Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easiest pack purchase ever

Buying cards is generally considered a pleasant experience. But because this is the real world, there are always some hassles that go along with even the happiest of purchases.

If you're buying cards online, you may choose from multiple outlets, but sometimes you can't see the cards you buy, sometimes you have to constantly comparison shop so you don't get ripped off, sometimes someone snags the card out from under you, sometimes cards arrive damaged or not at all.

If you're buying cards in a store, you must deal with crowds and lines. Sometimes you're dodging shopping carts parked in the card aisle for the specific purpose of deterring you. Sometimes there's this weird 20-something guy there in an army jacket, who -- what is he doing, is he sniffing the cards? -- and you have to pretend to be interested in something else in the store until he goes away.

The worst experiences of the best shopping experience that exists are without a doubt in Walmart. I've written about this so many times I'm not even bothering to link to the past posts. It's a fact. You're taking your mood in your hands if you go willingly to Walmart.

Unfortunately, the first food-issue set that Topps has created in decades can be found only in Walmart. And in the grocery area of the store, too. Where the aisles are always too narrow and the people are always -- well, how do I say this nicely? -- robust.

What was I going to do?

I had a couple of options: I could wait until I was in a really good mood, with a couple days off maybe, when nothing in the store could hurt me. I could send my wife in for me, but why would I want to do that to her? Or, I could do that thing that I've done many times because it is a built-in perk of being a night owl.

I could wait until after work and shop at 1:30 in the morning.

Flip on the headlights, we're going to get some store-brand pizza!!

So, just to get you up to speed, even though I've mentioned it here and a number of other blogs have shown the cards, Topps and Walmart's Marketside Pizza (which I had never heard of until this promotion) have teamed up to create a 50-card oddball set. Three cards apiece can be found in Marketside pizza or breadstick boxes.

I peeled out of the work parking lot and hit the road.

If I had to pick a time period to shop for the rest of my life, it would be at 1:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning. When I was there, Walmart featured a handful of workers and maybe 5 shoppers. I'm certain that people who shop at Walmart only during the day believe it is as if cattle are being herded through the store all day every day. But there is actually down time. And last night, it was wonderfully deserted.

The grocery entrance is on the left side of the complex. I entered the double automatic doors and walked past the carts. As you walk in, there is a large refrigerated display on your left, which features various food items during the year.

And today's food item, on a very early Thursday morning on the last day of March in 2016, was: Marketside pizza and breadsticks.

I barely had to move a leg muscle or a searching eyeball.

There were lots of boxes. Most of the boxes featured the Topps logo you saw at the top of the post. Some of them didn't. I looked down at the pizzas. Holy hell are they large. I didn't know if I'd be able to fit that into my freezer.

Then I saw the breadsticks. They were much smaller, although still disturbingly large for breadsticks. Doesn't anything in Walmart come in "small"?

They were cheaper, too.

So I bought one:

 And, two ...

It was such a good deal.

One box was $2.98 and the other $3.98. As you can tell, Topps is proclaiming it a $7.50 value. There are two coupons with each box that total $3.50. And there's a Topps Bunt card with a free code, I don't know the value of that, if any. So I guess the cards, discounting the Bunt code, are valued at a buck thirty apiece?

We'll see.

Each set of three cards is enclosed in a foil wrapper. The wrapper is kind of loose in the box, and as others have mentioned, the box is not sealed. You could simply open the top of the box there in the store -- if you were one of those weird Walmart people -- reach in, and the foil pack is found underneath the food product.

Considering how close this display was to the doors, I began to envision future filched Marketside pizza cards. But the checkout area, where the managers roam, is within view of the display. Not the greatest deterrent, but I'm not in loss prevention.

All right, you've waited long enough for the cards.


#25 - Alex Gordon

The cards look nice, even better in person. They're sturdy, not flimsy stock you might suspect with a food issue. The design would be pretty spare if not for the electric grid background, which I like a lot. Also, the silver bordered nameplate is very early 1990s Leaf.

Nobody ever shows the back, so here it is:

Very cool back. I love the grid look, it gives off a retro computer/speaker vibe that actually changes colors depending on the team featured.

Like so:

#18 - Francisco Lindor

Looking over the checklist, there are many, "young and up-and-coming" players featured. I'd say at least one-third fall into that category.

#32 - Hector Olivera

The rookie card logo has migrated onto an oddball set because we're not in 1982 anymore (this is a sad statement not a sarcastic one). This could have been a Dodger card as Olivera was traded in the Alex Wood deal last July.

Oh well.

There's your propaganda in each pack. No coupon is going to make me buy 2016 flagship, and Bunt is still for somebody who doesn't call them "fake cards."

That was kind of a dud of a pack, which is why I got two kinds of breadsticks.


#49 - Mr. Met

This pack is better already. There are two mascot cards in the set, Phillie Phanatic being the other one.

#43 - Dee Gordon

Oof. Another former Dodger. Marketside is now officially trolling me.









#45 - Clayton Kershaw

Or not.

Yay, breadsticks! You got me the card I wanted the most out of the entire set!

There are just two Dodgers in the set, Corey Seager being the other one. I have no plans to collect the whole set, these aren't Kellogg's 3-D cards, you know. But I definitely want the Dodgers.

This is also about the only card I could have pulled that would have salvaged a daytime trip to Walmart.

I forgot to mention that after selecting my breadstick choices, I walked the few feet to the checkout area, paid through the self-checkout, and I was on my way less than 10 minutes after I stepped into the store. How many people who have stepped into Walmart -- other than those who set one foot in, looked around, and ran out screaming -- can say that?

I can't believe I'm writing this, but Walmart, I think this was the easiest pack purchase ever.

Breadsticks for everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I should be doing this

Take a look at this card.

Nice card, right? Who doesn't love Campy. And old-timey photos. And floating heads.

Unfortunately, I have this card already. So, it's destined for the dark, lonely dupes box. Such a wonderful card, banished to an overcrowded, cramped living space without light, food or water.

It's crushing.

Or how about this card?

Sure, it's not much to look at here, but Sportflics are in their element in the real world. This is a lenticular masterpiece of the Tornado at the height of his powers.

I already own this, too. It's destined for the same heartbreaking fate as Campy above. And you know how much Sportflics love the light and hate the dark.

I can't bear to think about this much longer, the very idea of so many great cards ignored, untouched by human hands or sunlight just because they're dupes. It makes me think I should be doing this:

This is gcrl's latest blog project. Yep, he's baaaaaack, with a creepy-themed blog that is expected to start operations in a couple of months. The gist of it is that he's creating a frankenset of Dodger cards -- which is the perfect way to display your extra Dodger cards!

Good bye dank dupes box, hello shiny bright binder!!!

Both of the above cards came from Jim. If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was his subtle way of getting me to start my own frankenset of Dodger cards.

But before I consider stepping on a new blog's toes, let's see some cards that Jim sent that I didn't already own.

He went right for the mid-1990s, where my inventory is at its least impressive. All of the above are card needs from 1995, a year in which I bought a few packs of Topps and got out.

And these cards are from 1996, a year in which I didn't buy a single card. Difficult to imagine going an entire year without buying a card these days.

But, even with that back history, Jim was able to finish off a couple 1996 team sets for me:

A couple of Karros holdouts and Score and Studio are done!

There were a few non-90s needs in the package, too.

Part of the recent group of cards that got me to 60 buybacks from the '75 Topps set.

And, a couple of night cards, one of which you'll see on an upcoming edition of Awesome Night Card.

As for Billy Klaus, he's already been the topic of an ANC edition, and he's already in a different frankenset binder, the night card frankenset.

I don't have the heart to put a 1961 Post card in a dupes box, so please someone take this off my hands.

As for me starting my own Dodgers frankenset binder?

It's a good idea, and worth investigating whether I have a complete set, 1-792, already, but I have enough projects right now.

But there's always hope for all of those Dodger dupes stacked on top of each other in the cold, dark box. An open invitation exists to anyone who wants Dodger cards. Let me know, and I'll send you a healthy selection of Dodger dupe huddled cardboard masses yearning to breathe free.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The cure for card aisle and writing doldrums

I believe I've established that there's nothing new in the card aisle this year that will get me to run to the store specifically to shop for cards. I expect the 2016 card doldrums to last just about the entire year.

In more concerning news, I've been fighting writing doldrums for months now. I put on a good front (writing is what I do, you know), but the desire is just not as strong. I still have ideas -- some pretty good ones, too -- but the thought of spending an hour or two to search for the right cards to pull off the posts is inching its way into "do I have to?" territory.

This isn't good. I need that incentive I had back in 2009. And the only place I can find that incentive right now is in the latest COMC order.

Cards that are wildly interesting to me will always -- at least temporarily -- cure the doldrums.

So let's see what can still get me excited that isn't strutting around in a tube top.

Like I said: "wildly interesting to me." 2009 Upper Deck First Edition may not be much better than what's hanging on the hook in Target right now, but cleaning up some more recent Dodgers team sets is a main objective right now. Unfortunately, I came one card short because First Edition includes two cards of Manny Ramirez for reasons that will only be revealed after we've advanced as a species.

These 3 cards, however, did complete the 2015 Heritage High Numbers Dodgers set for me. I feel pretty foolish throwing cash at a card of a player who never competed for the Dodgers (Cahill). But we're living in a collecting world where people are dashing to Walmart to buy mediocre pizza they'd never eat otherwise. One card of Cahill in a fake Dodger uniform I can reconcile.

This elusive card, plucked off my Nebulous 9 list, completes last year's Jackie Robinson Story insert set.

I get to show it to you now:

Cards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 ... and, because nobody at Topps has ever seen pages in a binder before ...

... 10.

Here is another recent project of mine: Tracking cards of players shown or listed as a Dodger but shown or listed with another team. These are the nemesis of any team collector (and since Upper Deck was a huge perpetrator of this, a special thanks to them). I still have one more of these dastardly things to go from this particular set.

You ever make reference to a certain card on your blog and instantly feel sad that you don't own it?

That's what just happened with the famous "Pete & Re-Pete" card from '82 Fleer. It is now mine and I can read about Rose's "faithful and loyal son" on the back, because Rose Jr., apparently, was a good doggie.

The best part of wandering through online shopping sites is simply seeing what cards jump out at you. Having never owned a Dodger baseball card that also included a basketball player, I figured now was the right time, given that it's Kobe's farewell season and all (OK, that was all B.S., I don't give a wit for Kobe or the NBA).

This card also gave me an idea for my next COMC purchase, which hopefully you'll see in a month or two.

Another card that jumped at me. As an announced lover of "moment in time" cards, I couldn't believe there was an insert set devoted to "moment in time" cards and that one of them was of Hideo Nomo (with the same photo featured twice for reasons apparent only to card manufacturers in the late 1990s).

This card commemorates a rather nondescript victory by Nomo in which he beat the Expos and also doubled. But at least the top of the card features slats like an old-time radio!

I am always apprehensive about sketch cards. The sketch can make or break the card like nothing else. But this 2015 Museum card features a nice illustration of Kershaw and is well-presented. It's going to look even better after Clayton mows down the Padres on Opening Day.

Look! Mr. Kotter would like to announce the beginning of the '70s portion of this post.

This is the latest card to go into the '70s TV/movies binder. "Welcome Back Kotter" basically introduced me to the appeal of sitcoms as a kid. I had a lot of trouble selecting just one card for this show, but this combines Mr. Kotter and Horshack, so that's pretty good.

Yes, I went a little wild with 1975 Topps buybacks. These are all cards that I either pulled from packs in 1975 or saw in 1975. Each and every one I thought was cool as a 9-year-old.

This brings my total of '75 buybacks to 60 cards. After reviewing what's out there, I know I will have no problem reaching 100. And I'll surpass that number with little trouble, too. I think, though, somewhere between 120-140 cards I might have to do some work. One person on COMC in particular is selling buybacks for crazy prices and I'm not biting on that.

This last group of cards is the most important. I pulled in some more 1972s and really tried to clean out my last remaining pre-No. 500 cards. The cards above are in the 400s or 500s.

This card is in the 600s and part of the evil sixth series.

So are these two (no. 720 and no. 711). Figures, they're both Giants.

And the final card is one of the last remaining superstar that I needed for the set. Seaver isn't a high number, but his card number (#445) and his status made me avoid this one for a little while. (Still have Rose, Brooks Robinson, Garvey, Kaat, and In Action cards of Rose and Marichal to go).

With these cards, I need just 31 cards from the 1972 set to complete it. It might be in the top 3 of completion tasks once I get it done.

And that is one post where I won't mind spending a couple hours to pull cards.