Sunday, April 18, 2021

A to Z Music Challenge

My sports cards have been organized enough that all I need to do is put away new purchases, and so last night I moved on to my CD collection.

As you can see, my CDs are all stored in a drawer. This drawer, which has one busted wheel, slides underneath my bed and gets quite dusty. After removing all the CDs to clean and organize them I noticed that I have a favorite band or artist for nearly every letter in the alphabet. 

Once upon a time I participated in a blogging challenge that took place in April. We'd all pick an overarching theme and a daily topic that matched each letter. It was fun. Unfortunately the people who ran it showed their whole ass and I didn't want to be associated with them anymore. Still like the concept though.

So here's an idea if you have some time or you're out of blog topics: make a list of your favorite musicians from A to Z or do a Sporcle-style speed round and just type out the first ones that come to mind as quickly as you can.  Here's my list of favorite musical acts by the letter:

All Time Low

This video gives me all the feels. I used the song in a story I wrote. Never finished that thing. Maybe someday.


A surprisingly tough letter for me. Sixteen Stone is the only CD in my collection from a 'B' band. Is there a "Best of Bush" greatest hits CD? [edit: There is .. but its frigging expensive!]

The Cure

One of my all-time faves. I hadn't listened to them in years and then earlier this week I popped in Disintegration because it was raining (again.) Love it. A more current 'C' band I'm listening to is Chvrches. Thanks for pointing me in their direction, Shane!

Depeche Mode

Good news: Dave Gahan, Martin Gore & co. were finally elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!
Bad news: They were elected last year, and the ceremony was virtual due to Covid.


Evanescence? Erasure? Echo and the Bunnymen? I'm drawing a blank here.

Fall Out Boy

One of my top three favorite bands of the last dozen years.

Green Day

Also receiving votes: Garbage

Jimi Hendrix

I haven't listened to Hendrix in years, but H is not a strong letter for me.

I Don't Know How But They Found Me

I saw them open for Silversun Pickups in 2019. They're good enough to knock Incubus off the list.

Joy Division

The cover art for Unknown Pleasures might be even more popular than the band itself.


They're a Swedish band and one of my all time favorites, even though about 80% of their recordings were in Swedish. The Killers are another fave, and I listened to a ton of Keane in college.

Linkin Park

I actually don't have any of their CDs. I've been planning to get at least one, likely a Greatest Hits compilation.


My wife's favorite band, and one of my top five. If you haven't heard them yet, hear them live first. While I'm on 'M' bands, I should mention that the restoration company I work for did an inspection at the home of My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero. I was very excited about this. Naturally I was the only one in the office who'd heard of him.

New Order

I mentioned them on The 1993. Obligatory Nirvana mention here, as they're the reason I got into alternative music.

Oasis/The Offspring

Call it a tie between two '90s acts I liked a fair amount. Nowadays I listen to a little more Oasis.


When I first heard "Fire" it reminded me of another female-fronted band, Paramore. I love Riot more than any single Pvris album, but Hayley Williams & co. lost me a couple albums ago. Use Me isn't my cup of tea in general but Lynn Gunn hasn't lost me yet. (Also, their cover of "Chandelier" lays waste to the original.)


I challenge you to find a better artist for the letter 'Q'. Really feeling this track lately.


I mentioned them on The 1993 as well.


Smashing Pumpkins are my all-time favorite band. Silversun Pickups are my current favorite band. I listen to a lot of Silversun and very little Pumpkins these days. Love 'em both though.

Thirty Seconds To Mars

Number bands are left out of this exercise (sorry, 311) but since Jared Leto & co. spell out the word Thirty I'll tuck them in to 'T'. [bands that start with the word The obviously do not count here.]


See Queen. I was just remarking to the Mrs. that I haven't listened to enough U2 lately. I'll fix that.

Van Halen

I wasn't the biggest Van Halen fan in the world but I do like their hits (and Balance brings back junior high memories) Here's a question for those of you who are fans: David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?

The White Stripes/Weezer

Another tie between two different but equally good alternative bands. I like more Weezer songs but I like White Stripes songs more, if that makes sense. Also I should mention that I'm kinda digging The Weeknd lately.


Ah, the dreaded X. I know XTC is a band that exists but I can't name any of their songs. And I can't count Lil' Nas X.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Another tough letter. This is really the only YYY song I like though I haven't dug too deep into their catalog. Yet.


ZZ Top would be the obvious choice, or Frank Zappa. But I can't say I like them. Rob Zombie? His band had a song or two I liked okay, but those are listed under White Zombie. Rather than trying to come up with a 'Z' artist I like enough, how about Zooey Deschanel singing the national anthem at the 2012 World Series.

That's my list. What's yours? 

Thanks for reading & listening!


Friday, April 16, 2021

Cheap Set Fillers

This has been a strange year for me. I've been doing a lot of re-evaluating, in my life and in my card collection. I'm continuing to sell higher-value cards on eBay while chipping away at lower-end set builds.

This Rhys Hoskins Players Weekend Variation cost $1.86 on eBay. It's about twice as much as I'd hoped to pay, but none of the online retailers I frequent had this card and I gave up on trying to trade for it. ~$2 is a small price to pay to complete the master set of 2018 Topps Big League (except for the ten "error" SSPs.)

Sirius Sportscards has some very nice vintage singles at affordable prices. These two NM singles complete the Dodgers and Padres All-Time Teams, respectively. With free shipping the total was just $6 + tax, or roughly the amount of eBay bucks I earned in the 1st quarter of 2021.

I picked up a half dozen football set fillers on Sportlots, using direct shipping. This lot cost just $2.93 after applying my store credit and a tiny amount of loot.

In total these nine cards cost just over $5 out of pocket - or just over $11 total. Some other purchases have arrived, and more are on the way. I'm not sure if I'll discuss them all. I've been in a wistful mood lately and the hobby hasn't inspired me to write nearly as much as it used to. My mind is ..somewhere else. 

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

1st Sportlots order/500th Post

It's finally here! My first Sportlots order - and my 500th post!

I'm glad I have something special to show off for the occasion.

Sportlots was the 'final frontier' of online card sites for my collection. I'd ordered from COMC, Cardbarrel, the Beckett marketplace, and of course multiple times. I was determined to make progress on my All-Time Teams project and after exhausting all other options (including TCDB trades) I decided to give Sportlots a try.

This was my first time using the site and I did carefully check to see which sellers offered free (or nearly free) shipping to the "box" and which ones were cheap enough to request shipping directly to me. As a result I got three cards within a week of placing my order. Here are two of them; the third one - along with 18 other cards from this order - will be featured on The 1993.

This 1971 Topps Danny Murtaugh card was listed as EX and cost $2 shipped. I'm quite pleased with it; there aren't any creases, the centering is fine, and the light border wear doesn't bother me considering the set. John Clarkson is a short print from 2013 Goodwin Champions, and considering how few modern cards he has I'm happy to add him to my All-Time Teams binder for $1.28 shipped.

After these two and my 1993 card arrived it was a long wait for the rest of the haul - and an unexpected expense. I didn't realize I'd have to pay for shipping from the sellers to the box and pay again for Sportlots to ship the box to me. It makes sense I suppose, but next time I'm just going to find sellers with decent prices for direct shipping.

At any rate, more than a dozen little packages were included in this box. It was fun to tear into each one - except one seller went overboard on taping their cardboard, which made opening the envelope more trouble than it was worth. He(she?) may have even wrecked the card inside, or caused me to wreck it. We'll get to that one.

These were all 18 cents each plus shipping, which equals... hell, I don't know. The Shaq Lawson Donruss was part of a second order that I placed because three cards I initially ordered were out of stock. Lawson and the three "replacement" cards cost about 47 cents out of pocket after the store credit.

I missed out on this Arky Vaughan playing card along with two 1993 inserts and instead I acquired..

..some Fleer basketball singles. Ellis, Woodson, and Wilkins were shipped with Shaq (Chuck Person was part of a separate order.) I have a trade incoming for the 1989-90 Fleer Magic Johnson and if it's clean I'll be two John Williams cards away from completing the set.

Ain't it funny how late-1980s Fleer baseball cards are considered "junk wax" and late-1980s Fleer basketball cards are considered rare jewels by comparison. These two were the cheapest 1987-88 Fleer singles of above-average players I could find on the site. I'm not collecting this set but I like picking up '80s cards I haven't seen a hundred times, especially basketball (and O-Pee-Chee hockey of course.)

That reminds me I should show off the hockey singles I bought on Sportlots, which were my most expensive purchases:

I've probably got about two dozen variations of this 2000-01 Be A Player Peter Worrell card. These three are all new to my collection; the Chicago Sun Times parallel cost $2.50 (before shipping) while the other two ($3 each) are prototypes and not listed on Trading Card Database. That figures :/

It's always fun to find new Worrell cards - even if they look the same as old ones. The stamped parallel is my 152nd different Worrell and 300th total, according to TCDB. That's 72.4% of all Peter Worrell cards ever made though obviously not all of his cards have been counted on TCDB.

Here's a batch of set fillers including the 2003 Finest base cards I mentioned in an earlier post. I'm still chipping away at 2017 Topps Heritage insert sets, and the recent release of 2021 Topps Heritage brought back memories of my 5-box break - one of the most fun days I've ever had ripping open packs. Nachos Grande just had a box break of '21 Heritage and I laughed out loud at the "hit" he pulled. Wish I could have been in the chat as it was live.

Btw, I update my set building wantlist every time I add new cards, and I will continue to do so even if I take a break from writing proper posts. My All-Time Teams wantlist is frequently updated as well.

I thought that this Sportlots order would get me to within ten cards of completing the project. However, I'm not as close as I thought I'd be, for two reasons. When I started building the 2013 and 2014 Topps baseball sets I had to take some cards out of the All-Time Teams binder and put them in the set build. As a result, I now need a(nother) card of Glen Perkins, Jhoulys Chacin, and Jeurys Familia. I think I need another Tyler Clippard, too.

That said, I'm thrilled with the selection of singles I found at Sportlots for my All-Time Teams collection. It's always a gamble to buy vintage singles sight unseen (even with condition notes) but I didn't want to wait six months for a COMC order so I grabbed these:

They're not without their flaws: the centering on Stu Miller is poor (and worse on the back), Reggie Smith isn't much better - but it's a Red Sox card and a high number. McBean is diamond cut, and McDaniel's bottom right corner is fuzzy. All but Miller were listed as EX; the seller listed Stu as NM. None of them cost more than $1.50 before shipping.

The 1960s singles are actually in better shape the the pair of Larry Dierker cards I purchased. These were the two singles that were wedged into a Card Saver, sandwiched in cardboard and taped to death. The '75 Dierker is kind of a mess but I was happy with the '70 - until I noticed the thumbnail crease on the right side. Did I do that? Guess I'll have to add Dierker to the 'needs upgrade' list.

Here's another pair of cards, in much better condition. I'm having trouble deciding which Willie Keeler to choose for the Barnstormers binder page: this TCMA single or the Cooperstown Crystal parallel:

Crystal is pretty but how about this Greatest Hitters card? "Wee Willie" is pictured with a Toronto team, long before the Blue Jays existed. I consulted baseball-reference and learned that Keeler played the last pro season of his Hall of Fame career with the International League's Toronto Maple Leafs in 1911. Go Leafs Go! The Panini parallel was the last card that made it to the box, delaying my order for a couple of days.

Staying in the deadball era, I picked up a Roger Bresnahan Turkey Red reprint for my frankenset and decided to add Larry Doyle and Jake Stahl, too. Stahl isn't an all-time Red Sox but he is a Red Sox, and I'll never be able to afford an original. I might try to build this Galasso set one day.

The highlight of this order for me were the two tobacco cards - reprints of course. I thought it would take years to track down a Jimmy Ryan card, and Sam Leever is another tough one. You're next, Noodles.

Here's a closer look at these. If it weren't for the text at the bottom of the photo you'd have no idea that "James" Ryan played baseball. The card backs are very different as well.

There wasn't much effort made to replicate the Ryan. But beggars can't be choosers. He's in the binder!

Here's the rest of my order, including a Bryce Harper that was selected for my 2018 Topps Chrome set build, not necessarily the All-Time teams collection. Overall, I was pleased with my Sportlots experience. The selection is fantastic. Prices were fair, though direct shipping may be the way to go in the future. I waited a while for my cards, but it's still better than COMC.

I'll show off the rest of my Sportlots order in the next day or two.

Thanks for reading my 500th post, and thank you to all of my readers. It's been a fun five years - my first blog entry as The Collector was in August of 2016, and I knew that I'd be talking to myself for a while. Before long I found a few other bloggers who share a love of collecting and writing, and it fueled me to keep this blog going whenever I ran out of ideas or thought about leaving the blog behind.

Special shout-outs to Matt (my first follower), Greg, Dennis, Fuji, Night Owl, Bo, Billy, Matt K., Shane, Jon, and many many more who supported this blog throughout the years. I was considering an Easter Egg hunt as a giveaway but I think I'll just send "surprise" PWEs instead. They will be 500-themed ;-)



Thursday, April 1, 2021

Is this a Joke?

Last night I was browsing eBay for a gift for my mom when I decided to search for old Starting Lineup figures.

I browse a lot more than I buy since I don't really have the space for more Starting Lineups, but I stumbled on one auction that I couldn't pass up -- this 1988-89 Starting Lineup Football Lot of 4:

The listing is not technically correct; the Joe Montana figure is from the 1990 set. Still, this is a great value at about $9 a piece after tax. I could potentially flip the Elway figure and pay for the whole lot. 

There's just one problem - I can't pay for the lot. Oh, I have the money to pay for it. But I'm not able to pay for it. This is what happens when I try to check out:

Would you like to add a protection plan?
3-year protection plan from SquareTrade - $3.99
  • Coverage for product breakdowns and malfunctions
  • 100% Parts and labor, no deductibles
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 5-day service guarantee
  • Cancel or transfer anytime (full refund in first 30 days)

Protection plan? What the hell is this? No. Go to checkout.

One or more sellers can't accept payments right now. Contact the sellers for help.

You can also:
  • Go to My eBay

What the hell? Have any of you seen this before? eBay is really starting to annoy me.

The auction ends this evening and there are 48 watchers. I'm guessing at least one other user has tried to purchase this lot only to be blocked by this weird warning. 

Anyway... Happy Opening Day! :)

The Red Sox are rained out :(

Thanks for reading!


Monday, March 29, 2021

Almost There

As I mentioned in my previous posts I've been working on set builds and deciding which ones to complete. This will be a three-sport post thanks to an above average mailday but I'm going to focus mainly on my four basketball sets: 

I threw in the towel on my 1988-89 Fleer set build because I didn't want to spend $150+ on the Michael Jordan base card (and he's got an All-Star card at the end of the set.) If I wanted to, I could sell some of my high-grade Hall of Famers and buy a "raw" set, but that's a decision for another day.

Since the '88-89 set was too expensive to compile I thought I'd try the next best thing: 1989-90 Fleer. As of last week I (technically) needed just six cards: John Williams, Mike Woodson, Gerald Wilkins... and Larry, Magic, and MJ. Once I got within ten cards of completion I splurged $32.95 (plus tax) on the Jordan card:

If I were submitting this to PSA I'd be bothered by the yellow bubble on the right side border. But I'm not. 

With the "goat" in hand I'm absolutely going to finish this set. Heck, I'll even go for the master set since it only requires two additional cards. I have an incoming trade for three cards, which (if all goes well) will leave me with just Magic Johnson, both John Williamses, a checklist upgrade, and a Gerald Wilkins variation left to acquire.

The next basketball set build is an even smaller one: 1992-93 Topps Archives. As mentioned on my 1993 Blog I'd been trading for singles from this set just for the heck of it, and ended up with more than half the set. When I compared prices of the 1989-90 Fleer Jordan I noticed the price of his "First Topps Card" from Archives was as high - or even higher - than the Fleer issue. Since most of my Archives singles are in less than mint condition and I've got 46% of the set to go, I made the decision to abandon this set build. 

But then.. while I was at work today, I received a trade offer that saved this set from the scrap heap. A Canadian trader asked for three 1979-80 OPC hockey singles I'd just added to my tradelist last night. 

In return he's sending me seven Archives singles - all Hall of Famers (except Shawn Kemp.) One of them is the Michael Jordan card. The set build is still on!

Ah, but now it gets really difficult. Jon Pennysleeves (tm Julie) sent me a starter set of 2014-15 Panini Prizm a few years ago. I'd been plugging away at it here and there, until I got within six cards of completing the 300-card set. At one point the Giannis ("second year Prizm") was selling for $150. I held onto it because I was determined to complete this bad boy. At that time Joel Embiid's RC could be had for about $60. I kicked the tires but ultimately passed. 

Aaand it's more than double that now. Also, Zach LaVine sells for about $50. Andrew Wiggins was over $20 not that long ago but it's much cheaper today. I can't catch a break because Jordan Clarkson sells for a Jackson now. Jordan Clarkson. I nearly bought the Marcus Smart RC a couple times but passed. Oh, and I still need the Kevin Durant base card.

Sigh... this set is going to cost me a minimum of $200 to complete. But I really don't want to break it up. 

While I ponder that one a little more I decided to work on my 2015-16 Donruss near-set. This build began with two retail boxes purchased from Dave & Adams for a total of... $39.98 (plus tax/shipping)

I really wish I had a Crystal ball and stashed those two retail boxes because now D & A are asking slightly more for them. Wow.

Alas, I opened the boxes and began the set build. I only got one of the top three rookies (Karl-Anthony Towns) so I needed to track down Nikola Jokic and Kristaps Porzingis. Luckily I bought the "Joker" before the pandemic (for $3.05!!) and four of the five remaining rookies are no big deal. I found a TCDB user in Australia who was willing to trade me a Terry Rozier RC, so that knocks it down to four. 

The Unicorn was the big obstacle, so I searched eBay for his rookie and... snagged a copy for $5.05 after tax and shipping. Assuming those transactions go smoothly I'll have three more to go: Kelly Oubre (I pulled his autograph out of one box but not his RC), Jarrell Martin, and some guy named Christian Wood. Never heard of him. Is he good?

What. The. Fork?

Okay, yes, Wood has become a breakout star for the Houston Rockets. But this is a hundred dollar card, which I can only attribute to two factors:

  • Donruss was the only brand that made a Christian Wood rookie card (Porzingis has about a hundred more RCs to choose from.)

  • The hobby has gone absolutely insane

I might have to wait until this Rocket comes back down to Earth before continuing this set build.

Moving on to other sports.. I received three PWEs in today's mail - including two from fellow bloggers.

Here's the PWE from TCDB user jmkidd. I sent seven Seattle singles his way for these set fillers.

Robert is working on the 1986 Topps football set and I had a couple extras he needed, including a slightly creased Bruce Smith RC I'd just received as a freebie in a TCDB trade. Four of the cards I asked for are set fillers: the Upper Deck SP inserts and the 1988-89 Topps singles.

Last but not least we have a PWE from the aforementioned Jon, who contacted me about a Haywood Jeffires Sports Illustrated single after reading my post about the 1993 Houston Oilers

He also offered up some cards of UConn alum Richard Hamilton. No set fillers here, but all six cards were new to my collection. Jon, thanks for the nice Rip(s)!

It's high time I sent out some freebies to my loyal reader friends but instead I have an idea for a sort-of contest that combines Easter with my upcoming 500th post. Who's up for a blog "Easter Egg" hunt?

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, March 27, 2021

What Would You Do?

My last post got a ton of great comments (and I was afraid it was too wordy) so I'm going to try the "ask a question in the title" device again.

I've been contemplating the future of my unfinished set builds, specifically 1956 Topps baseball and 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee Hockey as they are graded set builds. For this post however I'm focusing on traditional non-graded sets that I'm very close to completing. Perhaps you can help me decide their fate.

By the way, it was 80+ degrees and sunny yesterday and I had to dig a pair of shorts out of my closet when I got home from work. The past 12-18 hours has felt like a summer weekend. Bring on the baseball!

I'm four cards away from completing the 2003 Finest baseball set*. They are all on the way to me via Sportlots, which seems to be taking for-ev-err because I chose the box option. (I'm such a noob.)

Once those are in hand I will be ten autographed cards away from assembling the complete set. Yes, the asterisk means that the 100-card veterans portion is not the entirety of the set. Of course not. However..

..the ten autographed rookies are not big names at all. The only names I know are Adam LaRoche(weirdo), #1 overall pick Bryan Bullington, and Daryl Clark - only because I pulled his auto back in the day. Most - if not all - of these could be acquired for a buck apiece. Is it worth spending $20 at most to have a true complete set?  


I've continued to plug away at the 2016 Donruss football set, which started with a hanger box or two. Four years and several TCDB trades later I'm down to three needs in the 300-card veterans portion. One of them - #18 Desmond Trufant - is on its way to me from user jmkidd. Once that PWE arrives (which could be today) I'll be two veterans and 24 rookies away from completing the full 400-card set. 

That number should be one fewer, as I received a PWE from Thunderfoot yesterday and learned that I already had a Keenan Reynolds RC #379. I needed a Kenyan Drake RC #381. My mistake. Or was it..?


Upon further review I'd asked for Kenyan and received Keenan instead. I also got a Vince Carter Chrome card with a crease in it. D'oh!

Most of the remaining rookie cards should be easy enough to acquire. However the three top quarterbacks are all missing from my binder: 

I really do not want to spend $30 or more on a Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Damn expensive ham.

I'm just glad I have the Pat McAfee base card. This frickin' punter sells for $10? Why, cause he has a podcast?


The bosses left early for Passover yesterday and we got to order whatever we wanted for lunch. My coworker and I chose Wendy's-which might have been a problem for my new favorite vegetarian. She'd never really eaten at Wendy's and didn't know what they had. As I pulled up the menu on my computer screen she stood over my left shoulder, so close that she could have been sitting on my desk. I'd had another impure thought to put my arm around her waist and pull her closer to me.. but I didn't think that until well after the fact. Progress!

Also she showed me a picture and a video of her daughter's third birthday party and I said something like "So cute!" and I didn't follow it with "..and so is she" or some cheesy line like that because I'm a good person.


In my next post I'll discuss some basketball sets that are so close to completion - yet so far away. If you think the McAfee card is overpriced, wait till you see a certain 2016 Donruss NBA card!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!