Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Don't Want To Grow Up. I'm a Toys 'R Us Kid.

Yesterday it was reported that Toys 'R Us has filed for bankruptcy. According to this article over 1,600 stores will remain open, but with crippling debt and the decline of brick-and-mortar retailers it feels inevitable that Toys 'R Us stores will soon become extinct. 

I don't often have an opinion on corporate bankruptcies, but TRU was such an essential part of my youth that if it does go under I'll miss it a heck of a lot more than Bradlees or Blockbuster Video. I've bought (or been gifted) countless action figures, video games and accessories from their stores.. and even some baseball cards, like these oversized Master Photo cards from 1993:

I don't remember much about these, other than a faint recollection of a corresponding regular-sized card set that is long gone from my collection. I'm not sure how (or why) I managed to hold on to these Master Photos, or if this is the complete set (I doubt it) but it's a good mix of Hall of Famers:

Borderline Hall of Famers:

And All-Stars of the 90's. I scanned the back of one next to this Baerga card, so you can see that there's nothing to see on the back of these. 


There's also a few "Young Stars" that never made much of an impact:


Some of the corners on these are pretty dinged up. I haven't handled them all that much but I have moved them around a few times since bringing these back from my childhood home in Connecticut. 

I do have a handful of appropriately sized binder pages, but they're being used by all my box topper cards, so I've had to store them in a graded card box with some other oddballs - like my collection of 1964 Topps Giants cards, and these:

I have three others, but these are my favorites. How cool is that Hull?

Do you have any oddball sets from retailers like Toys 'R Us, K-Mart, Bradlees, etc.?



Monday, September 18, 2017

Season Ending Retail Break - 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers (and some hockey)

Y'all remember my five-box break of 2017 Topps Heritage? I spent about $300 on those five boxes but considering what I pulled (and how much fun I had) I'd say it was worth it. I still haven't finished the entire set - I need 25 of the 100 SP's - but I knew I'd have to set some money aside for High Numbers.

However, when I searched pre-sale prices at my favorite online retailers I found that many of them didn't have any in stock, and those that did were charging $90 for a single hobby box. I wasn't willing to pay more than the $65 that a "low number" box cost, so I had to go the retail route. 

As soon as I got word through the blogosphere that High Numbers hit stores, I made a trip to my LCS (Target) and grabbed a little bit of everything:

I also bought a fat pack of 2017-18 O-Pee-Chee hockey because I like to sample the season's first issues, and I usually prefer it to MVP.

But this year... blecch! I liked last year’s design a lot better. When I opened the pack I saw a shiny sticking out...

...figures it was a checklist. At least I got one Devil. Domi is a guy I kind of collect, and Mitch Marner is better than I thought (I guess he was overshadowed by Auston Matthews.)

My favorite card in the pack is definitely the Jagr playing card insert. As Shoebox Shane said, someone sign him! The fact that the scoring-starved Devils signed Drew Stafford (21 points last season) instead of Jagr (46 points) boggles my mind. Even if he can only manage half that total, the experience he'd bring would be invaluable for Jersey's young forwards like Pavel Zacha and Nico Hischier.

I was hoping to pull a RC of Charlie McAvoy – who I will be collecting because McAvoy is my wife’s maiden name – but instead I got White and Keller. Can't complain with those two.

Now back to baseball, and the Heritage High numbers. My first thought when opening these is that the black wrappers are much cooler than the yellow packs from the main series:

The second thing I noticed is that there were no "Rediscover Topps" buybacks included. Bummer.

I have to admit I didn't study the checklist before opening the packs, and so I assumed there were only 25 SPs in the high numbered portion of the set, numbered 726-750. I was half-right. There are 25 SP's, but the set "only" goes up to 725. I pulled four: 712, 715, 722, and 723. 

Here are the inserts, including the Target exclusive Topps Game rookies:

I got the "wrong" Dodger. Oh well, at least I pulled a Kris Bryant. The Thames and Schwarber cards are cool, too.

As for the base cards, I’m disappointed my guy Trevor Williams isn’t in this set. (Maybe 2018?) But I'm even more disappointed in the repeat packs I picked.

Of the 114 base cards in these packs, 42 of them were duplicates:

 And some were triplicates (is that even a word?)

Aanyone waant to taake these extraa A's off my haands?

Even though I'm planning to build a second (base only) set - as I did with the low numbers - I still have plenty of trade bait because... 

I bought the whole High Number base set from Just Commons. It cost me $25 and arrived the day after my retail break, but I still think it was money well spent, for one reason:

A couple hours after this set arrived I watched Bellinger tie an NL rookie record with his 38th home run. It's a good bet that he'll break that record and end the season with at least 40 bombs. It's an absolute lock that he'll win NL Rookie of the Year.

         And we all know who the AL's ROY will be.

This concludes my card buying for the 2017 baseball card season. I spent over $400 on Topps Heritage products, including the boxes/packs, base set, and SPs I purchased on COMC. It was a lot of money but it was also a lot of fun. I haven't bought this many cards in a single season since before my daughters were born. 

But now I've got to gear up for Black Friday. It's only two months away!

How much have you spent on baseball boxes/packs this season?


Friday, September 15, 2017

The State of the Sawx

It has been a rough year to be a Red Sox fan.

First there was the beanball war with Baltimore.

Then there was the David Price-Dennis Eckersley feud.

Then some moron(s?) shouted racial slurs at the Orioles' Adam Jones.

Then there was the sign stealing scandal. 

And now this:

Is this pro or con? And why would anyone bother to display such an ambiguous sign? I don't even know. All I know is that there are great stories all over baseball: the Indians, the D-backs, the Twins, the Mighty Giancarlo Stanton, the Judge, the Dodgers (until about a month ago)... but aside from a hot start by Chris Sale and a red-hot debut by Rafael Devers, every story about the Sox this year has been negative news. And we're in first place!

Not all of this bad karma has to do with the players. The Red Sox roster is deep and talented enough to win the division and maybe even a playoff series. But the bad mojo will negate that. Even if our lefty aces Sale and Price don't turn into pumpkins at the first sign of fall, the talent on other teams is better - and the mojo is much better.

Let's say the season ended today. The Red Sox would have to go to Houston for an ALDS series. The Astros are already the better team on paper, but the flood-ravaged city will rally around the team, and vice versa. It happened in Boston after those Russian asshats bombed the Boston Marathon. 

And even if the Sox somehow beat the 'Stros, they'd have to win a best-of-7 against the Cleveland Indians, who might never lose a game again

This... is not our year. And that's okay. I don't expect my team to win championships every year; I'm not a Yankees fan. Honestly, as long as we hold them off for the AL East crown and they don't advance any further than we do (which seems like a safe bet considering the Yanks would play Cleveland in the DS) I'm good. Just as long as the news from now on concerns the players and their performance on the field. 

Since this is supposed to be a sports card blog I thought I'd show off a few cards from a new PC project - Cleveland skipper Terry Francona (I wish that guy was managing my team)

I haven't been actively collecting Francona cards, but he nearly won a third World Series ring last year and the Indians appear to be even better this year. Three titles as a manager is basically a ticket to Cooperstown, so I figure now's the time to build my collection. It's pretty basic so far:

I just tossed a few more Titos into my latest Just Commons order, which should be here in the next week or two. And I've got a box break post on deck from today's visit to my LCS (aka Target.) But before I get to that, here are some Red Sox cards from my most recent 50/50 trade, with Julie of the blog A Cracked Bat.

 and a Hot Dog

Julie claimed two lots - Tigers and Astros - and sent me about 110 cards in return. (I'm still debating whether that earns her an extra entry in the contest.)

Unfortunately I was a bit hasty in sorting/seeding them into my binders and I forgot to scan them all. But here are some highlights:

 My apologies if any of these did not come from Julie.

I should have scanned them right away. But it was 110 cards!

 That time when Brock Holt was our only All-Star:

 Obscure player alert!

And we'll end with a celebration:

I hope we'll see more of this down the stretch. 

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

50/50 Trading Post Update and Great Trader Giveaway Announcement!

It has been one month since my 50/50 Trading Post, and I have been so grateful to those of you who chose to send cards of teams and players I collect, and for sending more than 50 cards. Every time I've received a return package I've been pleasantly surprised - and I often feel like I didn't send you enough. 

As I mentioned in subsequent posts, I offered to do a Great Trader Giveaway as an incentive to anyone who went the extra mile with their return - which was just about everyone! So I think it's time to share some details of the giveaway. 

I initially thought of establishing a point-based system which would reward card count, unique cards, speed of return, etc... but that seemed too complicated and unfair. I also considered including bloggers that have sent me cards outside of the 50/50 offer... but that also seemed unfair. So here's the deal: the giveaway will be random. One entry per trader. I'll spin you through the randomizer four times and the name at the top of the fourth list will be the winner.

There will be no prize for the last name on the list. Instead, I will run the randomizer four more times - without the name of the first winner but with the names of traders who did not participate in 50/50 (looking at you, Greg and Gavin!) The name of the trader who tops that list will be the winner of the second prize. 

This part is important...
To be eligible for either contest I must receive your return package by September 29. That's two weeks from Friday, folks. If you have not yet received cards from me please let me know. All of my 50/50 trade packages were mailed out a while ago. As of today, September 13, I have received 50/50 returns from:

Brian (Highly Subjective & Completely Arbitrary)
Paul (Card Boarded)

Brian (Captain Canuck)
Adam (Infield Fly Rule)

Jim (Garvey Cey Russell Lopes Cards As I See Them)

Douglas (Dollar Store Cards...i think?)
Julie (A Cracked Bat)

If you're listed above, that means you're eligible for the First Prize. 

These aren't the only bloggers who have sent me cards over the past month. I've made smaller trades and/or received surprise gifts from:

Wes (Willinghammer Rising)
Gavin (Baseball Card Breakdown)
Greg (The Collective Mind)
Dennis (Too Many Verlanders/Manninghams)

I'm also throwing Corky (Pack War) into this pool because he's working on another custom card project for me. And Tony (Wrigley Roster Jenga), I'll be happy to slot you in here as well. Everyone listed above is eligible for the Second Prize (except the winner of the first prize.)

What are the prizes? 

I won't reveal that yet, but I'll tell you this: the First Prize is a box of cards with a guaranteed hit. The Second Prize... could be the exact same thing. Or it could be a hanger box of new product. Or it could be a PWE with a relic and/or auto. Not sure yet. But the First Prize is set in stone. 

So.. if I haven't received a return from you yet, please try to send your end of the 50/50 swap in time for the 29th.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!


Monday, September 11, 2017

A pack of Packers for a single Seahawk

A short time ago, Greg at The Collective Mind wrote about his experience at the National, where he was handed some free football cards from some young dudes. I inquired about the Packers cards in his haul, and we worked out a trade for a card he needed - this Russell Wilson 2012 Topps RC:

(not my card, I didn't scan it before sending to GCA)

I added a few set fillers to the Wilson, and Greg added an extra stack of Packers for a total of 39. Here they are:


Lots of Clay Matthews here. I like the colors of '16 Donruss.

How cool is that Cobb Platinum?

Majik man! He was GB's QB when I first started following football

The Favre cards caught my eye immediately.

I don't actively buy Packers cards anymore (other than an occasional Brett Favre) and I have very few from the past few years. This trade not only helped my card collection but it may have also helped my favorite team; Green Bay held Wilson and the Seahawks to just 225 yards of offense and no TD's in a 17-9 Week 1 win. Yeah the refs may have helped, but I'm still mad about that Monday Night Football debacle a few years back. They owe us one.

Greg, thanks for the trade! I hope I can cross another card off your wantlist in the future.


Friday, September 8, 2017

A 50/50 trade that Rocks my Sox

I received three trade packages this week: the first one arrived Tuesday, courtesy of Adam of the blog Infield Fly Rule. Adam claimed my Colorado Rockies lot and sent me 51 cards in return - most of which were Rockies, like current Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz:

After flipping through these cards a second time I realized something... nearly all of these Rockies were Red Sox at some point in their careers. Here's a bunch of Ellis Burks:

Burks started and ended his career in bean town.

All of these guys were Red Sox - except Albert Belle:

Dante Bichette finished his career with two seasons in Boston. 

I had a decent Dante collection back in his Blake Street Bomber days. 

Adam did include some cards of players who didn't suit up for the Sawx:

The CarGo insert stands out here, I seem to end up with a lot of his cards.

Thanks again for the trade, Adam! Here's hoping both our teams can hold on to their playoff positions. Perhaps they'll meet up for a 10 year reunion in the World Series ;)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Buying Back My Childhood - 1988 Panini Baseball Stickers

1988 was a golden year for baseball cards and memorabilia; not only was Topps (over)producing all kinds of products (including baseball card folders!) but this was the first year of Starting Lineup figurines.. which I was addicted to as much as - if not more than - trading cards. 

1988 was also the first year of Panini sticker albums. Topps had been producing similar products years prior to Panini's release, but if they were in stores I never noticed them. Panini's stickers were as much a part of my childhood as Topps cards and Garbage Pail Kids. And so I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood and buy a box of stickers.

Unfortunately a sealed box would set me back about $50 and so I bought this lot of loose stickers instead. I could not tell what % of the set was in this lot, or how many dupes I'd receive - but for $5.40 I took a gamble. 

Of course, once I added that to my eBay bDay purchase, I also needed an album:

As you can see, it's a little wider than my 8.5 x 11.5 scanner. I thought I'd scan a couple of the pages and a handful of the stickers before I stick 'em in the album.

 Here's the inside front cover. This is how we got our stats 30 years ago:

Some teams had more stolen bases than home runs; the Cardinals had more than twice as many. And look at how many complete games the '87 Red Sox and Royals had.

There's an explanation insert on the opposite page:

Here's a sample team page. They all look the same, no logos or team colors (the stickers provide that):

 I only got a few Sox in the box:

In the middle of the book there is a complete stat sheet for every player on every team in 1987. The next page has the '87 All-Stars, but it's covered by this:

 This is where you would affix these small, circular logos:

As for the mini-pennants, they have a place at the back of the book:

The inside back cover gives you tips on how to complete your sticker album. You could even trade dupes with Panini (Try doing that with Topps!)

I only got a handful of dupes in the box I bought. However, I didn't realize there were nearly 500 stickers in the set. Not sure if I'll be able to fill the album, but I'm going to try.

Here are some of the more interesting player stickers, including Hall of Famers:

 Superstars of the 80's:

And some others I thought were interesting - like Lance McCullers (Sr), a baby-faced John Kruk, and the only hatless player in the box Jerry Mumphrey:

The foil stickers were always my favorite as a kid (especially the logos):

I didn't scan the action photos because they are split in half and I didn't have any complete pictures.

Did you collect Panini sticker albums (or any other sticker albums?)