Sunday, January 31, 2010

The cards will still be there in April


That's what I kept telling myself earlier today while holding the steering wheel in a death grip, head hunched over the dashboard, in a desperate bid to see through the patch of windshield that hadn't frozen over.

I'm telling you, there is nothing that will make you feel more alive than driving through white-out conditions. If you ever get bored with your situation, I'm inviting you up here for an invigorating spin down the interstate. It's as close as you'll get to driving while blind.

So, yeah, I didn't make it to the card show. I drove about five miles, tried to get off at the next exit, couldn't SEE the exit ramp, drove for another terrifying couple more miles, then turned around for home. That makes two years in a row I didn't attend the January card show. Like last year, I'll wait until April for another one to come around.

But unlike last year, I didn't sulk much. There's a couple of reasons for that. One of them is I've been buying for myself from the comfort of home a little more often.

I made an unofficial resolution not to buy any blasters this year. Yeah, we'll see how that goes. But the plan is to use the 20 bucks I would spend on nobodies from the Diamondbacks and Athletics and put it toward stuff I want.

Last week my second CheckOutMyCards package arrived. I'll show what I got. One card won't be featured here as it's to fulfill my end of a trade agreement. But I will say that it is a snazzy relic card of a popular player who may or may not make the Hall of Fame. That card, and all the other cards came to under 20 dollars.

OK, now on with the good stuff -- the Dodgers. You saw the first card. It's another one of those Action Packed cards of official bad-ass Reggie Smith.


I pretty much covered all the Ron Cey cards at COMC the last time, so this is the only one I received this time. It's a very strange card with a tiny image, and it's numbered but I don't know why.


I made an intentional attempt to get certain low-cost cards of Dodgers stars of long ago. One of them is Dolph Camilli, who was the slugger on the 1941 pennant-winning Dodgers team. He also won the National League MVP award that year.

I
 don't really do the rainbow thing, but since I had a few variations of the Andre Ethier Baseball Heroes card already, I decided to pick up a few more. Very pretty. I could get hooked on this very easily.

The rest of the cards I'm showing are all pitchers, since that's where my sympathy lies.

I had to get the Kellogg's 3-D Fernando Valenzuela card. It's odd for me to see '80s players on Kellogg's cards. To me, '70s are Kellogg's and '80s are Sportsflics.


I sure do like the SSPC set. I went after Andy Messersmith because there aren't many cards of him as a Dodger.


You can really bankrupt the family going for Hideo Nomo cards. So I picked up just one. 2004 Finest might be my favorite Finest year. This card is awesome to look at -- much more awesome than on the scan.


Speaking of pretty blue cards, I love this 2009 Bowman blue refractor of the Dodgers' future ace, Clayton Kershaw. Again, it's a deeper blue and way cooler in person.


I also grabbed the 2008 Heritage High Numbers insert Kershaw card. This one had eluded me for too long.

Instead of aiming for relics and autos this time, I saved a little bit of cash for a couple of vintage cards. The first one was my first 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats card.


It's also my first Dazzy Vance card. Vance was a great for the Dodgers in the 1920s and led the National League in strikeouts for seven straight years, winning the NL MVP in 1924. This photo, obviously, isn't from his playing days. But everything about the card rules.


It's so difficult to find cheap Koufax cards. But this one was marked way down and is in rocking shape. It's a 1962 Topps card and probably my favorite out of this purchase. I wish that Reds pitcher wasn't mucking up the card. But you can't go wrong with three Dodgers fireballers as floating heads.

That was the haul, except the one non-Dodger relic. I know everyone wants to know about the shipping. It was 6 bucks.

I really don't care if that's high or low. (It's high). I enjoy COMC. It's easy to find cards. I get to look at the cards. I find what I want. It all arrives together in the same package. I just can't get fired up over a couple of dollars. To me, shopping convenience is worth paying for. I'm not well off, but I don't need to look for a deal on everything. I don't drive all over the damn city looking for the best price on a gallon of gas. And I'm not going to give myself an ulcer crying about shipping.

If I was spending a lot more cash on cards then I might think differently about it.

I probably will head to sportlots in the next month or two. Just to mix it up. But I don't expect to express everlasting devotion to one place or another. It comes down to this: do I like the cards I got? Was the shopping process simple? Did I spend what I wanted? If the answer is yes to all those three, then I'm happy.

Sesame Street for collectors

Vintage

Modern



Sesame Street for Collectors has been brought to you today by the manufactured letter patches "T," and "S," and by the serial-number "3."

The cards are brought to you by Daniel of It's Like Having My Own Card Shop.




(Note: I am either en route to a card show or pouting about not being at a card show. This minimalist post will serve as a stand-in until I can return with my usual scatter-shot, semi-thoughtful blog commentary ).


(Note 2: Why on earth does the updated version of blogger post editor not have spell check?)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

There's no crying in baseball cards

I pulled this card out of a fresh pack of 2010 Topps cards yesterday. At first glance, I didn't give it much thought. But then I almost did a double-take as I looked at the photo again.

"Wait a minute ..." I thought. "What the ...

"Cito -- are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL CARDS!"

Seriously, I have been collecting cards for 30 years. Although I've never heard any of my Rogers Hornsby cards call another card a talking pile of pigshit, I am fairly certain that I have never seen a person cry on a baseball card. Those are real tears there. This is major.

Gaston not only made history by bringing a World Series championship to Canada, but he may have made history being the first person to cry on a baseball card. Sure, he's a cry baby. Much like Tom Hanks' character, Jimmy Duggan, weepfests make me squirm. But the chicks dig it.

(By the way, this is not an invitation for everyone to go rummaging through your collections to find an earlier card of someone crying. But I know how much some of you need to be right. So, go. Knock yourself out).

This card came out of one of three packs of 2010 product sent to me by Joe M. Yeah, that's right, I still haven't purchased any 2010 cards from a store near me. The cards could be there by now, I just haven't checked the last couple of days.

But if people keep sending me packs, I may never have to enter a Target again. I've got 60 cards from the 2010 set without making a move.

Here are two cards from each pack.
Pack 1: David DeJesus gets an endorsement deal.

Pack 1: Someone having a career forced upon him. They really are the tools of ignorance when you're 3.

Pack 2: What did they have to go through to get that pose?

Pack 2: Mr. Cy. A nice card to pull.

Pack 3: My first Dodger of 2009. Always a great day when that happens.

Pack 3: I am really starting to like this series. Baseball stories are one of my favorite aspects of baseball. And it's great to see that Topps isn't simply using famous achievements that have been recycled over and over. It is actually going for famous "stories." I love this card.

Joe M. also sent some other cool cards that I'll show another time. This is like the fourth unsolicited package that he has sent. He has seriously great cards. And he's looking to trade. If you send me an email, I'd be happy to pass along his contact info.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Awesome night card, pt. 70

I do not own this card. It's the first awesome night card that I have shown that is not in my collection.

If everything goes right, I will have the card before the weekend is out.

Maybe.

There is supposed to be a card show this weekend. As usual, I will have to travel an hour to get there. As usual, the weather sucks here in January. As usual, they're calling for snow the day of the show. I don't know how much snow or where it's going to land right now, and I probably won't know until it's time to get in the car to drive there. That is the beauty of living next to a giant body of water. Not even the meteorologists have the slightest idea of how bad it's going to get. They talk in extremely general terms and you wonder why they're getting paid.

So, if I do get to the show, job one will be getting the 1969 Topps Del Unser night card. Because I'm sick of wanting it.

After that, I will shop carefully. I have less money for this show than any show I've gone to in the last four years. So this is my list:

1. 1969 Topps Del Unser card
2. 1981 Topps Traded Fernando Valenzuela
3. Five 1976 Topps cards that I don't have
4. At least two late '60s Dodger high-number cards
5. At least one '50s Dodger card
6. Willie Crawford and/or Walter Alston '72 Topps high-number cards
7. Head for the '71 Topps or '60s Topps bargain bins with whatever scraps I have left over.

Notice everything there is vintage. That's where my head is at the moment.

If I do get the Unser card, then you'll be seeing it as the awesome night card subject again next week. Because I need to document everything I like about it in the most excruciating detail possible.

Oh, and I also may find something cool for a trade partner or two.

But don't get your hopes up, unnamed person. The cash is low and the snow could be high.

The best part of card blogging

Wow, it's been a crazy week here on the blog. Five days ago, I was wondering what I was going to post. Then people starting sending me 2010 Topps cards, bippings arrived almost daily, and former major leaguer Jerry Reuss started reading my blog. Suddenly I couldn't keep up with anything.

I haven't written about a trade in over a week, and that's just not right. Because trading is probably the best part of card blogging.

That is a big thing for me to say. I didn't start out this blog with trading as my No. 1 purpose. I love to write and that was my primary objective -- to write about what I love, because I wasn't writing about what I love at work anymore. Then I discovered other great things about card blogging. It was therapeutic. It was informative. It helped me connect with like-minded and very interesting people. And there was the cool stuff, like the Troll turning Mr. Reuss on to my blog.

But finding someone who will take your junk, for lack of a better word, might be the best part of all.

Think back to the way it used to be. You may remember that I recently pulled a Kevin Kouzmanoff SP Authentic autographed card. Now, truthfully, I have no use for a Kouzmanoff autograph card. He's a player I barely know. He's played for teams I don't care about. But just a couple of years ago, I would have had to hang onto that card I didn't care anything for, because it was a "hit." Something that meant nothing to me would be protected in a top loader because "somebody" out there cared about the card. Who that person was, I had no idea.

I would show the Kouzmanoff card to my friends who cared about baseball. They'd say, "Cool. Who's he?" And I'd say, "I don't know, some infielder for the Padres." And back in the storage box it would go. Placed under lock and key by someone who didn't value it at all.

Blogging has changed all that. Most people who blog about cards know there's a Kouzmanoff collector out there. Her name is Sooz, and she now has my Kouzmanoff auto card.

Meanwhile, I have a card I care about, which is the Kershaw-Betances autographed card at the start of the post. It is my fifth Kershaw autographed card. I have little knowledge of Dellin Betances, other than I know he was a touted Yankees pitching prospect who has had injury issues and is still in Single A ball.

But that's no matter. Kershaw is all I see when I look at the card. And good thing, because Betances' auto is half obscured. It looks like one of those envelope windows for when you pay bills, and you can't get the address to line up in the little window. Not the best design concept for this AU card, Upper Deck.

Sooz also sent three other Dodger cards, all of which I needed.


Two Chin-Lung Hu cards from 2008 Timeline. Excellent. That increased my count of 2008 Hu cards to 30. That's crazy.

I also received this nice little item:
It's an Ethier mini from Topps 206.

The numbered Cycle back version. Awesome.

So, there you are, the best part of card blogging is turning trash to treasure.

But give me a day, and the best part will be something else. This week has certainly taught me that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Save yourself, Mark

Yesterday, I read that dayf was offering some Orel Hershisers to the first person who commented on his post.

Mark, known to be an Orel Hershiser fan, took dayf up on his offer. I wouldn't have thought anything of it, if I hadn't received a package from dayf earlier this week. The card he posted of Orel Hershiser, this particular 1990 Donruss item here, sent chills down my spine.

Earlier, you read how dayf sent me my first pack of 2010 Topps cards (still no packs of the stuff here, by the way). That was just to lull me into complacency. It's an old trick. Legend has it that David gave Goliath a pack of 500 B.C. cards before he offed him with his slingshot.

The thing is, I should have known this was coming. The other cards in the package arrived in this:

A rack pack of '09 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects. I publicly questioned dayf's sanity for even looking at this pack. I still don't know what prompted him to do so. But now this was payback for my doubting of the Cardboard Junkie.

The first cards I pulled out featured a Orel Hershiser card on top. This is what I saw:

I didn't even pay attention to Hershiser's sunny smile on the '92 Upper Deck card. I immediately glimpsed the red of 1990 Donruss. But still, I didn't suspect a thing. My only thought was, "geez, 1990 Donruss? Dayf's got better cards than that, doesn't he?" I was about to pay for my ungrateful musings.

After the '92 UD Hershiser was a 1986 Hershiser. It's Orel on a sunny day, but 1986 Topps always made it seem like there was a storm coming on its cards. Ominous.

Next out of the pack, 1993 Topps Orel. Hershiser is wearing the long sleeves. It might be a cold day in San Francisco. Ominous, again.

Then ...

Oh, no.

BIP, PART III.

This card is horrifying. First, who WRITES on a Hershiser card? Second, the "love" thing is a little creepy. Especially in the whole bipping context. I immediately dropped the card to the floor like when I found that mouse in my washing machine.
The card fell backside up. This is what was on the back. Hmmm, maybe I could get some money back for all the pain and emotional distress caused by this card by putting it up on the bay.

Still, I continued on with the package. Why did I do that? I knew what was next. I'm a veteran of bippings. I've encountered four of them now (Yes, four -- another is on the way. You newbies with none: check your mailbox).

OK, I'm a fool, this was what was next:
Good gracious, BIPPED BY THE BULLDOG (Dayf actually drew a nice bulldog photo, which I forgot to scan).

It's an orgasm of Orels! A hunk of Hershisers! A diabolical of Donruss! I opened this package in the car, and on the way home, everything I saw had a red tint. It was like living in Kramer's apartment next to that Kenny Rogers Roasters neon sign. Dayf: my rods and cones are all screwed up!

I was so rattled that when I opened the rest of the package, I thought there were hidden meanings in each of the cards.

Javy Guerra. Doesn't "guerra" mean "war" in Spanish? What the heck does THAT mean? First dayf loves me than he wants to go to war with me? I am so freaked out.

Edwin Bellorin. Bellorin? Oh, man, I don't even KNOW what that means in Spanish.

Eric Gagne and Jeff Williams. Two Mitchell Report guys. What is he insinuating?

A weird Mike Piazza card with two Astros performing some sort of spinning game in the background? I'm disturbed by this. Was I supposed to be?

A cool Walter Alston card from some company called "Sports Design Products." If that's who they really say they are.

Finally, a sticker of a smiling Dusty Baker. Then I noticed he's posing in Candlestick Park. I freaked out and collapsed on the floor, exhausted from all of the riddles I could not answer.

Braves fans are mean.

Mark, this is what awaits you. My advice: change your house number. Now. The package will return to dayf and he will bip himself with his own Orels. I'll have a good laugh and you'll be safe.

Do it before it's too late.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What to do when a favorite player reads your blog ...

You may have read that Jerry Reuss commented on my previous post. If you haven't read it, I'll let you take a moment to go back and read it now. And I won't lecture you about how your world should revolve around this blog by now.

Kidding. You people are so serious.

All right, done reading? Now, isn't that the most awesome thing ever? I really hate that I sound 14 years old at the moment, but it's mind-blowing. Mr. Reuss, thanks for making my day.

So aside from becoming president of the Jerry Reuss Fan Club, I wondered what I could do to celebrate one of my favorite players reading my blog. Matt of the Project Baseball 1976 blog had the answer. Find out which Jerry Reuss card is the best!

That's right, it's the first poll of 2010. You knew I couldn't go long without taking a poll. I just needed an opportunity.

A couple of changes, though. Normally, I stick with the 1970s cards of a player. But because Reuss played a good chunk of his career with the Dodgers in the 1980s, and because he reads my blog, I'm throwing in all of the cards of his career.

But that gets me into some murky territory. The 1980s get messy. There's Fleer and Donruss and Upper Deck. There are traded sets and oddballs and stickers.

So I'm going to stay with just the Topps cards (excluding the Fleer card up top that he signed for me). If you want to review all of his cards, go to jerryreuss.com, like the man said. All of his cards are there.

As always, I prefer to show just the cards in my collection. But I don't have all of Reuss' Topps cards. I didn't feel right about swiping them from his site -- what an ungrateful thing to do -- so I swiped elsewhere. If the image is small or has advertising on it, it's not my card.

OK, here's a tribute to the 20-year MLB veteran and card blog reader Jerry Reuss. Poll is up on the sidebar:

1971 Topps: Reuss appeared on a 1970 Topps rookie card with Leron Lee, but I think we should vote just on his solo cards. This photo may have been taken at Dodger Stadium. I'm not sure.

1972 Topps: I thought I had this card already. Oh, well. Here, Reuss poses at Busch Stadium.

1973 Topps: Reuss was traded to the Astros for Lance Clemons and Scipio Spinks. The Cardinals had real problems in the 1970s. Trades like this didn't help.

1974 Topps: Good golly. This is like one of those kids magazine exercises where they ask you to figure out 7 things that are different between two pictures. Look at this card compared to the previous card. Obviously, the photos for these two cards were taken at the same time, as the people in the stands are the same. Topps took a photo of Reuss without his cap (good thing he combed his hair) for just this instance. Reuss was traded from the Astros to the Pirates on Halloween of 1973. Also, Topps airbrushed Reuss' Astros jacket.

1975 Topps: Topps liked sticking the Pirates with green. I don't know why. Also, you can't go wrong with a hands-on-knees pose, although it makes a bit more sense with an infielder than a pitcher.

1976 Topps: This card should definitely win. If it doesn't, I'm shutting the blog down and writing about macrame.

1977 Topps: Ah, the square caps. A Pittsburgh fashion trend was born.

1978 Topps: Perhaps Mr. Reuss could explain how the Pirates were coerced into wearing these get-ups. This is one of at least seven uniform combinations (there were probably more) worn by the Pirates between 1977-84. I went through the gory details once before.

1979 Topps: More YELLOW! I wonder how far you would have to be before you couldn't see the color of the jersey anymore.

1980 Topps: Yay, Dodger time! I like this card because Reuss is smiling, and also the facsimile signature resembles how he signs today, taking care not to cover the image.

1981 Topps: Uh-oh, more hatless-ness. This card made me nervous, because usually hatless players meant a guy had just been traded or Topps thought he was about to be traded. Reuss went 18-6 in 1980 and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting -- why the Dodgers would want to trade him was beyond me. But you can't argue with the hatless photo.

Look, even the 1981 sticker featured Reuss hatless. Topps really had confidence in its sources. Fortunately, they gave Topps bad information.

1982 Topps: I like this card because it has a definite spring training vibe. Reuss had a terrific 1981 season but it was interrupted by the strike. Fortunately, he continued it in the World Series and the Dodgers won a championship.

1983 Topps: It's been a long time between action shots. I like the intensity on Reuss' face. It shows you just how difficult pitching is.

1984 Topps: This is Reuss' familiar pitching delivery. He's 6-foot-5, so there's a lot going on before the ball heads to the plate.

1985 Topps: There's that sunny disposition. A rough 1984 season, but Reuss didn't let that dampen his mood.

1986 Topps: More smiling. But two head-and-shoulders shots in a row gets a little boring.

1987 Topps: Reuss signed this card for me as well. This is his last card as a Dodger.

1988 Topps: He almost looks wary, like he doesn't trust his surroundings. It's always uncomfortable when you're no longer with the Dodgers.

1989 Topps: Another nice action shot, which is somewhat unexpected for 1989 Topps. 1988 was Reuss' last good season, going 13-9 with the White Sox.

1990 Topps: I don't know why this image is cut off. I don't remember Reuss playing for the Brewers at all. But that's because he played just seven games for them at the end of 1989. Another hatless photo makes me suspicious. Is he airbrushed into that Brewers jersey? If I had the card, I'd know.

That's a long career for you, but Reuss had a lot of success.

He is also one of my 100 favorite players ever, so I will add him to the list. I had planned to do a "100 favorite players" post on someone else this week, but between the bipping and the arrival of 2010 Topps and now this, I've pretty much scrapped everything else.

But I ain't complaining.