Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2008 Bowman Chrome Box Break: The Suffering Comes to an End

Apparently this year of Chrome only had 18 packs, instead of the 24 I assumed were inside the box.  Normally I'd be a little peeved.  But with how painful this break has been, it's a merciful reprieve.

For sanity's sake, below are the highlights from the final 6 packs:

Chipper (does not play baseball in exchange for money) Jones refractor - the hit of the box right here, folks
Jeff Manship - he's a man.  and a ship.  Brilliant.
Manny Ramirez played for the Red Sox
Russell Martin held two baseball bats
the Rockies used to wear black vests with black undershirts, thus entirely defeating the purpose of a vest
Austin Kearns, somewhere between being a hotshot prospect for the Reds and not playing baseball anymore, played for the Nationals
Chris Nash has a baseball card.  This is not the same person that is my cousin.  I may still try to get the card autographed at the next family function.
Joba Chamberlin was on the front of the box.  He was also inside a pack in the box.  Mind = blown.  As does Joba's career.
Adrian Gonzalez refractor, without any snide remarks
Brandon Webb used to play baseball
Mark Teixeira played for the Braves for a hot minute.  This card is proof.  But hell, at least he's still active.
Adrian Beltre, who will probably still be playing long past when ever other player and prospect in this set is retired
Paul Winterling, who wins the award for nicest facsimile signature on a card, and gets a runner up award for coolest name.

There you go, folks.  No color.  An auto of a guy who got shelled in the Frontier League.  A lot of guys who don't play baseball anymore, but not in the "cool retro product of Hall of Famers" kind of way.

And just think: this is what Topps put out when they still had competition.

An Arduously Painful Box of Bowman Chrome, Part III

This is starting to get a little laughable.

Pack 9:
Fausto Carmona (who, technically speaking, is not even a person anymore
Raul Ibanez refractor (retired, but nostalgia!)
Jordan Norberto
Brandon Laird

Pack 10:
Jacoby Ellsbury (he plays baseball! [when healthy])
Adam Jones (he plays baseball and is healthy!)
Justin Cassel
Jason Delaney (a Pirate!)

Pack 11:
Hunter Pence (who I wish would stop playing baseball)
Randy Johnson, wearing a jersey that is supposedly the Diamondbacks' but is neither purple nor pinstriped.  It's all a lie.
Two other guys whose mothers are certainly very proud they made it on a baseball card.

Pack 12:
Jeff (retired) Francis
Lance (I don't play baseball anymore) Berkman
some guy named Jevne...I have no idea how to pronounce that.
A guy named Snyder who presumably does not make potato chips

I'm only opening the remaining packs out of some sick, twisted sense of obligation.

2008 BC Live Break Part 2

Well, that was anti-climactic...

Pack 5:
Vernon Wells
Jason Varitek (continuing the "former all stars who don't play anymore" theme)
Ryan Zink autograph
Kai Liu

Well...there's the auto for the box.  Does anybody collect autos of players with the same name as elements on the periodic table?  Cause that's about the only place I can see this fitting in a collection.

Zink was a 17th round pick of the Yankees.  He had two not entirely bad seasons in A-ball coming straight out of college before getting shelled at high A in 2009.  He continued playing in independent ball for a few years in the Frontier League.  But he didn't play for the local Washington Wild Things, which would have at least given me a good excuse to keep this card in my collection.  Luckily the team collector who sent me the box is also a Yankees fan, so at least I can repay the favor and give this card a good home in one fell swoop.

Pack 6:
German Duran
John Bowker refractor (another short term Buc)
Chris Huseby
Chris Pettit

Pack 7:
A.J. Burnett
Oliver Perez
Hector Correa
Deibinson Romero least we have a duo of my favorite Pirate pitchers.

Pack 8:
Jeremy Guthrie
Jeff Niemann
Will Kline
Ryan Royster

Seriously, did Topps actively try to avoid including actual prospects in this release?

Back on the Wagon: 2008 Bowman Chrome Live Break Part 1

I've been horrible about posting regularly.  Again.  But I'm back until I'm not, and this time I come with a box of shiny baseball cards to track open.  One of my team collector buddies had a contest recently, and a box of 2008 Bowman Chrome showed up in my mailbox today as the prize.

2008 Chrome was pretty rough, but a free box is a free box.  There weren't many Pirate cards in the set, and I think I have the most common refractors of the few Bucs that were.  But that won't deter me.  Who knows - maybe there's a superfractor hiding inside one of the packs.

I'll post the results 4 packs at a time.

Pack 1:
Gary Sheffield
Jeff Gerbe
Juan Francisco (hey, a prospect card I've actually heard of - that's probably going to be a rarity in this break)

Pack 2:
Carlos Guillen
Aaron Harang
Tony Barnette
Joaw Ortegano

Pack 3:
Chone Figgins
Brian McCann Refractor
Brett Cecil
Mike Dejesus

Pack 4:
Barry Zito
John Lackey
Dan Berlind
Vin Mazzaro (former Bucco at least...)

We're off to a roaring start.  I'm pretty surprised that only McCann and Lackey are still active (that I'm aware of, at least) out of the vets.  2008 doesn't feeeeel like it was all that long ago.  Then again, that's also the year Kate and I met.  So maybe it is ages ago.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Catching Up on the Mail

Life has been hectic lately, but that hasn't stopped a steady stream of some mail coming in the door.  By far the best of the bunch was a 200 card order from COMC.  Unlike most of my COMC orders that are 80% Pirates with a sprinkling of Steelers, Penguins, college teams, and assorted shiny things, this order was actually mostly non-Pirate cards.

Having been a buyer on COMC since 2011, it's gotten tough to find cards I don't already have at a price I want to pay.  Many COMC users take the "set it and forget it" method, listing cards at a price that's a little ambitious, and not giving two shits if the card actually sells.  For the sellers that do run sales or discount cards that have been sitting in their inventory for years, too often those are cards that I already have.  So the end result is finding other cards to scratch my itch for new cardboard.

Not that I'm complaining.

 As much as I don't miiiiiiind adding my 15th Starling Marte auto, or 9th variation of a Jason Bay parallel with a different color foil, I like adding some variety.  I like it a lot, in fact.
 And since I've unofficially adopted the Marlins as my second team collection, it gives me just cause to pick up cool, cheap parallels.  I love the 2006 Special F/X parallels, but boy are they tough to come by.
 Sometimes, my impulsive streak has even less rhyme or reason.  But how can you pass up a rare 90's insert for a dollar or two?  Eventually these two may get rehomed.  But they were just too cool to pass on, especially at the prices they were marked at.
 But it's always sweeter when you can pick up an awesome card of a player you actually collect.  Charles Johnson was the first autograph in my collection.  My dad came home one day with a signed photo - one of his clients that ran a car dealership had had CJ in the store for a signing while my dad had stopped in.  I've been a fan ever since.
 And shifting the focus away from baseball has allowed me to find cards from sets that never made it over the the baseball side of the hobby.
 Or to pick up Pirate cameo cards.
 And of course to add some sweet cards of players I followed growing up.  I've been slowly working to add an autograph of the players whose Starting Lineup figures I played with for hours and hours as a kid.  Clarence Weatherspoon was one of my first basketball SLU's, and I was more than happy to add an auto for about $1.50.
 Or a jersey card of Jeff Bagwell, one of my favorites growing up back when I actually liked rather than hated the players that clobbered the Pirates.
Sure, there were some great Pirate cards in the package as well.  But it's nice to see a little break from the black and gold in my collection every so often.  And adding cards like these makes things a little more special, a little more enjoyable from where I sit.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Mailday, A Shiny Mailday

I almost had a good reason for my extended blogging absence.  Almost.  I'm quickly learning that house hunting is a funny thing.  We saw a place we loved, we're lining up everything to put in an offer only to be told that there were some issues with getting the disclosure from a previous real estate agent.  So we waited, wanting to see if there were any issues that we couldn't see with the naked eye before moving forward.  So it wasn't fun to see that the house had gone contingent...apparently somebody else was able to get the mysterious missing disclosure form.  But live and learn, right?  The search goes on!

Meanwhile, I received a couple awesome cards in the mail from Jay at Cards My Mother Didn't Throw Out.  He graciously dug up a couple 2000 refractors toward my set (I'm still trying to dig up some worthy return fire).

Better yet, Jay included a note with a very cool story.  He attended school with Kevin Young's kids, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask Young for an autograph.

Ironically enough, the subject of the other card actually lives right up the road from me.  Matt Clement coaches the boys high school basketball team.  Kate interviewed him a couple times when she was covering education for the newspaper, and I could never quite talk her into putting aside those pesky things like journalistic ethics and dignity to ask for an autograph for her dear husband.

A tale of two unfulfilled autographs, I suppose.  Either way, I'm thrilled to knock out two more needs for my refractor set.  I've actually made some good progress on the set recently, though that just means I'm closed to 80% incomplete instead of 90%.  But they sure are great looking cards.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Rare Mailday

Mail days have sort of become a rare thing around here.  As we go into full househunting mode, my buying has been scaled back almost to zero.  After all, there are more than enough cards to pack up here when the big move comes as it is.  But I was treated to a pleasant surprise by one of my team collector buddies, who sent along a nice array of Pirates goodies.  

This is easily the biggest single addition to my collection so far this year, and the package was jam packed full of serial numbered cards and inserts.  Better yet, every single card was brand new to me.

Panini's entry into into the prospect game is never quite as well received as the Bowman sets, but I've always been a fan of Elite Extra Edition.  Elite was one of my favorite releases when Donrss was still around, though the Extra Edition was a bit misleading for quite a few years when the standard Elite was MIA.
 It's been almost a year since I've been to a card show, and it's definitely having an impact on my collection.  My 2015 binder is super thin, and aside from the base sets I only have a scattering of parallels here and there.  I've always sworn that one of these days I will complete an entire team set of Topps Gold cards.  And since I'm now at exactly 1 2015 Gold after this package, my bet is that if that ever does happen it won't be with 2015.
 I always love a good oddball card, and this Drabek takes the cake.  It screams Desert Storm.
 My team collector buddies have also been passing along some Marlins cards my way, which have quickly grown to needing their own box.  I have no idea why Jeff Conine has a tennis racked.  But I'm glad he does.
 Getting a package in the mail is always a bit of a reality check for me.  I have north of 16,000 different Pirate cards.  As the mess surrounding me will attest, it's a crapload of cards.  So I'm always taken back a little bit when I see how many cards - parallels, oddballs, and even sometimes entire sets - that I had no idea even existed.  This Pro Sigs card?  Never seen it before.
 Same goes for these two Cutch parallels.  Even though they aren't particularly low numbered, finding almost any McCutchen cards is mission impossible around here.  Add in the fact that these blue framed parallels look awesome and it's just icing on the cake.
While I'm sure it will still be a good while before the mail is regularly flowing into my collection again, it's always great to add a wave of new cards.  Now the cataloging, sorting, and adding to binders?  That part is a little less fun.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Pirate Autograph Project #13: Warren Morris

Lucky number thirteen.  Since Jumpin Jack Flash has already made his appearance, I have to go with my second favorite Pirate of all-time:  Warren Morris.

I've written about this card before.  But it'll always be one of my favorites, and from the set that got me back into collecting.

Morris could never totally recapture the magic of his rookie season, but was my favorite player during my first years that I was really starting to follow the Pirates exclusively.

A Custom Sampler

I had a blog comment the other day suggesting I show off some of my other customs.  Seems like a pretty simple idea, so why didn't I think of it sooner.  I've tried to capture some of my different custom projects with the post labels, but I've undoubtedly missed some over the last two years.  And after all, why scroll through all those posts when you could see everything on one page?

So you can now check out some of my past Franken-cards in the Custom Card Gallery.  It's not comprehensive, but it's a pretty good sampling of some of my favorites and most of the various designs I've recreated.  It's been a blast creating these cards, and has easily become one of my favorite aspects of card "collecting," even if only in the loosest of definitions.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pirate Autograph Project #12: Jermaine Allensworth

The Pirates had a long and illustrious track record of center field duds until that McCutchen guy came to town.  Jermaine Allensworth, Adrian Brown, Tike Redman, Chad Hermansen.  The next great hope for a guy who could man either 1B or CF has long been a dream of Pirate fans.  First base is (still) a work in progress.  And while we piled up players who could rake in the minors and were often blazing fast, it never translated into major league production.  Not that I can completely blame them.  The Dee Gordons and Juan Pierres of the world are rare - guys who can put that contact hitting and speed together to maintain consistent major league production.  More players end up like Billy Hamilton or Michael Bourne.

But Allensworth was a lot of fun to watch in Pittsburgh, and didn't have a terrible career when you size him up against the other guys on that list.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Pirate Autograph Project #11: Ted Savage

I was a big Wonder Years fan growing up.  This post has absolutely nothing to do with Ben Savage, though.

Ted Savage was a well traveled player before it was fashionable.  Over a 9 year career, he played for 8 different teams.  Pretty impressive for the pre-free agency days when pretty much the only way to change clubs was to be traded or sold to another club.

Savage made 149 at bats for the Bucs in 1963.  He would have a pretty solid year for Milwaukee in 1970, but otherwise was a role player and pinch hitter for the majority of his major league travels.