Thursday, February 28, 2019

Want list vs. have list

My terribly incomplete want list is exactly that: "A Want List."

I know many bloggers also list "have lists" in their want lists. It's a convenient way to address sets in which you're far from your completion goal. Who wants to type in all those numbers?

But I can't help but think that no one calls up a want list to see "haves". They want to see "wants"! What does this dude want!

A "have list" is actually no strain on the person viewing the list. All he or she needs to do is eliminate those "have" card numbers when they're searching through cards. It feels a little backwards when I'm looking at "have lists," but really it's no sweat. Often it's a lot more fun than attacking a "want list" because the "have list" collector needs so many cards!

Still I have a difficult time creating a "have list" on my main "want list." I'm not sure of the reason why. Maybe I'm too much a stickler for the literal meaning of the title at the top. It says "WANT list," man. It's supposed to be full of wants. What happens if you start mucking it up with ownership and possession and nine tenths of the law? Airing your haves? It's all so boastful.

A "want list" is not braggy. It's vulnerable. It's a child four weeks before Christmas, writing out a list to Santa. "Here is what I want." Here is what I do not have." Yes, I don't have a lot of cards. I admit it. I want a lot of cards. I admit that, too. Here are my many lists. I am needy. I'm not afraid to say that.

So, yeah, I type out all the numbers. If I'm going for a set of 600-plus cards and I need 400 of them, I'll type out every card number I need. Either that or I just won't put up a want list yet. If I haven't obtained close to half of them, can I even claim I'm trying to complete it?

So there is just one set on my want list that's actually a "have list." That set is my collection of 1975 Topps buybacks.

Because I started from zero with this buyback set and it seemed like such a quixotic mission, I made an exception for it. Normally I wouldn't bother putting up a list at all. With just 15 or 20 or 25 percent of the set completed, it's kind of audacious to think I could complete that.

But my excitement over finding another way to collect my favorite set of all-time -- and for actually finding a use for these ridiculous buybacks that makes sense to me -- caused me to put up a "have list."

And it's been a "have list" since I announced I was collecting all the '75 buybacks I can.

Just the other day I received eight more '75 buybacks in the mail. And I added them to the "have list." I now own 41 percent of the set (there I go bragging), but I need 59 percent more of the set (I have so little).

When do I change the '75 Topps buyback "have list" into a "want list"?

Well, with the acquisition of the Ron Cey '75 buyback I am tempted to change it right now. This is definitely a milestone in my journey to "complete" this set. Wouldn't that be a nice way to commemorate it?

But I won't do it just yet.

I think I'll wait until I've completed exactly half of the '75 set, when I get to 330 cards. That will likely be more than half of the buyback set as who knows how many that actually is -- something less than 660 most likely. But in fantasy land, 330 will be half and that is good enough for me to air my '75 buyback wants out in the open.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Weird weather pack

It's another road trip for this night owl and the weather was flat-out odd this time out.

Most of you know about the wind storm that struck the eastern half the country a day or two ago. I happened to venture out in the middle of it determined to use my common-sense driving skills that I am convinced 80 percent of American drivers do not possess anymore.

I decided to stay off the highways, avoiding tractor trailers or those monster SUVs that are most susceptible to the wind. I took an alternate route down to the Syracuse suburbs and as I was crossing west through one of those shopping sprawl areas, while stopped at a traffic light, I saw what I thought was lightning.

This may not be odd in late February in some parts of the country but it is just short of bizarre in the Northeast. A few seconds later I heard thunder and then it came down. No, not rain, nor snow. It was sleet, as fast and plentiful as I've ever seen while inside a vehicle. A bit freaked, I turned off into a Target parking lot and collected myself for a moment.

Now, I hate walking outside during a thunderstorm. Any time of the year, I'm a weenie who stays indoors when thunder rolls. But I wanted to see the sea of sleet pellets all over the parking lot -- and to check out the Target card aisle in Clay, N.Y.

The thunder rumbled and my feet crunched as I walked rapidly to Target's doors. If you're a regular Target customer, you know that most of the stores' layouts spread left or right from where you enter, depending on the store. I'm most familiar with walking to the left as I enter. I consider it somewhat exotic when I enter and start walking right. My collector-obsessed brain has also automatically labeled a right-layout Target as a sign of a strong card selection. I don't know why. But I was excited to start walking right.

The card display (all the way in the back next to the stockroom) was nothing special. But it was definitely better than the Target I had checked out just 20 minutes earlier. There were no baseball cards. None. Just football and basketball and loads and loads of Pokemon and Magic stuff. It was depressing.

This particular Target though featured the latest 2019 stuff. I spotted a few of those three-pack blisters that feature one "150 years" green parallel card on the front to suck you in. There was one of Maz's home run and one of Brooks Robinson. And then there was one of Rod Carew as a Minnesota Twin and the gorgeous Ichiro card you saw at the top of the post. I was torn.

I love '70s images, which the Carew was. But that catch! I went with Ichiro.

The three packs that I opened were nothing special. I'll just show my favorite and least favorite parts of each pack.

Pack 1


I like this card a lot. Liked it the first time I saw someone show it on the blogs. I have little idea who Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is other than that his brother plays for the Astros.

Least favorite:

I wish I knew what the obsession was with Will Clark. The guy was so distasteful I see nothing redeeming in him and they've got to stop making cards of him. The Steve Pearce card reminds me of bad things.

Pack 2


Two players who are now Dodgers teammates. That Ross Stripling card is pretty darn fine, although I just told Peter of Baseball Every Night I needed it and now I go and buy it.

Least favorite:

The 2019 baseball card season is barely out of its infancy, not even out of its breastfeeding period, and I've already pulled these four cards in this exact order three times.

Pack 3


The best pack in terms of good-looking cards. I'm not crazy about the foil theme of the Stars of the Game inserts (yeah, yeah, I know it officially has another name -- I read what's in front of me), but a new Mookie Betts card is nothing to ignore. I used my new phone to take these photos and kind of cut off the edge of the Betts card.

Least favorite:

These 150th anniversary gold foil stamp thingies may be the most annoying thing on cards this year.

After buying the blister pack and heading directly to the self checkouts (remember when people avoided these things like the plague?), I returned to my car to see all the sleet melted. That wasn't the end of the weird weather though.

Not more than five minutes later, it rained so hard that I took a wrong turn, pulled over to the side of the road to let the rain ease up, discovered I had taken a wrong turn and then backtracked three miles to get where I should have been.

Twenty minutes down the road, the sun came out and I had new packs to open when I reached my destination.

I didn't fare too well with those packs, but ...

... damn, what a card.

It might need to sleet more often.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


Last week I survived that popular ritual of 50-somethings everywhere, the colonoscopy.

I know that just made a young person squirm. Good. That's why I mentioned it. They need reminders of what's coming.

Anyway, the hysteria you hear about the procedure is pretty much exactly that: hysteria. I heard all kinds of stories before I finally agreed to my doctor's recommendation. One person told me about the woman who had a colonoscopy and is still in a hospital years later recovering. Spooky stuff like that. But outside of starving yourself for a day and getting zero sleep, mine was completely manageable and filled with all kinds of perks, like getting my own cable TV to watch and people waiting on me constantly.

Best of all, there is plenty of down time afterwards. Because of the prep (i.e. icky drink) the night before and the procedure the day of, I essentially took two days off of work and nobody said anything because the poor old man needs a colonoscopy. But the whole thing doesn't take up a lot of time and I had several hours each day all to myself, mostly to do cards stuff (well, there was a four-hour nap, too).

And while I was putting away cards after I got home from the hospital, I found my 1985 Topps Traded Joe Orsulak card.

I wrote about how it was missing a little while ago. Normally it would cause me quite a bit of consternation, but life is a blur and there's no time for drama like that. I assumed it would show up eventually and it did.

I was adding a stack of 2018 Heritage to the other 2018 cards that I had already cataloged. Yup, I'm still trying to get 2018 cards filed -- still have all my flagship cards to get through. The Heritage cards were plopped on the Archives cards, which were plopped on the Allen & Ginter cards.

That caused a balance issue and as I was fixing the stack, I noticed a bit of bright green sticking out of the A&G cards near the bottom. It did not look like anything close to A&G color.

As I removed some A&G cards, I found myself staring at the back of that Joe Orsulak card. As a few of you suspected, it got caught up in my card sorting.

For the record, the card was missing 24 days. It disappeared on Jan. 29 after I posted it on my 1985 Topps blog and reappeared on the Day of the Colonoscopy on Feb. 21.

And that is how I'll always remember the day Traded Orsulak came home. It was the same day I received pictures of my colon from my doctor.

Now, as I suspected when I was posting that the card was missing, I did receive another Orsulak Traded cards to fill that sudden vacancy in my complete 1985 Topps set.

It came from Commish Bob. In the most stunning thing that I have heard all year, he said he found the card at a card show. Who in the world would bring a 1985 Traded Joe Orsulak card to a card show to sell? I might actually be able to set up a table at one of these things if that's what they're selling.

Anyway, now I can do this:

Doesn't that beat a poke in the ass?

Commish Bob did find another card at that show that will prove quite useful:

This is an upgrade from the Yaz I received earlier from P-Town Tom for my very nearly complete 1981 Fleer set.

I still insist on organizing my cards and blogging about cards even while life spins out of control, so I fully expect that other cards will disappear on me in the near future.

But today I'm simply going to celebrate that Traded Orsulak has come home.

A lot has happened since you went away, Traded Orsulak. Let me tell you about my colonoscopy ...

Friday, February 22, 2019

At least someone has time

Today, I sent three card packages into the mail. My gosh, what an achievement. I felt so proud of myself, shipping those packages.

All three of them were in response to cards I received before Christmas, possibly even from November. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of pre-Christmas transactions left on my "to send" section of the card desk, reminding me of exactly how long I'm taking to be a neighborly trader through the mail.

I don't really feel shame about my delayed responses. Life has been so relentless in the last six months that there's no time to feel guilt, let alone do something about it. But I can't help but admire those collectors who are so on top of things.

For example, Marc from Remember the Astrodome. He's sent me three packages in a relatively short period of time. I finally sent out a card package in response to maybe his first mailing and -- boom -- a third package showed up. I hadn't even featured his second mailing on the blog yet!

How does he do it?

Those are some cards that I needed from his previous mailing. That Cardinal-Dodger Scott Radinsky card is another one of those you-could-have-eluded-me-for-50-years-and-I'd-never-know-it-existed cards.

I've never paid mind to Panini stickers, but getting this many at once makes me consider:

1. Do I have the whole team set?
2. How can I get the whole team set?
3. Do I have pages for these things?

That about does it for Remember the Astrodome package 2.

The third package that just arrived contained a bit more variety. Some of it were homemade cards from Marc. He's one of the bloggers who created a card for each game of his favorite team's entire season. Again, this is something that I have absolutely NO TIME to do. But fortunately someone does.

And then that someone sends you some samples.

These are mini-sized versions of the cards Marc created for his set. Apparently there was some sort of printing error and he made a few of his cards mini. He thought of me, because why else would I want cards of Astros?

The Colt 45s card at the top of the post was also created by Marc and is mini-sized, too. I dig that one because history.

Here is another mini-sized custom experiment from Marc of Astro-Dodger Jimmy Wynn. I would much prefer a custom card of Wynn as a Dodger because there are far too few of those. But I respect this.

Here is the Wynn card next to a regulation-sized card that Marc also sent.

This '68-style custom of Joe Morgan is regular-sized. The backs of Wynn and Morgan are blank, but those fronts are awesome and will go in the binder I reserve for custom cards sent my way.

By now, though, the blog is far too Astro friendly. Fortunately there were cards in the package to counter that.

Some very welcome 2019 Topps Dodgers. I haven't purchased any 2019 flagship since my initial Target trip at the start of the month and that was almost devoid of Dodgers.

Also included, the most beautiful stadium in baseball.

Marc also did a good job of finding some retro cards that I needed:

The last two cards, of Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese, come from the 1986 Sportflics "Decade Greats" set. Those are cards that have taken a long time for me to discover. I've had the Campanella card for awhile and I kind of assumed that was it.

There was also one of those three-in-one Sportflics that showed Gil Hodges with Mickey Vernon and Ted Kluszewski. But the card scanned with the Vernon image on the front and that just reminds me of how annoying I find those Sportflics that force three players from different teams to share one card.

Finally, one last custom card from Marc that contained both an Astro and a Dodger:

This is mini-sized, too, and is a take on the 1967 Topps league leader cards. The '67 set did not feature stolen base leaders so Marc took care of that!

Good thing someone has time to visualize stuff like this.

I'm just happy to get three envelopes out of the house every month.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Heritage just gets meaner and meaner

So, team collectors, how ya doing with completing that Heritage team set from last year?

Yeah, yeah, I know, you bought the entire team set last March. Probably a smart system when it comes to Heritage.

The checklist for 2019 Heritage was released the other day and before I do anything else, I head right for the short-prints portion of the list. I want to know what kind of aggravation I am facing right up front.

It turns out I'm facing significant unpleasantness. The Dodgers feature a whopping six short-prints in this year's Heritage set. That is one year after the Heritage broke the old record for the most Dodger SPs with five (the Adrian Gonzalez card up top included). So, Heritage has set yet another record, and Heritage is just getting meaner and meaner and more and more difficult to collect.

Consider the various short-print related "innovations" in Heritage when it comes to collecting the Dodgers.

In 2013, Heritage twisted the knife on every team collector by back-loading the stars into the short-print portion of the checklist, which at the time was the final 75 cards in the set. Because that's certainly sticking to the format of 1960s Topps sets, right? What '60s set didn't throw Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Oliva, Tom Seaver, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey and Sandy Koufax into the last series released?

But Heritage hasn't let go of that format, leading to a very unbalanced set for set collectors. Want to see all of the stars? Please turn to page 32 in the binder.

And in fact, Heritage has made collecting it even more difficult. Two years ago, it upped the number of short-prints to 100. Instead of SPs occurring between cards 426-500, they now appear between cards 401-500. More collectors must now chase more short-prints.

To add to the punishment for Dodger fans, the last two years -- when the SPs have been at their peak -- have delivered the most Dodger short-prints, five last year and six this year.

Let's look at the number of Dodger SPs in Heritage since they started putting them at the end of the set in 2008 (coincidentally the first time I started buying Heritage packs):

2008 - 2
2009 - 2
2010 - 0 (yes, ZERO)
2011 - 2
2012 - 3
2013 - 4
2014 - 3
2015 - 4
2016 - 1 (Kershaw)
2017 - 3
2018 - 5
2019 - 6


Have I mentioned that two short-prints from my Dodgers team set from last year's Heritage set -- 426, Rich Hill and 433, Hyun-Jin Ryu -- are still missing from my collection? Now you know why I'm caring less and less about having all the Dodgers.

I refuse to run all over God's green earth for Heritage SPs. Maybe I should order the team set at the start of the year, but even that seems like a hassle. I have so many more desirable card needs right now.

And I can't help but think one of the reasons I feel that way is because of what Heritage has been doing to the collector the last few years, ratcheting up the difficult year by year.

There are those who have argued that the SPs do in fact resemble the challenge that collectors faced back in the '60s. Those SPs represent the dreaded "final series," issued late in the baseball season, when collectors had turned their attention away from baseball and when stores purchased fewer cards from distributors because they knew they couldn't sell them. To this day, those "final series" cards are some of the most difficult-to-find and expensive cards in Topps sets from the 1960s and early 1970s.

And if that's what Heritage is doing with the SPs -- paying tribute to those "final series" -- then, fine, cavalcade of stars aside.

But if that's the case, I'm giving Heritage until 2023 to knock off this nonsense. Because in 1974, Topps decided to issue its entire 660-card set in one shot. Every card was as available as another card and they were available the entire collecting series.

In 2023, Heritage will pay tribute to the 1974 set and I'll be watching.

Of course, now that Heritage has become a set where you can collect mini cards when there weren't mini cards, black borders when there weren't black borders, stupid "flip-stock" variations in which the feel of the backs and fronts are swapped, I'm not expecting the keepers of Heritage to adhere to the Heritage traditions that they once did. Heritage has also scrapped manager cards when there were manager cards, team cards when there were team cards, etc., etc. This isn't your father's Heritage.

So, when Heritage is released and you hear about how it's better than ever, just know:

Heritage is actually meaner than ever.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

I deserve to complete a set

With the significant volume of unpleasantness that has infected this month, and particularly this week (and probably the next), I'm feeling a little entitled.

That's what happens when things aren't going your way. You start to feel like you deserve something. I deserve that doughnut. I deserve to watch TV for the next six hours. Can you believe what he/she said to me? I deserve a few drinks.

That's how I'm feeling. Just a little bit mind you.

But I won't be stuffing my face or pounding back several at the bar. No, for this collector, he feels like he deserves to complete a set.

It's been awhile. I haven't been doing too well in that area either. The '73 Topps quest has stagnated (the long gaps between card shows has something to do with that). The '81 Fleer want list actually grew after I was down to what I thought was just one or two cards. It's now four. .. Isn't anything going right?

So that is why when I saw what was in an envelope from mr haverkamp that came just today, I shoved aside any of the packages that had arrived before it, scrapped my intended blog post idea and pushed that baby all the way to the front! Yes, this package is cutting in line. Because it completed a set! And I deserve to complete a set!

It also just happens to be one of my favorite retro sets of all-time.

The 2001 Upper Deck Decade 1970s set is not perfect. Not even close. First, there is the ridiculous name. I don't know what it means and it's a hassle every time to type it out. The amount of repetition among the players featured is ridiculous, too. There is a mish-mash of black & white and color images, which gives it an amateur look. And Upper Deck displays its usual lack of appreciation for collectors by repeating the same images within the set.

However, I love it for its ode to the 1970s. Many of my '70s favorites are included. And the colorful border design is an obvious riff on my all-time favorite set, from 1975 Topps.

I've mentioned before that I discovered this set during my hiatus from collecting. It was in 2001 or possibly 2002 when I was walking through Fay's Drugs and found these cards displayed in rack-pack fashion on an end cap. What in the world were these? Joe Morgan has another card? I bought a couple of packs and they were probably my favorite cards purchased during that 1995-2005 period until I discovered Fan Favorites a year or two later.

Here are the other cards that mr haverkamp sent that complete the set:

What a wonderful set to complete.

I still need to finish off a couple of insert sets -- Arms Race and Decade Dynasties -- but I am very happy that the base set is finished. Any set that pays tribute to the players of my childhood deserves to be completed.

There were three non-1970s cards in the envelope as well.

These are all for my 1985 Fleer completion quest. They may be on a 1980s card set, but all three are very 1970s players and I will think of them as '70s players before I ever get to their '80s days.

Also included was this brief Dodger in A&G mini form, Tim Federowicz. This is my 15th card -- all from 2012 -- of Federowicz, who played all of 89 games for L.A. He was still playing in the majors in 2018, but it's difficult to find any cards of him post-2012 because HE WASN'T A ROOKIE ANYMORE.

Yup, that stuff still gets me upset.

Because it's very un-1970s.

Now that the 2001 Upper Deck Decade 1970s set is complete, you can count on a post dedicated to a breakdown of the entire set. That will have to wait until there's a little more time in my life.

But I guarantee you that it be written. Because nothing makes me happier than reviewing a set that I've completed, especially when it's devoted to the '70s.

Sets like that deserve to be chronicled.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Death and dying

I know that's a heavy post title. I don't want to bring anyone down to my current miserable state, so I'll try to keep it in a baseball frame of mind, but just to give you an idea of what I am presently dealing with:

Death and dying is everywhere. My mother's health continues to decline. We all know what her illness is, we're just waiting for confirmation. The news is not good and some of us are not taking it well. Meanwhile, around the block from me last week, a father and his four daughters died in a fire on Valentine's Day. The city is devastated. There have been memorials in the street near my house all week.

So with those happy themes dominating my life right now, I came home from yet another trip to my parents to hear that Don Newcombe had died.

I loved Don Newcombe. I thought he never received as much appreciation as other Brooklyn Dodgers. Of the great African-American Dodgers trifecta of the 1940s and 1950s, I suppose Newk couldn't compare with Jackie Robinson (breaking MLB's color barrier) or Roy Campanella (three-time NL MVP), but I was always enamored with Newcombe.

I wrote a post about him three-plus a years ago, detailing his very impressive feats achieved during a very stressful time period. He is one of the biggest pioneers that baseball has ever had. But they just aren't repeated as often as some of his peers'.

There are precious few relic cards or autograph cards of Newcombe. Topps hasn't made a card of him since 2005. I don't know of any cards of him by a major card company since 2009. My guess is this is a licensing issue but it's a bit of a downer that nobody went the extra effort to get a deal done.

Don Newcombe is one of the greatest-hitting pitchers the game has ever known. Yet this is the only card of his that I own that shows him hitting.

His vintage cards seem shockingly available. Although I don't have all of them in my collection, I do have three of his 1958 Topps card, his final playing-day card of him in a Dodgers uniform. It is just bizarre to have triples of 1950s player of his stature.

But I shouldn't complain.

If collectors aren't going to value him as much as I think they should, then those Newcombe cards will come to me all the more easily.

I won't say that these vintage Newcombes arrived in my collection easily, but I can't see a Campy or Jackie just falling into my binders for the modest of efforts.

I feel fortunate that the first Newcombe cards I ever owned was the card from 1956.

It's also the first 1956 card I ever owned.

It was part of the '50s cards that my dad brought home from work, given to him by a co-worker. My brothers and I sat at the dining room table and took turns selecting all those wonderful '50s cards for our collection.

But before we did that, we doled out the cards that showed our respective favorite teams. Mine was the Dodgers. I don't remember who was distributing the cards for this portion of the exercise but I do know that the Newcombe card arrived in my stack first. I would also pick up from the 1956 set the Carl Erskine card, the Randy Jackson card, the Don Zimmer card and the Brooklyn Dodgers team card. But that Newcombe card was special. Such a star. Such a Dodger. And it was the first '56 I could say was mine.

There was another '50s card of Newcombe in that big grocery bag from that unknown co-worker of my dad's:

This beat-up 1957 Don Newcombe was mine as well. I gave no thought to the condition. This was my first experience with glorious '50s cards. I'd never known anything older.

A cleaner version of that '57 Newk landed in my collection a year or two ago. I enjoy it, but I can't part with the other Newcombe, lest I lose a portion of that wonderful day when we spread a bunch of '50s cards all over the dining room table.

Once Newcombe retired, he disappeared off of cards through the '60s, '70s and much of the '80s. As the baseball-card boom arrived, he popped up again, on cards from Swell and Target and Smokey the Bear. And this card:

Don Newcombe with his name misspelled. They would never do that to Jackie or Roy.

When legends on new designs became all the rage 15 or 20 years ago, Newcombe appeared again on various retro cards.

Those are just a few of them in my collection. And you'll note that Fleer and Upper Deck did a better job of recognizing Newcombe than Topps did during this time (mostly, Topps just kept repeating Newk's '56 Topps card).

But not all of my favorite Newcombe cards are vintage ones.

This is just beautful, although it's something I think would look better in Stadium Club.

This, meanwhile, is the most recent Newcombe card in my collection. Check out the date in the bottom left. It's been 10 years since the guy showed up on cardboard. (EDIT: Newcombe is in the recent Sage Sport Kings product -- I just showed a card of his the other day -- as well as a handful of other cards from 2011, 2014 and 2015).

In 1975, I pulled this card from a pack if '75 minis during my first year of collecting. It was my first inclination of who Don Newcombe was and what his 1956 Topps card looked like. Little did I know that I would be gifted the actual card about six or seven years later. (The amount of time that passed between 1975 and 1981 or 1982 seems vast).

Newcombe will always be a special player in my card collection, probably valued much more than in the collections of the majority of others. The man who is one of the very few to have won the Cy Young Award, the MVP and the Rookie of the Year Award seems like he should've received more credit and definitely received more cards.

I'm not going to to say he belonged in the Hall of Fame or anything. But he's definitely in my Hall of Fame.

I'm not liking all these goodbyes I've been saying lately. All the sad faces and difficult moments and crushing conversations. But at least in this case, I can look at the baseball cards and smile.