Friday, November 30, 2018

One Card Post (and my baseball HOF ballot)

Fridays are my day off, and I've got a few things planned since I'll have the house to myself (for the most part, anyway) until about 3pm. I'll be mailing trade packages and PWEs to the following zip codes: 28374, 97202, 62450, 71913, 14779, and a surprise PWE to a blogger who may or may not be reading this. ;)

I also want to get caught up on cataloging my football card collection to TCDB. So far I'm complete through the year 2000. There aren't a whole lot of cards left to add, since I pretty much stopped collecting football around 2005. 

If I wasn't too lazy to make a graph (or take a pic) of the last 18 years of my football card collection you'd see 2001-2004 at about 100+, 2005 at almost nothing, and then spikes in '06 and '10 (due to that flat rate box I bought on eBay) Then a whole lot of nothin', then a big spike in 2016 (repacks and retail) very little in '17, and back to 100+ cards this year. 

This is kind of off-topic though..other than explaining why I'm doing a one-card post today. I still have two cards from my pre-Black Friday order in the "scan & post" folder, and I planned to include both in this post. But I decided to focus on baseball here and save the other one for the thrilling conclusion of The Basketball card Diaries

(OMG I'm like Rachel Maddow with the rambling intro here. Shut up and scan, Chris!)


I've mentioned my love for 2002 Topps Pristine on this blog before. During the Black Friday sales I had a handful of base/parallel cards on my watch list. All are Hall of Famers. The only one I purchased (so far) is this Trevor Hoffman uncirculated refractor, serial #d to 149.

When shopping for singles from sets I love but don't plan to complete, I often hit the ol' 'sort by lowest' tab and see what comes up. There wasn't another HOF refractor lower than this Hoffman, which set me back just $1.85. As you can see, the case is scratched up and has some sticker residue. I've kept my other uncirculated cards sealed, but when I got this card in-hand I knew what I had to do..


That little notch on the side was a bit tricky, but I got him out of the scratchy plastic prison and into a shiny new top loader.

I didn't see Hoffman pitch a whole lot during his career, but he was a guy I rooted for (especially in 1998) and appreciated. He waited a couple years to get into Cooperstown but was elected in last year's jumbo-sized class of six players. 

This year another closer is certain to join him. Mariano Rivera is the only slam-dunk no-brainer on the 2019 ballot. Obviously there are plenty of players worthy of electing to Cooperstown, but no one that 90% of the voters will agree on. 

In fact I think this year's class will have only two inductees: Rivera and Edgar Martinez. 

If I had a BBWAA HOF ballot, I'd vote for seven players:

  • Mariano Rivera
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Mike Mussina
  • Curt Schilling*
  • Larry Walker
  • Todd Helton
  • Jeff Kent

I'm on the fence about Roy Halladay and Scott Rolen. As for Omar Vizquel, I plan to do a shortstop comparison post in the near future, like I did with Walker and right fielders.

*Schilling's career accomplishments are Hall-worthy, but I shudder to think of what his induction ceremony will be like. If the writers could get away with being immature children I bet they'd slam the door on this guy. Alas.

Who gets your vote on this year's Hall of Fame ballot?


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Box Toppers and PC Pickups

In my last post I said I'd scan up some of the 'old stuff' I bought from Kruk Cards. But I'm going to save that for the weekend. So I'll continue with the singles from COMC...

I've been picking up some oversized cards recently, even though I have no way to store them. Figured COMC would ship them in a top loader anyhow (and they did.)

Earlier this year I read a blog post about these Gypsy Queen Glassworks box toppers and I made a mental note to find one for my collection.

This Corey Seager card was one of only three 'indigo' parallels available, likely due to his missing nearly all of 2018 after Tommy John surgery..

..and the "surface impressions" on the back. You can't really see it in the scan, but there is a pinhole-sized imprint and thumbnail crease to the right of the 20

I don't mind slight flaws (the crease is a bit much) on most modern cards, especially box toppers. Perhaps it's because the 'value' of such things hasn't been instilled in me from decades of price guides, or perhaps it's because I just look at them like fancy postcards.

These World Traveler box toppers both have corner wear. Didn't stop me from paying $3.48 for the pair (which, btw, was less than an Easter Island card sold for by itself.) I bought two more from this series during Black Friday weekend - Chicago is incoming but Vancouver will probably sit in my inventory for a while. 


This is another oversized card I couldn't pass up. $2.45 for a unique SB XXXI collectible sounds good to me despite the corner dings and surface scratch. The four box toppers above cost a total of $10.52.

I also bought some standard-sized cards for my team PCs:


The Rodgers and Betts have been discussed here before. I don't buy as many Brett Favre cards as I used to, because there are just way too many out there, but there were two in this order and two in my incoming COMC order. Now that I'm on TCDB I might try to add more Favre cards through trades. Perhaps 1,000 unique cards of #4 is an attainable goal (I'm at well over 600 now.)

Big Papi relic here. This jumbo swatch takes up more than half the card.

Also, I didn't realize this until scanning these seven cards..but this group could be considered a "COMC Blaster" made famous by Shane of Shoebox Legends. Observe:

Mookie TBT $3.74
Pedro relic $3.31
Pedro blue $1.25
Rodgers gold $3.40
Favre optic $0.63
Favre red $1.45
Ortiz relic $6.25
total for all 7: $20.03

It's things like this that make staying away from COMC so difficult. 

The Black Friday sales also allowed me to finish a couple of sets. This Kris Bryant 2017 Topps Heritage SP is one of the last four I needed. At $7.63, it was more than I paid for any single card in the set - SP, relic, or otherwise. I still need a ton of inserts though.

The flagship cards in this and other incoming orders bring me to within one card of completing the 2015 set (only need #617 Terrance Gore) and 2016 (need #1 Mike Trout).

Also, I finished my OPC Platinum Hockey Frankenset. That will be featured in its own post.

There are two more cards from this COMC order that I haven't scanned, including a superstar rookie card that cost me more than any single card this season...


Monday, November 26, 2018

Mailday from COMC and Kruk

Huge mailday box of old stuff from Kruk Cards arrived, as expected. I also got an e-mail from them stating they found a $15 shipping overcharge, which will be refunded later this week.

I also received my first batch of COMC cards, which I wasn't expecting (thought they'd get here tomorrow.) All this would have made me very happy, had it not been pouring rain outside. The mailperson left one box on the very edge of the front steps. The box was soaked through, but thankfully none of the contents were damaged (so far as I can tell.)

I'm hoping to spread out this stash until my next COMC order arrives - but that won't be until Dec. 20 or so. I would have preferred to combine my purchases into one order. Unfortunately that wasn't feasible due to the Secret Santa gift included here (COMC packed it at the top of the team bag, which is why I turned it on its edge in the above pic.)

Here are some cards I can show you. The '56 Bob Lennon looks a lot like the '55 Bob Lennon I gave away in the Sports Card Tour giveaway draft. 

 I love thick base cards from high-end sets. Immaculate is my go-to...

..but Impeccable is my new favorite. I saw a Ben Roethlisberger for a buck earlier this year and couldn't pass it up. When I got it in-hand I loved it so much I was determined to grab another single from this set. Missed out on Drew Brees, so I got Watt instead.

Finally added a Joe Thomas card to my collection - after he retired. I chose this Jersey Number parallel because it's color matching and it only cost $0.85.

Here's another color-matching card of a football great:

This Blue wave refractor is one of three color-matching Chrome cards depicting Odell Beckham's one-handed TD grab against Dallas (six if you count the Minis.) Overall, there are at least fifteen versions of this card. Can we pump the brakes on the parallels please?

One more color-matching parallel.  This 1978-inspired Paul Goldschmidt is numbered to 75 (Topps couldn't have produced three more copies?) Pristine cards almost always appeal to me, and a serial-numbered Amare Stoudemire RC refractor is no exception. And I flirted with the idea of hoarding Shohei Ohtani cards but only ended up with this one (so far.)

I'll end this post with some cards that would have fit with some of my prior posts.

From my statistical comparison post about Right Fielders.

My post about Franchise Players in baseball was popular. Perhaps I should write one for football?

You know what bothers me about this Fall Out Boy(d) GPK sticker? 

Topps classifies them as a pop group. Whaaat? 

This next card fits two categories. As part of my Basketball card Diaries series I've been adding NBA cards to my wantlist that I'd missed out in in the 2000s. 

That's when I discovered that this exists..

..and hurried over to COMC to grab this copy. An absolute bargain at 48 cents. 

Speaking of Pretty Girls ...this one will look familiar If you saw some of the custom cards Gavin cooked up for me:

<3 Melissa

I've got more COMC purchases to show off but I'll save them for a future post. Think I'll tear into that Kruk Cards pile first. Should I start with 1993 Leaf, or something else?


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Kicking off Black Friday with an eBay trade

The first of my Black Friday purchases arrived today - though technically, these cards were bought before the big shopping holiday.

Before I start to show off my purchases, I want to state something for the record. While I technically spent over $400 on sports cards this month, a great deal of that cash came from the sale of other sports cards - so I only spent about $80 out of pocket.

A couple weeks ago I listed some high-end sets for sale on eBay in an effort to fill the PayPal 'pot'. Only one item sold: my 3-set lot of 2000 Topps Chrome Traded sets. 

I broke the "buy low, sell high" rule with these, but still managed to rake in about $200 (after fees and shipping). My plan was to divide that into two roughly equal 'halves' - one for COMC, and one for a "big piece" towards my 1956 Topps set build. 

$100 wasn't going to get me a graded Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, or Roberto Clemente (the top three stars missing from my set.) Perhaps the whole $200 would, but I wanted to spread the pool around and have a little more fun. Black Friday is my Christmas, after all.

Focusing on mid-tier HOFers for my '56 set is actually kind of difficult. Harmon Killebrew is often out of the $100 range (it's his 2nd year card), and I bought the Ernie Banks last time I tried this. Roy Campanella was a possibility, but I didn't like the examples I was seeing.

Soon I found a high-grade copy of an early-career card of a mid-tier HOFer. The seller was asking $125 OBO and I made an offer of $95, with the assumption that we'd meet in the middle. Which is exactly what happened:

This Al Kaline was exactly the kind of card I wanted: a high-end set filler that only took up roughly half of my spending money. I had my eye on another Kaline item, and threw a quick BIN auction up to offset the cost (I call this an eBay "trade".)

I offered up this Jacob deGrom Orange parallel on TCDB for $25. No one bit, so I sold it on eBay. That would have given me enough cash to cover the Kaline item I wanted...but then I got distracted.

It started when I was window shopping at Blowout Cards, kicking the tires on their Black Friday sales. Their hobby box prices for flagship and Big League were unbeatable - barely more than a blaster. I filled my cart with about $80 worth of goodies, then cleared it. Why place an online order for the only cards I have easy access to (at Target)? That led to an eBay search... which led me to Kruk Cards.

In the summer of '17 I was feeling nostalgic, and Kruk Cards had a whole bunch of items that brought back childhood collecting memories for me - specifically a starter lot of 1988 Panini stickers. I wrote a Buying Back My Childhood post about it at the time.

Cut to this week, when I spied a sealed box of '88 Panini stickers for less than the cost of two blasters. Obviously I don't need 100 packs of these, but since single stickers are at least 50 cents apiece on COMC I thought it was the most cost-effective way to complete the set (at which point I would stop opening the packs and list the remaining ones on eBay.)  

Last summer I spent $109.40 at Kruk Cards; this order was almost exactly the same price - $107.17. A big chunk of that was the cost of shipping; the items were on sale so I couldn't "commit to buy" without paying for them and eBay had a 15% off coupon that expired Wednesday night - after Kruk was closed. A woman in their customer service department assured me they would reimburse me for any overcharge, but the items were shipped yesterday so that seems unlikely. 

If Kruk Cards does issue me a partial refund it will cover the cost of another '56 Topps set filler. When I started adding cards to my COMC wantlist I found that one of the few graded singles I needed (that wasn't overpriced by Deans Cards) was a Lew Burdette.

The PSA 7 example on COMC didn't drop down into my price range, so I picked up this 6 instead. At $9.50+ shipping it was a full $50 less than the PSA 7's sale price.

So, here are the details of my eBay "trade":

Sold three sets of 2000 Topps Chrome Traded for $215
Sold a Jacob deGrom 2014 Bowman Prospects parallel for $25

total (before eBay/Paypal fees) $240

Bought a 1956 Topps Al Kaline for $110
Bought a 1956 Topps Lew Burdette for $13.50
Bought a bunch of old stuff from Kruk Cards for $107.17

total $230.67

Considering the fees and cost of shipping the items I sold, this was basically a wash. In the next few posts you'll see what "old stuff" I bought from Kruk, and the first of my multiple orders from COMC - which should arrive Monday. This order contains a Secret Santa gift, and I wasn't about to make my recipient wait until Dec. 17 or later, so I paid $4 a week before the free shipping promotion began.

How did you spend your time/money on Black Friday? Did you do all of your shopping online, or did you also shop in stores? Did you buy gifts for yourself, others, or both?


Saturday, November 17, 2018


This will be my last post before Thanksgiving, and since I've had a lot to complain about this (and every other) year, I thought I'd make a list of things I am thankful for, such as...

  • new music from my favorite bands

Fall Out Boy finally released another album, MANIA, in January. The release was a total mess; the first single "Young and Menace" kinda sucked, and two more tracks circulated before the album was set to drop. Then the band halted its release because they were not completely satisfied with their work (yet "Young & Menace" remained on the album..)

Muse released their latest album, Simulation Theory, about a week ago.

Like FOB - and every other artist these days - some of the songs were released way ahead of the album. ("Dig Down" started circulating more than a year ago.) So it isn't the cohesive concept album that Drones was.. but it's still catchy and cool as hell. Behold my wife's birthday gifts:

I also added this to her pile o' Muse merch...

...which leads me to the next thing I'm thankful for:

  • custom cards from Gavin

In addition to the set of Pretty Girls, Gav made the two MusicCards you see in this post. Based on the response to that post, I'm assuming you all want me to stick to sports! So here you go...

Leftovers from previous Baseball Card Breakdown creations. Gavin, I can't thank you enough for all the hard work you put into these. Much appreciated, my man!

I'm still working on adding all of my football cards to the Trading Card Database, but I've already made a ton of progress with my 1986 Topps set build. User AirPete reached out to me while I was still working on basketball, about a possible trade. I told him I'd send him a PM when I was done adding all my basketball cards, since that's the focus of his collection.

He composed an offer of epic proportions: the trade initially involved 840 cards, but Pete sent a second package of fifteen cards from '89-90 Hoops to replace two cards he could't find and one damaged Mike Singletary single. 


I now have 46.5% of the 1986 Topps football set, and I am very thankful for that. 

Sticking with football, I'm thankful for another very generous trader. Roy (aka Bulldog) of the blog Nothing If Not Random was responsible for one of the most generous trade packages I received all year - and I thanked him by attempting to write a post in under five minutes. Not cool, Chris

When I thought that the book had closed on our trade Roy reached out to me about this card:

Roy pulled this from a box recently and thought that a Packers fan like myself would appreciate it more than he would. And so he sent it my way, no questions asked. Actually, he said "Do you want this card?" questions were asked. But he didn't want anything in return (too bad Roy, I'll get you back eventually!)

So, here's one last Thanksgiving thank-you to Roy, Gavin, and all of the very generous members of the trading card community who make this hobby so enjoyable. 

And thank you to those who have read and commented on The Pedestrian Writer throughout the year. I'm very thankful for your support!

With that I'm going to take a short break from blogging, until my Black Friday purchases are received. Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving, and best of luck finding Black Friday bargains!

Since I resisted the urge to embed a Muse video I'll leave you with this instead. Enjoy!


Friday, November 16, 2018


One day after publishing my statistical comparison post about right fielders ..Mookie Betts was named American League MVP.


Mookie did it all for the Red Sox in 2018, leading the league in WAR, batting average, slugging, runs scored, and runs created. After a down year in '17, Betts' bounce-back season was so superb, one ESPN writer wondered aloud if he has passed Mike Trout as the best player in baseball.

I am freaking the f*ck out that Betts will want a bigger contract than whatever Bryce Harper gets this off-season. He is absolutely worth 10 years and $350+ million, and while it is convenient to say "it's not my money" the fact is that if Betts doubles (or triples) his salary it will be very difficult for Boston to keep Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez.

When Mookie made his way up the ladder in the Sox' minor-league system - as a second baseman - I remember thinking he had potential, but wondered where's he gonna play? Dustin Pedroia was blocking him at second, and it seemed inevitable that Boston would trade Betts for pitching help. There was one comment in particular that I'll never forget:

 Mookie Betts for Matt Harvey. Who says no?

Fortunately the Sox moved Betts to a different position rather than a different team.

I've been spoiled as a sports fan this year. Mookie is the second player from my favorite team to be named MVP of his sport. 

Devils winger Taylor Hall won the Hart Trophy this summer, a week after my favorite hockey player, Alex Ovechkin, finally won his first Stanley Cup. Which makes it hard for me to complain about the sub-par season the Green Bay Packers are having.

I feel bad for Aaron Rodgers though. The front office needs to get their act together and surround him with a team that can contend for a championship. I'd much rather see him win another one of these..

..than one of these:

I've got a big football card post cued up, so that I can focus on preparing for Black Friday. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Right Fielders & Recent COMC Purchases

While we wait for Bryce Harper to sign a record-breaking contract (coming off a season in which he was worth 1.3 WAR) I thought it would be fun to look at some other great Right Fielders.

Does anyone else remember this commercial? It was the first thing I thought of when starting this post.

It's been a while since I've done one of these statistical analysis posts; I planned to write about first basemen but nothing jumped out at me and then my internet connection was nearly non-existent for most of the summer. Also I've been buying (and selling) a few cards of right fielders lately, so I'll sneak some COMC purchases in here as well.

Let's start with this - there are more Hall of Famers representing right field than any position other than pitcher. And yet there are still a handful both in and out of the Hall that are often overlooked.

Not this guy though. The great Roberto Clemente is as beloved as any baseball icon. Statistically (based on career WAR) he's the sixth-best RF ever. However, due to his tragic and premature death after the 1972 season, Clemente played at least three fewer seasons than the five players ranked above him - including the slightly underrated Mel Ott and the very underrated Frank Robinson.

In 1975 Frank Robinson was named player-manager of the Indians, becoming the first African-American to manage a team. Frank was also the second black manager in the majors, since no other men of color had been hired before he became the Giants' skipper in 1981.

The average career WAR total for the 25 Hall of Famers who primarily played right field is 72.7. Eleven players met or exceeded this threshold, and ten of them are enshrined in Cooperstown.

Clemente isn't the only great right fielder to play for PITTSBURGH. Paul Waner is tenth all-time in RF WAR and third at the position in career hits with 3,152 - nine more than Tony Gwynn.

Dave Winfield is fifth on the career hits list for RFs. His 3,110 over 22 seasons falls just short of the 3,141 collected by the man who succeeded him in San Diego. Dave's career WAR is 64.2, lower than three players at his position who are not enshrined in Cooperstown. 

Joe Carter is 17th all-time in RBI by a right fielder, and collected as many extra base hits as Joe DiMaggio. That, and his unforgettable home run in the 1993 World Series, is enough to earn him consideration on this year's Veteran's Committee ballot. However he rarely walked, and his slash line of .259/.306/.464 only merits a career WAR of 19.6. 

No single statistic tells the whole story (and I use WAR mostly for convenience than anything else) but that's alarmingly low for a player of Joe's stature. George Springer could pass him with a solid 2019 season (same for Yasiel Puig.)


A quick note on some of the cards in this post before I get into a statistical comparison: I don't consider myself a 'flipper' and try to avoid the practice of profiting off other collectors. But with Black Friday approaching and these cards being listed at tantalizingly low prices, I was able to earn some extra cash towards future COMC purchases. The Clemente, Waner, Carter, and Winfield cards were all bought with flipping in mind - although I'd be happy to keep any that don't sell.

such is the case with Shoeless Joe here

The Joe Carter card in particular was a surprising find at $5.25; Thunder Clap inserts are rare - and Gold Medallion parallels are extremely so. I re-sold it within an hour for a nice profit, but I wasn't greedy. A Juan Gonzalez from the same set sold for over $66 on eBay; I asked for less than half that amount for Carter.

Now let's get back to comparing underrated right fielders...

I go back and forth on Larry Walker every year. His career WAR of 72.7 is equal to the average of every Hall of Fame right fielder. Buuut he played in Colorado and his home/road splits aren't great. He won seven Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, and an MVP award. Buuut he was always injured, rarely played more than 140 games in a season, and only has 2,160 career hits (24 fewer than Joe Carter.)

Apparently the BBWAA feels the same way; Walker's Hall of Fame vote totals have been all over the place: 20.3% on his first try, 10.2% on his fourth. He had a big jump on the last ballot, to 34.1% - his highest total yet. Buuut he's still a long way from getting in, and he's running out of time.

It appears likely that Larry will be the latest in a long line of RFs who didn't quite make the cut for one reason or another (not counting Joe Jackson, Sammy Sosa, or Gary Sheffield. We know why they’re not in.) Here's a list of ten other right fielders - five in the HOF and five out. Which side does Walker belong on?

Larry Walker72.7.313/.400/.56538313112160141
Dwight Evans67.1.272/.370/.47038513842446127
Reggie Smith64.6.287/.366/.48931410922020137
Dave Winfield64.2.283/.353/.47546518333110130
Vladimir Guerrero59.4.318/.379/.55344914962590140
Bobby Bonds57.9.268/.353/.47133210241886129
Enos Slaughter55.3.300/.382/.45316913042383124
Kiki Cuyler46.7.321/.386/.47412810652299125
Chuck Klein43.6.320/.379/.54330012012076137
Tony Oliva43.1.304/.353/.4762209471917131
Dave Parker40.1.290/.339/.47133914932712121

Klein’s slugging % blew me away – that's quite a high average for someone with only 300 career bombs - but then I dug a little deeper. It seems his home/road splits are as severe as Walker’s – if not more so – and his production dropped after a 1933 trade from the Phillies to the Cubs. Park factors aren't just a thin air thing.

If you had a golden ticket to Cooperstown and you could only select one right fielder for enshrinement, who would you select and why? Are there additional RFs you would like to see in the HOF? Let me know in comments!