Trading with $30 a Week Habit

27 03 2012

One thing that always amazes me in the speed in which some bloggers finish off the sets they collect.

Already in the last month I’ve seen two or three posts about the completion of 2012 Topps Series 1 and one or two more regarding the completion of  some of the insert sets as well.  Meanwhile I’m still trying to track down the final three cards for my 2007 Topps set.

Seriously.  Go ahead and look.  Click on the link above that says “Baseball wants 1980-now” (hint, nudge, plug).  You’ll see that I’m also three cards from completing my 2009 set, two cards from completing the 2010 set,  and about fifty cards short of declaring my  2011 set complete.  And as of now I’m about eighty cards short of completing this years release.

I’m sure some bloggers just have bought more cards than I have.  And that’s fine.  I will say that I’m not one to purchase singles to complete sets unless I’m getting a super good deal.  $1 for a 1990 Score Ken Griffey Jr?  No thanks.  That’s like 1/7th the value of the set.  I’ll just keep holding out for a trade instead.

So when I see someone who has wantlists for sets that I collect, too, I’m eager to get a trade completed.  So when I saw that  $30 A Week Habit was collecting (I believe he’s since completed) the 2012 Topps set, I was quick to email him.  Our trade was done in a matter of days.

This by far is the best card he sent:

It’s one of my new favorites.  Sorry J.P. Arencibia, but your place on the top ten list seemed tenuous at best.  I’d slot Cabrera in at #5, and knock everyone else down accordingly.

I’m sorry I don’t have the thousand words to devote to this one right now, but it is a pretty awesome shot that you don’t see very often on cardboard.  And it’s perfectly oriented to boot.

Unlike this disaster of a Chris Iannetta card.  I realized while looking at this one that it’s the first time the phrase “worst card” popped into my mind.  After almost two hundred cards, I take that as a sign of how good the photography in this set actually is.  I’m telling you that years from now we will use the word “underrated” when talking about 2012 Topps.

Either make this a horizontal card, use that airbrush to clear out that Phillie in the foreground, or find a new shot of Iannetta altogether.  Bleah.

I’m not going to show any of the 2011 Topps he sent, because it was mostly standard baseball card shots that I needed.  But I will show one of the handful of Kimball Champion minis he sent, because how awesome is Castro’s pose on the bottom of that one?  I’m pretty sure that he’s in mid Kalinka there, which is part of the Cubs new strategy of winning through distraction.  And should I note the irony of the guy who committed twenty-seven errors and sported a .950 fielding percentage in 2010 being called a “champion base ball fielder” in 2011?

At some point I’ll have to add the Updates and Highlights portions of the Kimball set to my list as well, but I’m still not sure whether I’m going to collect the set as well, so that’s on hold for now.

And if I see you are collecting the 2012 Topps set, I’ll probably be in touch with you as well.  Or you can contact me now and then you won’t have to wait.  I’m totally cool with that, too.


Obligatory Heritage Post

20 03 2012

I’ve never understood the hobby’s fascination with Topps Heritage.

There, I’ve said it.

While much of the blogging and hobby world seems to swoon when the first of the Heritage packs hit retail shelves and hobby stores across the country, I grab a handful of packs or a blaster and wait for the greatness to wash over me.  But it never does.

Because seriously, that is one boring card.  And to me if feels like I see that pose – sometimes closer, sometimes at a different angle, but always the same pose three hundred-fifty times in the set.   Leafing through a stack of these is like watching someone sleep.  It is the baseball card equivalent of Andy’s Worhol’s “Empire.

Look, there’s Johnny Cueto looking like Scott Baker, only without his glove hand in the picture.  And these are almost dynamic compared with the portrait shots that dominate the set.  I understand that this was what baseball cards looked like in 1963, but looking at these in person does not make me think Topps did a great job.  Sure they did a nice job with the design, but they need to find a filter for those photos to make them feel more authentic instead of just washed out.

I guess the problem could be me.  Maybe I haven’t spent enough time truly appreciating the original design.  I admit I don’t pull down my box of ’63 Topps very often these days since I’ve put most of the vintage sets on hold.  Perhaps I just can’t reconcile the image of a modern player on a card from fifty years ago.  Or maybe I should have immersed myself in the culture of 1963 before opening the blaster that I bought.  You know,  fired up some Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs or Bobby Vinton on the hi-fi, watched some old Lassie or Patty Duke episodes on the old black and white, or cracked open a six-pack of Tab.  Because what isn’t better with Tab?

Despite my disdain for the set itself, I did enjoy pulling one of these:

Case hits from a blaster are always awesome, especially when they are of a hot young rookie.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Montero was still in New York.  It’s no longer in my possession, though.  I’ve learned from reading message boards over the years that being one of the first to sell on eBay can improve your profit margin.  So far, it seems like the right call.

That leaves me with a number of base cards and a handful of inserts that I will be happy to trade away.

Now, I haven’t given up hope for Heritage quite yet.  I’m actually looking  forward to Topps efforts to recreate those awkward action shots that began to appear in the 1972 and 1973 sets.  If they can do that well, then maybe ten years from now I’ll be a full-fledged fan.  Until then I’ll keep scratching my head.

2012 Topps Top Ten (so far), Pt 2

16 03 2012

I know you are dying to see the rest, so without further ado…

#5 – John Jaso

Why this card?  I’m not sure what it is about this card that draws me.  I’ve spent the last few hours staring at it off and on looking for inspiration, and while I like it every time I look at it, it’s hard for me to tell you why.  I imagine plays like this are instinctual for catchers, though, ’cause Jaso’s up with the mask off and almost fielding the ball before Jeter (I think) is even out of the batter’s box.

Do I have a bias? Apparently for catchers, since this is the third card that features one on the list.

What 80′s set could this card fit in:  1983 Topps

#4 – Casey McGehee

Why this card?  I’m a sucker for mixed shading.  When I was a kid I would stand at the top of our hill in sunlight and marvel at the fact that the bottom of the street would be shaded by clouds, and there’s some of that feeling here.  Of course, this is an artificial shade and less inspiring than my youthful experiences, but it still brings me that memory.  So don’t ruin it with your logic.   That stupid white hat is doing enough ruining already.

And how did I not mention the action?

Do I have a bias?  Against the Brewers, maybe.  But McGehee’s not as obnoxious as some of his Brew-crew teammates, which may have led me to over look them and like this card more.

What 80′s set could this card fit in:  1989 Topps Big

#3 – Jacoby Ellsbury

Why this card?  It’s a play at the plate!  And he looks safe.  It’d be better if Ellsbury’s crotch weren’t the center of the card, or if you could see some eyeballs.  On the flip side, that flying catcher’s mask is hard to ignore, and whoever the catcher is looks like he’s analyzing the line between plate and dirt very closely to see if Jacoby is scoring that run.  Knowing how things went for the Red Sox last year, I’m changing my verdict to out.

Do I have a bias?  Nope.

What 80′s set could this card fit in:  1983 Donruss Postcards

#2 – Matt Holiday

Why this card?  I love the 80’s feel of this one.  In a set filled with action shots, images like these tend to stand out a little more than usual, especially when the lighting belies another era when I was able to overlook the financial factors of the hobby and just enjoy the cards.

Do I have a bias? Yes, against the Cardinals.  I hate to say this, but they may have the best looking cards in the set this year.

What 80′s set could this card fit in: This card was made for 1987 Topps Team Leaders subset.

#1 – Jay Bruce

Why this card?  What else could it be?  Those of you who were thinking of me when you were opening your 2012 boxes (how sweet!) must have known when you saw this that it would be one of my favorites of the bunch.  After all, Jay Bruce walk-offs are pretty sweet.  Hopefully we’ll see a lot of these celebrations this year.

Do I have a bias? Absolutely.

What 80′s set could this card fit in: 1986 Fleer SuperStar Special subset.

I’m interested in hearing your favorites in the comments below.

2012 Topps Top Ten (so far)

14 03 2012

Okay, so it’s probably a bit early for this one since I’m still a Disney set of  dalmatians away from completion. So while I feel pretty good about my #1 and think my #2 will stay in the top three, it’s possible that by the time I finish this set my top ten will be completely different.  But, as wise people are known to say, you cannot worry about the future and let it stop you from doing things today.   Or something like that.

So, if it makes you feel better, we’ll call this the first group of nominees for the 2012 Topps base set hall of fame.  How’s that?

#10 – J.P. Arencibia

Why this card?  Not only is this a great action shot, but it’s also an easy to remember visual for remembering  dominance of the Blue Jay over the Oriole in the animal kingdom.  You’ll thank me when you study that in science class.

Do I have a bias?   I hate to admit it, but I’ve wanted this guy in my fantasy keeper league since last year.  His current owner is obsessed with one Joey Votto, which means a deal will probably never happen.  Instead, I’ll gaze longingly at this card and dream what might have been.

What 80’s set could this card fit in:  1988 Score

#9 –  Alcides Escobar

Why this card?  I absolutely love the color contrast on this card, and that blue is simply fantastic.   This should become the standard for the color “Royal Blue.”  Crayola should release a box of 64 crayons that are just this color blue.  The sky should be dyed to match this color blue.  All other blues should be outlawed.

Do I have a bias?  Again, fantasy baseball comes into play.  He’s been my backup SS since he entered the league, and is the reason I chose to hang onto Todd Frazier instead of Zack Cozart.  That may end up being a mistake,   but even without that connection, it’s still a brilliant photo.  That and I love blue.

What 80’s set could this card fit in: 1989 Upper Deck

#8 – Rick Porcello

Why this card?  Hey kids, ever want to see how to hold what I assume is a circle change?  Rick Porcello has you covered!  Sometimes it is the little things like this that makes a card standout for me.

Do I have a bias?  None that I can think of.

What 80’s set could this card fit in: 1984 Fleer

#7 – Michael McKenry

Why this card?  It’s the Black Swan of baseball cards. And he’s got a name (Michael McKenry) that’s made for 80’s pop music. Yet this is only my seventh favorite card.  How is that possible?

Do I have a bias?  I think after years of failure, it’s hard not to feel bad for the Pirates on some level, even if they are in the same division as the Reds .  It’s not like they are challenging them for anything…  yet.

What 80’s set could this card fit in:  None, but I think it’d look good on a ’84 Topps design.

#6 – Jhoulys Chacin

Why this card?  I’ve seen mixed opinions about cards like this.  I’ve seen people complain that if the focus of the card is Jhoulys Chacin, that he shouldn’t be stuck in the background like that.  That 2/3rds of his card shouldn’t be taken up by a nameless Padre (I think).

I’m on team  depth  here.  I like the layers of action that are present and my eyes still know to focus on Chacin (thanks, golden spiral!).  Sure, I’d like to see Chacin a little larger on the card and it’s one reason this card falls down to #6 on the list.

Do I have a bias?  Not that I can think of.  I have a friend who is a big Denver area sports fan, and while I really don’t like the Avalanche (I even rooted for the <gasp> Red Wings to beat them in the playoffs one year), I have no real qualms against the Rockies.

What 80’s set could this card fit in:  1982 Topps In Action

Five more to come later this week.

First thoughts on 2012 Topps Finest

10 03 2012

I like it when Topps (or anyone for that matter) designs a set that looks so bad I feel no desire at all to put it together.

Here’s the base card design of that hot rookie, Troy Tulowitzkilss.  I’m sure the RC logo is just an oversight and will be removed before printing.  The choice to put the player name and position together like that with only a vertical line to separate them is a bad one, though.  Even just a bold dot would be better.

Looking over the inserts, it’s what I would expect from Finest.  There are some die cut inserts that are okay looking, and I suppose it’s just a matter of time before we see a full die cut release from Topps if we haven’t already.

From Brett Pill to The Jam

7 03 2012

I almost included this guy in my “more firsts” posts, but I didn’t want to alienate any Dodger fans with three Giants in a row.  And I thought it was a bit of a stretch to get from this card to where I wanted to go in just a sentence or two.

That’s Brett Pill there, for those who aren’t familiar with his face.  My scanner doesn’t like the combination of silver foil on a black background.  I’m sure I can tweak that somehow, but I also enjoy challenging your knowledge of baseball players names, so I’m probably going to leave it alone.

Anyhow, he was going to be the “First Bad Pun Card” in that post, with the line “this card was hard to swallow,” a somewhat obvious reference I suppose to the phrase “the bitterest pill.”  Clever, I know.

I cannot think of that phrase without hearing this song in my head:

Sadly, that’s not the actual video, but it’s all I can find on YouTube for now.  It’s the perfect midpoint between the Jam’s earlier work and what would be Paul Weller’s next band, The Style Council.

While watching that video, I realized my knowledge of the Jam is limited to their more well-known songs, including “That’s Entertainment” and “This is the Modern World.”  Outside the EP and the songs I would hear on the local alternative station, I never gave much of a chance to the rest of their work.  One later, I was immersed in their six CD box set  Direction, Reaction, Creation.  Holy cow, they’re good.  What in the heck took me so long?

So now, thanks to Topps and Brett Pill,  I’m now a much bigger fan of the Jam, and toying with the idea of getting that box set sometime soon.

All of this gives me yet another reason to appreciate the 2012 Topps release.

Or is that leap too hard to swallow?

That 1981 Topps Brett card I mentioned

4 03 2012

I didn’t mean to publish that last post without scanning this card and putting it in the appropriate place.  Then I hit publish anyway by mistake.  Oh well.  I contemplated editing it into the post after the fact and letting it go, but then I realized the appropriate place for this card is its own post since it’s awesome on its own.

My memory of this card was just a touch different then the reality you see above.  In my mind I’d rewound the swing and made the bat more parallel to the ground.  And I’d totally forgotten about the dugout in the lower third of the card, choosing instead to change the viewing angle to include more of the Royal Stadium faithful.

My mistake about the swing would be a definite improvement I think, but I’ve spoken with my mind about the second change it made.  The players watching Brett’s swing adds some depth, and it appears this photo was taken the moment before anyone could react to Brett’s contact since their focus remains on the hitter and the plate.  Unless Brett actually swung and missed.

And I’d like to think that he did.

Looking at older cards and seeing something new is one of the joys of the hobby.  It’s the reason that a lot of collectors keep cards in binders as opposed to the long boxes that I choose to use.  It’s much easier to pull a book off the shelf and look through it then it is to pull out a stack of cards and do the same, especially if you are concerned about damage.  So even though this is one of my favorites from the 1981 Topps release, it’s been years since I’d actually held this card in my hands.

So why do I want to think that Brett came up empty here?  Well, for the first time today I noticed that, extending from Rick Cerone’s catcher gloved hand on the right there is a white puffy line, akin to a smoke trail.  And the six-year-old kid in me did backflips thinking that that’s exactly what it was – a pitch blown by Brett and moving so fast it singed the air as it went by.  I realize those are more than likely towels on the top shelf of the dugout, but the collector in me prefers the six-year old’s version over the more likely reality.

Oh, and any card that features the phrase “sweep Yankees” is going to be a winner in my book.

And if 2012 Topps is going to make me explore my collection more, then I like it even more than I already do.