Sunday, September 5, 2021

500th and Final... For Now

This is going to be a long post in which I recap the remaining cards from my COMC order, squeeze in a set build, and look back at the previous 499 posts here at The Collector. On the plus side you won't have to read anything else from me for quite a while. (Notice I didn't say Never. I'll get to that...)

I discovered COMC in November 2013, while searching for some rare Peter Worrell parallels (that also led me to start shopping at Sportlots) Aside from the two Worrell cards I picked up hockey set fillers and some Bowman prospects. However I soon discovered that COMC had tons of great looking vintage singles available. Almost every order I placed after 2013 contained at least one card released prior to 1970.

This 1950 Bowman Sheldon Jones card was in my last order. I was very excited to see it in person. Even though COMC scans both sides it's still a bit of a risk buying ungraded vintage online. You never know what hidden flaw you may have missed on screen. However this card looks fantastic. Here's the back:

Not bad for $4.65 I'd say. This was the third-most expensive card in my April order. Coming in at number two is this Jonathan Toews 2015-16 Black Diamond Exquisite single, numbered to 149:

This 30-card set was assembled almost entirely on COMC, with two or three exceptions purchased on eBay. Every team has one base card numbered to 149. I've spent about $100 on the cards (JT here cost $5.54) and another $20 or so on the extra thick top loaders, but it's been a fun project - and it's almost complete:

The only one I'm missing is #29 Alex Ovechkin. COMC has two copies available, but I won't be placing an order with them just for that one card (unless I can't find it anywhere else.)

My box of thick cards and relics is stuffed, but I made room for one more Immaculate Numbers acetate single. Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks is the latest addition to my collection, at a reasonable price of $12:

I now have 13 of the 100 jersey/patch cards from the 2015 set. Some of them were purchased on eBay (including Jonathan Stewart and Andy Dalton) As with the Exquisite hockey singles, this was out of necessity. COMC's prices are more reasonable, but eBay won't make you wait four months to get your cards!

That wraps up my COMC order, but before I sign off I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some highlights from the five years I've posted at The Collector. You probably missed my first entry here in August of 2016 so here it is:

Under 100 words, ha! Who was I kidding?

Less than a month later I published Buying Back My Childhood: Starting Lineup This was my fifth post ever on this blog, and it remains my most viewed ever by far. On average I'd say my posts get 80-100 views, with 200+ being the high end. This one has 1,358 views!

I'm so grateful to everyone who comments on my blog, especially those who comment on nearly every post. On average, each of my regular-length posts receive 6 to 10 comments, with 15 to 20 being the high end. Four of my posts have received 30-plus comments, though that includes my replies to each. The top two of those posts were giveaways, including my most commented post ever. In third place: a post about collecting players who share your birthday.

Fourth on the list, with 30 comments (including mine) is the Celebrity Crush Championship. Since I probably won't write another post here in 2021 I'll name this year's winner now: Elizabeth Olsen.

I'm planning to publish a box break on The 1993 tomorrow, but then I'm going to take some time away from the blogs. My kids are growing up much too fast so I want to spend more time with them, as well as call my mom more often. I definitely want to get outside and exercise some more while the weather is still warm. There's also a pile of books on my shelf that are waiting to be read, and I really should continue looking for a better (paying) job. One without you-know-who.

I did say I was "retiring" from the hobby, and I will try to stick to that. It's going to take some time for me to move out my duplicates and fill my unfinished sets so I'll be active on TCDB from now until New Year's. If you haven't added me to your friends list I'm hockeydude.

However it occurred to me that I never showed off my (nearly) completed All-Time Teams collection. I might do that in 2022 -- and/or a weekly Sports Card Tour update since you all enjoyed that series. So don't unfollow The Collector just yet!

I'll pop in and comment on your blogs from time to time. Until then, thank you all for reading and following me here at The Collector and The 1993. I appreciate all of the discussions, comments, and trades. You've made my hobbies - card collecting and writing - a lot more enjoyable. Thank you!


Friday, September 3, 2021

Feeling Blue

There are a lot of things going on in the world, in our country, and in my life that absolutely suck. 

My mom was scheduled for major surgery in August but it was delayed due to the first of two hurricanes to hit the northeast in the past 16 days or so. The one that hit us Wednesday dumped enough rain to flood our basement and our front window. It just so happens that I work for a mitigation company - but I knew firsthand that our crew would be booked for days. Luckily we were able to dry it out ourselves.

The day before, I went to the dentist for the first time in.. I dunno, ten years? We've been barely scraping by until this year. Stimulus checks + selling sports cards + brother-in-law making bank after his company went public and sharing the profits = finally enough money to see a damn dentist. And I'll need all of it if I want to avoid looking like a pro hockey player.

Home life isn't great. I won't get too personal but I'm definitely going through a mid-life crisis, feeling lonely and already pre-grieving my mother - who isn't in any immediate danger of dying, she's just in a lot of pain. 

My marriage isn't what it should be. It's not bad, it's just.. well, my wife has described us as "friends who had kids" and sometimes I don't even feel like she likes me all that much. All of this makes it much harder to go to work and make small talk with OG. I like my job, I love my manager, and most of my co-workers are awesome. But I often come home feeling forlorn.

Anyway.. you might read all of this and assume I am depressed. Not exactly. It comes and goes, but at the moment I feel good. I'm going to see my family tomorrow and some of my favorite seasons are about to start - fall and football.

My manager G and the aforementioned young lady I work with have been busting tail all week in and out of the office. They're both in the office longer than I am, they both have kids, and they're both on call after hours. That can be very exhausting, especially during a disaster.

I decided to grab some bagels this morning to show my appreciation for G and OG. They both said that this was something the bosses should have done (but of course they didn't.) I also mentioned that my mom had asked me to take some pictures of everyone in the office so she can put faces to the names in all of my stories. My four favorite people obliged, including miss Office Girl. However m'lady said she feels awkward about having her picture taken (even though her manager has done so) so I promised it was just for mom - at which point my man Keith chimed in "You gotta respect the mom."

I wanted to jump up and shout "You feel awkward about having your picture taken? I mean if you feel awkward about me taking your photo, fine. But you're the most photogenic person in this office!"

Anyway, those bearded QBs you see above are among the handful of blue parallels I acquired in my latest (and last?) COMC order. Color-matching parallels have always appealed to me - but blue cards in particular really make me smile.

I prefer Panini Prizm parallels and both Fitz and Fouts were cheaper than these Press Proof parallels of Houston legends. But I must have been in a blue mood when I added these to the COMC cart.

Have you ever noticed how many songs have the word "Blue" in the title? There are at least three that I have on my playlist - and none of them make me sad. In fact they make me want to dance. My all-time favorite is New Order's "Blue Monday"

I still have this cassingle in my closet.

My high school best friend used to sing(or shout) "I see a shit in the harbor" whenever this song came on. That always made me laugh.

Here's another "blue" song that cheers me up whenever I hear it:

My current favorite is the song that converted me from a skeptic to a follower of Chvrches:

That beat drop is strikingly similar to Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" And I just can't get enough blue parallels. Terrible segue, I know. I'm really bad at this. I should just stop.

I've tried to acquire a Steven Stamkos Blue Prizm parallel but they're always just out of reach. I settled for a Phil Kessel instead. The Credential card you see here isn't a blue parallel, it's something called a "Mandelbrot Fractal" - whatever that is. These Dazzlers aren't exactly blue, either:

But thanks to ePack they were cheap. These two Avalanche stars plus the Stamkos above totaled 91 cents (Stammer's jersey number) Here are some other cheap hockey cards I picked up at COMC:

Wait a second... these are all red. Blue might be my favorite color but a lot of my favorite teams wear red.

One more...

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

What if I don't want to complete the set?

One aspect of card collecting that I still enjoy is the thrill of filling a set. Player collecting, and especially team collecting, can feel infinite. There are often hard to find singles out there for even the most obscure players, making a complete collection nearly impossible.

Sets are finite. Sets are fun. The Trading Card Database makes tracking set progress very easy, and I've definitely become more of a set collector as a result. I've even finished off a handful of insert sets I wouldn't have pursued without TCDB.

Once a set build crosses that 50% meter it becomes very difficult for me to abandon ship. There are outliers, of course.

I've mentioned that I'm one card away from completing 2016 Donruss Football - and that one card is Dak Prescott's Rated Rookie card. Spending $25 (or more) for a non-numbered RC of a Dallas Cowboys quarterback is not my idea of fun. Neither is spending $50 (or more) for a Carey Price rookie card to complete the 2007-08 Black Diamond hockey set. I've gone this long without it, what's the rush?

Both these sets are over 99% complete. The only other "so close" set in my collection is 2013 Topps baseball.

I currently have 654 of the 660 cards in the 2013 Topps set, good for 99.1% completion. Three more singles are on the way via trades, though one is an upgrade. Once received I will need four cards: Mike Trout, Mike Trout, Mike Trout, and Manny Machado's rookie card.

If I had started this set build three years ago, the Trout singles wouldn't have been an issue. I probably could have crossed them off my list for $10 total instead of $10 each, which is what they'd cost me now.

A user I've traded with on TCDB had one of the three available for trade. I asked about it and got this reply:

My 2013 Trout has been in a top load since out of the pack. I doubt we could come up with anything for that. The things I would consider would be...The 1972 Aaron..
Obviously the Aaron would be an even trade if yours is not in Mint condition.

Technically my '72 Aaron is not in "mint" condition.. but I still can't imagine a market where this equals this:

And now you know why I'm about ready to retire.

As for this jerk .. forgive me for not rushing to pay $5-10 for a rookie card of the guy who ended my favorite player's career.

Moving on from sets I don't want to complete to a set that can't be completed... the primary reason I bothered to place an order at COMC in 20021 was to fortify my All-Time Teams frankenset. COMC was the one place where I could view the exact scan of the card, which was crucial for purchasing vintage singles of middle relievers from the 1950s:

There are only 23 Marv Grissom cards to choose from, and this was pretty much the only standard-sized option (aside from the bland '58 Topps issue) I'd be happy paying $2.10 for any '57 Topps single in this shape. Elston is a high number and cost just $1.57 - which had me worried that there was some flaw I couldn't see in the scan. If there is a crease or scratch line on this card I still can't see it.

This might be the only non-playing card of a player in my All-Time Teams collection. That is, Hughie Jennings is clearly well past his playing days in this photo - yet I'm adding it to my Barnstormers page because he's not doing that derpy "Ee-yah!" dance for once.

I added two Frankie Frisch Cardinals cards to my COMC cart because I couldn't decide which one I liked better. What do you think: Licensed McDonald's oddball, or unlicensed serial-numbered Crystal parallel?

Some cheap upgrades here - except for the Cy Young card which wasn't as cheap ($1.50) and the Tyler Clippard card which arrived in a TCDB trade. I also traded for this card of Angela Stadium:

The American League binder is now complete. The National League binder is missing a pair of players.

New York Giants shortstop George Davis has 49 cards. More than half of them are 100-plus years old. The only attainable singles are: postcard, wrong team, and wrong George Davis. And then there's Reds pitcher Noodles Hahn. The first time I checked, Noodles had three or four cards. He now has eleven, but this playing card is the only modern item that would work for my frankenset.

Wait a sec... Noodles has a bobblehead?!? They couldn't have included a card inside this box?? Sigh..

Two more to go...

Thanks for reading!


Monday, August 30, 2021

The Final Four - COMC Comes Through

With all of the recent changes in the sports card industry (and my dwindling interest in baseball) it seems like a good time for me to announce my retirement from baseball card collecting and blogging at the ripe old age of 41. I'm not going to stop collecting cards forever but I do plan to complete as many card sets as I can by the end of 2021 and then I'll stop actively buying trading cards. I might continue passively collecting - but the days of spending multiple hours per day on this "hobby" are coming to an end. 

I've published 496 posts here at The Collector so I'll squeeze out four more and stop at 500. I've also got one more post planned at The 1993 which will be my 45th published post at my sister blog I'm ashamed of myself for not even getting close to 93 posts. After that I'm probably going to wrap it up. 

Again, if the mood strikes I might post a little more here and there. But it wouldn't be about cards - and I doubt anyone wants to read random musings about my everyday life, like how my co-worker has had several "dentist appointments" this month which are secretly job interviews and only a couple of people in the office know this. And tomorrow I have an actual dentist appointment - which I have to leave early for. Can't wait to tell 'em why.

Also I've been listening to a lot of Chvrches lately and I'm really bummed because they are playing a show in my hometown of New Haven!! Good bands never come to New Haven anymore!! And tickets are only $40 or so. Problem is, the show is on a Thursday. In December. :/

While I'm on the subject I've been having this dream of hearing them play "Death Stranding" outdoors at like 4 in the morning, and Office Girl is with me and we're like Nick and Norah at the Where's Fluffy? show and it just feels like bliss. I bought two Chvrches CDs this summer and "Death Stranding" isn't on either of them and this is a huge oversight on my part. I must download this song immediately.

See, I'm much more interested in discussing music, but every time I do I get the same "that band/artist/song sucks" response so I'm not going to do that. This is a sports card blog, after all.

At the beginning of April I requested COMC ship 32 cards to me. And they did so - four months later.

These two legendary 49ers quarterbacks were the last cards I needed to complete the 1987 Topps set. Joe Montana cost 85 cents and Steve Young set me back $0.69. There are a handful of singles in this set that I wouldn't mind upgrading, though not as many as the condition-sensitive '86 set. It's another reason why I won't be able to completely stop collecting cards on December 31, but I'm going to do as much as a I can to tidy up my set builds - even if they're complete.

2015-16 Donruss basketball is finally complete, thanks to these two rookies. Kelly Oubre cost $3.75 I'm still amazed that I was able to get the Nikola Jokic RC for less than that while Martin was a more manageable 60 cents.

I have now completed nine basketball sets, though only six of them have enough cards to qualify - and this is the only one released after 1993. 1992-93 Topps Archives will soon be the tenth completed set, and then I guess I'll try working on those starter sets Bo sent me.

One more set filler for today. I'm still trying to collect all of the 2017 Topps Heritage inserts though I will probably have to give up the Game. Aside from those, I only need four more:

Three to go. 

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 12, 2021

What a time to be alive

I've often pondered the ways in which life in the 2020s is far worse that it was in the 1990s (and probably before that?) It's a symptom of getting old, I suppose. That said, I don't want to sound like a certain negative Nancy so I'll just keep this sports-centric.

Below is a list of the four major North American pro sports leagues and every event that caused a cancellation of scheduled games. This does not count any weather or world events that caused games to be rescheduled. I'm only listing games that were not played due to the extenuating circumstances listed below.

We'll start with the 41 years prior to my birth:

NFL - Schedule was shortened from 11 games to 10 during World War II. One game lost per season from 1943-45. (MLB and NHL did not lose any games during the war)

MLB - A players' strike interrupted the start of the 1972 season, causing teams to lose between 6 and 9 games. (It also caused the Red Sox to lose the A.L. East by 1/2 game.)

And.. that's it. Every NBA and NHL season played the expected amount of games, and no other NFL or MLB seasons were interrupted. Full seasons were a thing. Consistency was a thing. Reliability was a thing.

In the 41 years I've been on this planet, cancellations have been a constant:

1981 - MLB players' strike literally cuts the season in half. 51 to 59 games per team were cancelled.
1982 - NFL players' strike reduced the 16-game schedule to 9 games (there were previous labor disputes between NFL players and owners but none had occurred during the season until '82.)
1987 - Another NFL players' strike results in one lost game per team and three weeks of games using replacement players. Those games counted in the standings, and some teams were less union-friendly than others.

1992 - NHL players went on strike just prior to the start of the playoffs. No games were lost during the ten-day work stoppage; I mention this because one of the issues players and owners negotiated was.. trading cards. This brief strike also set the stage for a longer work stoppage two years later.

1994 - 27 years ago today the longest players' strike in MLB history officially began. You know the rest.

1994 - The NHL schedule was cut from 84 games to 48 after owners locked out the players over revenue sharing. Despite the fact that the season didn't start until January 11, 1995 the history books still refer to this as the 1994-95 NHL season. Also of note: the failure to implement a salary cap resulted in three franchises relocating in the following three seasons.

1995 - The MLB players' strike officially ends on April 2. A 144-game schedule results in 18 games lost per team in addition to the 45-50 regular season games (and entire postseason) lost from the 1994 season. A key figure in ending the strike was Yankees fan and current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor.

1998 - NBA players were locked out over skyrocketing salaries, resulting in the first work stoppage in league history. A 50-game season began in January 1999. 32 games were lost per team.

2001 - Terrorist attacks on September 11 interrupted all facets of American life for more than a week.

Technically no games were lost - though Week 2 of the NFL schedule was rescheduled to the end of the season, and the MLB playoffs extended into November for the first time.

2002 - Major League Baseball players and owners appeared to be headed for another lengthy labor dispute. However this was avoided at the 11th hour and an agreement was reached without any interruption in play. This is notable because a) labor peace! and 2) it was less than a year after 9/11. Americans were not in the mood to hear millionaires argue over how to split billions of dollars in revenue.

2004 - The NHL, clearly the weakest of the four North American pro sports leagues, wiped out an entire 82-game season with a 310-day lockout. This was the first time the Stanley Cup was not awarded since the Influenza pandemic of 1919. Losing a whole season was unprecedented in pro sports and the NHL became the butt of several jokes, specifically in the United States. However the end result was a true salary cap which strengthened the league in the long run.

2011 - NBA owners locked out the players a second time, resulting in a shortened 66-game season. 16 games were lost per team.

2012 - Hockey's back.. on the lockout list. Once again the season did not start until January, and once again the schedule was reduced to 48 intra-conference games.

2020 - Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert deliberately touched a few microphones...

...then tested positive for Covid-19 two days later. Utah's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was suspended minutes before tip-off on March 11. The sports world quickly shut down for months.

The NBA season eventually resumed, abbreviated from 82 games to 63-67 for non-contending teams and up to 75 games for playoff teams. 10 more games per team were cut from the 2020-21 NBA season as a result of the 2020 NBA Finals being played in October -- when the '20-21 season would have started. Major League Baseball managed to squeeze in a 60-game season in 2020 (without fans), the shortest schedule since the 1870s. The 2020 NFL season continued as scheduled.

NHL teams lost 11 to 13 games in '19-20 as a result of the pandemic, and their 2020 postseason concluded at the end of September. The 2020-21 season was reduced to 56 games (take that, NBA.)

So, to recap: I can count on two hands the number of total games lost in all of pro sports in the 41 years before I was born. I'm not even going to bother counting all of these cancellations since 1980. Whatever happened to predictability...?

I said I wasn't going to be a negative Nancy, so here's a neat fact about the current sports climate:

The Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021, which isn't common but certainly not unprecedented. However, as a result of the chaotic schedules caused by Covid, Tampa's Victor Hedman scored a goal in an NHL game in every calendar month.

That's cool, right? 
Let's hope it never happens again.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Set chunks and one more PWE

This will be my last blog post at The Collector for a while, and my last basketball post for a long while.

I'm still working on fitting all of the cards from Bo into my basketball monster box.. and now Fuji has checked in with a two-team PWE:

This Electric Currents insert is my 59th Reggie Miller card. He has claimed the top spot in my collection from fellow HOFer Hakeem Olajuwon. For a second I wondered why the scan looked so fuzzy, before realizing it's designed to look electric. This is why I shouldn't write before 10am lol.

Reggie is joined by some more Pacer stars including a pair of "Foreign Exchange" inserts I don't remember seeing as a kid. I scanned the back of the Schrempf hologram because the front probably won't scan well.

Same for the Hakeem Olajuwon hologram from a year earlier. With these two inserts of "Dream", he ties Miller at the top of my PC list with 59 cards. The Flair Othella Harrington didn't scan great but it's very nice in hand. Fuji, thanks for the awesome PWE - it was well worth the wait!

Now back to the box from Bo. I received five starter sets (six if you count the 1993 Upper deck baseball chunk.) They are:

1990-91 Hoops
204 new cards
now: 310/440 (70.5%)

Some of my favorites include the Sam Vincent sans MJ (I do have the Jordan cameo) and the smiling Rick Mahorn with Larry Bird guarding him. I will probably attempt to complete this set because it's cheap, and it was a significant part of my early collecting years. Still need the Michael Jordan base card though.

These team checklist art cards were part of a series 2 update. Compare them to the checklists from...

1991-92 Upper Deck
200 new cards
now: 292/500 (58.4%)

This is my favorite of the five starter sets in this box/blog post. However it's also the biggest, and I'm not close to completing it. I have most of the key rookie cards but I still need all five Michael Jordan singles.

Before the term 'three-peat' existed, Detroit was trying to become "Champions X Three!" Didn't happen.

1993-94 Fleer

185 new cards (plus 2 inserts)
now: 218/400 (54.5%)

I'm leaning toward breaking up this half-set and using it to complete some others, though there are a lot of cool cards in this chunk, including Drazen Petrovic chasing down Hersey Hawkins. (Petro did not have his own card in the set, as he passed away in June of 1993.)

Let's fast forward a decade for the last two set chunks, including the smallest (base) set:

2003-04 SP Authentic

66 new cards (plus one SN #d SP)
now: 69/90 base set (73.3%)

There are 189 cards in the complete set; I'm only counting the 90-card base veteran portion. I don't have to worry about Michael Jordan here (he appears in the serial numbered subset) but I would need Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Tim Duncan among others just to complete this base set. Hmm..

2003-04 Upper Deck MVP
147 new cards
(plus 13 parallels, 5 inserts)
now: 147/230 (63.9%)

Hey, it's my first Michael Jordan Wizards card. And it's... a Bullets card!

Lots of big names in this set chunk. And some names I was not at all familiar with:

Will I be pursuing this set build? No way! I still need the Kobe Bryant base card, two Michael Jordans...

...and all of the key rookie cards including LeBron James, which recently sold on eBay for $125.

Bo, thanks again for the big box of basketball cards!

I will be taking a bit of a break here because I have a "Run to 500" series planned and I need my COMC order to show up before that can begin. Regularly-scheduled posts will continue at The 1993.

Thanks for reading!