Monday, January 31, 2011

You can't stop me (from collecting), you can only hope to contain me

The January card show has been a pain in my ass since 2008. Finally able to attend after being MIA the last two years, I was determined to enjoy it even with very little cash.

But then something happened ...

I scrounged up some more money. I don't know how I did it. I think I have to forgo lunch and haircuts for the next two months. But I managed to go to the card show with more than 20 bucks in my pocket. It still wasn't as much as I usually bring and the card stack was lower than normal.

Plus, I got off to a horribly late start. I arrived at the show two hours before shutdown time. And you know what some dealers do one hour before shutdown time. They fold up their tables. I hate that. Dealers who don't fold up their tables one hour before shutdown time get business from me.

But that was one of the few things that I noticed because I was too busy rushing around in a near panic trying to cover as much as I could within the limited window. A few key things that did catch my eye:

1. The show returned to the convention hall that I enjoy. Much easier to find things.
2. My favorite dealer returned. I hadn't seen him in a year-and-a-half. Yay, me!
3. There were old pro wrestlers there signing autographs. I'm not not into wrestling, so it seemed very sad to me that a 60-year-old guy was wearing a mask over his face all day.
4. Business was good. That's what the dealers kept telling me. I didn't really see a lot of people there, but I think it was because I was late.
5. An old Italian guy was there telling Joe DiMaggio stories. He seemed like he knew Joe D. pretty well.

OK, now onto the cards. There is nothing here for the mojo hunters, so move along. But I like what I got.

Several kind people offered suggestions in the comments for what I should do with my limited amount of cash.  So I will try to show the cards as they reflect the comments. That way you can all take credit for my collection.

Collective Troll: The Troll had several fine suggestions, several of which I took. But one of his suggestions was to sift through dollar boxes. This is a time-consuming activity and I had little time, but I did stop at a couple dollar boxes:

 The best part of dollar boxes -- if the dealer knows what he's doing -- is they end up being 40-cent boxes. I didn't find any quarter boxes. There is at least a couple guys I know that have those at this show, but in my rush, I have no idea if they were there.

Greg Zakwin: Greg wanted me to find the super-sickest Kershaw or Kemp card I could. I failed miserably in this area. I tried. There is this one guy who has a binder filled with jersey cards. I found my favorite Kershaw jersey at his table the last show. I asked about the binder. He said a guy came up and BOUGHT THE WHOLE THING. I hate those people.

I then stood and drooled on the glass as I looked at a by-the-letters Kemp patch. If I had the money I usually do, it would be mine. But instead, they just wiped off my saliva on the display case. And I bought this:

It's a manufactured patch from 2003. I didn't even know they were doing that eight years ago. There's a bite out of the left side, which is why I got it cheaply and why it fit in my budget.

Paul: He suggested spending my whole budget on something very cool, like an autographed card of a team legend (he mentioned Tug McGraw, which is fine if you find the Mets appealing). I ended up having cash to buy more than one card, but I'll show the card that I spent the most money on:

Get well, Harmon. Killebrew's battle was center in my mind when I bought this card.

Charles @ Hoopography: Charles suggested people-watching. I just can't do that at the card show. I have to focus, like George entering the Soup Nazi's restaurant. I go into card-mode. But Charles also mentioned picking up a famous rookie card. I didn't land any famous rookie cards, that's not my thing. But I did get a rookie card or two:

Exciting, huh? Andy LaRoche is on like his 11th team now. But I'm a slave to that Dodger uniform.

Deal: He said I should expect to buy something totally unexpected, something not on my want list or even something that wasn't a thought in my head. I suppose this fits the description:

This card is tremendous. It's been a long time since I've seen it, and I had to get it immediately. I never go into a card show meaning to buy Upper Deck or Randy Johnson, but there you are. The '96 UD V.J. Lovero Showcase insert set continues to suck me in.

Mariner1: He mentioned the '83 Tony Gwynn rookie, which fortunately I do possess. But the Mariner1 is wise and recommended hitting the Nebulous 9 list. For some reason, I forget to do that. But I did knock one card off the list:

I must have a card of Garret Anderson, so I can say: "remember that one time when Anderson actually got on base?"

Matthew Glidden: Matthew was speaking more about his card targets than mine -- at least I hope he was. I didn't pick up anything nearly as old as mentioned. These were the oldest cards I acquired:

These were also the last cards I picked up. I'm liking '64 Topps a little more than I once did. I think it's because there is all that stuff about the Dodgers sweeping the Yankees in the set.

Captain Canuck: The Captain had suggestions for him and for me. He suggested finishing sets for him and getting a card of a favorite player for me. Well, finding a card of Ron Cey that I don't have at a card show is next to impossible. But I did complete a set:

The team set for 2010 Topps Update is complete (although I still need that variation card). I know it's not exciting, but I hate having 2010 team sets incomplete when the 2011 cards come out. Not a problem now.

Dayf: He also made several good suggestions. As I mentioned, there were no quarter boxes in my immediate vision. I did get some other vintage, which you'll see. But dayf also suggested wandering around in a zen-like state and waiting for a card to speak to me.

No time for that, but a card did speak to me:

I spotted a binder of Kellogg's 3-D cards at the very last minute. If I spotted this the instant I walked in the show, my entire post would be about Kellogg's cards. But this '72 Kellogg's card definitely spoke to me.

Chris Stufflestreet: Chris, no surprise, wanted me to get something really, really old. It's funny, he said that dealers bring out stuff from the early '80s when they hear him say old. I have never seen early '80s cards (unless they were stars) at this show. I see lots of junk wax from the '80s in unopened packs. But I never see commons and semi-stars of early '80s players.

But that's cool, because what I really want are '71s:

This was the first thing on my mind when I walked through the doors: Get '71s. I'm now down to needing just 36 cards for the set. That's 95.2 percent complete! But before I get too excited, I still need Mays, Clemente, Tony Perez and Yaz.

AdamE: Adam suggested the bargain bins, too. He also recommended '60s Post cards, which he said go fairly cheap. I did see some '60s Post. They weren't cheap. Not cheap enough, anyway.

This is the last card from the bargain bin:

A numbered card of a guy I don't like from possibly one of the worst-looking sets of the last 10 years. Don't know how much of a bargain this is.

Those were all the suggestees and I'm all out of cards to feature, except for one:

Roy in a Los Angeles Dodger uniform. That's Chicle Hi-Jinks!!!!

Thanks for all the advice. I'll keep it in mind when the next show rolls around, but hopefully the cash will be more plentiful.

OK, time to brace for a week of peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

Awesomest night card, the semifinals

I'm a little worn out by the drive to and from the card show yesterday. Two-and-a-half hours in a car for an hour-and-a-half in a convention hall doesn't seem like a fair ... oh what am I saying? Of course it's a fair trade if it involves cards!

But I'm not up to an involved write-up on night cards, even though I've finally gotten to the semifinals of this thing. After whittling down 100 night cards, it's come down to the final four (please don't sue me, NCAA).

The last card to reach the semifinals is the Triple Play card of Wrigley Field that you see here. It outlasted Nolan Ryan, believe it or not. Here are the vote totals:

1. 1992 Triple Play Wrigley Field: 19 votes
2. 1990 Score Nolan Ryan: 14 votes
3. 1978 Topps Rich Chiles: 10 votes
4. 2001 Upper Deck '70s Decade Ozzie Smith: 5 votes

So, Wrigley Field can relax and kick up its feet for a week while two other night cards duke it out for a spot in the final.

You're probably very familiar with these cards by now. But here they are with minimal commentary:

Semifinalist 1: Kirk Gibson's Game 1 blast is just one of the many great things that happened in the late 1980s. It is my favorite era ever, despite all the junk wax.

Semifinalist 2: The 1981 All-Star Game is another epic moment in my baseball viewing existence. It marked the return of the sport after the strike.

I just realized that the first semifinal involves vertical cards and the second semifinal will feature horizontal cards.

Yeah, that's all I've got.

Vote anyway.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where all your dreams don't come true

A tale of Unrealistic Expectations. Overheard at the card show:

Mother and son approach dealer's table. Son appears to be about 10.

Mother: What kind of cards are you looking for?
Son: Autographs.
Mother: What kind of autographs?
Son: I don't know. Just autographs.

Son spots autographed Ken Griffey card.

Son (unrealistic expectation #1): Griffey!! Can I have that one?
Mother (unrealistic expectation #2): How much is the Griffey card?
Dealer (unrealistic expectation #3): You can have it for 100 dollars.

Mother stares at dealer blankly.

Son (unrealistic expectation #4): Mom ...
Mother: You're not getting a 100 dollar card.
Dealer (unrealistic expectation #5): Not today, huh? You been a good kid today?

And so we see our three disappointed heroes walk off into the sunset, cardless and cashless. At least one of them is a bit the wiser.

Full card show report tomorrow.

My almost final Million Card Giveaway site post

I will be requesting my final shipment of Million Card Giveaway cards from the Million Card Giveaway slot machine this week.

This will be the third time I've ordered up some cards. It may be cheaper to order all of the cards at once, but I need to pay my shipping costs in installments.That's how poor I am.

In fact, I have just come to the conclusion that I probably won't request all 13 of the cards I have left in the portfolio -- even though I arranged it so all 13 cards were ones that I lacked in my collection.

You read right, I am banishing cards that I NEED to MCG limbo. Or maybe they're going to repack hell. At any rate, I don't anticipate those cards haunting my sleep. Much.

So here are the cards that I have and whether or not they will be coming home to daddy.

You may plead for clemency for your respective card of choice in the comments. If I'm in a good mood -- which is rare these days -- I may alter my decision based on the sincerity of the pleas.

Card: 1962 Pete Richert
Yay or Nay: Yay, without a doubt.
Why: He helped the Dodgers land Claude Osteen. And he played for L.A. not once, but twice. I like that.

Card: 1979 Steve Renko
Yay or Nay: Yay
Why: I have a soft spot for the 1979 A's cards because they're a cardboard reflection of just how horribly gutted the '78 A's were. They went from Sal Bando and Joe Rudi to Taylor Duncan and Mario Guerrero. They were probably the blueprint for future Marlins fire sales.

Card: 1979 Barry Foote
Yay or Nay: Yay, Yay, Yay!
Why: Look at it and I dare you not to smile.

Card: 1982 Bob Clark
Yay or Nay: Nay
Why: As much as I enjoy the sky-written signature, I'm just not fully committed to '82 Topps.

Card: 1982 Tom Griffin
Yay or Nay: Nay
Why: It's card No. 777, which is cool. This was the year Topps went from 726 cards to 792, so it's the first 777 card. But other than that, it's a Giant.

Card: 1977 George Scott
Yay or Nay: Yay!
Why: It is the best helmet-necklace combination ever to appear on cardboard.

Card: 1979 Tim Johnson
Yay or Nay: Nay
Why: Dude lied about being in the Vietnam War. He was actually in spring training camp with the Dodgers.

Card: 1972 Glenn Beckert In Action
Yay or Nay: Yay.
Why: Beckert appears to be in the midst of the most violent practice swing in history. Will he rupture a clavicle? Plus '72 Topps is too sweet to ignore.

Card:1972 Ed Kirkpatrick
Yay or Nay: Yay
Why: Cloud over his right shoulder, weather vane over his left, Kirkpatrick shoots the stink eye to an imaginary pitcher.

Card: 1969 Russ Gibson
Yay or Nay: Yay
Why: Just so I can laugh at all the people that made pathetic trade offers for this card. I think I may have received close to 200 trade offers for Gibby. About two of them were legitimate. And that is estimating conservatively.

Card: 1982 George Cappuzzello
Yay or Nay: Nay
Why: I'm interested in getting my second-ever Cappuzzello card, but the shipping nazis won't let me.

Card: 1982 John Tudor
Yay or Nay: Yay
Why: Tudor! Hey, Tood! Are you in there? Tudor!

Card: 1979 Bill Robinson
Yay or Nay: Yay
Why: Just once, I'd like to dress up like the Pittsburgh Pirates did in the late '70s.

OK, by my count, that means I will be ordering up nine cards. That's more than I thought I would.

But first I'll have to calculate the shipping charges. I'll try not to get all indignant about it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

If you could buy only one card at a card show ...

I have a card show to go to this weekend. It is the same show that I haven't been able to go to for the last two Januarys because of the monumentally crappy weather that we receive every first month of the year. (You people who have weekly card shows in Florida just remember that, and let the guilt wash over you as you flip through cards in your Hawaiian shorts).

But this time, unbelievably, the weather is supposed to be passable.

And wouldn't you know it, this time, I also happen to be broke.

I will be going to this card show with the least amount of money that I have taken to a show since I returned to the hobby. Also, a portion of the little cash that I have will be going toward purchasing items for a couple of super generous people who have showered me with terrific card packages recently (stay tuned for those. They're crazy good).

That leaves me with this thought:

I may end up going to this show only to come away with two or three cards, or even one card, for myself.

That increases the pressure. I must ensure that the few cards, or card, that I get is the biggest bang for my paltry buck. I want no regrets. I need something special, but within limits. I don't have money to even buy a 1974 Dave Winfield, which happens to be the most money I've ever put down on a single card ever.

I might end up with a handful of 1971 Topps needs, or a very cool Kershaw card, or maybe a couple of '56s.

But I'm open to any suggestions.

Also, what would you do? If you had, say, only 20-30 bucks to spend on one or two cards, what would you choose?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Something unexpected came up

It has been a crazy couple of weeks for card packages. I swear that everyone's New Year's resolution involved sending out cards. I am surrounded by them. My usual cabinet top that houses incoming cards quite nicely, is woefully inadequate right now. There is going to be a tragedy in which a pile of cards falls on the floor when I'm not around and the dog turns it into a horrible scene of canine carnage.

Newly arriving card packages have been such a regular occurrence that I'm doing things that I've never done before.

For example, yesterday, I received two card packages in the mail ... and set them aside. Unopened. This NEVER happens.

It's not that I didn't care. It's just that I was headed out to work, and I had a feeling I would need some cheering up when I returned home.

The work shift wasn't too bad, even though my boss had a starring role. Still, I couldn't wait to get home and open my two patient packages. I'm not going to reveal what I received, because the packages have to get in line behind all the others.

But I'll make an exception for the card at the top of the post.

Does it look familiar?

It did to me.

Holy pink houses! That's the card that I have in my Million Card Giveaway portfolio. It also happens to be the oldest card in my portfolio and was the card I looked forward to receiving the most when I pulled the trigger on my final shipment of MCG cards. That was also supposed to happen last night after work.

Now everything's in a holding pattern. I don't need the 1959 Don Demeter card anymore. I just took up way too much time attempting to trade it for another vintage Dodger that I need. We'll see how that turns out.

But here is the other development:

I have no idea who sent me that Demeter card or the rest of the cards in the package.

That is a first.

I'm scatter-brained, but not to that degree.

I've got on file a list of every person with which I've made a transaction. Yet the name on the envelope sets off no bells. But quite obviously I once told this person, "yes, dude, send me some cards!"

So, Dan in California, if you're reading, thanks for all the cards. And thanks for saving me a little bit of shipping on the MCG site. That is unless one of the 35 trade offers I've made goes through.

(P.S.: In another weird development, the night card poll on the sidebar magically has lost 20 votes. It was at 40 yesterday and now is at 20. Waaaaaaaaahhh?)

EDIT (7 hours later): Success!

Guess I won't be saving on shipping.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

OPC loot (plus, how do Canadians get their chrome cards so flat?)

Remember when you received cards and that was enough? Remember when you weren't opening the package hoping that a blog post was contained therein?

Not to sound ungrateful -- I like all my card packages equally -- but it is terrific when I can turn a package into a post or two.

Pictures of Men has exceeded expectations though. This is now the third straight post involving cards from POM. Call the record-breaking people.

This post has to do with where POM originates. Its headquarters are in the proud province of Ontario, Canada. Having lived near the Canadian border more than half my life -- residing near Maple Leafs territory first and then Senators territory -- I'm somewhat familiar with how things operate there and have had very enjoyable times in Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston (not so much in Cornwall).

But I still get confused by the O-Pee-Chee.

I just can't condition myself to thinking the card I'm looking at may not be what it seems.

For 1988 cards, OPC helps you out. By putting its logo on the front, it's telling you "this isn't just an '88 Topps card to add to the pile of 80 million. This is OPC, baby!"

If you're extra-dense, OPC will go the extra mile and add a "Now with ..." reminder. That will certainly get your card-collecting senses all tingly.

But then there is the early OPC, where the front looks exactly like the front of a Topps card. Sometimes the make-up of the cardboard will tip you off that it's not Topps, but other times it feels just like a Topps card.

As usual, I thought this was a Topps card, and I thought, "Sweet, a '72 Topps! Unfortunately, I have it already."

Oh, no I di'int.

There are "lanceurs" all over the place! And it makes me so happy. A 1972 OPC is a thing to behold.

Dennis also provided some more modern OPC cards, from that set of a couple years ago that I'm close to completing.

He sent me several cards off the wants, including this card of Meche, who just retired. A very interesting story on Meche appeared in the New York Times the other day. Thanks to grogg for tipping me off to it. I wouldn't have known about it without Twitter.

And here's more quirkiness from OPC: Zambrano gets a "moment" because he pitched two scoreless innings in the '08 All-Star Game. If Upper Deck was making a sarcastic comment on the fairly recent habit of taking out a pitcher after an inning during the All-Star Game, then I'd be thrilled with this card ... in fact, I'm just going to tell myself that's what they did and be happy.

The rest of the cards have nothing to do with OPC. But somehow they came from Canada anyway (I kid, because I live so close!)

This card says Eric Karros played for the Cubs. Lies.

A 2000 SPx goldilocks card. Upper Deck was still clinging to the '90s fad of squishing ballplayers' heads.

I've received a rash of packages containing 2009 First Edition needs. Very relieved. I thought I'd never get these cards because no one bought them.

Two variation cards from two products that are no longer. I don't/won't miss either of them. The top card has a Polar Bear back and the bottom card is the mini. Mehs all around.

This is fun though. This is the last of the Bowman Topps 100 Dodgers that I needed. I love this whole set. Not enough to collect it though.

DeJesus is still trying to break through. With Chin-Lung Hu gone, it looks a little brighter for DeJesus. But Furcal is still around for another year, and the Dodgers' top prospect, Dee Gordon, plays short.

Oooooh, shiny refractorness of John Ely. Every time I get a card like this, I stop and stare as stars twinkle overhead. Really, it happens. My life is way more interesting than yours.

McGriff sure has a lot of Dodgers cards for barely playing for them.

Final item. I saved this for last, not because it's a great photo of Ebbets Field or because it's an orange refractor.

I saved it for last because the card is as flat as filo dough. I'm serious. There isn't a hint of bowing at all in the card. I was stunned.

Should I get all my chrome cards from Canada?

Thanks, for a third time, for the cards, Dennis. I'm finally getting something out the door to you very soon.