Thursday, June 30, 2011

Numbers - what do they mean to you?

This Jeff Gordon ESPN commercial got me thinking about all of the things I do with my sports heroes' numbers. I remember phone numbers by associating them with if the last four digits are 1836, I'll say to myself "Scott Brosius David Cone." I even use some Yankee numbers in my ATM pin code.

What about you guys? Do any of you use sports numbers in everyday life?

Congrats to Mark Teixeira on HR #300

Mark Teixeira just blasted career HR #300! Power-wise, Tex is having a strong year, as this is his ML-leading 25th homer. Mark is cementing himself among the all-time great switcher hitters and he is only 31. Congrats to Mark and hopefully he has a lot more HRs left in him.

Three hundred isn't necessarily a hugr\e milestone, as quite a few players limp into it at the end of their career. However, it's no small feat, especially at his age. It'll be exciting to see where he is when he hits #400 and hopefully #500.

Before there was Jordan, there was Fila

I'm a bit of a sneaker nut. Not to the extent of Turtle from Entourage, but I like to follow what's new and often find myself browsing in Foot Locker. I think I'm getting old because there are less and less sneakers that I am liking these days. I've always loved following the Air Jordan franchise and will always argue that the Jordan XI's are the greatest sneaker man has ever known. I am partial to Nike Air Max and have a couple pairs.

Check out Jeter's kicks in this sweet Upper Deck SP. He has been wearing Jordan brand for as long as I can remember, so it's weird for me to see him donning the Fila baseball cleats. Granted, they were still pretty stylish at the time and not your standard issue black spikes, but still a bit odd.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TTM Blast from the Past: Jorge Posada

Despite his slow start and the fiasco during the Boston series, Jorge Posada has been hitting quite well over the past month. He can still turn around a fastball, it's the off-speed stuff that was giving him trouble. However, he's been one of the Yanks' most productive hitters over the last few weeks, showing some pop and the ability to drive in runs while hitting seventh. It's a nice luxury to have in the bottom third of the order.

Posada signed these two cards for me TTM way back in 1999 when he was just a young pup and not even a full-time starting catcher yet. The signature bubbled a bit and the sharpie wasn't very sharp, but they are still pretty cool.

Trade Review: Topps Pro Debut from Cinkly Wrappers

Ted from Crinkly Wrappers dropped me a line because he had six 2011 Topps Pro Debut Yanks I needed. He also offered to throw in some other goodies. I had a Collector's Choice Gold Signature Paul Molitor for him plus a few Jays cards.

Here is the main reason for the trade. I'm especially happy to get the Mason Williams. He's off to a great start in Staten Island and I like him a lot as a prospect.

Ted also sent me a bunch of great Yankee cards. These are merely the personal highlights, but there was a ton of good stuff that I'm most appreciative of.

I always enjoy this card. I misplaced my other copy, so I'm really excited to get one back. I was disappointed to see that Oscar had a shaved head at Old Timer's Day on Sunday.

A couple of numbered Yanks. The Abreu is #'d to 99.

A few sweet cards of some Yankee legends. Yep, lumping Jeets in with those three.

I scanned the backs of these cards instead of the front because I thought it was a little weird. These are 2004 Topps Hit Parade cards of Gary Sheffield and Ruben Sierra. Topps used the same stat for each - Active RBI Leaders - but added a line for Ruben that is not present on the Sheffield card.

A few 2011 Topps Attax cards with a romantic sunset background.

This card is awesome! Mickey decked out in Yankees gear!? Too cool.

And the final card I'm going to show off - this Wade Boggs 1994 Topps. Notice the odd colors? Pink? Turns out it was a sample card. It doesn't even have his 1994 stats yet!

There were many, many more great cards. Thanks again, Ted!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First 2011 Pro Debut cards courtesy of Derek

Derek from Tomahawk Chopping was nice enough to send me a few Yankees 2011 Topps Pro Debut cards, including Gary Sanchez, one of my favorites and subject of a quasi-PC I have going. Not sure if I'm going to collect him long-term, but I've been scooping up some of his cards here and there.

Since then, I've gotten a few more cards from SportLots and a trade with Ted which I'll be showcasing shortly. Thanks for getting my set started, Derek!

Trade Review: Reader Ryan

Reader Ryan, a fellow Yankees fan, reached out about three Yankees GQ cards I needed. I was able to knock off there GQ cards from his want list as well, so it worked out perfectly for us. This polished off my base card team set, and added two inserts I needed. Thanks, Ryan!

TTM Blast from the Past: Moose Skowron aka John C Reilly

Yesterday, Commishbob did a post about his 1959 Topps All Star Bill "Moose" Skowron card and how he looks like John C. Reilly. I couldn't agree more, and it inspired me to dig out a few Skowron cards that I own and giggle a little about the thought of the Talladega Nights and Step Brothers star looking like a Yankee great.

Anyhow, years ago I got this beautiful Fleer Greats of the Game card signed TTM by Moose. I think he charges money now, but I was able to score this card for free. This is perhaps my favorite set that features players from the past. It's not a new concept, and I don't think it really was at the time either, but these cards were awesome. The card stock and the finish was great for signatures. My only real complaint is that the borders chipped very easily.

It was great to see Moose don the Pinstripes again at Old Timer's Day this past Sunday. He is a mainstay at Old Timer's Day and it's always fun to see him run out there with guys I watched growing up.

Monday, June 27, 2011

1998 Donruss Power Index aka OPS

Last Tino post of the day, I promise.

In 1998, Donruss put out a set called "Production Line: Power Index." Although it looked like they may have been making up a stat for the sake of an insert, the stat is actually still relevant today and is better known as OPS - on base plus slugging. At the time I probably thought Donruss made it up, but I'm sure it was already out there. Anyhow, kudos to them for acknowledging it way back in 1998.

Here is my Tino Martinez Power Index. i bought packs upon packs trying to pull this card, but I eventually got in on eBay a few years later. The blue is very bright and striking. The card has a refractor-like glare to it as well. If you collect a guy from the late 1990's who was included in this set, I highly recommend picking one up. Oh, and the cards are serially numbered to the players Power Index number. I kid you not! Only 948 of these Tino's exist...and I own two of them muahahahahaha.

Tino Bowman Sterling Refractor

Todays posts are about Tino in honor of his Old Timer's Day homer.

One of the sets I missed while I wasn't collecting was Bowman Sterling. From the looks (and name) of it, it was a pretty high-end set. I'm not sure I would have been able to buy any of back in 2005 when this card came out, but luckily I picked it up this past winter on eBay for a few bucks. Other than wishing the relic was a jersey, the card is quite the looker. Nice design, and the shine of the refractor makes it one of the most eye catching cards in my Tino collection.

Tino hits one more HR! Yankees 2011 Old Timer's Day

Yesterday was the Yankees 65th annual Old Timer's Day. I actually received a call from a friend right when festivities were starting. He had an extra ticket and wanted to bring me. Unfortunately, I had a commitment I couldn't miss, so I had to begrudgingly pass on a chance to see some of my favorite players from the past don the Pinstripes once more. Annoying.

As luck would have it, my all-time favorite, Tino Martinez, showed he still has that sweet lefty swing in tact when he took David Cone yard. Makes sense - I never saw Tino hit one out live, so naturally I would miss this one too. More and more of the players I watched on those great 1990s teams are showing up at each Old Timer's Day, further proving that I'm getting old. Damn.

Here is a clip of Tino's bomb:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Excuse me, Topps, it's P-E-T-T-I-T-T-E

Come on, Topps. I expect to see this on angry fan forums and team message boards, but not from you. It's Pettitte. Not Petit. Not Petite nor Pettite nor Petitte. It is easy to remember because you just double both sets of T's. P-e-t-t-i-t-t-e.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

TTM Blast from the Past: Homer...D'Oh!

Ok, so this past success is from homer Bush, not Simpson. But still cool. Homer Bush was a great role player for the 1998 Yankees. He hit 380 over 78 plate appearances - mostly in blow-outs or the occasional spot start. He also pinch ran a lot and I swear every time he came in he swiped a bag. He was traded to the Blue Jays in 1999 in the Clemens deal, and after hitting .320 his first year in Toronto, injuries derailed his career. He made a brief cameo for the 2004 Yanks before calling it quits.

Homer signed this card for me c/o the Yankees way back in 1998.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Topps Pro Debut - sharper photography in 2011

I just got my 2011 Topps Pro Debut Garrison Lassiter card, and I was relieved to see a much higher resolution photo used. In his 2010 card, it seriously looks like a cell phone photo, or at least a low-res image that was zoomed in. The 2011 is a lot crisper thankfully.

TTM Success: Austin Kearns

One of baseball's all-time good guys, Austin Kearns returned my two cards signed in just over one month c/o the Cleveland Indians. Kearns had a short stint for the Yanks last year and ended up back in Cleveland this year. He signed my 2010 Topps Update and 2008 A&G. The Ginter looks great signed, of course.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dual Relic - My favorite player and my new enemy

I just picked up this 2009 SP Legendary cuts dual relic of Tino Martinez and Adrian Gonzalez…when he was still one of the good guys on the Padres. Now he is an enemy. Either way, it’s a really cool card albeit sort of a random pairing. The Tino swatch has a pinstripe front and center which I am quite happy with.

I got this on eBay for $2.51 delivered(!), and I think the seller listed it poorly which is why I won it so cheaply. I’d expect this card to fetch a few more dollars, so I’m pretty pumped I had the good fortune to come across it.

Livian Hernandez? I thought it was Livan

I have noticed a ton of spelling errors and typos on the Topps Diamond Giveaway site. At least they finally changed "Ozzy" to "Ozzie." That was embarrassing. Here we have Livian Hernandez. Not Livan. In fairness, right below it does say "Livan." Either way, decline! Over and over.

TTM Success: Brandon Laird, brother of Gerald

Last week, I sent this good-looking 2011 Bowman card (courtesy of Napkin Doon) to Brandon Laird, a prospect in the Yankees system. Brandon is the brother of major league catcher Gerald Laird. He possesses a great bat that will carry him to the big leagues, as he was the Eastern League MVP last year. No small feat. He's a 3B but has played some 1B and OF this year to help give himself more options for playing in the big leagues. He had a slow start this season, but has been hitting a lot better as of late. There's a great chance we'll see him in the Bronx this September, if not sooner.

His signature is really nice. It bubbled a little which stinks, but overall it still looks nice on this card.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I love beat-up vintage - my '55 Rizzuto

I have a very small collection of Yankees vintage. Not because I don't love the cards, they are just hard to find at affordable prices...unless you are those other bloggers who have those mythical bargain bins that don't really exist. A few years back, I picked up this 1955 Topps Phil Rizzuto. It's creased all over, which is the reason I could buy it at a low price. Doesn't make a difference to me. I even hope to find a beat up Mantle and Maris some day to add to my beat up Rizzuto and Yogi cards.

1955 Topps is one of my favorites. The vertical design is cool and stuck around for 1956 as well (and came back in 1960). The action shot of Rizzuto is great...the look on his face screams "thank goodness I caught this ball!" We've all been there, Phil.

TTM Blast from the Past: El Duque

 One of my favorite all-time Yankee pitchers is Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. I'm sure most of us are familiar with his story and how he defected from Cuba in an inflatable raft in shark-infested waters. You can't make this stuff up. I remember being incredibly excited for his first ML start in 1998 and how unconventional his delivery was. I'll never forget how he joined the 1998 Yankees mid-year and fit seamlessly into the starting rotation, going 12-4 with a 3.13 ERA. He loved the big stage, and actually pitched the most important game of that magical 1998 season - down 2-1 in the ALCS to Cleveland and on the road, he threw seven shutout innings and pitched the Yanks to victory. They wouldn't lose again that postseason.

He had decent years for the Yanks from 1999-2002, again pitching his best ballgames in the playoffs. Before 2003 he was traded to the Expos but never pitched for them due to injury, and returned to the Yankees in 2004 and was arguably their most dominant pitcher down the stretch. He toiled around for a few more years after that with the White Sox and Mets, but I'll always remember him for being a big-game pitcher and vital cog during the Yanks run of three straight World Series championships from 1998-2000.

El Duque signed this card for me c/o Mets ST in 2007. I love how he wrote "Duke" in English under his signature.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Trade Review: Potch Wheeler #4

D over at the enjoyable Potch Wheeler and the Cardboard Heroes and I seem to be becoming fairly frequent trade partners. He collects three teams, I collect Yanks, so it's usually pretty easy to match up. I sent D a few cards I thought he'd enjoy from 2011 Topps Series Two, and he sent me some great Yanks.

The highlight of the trade for me is this Robinson Cano Topps 60 Relic. I think it's actually from Series Two because the photo of him is different than the Cano Jersey Relic I pulled from Series One. This frustrates me a little because I wanted to collect as many of the Yanks as possible, and now if some of the players featured in Series One have new relic cards in Series Two, it makes it that much harder. However, I still love the design, and am happy to add my third relic of Cano to my collection:

For comparison sake, here are the two relics side by side:

Here is an assortment of cards Potch also threw in. The Rivera is a 60 YOT card, and I've always been a fan of this card because it captures Mo's iconic pitching motion so well. I actually have the Opening Day version of this card signed by Mo. I was also excited to get the Ben Gamel (Mat's brother) Bowman, and have already sent it TTM in hopes of getting it signed. The green parallel was unexpected but welcome.

D - thanks again for a great trade!

Fake grass on cards

Ahhh, the '90s. I miss ' least for insert sets anyways. I don't really miss roller blades or the Macarena or AOL. Along with the seemingly hundreds of card brands came hundreds of inserts with some pretty wacky designs.

Many of us remember Circa. Ugly base cards, often with a random quote from a coach on the front. What a lot of don't remember are some of the crazy insert sets that came along with Circa. Case in point: this 1997 Fast Track Mariano Rivera. This card was in a binder I have but clearly stopped putting cards in around 1999. I took it out of it's page and was shocked to rub my finger across it to find that the green was actually a felt-like material. I guess it was to mimic grass? Either way, add this to list of crazy inserts from the 1990's. In a weird way, I miss it.

A meaningful Mike Easler card

When I was just a little guy in the late '80s, I got tons of packs of cards. I always got packs to keep me busy on a road trip or when my mom went to the drug store. I wasn't looking for anything good, just the Yankees logo on the card. However, I could name a ton of players as a four or five year old, and my parents and my older brother would always make me perform in front of others. They'd ask me to list certain players on a team, and I'd rattle them off, all because of the guys I knew on my baseball cards.

When I was five, I got sick and had to be admitted to the hospital for a few days. I don't know what was wrong, but I just remember sitting on my mom's lap in my hospital room with my arm attached to a wooden plank with an IV running through me. We were watching bowling on TV. Then I remember my dad coming and sitting with me while my Mom went home for a bit.

When my mom returned, she had a small brown lunch bag for me with packs of cards, and there was one single card as well: a Mike Easler Fleer All Star. Mind you, I basically opened packs upon packs of Topps and Donruss, so to see this card, with this fancy design, was completely foreign. It was so special because it looked so different than the other cards.

Over the years, this card got really beat up, but I always held on to it. It meant a lot to me and was invaluable. A few weeks ago, Kerry from Cards on Cards sent me a large box of Yankees as my last place prize in his March Radness contest. While shuffling through the cards, I was shocked when I came to the Mike Easler All Star in pristine condition! While my beat-up original will always be special to me, it feels great to own one a bit more fresh.

Thanks, Kerry!

Monday, June 20, 2011

David Cone - Con Man?

I was looking through a binder of Yankee cards over the weekend, and I found this David Cone. Upon closer inspection, it appears that this is a card of David Con, not David Cone. Interesting.

Tino Pantalones

Despite the frustrating fact that this is a Tino card pictured with one team while containing a relic of another, I still like this card quite a bit. I would have appreciated a better photo, as there is a lot of dead space and only about 1/8th of Tino is pictured. However, what’s cool is that this is a piece of game-used pants, and the back says so. With Topps becomingly increasingly vague with their relic descriptions, it’s nice to know what part of the uniform my swatch is from.

I am waiting for some game-used fly/zipper cards. Game used back pocket? Game used belt loop? Come on Topps, I know you want to.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Contest Shout Out: Number Five Type Collection

Number Five Type Collection is holding a Father's Day Giveaway! CLICK HERE to check it out! It just so happened that number 5 is my all time favorite number and the number I wore playing sports growing up, so I'm clearly a fan of this blog.

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to my Dad and all the dads out there today. I know many of you in the blogosphere are fathers, and I hope you have a great day enjoying it with your families. I am envious of those who can even share the card collecting hobby with their sons and daughters, and I hope one day to do the same.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Tino jersey from The Lost Years

I call Tino Martinez's three seasons away from the Yankees "The Lost Years." He spent 2002 and 2003 with the Cardinals and 2004 with the DEVIL Rays before returning to the Yanks for one final season in 2005. He was obviously my favorite player and I hated to see him go after 2001, but he was getting older and the Yankees needed a shiny new toy...Jason Giambi. Tino signed with St. Louis to replace Mark McGwire, trying to fill another set of legendary shoes just as he did when he was brought aboard as Don Mattingly's heir in 1996.

This 2002 relic of Tino clearly has a Yankee swatch despite showing the BamTino in a Cardinal uniform. The back of the card states this as well. Tino's reaction over this is similar to mine:

Friday, June 17, 2011

TTM Success: Cito Culver - 2010 First Rounder

On Tuesday, I sent a TTM request to 2010 Yankees First Round draft choice Cito Culver. He has been in extended spring training, but via his Twitter account he mentioned he was being assigned to short season Staten Island, who start their season tonight. Knowing it would only take one day to get there, I quickly packaged up a card and letter to Culver, one of my favorite Yankees prospects. In just four days, he signed and returned my card! I like him even more now!

The signature didn't stick that well, but it's not bad. I'm very happy to add Culver's auto to my collection and look forward to seeing him play in person this summer. Between him, Mason Williams, Angelo Gumbs and Ben Gamel (brother of Matt), they should be a lot of fun to watch.

TTM Blast from the Past: Hank Bauer

Here is another TTM success from my first set of collecting days. One of the most beloved Yankees of the 1950's, Hank Bauer signed this card for me. Interestingly, whenever I write to a player who played on the great Yankee teams of the '50's-'60s, I always ask them who their favorite teammate was. Nearly everyone says "Hank Bauer." It seems that he was universally liked.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TTM Success: Fastest return to date

In my last post, I mentioned that I needed some TTM successes to post, as my ideas for interesting content are a bit thin right now. I have resorted to showing off Tino Martinez cards that no one (except me) cares about. Anyhow, on Monday (June 13), I sent a TTM request to Yankees pitcher Jeff Marquez. On June 15, Marquez returned my card signed. That's a quick turnaround! Granted I live a few miles from Yankee Stadium, but it means it was delivered, signed and sent back out the same day (Tuesday). Pretty cool. I'm having a lot of fun sending to guys who have just gotten called up by the Yanks. I got Noesi in four days and now Marquez in three.

I've said it before but I'll say it again: these 2008 Tristar cards look great signed. This is probably my third or fourth, and each looks beautiful. Jeff has a cool looking signature which certainly adds to it. Very loopy.

Marquez was drafted 41st overall by the Yanks in 2004. He spent a few decent years in the minors and was sent to the White Sox before the 2009 season in the Nick Swisher deal. Kenny Williams, how'd that work out for you? Marquez appeared in one game for the ChiSox in 2010, so it wasn't his ML Debut when he was added to the Yank's roster when they claimed him off waivers last week. He has made two low-leverage appearances so far.

Lone Star Signature Tino

Seriously, I'm running low on ideas these past few days. I need some TTM returns dammit. Anyways, I figured it would be a good time to show off a few of my favorite Tino cards from collection. The following card is my only on-card auto of Tino (not counting my TTM success from him). For starters, he doesn't have very many signed cards out there, and the ones he does are expensive! I don't quite remember what I paid for this card, probably $15-$20 a few years ago, but it was well worth it. It's a decent looking card and is one of the centerpieces in my Tino collection.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One of my Faves - Tino/O'Neill dual relic

One of my favorite cards is my Tino Martinez/Paul O’Neill Upper Deck Yankees Dynasty dual jersey. The Tino has a sweet pinstripe, and the O’Neill actually has one just peeking out from the border. I hate when a stripe gets hidden. Happens all the time on Yankee relics.

O’Neill has been calling the last three series on the YES Network for the Yanks, so I’ve been listening to him a lot. He only does probably 20% of the games each season, if that – as the Yanks have an ever-revolving door of announcers….Kay, Singleton, Cone, Flaherty, Leiter, O’Neill, Bob Lorenz, Jack Curry. When he is not joking around, O’Neill brings up a lot of valid points about hitting and he’s got a good eye for what a player is doing right or wrong. The problem is that Michael Kay keeps egging him on to get laughs and for his own amusement. It’s odd to me, as O’Neill was such a serious and intense player, but in the booth is more on the goofy side.

Anyhow, this is one of my favorite cards of two of my favorite Yankees growing up. Upper Deck did a great job with the design– the interlocking NY cutout is a sweet border for the jersey swatches, the player photos jump well against the simple white background and navy blue stripe, and squeezing Yankee Stadium in between the two players was a nice touch.

My desk drawer at work...

This is my middle desk drawer at work. It is basically filled with baseball cards and envelopes. My work has nothing to do with baseball cards, but I send a lot of packages and TTM requests from here, so the cards usually sit in that drawer until I move them. In case you are wondering, I don't use work's postage account or supplies for mailings. We have a post office across the street, so I'll prepare everything here and carry it across the street during lunch or on my way home.

It sort of funny. No one at work knows I have this blog. It's not a big deal, I'm not trying to be secretive. I just don't share some things outside the office and this is one of them. What about you guys? Any secrets like my baseball card drawer in my office desk?

Contest Shout Out: Shameless plug for Jaybarkerfan

Do me a favor and go check out the contest over at Jaybarkerfan's Junk. He is one of the most generous bloggers out there and truly deserves your readership. There are some nice prizes too! CLICK HERE to check it out, and don't forget to tell him that The Lost Collector sent you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TTM Blast from the Past: Eddie Mathews

I'm running low on ideas for posts this week, so while thumbing through a few stacks of cards, I decided to scan a couple of TTM successes from back in the day. This is one of my coolest successes. I got this signed Eddie Mathews card back in 1999 or so. I won the card itself in an old fashioned AOL auction - the kind that the sellers would actually email and you'd send your bids back to them. Anyone ever participate in these? Anyhow, this card cost me a buck or two and the condition is slightly fair I'd say, namely because of the pencil mark on Mathews' head. I didn't care. I knew he was a generous TTM signer and I wanted to add the signature of a HOFer to my collection, so I promptly sent him the card

I've always liked 1967 Topps. I don't know why. It just feels so old and vintage to me. In fact, the 1967 Mantle is one of my most desired cards in the world. I might even decide to collect the set one day. I do wish I had the Mathews pictured him as a Brave and the card didn't say "Astros," as it just feels so wrong. However, I think he is wearing a Braves jersey in this one. At the time of this card, Mathews was at 493 HRs, so he still has 19 HRs left in him.

It's undoubtedly one of my favorite TTMs ever, and it's definitely a card I'll always hang on to.