Wednesday, July 28, 2021

2021 baseball breaks

I just got a huge box of baseball and basketball cards from Bo which I will spread out over multiple posts here and at The 1993. First I want to catch up on some cards I received from a pair of Nachos Grande box breaks.

I was lucky to grab the Red Sox for his break of 2021 Stadium Club. They're usually claimed pretty quickly.

Pulled four base cards and a red parallel of Chris Sale. There are often bonus packs in a Nachos Grande break and 2015 Topps was included in this one. I have the complete set and duplicates of almost all of the Red Sox so I was fortunate that one of the two inserts in the pack was a Nomar I didn't have.


At the time of the break, the Red Sox were the best team in the American League and the Giants were the best team in the National League. [Huh, look at that - they still are.] I decided to pay a few more bucks for San Fran with an eye toward Buster Posey, Joey Bart's RC, or one of the Willies - Mays or McCovey. McCovey isn't in this year's set, and the Mays is nothing special. I didn't get it anyway.

I didn't get Buster Posey, either. Got the Bart though, plus a Yaz, two parallels (say hi to Longo for me, Fuji :P ) and a Will Clark insert that I kinda liked - before I saw literally everyone else pull the same card.


I've watched enough box break videos to know that sometimes the biggest pulls go to low-profile teams that are either bought at the last minute or not at all. With that in mind, I took a shot at the Rays for $2.

Swing and a miss. Luis Patino was a key piece of the Blake Snell trade. He hasn't been great, but he's still only 21. I basically paid $1 for a lottery ticket of a pitcher and $1 for an Austin Meadows base card. Oh well :/


Don't let this discourage you from buying up low-profile teams in a box break, however. Earlier this spring I bought into a Nachos Grande break of 2021 Topps Heritage and Opening Day.

I paid $4 for the Twins, and got a whole team set, plus a Kenta Maeda dupe:

One of the four Blue parallels Chris pulled from the box was a Twin, as well as one of the Legends of Baseball:

Not bad for $4. But that was actually a bonus box. The main attraction was a box of Topps Heritage. In addition to the ten Twins above I got these:


And these:


And a high number short print:


Oh, and this:

That was the hit of the box, IIRC. I know I laughed when Chris pulled it because there was a 1 in 30 chance that I'd be the lucky winner of the relic, and because it looked like a bat piece (or a band-aid) in the video. It definitely feels like a piece of cloth more than a jersey, but it's been quite a while since I pulled a jersey card out of a pack.

Either way, I certainly got my money's worth for the Twins lot - and spent less than $20 on everything in this post. It's a bummer that Brian (Highly Subjective) hasn't surfaced in a while cause I'd be happy to send some of these to a true fan of the team. But since he's not around to see this...


At least they won't lose another playoff series this year.




Thanks for reading!




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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Christmas In July

Cleveland sports teams have been on my mind a bit lately. First there was the three-part documentary about the Cavaliers from Secret Base. Then the Cleveland Indians changed a few letters in their name.

In between, this card arrived in my mailbox. It's my first legit Cleveland Barons card; there are five in the 2004-05 In The Game franchises set. The only other vintage Barons card in my collection appears to be airbrushed. In fact there are very few cards from the Barons' two seasons of existence that actually show the team logo

I had requested this Gilles Meloche card - along with 14 set fillers from 2018 Topps Chrome - in a TCDB trade offer made on June 11th. It took me nearly six weeks to complete this deal, but I had to be patient. Nine cards - including a Seth Jones Black Diamond RC and some 2014 Topps baseball inserts - were sent to RustyK99 in exchange for:


Two Cardinals, two Astros, two Twins, and the Indians' only decent hitter - plus a guy who just got cut by the Tigers. My 2018 Topps Chrome set build is now 68% complete. I still need far too many rookies, but every little bit helps.

For a while I had turned off trading as I planned to finish my PWE Swap and then rebuild the tradelist from scratch. However I saw some Texas trader anxious to get rid of his football and basketball cards for some reason  and he clearly stated that he would trade 10 cards to 1 in our favor.

I happened to have two cards he needed, and so I scoured his tradelist for some NFL/NBA goodies. Of the ten cards I'd requested two were taken - a Larry Bird Hall of Fame insert and a Bobby Portis Mosaic green parallel. My substitutions were even better: I found a Brett Favre insert on second glance and got a nice Red Prizm parallel of a guy I semi-collected a couple years ago.


My first 1986-87 Fleer single and my first Domantas Sabonis card. He was probably the best NBA veteran not represented in my collection - until now. The Kevin Huerter Hoops Premium will fit right in with the fat pack I got as a free gift for spending way too much money at Dave and Adam's.

Broadcasting legend Mike Wallace is the only set filler needed from this trade. The Taylor RC might be the sleeper of the deal; he was the NFL's third-leading rusher in 2020 as a rookie. A pair of Packers would have been a fair trade on their own; this is my second Za'Darius Smith card and my 844th Favre single.

I got all ten of these for a Houston Astros Panini logo sticker (and I threw in a Warren Moon checklist card.)


As for that Hoops Premium stock pack, it was fairly pedestrian:

I'm not a fan of the Ball family, and I would have preferred the other Blazers star.

First year player cards. Cam Reddish played well once he got a chance in the East final. Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland might be the best of the three rookies.

The hits. Wendell Carter Jr. is back, in Green prizm form. The Lazer Prizm pack yielded Cleveland's best player and two Jazz superstars.

More NBA content (what is this, Secret Base?) The PWE Swap Meet is nearing the big finish. Two more envelopes arrived this weekend, one from Jafronius:


...and one from The Diamond King, who asked that I do not send a return. (Are you sure, DK?)

The black Bird is SN'd to 99


Thank you Jerold and Kevin! I've shipped out all of the "Rack Pack" PWEs and sent a small box to Bo in exchange for the grand finale of NBA Week. (Fuji, there's still time to jump in if you're interested.)

When I mailed out the PWEs - and Bo's box - something at the counter caught my eye:


It was too late to send these to one of our resident Yankees fans but I'll save them for the next mailer to Bo, AJ, or anyone else who might want one. And I'll be sure that they're in the envelope, not on it ;-)

One final card to discuss. Stephen of the Baseball Card Store reached out about some 1994-95 SP hockey singles he was offering. I'd included a bunch in my last order and he wanted to give me first crack at his new stock. The only one I needed was Joe Sakic, and I told him that if it's still there when I order again, I'll take it. But I didn't expect him to hold it for me.



He sent it to me as a gift. A... Christmas gift?




Merci, Stephane! And Merry Christmas everyone ;P


Thanks for reading!




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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Back to Baseball

 **If you have sent me an NBA PWE please go to The 1993 blog and claim your return PWE. Thanks!**


The NBA Finals could end tonight (now that I've typed that, they probably won't) and the NHL Expansion Draft is tomorrow. I'm very excited about the Seattle Kraken. I've already ordered a hat and I'm going to wear it at work. Not that anyone will know what it is.

I'm not ready to get back into baseball. I'm not sure if I'll ever be a fan of the game the way I was in the before time. I see a lot of comments on blogs and message boards from folks who have stopped following the NFL or NBA (or NHL) because the sport doesn't resemble the one they grew up with. My father in law used to say the same thing about Nascar. It's not the same. Too many rule changes. 

That's how I feel about baseball. It's really hard for me to care about the sport when every other day seems to bring some bad news. Meanwhile, exciting things are happening in hoops and hockey - and football is just around the corner.

Even though I've become disenchanted with the product on the field I'm still collecting baseball cards. I kinda have to if I want anyone to read this blog lol. I've requested a blaster of 2021 Stadium Club for my birthday and I've got a small stack incoming from a Nachos Grande box break. 2022 Topps looks interesting. I may have to consider ending my self-imposed set building freeze once that his shelves. 

Until then, here are some newly-acquired cards of some of the greatest players in baseball history. I bought two of them for pocket change. The other two cost me nearly four figures.


 I had a small amount of eBay bucks to spend and picked up a long-lost single from my childhood:

This 1984 Donruss Nolan Ryan was one of my most cherished and valuable singles as a kid. I'd kept it in a Card Saver holder, stored it... somewhere.. and then lost it more than 30 years ago. I'm not a Nolan Ryan collector at all but this is one I've been meaning to pick up ever since then, and it only cost $1.76.

The seller only charged $0.99 shipping and adding an extra card was free, so I checked their other auctions. Didn't see anything I had to have but decided to put a low bid on a 1980 Topps Mike Schmidt. I once had a PSA Mint 9 copy of this card when I was collecting World Series champions. 


And now this card has returned to my collection, for just one dollar. After the eBay Bucks I spent $1.25 total.


The '80 Schmidt and '84 Ryan were two of the most recent cards on a vintage wantlist I'd created. In the spring I sold over $5,000 worth of items on eBay. I banked over $3,000 for home improvements, set aside $1,000 on a new couch for our living room, and I allowed myself to spend the rest on one high-value vintage card.

After another fruitless search for a high-grade Robin Yount rookie card I narrowed my focus to two cards: a 1960 Topps Mickey Mantle and a 1971 Topps Roberto Clemente. This was a tough decision.


I'm not a fan of the 1960 Topps set at all. One of the first price guides I ever owned wrote a feature story calling it "major league ugly" - and I agreed. However one of the few singles I like in the set is of course the Mantle, which is also one of the best looking vintage issues of "The Mick" in my opinion.


On the other hand, the 1971 Topps set is more attractive - if a bit dull. Clemente led the Pirates to a World Series victory in both '60 and '71, and I'd much rather have his '71 single. The black borders pair nicely with the Pirates uniform - and he's properly identified as Roberto rather than "Bob" on the newer card.


These particular copies had their pros and cons as well. The Mantle was a BVG 6. I have never bought a Beckett-graded vintage single; I've always been loyal to PSA for older cards. However I've been very annoyed with them lately. If this were slabbed by PSA - in a 5 or a 6 - it would sell for a lot more.


Dave and Adam's had the Mantle - along with a 1972 Topps Hank Aaron I'd had my eye on. If I bought from D & A I wouldn't have to pay tax, and I'd probably get the cards faster. But it would cost more.

Clemente was listed by a prominent eBay seller (not Probstein or PWCC or any of those jokers.) This card was sharp. It was also $100 cheaper than the Mantle - but once tax was attached the savings would be negligible. This particular copy was the nicest '7' I'd ever seen - the centering was a bit off but more than acceptable for my money. I'd asked my wife for her opinion and she agreed the Clemente was much nicer than the Mantle.


All things being equal, I'd choose Roberto. But how do I pass up a vintage mid-grade Mickey? I deliberated all night, and planned to decide before going to bed.

The decision was made for me.


Someone bought the Roberto Clemente card. I quickly headed to D & A to snatch the Mantle - and the Aaron.

Because I bought it :P

I know I'll never see another '71 Clemente in my price range that looks as clean as that one did. The borders on that card were immaculate. But I'm thrilled to add another Mantle - and another Aaron - to my collection.




Thanks for reading!



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Friday, July 16, 2021

When will it be Dame's Time?

I've spent most of NBA Week discussing players and card sets I collected when I was a young NBA fan from 1989 to about 1996 or 1997. By the end of the '90s I had lost interest in the sport, and the league. It was only about three years ago that I really started to enjoy the NBA again, and it wasn't until this year that I followed basketball as closely - or more closely - than the other sports.

This postseason in particular has been very enjoyable. I have a ton of respect for LeBron James and I'll take his side in the GOAT debate any day. But he's been to the finals ten times. His Cavaliers teams played the Golden State Warriors in four consecutive Finals series. Let someone else have a turn!

One of the many reasons I was turned off of basketball is that there were so many superstars in the 1990s who never won a championship. It was a foregone conclusion that the Bulls were going to win - at least until Michael Jordan was suspended for gambling decided to play minor league baseball.  

That's not the case in the LeBron era. Until this year it was pretty much automatic that whatever team he was on would be in the Final. But it wasn't automatic that they'd win.

In the 1990s four different teams won titles. In the 2000s five teams grabbed a chip. In the 2010s seven different teams triumphed - and LeBron only played for two of them. And then he started this decade with a fourth title on his third team.

Today the league is stacked with exciting young talent: Trae Young in Atlanta. Luka Doncic in Dallas. Zion Williamson in New Orleans. Ja Morant in Memphis. Some of these stars will leave the team that drafted them at the first opportunity, either for a bigger market or a better chance to win (or both.)

Or maybe - just maybe - they'll stay loyal to one franchise for as long as possible.


Damian Lillard has stayed with the Portland Trail Blazers for nine years. Since he became their go-to guy in his second NBA season, Portland has reached the playoffs eight times and lost in the first or second round seven times. The Lillard-led Blazers made a Western Conference final once. The super team from Golden State swept 'em.

It has always been very difficult for a team to win an NBA title without three star quality players. The 2011 Mavericks and 2004 Pistons are on the short list of exceptions. This year's finalists aren't stacked with big names but the stars are there: CP3, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton for Phoenix. Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday for Milwaukee. Portland doesn't have a a big three. They don't have a frontcourt star to take some of the load off of Lillard and C.J. McCollum. And it's doubtful that they'll get one any time soon.

One thing I still dislike about the NBA is clique culture, the "banana boat" clusters of superstars who go where their friends are - as long as their friends are in a big, fun city like New York, L.A., or Miami. From everything I've seen and read Damian Lillard is an exemplary superstar, beloved in his community and respected by his peers. He was honored as Teammate of the Year this season. 

Does that mean a superstar player is going to pack up for Portland and help Dame and C.J. win a title?

So it looks like Lillard will have to leave "Rip City" if he wants a real chance at a ring. And that's a shame. He's over 30 but hasn't shown any signs of decline yet. He's as clutch as anyone in the game.

Tell me that this is not the baddest man in basketball:




It's hard to have a favorite NBA team, since players come and go so frequently. My co-worker Torry has been a Miami Heat fan since he was a kid - Dwyane Wade was his favorite player - but when they were in the "bubble" Final last year he admitted to only following the Heat casually. He knew they weren't going to beat the Lakers, and his guy had retired anyhow.
 

There are four or five NBA teams I cheer for every postseason. One of them is in the Finals as I type this. I like the Celtics, Pacers, Raptors, and Nuggets but I don't have a strong affinity for any of them. It would be nice to see Boston win another title. It would be nice to see LeBron win six rings. It would be great to see a small-market franchise win it all. But next year, I want to see Dame Time in the Finals.

via GIPHY


I have 19 Damian Lillard cards, including his 2015-16 Donruss base card. None of them are rookies or relics:


His autograph is interesting - but very expensive. I've been looking for an affordable Panini Immaculate single and any insert card with him and Clyde Drexler. It's been so long since I placed my COMC order that I'd forgotten if there was a 20th Lillard card incoming (there isn't.)


Who is your favorite active NBA star? Who is your favorite active athlete (in any sport) without a championship ring?




Thank you for celebrating NBA Week with me. Stop by The 1993 and claim a Rack Pack PWE :)


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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

PWEs for me, PWEs for you

It's Day 12 of NBA week and I've got one more post for you before the basketball content comes to a close. In case you missed it I discussed the Phoenix Suns, Gheorghe Mureșan, and Reggie Lewis over at The 1993.


Here at the flagship, NBA week tipped off with an All-Star squad of recent Second Round draft picks (Including Khris Middleton.) We discussed the card-less 1982-83 NBA season and reviewed Fleer and Hoops offerings from 1989-90.


The seventh post of the series will focus on my favorite active basketball player. You may be familiar with my favorite retired stars since they are popping up frequently in the PWEs I've received so far. Two more arrived this week, one from Dennis (Too Many Verlanders) which was heavy on 1999-00 Ultra and players I collect:


...and one from AJ (the Lost Collector), which was a lot more random.

I'm always happy to increase my player PC count but I do love a good potpourri PWE. Thank you Dennis and AJ!

These arrived from Sportlots. I've mentioned all of them except the Sean Elliott in previous NBA Week posts.

 

Now that you've seen what I've received so far in this PWE Swap Meet, it's time to discuss what I'll be sending. I'm preparing up to 40 12-card PWE strips for claiming, but I have a question: should I group some PWEs by team, by set, by year, or by brand? Or would you prefer random samplings of various sets? Most of the 3-pocket pages will be one-sport, so if you want baseball you'll get 12 baseball cards - not some hidden hockey from 1991 lol. 

Let me know what you think. I will probably scan and post the PWEs for you to claim on Saturday at noon. Hopefully that works for everyone involved. 


Thanks for reading, and Gooo Suns! ;P


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Sunday, July 11, 2021

NBAty nine

Let's fast forward a few years from the barren basketball card wasteland of 1982 to 1989 [cue Public Enemy's "Fight The Power"]  There are now two NBA sets to collect!

Fleer now faced competition from NBA Hoops, whose initial set was much bigger and more plentiful (at least in my observation.) Fleer had the brand recognition and the extra sticker-card, but they did not have a David Robinson rookie card. Hoops had two cards of the Admiral.

Aside from that one random pack of 1988-89 Fleer my dad brought home one day, my first real exposure to basketball cards was the 1989-90 Hoops set. A card shop near my house had the top stars sleeved and priced in a showcase - many were 50 cents each, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were probably a buck or more. I think Michael Jordan was $3 even back then.

I don't recall seeing any Fleer singles or packs for sale in 1989.


Earlier this year I finished the 1989-90 Fleer basketball set. The last card I needed was of course Michael Jordan. I had finished the 1989-90 Hoops set just before the pandemic. The last two cards I needed were the short-printed David Robinson RC and the Pistons championship variation. 


With both base sets and the 11-card Fleer All-Star Stickers set complete, I wondered if there were any other cards I needed to complete the run of 1989 NBA sets. It's not as easy as I thought:


1989-90 Fleer has three error cards - both John Williamses have wrong back variations and Gerald Wilkins has a tough variation that spells out "University of Tennessee" on the back.



1989-90 Hoops has six error cards, two checklists, 42 announcer cards.. and there's also a set of 100 Superstars with a yellow background - though TCDB lists that as a 1990 release. 

I decided to pass on building a master set of 1989-90 Hoops and instead focused on the 1999-00 Hoops Decade set.



This is a much smaller set at 180 cards. There are no expensive rookie cards, and Michael Jordan was in the middle of one of his five or six retirements so I don't have to worry about him. The only card that will cost more than a dollar is the Kobe Bryant base single.

Scrolling through TCDB I found that 19 players appeared in both the '89-90 Hoops set and the '99-00 Hoops Decade tribute. They are: Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Hersey Hawkins, Jeff Hornacek, Mark Jackson, Dan Majerle, Karl Malone, Danny Manning, Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin, Charles Oakley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen, Mitch Richmond, David Robinson, Detlef Schrempf, Rik Smits, John Stockton, and Rod Strickland.



I've got a Richmond and a Tim Duncan card incoming from Sporlots, which will leave me 81 cards short of completing the 1999-00 Hoops Decade set.

Panini didn't bother to produce a 20th anniversary Hoops set in 2019 so I came up with my own. Here's the entire 300-card checklist for 2019-20 NBA Hoops 20th Anniversary:

 


There is one more '89-adjacent basketball set to discuss. Fleer paid tribute to their 1989-90 set with 2002-03 Fleer Tradition, a 300-card set that includes two Michael Jordan cards and two Kobe Bryant cards. Also Yao Ming appears on three rookie cards for some reason.


The border colors are sharper but the background is blurry. The cards almost look photoshopped (and maybe they are?) One thing I do like about the '02-03 Fleer Tradition set is the color-matching backs:

Much better than that gross reddish-pinkish color on the backs of every 1989-90 Fleer card.

Just for fun I decided to cross-check both Fleer sets to see how many players appeared in 1989-90 and 2002-03. There are eight: Horace Grant, Mark Jackson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, and Rod Strickland. 

Six players appeared in both 1989-90 sets and 1999-00 Hoops Decade and 2002-03 Fleer Tradition. They are: Mark Jackson, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, and Rod Strickland (Grant wasn't included in Hoops Decade.)


In the early aughts it was still a fairly novel concept to give an old design a fresh coat of paint. Today, trading card companies - especially Topps and Upper Deck - recycle old designs so often that you have to wonder what they'll use as a "tribute" twenty years from now. I've started to avoid these cards whenever possible but there are designs that I don't mind seeing updated, such as 1985 Topps baseball and 1993 SP anything.

Do you have a favorite basketball card set design? Do you like or dislike "tribute" sets in general?


Thanks for reading, and LET'S GO SUNS!!!



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