Friday, August 23, 2019

I'll select better next time

I feel a bit foolish.

I ended up remembering what I forgot to get at Walmart the last time. It was some envelopes for work to mail off some plaques.

So, even though I wanted to avoid buying anything off card shelves for the rest of the month, I felt obligated to stop by the card aisle. Besides, Archives will likely make an appearance near me before the month is out and how will I be able to resist sampling something that contains the '75 design? You ARE expecting an exhaustive break down of Topps' inability to replicate that design aren't you? I'd be disappointed in you if you didn't. I'd be disappointed in me if I didn't.

So, obviously, no Archives yet. We can't all run over to the hobby shop in Alaska.

My closest Walmart did contain Chrome and Heritage High Numbers, formerly the latest-and-greatest cards on shelves. I turned down Chrome flat. Ever since Chrome scrapped its borders it has lost all of its irresistibility. I am immune to its charms.

So, with only one option left, and to control costs, I grabbed a single rack pack of Heritage High Numbers.

This was what was in the pack:

Are you as bored by this as I am?

I couldn't scan the cards individually because it's much too dull for that.

This has all the signs of the dullest pack of the year: a design that just doesn't interest me that much (even though the original '70 set has grown on me), players I don't know, and a whole host of teams that could disappear tomorrow with me barely noticing. Not only are there no Dodgers, but I think I've officially set a personal record for pulling Diamondbacks this year and the lone Diamondbacks collector I know doesn't seem to be collecting them anymore.

So, I don't really feel like I shouldn't have bought the pack or anything like that, that I've been taught a lesson, or that I should have saved my money to buy something I really want and then lord it over people who have bought blasters recently. But I do feel a little bit foolish for grabbing this instead of another pack of A&G.

And I also feel foolish for risking the chance of pulling a Dodgers dupe since Buckstore Cards has promised me the majority of the Dodgers.

But I did buy what I wanted when I wanted at the time I wanted. And that can't be stressed enough.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

An exclusive club

My Allen & Ginter mini frankenset features 27 empty slots.

You'd think that even in a 350-card frankenset with 323 slots filled that it would not be extremely difficult to fill up the remaining spaces. You'd think that even if a mini wasn't going to fill an empty slot, it could still crack the frankenset. Look at the above page. It's filled with players like Ryan McMahon and Yunel Escobar, guys dying to be knocked out of the club. Just about every other page is like that, too.

But I find that time and again, minis are trying and failing to make the binder.

Some of this, I believe, is because Topps earmarks certain numbers for certain "types" in its A&G set. And if I like that "type" -- perhaps it's a baseball legend or a notable off-beat nonsports card -- then a card at that number may be continuously denied. You could be a card of Ryne Sandberg but there is only one Rod Carew, son.

But still, I get hopeful when I come into a collection of minis. Recently, Adam of Cardboard Clubhouse sent me some unwanted A&G minis. They were all Reds and Indians as I think Adam is downsizing his minis. I gladly accepted hoping that a few could crack the club, maybe even fill a vacancy.

But it was a pretty futile exercise. Here is what happened:

First card, Marlon Byrd, who I didn't even know played for the Reds. This isn't a good sign. Byrd is gunning for spot #137 in the binder ...

... and he's gunned down by the legendary sharp-shooter. Nobody is getting past Annie Oakley in this frankenset.

Next up, former Red and Royal, now pitching for the gross Giants. He has a shot in this set because he's not a Giant and also because he's card No. 294, where there is a VACANCY!

An empty spot filled!!! I am now down to 26 cards left to complete the frankenset.

Let's see if I can fill any more.

This looks promising. It's a black-bordered Joey Votto at card No. 59. Votto is already in the frankenset binder, which is usually a strike against another card of the player making it into the binder. But that black border ...

Oof. No chance against forgotten legend Hal Newhouser. It's a privilege to have the former 29-game winner in the frankenset. Check out his run from 1944-46.

Two strikes against Brandon Phillips already. He's in the frankenset binder with his 2008 A&G card, which can be seen in the page at the top of the post. Also this is a horizontal card, which I generally don't like in A&G. Although the 2016 set did a better job of presenting horizontals.

Let's see if he can find room at No. 155 ...

That's a big fat NO.

Yogi is the binder I think three times. But Yogi can pull that off.

Johnny Cueto's feeling pretty proud of his inclusion in the frankenset, he's going to get greedy at No. 23 ...


Let's try Amir Garrett. He should be in the binder for taking on the entire Pirates dugout. I can't see anyone standing up to him in the binder at card No. 183 ...

... unless it's THE groundhog on Groundhog Day! You had your day Amir Garrett. But the groundhog gets his day every year!

Next on the list, Billy Hamilton at No. 275. Hamilton is a Brave now, which means this isn't helping his cause here.

And he fails against the formerly long-locked deGrom.

Perhaps former Dodger Jose Peraza can squeeze into the frankenset at No. 258. This is exactly the type of player who somehow finds his way into the binder.

But I'm holding on to Eric Chavez at that spot. This is from the 2008 set, my favorite A&G set and that's enough to keep him there.

Next up ...


Moving on ...

Johnny Cueto again?

Well, black borders always get precedence. So this card knocks out the Cueto I just placed in slot No. 294.

That does it for all the Reds. One card made it into the set. Let's see if the Indians can do any better.

First attempt is Jhonny Peralta at No. 203. This is a solid bid, since he's on the 2008 design. Let's see how he fares ...

LOL! Never mind.

Another solid attempt. I'd love to have Carlos Carrasco black border in the binder, trying to come back from leukemia and all ...

... unfortunately, he's going up against a Dodger at card No. 261. And it's a rookie card, too. No chance.

The former Fausto Carmona was in my frankenset binder previously but was booted out so this card isn't making it. Let's see the card that knocked it out ...

The chicken-eater. Adam! Your cards aren't having much luck here!

Jason Kipnis might have a shot since he's at card No. 318 and there are a fair number of empty slots at 300 or above ...

... But in one of the closest showdowns of this particular frankenset battle, Eric Hosmer prevails just based on his role on the 2015 Royals. Not even holding the Padre stuff against him.

OK, I don't know who Trevor Crowe is ...

No deal. Indians! You could have had any shot at all at No. 126 with anyone except some rookie I've never heard of!

Next, a fine 2008 card of Victor Martinez at No. 65 ...

Forget that.

 Victor Martinez tries again! This time at No. 41.

Not a chance.

OK, we're at the last mini that Adam sent me.

It's from 2007 A&G and I have great respect for A&G from '06 and '07 since I didn't start collecting the set until 2008. But Sabathia is already represented at card No. 5 in the frankenset. We'll see if he can get a second entrant at No. 106 ...

Foiled again. This is my only mini in the frankenset of Dustin Pedroia.

So, after all of that, there is one more card in the frankenset binder and still 26 slots open.

And now I have a bunch of minis that I don't know what to do with (which is the reason why I started the frankenset because what do you do with these things?)

Oh, well, I did say it was an exclusive club.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

C.A.: 2019 Topps Stadium Club Christy Mathewson

(Stage 2 of the creation of my card room has begun. A second set of shelves has been purchased and erected for my Dodgers binders. With that, there will be some reorganizing of stuff on the wall and possibly moving the card desk around. Then I'll get the remaining binders off the floor and onto shelves and then it's on to Stage 3 -- wall stuff! But now it's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 284th in a series):

First reaction: he pitched in that?

More on that in a minute. But I wanted to mention that I've noticed a handful of new legends in Topps products this year.

Most of this is merely the return of retired players who already appeared regularly on Topps cards a decade ago. Mathewson and Pee Wee Reese (still need that wonderful Stadium Club card of Reese) were regulars in Topps products in 2010 and 2011. 2019 has also marked the return of cards for Rogers Hornsby and Mel Ott, who were each regulars back in 2011.

The only legends newbies that I can find in my collection are Sammy Sosa, who appears to only have had an Archives card in 2014 since retirement (I'm referring only to Topps here); Tino Martinez, who hasn't shown up post-playing days since 2006; and Casey Stengel, who hasn't been in a Topps product since 2002! So the 2019 Stengel card is well-deserved and I'm glad I have one (from Allen & Ginter).

I think I might make this a regular practice -- charting the legends featured each year -- it would be interesting to see who moves in and who moves out.

Overall it's basically the same old players over and over. I suppose Ruth, Aaron, Clemente, etc., aren't ever going anywhere. And Topps will probably hold on to Derek Jeter forever, too. But Willie Mays hasn't shown up since 2016 and meanwhile, legends (*cough*) Luis Gonzalez and A.J. Burnett are weirdly popping up and I find that fascinating.

So if I don't forget, expect a report here at some point.

Anyway, the Mathewson card is striking. Obviously it's been colorized. Mathewson didn't pitch in a world of color photography. The image appears to be from 1911. A photo of him wearing the same sweater was taken during spring training in March, 1911 in Marlin Springs, Texas.

This explains things for the Stadium Club shot quite a bit. It must have been a cold day in Marlin Springs, which is south of Dallas, near Waco, for Mathewson to wear his collar all the way up. Here is the shot that Topps used for the card.

I'm going to assume Mathewson did not wear that while playing.

Those sweaters were the style back then, the forerunner to the jacket and, now, the hoodie. Here's another shot:

For the first decade of the 1900s, there was probably no other player better than Mathewson except for Honus Wagner and Cy Young. I don't seem to hear as much about Mathewson as I do those other early 1900s players like the ones I mentioned above and Hall of Famers like Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson.

Yeah, this is a Dodger fan saying I think he should get a little more credit, if only for the sweater.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The continuing horror of buybacks

I don't know how long stamped buybacks have been around.

I have considered them a recent creation as they are so pointless to me that they have to be a modern invention, right? The earliest reference to buybacks that I can find on my blog is from July, 2014, not that I should be a historical source for buybacks.

In fact, my disregard for these affronts to cardboard means I'm fully unaware of the fact they probably have been around for much, much longer (I am aware of the longstanding practice of inserting old cards that are newly signed into new product, but that's a different thing and totally understandable).

For instance, the card above.

Did you know that is a buyback? Did you know it's a buyback from 2003?

I didn't notice the stamp at first as it's much less apparent than the buybacks these days. And then I was horrified. WHY ARE WE STAMPING A PERFECTLY GOOD 1961 TOPPS GIL HODGES CARD?

It's a good thing I have a copy of this card -- unstamped -- already. This rant would be a lot longer.

So this weird practice of stamping perfectly good cards has been going on at least since the the start of the 21st century. I have to say, this is not a good look, 21st century. Stop it right now.

I received this card from Jeremy of Topps Cards That Never Were (And Were Never Stamped). Just about all of the cards he sent were fancy in some way, numbered and other kinds of semi-exclusiveness.

This is a Donruss Studio Portraits card from 2005 Throwback Threads. The stamp on the back (ON THE BACK -- BUYBACKS -- ON THE BACK!!) says it is one of only 25 made. I already have another one of these. So having two of the 25 makes me cackle inside.

Parallel versions of base cards. That Kendrick card is quite a sight and baffled me for a good while. I believe it's one of those "pulsar" parallels but in gold form. Yup, had no idea these existed.

This is the relic portion of the package. The Shawn Green relic gets added to my already completely unnecessary number of Shawn Green relics. The LoDuca is a relic card I had once but then got rid of in a relic purge and now it's back! The Gibson relic is the best because it's my first one of him. Likey.

Now the Panini portion of parallels-and-such that I didn't know existed. I will probably get every parallel of Caleb Ferguson by the end of the year because people keep sending them because nobody knows who he is.

Jeremy also sent a couple of his creations, although both are kind of half a card. I guess you'd call them samples.

The Muncy card is a very good reason for creating a Card That Never Was. The guy needed a base card in a 2018 flagship set and Topps didn't want to create it.

The Homer Bailey is flat-out interesting as Bailey never played for the Dodgers. He was acquired by the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp deal and then instantly released. He's now with Oakland, sporting a 6-plus ERA.

So those are some much appreciated -- and different -- cards from Jeremy.

They're helping me get over the stamped horror of that '61 Hodges.