Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blaster power rankings: 2017 Stadium Club


I've been away for a few days. But before I left, I advance-published some posts and stopped by my local Walmart in what is becoming way too much of a habit.

I did snag the lone Stadium Club blaster there, though. And now that I'm back, I figured I'd use this for one of my Blaster Power Rankings posts. It's been a couple of months since I've done one.

Stadium Club doesn't yield a lot of cards. It says so right there on the box: 40 cards. Dude, that's 50 cents a card, not exactly something worth shouting in big, bold letters.

But we all know Stadium Club means quality, and I don't mind spending for quality, especially when there's a blog post on the line.

When we last left the Blaster Power Rankings, the White Sox were leading with 18 cards, one ahead of the Tigers, two ahead of the Cubs and three ahead of the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks, Indians, Padres, Rays and Angels were bringing up the rear with four cards apiece.

I don't expect a ton to change with just 40 cards, but there are pretty cards to see! Let's get to it.


Blaster Power Rankings: 2017 Stadium Club


1. CHICAGO CUBS (3 cards)

Only one of the players here is currently a Cub. But at least I get to listen to a Dancing With The Stars reference from ESPN at least once a week!



2. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (3 cards)

Yay! I needed Thompson and Snider. Maeda will go into the "If I was collecting 2017 Stadium Club" stack.



3. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (3 cards)

How about that McCovey card? Makes the other two look like stiffs.



4. HOUSTON ASTROS (3 cards)

Inserts lower a team's rank with Stadium Club. Especially with Stadium Club. I almost never want to see an insert in SC.



5. NEW YORK YANKEES (2 cards)

I has my Aaron Judge card. It is my first Aaron Judge card. Somebody out there wants to give me 3 billion for it, right? I think the card next to Judge is an Aaron Judge card, too, since he makes an appearance. I'll take 1.5 billion for that.



6. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (2 cards)

Back when they kept their uniform options relatively in check.



7. COLORADO ROCKIES (2 cards)

It's two Nolan Arenado cards!



8. NEW YORK METS (2 cards)

A black-and-white card of a player who played during the '80s throws me off because I automatically think it's a parallel. I'd rather see the card in color anyway.



9. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (2 cards)



10. MINNESOTA TWINS (2 cards)

OK, get ready for annoyed night owl! I don't care for these bronze-foiled/sepia-toned, retail-only cards. It gets me confused with the orange-foil/black-and-white cards, which look much cooler. Clearly define your parallels!! Also, I really wanted the regular, base version of this card, in glorious 1970s color. Because this scene reminds me of everything from the '70s. I knew kids that looked like this, with those kind of clothes and those kind of haircuts. Hell, I was that kind of kid! And I remember those red Twins caps worn at the time. I so, so, SO remember them. I WANT THIS CARD IN COLOR!!!!



11. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (2 cards)

Almost all of the inserts I pull from Stadium Club from the last few years have featured Ryan Braun or Albert Pujols. These are of zero use to me.



12. OAKLAND A'S (2 cards)

OK, I pull a lot of Sonny Gray inserts, too. Which is why the Dodgers need to acquire him, only so his inserts will finally have meaning.



13. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (1 card)

This is my favorite Stadium Club card. If you've read the Fleer Sticker Project blog over the years, you know of his obsession with the all-orange Orioles uniforms worn only during the end of the 1971 season and the start of the '72 season. It's pretty cool to see this on cardboard finally. This also happens to be the gold parallel.


14. BOSTON RED SOX (1 card)

Another throwback, this time from the period when I was just getting to know the Red Sox, 1975-78. Although I enjoy throwback unis from my younger days, they never seem right on modern players only because they're much more baggy. It throws off the whole vibe (As usual it took me many hours afterward to figure out this was a black parallel).



15. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (1 card)

All you need to see is that hand to know that Soler is a big man.



16. CINCINNATI REDS (1 card)



17. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (1 card)



18. SEATTLE MARINERS (1 card)



19. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (1 card)



20. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (1 card)



21. DETROIT TIGERS (1 card)



22. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (1 card)

Those matte-finish helmets make it appear as if Piscotty's helmet has been airbrushed.



23. SAN DIEGO PADRES (1 card)



24. ATLANTA BRAVES (1 card)

This will be headed to Johnny's Trading Spot as thanks for his Christmas In July package that I'm sure I won't get to until August.


25. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (0 cards)
26. CLEVELAND INDIANS (0 cards)
27. MIAMI MARLINS (0 cards)
28. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (0 cards)
29. TAMPA BAY RAYS (0 cards)
30. TEXAS RANGERS (0 cards) 

I still don't understand what's going on with the lack of Indians cards this year. I know there aren't many bloggers that collect them anymore (there used to be a ton). But come on, this is a World Series team from last year!!! Just like the Cubs, remember???

Anyway, here are the updated Blaster Power Rankings after four BPR sessions:

1. Cubs - 19
2. Dodgers - 18
3. Tigers - 18
4. White Sox - 18
5. Braves - 15
6. Cardinals 15
7. Mets - 15
8. Red Sox - 15
9. Royals - 15
10. Yankees - 15
11. Astros - 14
12. Giants - 14
13. Pirates - 14
14. Reds  - 13
15. Blue Jays - 12
16. Mariners - 9
17. Nationals - 9
18. A's - 8
19. Phillies - 8
20. Twins - 8
21. Brewers - 7
22. Rangers - 7
23. Rockies - 7
24. Diamondbacks - 6
25. Marlins - 6
26. Orioles - 6
27. Angels - 5
28. Padres - 5
29. Indians - 4
30. Rays - 4

The North Siders take over for the South Siders at the top. I guess that was inevitable. I'm just happy I'm pulling so many Dodgers.

Next up in this series, I'll probably bite the bullet and get a blaster of Series 2. Or I could buy cards I actually like.

We shall see.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Let's hear it for trading


I'm not fully convinced that the reason that 2017 baseball cards have disappeared from the shelves of big box stores is solely Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger.

If you're paying attention, Archives, Bowman, Platinum, Stadium Club and Allen & Ginter aren't the only sets that have vanished very quickly. In my neck of the woods anyway, Gypsy Queen and Heritage made terribly hasty exits, too.

So, the question is: Is Topps mandating a shortened shelf live on product to heighten demand?

I have my doubts that this is the case. There is only so much Topps can control. And distribution is often out of Topps' grasp. I don't think distributors care anything about demand (or maybe they do, I'm not a distributor). But I just think it's interesting that cards almost across the board -- except for flagship -- have barely lasted even two weeks on store shelves.

There aren't any more people in the card aisle with me than there was before (none and none), so I think something is going on.

But, meanwhile, I still need to get the cards I want.

There are other ways to do this.

Obviously, the most efficient is just to order them all from a seller when the set comes out. Frankly, this technique, for me, is the cardboard equivalent of taking an Ambien. It also eliminates several fun aspects of collecting. So I can't be doing this, no matter how cost-effective it is.

The other way is via something that I've known since I first started collecting cards.

Trading.

We sooooooooo take trading for granted in this online community. But it is the life blood of the blogs, the undercurrent, the foundation. If there was no trading going on among bloggers, I estimate up to three-fourths of the card blogs would cease to exist.

Trading is a big deal. And we should treat it as such.

It's so important and so necessary that I often receive requests to make a trade from people who don't have blogs. My guess is they're so frustrated with Topps' inability to keep product on shelves that they turn to people who actively advertise that they have cards: we bloggers.

That's why Henry reached out via email recently to touch off another trade. He needed some Series 1 inserts from 2017 flagship, several of which I had. In exchange, he had some 2017 Dodgers for me from products that barely said "hello."


Gypsy Queen for example.


This product appeared at my local Walmart and stayed there for maybe a month, at most. There were rack packs and maybe some blasters. I never saw any loose packs and I never saw any of any kind at Target.

But thanks to Henry, I now need just four more Dodgers. I'll probably pick them up the online way, unless someone strikes up a fun little trade.




Archives was apparently much more plentiful in Henry's part of the country. I saw Archives rack packs in Walmart and they were there for maybe a week and a half. Once again, I never saw any in Target and I still have yet to see a blaster of the stuff.

(The background behind Piazza is interesting -- stadium lights behind a grove of trees?)




Thanks to all of these I also need just four more Archives Dodgers to finish off the set. Trades are wonderful.



There is no shortage of flagship, but many of the inserts have been elusive (mostly because I refuse to buy any more flagship). So I appreciate this Dave Roberts card. In fact, I was able to remove it from my COMC cart.


Here is a card that is not from 2017. It's one of those weird 2013 Cooperstown cards (good thing that National Baseball Hall of Fame logo is there, huh???), but it completes my Dodger set!

Trading, man, you can't beat it.

It's the most fun way to circumvent whatever blockade is going on with 2017 product.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ace in limbo


I received this card from Brian of Base Set Calling a few days ago. It's one of the National Anthem insert cards from Opening Day. These are tough pulls. One per 210 packs, I believe.

This was a generous send and I appreciate it even more now because as I'm writing this I have no idea what Clayton Kershaw's status is for the rest of this season. I need some good Kershaw news. Hopefully, a month absence is all he needs to be back to dominating the rest of major league baseball.

This sudden bad news is one of those twists and turns that happens every season. A week ago, the Dodgers appeared invincible, as invincible as I've ever seen them. And then their ace goes down with the potential lto expose the rest of the starting staff in all of its weaknesses.

But enough of my rooting angst. You all have your own favorite team problems. Let's see a few more Kershaw cards from Brian!


More Opening Day. This is from two years ago. It features the celebration after Kershaw's no-hitting of the Rockies in 2014. There is no visible sign of Kershaw in this photo, which is kind of dumb. I'm pretty sure some of these cards are made just to get a reaction out of me.



FIRE! Clayton is ON FIRE! Or throwing fire. The really hot blue kind that dissolves gloves.



Not cards, but stickars. The one on the left is new to me, meaning I can stick the one on the right onto whatever/whomever I choose.


I'm done with Kershaw cards now, but let's continue with stickers. This is from last year's MLB-neutered Wacky Packages set.


Beanball!!! My all-time favorite Wacky Pack! This is a chromed-up version, which makes absolutely no sense. It's sTupid.


I received a couple of new Adrian Beltre cards, too, including one announcing his decision to break my heart and sign with -- what? -- the Mariners??



I know I need this card. But I'll have to look up what year it's from (all the legends insert cards blend together).


This scanned like mud. Leaf Certified had no idea we'd be blogging about these things.



Brian made sure to send some night cards to add to the binder. The McCann card is already there. I'm really hoping the Blackmon card gets there.



And finally, a healthy offering of 1975 buybacks! Still very excited about these!

The three on the top were needs, which, of course means, I am your man if you're looking for Steve Braun buybacks.

I now have 162 buyback cards for the 1975 Topps set and still hope to land a few more soon.

By then, I hope this Kershaw fretting is all behind us.

Sigh.

Not looking forward to several weeks of nothing but 4 1/2-inning starts.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The thrift shop thrill is gone


I still have some cards to purchase with birthday money. I wish it wouldn't take me so long to spend money on something I enjoy so much, but you know how life hates cardboard.

When I do finally get those "birthday cards," you can be sure you'll see them. But for now I'd like to relay the tale of how my daughter found a thrift shop that had baseball cards for sale.

I know.

How's that for teaser?

"What? How? Who in the world set up a thrift shop in night owl's barren outpost?"

Well, settle down and listen.

So, I always lament to myself whenever someone blogs about their latest thrift shop score, or flea market find or antique market steal. Those things don't exist near me, or if they do, they contain boring stuff like plates and salt shakers and, gracious, people sure have a weird idea of "interesting," don't they?

There is an antique shop on the corner in the city that I've mentioned before. It used to be the city jail many years ago. And when you go in there, it's so dark and scary that you lose all rational thought and are quite sure they are going to lock you up forever unless you run out of there RIGHT NOW.

I don't think there are baseball cards there, but I can't be certain because of all the panic.

I do love thrift shops and antique shops though. It's in my blood. When I go visit my folks, I'll try to stop at the antique stores they pointed out to me many years ago. Sometimes I find cards there. The '72 Topps Yastrzemski in my collection was bought by my mother from one of those stores.

You'd think that given the popularity of going through other people's junk that there would be one of these things on every block in America. But Northern New York, I tell you, is proudly resistant to all kinds of modern conveniences.

That's what I thought anyway, until my birthday arrived. I opened a package from my daughter that behaved very much like a few packs of baseball cards from Target. But when I tore off the paper, I came face to face with this:


"What?" I said to myself. "That's a 1983 card of Jack Morris. What's that doing in my package of 2017 baseball cards?" I immediately started looking for the "Rediscover Topps" stamp.

But it wasn't there and I had no idea what was going on because I KNOW that my daughter doesn't know who Jack Morris is.

I started looking through the other cards in the stack:


These are all cards I know well. But they aren't your average cards from a repack. I looked at my daughter quizzically.

Daughter: "There's a new antique shop in Sackets Harbor."

Me: (stunned silence).

Sakes alive, there's a new antique shop in Sackets Harbor!!

Sackets Harbor is a small town on the lake about eight miles away. It's an easy 15-minute drive. It's a summer touristy place although there isn't much there outside of a lake and a couple of decent restaurants. It's pretty popular though.

There are a handful of shops, the kind of shops that you'd see in any tourist-friendly small town. Here, where we are fairly close to the Adirondacks and New England, there are all kinds of rustic things for sale. Homemade soaps and potholders, books about hiking trails and new age women stuff (sorry for the generic description, I stopped paying attention when I realized what I was viewing).

I stumbled into one of those potholder stores a few days after my daughter told me about the antique shop because it was all that was on my mind from the moment those words left her lips. She couldn't tell me what the shop was called or really where it was on the street (she is notoriously vague about things she doesn't care about -- gee, I wonder who she got that from?). So I walked into a random store, came face to face with jewelry and mood music and knew I was in the wrong place. I received a "what are you doing here" hello from the woman behind the counter and I made a hasty exit.

I turned left and headed toward the lake. There is an old building that used to be a seafood restaurant that is the last store front on that side of the street. It's been empty for awhile. But then I saw the "Antiques" sign. Hot dog, this was it.

(I apologize for going on forever like this, especially to those who can hit an antique shop every day on the way to work).

It was your typical junk shop. Wood floors. Random items thrown on tables everywhere. (Spoons? Who collects spoons?) There were wonderful shelves filled with wonderful things I didn't need. There were toys everywhere. Toy tractors and trucks that looked like they were just taken out of the sandbox. Dirt on the tables, dirt on the floor. A small stack of comic books. Old records. Oh man, if I could collect more than one thing, I'd have purchased half those old records. Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Linda Ronstadt, Lynn Anderson, Cat Stevens.

There was also a stack of old baseball yearbooks and programs, mostly Cubs and Expos. Underneath that, a bunch of old hockey programs.

And next to that was a plastic tub of baseball cards.

Here we were.

There weren't a lot of baseball cards left, it appeared. It was few enough that I could identify all of them. Mid-1980s Topps cards mostly. Fun stuff, but nothing I needed. The man who ran the place finally emerged from some secret door and I asked if there were any other cards. He pointed to a binder that said "basketball cards" on it. I'm not interested in basketball so I didn't look. I probably should have.

So that was it. The thrill was gone.

Unless I wanted to add to my old record collection or my old baseball program collection, there is really no reason to return.

So let's see the other cards that my daughter gave me:


Some more from 1983.



A bunch from 1984.


A few more.



A couple from 1985.


Including one I just posted on my 1985 Topps blog.



There was just one card that I'd consider "junk wax" in the entire stack.

My daughter may not have given me any cards that I needed, but she did give me one thing that is still with me: hope.

There is still hope that the cards in that tub will be replenished, maybe this time with cards I need. And there is the knowledge that this antique shop is just down the road, just a 15-minute drive away, not half a country away on someone else's blog.

There may be no real reason for me to return to that store. But hope will send me there again.

That's a birthday gift in itself.