Saturday, April 26, 2014

Non-Baseball Baseball Cards

I love it when I find one of these, and I love where this find might lead me. It is almost always a "virtual" find — i.e. I see these on the Internet on a blog or some other odd corner of cyberspace.

I found this in a package of job supplies today, a simple box of mycorrhizae (beneficial soil fungi) root dip for the seedlings I plant.

The distribution firm I purchased from included an array of promotional materials - business card, stickers, oversized glossy post card thingie deal, do-rag, and the above pictured item.

Brilliant! For most of the items they sell, I have a range of options on where to acquire them. But if you send me a faux-baseball card promo, well … hook, line, & sinker.

I have no idea who Mr. Zies is and will never find out. Unfortunately, his career stats are not included on the back, because it is blank. Which is explained by the fact that it is actually a sticker. (And thus the curl, as well). Of course I have a simple policy for baseball-card-like (one could wonder if this is hockey-card-like perhaps, though I'm sure you know which is which) stickers: I stick them on things. Or perhaps I trade them to one of you fine folks. This one will be going on to my toolbox dedicated to chainsaw miscellany.

And I will be getting on the horn soon to figure out how to Complete The Set, of course. I'm sure that will simply require a few purchases of job materials I would be purchasing anyway. Uh-huhh, sure.

But even better - I will be inquiring how I, too, can be "immortalized" on my very own 'baseball card' sticker. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 25, 2014

I can start buying my retail Heritage now

At least when I am able to get near a Target at least, which is not always easy for me. I am currently working in the Town Without Baseball Cards again, but I had to make a run to a freight terminal today to pick up a load of seedlings.

And I did not pass the red bullseye along the way without stopping for some baseball cards.

My first little cellophane pack inside the blister pack was very, very unique in my baseball card pack ripping experience:

3-for-3 there as you can see. You might have to take off your sunglasses to see the cards in this post, sorry about that. No time to hook up the so-so little mobile scanner I bought, or to re-shoot these cards with the cellphone camera.

I like black border cards. The more people I read crying about how they hate them because they "chip" so easily, the more I like them. Here is a handy tip: a black Sharpie type felt-tip pen can erase those durn little white "chips" right quick. Will this make me eventually be prosecuted as if I trimmed a mega-valuable T206 card and then lied about it? Hahaha.

So I have been looking forward to these cards. They snuck up on me last year, after I had decided to stop purchasing Heritage. This year I have been waiting, which has worked out well enough so far, as I am almost always in towns without baseball cards, when I am even in an actual town.

Except the Target I visited today had only three of these blister packs. I am wondering how often I will be able to find these…

Ugh. Too much black? None more black? Perhaps. This might well be the baseball card with the most black ink surface area of all-time. The crappy photograph I am presenting just makes it look darker, but it's a poorly lit card to start with. Normally I like 'sunset' cards - the ones shot when the sun is going down - but I won't be saving an extra copy of the normal white-border version of this card either.

Thankfully, I also pulled this card:

I love this card; the looking back pose isn't used that much, and I always like seeing the MLB logo on a baseball card. There is a much better scan of it on Night Owl's blog.

Hey, wait … this means I pulled almost the same pack as Night Owl. I can't remember the third card in that pack, but it wasn't Chris Sale; I do know Cole and Ramirez waited for me together on that shelf at Target.

This happened to me last year as well - I picked up 9 of these parallels, and 2 of the 9 were doubles (both Tigers, as it happened). And three blisters were all I could ever find, like today. Uhh-oh.

And those 2 doubles were also from the high number > #425 / 'short-print' section of the Heritage checklist. Indeed, of the 9 cards I picked up tonight, 6 are high-numbers. This makes me think assembling a set of the #1-425 would be quite difficult. You would think collation of a 3 card pack would be a piece of … bubble gum? But of course, this is Topps, In Action. Speaking of Action, it appears that some Topps employee (or a contractor) had to individually tape over the top of each pack with Scotch-tape to get them to fit into the new, single-panel blister pack these appear in this year. Wonderful product planning there.

I won't be trying that. I do hope to assemble a set of 30 of these cards, one from each team. But I won't be real particular about which player makes my exclusive set. Well, that Gerrit Cole won't make the cut, that's for sure. So probably I will be a little picky.

But perhaps not, and that's where you come in. All of the cards pictured above are up for trade, save perhaps the Ramirez, unless you want to trade me the white border version. I also pulled Jay Bruce, Carlos Gomez, Domonic Brown and James Shields (hmm, a nice overcast Cloud Card looks very nice on the black border, I will be keeping that one too). I can definitely let 2 Cards cards go.

So if you pick up some of these parallels, keep me in mind. I'm also particularly on the lookout for the Jeff Samardzija card.

I am enjoying the Heritage cards I've been acquiring. They are so nice to paw through, card-by-card, in a stack. I have found lots of fun ones to share with you, in a little prettier way than bad cellphone pictures, and they are even scanned in already….type at you soon, I hope….

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

So I dropped a /10 card

But I had my reasons. I didn't drop it on someone as a gift, drop it into a hallowed shrine in my permanent Personal Collection of hard plastic cases kept hidden away under lock and key, or drop it off at a vault, or drop it on eBay with a $500 minimum bid, though I might have to figure out how to do that.

I dropped it. As in I dropped the card and it went slowly down towards the floor.

I was at my favorite winter-time LCS (I always think: but which League is it Champion of?), opening a hobby box of 2014 Heritage. I have some scans ready for you. I just don't have time to annotate the scans for fun. Tonight is simply Story Time.

Anyhow my plan that day was to swing by the shop before it closed and then go back out to a job site until dark. But I knew that if there were to be a Precious "Hit" in the box, I might need a good hard plastic case to keep it secret, keep it safe.

So I decided to hang out and rip more than the one obligatory pack to see what the cards looked liked, to see if I would need an extra penny sleeve for that exciting Drew Stubbs relic card I would surely pull. All I had to do was rip the packs from the middle of each stack in the box until I found the Hit.

But this proved time consuming, because I couldn't shake That One Guy in the Baseball Card store. The guy who used to be deep into baseball cards. Who was showing me the value of his sweet Rookie 1/1 XFractor that, see, right there in the Beckett, if you squint hard enough, says is now up to $800. Did I think he should sell it?

And going on and on about how he scored the rookie chrome auto of Robinson Cano by trading some doofus he had to meet at an exit 100 miles up the Interstate a now worthless Kevin Youkilis auto chrome rookie. Or was it 125 miles? I forget. So did he.

I tried to just keep ripping my packs and enjoying the basic base cards, but so did That One Guy. He hadn't ripped a pack in years, he told me; these days he simply bought sealed boxes and stuck them on a shelf.

It's easy to do once you get over the cards, he told me. Except he wasn't over the cards. He wanted to see all of mine.

And I shouldn't be putting them straight into a 400 count baseball card box, I should be putting those styrofoam spacer card thingies at each end of the box, so my 5 cent base cards I actually do enjoy so much, dings and all, aren't damaged by the funky corners of those boxes, I was told. Twice.

I started to think, if I can just find the guaranteed auto/relic card I can just give him a pack of his own to blubber over.

Finally I pulled a sort-of Hit: an "Action Image" variation. Except That One Guy wanted to argue that the short prints in Heritage were always changes to the team logo, and the Justin Upton action shot I had found was his normal base card. I knew it was flashing too much of a live game swing to be his normal posed card. But this guy used to sell baseball cards at the flea market, and he was positive about how Short Prints worked. Ten years ago.

There was nothing to do but to rip on ripping on. Ahhh man, I exclaimed at last. It's just a relic card. . .the telltale thick card in the middle of a pack.

I set the small stack of cards down on the counter. The guy was excited. I wasn't. If it wasn't Drew Stubbs, it would surely be Mike Moustakas, I thought. Neither should have one of their baseball bats sawed up for posterity, that's for sure.

Don't touch it! I was instructed. I pulled the last base card off the top of the stack. And there it was. A Clubhouse Collection Dual Autograph Relic. One in sixteen-thousand-some packs. Featuring a sure to be first ballot Hall of Famer in a few years, and a contemporary player on the same team. An of/10 beyond limited edition.

Quick! Get a case! Don't Touch It! Yeah, dude, I understand the basics of baseball cards, OK?

This was the exact type of collector I never will be, nor ever want to have much interaction with, aside from theoretically relieving them of their Benjamin Franklins to give them that sweet rush on their run. They are grown men with professional incomes. They don't need those Benjamins, or they wouldn't have come down to the Baseball Card Store.

Don't touch the corners! Really? Don't get the tight case, get a little bigger one. Whatever.

So I picked up a nice simple magnetic holder, perhaps AKA a 'One Touch' - ? - not my thing. I put a few $2 Short Prints in screw down cases last year, and cursed that decision every time I had to go find some tiny screw driver to open them back up again. No more little screw drivers for this collector. Dumb.

I picked the card up oh so carefully with the center of my thumbprint and the fingerprint of my index finger, in the center of each long side of the card. Wipe your fingers first! I had been warned.

I laid the card in the bottom half of the case. I picked up the other half of the case and tried to fit the two little teeth into the little slots on the bottom half of the case.

And then Murphy, and/or Freud, probably mostly Freud, took over. One of the corners of the case didn't agree with it's new permanent home. The bottom half of the case wobbled. The Clubhouse floor tilted. The (admittedly) pretty autographs wobbled. The card slid off the hard plastic and gravity pulled it down into Open Space!

I can't believe you didn't put the case down on the counter! That One Guy was pretty agitated. I didn't even want to look. I had other thoughts on what to order my muscles to do by this point.

After a short, sharp sigh I looked down. The card had landed face-up on the top of my shoe. Tragedy narrowly averted.

I can't look! Dude-man explained. Did it ding a corner? No, I lied.

One fraction of a millimeter of a side bottom edge of the card (these cards are so thick the edge has a definite top and bottom side), out near the corner was now no longer just exactly perfect. One fraction of an mm. I could barely see it. Can you?

So, yeah. BOOM!

In the long run, I seriously doubt anyone who wants to buy a /10 Super-Hit can afford to quibble with whether all four edges are graded at 8.5 or 9. These cards come from packs, for some strange reason, instead of arriving already encased in hard plastic straight from that wonderful place I hope to see someday in my life, The Baseball Card Factory. And thus, well, you know the deal on cards coming out of packs. Gem Mint? Uhh, two words. Pack Damage.

They either buy the card, or it goes to that other SuperCollector who gets all of this one player's cards whenever they waver on pulling the financial trigger. 3 of the 10 cards will be sitting in these packs until 2021, when the last few cases of 2014 Topps Heritage are finally sold. 1 of the 10 will be lost in a trailer park somewhere when Fluffy knocks over a can of Diet Coke onto a stack of baseball cards. None of the 10 are at That One Guy's house, because I got the Case Hit, not him, though he'll never know for sure anyway. Another 3 of the 10 have already been locked away in a metal box somewhere within 500 miles of Atlanta Georgia, to emerge only upon the reading of the owner's will. 2 of the 10 were correctly put into a really, really good hard plastic baseball card case with a tiny and very efficient titanium screw with locking threads to keep that card from ever moving again - these will appear on eBay in August 2016. This one of The Ten, well. . . . . .

. . . . I dunno. Never had this problem before.