Thursday, December 18, 2014

(Con)Fusion

I just don't know what's going on with my team. They sign a 31 year-old who needs a neck fusion to a four-year deal, they offered a pitcher coming off of his second Tommy John surgery a 1-year deal worth a reported 5 Million dollars, and then yesterday they traded away a pretty damn good reliever to Boston for a mid-level prospect who may (or may not) be his equivalent. All this after trading the most popular player since Chipper Jones. Aaaaand...they are seeing a shrinking market for either Justin Upton or Evan Gattis- their two best commodities for rebuilding. They say we're not rebuilding, but we sure as hell don't look like we're going to compete. Simply put: management has confused the fan base- leaving us feeling like we're being conned.

I often feel the same way about card manufacturers.

Cards featuring all the colors of the rainbow, chrome versions, minis, serial numbered parallels, and photo variations- all part of a big con, making us think we really need theses things; that our player collections wouldn't be complete without them. Like Leland Gaunt (the devil in human form in Stephen King's Needful Things), Topps offers us some useless objects that we purchase by selling our souls. Confusing the collector base and conning us while they're at it. Gee, #ThanksTopps. 

This confusing the collector isn't anything entirely new, though.

Consider 2001 Topps Fusion.

2001 Topps Fusion #53 Chipper Jones


2001 Topps Gallery #2 Chipper Jones

Released in 2001, Fusion was, in a single word, a flustercuck. I'll quote baseballcardpedia.com in their description of the set (which is much nicer than what I called it): "The product attempted to fuse five of Topps' brand names (Bowman's Best, Finest, Gold Label, Stadium Club and Gallery) all into one product." 

The site continues, "Card numbers ending in a 1 or 6 are done in the style of Bowman's Best (refractive chromium stock); 2 and 7 Finest (etched chromium stock); 3 and 8 Topps Gallery (canvas); 4 and 9 Gold Label (thick plastic stock with holographic foil); and 5 and 0 Stadium Club (high-glossy and full bleed)."

Like I said, a flustercuck.

2001 Topps Fusion #11 - Andruw Jones - Courtesy of COMC.com
2001 Topps Fusion #11 - Andruw Jones


2001 Bowman's Best #33 - Andruw Jones - Courtesy of COMC.com
2001 Bowman's Best #33 - Andruw Jones

Do the sets look anything alike? No, not really.

The problem is that trying to catalog them can be quite confusing. Especially for someone like me who was pretty much out of the hobby in '01, only to return to this confusion. Take this Chipper Jones card, for instance:

2001 Topps Fusion #30 Chipper Jones

Quite a few months ago I decided to try to get my house in order, so to speak. I began the arduous task of cataloging my collection (still haven't gotten too far, BTW) and soon came across this card. So I pulled out my Standard Catalog to find out more about this 2001 Stadium Club insert set.

Huh? Wha? Nowhere to be found.

Perhaps it's a 2002 TSC. Yes, that must be it. After all, this one is obviously the 2001 Stadium Club Chipper...


 2001 Stadium Club #2 Chipper Jones

The card number matches up with what Standard says. So I thumb through to 2002 but the card numbers for the previous card doesn't  jive.

It took awhile, but I finally figured it out: it's an entirely different set. 

At that moment, I just wished that things were like they were back in 1977, when the only "I'm so confused!" you'd hear coming out of my mouth was me mimicking Vinnie Barbarino.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mirror, Mirror On to the Hall

The latest edition of Baseball Digest contains an article by David Laurila titled, "Why Are There So Few Third Basemen in the Hall of Fame?" Take a look at the list of inductees and it's quite staggering: eleven former Major Leaguers. That's it. The opinion of some of those interviewed by Laurila is that poor defense caused many great hitters to move off the base and to a different position, creating a dearth of candidates from the hot corner. After all, it requires great hands, quick reflexes, quick feet and a strong arm. Plus, you're expected to put up monster offensive numbers. Who's able to do all of that? I Don't Know. Only a select few, I guess.

One thing I do know: one of the most recent additions to my collection features one certain future HOF'er, as well as a current player who is quietly building a HOF resume. Both are third basemen (along with two others who manned the corner).

1997 Bowman's Best Mirror Image #MI9



I was never a big fan of the Bowman's Best base cards (I viewed it as a poor man's version of Topps Finest); I was a fan of the insert sets found in them, however. One of the best being Mirror Image.

Beltre already ranks as one of the top defensive third basemen of all-time and, though his power numbers have slipped in recent years, has continued to be a productive player at the plate.




Williams and Branyan...Meh.

Seeded at 1:48 packs, this set wasn't an easy one to put together. Pricing has come way down, making them much more affordable today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Memory Failure- Except When it Comes to Cards

Memory is a funny thing. I don't know how often I've found myself straining the brain just to find that certain word...or that person's name...or that information someone at work is asking me about. It seems like the more that time goes by, the more memory failure I experience. Except, of course, when we're talking about cards.

That's why panic didn't settle in when I failed to reach one of my goals before the card show this past weekend. I had planned to update my Topps team checklist/wantlist on Evernote, but procrastinated and didn't get it done, leaving me vulnerable should a need to reference something present itself. But who needs a checklist when you have that powerful tool we call the brain.

I came across the following three cards from various dealers and while there is nothing about them that stands out, I searched the images that had been scanned and filed away in folders in my brain and decided they were ones that I needed for my team sets. Was I right? Let's see how that old noodle is working, shall we?


2009 Topps "Ring Of Honor" #RH48 Tom Glavine


Did I Need It?  YEP!!


2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary #HTA1 Hank Aaron



Did I Need It? Uh-Huh.

Two-for-Two... last one... can I go 3-for-3 ?

2008 Topps Year in Review #YR111 Willie Harris



They played me to go opposite field, but I pulled it right down the line...Triple! Chop Keeper goes 3-for-3!

It may not have been as impressive as Harris' 6-6, but hey, at this age and with the mind failing me from time to time, I'll take it!! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Next Best Thing

I'm envious of guys like Nick at Dime Boxes-- The Low-End Baseball Card Collector's Journey. I couldn't tell you the last time I came across a table offering such a delectable feast. Dime Boxes? I'd have better luck finding a dime bag.

That didn't stop me from at least trying to get by as cheap as possible at this past weekend's card show. About the best I could find were the 2 for $1 boxes. Does that sound better than 50 cent box? Nah, 2 for 1 makes it sound like you're getting a deal. Walking away from this table, I certainly felt better than spending a buck or two per card.





Just one of a legion of Fleer inserts from back in the day. Nothing stood out on this one, other than it being Chipper.


An interesting card- had never seen any of them before. The scan doesn't do it justice. Kind of like a Chrome Finest.

 Speaking of Chrome...couldn't pass up this RC of Christian. I hope he delivers on his promise this coming year.

 And here I thought I was getting one of the High Tek cards that were recently released...Nope. It's one of the originals.

 Never got these. I guess you can say they had a little bit of tradition dating back to '63. Still, never was a fan of this set.

 I love Topps Heritage, but, like the Fleer Tradition, I never really got this set. Glad they've put it to rest.




 That's a lot of blue!

 I liked this set- just didn't care for the First Edition crap. Wow- I'm Mr. Positive today, aren't I?


I always like the date and description found on this set. Is that better? Something positive rather than negative!

 Topps Fusion- I like them, but they were confusing!!

Another card that was new to me...I like it!


 Hey batter, batter!

 It wouldn't be a good show without picking up at least one Smoltzie!


 I might actually have this one, but took it anyway.


Rounding out the action...this Super Star Attractions card of old Hoss.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Top Five Things I Heard at This Weekend's Card Show

Having missed the previous area card show, I eagerly awaited the latest one. Anticipating the Winter show somewhat surprised me because, as I have previously posted, they have become quite stale. Nevertheless, I took somewhat of a different approach to this one and I think it paid off.

So for the next few days I'm going to post some of the highlights from the latest of our quarterly shows- beginning with the top five things I heard at the card show. While they are not in any particular order in regards to favorites, they will be in chronological order.







1- "I just bought that table for $3000"

The dealer at my first stop of the day told me that if I needed anything to flag him down- that he would be over across the room. He said that he had bought the table, and I thought he had simply reserved a second table. I went about my business, rummaging through his 50 cent box (buying the four above). At one point he told another dealer (my usual 'vintage guy'-who wasn't set up today) that he had paid a guy 3G's for some 'really good stuff.' Glad to hear that the hobby is thriving (or at least it is for this guy?).



2- "There were so many great little oddball boxes sets back then."

I eventually moseyed past a few other tables before stopping at the one manned by a veteran dealer who's a regular to this show. He's usually got vintage binders that are worth looking at, but today something else caught my eye: a nice stack of 1990 Score McDonald's. If you're aware of these beauties, then you'll know that they were available only in a handful of McDonald's in Idaho and Oregon and are among the scarcest of food-issues and oddballs from the era. Anyway, as we were discussing these cards one of the guys involved in our conversation mentioned how the hobby had so many great boxed sets back then: Woolworth, Kaybee Toys, K-Mart. This brought joy to my heart & I wasn't afraid to let my feelings known: I find far more enjoyment out of those things than most of the current offerings in today's hobby.


Back in a previous collecting life, I had a number of the Micky D's- but let them go when I got out of the hobby around 2001. Most are out of my price range today, but I did get this one of Julio Franco for $5. I'd still like to find his T206 Rookie card, however. HaHa.





3- "I've lost interest in football [cards]. Baseball's much more exciting, hold's its value better and is a better seller for me." 

This, to be honest, shocked me. While there has typically been a few dealers who offer a nice selection of vintage stuff, football seems to rule the Boise market (at least at the card shows). I've seen dealers who have stopped bringing baseball to the shows and narrow their selection to football only. Part of this probably has to do with the success of the Boise State football program, but I think it's just a reflection of sports in general. People are just passionate about the sport and for some reason, in our market that spills over into the hobby. 

After hearing that, I just HAD to buy something from this dealer, and I did- three of which are pictured above.








4- "The die-cuts are 50 cents each."

Shortly after leaving Mr. Baseball's table, I saw a young woman sitting behind a table, wearing a #2 Browns jersey. I figured she wouldn't have any baseball, but decided to look anyway- and I'm glad I did. 

Two binders housed some baseball cards and I thumbed through the first one until I found the Braves pages. I quickly snagged the Julio Teheran and Andrelton Simmons cards and then opened up the next binder. Low and behold- Fire, one of the most beautiful die-cut designs I've seen. There were also some of the Dueling Die-Cuts, another set that's not bad looking. Something told me that this girl wasn't going to be asking for the moon on these cards, so I asked her how much. "50 cents on the die-cuts, 25 cents for everything else." Um, okay. I figured I'd pick up one for myself and others that I can use as trade bait.






5- "I used to collect Braves"

I know, a bit strange, right? 'Used to'- that ought to bring sorrow to my heart, but, at least for yesterday, it didn't. His loss was my gain.

My final stop brought me to a table which had pretty much nothing but football. The guy noticed my Braves hoodie and hat and said, "Let me guess. You're looking for Braves cards? I used to collect the Braves. Let me dig a few out." So he did- not a large stack, but perhaps ten cards. I probably over paid on these things, but hey, he didn't appear to be selling much and I've got to help out a fan or whatever it is he calls himself.



As I said at the beginning of this post, my approach this time out was different: rather than looking to complete team sets, I was going for anything cheap that fits into my player collections or my food-issue/oddball  collections. It seemed to be a pretty productive day and I was pretty happy with all I was able to pick up.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: Tom Thumb

Every culture has its own folklore. We Americans have Daniel Boone, Paul Bunyan, Bigfoot, Benjamin Franklin, Benedict Arnold and Babe the Blue Ox. Our friends north of the border have Jean Cadieux, the voyageurs and the story of Dungarvon Whooper. The English, of course, are rich with folklore: Dragons, dwarfs, elves, the black dog, Robin Hood, and the cutest of them all, little Tom Thumb.

As the oldest fairy tale printed in English, The History of Tom Thumb was first printed in 1621 and tells the adventures of a boy no bigger than his father's thumb. He was actually a part of the British folklore long before that, being a part of their oral tradition. His tale has been told a number of times by many different writers. One, dramatist Henry Fielding, cast Tom as a "mighty, although tiny, warrior and conqueror of giants, as well as the object of desire for many ladies of the courts" in his play, The History of Tom Thumb the Great. "Eventually, Tom dies when swallowed by a cow, but his ghost returns." (Wikipedia).

Which gets me to today's card.

1992 Cracker Jack Donruss Micro #2 (Series 2) Tom Glavine




















After having Topps produce micro cards as the toy surprises found in boxes of their snacks, Cracker Jacks used Donruss for their snacks in 1992.

Produced in two series, each set contained thirty-six cards and many of the games top stars. Series 1 backs feature a blue border, the Cracker Jack sailor, and a smatter of info/stats. Series 2 backs are similar, but have a red border and feature different players. Each series' cards are numbered from 1-36.



I've never been one to hide my affection for Tommy Glavine. Two Cy Young Awards; 300 Wins; Five 20-Win seasons; the plunking of Murphy (it took balls, yo!!); Game Six shutout of Cleveland in the 1995 World Series; Series MVP. Oh yeah, let's not forget...chicks dug him dig the long ball!

There's also that bit about his demise after being swallowed by a cow signing with New York, only to see his ghost return to Atlanta.

All part of Braves folklore.

And all without being blessed with a 95-mph heater or without being physically imposing. Tom Thumb, indeed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #21: Be Prepared!




The Braves move to Cobb County in 2017 will take them into Scout territory. As in, the Boy Scouts of America.

Located across the street from the headquarters of the Atlanta Area Council of the 104 year-old organization, Sun Trust Park will surely include the numeral sculpture of Glavine's number 47 brought over from Turner Field- and I, for one, would like to see an accompanying statue of the lefty in front of the future home of the Braves. 

It's probably also a good bet that Scout Day will continue to be a part of the new park, as it has for years- dating back to the Fulton-County Stadium days.



For thirteen consecutive years (1992-2004), the Atlanta area Boy Scouts of America issued one Collector's Edition card at each of their annual Scout Days. The Glavine card, shown today, was issued in 2001 and is one of my more recent eBay buys. I jumped at the opportunity to buy one at the BIN price of $9.95 shipped. Having had it saved in my watch list, I was, like the scouts, prepared. 





Three down and now only ten more to go!