Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Set Project Number 3: 1999 Skybox Century E-X Quisite

Since the first project is finished up and posted under my Completed Projects tab at the top of the page, it's time to go ahead and start on another set.  I am going to choose an insert set this time, but it's one from one of my favorite 1990s.  I should probably do something with the 1998 Skybox E-X inserts, I think I already have to copies of the set, but I am going to start off with an insert from the 1999 Skybox E-X set instead.

I plan on doing a lot of these set projects.  Plenty of time to work on the 1998 inserts.

Here is a look at the insert set I am going to be working on.....

I really like the look of these E-X-Quisite cards.  The fronts have a nice look with the black background, smoke or a cloud, and the player standing in front.  The backs look pretty nice too, but this was also a somewhat of a bad phase for Skybox card backs......

I like how the design is sort of a silhouette of the front of the card, the cheesy little write ups on these cards are horrendous.  Skybox used these on a lot of their sets around this time.  I mean, they could have just written up a little snippet on J.D. Drew being a promising young player at the time this card was produced, but nope.

I suppose they could have come up with a good writer to make up these card backs, but they seem more like something that Shaq made while he was trying to rap instead of playing basketball.

There are fifteen cards in the set, I have eight of them, so I am looking for a little more than half of the set.  Eight cards is not too challenging, hopefully I can knock this one out fast.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Things I Am Sorting Part 6

At some point back in April I made a post about finishing up my 1999 Skybox Molten Metal set.  I have made a bunch of posts about the set over the past few months showing my progress towards completing the project.  That project is going really well, but I had actually posted a pair of projects up at the top of my blog under the Projects In Projects tab.

Well, this is a little awkward.  I did not make a single post about my progress in finishing my 2001 Topps Archives set, but I am sitting here with all of the cards needed to finish the set sitting here on my desk ready to put into a box to make up the finished set.  How did I get there?  A few trades, a seller who knocked a bunch of cards down to basically nothing on COMC, and then a few singles off of the Burbank Cards Ebay store and this set is ready to move over and become the first one over on the Completed Sets tab.

Here's a quick run down on the set......

The set came out during the summer of 2001 as a part of the 50th Anniversary of Topps.  Archives came out in two series with which each featuring a group of players, a few managers, and some other assorted postseason highlights cards and the whatnot that were all reprints.  The players in the set all had two cards: their first and their last.  It created a fairly good mixture of older cards and newer cards.  Basically anything from the 1950s through the late 1990s.

Topps did a really good job of mixing in the no brainer, Hall of Fame, uber popular players with collectors and others who were very good players, not Hall of Famers, but still loved by some fan base.  There is a little something for everyone in here.

Two bigs knocks on the set.

First, Topps did some mangling of players rookie cards.  Especially those who appeared on prospect cards with multiple players.  Even when there were multiple worth while names on the card.  Case in point....

The Cecil Cooper rookie card in the set appears as a stand alone card.  In reality, the original card featured two other Red Sox rookies including a fairly talented catcher named Carlton Fisk.

Kind of a classic card from the early 1970s.  It's sort of a shame that Topps did not just put this card into the set as is.  Heck, even Mike Garman was an average player who stuck around for 9 years in the Majors and pitched more than 300 games.

The second knock on the set is the card numbering.  Since the cards in this set were reprinted, Topps left the original number at the top of the card.  The numbering for the set is actually microscopically printed on the back of the card in different places.  I guess they really tried to make it as close to the original as possible, which meant squeezing card numbers into whatever space was around.

The card number on this 1987 Vida Blue reprint is above the bio line at the bottom of the card and his high school football factoid.  This is one of the easier ones to read.  Cards with dark backs, like the 1976 Topps cards, can come close to causing blindness.

In all, I added 81 cards from this set since I started working towards its completion in April.  The stack looks a little something like this.....

I pulled out my box with the partial set.  It appears that I probably should have used a bigger box for this set.  Looks like I am going to sort these into a completed set and then rebox the cards....

My tab on the completed set project will be updated and another project will be posted later in the week.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 26


I was doing a little straightening out with a few boxes this past week when I  ran into a few old Bowman autographs from the early 2000s.  Amongst the stack of graphs were a few of the 2002 Bowman Futures Game signed jerseys.  These were really sweet cards back in the day, with some good prospect names from the time, but the cards have generally aged poorly.  

A few years back when Ryan Ludwick was on the Cardinals I had scooped up quite a few of these cards.  The signatures on the cards have rubbed off due to the finish on the front of the cards.  A few of my other Bowman autographs from this set have faired a little better including the signature of one time Durham Bull Wilson Betemit.  

The two loops at the end of his signature has had a little fading, but this is a pretty nice card still.  The backs of these cards are also pretty nice looking.  Topps used the format they had used on the relic cards in the Topps HD set in 2001 which featured clear backings letting the front and back of the relic been seen.  Kind of a cool look that Topps stopped using sometime after the mid 2000s....

I bought this card before Wilson Betemit was on the Bulls and the card has remained in my collection for that reason.  Although, somewhat reluctantly.  While he was in Durham in 2014, Betemit served as the teams utility player.  Wilson also managed to secure a spot in the Triple A All-Star Game which was played at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park that summer.   Over the course of the season Wilson Betemit ended up pacing the Bulls in home runs and lead them to within a game of the International League Championship.  

So, what was wrong with Wilson's time as a Bulls player?  This.  

Always a little disappointing to see players with your favorite teams end their seasons with a suspension.  In the case of Wilson, it was also pretty much the end of his career at the age of 32.  Even if he had failed to reach the Majors again, there are plenty of veterans who hang out in Triple A and do quite well.  Wilson could have made a nice Dan Johnson type of player for a few years, but I guess not.  

If I have a Kip Wells card because he was on the Cardinals, I suppose I can have a Wilson Betemit card because he was on the Durham Bulls.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Farewell Desmond Jennings

Desmond Jennings has been on the Rays for as long as I have written this blog.  As a former player for the Durham Bulls, I was a little surprised when I went to search out some posts I had made of the former top prospect that I have made very few.  Desmond Jennings had a good start with the Rays, but has fizzled the last few years, before the Rays decided to part ways with him today.

I usually make these posts Farewell type posts about players who are retiring like Juan Pierre.  By no means do I think that Desmond Jennings is finished in baseball.  There are too many skills there that someone is going to roll the dice on signing him.  At 29, I would hope that a change of scenery can bring out some of the potential that I enjoyed while watching him patrol the outfield in Durham.

Desmond Jennings was rated no lower than the eighteenth best prospect in baseball during his time with the Bulls.  Prior to the 2010 season he was rated in the Top 10 by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America.  So why so few cards?

I ended up going through my card boxes for a few minutes last night after I heard about his impending release from the Rays today.  I found an autograph....

That's a nice card, but there have to be a few that I am missing out on?  Well, there are a bunch of TriStar type autographs, but I try to avoid those like the plague.  So, really this is it for Desmond Jennings and autographs.  Top 10 prospect with one certified autograph card?  Consider me surprised.
I also scoured my relic cards.  I found something really nice that I had completely forgotten about picking up.  I actually have a whole bunch of his relic cards.  It seems like he does game-used cards pretty regularly.  While I posted those frequently when I first started blogging, I pretty much skip those nowadays.  This relic card is too sweet not to post....

Wherever Desmond ends up playing the rest of the season, or if he doesn't reappear until next season, hopefully it ends better than his time in Tampa.  Maybe we could get a few more nice cards with his next team.  Dare I say an autograph or two more would be nice...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Five From Wrigley Roster Jenga

I recently sent over a pair of Mike Montgomery cards to fellow blogger Tony over at Wrigley Roster Jenga after the reliever/starter was traded to the Cubs.  Montgomery used to pitch for the Durham Bulls back in the day and I saw him throw a no-hitter once.  True story.

I had a few Montgomery cards to spare.  

I received a package of cards back in exchange for the Montgomery cards.  Pretty big stack of cards and I am not huge on scanning tons of cards, so I narrowed the trade into an overview picture.....

and five other cool oddballs that were in my package of cards.  Tony sent my cards of all my favorite modern Cardinals and a few Durham Bulls cards, but you get to see those all of the time if you stop by and read and blog with regularity.  I am going with unique instead.....

5. 1999 Team Best Memphis Redbirds Rick Ankiel 

Ankiel was a highly touted prospect for the Cardinals, completely lost the ability to throw the ball over the plate, went back to the Minors, and went back to the Minors to reinvent himself as an outfielder.  As much as I loved watching Ankiel as a pitcher, he was also a pretty fun player to watch as a position player.  Especially if you watched him play a little D in the outfield.  Only one base at a time, max.  

As a card collector, he did have a few cards when he returned as an outfielder, but most of the cool ones are from his days as a pitcher.  This card brings back some good memories....

4.  1992 Confex Baseball Enquirer Ozzie Smith 
I have never seen one of these cards.  Ever.  Which is saying something if it came from the 1990s.  The front of the card features a cartoon picture of The Wizard with a neck brace.....

but the best part of the card is the back which features a mock interview with Ozzie Smith after he has had some sort of injury which caused him to wear a back brace and a cervical collar.  Apparently, Ozzie is not going to do any flips anymore.  

Just to make sure that this card was not a serious card, Ozzie did kind of do the David Eckstein shot put throw to first towards the end of his career, I found a video of him doing his flip after 1992.  

Is that Darnell Coles in the background running out wearing 15?  Sigh.  I am glad that the Busch family sold the team.  

3. 1992 Classic Best Springfield Cardinals Dmitri Young 
Da Meat Hook was once a highly regarded Cardinals prospect.  He had a huge hit against the Braves in the 1996 NLCS, but apparently the internet has forgotten about the hit.  While his time with the Birds on the Bat was brief, it was fun to watch him progress through the Minors.

Is that Cardinals logo an iron on?  The hat is also sweet.  The only way this could be a better card is if it had him with a blonde goatee.  I guess he did not have to distinguish himself from Greg Vaughn like he did while he was playing for the Reds.  

2.  1979 TCMA Baseball History Joe Cunningham 
I have always been a big fan of the 1970s TCMA cards.  Simple designs, but still very enjoyable to collect.  

I picked up a Cunningham autograph last spring at a card show here in Raleigh.  He played for the Cardinals in the 1950s and early 1960s.  Very underrated player in the team's history.  Besides playing alongside Stan Musial, Cunningham might also slip through the cracks due to the fact that the majority of the 1950s Cardinals teams were not competitive.  Hasn't happened often in Cardinals team history.  Overall, his 7 year slash line with the Cardinals was .304/.413/.443 with 52 home runs, 113 doubles, and an OPS+ of 120.  Not a bad sidekick to go along with the tandem of Musial and Ken Boyer.  

1. 1993 Upper Deck Denny's Grand Slam Ray Lankford 
Of course I have a copy of this card, but can you ever really have enough Ray Lankford cards?  Can you really have enough Denny's Grand Slam cards?  These were 1990s classics.....

It's hard to see from the scan, but the hologram picture in the background shows Lankford fielding.  I really must say, I love getting Ray Lankford cards in the mail.  It's gotten hard to find new cards of his anymore.  Another card with some good memories.  

I have attached a video to almost every player in this post.  Not many Ray Lankford videos, but there is that one......

Look away Darren Daulton fans....

Monday, August 22, 2016

Things I Am Sorting Part 5

We are getting near the end of the first two projects that I listed at the top of my page.  I still need to put up a post about my progress towards completing the 2001 Topps Archives set, but my Molten Metal Xplosion set is almost completely crossed off.  Here is a list of the cards I needed out of the set heading into last week.

2 Jose Canseco
11 Miguel Tejada
20 Pedro Martinez
23 Matt Williams
46 Javy Lopez
50 Andy Pettitte
79 A.J. Hinch
95 Omar Vizquel
99 Mike Mussina
105 Roberto Alomar
114 A.J. Burnett RC
121 Manny Ramirez  

I had actually failed to update the percentage of the set that was completed on my Projects tab after I made my last post on this set.  The page lists my progress at 55%, but I was actually at 92% of the complete set.  Well, that was until I received another batch of these cards in the mail along with a nice surprise from a generous collector.  

Here are the new cards I added to my Molten Metal Set:

A few new cards.  If you check the list above you will notice that the Kerry Wood card is not actually there, but the collector who traded me this lot of cards threw in the card as a bonus.  It's not a dupe, it's actually a promotional card.  This is a look at the back of the card....

I had not even thought about collecting a promotional sample.  A nice little bonus on top of the regular 150 baseball cards in the set.  The lot of cards scanned above actually takes 5 off of my list of 12 cards, leaving me with just 8 left to find.  It brings my completion percentage up to  95%.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Venerable Old Card Part 25

I was really excited about an old 2000 Bowman autograph I picked up last week for a whole dollar.  Not many people get excited about Steve Cox, and I actually never saw him play as a Durham Bull, but I am really happy to have this card hanging out in my box of autographs....

Love those old Devils Rays cards.  

While few baseball fans know Cox, the ones that do probably remember him as a really average player on some really bad Devil Rays teams.  For his four seasons in the Majors, all with the Devil Rays, he posted a .262/.340/.417 line with 39 home runs and 72 doubles.  Nothing to write home about.  However, before he got to the Majors he was a pretty special player with the Durham Bulls..

Cox spent two seasons playing with everyone's favorite Minor League team.  During his first season with the team, also Durham's first as a Triple A team and first as a Rays affiliate, he hit around .250 with 13 home runs, 67 RBIs, and an otherwise fairly missable stat line.  In his second season with the Bulls in 1999 Cox would win the International League MVP while posting one of the best lines in the history of the team..

The MVP hit .341/.415/.588 with 25 home runs, 49 doubles, and 127 RBIs.  Remarkable season.  At the end of the year Cox was called up to the Devil Rays where he started his Major League career.  He might have had a small impact in the Majors, but is still remember by the die-hard baseball fans for producing one of the greatest single season lines in the history of the Durham Bulls.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

So What High School Did You Go To?

One of the worst things about living in St. Louis is the St. Louis question: So what high school did you go to?  It's a loaded question meant to categorize you and give the person asking a little insight into whether they should feel like they are a little bit better than you, or if they should drop the topic and discuss their love of Anheuser-Busch products, the Cardinals, or provel cheese (not provolone).

Someone conducted a poll about the St. Louis question with people who lived in St. Louis....

These results are annoying.

So, I got a new baseball card of a former Cardinals player last week who is from St. Louis.  No, it's not David Freese or Ryan Howard.  Freese and Howard both went to the same high school, I'd guess it's probably better than the high school that I went to since it's a little bit newer and Robert Archibald, Scottish basketball legend and former Memphis Grizzly, went to that school too....

In contrast, the high school I attended produced the poker player who wears the fossil sunglasses.

It's also not Yogi Berra.  He went to another high school that David Freese and Ryan Howard did not attend.  Off the top of my head, I did not know what high school Yogi Berra went to in St. Louis, other than he's from St. Louis.   I looked it up and it turns out that Joe Garagiola also went to that high school.  Also Francis Slay, who has been mayor of St. Louis forever.

Pretty big St. Louis baseball names, but they are not Cliff Politte.  If you don't know if Cliff Politte is here is my two sentence career synopsis:

Cliff Politte attended Hillsboro College in beautiful Hillsboro, Missouri before transferring to the University of Memphis where he was drafted by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in the 54th round of the 1995 draft.  He debuted with the Cardinals in 1998 and played nine seasons in the Majors with the Cardinals, Phillies, Blue Jays, and White Sox.

Cliff Politte high school factoid: He went to the same high school as NFL quarterback Trent Green.  I am not sure if they knew each other, but I am sure that at least a few thousand people around the city attended class with both of them at the same time.  Wink.  

More important than the fact that Politte went to a high school named after a catholic saint who is the patron saint of other catholic priests, is the fact that he had an autograph in the 1998 Bowman set.  I actually did not know about this card until a few weeks ago when I saw a copy in a Cardinals the phot album of a Cardinals baseball card collector.  

It took me a few days to track down the card, there were a few floating around for $15-$20, but I landed one for a fraction of that with a little patience.  I was actually surprised that Politte made it on to an autographed card with the Cardinals.  Yes, he's a hometown guy, but his career stat line with the Cardinals is rather thin.

Cliff played a total of 8 games with the Cardinals in 1998, went 2-3 with an ERA over 6.  At the end of the 1998 season he was packaged up with headaches Ron Gant and Jeff Brantley in exchange for Garrett Stephenson and Ricky Bottalico.  Nothing to see with that trade.

He spent a few years with the Phillies, but his career really saw it's high mark when he went to the Blue Jays and started working out of the bullpen.  He played two years for the Jays and appeared in more than 50 games each year before joining the White Sox for three years.

In 2005 he worked as the setup man for Bobby Jenks including Game 4 of the 2005 World Series which has to be the highlight of his career.

Notice I went the whole post and never mentioned a single high school by name, please only make vague references to your high school if you are going to leave a comment.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Lost Scans of Tier One

I have a system for my mail, scanning the cards, posting, and then sorting the cards into boxes.  Occasionally there are breakdowns in the system.  I cannot necessarily pin point one spot in the process where the system breaks.  Sometimes it is because my desk looks really messy.  Sometimes it's because I get excited about a card and skip the scanning part, instead opting to go straight to the card.  

Other times I just lose the scan. 

I am not always great about using folders.  Cards get scanned and put into some jumbo file of scans and pictures.  Even when I know I have scanned the cards for a blog post, I have to fight through a plethora of pictures featuring my wife, kids, and all sorts of other random pictures which float onto my computer.  

I actually have to give some props to JediJeff from 2x3 Heroes who commented on my post yesterday about how he had been watching some undervalued Tribute cards.  Slight case of ADD, but the chart below shows the connection between Jeff's comments and this post featuring cards that I completely forgot about during the past few months.....

If you look at the left side of the scan you can see through the paper where I wrote the title of the chart Landscape with a grey marker.  I switch to portrait and supplemented the grey title with purple ink.  Hopefully you made it to the part where I find three cheap Tier One autographs.  I know I write small, it's been a problem for years....

First card.  

It's an Evan Longoria card.  No flow chart on this card, but he was on the Durham Bulls.  I like the Durham Bulls and buy baseball cards of their players.  I also bought an autograph of a current Durham Bull.....

Very nice indeed.  Shaffer has been up and down between Durham and Tampa this year, little bit of a down year, but is probably best known for his self high five first home run.  I have posted the video of the home run a few too many times, so it's here somewhere just not in this post.... 

 Last autograph is a Cardinal.  

I love Carlos Martinez cards.  I need to do a post about his ever changing autograph one of these days.  I think this year's is a little different than last year's and completely different from what it looked like when his first Bowman and Leaf autographs came out.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Calm Carlos

I have been a pretty big fan of Carlos Rodon since he first stepped foot on campus at NC State.  The all everything starting pitcher had spectacular college career which included a trip to college World Series.  Back then Rodon had a bunch of cards in the Panini USA Baseball sets and collectors went crazy for them.  I dabbled here and there, I do love my Wolfpack, but it's hard to shell out big dollars for a player in college.  

Cue Music....


In case you forgot what happened to Carlos after college....

Rodon was drafted by the White Sox in 2014 with the third overall pick.  He breezed through the minors and debuted with the ChiSox in 2015.  He's been a decent pitcher during his first two seasons in the Majors, but I am not sure that he has been as good as most collectors and fans had hoped he would be when he reached whatever stadium the White Sox play in now (insert corporate name).  

I still have high hopes for Rodon.  He's just 23 years old and has been out of college such a short time, I am hoping their is a little higher ceiling in his left arm.  In the meantime, the slow career start has made the chore of finding Carlos Rodon cards a little easier and a lot cheaper.  

Carlos has become calm.  

Collectors have cooled on him.  Honestly, I feel like I had sort of let him slip off of my radar this year, but I think this card is a pretty sweet find for my first autograph of the NC State alum....

Tier One is always a good looking set and it's an on card autograph.  Kind of cool that it's 149/149, even though I do not do the whole Ebay one of one thing.  I have another Rodon autograph on the way that I just traded for and will post in awhile.  In the meantime, let's hope Carlos picks it up on the mound.   

If you're a White Sox fan, I'd be on the lookout for the White Sox to important the Braveheart guy from NC State for a little extra motivation and pep.  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 24

I did a little bit of work on a few 1996 sets late last week.  Always a good year for the Cardinals cards.  It was the first year that LaRussa managed the team and the cheap August Busch IV sold the team to current owner Bill DeWitt.  The Cardinals made it all the way to the seventh game of the National League Championship Series before losing to the Braves.  It was the real standout season, as far as team success went, for the Cardinals during the 1990s.

So many different players and different cards to pick from, I decided to go with a player who hasn't gotten many posts on my blog, but also has a cool card.

I went with an Emotion XL of pitcher Alan Benes.

Player first.

There were two Benes brothers who made the Major Leagues.  A third was a Minor Leaguer with the Cardinals, but never cracked the big squad.  Many 1990s baseball fans know Andy who was a big innings eater who pitched for the Padres, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks.  I actually think Alan was better, but his career was derailed by shoulder problems.

1996 was the first full season for Alan Benes.  He started 32 games and won 13 for the National League Central Champions.  Not his best year though, which came a year later when he went just 9-9, but had a 2.89 ERA and 144 ERA+.  He missed about 10 starts that year, but if he had pitched enough innings to qualify for the league leaders that ERA+ would have placed him fifth in the NL ahead of pitchers like Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Curt Schilling.

The younger Benes came back with the Cardinals as a relief pitcher, but was not ever really effective again.  He bounced around for a few years in the early 2000s with the Cubs and Rangers.

Now the card.

The Emotion cards ran for a few years in the mid 1990s.  Small sets, but the cards were generally pretty nice.  Some could even be classified in the cool category.  Since the Cardinals lacked big hobby names for the years these were put out, most of their cards in these sets are pretty ho hum.  Like Alan Benes is excited.  Tom Pagnozzi was gritty, Royce Clayton was concentrating, John Mabry adroit (I shit you not), Brian Jordan was patient, and Ozzie was the Wizard.

The Emotion cards are pretty easy to find and fairly inexpensive.  I've even seem some boxes around at card shows and on Ebay for less than $40.  Pretty fun box to open too.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

National Baseball Card Day

I am not sure when National Baseball Card Day got started, but I had to look back a little while ago to see if I had ever posted or mentioned this day before.  I had not.  I did flip through my cards and found that I had a bunch of cards from National Trading Card Day back in 2004.  I am going to have to make a post out of those cards someday soon.

In the meantime, I decided that it would be cool to share out my first card and most recent card to celebrate National Baseball Card Day.  I have now been collecting for 33 years and have two to three hundred thousand cards.  Hard to narrow it down.

My first card....

I think I have posted pictures of this card before on this blog.  I am not quite sure of all the details on the card other than I pulled the card out of a pack of 1983 Fleer cards sometime during the fall of 1983 after my father bought me a pack of baseball cards from a convenience store in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  I didn't live there long, but I managed to pick up some packs of 1983 Fleer and Topps cards while I was there along with some old singles from the early 1980s and late 1970s from a Flea Market my brother used to get cards from on Sundays.  

I have a few boxes of cool rookie cards in my baseball card room.  It's filled with all of my iconic rookie cards.  This Jim Smith card sits right in front of my Ozzie Smith rookie card.  Jim Smith is easily the worst player in the box, but I love this card.  I even love the fact that it is crinkled and has all sorts of creases.  

My latest card...

After receiving a copy of Aledmys Diaz's Throwback Thursday rookie card in less than mint condition, I have made the decision to avoid buying directly from them for awhile.  Not going to rehash the entire incident, but lets just say that Topps Customer Service agents don't seem to really care about whether they piss off customers or not.

The incident recently forced me to find a different spot to buy a copy of a Topps Now card of the Cardinals rookie shortstop.  Sometimes different is better.  Branching out away from buying directly from Topps helped me find a seller with Topps Now cards on Ebay who is selling for less than the cards go for on their website.  At least, if you are buying single cards like I am.

This Topps Now card celebrates a walk off single Aledmys had against the Padres a few weeks back...

Definitely the route to go from now on with the Topps Now cards, or anything else that Topps sells on their website.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Farewell Prince

I was a little surprised to see Prince Fielder call it quits this week, but after two serious neck operations I cannot really blame him for walking away.  During his career Prince almost made $130 million dollars, plus insurance and the Detroit Tigers are going to pay him a whole lot more money over the coming years.

The last few years have been rough for Prince since he left the Brewers to sign with the Tigers after the 2011 season.  My in-laws are from Michigan and big Tigers fans, so I took a little more favorable interest in Prince the last few years of his career and managed to pick up a sweet cards of his along the way.

This Five Star Autograph might be my favorite recent card of Prince....

In my mind, my best memories of Prince will always be as a Brewer.  I didn't mind him as a player, I know a lot of Cardinals fans knock on the Brewers players, but Prince was always worthy of respect in my opinion.  Sure, he did things that my fellow Cardinals fans stupidly complained about like the year Mike Cameron all had them untuck their shirts after they won a game.....

but Prince hit a lot of home runs for the Brewers during his time in the National League Central.  Honestly, as a Cardinals fan I have always felt a little bit grateful for Prince Fielder the past few years.  Really, the team should have probably given him a World Series ring, or a share of the team's bonus money after he hit a go ahead home run for the National League in the All-Star Game to give the Cardinals home field advantage for games 6 and 7.

Without this.....

It's probably a little bit doubtful that Cardinals fans would have experienced this home run hit by David Freese to win Game 6 of the World Series.....

or David Murphy's fly out to Allen Craig to end Game 7 giving the Cardinals their 11th World Series title.....

Prince was a fun baseball player.  There were aspects of his game that were imperfect, but he always looked like he enjoyed playing the game.  This often translated into him having some really cool cards, especially while he was on the Brewers.  The best of them all is somewhat predictable, but it has to be one of the better first cards in the history of the Topps sets.....

Just an awesome card.  Call him whatever you want, again, the guy had fun playing the game.  A tip of the cap and a thank you.  It was a good ride Prince.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Things I Am Sorting Part 4

A few months back I started a pair of set projects and added a new tab to the top of my blog.  I have been really good about finding cards on the list, but have yet to post an update on my progress towards completing the two projects.  I am going to do a little update on one of the sets in this post.

Over the past several months I have made a few trades, bought a few singles off of private collectors, and also made a few purchases off of Sports Lots and COMC to make progress towards completing the 1999 Skybox Molten Metal Xplosion cards.  Most of the time I have picked up a few at time to save on shipping costs and I have tried to keep the cost in trade, or dollars to less than $2 max for a card.  There were several on COMC for example that were listed above $2, I made an offer below, and if they did not except it I walked away.

Here is one lot of cards that I picked up two weeks ago:

Three pretty fair players.  I paid $4.00 for the lot, and since the cards are metal, the seller sent them in a plain white envelope.  Not much worry with these cards bending or having the corners dinged going through the mail.

Here is what the stack of cards I have picked up over the last two months looks like compared to the cards that I started the project with....

The stack I started with has Edgar Renteria on the top, new cards have Larry Walker on the top.  Looking at the checklist of cards I needed I was at 55% completion at the beginning of the project.  In all, I have added a total of 56 cards to the set and jumped the completion rate all the way up to 92%.  Just 12 more cards to add to finish this one up.

Here's what it looks like all sorted out.....

I feel like I should place them on a scale and see how much they weigh at the end of the project.  The stack looks nice, but the weight of a complete set of metal cards is pretty cool.  My projects page is updated and I will do a post on the Archives set progress soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 23

It was a big day for two big baseball names yesterday.  Ichiro picked up his 3000th career hit when he tripled against the Rockies and Alex Rodriguez announced that he will play his last game on Friday against the Rays.  So, for this week's Venerable Old Card I am going to do a little bit of a double header showcasing a card of each player.

First Up, Ichiro.

When Ichiro showed up on baseball cards in 2001 I sort of missed out because I spent my entire year tracking down Albert Pujols cards.  I do not regret the whole Pujols thing, but I also feel bad that I missed out on some great Ichiro cards.  I have worked hard to find his cards over the years, but I am not a super-collector of his or anything close.  More of a distant admirer.

I have run into quite a few Ichiro collectors over the years and I actually have a cool card of his which is actually deemed "cool" by hardcore collectors of the Japanese superstar.  I picked up this card three years ago to finish off a set of All-Star patches given out by Topps at the All-Star Fan Festival in St Louis at the 2009 All-Star Game.

Here is my card:

Not the most expensive card, or the rarest, but just a neat card with a good story.  Not going to rehash the reasons why Ichiro has a card in the St. Louis All-Star game set in this post, but you can read more about it here.

On to ARod.

So much I could say here about ARod.  I was in high school when ARod's 1994 rookie cards came out and created one of those rookie card rushes.  I am now in my late 30s with a job, house, kids, and bills and ARod is still playing.  His career has spanned a significant amount of time I have been collecting cards and he has been an important and influential figure in the hobby almost the entire time.

Even now, his star has fallen and collectors still love his cards.  I have a bunch of favorites and will be writing about ARod more throughout the week, so I am going to go with a simple card that I picked up long ago....

Long ago these on card autographs were pretty expensive, but are much more affordable these days.  There are actually a ton of Alex Rodriguez cards from the late 90s and early 2000s that are a lot more affordable and easier to find than they were 15 years ago.  I have been working a little on ARod cards the last three years and wrote about it awhile ago.   

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Durham Bulls In Frames

I did not open any boxes of Allen & Ginter.  It's always one of my favorite products every year, but I have been busy with kids and work of late.  I am still going to work on putting together a bunch of the cards out of the set starting with a few autographs.  After checking out the checklist there are a few that I am really excited about picking up.  I decided to start with a pair of former Durham Bulls players to start out my dive into this year's Allen & Ginter product.

First up is last year's Minor League Pitcher of the Year Blake Snell.  This is a beautiful card:

I feel like the frame designs are starting to run together a bit with some of the Ginter sets, but this is a great look.  Topps could use the same frame every year and change out the mini card in the middle and I would still buy these cards.

Snell's cards seem to have come down a bit in terms of price and popularity.  This is one of the most inexpensive autographs of his that I have picked up this year and it was easy to find.  Not serial numbered or anything, but a great looking card.

Next up is infielder Richie Shaffer.

This is my second Shaffer autograph I have added the past two weeks.  He's not having the best year with the Bulls, also a little time with the Rays, but I am still a fan.  I am a little surprised at the number of autographs he has had this year considering he has spent most of the year in Triple A.  Love seeing his cards though and they are always easy on the wallet.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Two Keepers

This week was sort of an unplanned vacation away from blogging and baseball cards.  Monday's post about the Derek Jeter statue from the Durham Bulls was solid, but then my daughter decided to show up a few days earlier than scheduled.  Nothing got written this week.  

It was fun to take a little bit of time away from everything and spend some time with the little one.  This is our second child, and while she showed up a week early, this has not been as much stress and drama as my son who showed up a month early and spent considerable time in the NICU.  

I wrote a post last summer about my son's stay in the NICU and the baseball card that made the trip with me everyday to go see him in the hospital.  Here's a look at the Colby Rasmus autograph....

This week I did the same thing for my daughter.  Fortunately, the trips back and forth to the hospital only last for a few days and there was no NICU stay involved this time.  She was born Wednesday, so I took the lone envelope out of the mailbox that day and stuck it in my car.  

What was in it?  It's pretty sweet.  

I picked this up really cheap a few weeks back and I guess it spent a little bit of time making its trek to my mailbox.  Colome is a former Durham Bulls player and current closer for the Rays.  I picked up a few Strata cards last year, but none of the big patch piece cards.  I like the patch piece on this card, but there are some really nice ones out there.  Probably why this card was way cheap.  Or, maybe it's the fact that the Rays are not very good and not many people know Alex Colome.  

The back of the card.....

has the standard Congratulations blurb.  I was actually wondering where the little round silver authentication sticker was that Topps supposedly put on the cards in this set.  My Stephen Souza card had one.  Sigh.  

Looks like I can file this Alex Colome card away into the keeper box.  I am sure that my daughter will be thrilled to know that she has a baseball card in my collection in a few years.  I can picture her expression.....