Topps set.  Some of the cards are an exact replica while others had a little bit of editing.  Say, didn't Jerry Koosman used to be on that Nolan Ryan card up there?  The set also featured a very strong run of autographed cards.  Some of the short printed signatures can be tough to find and very expensive to buy.  The set came out in two series and was a pretty tough set to assemble.  




3.  2001 Sweet Spot- You could always count on Upper Deck to push the envelope and this was one their more innovative sets.  It ended up sticking around for a chunk of time, but when this product came out collectors loved these autographs.  I loved these autographs.  The signed ball pieces in the middle of the card are made from actual signed balls, not sure I totally believed that, but that's how the product was marketed.  There were a lot of good modern players in the set, but also some cut signatures of players like Joe DiMaggio.  In time, Upper Deck would split this into two sets with the Classic version featuring older players and the regular Sweet Spot product housing the modern players.  Some of the later version also had some quality control issues.  





2.  2001 Playoff Absolute- This was a brand new product in 2001 too and one of the better things put out by Playoff before their run as a card company came to an end in the mid 2000s.  Each box came with a stamped autograph baseball in addition to the cards which featured loads of cool autographs and relic cards.  Playoff tried to push the envelope with this product and at the time it was a really cool and popular product with collectors.  It also was the beginning of the dreaded sticker autograph which was featured in a few other Playoff products that summer including Donruss Classics.  I collected this set for the rookies which were pretty valuable at the time of the products release.  My favorite....


The first 25 copies of each of the rookie cards was autographed, but are almost next to impossible to find anymore unless they are someone like Pablo Ozuna or someone Cory Aldridge.



2001 Topps Heritage- A no brainer and easy pick for the number one spot this week.  Topps did a great job with the first Topps Heritage set and it has become one of the best modern baseball card sets of all-time.  It launched the Heritage brand, which is not going anywhere and has become just as important as the Topps base set, and also remade one of the best Topps base sets of all-time.  The base set of Topps Heritage looks great with loads of short prints to challenge collectors and a slew of great autographs to chase down too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Topps Series 2 Hits

A quick post tonight.  There have been a ton of products out during the past two weeks.  I feel like I just wrapped up my Archives post and now I am into the Series 2 Topps cards and somewhere in there I skipped Finest.  I might go back and pick that product up in the next week or two.  Until then let's look a few cards tonight that came out of a Jumbo box I picked up from Big D's Sportscards in Raleigh.

Each jumbo box of 2015 Series 2 offers an autograph and two relic cards.  It seems that recently the relic cards usually include one manu-type of card which held true for this box too.  Here's my autograph first......

I was really surprised to pull this card.  I know Willingham was still playing last year for the Royals, but is currently not on a Major League team.  I guess it's not surprising that Topps would have an older player sign cards, but Willingham has not been a regular signer in card products since 2008.  He did sign for a Panini product in 2012, but has almost nothing out over the last seven or eight years.  Usually players stop signing, they stop signing.  I could make a huge long list of players that fit this description, but we are getting off topic.

It's probably not a really valuable autograph, but there are worse things than pulling the autograph of someone with almost 200 career home runs and an OPS+ of 120.

This Blackmon jersey relic was the first of my two out of the box.  It's just about par for the course for a regular box of Topps.  I would love to land a Cardinals card, but I have done a post or two on Blackmon and saw him play a few years back while he was at Georgia Tech.  Plus, relic pieces with pinstripes are always a plus.  Which brings me to my last card for the evening and maybe my favorite card out of this box.....


The card is thick.  Scan does it not justice.  The pin on the right side of the card is a smooth metallic pin with the White Sox 95th Anniversary logo.  I don't remember such a thing existing, but it clearly there on the sleeve of Thomas's jersey on the left hand side of the card.  It's numbered out of /199, but it's hard to see up in the top right hand corner.

Overall, three pretty nice cards as hits from my box.  Certainly could have been better, but after looking through some of the other autographs and relics in this product I am content with the cards I have.  Now, I am going to go do search my base cards for variations and sparkles.......

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Archives Base Set

Last Archives post until I end up trading for a bunch of cool autographs of guys who played 20 years ago.  Until then I will do a little bit on the base set.  Like the recent additions of the Archives sets, this year's set is based on three previous set designs: 1957, 1976, and 1983.  I am a little bit partial towards the 1983 design, but that was the first year that I collected baseball cards and I love that set.  A lot.


The 1957 design is also a favorite too.  It's really simple, but sometimes simplicity is a good thing.  Topps has always done a really good job of getting the details correct on the remakes in Archives.  It's cool to see players from a different era like Ken Griffey Jr. and Cal Ripken pop up on this classic Topps design.  Topps also used this card design in the 2006 Topps Heritage set, so it was the second go around for players like Ken Griffey and Jorge Posada, but at least Topps changed up their pictures and did not rehash something from a past set.  

I am not a huge fan of the 1976 set.  It's before my time and I am not sure there is a card in that set I ever felt like I had to own.  I picked up an Eckersley somewhere along the line, but it was not a priority.  I like this Goldschmidt card because people should like Goldschmidt right now.  The most bizarre card in the set appears in the 1976 section of the set......

That Khris Davis card is clearly a picture of Carlos Gomez.  Topps had a card similar to this in the Heritage set with a picture of Shelby Miller on a card of Lance Lynn.  It could just be an editing, quality control, type of issue.  Imagine that, or maybe it's somehow intentional.  Pretty sure it could be part of the Ginter Code.  The answer this year is........


and we are finally to my favorite part of the set.  As mentioned before I love this set and was really happy with how these look.  Except that looks like a familiar Mike Schmidt picture..... Colors and borders from the cards match the cards from the 1983 set, but the Rays cards with the yellow writing is a little bit hard to look at.  I understand that Topps is taking a little bit of creative liberty with the design on the teams that did not exist at the time the set was made, but yellow print is really a good thing.  

Sunday, June 14, 2015

#MyCardMonday

Who is the hottest player in all of Triple A?  The easy answer is Durham Bulls third baseman Richie Shaffer.  The Clemson grad has been on the Bulls for 18 games and has posted a .311/.411/.721 slash line with 7 home runs, 4 doubles, and 14 RBIs.  He had been playing well before this week, but he took it to another level this weekend when he posted a three home run game against the Louisville Bats (Reds).  Not quite Mark Whiten, but it was still a great performance.




So I figured today would probably be a good day to go ahead and share out my latest Richie Shaffer card which comes from his days back at Clemson.  This on card signature comes from the 2012 Leaf Valiant set.....



I think it's going to take a lot for the needle to move on Shaffer, but I am guessing that the Rays are going to give him an opportunity to be a big bat in their line up sooner than later.  His cards are still dirt cheap despite his success this year.  I am waiting for Shaffer to slow down a bit, but his 1.480 OPS over the last 7 days suggests that he is going to be just fine hitting in Triple A.  

My Best Archives Pull Was, Oh Wait....

Well, I typed up that post about the autographs and inserts that were in my Archives box yesterday, and in an attempt to save my best card for last, I actually forgot to put the card in the post.  Not too smooth, but I decided to wait until this morning to post the card.  In the meantime, I had a chance to sort out my base cards to assemble my set and found that I pulled an even cooler card than the card I had originally thought was the best card from my boxes.

Here was the card I forgot from my post yesterday.......




This card is a knock off of the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas rookie card error/variation that left his name off the front of his card.  Topps actually made a whole series of these this year and put them in packs at more than 1:1000 rate.  Pretty tough pull and they have been selling really well on Ebay.  Kind of a cool variation.  As of yesterday afternoon this was my best card from my boxes of Archives.  Then I started sorting out my base set and found this card......

I am not sure what the rate is on the short prints is in Archives, but it seems to be a pretty tough pull.  This card is currently selling north of $200 on Ebay.  I think Mr. Bryant needs a new home.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Archives Hits

A pair of posts coming up the next few days on the new Topps Archives product.  I have really enjoyed this product in recent years.  It's a great place to see some of the old Topps designs again on cardboard and it's also a chance to get some really cool autographs.  While I think that Topps can be really repetitive with their player selection on autographs, but the Archives product offers lots of new and different names.  There are a few Hall of Fame autographs sprinkled in the product, but the majority of the signatures come from some really good players who are not quite Hall of Fame players.  

With my first post on the product I am going to go ahead and look at the hits and inserts that I pulled out of my two boxes.  Let's start out with a really common insert in these boxes.....


I really like the look of these cards which are a copy of the 1968 Topps Playing Cards.  If you have never seen the originals they are pretty common and not too expensive.  It seems that these are about 3-4 per box.  Good looking cards.  


The most talked about insert cards in this year's Archives set is the Will Ferrell insert cards.  The actor/comedian appeared in a whole bunch of spring training games this year by hopping from game to game all on the same day.  The non-autographed cards have been selling for a few bucks each while the autographed versions of these cards (/10) have been selling for crazy amounts.  



That small print reads $1,999.95.  I am a little short on this card, or I am sleeping on the porch.  



I also picked up two colored parallels.  These are both silver and numbered out of /199.  The David Wright card is nice.  Fernando Rodney?  Sure.  Is he still shooting an arrow at the end of games?




Let's do a couple of more.  Still got to show off my best card and some autographs.  



Not sure how I feel about the inclusion of the Topps Original cards in the Archives product.  Topps has been putting these in their base set these last couple of years.  Not sure that putting them into more sets is cool.  Maybe it would be cooler if Topps would put some better names into the product.  Brent Strom?  Not excited.  

One more non-autograph to share, but I am going to wait to share that one....Let's do some autographs.   



This was my favorite autograph.  Vina was a nice player for the Cardinals in the early 2000s and helped lead the team to the playoffs several times.  Without looking I am going to guess that the Cardinals years were the high point of his career.  His signature has changed a little bit over the years, but it is still a nice autograph.  



Nice Bordick.  I am pretty sure that this is going to find a new home with a local collector.  


Franco is great card.  I would love to see this card with a Reds photo, but I can live with the Mets.  It's on card and the guy had a great career.  


and then there is this one.  I have become pretty cynical about Topps ever coming up with redemption cards.  Further, I am not sure I am a big fan of Yasmany Tomas though either.  



Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Sets From 2000

A quick run down tonight.  I have not had the usual amount of time this evening to crank out my post.  2000 was a great year for my collection.  As discussed last Friday, I was really into Pacific cards around this time, and loved busting their wax.  It's not like the whole Top 5 list is made out of their products, but in the process of putting this list together I had a lot of fun looking through all of my old Pacific cards from this year.  Without further ado, the Top 5 Sets from 2000.....



5. Pacific Private Stock 

This product ran three years and was something different each of the three years.  I did a run down on the 1999 version about a year and a half ago.  This is completely different than the 1999 version, but I still really like this portrait look.  The set had the usual Pacific trappings with different colored parallels and some cool insert sets.  The one constant between the 1999 and 2000 versions of this Pacific product were the inclusion of minis in the packs of cards.  


and who does not love minis?  It was a fun set to put together and, again, I love the look of the portraits.  I keep my sets in boxes, but if I was ever going to start doing binders and sheets I would wear out the pages in this album.  Well done by Pacific.  




4. Pacific Revolution

This is a pretty nice base set, but nothing great enough to make my list by itself.  One important thing I challenged myself to do in 2000 was to assemble a complete autograph or relic set.  I was successful a few times during the calendar year.  The first set I put together was both the autograph and relic set from the 2000 Topps HD set.  It's a small set and I pulled the toughest autograph, Adrian Gonzalez,  from a pack of cards.  I spent tons of time looking at those cards.  The Pacific Revolution set was my second attempt at putting together an autograph set.  I loved these cards......


There are some tough autographs in this set, but nothing that will run you more than $100.  Probably the toughest one is the Maddux, which did run me a pretty penny back in the day.  If you do not own one of these autographs there are 26 cards in the set and there are some really cheap copies out there.  

That's it for Pacific.





2000 SPx

This set was awesome when it first released.  There were tons of autographed rookies and people were crazy about them.  My favorite was the Rick Ankiel, but there are people who spent good money on players like Josh Beckett, Vernon Wells, Pat Burrell, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, and Eric Gagne.  I look at these cards now, print run 1500, and laugh a little bit.  One of the card shops I used to visit in St. Louis was owned by a father and his son.  I was in buying cards the one day and the old man was working the shop.  I bought a few packs of these and get this 20 minute lecture about how the set was popular now, but one day I would laugh at the print runs when compared to the price.  Good call old guy.  For the record I never attempted to put together this set of autographs, but I did get a nice Chipper Jones out of this set to go with the Rick Ankiel.  



2000 Fleer

Sometimes you just need a good simple base set to assemble.  This was my favorite one from 2000.  I worked really hard on this one.  Lots of packs, lots of sorting, and when I finished I picked up the insert sets too.  So, basically its the 1954 Topps set with the players from 2000 on the cards.  The boxes of this product can be found for less than $30.  If you are looking for some cheap fun look no further......




2000 Greats of the Game

This set is far and away better than any of the other sets on this list.  I loved this set.  Loved.  The base set was cool looking with the copperish colored frames, they do chip, and the color photograph in the middle.  This was the second year that Fleer made this product, but it was nice to see them give up on the whole Sports Illustrated Baseball Card thing.  The real star of this product was the autographs.....


Lots of Hall of Famers in this product with on card signatures.  If your budget is high all of the big names from this era are here if you can find them.  Some of the autographs have become a little tricky to track down.  There are also a good number of very good players in this product who signed cards, maybe not in the Hall of Fame, but their cards are reasonable in price and not too difficult to track down.