Saturday, January 30, 2016

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Way back in March of 2012 I made my first post on this space about a Brian Fuentes Triple Threads patch card from the 2009 All-Star game in St. Louis.  Over the last three plus years I have frequently sat down in front of my computer in my office and spent a little bit of my day typing about my baseball cards.  It's been a good source of stress relief at the end of my days and share the cards I enjoy with other people.  This is a great hobby and has been a part of my life since childhood and I will always value the time I spent working on this blog and the people I have met along the way.

During different points in making 1,257 blog posts I have taken an occasional break from writing, but nothing longer than a week or two.  Over the last half a year I felt a restlessness with my writing.  I have ventured out to explore writing opportunities beyond this blog, as well as exploring some different ways to do different things with this space.  After months of contemplation I have decided to "retire" this space.

I am not going to shut the door all the way on this space, but unlike the other breaks from my blog that were short term, this one will last much longer.  It could be several months, maybe a year, or maybe I am just going to let this space be the way I am leaving it after this post.....

While I am leaving this The Snorting Bull Blogger page, I am going to maintain both my Twitter and Instagram accounts to share out my cards.  Again, I have really valued my time and experiences here and look forward to still talking to many of you who have taken time during the past few years to read my ramblings on baseball cards.

One day I will be back, whether it is here, or in another space.  In the meantime, I will leave you with one last card.  I was looking for a good one to go out on and this card looks like a winner.....

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Penultimate: The Great Glasnow

One of the more impressive players I saw last year in Triple A was Pirates pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow.  Durham Bulls pitcher Blake Snell ended up winning the majority of the Pitcher of the Year honors by a bunch of different publications, but I would have to put Glasnow in that conversation.  He came into the year rated as a Top 20 prospect and did not disappoint in his three stops last year.

I always throw out the win-loss record in the Minors, he only won 7 of his 22 starts, but also managed to keep the ball in the park, struck out more than a batter per inning, and barely allowed more than a base runner per inning.  Overall, a great prospect, so I thought I should pick a copy of one of his autographs.

Surprisingly, for being a high profile prospect, Glasnow is not a really expensive autograph.  Big name prospects can be pricey at times, but not I guess people aren't doing much with Glasnow.  I found this card for slightly less than $10 shipped.  This is an on-card autograph and I really like the horizontal design of these autographs.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Wallet Card Year 2

My Wallet Card made it through one year.  Last year Breakdown Cards made a great post that attracted a lot of attention from other collectors and bloggers.  I really liked the idea and decided to be a part of the Wallet Card crowd.  The only rule for the Wallet Card was that your choice had to make you happy when you saw it.  This is my 1991 Topps Geronimo Pena card after one year.

Definitely worn, but it was fun to have Geronimo by my side during the last year.  I am going to put him in a top loader and file him away as a good collecting memory.  Which brings me to the new Wallet Card that I picked out for this year.

Last year, I went off the beaten path a little bit to pick out the Geronimo Pena card.  Just wanted something different and even though he did not have a really good career, I enjoyed watching him play.  Well, when he was actually healthy enough to get out on the field.  This year I am going to go with something a little bit more straight forward.

The new Wallet Card.....

My favorite player growing up and I went with the 1997 Topps card because it was one of Ray Lankford's better seasons.  It is going into the wallet tomorrow morning and will be there until next year.  I am going to have to do a better job of recording some of the Wallet Cards journeys this year.  I think I only recorded one trip for Geronimo.

A Venerable Old Card Part 8

There are people who should never leave certain teams.  Do any of you remember when the Mets brought up Gregg Jefferies?  The uber-prospect was supposedly going to be one of the great players in baseball throughout the 1990s.  He hit really well in the Minors, got up to the Majors with the Mets, and then completely failed to meet expectations.  The Mets kept him around for a few years before they traded him to the Royals, who then traded him to the Cardinals.

Does anybody really remember Gregg Jefferies after he left the Mets?  Doubtful.  He was pretty good with the Royals, but he actually lived up to the hype of being Gregg Jefferies during his two years with the Cardinals.  His slash line for the two years was .335/.401/.487 with 28 home runs, 51doubles, and 58 steals.  He made the All-Star team twice and posted an OPS+ of 132 in 1993 and 130 in 1994.  Outside of Ray Lankford he was my favorite Cardinals player in the mid 1990s.  Naturally, that meant I collected his baseball cards.

My favorite was his 1993 Flair.  Beautiful card.

After two successful season with the Cardinals many expected the team to resign Jefferies.  However, he bolted to the Phillies and his career seemed to take a turn downward.  Still pretty fond memories of Jefferies playing time with Cardinals.  He was temperamental and did things like threw his batting helmet at least twice a game, but I guess you can get away with those things when you are hitting .330.  Wonder what would have happened to Gregg Jefferies if he had stayed a Cardinal?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Nice Strata

I have only picked up a few of these Strata cards, but I have been really impressed.  Not impressed enough to go buy my own box of these or anything.  Seems like it is pretty hard to get your money back.  Still, I have had fun sorting through them on Ebay and buying a few.  My latest Strata is of Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber.

I like watching Kluber and am always surprised at how inexpensive his cards are to buy.  This card was less than $5, which seems to be the trend with almost all of his Strata autographs.  Even the patch card version of the Kluber sold cheaply.  More Strata to come.....

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jake from the Wil Myers Trade Part 2

I am always looking to get ahead a little bit on some of my collecting with the Durham Bulls.  Sometimes I just wait until the players get to Durham, but other times I go out and try to find their cards ahead of time if I can find them at a good price. One of the players I have started to work on a bit is first baseman Jake Bauers.

I am not quite sure what to make of him as a prospect, but he already has several cards out floating around including a few autographs.  Last year I picked up a nice looking Leaf autograph of him after he was traded to the Rays from the Padres in the Wil Myers trade.  He's also had a few certified autographs in a few licensed products I am going to look at picking up in the near future too.

Until then I found a really nice Bowman die cut of the first base prospect....

This is from the 2014 Bowman set, hence the Padres uniform.  Still a really nice looking die cut card. These Bowman Scout's Breakouts are not quite as nice as the Bowman's Best die cuts, but still a sharp looking insert.   I am guessing that he will start out this year in Double A, but hopefully will be in Durham before the end of the summer.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happy Penguin Awareness Day!!!

Who invented Penguin Awareness day exactly?  I have no idea, but all I could think of while I was scouring Facebook and Twitter during my lunch break looking at five or six different goofy Penguin Awareness Day posts was the baseball player nicknamed "The Penguin".  I was an kid in the 1980s, so I was introduced to this penguin character towards the end of his career and remember him, as a player, more with the Cubs than the team he where he spent most of his career. 

I am talking about this guy........

It's actually kind of a shame that I only remember him as a Cubbie Bear.  As a St. Louisan, I do not have much love for the Cubs, but as a kid you have your summers off and the Cubs used to be on WGN almost every afternoon.  Cey was a short, squat third baseman who add some pop into the Cubs lineup.  Nice player, but I didn't really give him much attention.  

Sometime after I graduated college I decided to go back and find a bunch of the sets from the early 1980s and 1970s from before I started collecting in 1983.  There were plenty of big names in those sets that were great players when I collected.  I remember adding rookie cards of players like Cal Ripken, Tim Raines, Rickey Henderson, and Ozzie Smith.  I was proud and happy to add their early, and rookie, cards to my collection.  

The other thing that happened while I was adding those sets to my collection was I learned a lot about players I "missed out on" as a kid.  I had an older brother who collected, and my father liked baseball, so when I pulled a Reggie Jackson card as an early collector I knew it was good.  Other players slipped through the cracks.  

Gene Tenace was a back-up catcher for the Cardinals, Bobby Grich was an old guy on the Angels, and Ron Cey was the short squat Penguin guy on the Cubs.  I picked up those 1980s and 1970s sets and I learned about the players that were in them.  Gene Tenace was a really good catcher for the A's and Padres.  Bobby Grich was a really good player for the Orioles and Angels.  Last, but not least, Ron Cey was a really good player for the Dodgers.  

I am not going to sit and write a persuasive piece on getting Ron Cey into the Hall of Fame, but he was one of the better third baseman in the game during the 1970s.  He hit for power, got on base, did a good job fielding at third base, made All-Star Games, and also was a tremendous help to the Dodgers in the postseason.  During the 1981 World Series he took home the MVP Award.  

So, on this Penguin Awareness Day I am going to celebrate a talented Dodgers (and Cubs) third baseman and not the animal that lives in the Southern Hemipshere.  I am also going to encourage you to pick up a baseball card in your collection of a player you know little about and go see if you can learn something new about them.  You might just find you will appreciate them more in the long run.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What Brand Was This Again?

I picked up a Kyle Seager autograph awhile ago and left it sitting on the coffee table in my baseball card room.  It made it's way to my scanner and then into one of my boxes of autographs.  Honestly, I know I bought the card off of Ebay, but I am not quite sure when it happened.  It's no longer in my purchase history, so it's been here more than 90 days.

I really liked the card when I first bought it.  The card had a cool looking texture with a raised area for the signature and a blue cut out area on the right hand side of the card and a small cut out on the bottom left hand corner.  Here is a look at the card....

After all of the time away from this card I came back to the scan this week.  I flipped through my blog to make sure I hadn't started a draft on it somewhere, but had nothing.  That's when I noticed something a little bit odd about this card.  Even though it was out of my purchase history I went back and scanned through Ebay for another copy just to make sure it wasn't something wrong with just this Kyle Seager card.  Nope, they are all this way.  What's wrong?

This card is from the Topps Supreme set, but there is nothing that identifies the brand of the card.  Anywhere.  We just have the players name, signature, name, picture, and Mariners logo.  The last two years Topps has included something to identify this brand in previous years.......

Last year......

and the year before.......

Both cards have something to identify them as being from the Supreme product.  I thought it was an odd touch and cannot think of another brand that did not have some sort of text to distinguish themselves.  Still a really nice card, but definitely something different that stuck out to me after a long break from this card.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 7

There were some really cool Minor League sets that were put out during the 1990s.  There were still Bowman cards, but they were pretty much the same as today with Minor League players wearing Major League uniforms.  Still, other brands of cards actually had pictures of Minor Leaguers in Minor League uniforms.  There are a lot of minor card companies, like Classic, that put out some of these sets, but some of the best cards actually came from Upper Deck.

Just like the Pro Debut set, or Heritage Minor Leagues set does the job to day for Minor League collectors, the Upper Deck Minor League sets were there 1990s equivalent.  I'd liken the Upper Deck sets more towards the Pro Debut set just simply based on the fact that Upper Deck used the same design for their Minor League set each year as they did for their regular base set.

Like all things that are in a Minor League set, there are plenty of duds in these sets.  Guys who never made it to the Majors, but they still have a baseball card.  Still cool I imagine if you had a Minor League team to follow when these sets were put out.  I was still living in St. Louis at the time, so I was really into collecting the Cardinals and whoever appealed to me at the moment.  I did not really touch the Minor League set until I moved to North Carolina and got into watch some of the local teams.

I like flipping back through the sets to find Major Leaguers.   There are some Durham Bulls in there too, but one of my favorite players from these sets resides with the Cardinals.  The team had drafted this kid out of high school with the fourth overall selection in the 1991 draft.  He was supposed to be one of the next stars for the Cardinals.  Here's his 1994 Upper Deck Minors card.....

Dmitri never really stuck around with the Cardinals.  He had a great 1996 in the Minors, got called up at the end of the season, and had a big hit in the Postseason.  Dmitri kind of disappeared in 1997 and ended up getting traded at the end of the season when the Cardinals picked up Mark McGwire from the A's.  Da Meat Hook went on to have a solid, not spectacular, baseball career.  More importantly, Dmitri is also a pretty big baseball card collector.  Had a few nice cards back in the day before he auctioned them off.  

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Local Longo Trade

I am down to my last few days of my winter break.  Last week I decided to take a little bit of time out of my day to trade with a couple of local collectors.  I unloaded some of my extra cards helping one of them out with finishing up a few sets and a Mike Trout Topps Update rookie card.  I ended up with a giant box of Cardinals autographs, relics, and serial numbered cards.  There is a limit on how many cards I scan on put up on here.  Trading 1000 cards for 100 cards can probably be left alone without too many pictures.

I also traded a few autographs away for a couple of nice Longo cards and a pair of smaller cards.  Here are the cards I ended up with, going small to large.......

First up is the Yadier Molina saber variation from this year's Topps Update set.  Topps has been making these for two years now.  I have pulled a couple out of packs, traded for a few, and won a few cheap in auctions.  Not the flashiest variation, but still a really nice card.

Next up is a Tim Beckham black border from this year's Topps Chrome.  The card is numbered out of 100.  I am not sure if he is going to do much with the Rays this year, but hopefully he can land a job on the bench.  If not, he is still one of my favorite Durham Bulls players.  

Next up is a booklet.  I picked up a similar booklet of Longoria last year, also from Panini's National Treasures product.  Not the most expensive booklets in the world, but they still look really nice.  Plus they do a pretty good job of getting around the whole no logos thing on this card.  Last card and my favorite....

Really like the Five Star autographs, always a really good product.  This autograph is from the 2014 Five Star.  Very nice on-card autograph of the Rays third baseman and former Durham Bull.  

Authentic Souza

I posted my first card I picked up out of the Strata set a few days back.  I really liked the look of these cards and have been on the look out for a few other cards from this product.  My second Strata card arrived in the mail just a few days back.  A little different looking than the first Strata card which was just a straight autograph with no relic piece.

I have posted a few other Souza cards on here in the past.  While he did not come up with the Durham Bulls, I saw him in Triple A a few times with the Syracuse Chiefs (Nats Triple A team) and really enjoyed watching him play.  He was traded to the Rays last year and actually ended up playing a few games in Durham this year on injury rehab.  Back to the card....

I was curious about the jersey relics and the authentication stickers that appear on the cards.  Jersey relics were cool about fifteen years ago, but have been on the slide since.  Sure, I like cool patch cards, but I probably have a few thousand cards with a small grey or white jersey chunk on them.  The relic card has become a little stale and the authentication sticker is somebody's latest effort to freshen them up a bit.

I've heard good things and bad things about collectors looking up their relic item.  So, when I got this Strata autograph of Souza I opened the envelope and admired the autograph for a few minutes before I had to go enter the code into the MLB Authentication website.  Here's what I got......

Seems pretty legit.  Souza jersey from a game played against the Tigers in July.  The only thing that would make this card cooler would be to see if anything happened that day with Souza.  It would be a little disappointing to find out he sat on the bench, or worse, injured and not even on the active roster.  Good and bad possibilities raced through my mind.  I went to Baseball-Reference to check out the box score. 

Not a bad game for Souza.  It's not a game he hit a home run, or anything, but 1-3 for two runs scored is a nice line for just picking out a random box score and game from the Rays season.  Still have a few more Strata cards on the way.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Five: Top 5 St. Louis Rams

I dabble in sports outside of baseball every once in awhile in this space.  Today I am going to dabble a little bit in pro football.  I can honestly say that this will probably be the last post I ever make about professional football.  I am never going to say never, things happen, might have to talk about at some point.  However, after the events of this past week, I can honestly say that I am going to do something else with my Sunday's besides watching football.  Monday nights too.

In case you've missed out on sports news this week, billionaire recluse Stan Kroenke moved the St. Louis Rams back to Los Angeles.  He has owned the team outright since 2008, but has been a stakeholder in the team since the team moved to the Gateway City in 1995.  Over the course of Kroenke's ownership the team has posted a 39-88 record.  They only won 12 games during the first 4 years that he owned the team.  In spite all of this the city of St. Louis was willing to build him a 1.1 billion dollar stadium.

I am not going to get into all of the drama behind the team moving, but this is the second time the NFL has allowed a team to depart my hometown of St. Louis.  I lost the Cardinals, who were terrible, when I was in fourth grade.  I was excited when the Rams moved to St. Louis when I was a senior in high school.  I followed the team pretty regularly while I lived in St. Louis.  I still found their games on television from time to time and always managed to take time to watch.

After the NFL announced the Rams were moving I entertained the thought of finding a new team.  The Panthers are pretty close to Raleigh, or I could go for another Midwestern team like the Colts, Bears, or Chiefs.  After much contemplating I actually think I am better off just watching some of my favorite college teams and leaving the NFL alone.

So, after being a supportive fan of the Rams for the past twenty years (only 6 winning seasons) I am going to make a list of my five favorite players from their days in St. Louis.  Obviously, the majority of their history in the city was spent losing, but there were still some bright moments, a Super Bowl title, and two NFC Championships.  Here is my list.....

Honorable Mention - Orlando Pace 

The Rams drafted Pace first overall in 1997 out of Ohio State.  He played a total of 12 years with the Rams and appeared on both of the teams Super Bowl teams in St. Louis.  Every good team starts with good blocking and Pace provided a lot of protection for quarterbacks like Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger.  Pace also helped pave the way for a few good running backs along the way as well.

5. Kurt Warner - QB 
This one is a little debatable considering he was a two-time MVP and also won the Super Bowl MVP in leading the Rams over the Titans in Super Bowl 34.  While considering a higher spot for Warner, he really only played three full seasons in St. Louis.  In 2002, Warner only started a total of 6 games after injuring his thumb.  He was replaced by Marc Bulger who won the job away from Warner.  Still, the three seasons Warner quarterbacked the Rams he was a very impressive player.


4. Torry Holt - WR
Holt started his career with the Rams in 1999 when the team made their run to their first Super Bowl.  He was a long time Ram playing for the 10 years and is second in almost all of the franchise's all-time receiving categories behind Isaac Bruce.  His two best years took place in 2000 and 2003 crossing 1,600 receiving yards in both seasons.  He also lead the NFL in receptions in 2003 with 117 and has 6 of the franchises top 10 single season reception totals.  Holt ranks in the top 20 all-time in the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards.

3. Steven Jackson - RB 
Jackson is easily the player who was hurt most by the constant losing in St. Louis.  The Rams have had some pretty good running backs in their history like Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk.  Both a few thousand yards behind Jackson in the history of the Rams.  I know Faulk was much more of a total yards player than just a pure running back, but it's still impressive to be head of names like that in terms of numbers.  Jackson played a total of 9 seasons in St. Louis crossing 1,000 in 8 of the seasons.  He missed his rookie season because he split time with Marshall Faulk.  Steven Jackson also only played on two winning teams, both 8-8, in his nine years.  He ranks inside the 20 all-time in rushing yards in the NFL.

2. Isaac Bruce - WR 
I could really argue that Bruce and the player at the number 1 spot on my list are 1 and 1A on the list of greatest St. Louis Rams.  Bruce is simply the greatest receiver in the history of the Rams.  It doesn't matter what city they were playing in, Bruce is the best that ever was in their uniform.  He didn't lead the NFL in receptions and yards, but he was consistent throughout his 14 year career with the Rams.  He is ninth all-time in receptions and fourth in receiving yards.  He's not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet, but his day is coming soon.

1. Marshall Faulk - RB 
The Rams picked up Marshall Faulk prior to the 1999 for two draft picks from the Colts.  Not sure that was really a fair deal.  Faulk was an incredible player to watch.  He could run, he could pass, he racked up a lot of total yards.  He rushed for more than 1,000 yards only three times as a Ram, but also went over 2,000 total yards a few times.  He's in the top ten all-time in dozens of statistical categories including: rushing yards, yards from scrimmage, and touchdowns.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Card Show in the Fair Town of Raleigh

It just seems like I was at the State Fairgrounds a few weeks ago picking up a few things at a card show. I went again this past Saturday.  Just to review here are my card show rules:

1. We always eat lunch/dinner before attending the card show
2. We have a cash budget and we stick to the budget
3. We never buy cards of the home team

Last time I went I failed on the whole budget thing.  So, here's how I did this week.

1. We always eat lunch/dinner before attending the card show
I actually went in the morning, so I did not each lunch and no dinner either.  I did eat breakfast however.  I had a bowl of Rice Krispies, a banana smoothie with almond milk and peanut butter (Elvis would approve), and a glass of orange juice.  Quick plug...I make all of my smoothies with a Ninja blender.  If you don't have a blender, you should buy a Ninja Blender.  If you own a blender, but it's not a Ninja Blender, perhaps it's time to buy one.  If you own a Ninja Blender, high five.  

2. We have a cash budget and we stick to the budget
$25 and only $25 this time.  

3. We never buy cards of the home team
Raleigh is a city of transplants.  Is there a home team?  Maybe Russell Wilson.  Maybe.  

I actually decided to go for quantity this time. Just the way I felt going in. Sometimes I spend my money on a card or two, this time I spread out my purchases, and spent a lot of time combing through a lot of boxes for $1 cards.  I ended up with a nice stack of cards at the end of the morning.  

Since this was a stack I decided to make a quick pair of Instagram movies with my pick-ups instead of making you scroll down a page full of cards.  

A video posted by The Snorting Bull (@thesnortingbull) on


A video posted by The Snorting Bull (@thesnortingbull) on

Five Star Andrew with a Free Folty

Still working on adding some more Five Star autographs.  Again, my favorite autograph set this year. I have picked up a Cardinals card, in way of a Matt Carpenter, and have a Rays autograph on the way.  That leaves me to find a Durham Bulls related card to round things out a little bit.  Here's what I found on a Facebook trading group.....

Andrew Jones was on the Durham Bulls during the 1996 season prior to joining the Braves later in the year.  Not a really pricey card in terms of a trade and Andrew has a really nice signature.  I also picked up an autograph of Braves prospect Mike Foltynewicz.  

Always nice to get a throw-in when you are trading.  The Braves would seem to have  an infinite amount of pitching prospects, but Folty seems like he could stick in the Majors.  He played part of last season in Triple A and has a big arm.  This is a great looking card for a freebie.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 6

I spent a little bit of time in Northern Michigan during the Christmas holiday.  I still did my normal writing for this blog, along with my work at the Cardboard Connection.  When I am in my office at home I watch Netflix, or put my ITunes on shuffle, something for background noise.  I did not really have those options while I was in Michigan so I spent some time watching old Cardinals games or listening to old concerts.  Fun stuff.

A few of the games I watched were of the 1985 Cardinals.  I liked the Cardinals throughout my childhood, my father is from St. Louis, but the early years of my life were spent in a few different places.  People in my house watched the Cardinals, I liked playing baseball in my yard, collecting cards, and would check out a little baseball when people in my house watched a game.

I moved to St. Louis at some point during the summer of 1984.  The Cardinals were not so great that year, so 1985 was the first year that I got to experience a winning Cardinals team.  I am sure that people may recall players like Ozzie Smith, Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Terry Pendleton, maybe even Jack Clark on those 1980s Cardinals teams.  However, the team also had some good supporting players around depending on the year.  One of the best was Cesar Cedeno, who played for the team during the last few months of the 1985 season.

Many my recall Cesar Cedeno as a member of the Reds or Astros.  Some may also remember him as an extra in the "Let Them Play' scene in The Bad News Bears.  Bob Watson got most of the speaking lines in that scene, but Cesar is there......

During the first half of the 1985 season Cedeno played for the Reds and posted a .241/.307/.336 slash line.  Hardly anything to write home about, so the Reds traded him to the Cardinals for a Minor League pitcher.  In all, Cesar only played a total of 28 games in a Cardinals uniform, but hit .434/463/.750 with 6 home runs, 4 doubles, and 19 RBIs in only 76 at bats.  He provided the final push to help the team get past the Mets, who were really good that year, and into the playoffs.  Not a great video, but this was a big home run in a September game against the Mets.  

The next season Cedeno made a brief appearance with the Dodgers, but retired after the 1986 season.  He obviously does not have many Cardinals cards, but they might be my favorites in the Cardinals sets from that year.  Well, outside of the Vince Coleman rookie cards......

So, for this week's Venerable Old Card post I am going to go with the 1986 Donruss Cesar Cedeno card.  He had one card in Fleer, Topps, and Donruss and they are all portrait style cards.  Still really cool that all of the card manufacturers managed to get him into sets considering he only played a brief time with the Cardinals.  Not necessarily a stand out card, nor a Hall of Fame player, but still a really cool card if you spent time watching the Cardinals in the 1980s.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Box of Rays Will Ease The Pain

You must play the music as you read the post.  I rarely put music into posts, I am asking for very little.  If you're at work, put in some headphones or something. 

My wife and I, along with our five year old, make a fair amount of road trips every year to see different places and different people.  This year we decided to travel to Northern Michigan to see my wife's family.  It's about a fifteen hour drive from our doorstep to my in-laws doorstep.  Long drive, but her parents house is relaxing and I dig being in a small town for a week or two.  I can walk to see Lake Huron and I actually get to see some snow.  

Right before we left for our trip I had made a trade with another member of a group of local card collectors around central North Carolina.  One of the groups members has an incredible collection of Ben Zobrist cards and was looking to move a few doubles.  I had made a few trades with him before and I had a Zobrist 1/1 that could probably use a better home than mine.  He posted a picture of several autographs including an Evan Longoria, Cole Figueroa, Jake Ordorizzi, etc.  I gave up a 1/1 Zobrist autograph thinking I was getting back a handful of Durham Bulls cards.

I had actually not really thought too much about mail walking back in my door after driving home.  About thirty minutes after we got home my postal carrier dropped off all of our held mail including box of cards.  There were several boxes of cards within the box.  All kinds of different things...autographs, relics, serial numbered cards, and just about a complete set of Panini Classics.  Throw in a few Bowmans, a couple of Gypsy Queen cards, and some Triple Threads base cards.  I was blown away at the generosity of my trade partner.  

It would take awhile to scan all of the cards and post them on here, so I am going to narrow it down to five cool Rays/Durham Bulls cards that I enjoyed seeing in the box.....

5.  2010 Topps Tribute Evan Longoria Triple Relic Autograph 

This is probably the most obvious keeper in the box.  Longoria is one of the best Durham Bulls players to wander through town since the team became affiliated with the Rays.  I have posted a ton of Longoria on here and have always enjoyed collecting his cards.  Great card.  

4.  2013 Bowman Inception Jake Odorizzi Autograph

I have a bunch of these Odorizzi autographs.  I don't have the whole rainbow of cards or anything, but this was a really really good looking set.  Not sure how many of the 2013 Inception autographs are in my collection, but it's plenty.  Another great card.  

3.  2013 Gypsy Queen B.J. Upton Jumbo Relic 

I have heard a lot of garbage about B.J., or Melvin, over the last few years since he has been on the Braves and Padres.  While his career has slowed down from his days with the Rays, he still remains one of my favorite former Durham Bulls.  He was an amazing talent while he was a Bull and enjoyable to watch.  Sometimes Minor League talent does not translate into Major League talent.  B.J., I mean Melvin, had a good run in Tampa, still a favorite of mine.  This card looks awesome with the black border.  

2.  Topps Supreme Alex Cobb Autograph 

This was an Asia only release.  I have picked up a few of these including a Chris Archer, but I am still missing a few cards of some of the Cardinals, Rays, and former Durham Bulls.  This was one of them.  It's not an impossible card to find, but every time I ran across one it was too expensive, or I got outbid, or something.  Don't need many more of these to close out the Bulls/Rays/Cardinals. 

1.  2012 A Sign of History Cole Figueroa Autograph 

Easily my favorite card in the box and it's not really close.  I really liked watching Cole Figueroa play for the Durham Bulls.  Not the best player on the team, but a fan player to watch.  Plus he was on the team for several years, Minor League fans usually don't get to hold onto players too long.  There are many Minor Leaguers who sign for different Topps, Panini, and Leaf products, but Figueroa has never been in a single set.  No certified autographs.  I have an in person autograph, or two, from Figueroa, but those are autographs on top of facsimile autographs on a Bowman card.  I have long wanted a certified autograph of Figueroa and I am happy to finally have this card.  Best part about it is that there were actually two of these in box full of Rays.    

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Shiny New Card In The Mail

The Strata brand has been around for awhile.  It was a football card product, maybe basketball too, and then a baseball card insert.  I pulled a redemption for one last year, but I never got the card.  I even had Topps substitute the redemption, but apparently they do not really follow through with that either.  Here's a look at my glorious Strata autograph of Julio Tehran in all it's glory.

This year Topps put out an actual stand alone Strata product.  It's a one pack per box, one autograph, one relic card kind of a deal.  I don't those types of products for the most until after someone else has done the ripping.  Sure, there are quite a few players I am interested in the set, but I am not sure that any of them are really worth the $80ish layout for a box.  I am not going for that jumbo Matt Adams patch, more like Steven Souza.

I like the looks of the cards, so I went ahead and picked up my first Strata card last week.  It arrived in my mailbox yesterday.  I spent some time with the card in front of me today on my desk just looking at it.  Very nice card.  Here is the front......

Topps used a thicker card stock for these and they have a really nice finish.  The picture of Rodon on the front of the card is translucent when held up to the light, but the signature space is transparent.  If you flip the card over onto the back the signature on the front.

While this is probably nit picking, I would have loved to see the autograph space on the front of the card have a little better defined space to allow it to show through in the transparent panel.  The top of the signature on the back is slightly covered up.  Not a biggie.  Really nice card, another couple of these are on the way soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Football Players Playing Baseball Celebrating Shopping

A friend on Twitter pointed me in the direction of this card a few weeks ago which has been sitting in my held mail stack at my local post office.  As an alumni of NC State, I am always happy to pick up a few cards of some of the their former players.  Russell Wilson is more known for his time as the school's quarterback, he was also a pretty good baseball player.

Panini has made several Russell Wilson baseball cards, as a Wolfpacker, this year, but I have not had the chance to pick up many of them.  Obviously the autographs of Wilson are really pricey and probably are not going to happen.  Still, some of the base cards and inserts are pretty affordable.  I am not sure about the whole Black Friday patch on this card, but I will take it.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 5

I found a really cool card about two weeks and decided that it would be a cool addition to my collection for a few years:

1. It features a pretty good former Major Leaguer

2. This player was involved in one of the most notable plays of one of my favorite Cardinals Ray Lankford

3.  Who knew that there was ever a Triple A team in Maine?  

The team actually started out in Charleston and played under the Charlies nickname, but moved to Maine for the 1984 season.  Following the 1988 season the team moved to Scranton and became the Red Barrons.  So, obviously I am also going to need a Charleston Charlies card at some point, but until then this is the first Maine Guides card to enter my collection:

Obviously they were a minor league team for the Phillies.  Darren Daulton was one of the more notable players to appear for the Maine Guides which is why I went with this card.  There was also an Otis Nixon, tempted.  

The card is really off center, but it seems to be a really common trait with all Maine Guides cards out of the 1987 team set.  I am sure it's not a design feature, so I am going with the card was probably cheaply made.  Not the best cardstock either.  Still a neat addition to the Minor League card box.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Dollar Frey

I am not as active as I used to be on some of the Facebook groups, but I still dabble here and there.  I am in a Cardinals group that I will occasionally post a picture, or two, when I land a cool Cardinals card, an auction group, and then just a general baseball group that has cards for sale and trade.  The Facebook groups have settled down over the years, or maybe it's just me.  Most of the collectors are pretty straight forward with posting cards with what they are looking for in trade, or what price they are selling their cards at.

I like trading, but there are a lot of times when you can find some really good bargains in the group.  They often require flipping through a bunch of pictures, but sometimes it's worth it.  Recently I took a little bit of time one evening to flip through some of the posts in one of the groups and I ran into an autograph of former Royals and Cubs manager Jim Frey.  Card cost $1.

Frye never played in the Majors and spent most of his coaching career as a coach, not a manager.  Working for the Orioles in the 1970s, he helped with the Earl Weaver lead teams that won a few American League pennants and a World Series.  His managing career was short.  Frye spent a few years with the Royals, winning the 1980 American League pennant, and helped the Cubs win the N.L. East in 1984.  He also worked as the general manager of the Cubs for awhile, but wasn't so good at that job.  

By no means is Frey a Hall of Fame manager, but I was really surprised to find a card of him for $1.  I wasn't even really looking for a card of Jim Frye, but I know a good deal when I see one.  Jim Frye for a dollar, good deal.  Oh, I also got this card too, but it was $2...... 

I am not a huge Bob Brenly fan and try to watch Cubs games on mute, but he still won a World Series with the Diamondbacks.  Also had a decent career with the Giants.  Overall, not two cards I had to have, but when do you run across autographs that cheap of someone decent?

Those Other Ginter Cards Part 1

A while back Topps started selling an anniversary version of the Allen & Ginter cards with black backgrounds instead of the usual white.  The black background cards were celebrating the tenth anniversary of the product.  The boxes were not prohibitively expensive, but sometimes I get really tired of the whole rehash thing, such as making the cards a different color, adding chrome to the cards.  Sometimes I will dabble into those products, but I usual limit myself by just picking up some interesting singles, or not opening a box and buying the base set.

The set has kind of grown on me over time.  A few of the card groups I am in on Facebook had collectors post pictures of cards from the set.  Very nice.  While I am not going to assemble a set in this case, I am going to put together a nice group of Cardinals, Rays, and former Durham Bulls.  I started by picking up four of the cards pretty cheap off of COMC.

Obviously a good start to the assembling the Cardinals and Rays portion of the full size set.  Still plenty of cards still left to find, especially considering I still haven't touched the minis.  The Cardinals team set looks like it has 14 cards, leaving me 10 short.  The Rays team set has only 5, so 4 away from finishing.  I am going to have to sort through the big list to track down all of the Durham Bulls, but all five Rays cards would also fit into that category too.