Thursday, May 23, 2019

It's OK to be superficial sometimes

The latest card release news is that Topps has resurrected its Total brand from around the turn of the century but has turned it into an online product that is distributed in stages, so they can hook collectors throughout the year.

I am steering very clear of this reboot because even though 2019 Total contains the same vast checklist and a comprehensive view of each team, the cost aspect that helped make Total Total is not there. It appears that the new version will cost you a buck a card.

That's too much for me for this set. Honestly, the look of Total has always been a drawback for me and it's enough to ignore it. Many collectors who bought packs of Total during its first appearances (when I was not collecting at all), pine for the days of Total and the very appearance of Total's dull, dull, dull, dull, duuuullll design throws them into fits of nostalgia.

I appreciate the original Total's mission and its low cost, but, I am superficial when it comes to cards. I need them to look nice. I need them to be attractive. The best thing anyone can say about Total's design is that it is "functional." But functional is not enough for this superficial hobbyist to collect those cards. I want my cards in sun dresses with bows in their hair and bracelets on their wrists. It's one the few places in life where I can judge something by the way it looks and get away with it. If you're talking an all-inclusive baseball card set, I think the old Upper Deck 40man sets were much more appealing.

So, anyway, boring old Total is back with lots and lots of cards that are kind of snooze-inducing and too much money.

I shall pass and instead accumulate old Total cards sent to me by fellow collectors.

These are 2003 Total needs that I received from Johnny's Trading Spot. The Troy Brohawn card at the top is also a need. The most appealing part of Total, of course, is being able to collect a Troy Brohawn card. No other brand is going to waste their time on players like that.

Total tried to do parallels back then but they were the simplest kind of parallel ever. Gray borders. Woo! Rein it in a little, Total!

In 2002, Total was glossy and apparently someone thought that was way over the top, too, as it dispensed with it the following year.

Johnny also sent me some more puzzling cards from around the same time period. Every time I get stuff like this I am grateful I did not collect at this time.

"Throw a stamp on it and you've got an instant parallel!" Such bizarre thinking during this era. These are the "Home Team Advantage" parallels from the 2000 Topps set. I accept such things because team collectors must. but guess what goes in the garbage first if someone decides I must downsize my collection?

"Hey, night owl, you just showed those!" No, no I didn't. Don't you see Darren Dreifort up in the top right corner? He wasn't there in the previous scan. No, these are the "Limited Edition" parallels from the 2000 set with the foil-stamped words over the player's name. Really dumb, but Johnny was right, I did not have these.

Of course, Topps continues to perpetuate the "foil stamp means it's a new card" falsehood with buybacks. They just can't let go.

Johnny also sent some more recent Dodgers. I enjoy these cards more than the Total cards because of the colorful and flashy designs. Go superficiality! Of course, the Panini card fails because the pinkness is on the back and that's so inept I still don't know how Panini manages to create cards and distribute them.

Various 2018 Dodgers needs. You can tell I dropped out of collecting 2018 needs. I didn't generate a want list for half of this stuff.

The last cards I'm showing are good, old, sensible 1970s cards. I have all three of these cards already, but the bottom two are upgrades while I will accept as many versions of Walter Alston's final solo card that people want to send me.

Perhaps the most welcome item in the envelope was a Dodgers pocket schedule from 1988. You remember what happened in 1988, don't you?

That's very cool.

Obviously, people may collect anything they want and if they want to accumulate boring, old Total or throw money at the Total reboot, I'm happy they've found what they like.

However, I will continue to track down cards that contain both substance and appeal. See? I'm really not superficial. I just like the whole package.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

C.A.: 1989 Bill Pucko Cards U.L. Washington

(Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day. One of my favorite things to do is eat at a restaurant and I have great respect for table-servers, and from the time I was a bus boy have tried to tip them more than what is standard. They know the value of work. Time for Cardboad Appreciation. This is the 282nd in a series):

This is one more card from my COMC Spring Cleaning shopping spree and it is probably my favorite out of all of them.

I didn't know it existed until it popped up in an unrelated search. I am familiar with the '89 Bill Pucko Cards and the design from that year. But all of my knowledge came from the Niagara Falls Rapids team set from that same year and those cards feature red borders.

This was the most notable card from that set, according to me:

This is the card where I make my trading card debut. I'm the guy in the press box, fourth window from the left, talking to the scorekeeper in the fifth window.

I kept all of the cards in that Rapids team set as it commemorates the first professional baseball team I covered for a season. The Rapids were a new team that year in the New York-Penn League and for their first home-opener, they played another new team, the Welland Pirates.

Those were the same Welland Pirates managed by U.L. Washington.

Washington is the first major league player I ever interviewed. It came at the end of that home-opening game at Sal Maglie Stadium. Washington was displaying his famous toothpick during the interview just as he is in the Welland card, which is tremendous.

That is exactly as I remember Washington when he talked to me.

As I mentioned in this post, I grew up watching Washington play for the Kansas City Royals. He was a favorite, as he was for most kids growing up then because of that crazy toothpick. I've enjoyed every U.L. Washington card that has entered my collection. But none of them truly represented the time when I talked to him.

I didn't think such a card existed until I came across that Bill Pucko card.

(P.S.: There are also '89 Pucko cards for the Elmira Pioneers and Utica Blue Sox. Perhaps the most notable '89 Pucko card is of future pitcher Tim Wakefield as a Welland Pirate third baseman).

Monday, May 20, 2019

Cleaning up

I've mentioned several times that I'm not one of those people who looks for deals or bargains. If I happen to be low on money and at a card show, then I will scope out discounts, but that's about the only time.

This doesn't mean I'm rich or a wild spender. I'm neither. I just can't be troubled with spending so much time searching for deals. I don't check out the circulars in the Sunday paper, I don't pester retail salesmen for cents off, I don't argue with the check out girl about the price on canned pears. It's just too much time spent on something that doesn't mean much.

If you grew up during the Great Depression or in a poor family or are a college student, then, yeah, I get why you'd be obsessed with finding steals. But, overall, I think too much noise is made about who got what for how little. I don't play that game. I don't care. I hope I never have to.

This offends some people. A few days ago, my brother went to the store to buy some ingredients to make homemade pizza for the family. He bought a block of mozzarella cheese. The lady at the check out said in an accusatory way, "That's not the one that's on sale." My brother, who has no use for what people think of him, said bluntly, "That's the one I want." The check out lady gave a couple harrumphs and rang him up. Apparently my brother had shirked his American duty to buy only sale items. I've had encounters like this, too. It's baffling.

Anyway ...

All of that was to tell you I recently took advantage of a sale! (I'm such a two-faced collector). COMC is famous for its Black Friday sale, which I never participate in because I can't spend money on myself on Black Friday without going to confession. However, COMC also has a Spring Cleaning sale, which happened to be this month and happened to land during a time when I had extra cash. The stars were aligned. So let's see what I got for less money than I'd normally spend with absolutely no guilt feelings.

This is my new philosophy with insert cards of Dodgers. I will purchase them only if they appeal to me in some way. Gone are the days of me trying to obtain every Dodger insert (they'll probably always be listed on my want list, though). All three of these appealed to me.

Same goes for online exclusives of Dodger cards. If it's something I find cool, I'll track it down. But there's no way I'm looking for every Dodger online card. I can't afford it and some of them ain't great.

In general, if the online card resembles some sort of '70s tribute, I am there. This is an ode to the 1974 Topps Monster Initials stickers, which is so cool I can barely stand it.

These are "modernized" versions of the 1978 Topps design, basically scrapping the border. These appealed to me as soon as I saw them on gcrl's blog. They were quite cheap, too.

The backs, though, as they are on a lot of the online exclusives, are lame. Same words on every card, a couple lines of self-promotion and that's it. Speaking of discounts, they should discount the cards if they're not going to put any effort into half of it.

It seems odd to need a 1989 card so far into my collecting life, but I realized I had never obtained the Brian Holton error card, in which the pitcher shown is Shawn Hillegas.

There is the corrected version.

These are cards from the 1984/1985 Doug West Series, issued by Sports Design Products and featuring the art of Doug West.

I discovered these cards while writing the 1985 Topps blog (which I just completed earlier today). I immediately looked up the Dodgers, found they were awfully cheap and grabbed them. I never saw these back in the '80s and they're kind of nice.

This is one of the few Ron Cey autographed cards that I didn't already have in my collection.

I've ignored it for awhile because it's an unlicensed set and the look of Panini's Golden Age doesn't appeal to me. But I saw the card displayed on the Penny Sleeves blog the other day and I figured it's about time I got it, since I'm the Ron Cey collector and all.

OK, that pretty much does it for the Dodgers in my COMC envelope. Let's move on to the set stuff.

These are two more "divisible by three" needs off the 2008 Stadium Club set quest. I'm down to needing Justin Upton and Robinson Cano and then the set is complete! At least as far as I want to go with it.

The card at the top of the post tells you what other set I focused on with this spring cleaning selection. It is the '76 Kellogg's 3D set, of course! I'm loving this quest and I'm about to show you how much.

So much in love. Those dudes from the '70s are my dudes. The Eck rookie card is in a little less pleasant shape than the others, but nothing that will bother me.

With this salvo of '76s I now need just 13 cards to complete the 57-card set. One or two tricky ones remaining (Pete Rose, the stupid Steve Hargan card that costs too much because it's card No. 1), but it shouldn't be that taxing.

My next set mission with this purchase went toward the set where I haven't the foggiest idea where it will end.

These 40 buybacks from the 1975 Topps set bring me to 323 cards from the set in buyback form. That is seven cards away from the halfway mark.

Once I get to halfway, which I know I can do easily, my "have list" for these '75 buybacks will turn into a "want list."

These are the best cards to get during a COMC sale because, brother, people charge way too much for buybacks. They're buybacks!!!! Nobody wants a stupid stamp on their card!! Price them accordingly. Even someone like me, who isn't perpetually searching for deals, won't pay the prices for these things unless COMC is holding a sale.

Finally, I found one card for another set I am trying to complete. It was a sticky one. But it's mine, for a discount:

Willie Mays' final Topps card is a pricey item if you want it in respectable shape. This one is and I'm really glad I don't have to think about it anymore. It didn't keep me up at night but you set collectors know how cards like this loom over your head.

This was a pretty successful COMC grab and I admit I was impressed with how little I paid for it considering. I guess there is something to be said about looking for those deals.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to start throwing coupons at the grocery store checkout people or bragging to co-workers about how much I saved on gas. I'll probably keep the deal-hunting to baseball cards.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A good gig

First off, thank you for all of the comments of support and especially the emails regarding my mom's passing.

I'm getting through, as I seem to have inherited my mom's reputation as one of the "rocks" of the family. But it's very difficult seeing how other people handle her loss and the various conflicts and issues that arise from that. Tomorrow will be exceedingly draining.

Anyway, as all of that happens, life still goes on. I've been told that the latest issue of Beckett Vintage Collector is out, the June/July issue, and that I have an article in it. I don't know this first-hand because I have to drive an hour to find a store that carries this magazine and being otherwise occupied, I can't do that. Perhaps this weekend I can find one. I'll write a separate post once I get my hands on a copy (or four).

But further proof that my second article has been published came in the form of a payment check from Beckett. I've decided that I will split these magazine checks so that at least half goes to savings and other needs and the other part goes to card purchases.

The check has been cashed and the cards are arriving. My COMC purchase is on its way, meanwhile I have the items that came off of ebay.

I mentioned that I bought one of these a few posts ago:

This is the latest in my continuing quest to complete all the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards sets. It's a 36-pack box of Series 2, which I believe was issued in 1992.

There you go, that's one of the sides, advertising Series 2 and some bonus hologram collectible that I didn't pull.

I've gone through the entire box, because I had some brief down time yesterday, and what an odd configuration to this set.

Yes, there are new Series 2 cards in the box (you can note the Series 2 cards because the card number on the back is red instead of black). But they are mixed in with plain, old Series 1 cards. So every pack that I opened featured three or four Series 2 cards and then the rest of the pack would be Series 1 cards, of which I have plenty already.

Also, the collation was not as friendly as the Series 1 box I opened recently. I thought with 36 packs to open that I'd have no trouble finishing off all of my wants, but as it stands I'm down to needing three Series 2 cards to complete it.

274 - Linda Ronstadt
289 - Vinx
309 - Foreigner

It's possible I have the Foreigner card already. Many of the bands/singers featured have more than one card in the set, making it confusing when you're keeping tabs on what you need.

I'll go into a more detailed description of the Series 2 box in a later post. I also want to see how many dupes I have because if anyone is collecting this set, I definitely have plenty of Series 1 extras now, and a small portion of Series 2 dupes.

The more notable of my ebay purchases was baseball in nature and vintage in nature.

It is a card that I've wanted ever since I became furious that it was going for so much a few years ago. It's a high-numbered card from a 1960s set that usually commands triple digits even though it is not rarer than any other high-numbered 1960s card -- in fact, it's not even one of the short-prints in the set. It has become one of those cards that has been hoarded by some collectors for reasons that aren't easy to determine, the only explanation is that it has some sort of "prestige," which seems to me an excuse to hike up the price on the card. And of course the card features a Dodger so it's been irking me for quite awhile.

But finally I have it.

Most people call it the Grant Jackson rookie card. I call it the Bart Shirley rookie card.

It's No. 591 in the set and if I can just get that high-numbered Ron Perranoski card next, then I will have completed the 1966 Topps Dodgers team set.

This card didn't cost me more than any single card I've ever bought but it came awfully close. It was sure nice to have an extra 100 bucks to play with thanks to the magazine article.

Yup, writing for Vintage Collector is a pretty good gig.