Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Get him while you can

Good Yankees prospect autos tend to blow up pretty quickly once the prospect starts to make some noise. I guess that's true for all teams, but for the Yanks, many dealers see dollar signs in their eyes once a prospect starts going mainstream. Guys like Aaron Judge and Luis Severino blew up over the last two years while still in the Minors, while Greg Bird autos really didn't until he arrived in the Bronx and started mashing. Then his $4 autos became $40. I should know. I sold one.

Now the next crop of Yankee prospects are arriving, and their autos are predictably starting to climb, starting with Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian. The latter has a first-round label, so he started off pretty high. He'll move through the Minors quickly, so his autos should see a steady rise this season as long as he's healthy.

Mateo was an international signee who burst onto the scene two years ago, then had a monster year last year. While he's still a ways away, his 82 stolen bases last year caused quite stir. Then he was invited to spring training, and promptly clubbed a triple that he didn't run out, then a homer the next day.
I decided that was enough to act, not because I was buying the hype, but because I knew others would, pushing his prices up. While I had a TTM auto from him, I needed a certified, and I needed one fast. I quickly settled on this beauty, as it was in my price range. Similar cards were rapidly on the rise, so I scooped it up, and I'm glad I did. Sure it's not the original Bowman, but it'll have to do for now. I have kids to feed, damn it.

I doubt he'll make the Majors this year, although a late season call-up isn't out of the question, especially if the team is in contention. However, if he duplicates last year's success at a high level, this guy is going to be one to get now while you still can.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The edge of confusion

I am pretty notorious for buying cards without looking very closely at them. Then, they arrive, and I tend to have a "huh, didn't know that" moment when I look at the card. I blame it on the eBay app. It's so easy to just quickly look at something and place a bid without thinking about it or properly examining an item.
Case in point. This beautiful 1999 Tino Martinez Topps Finest Gold Refractor came. This beauty is numbered to just 100. It's really well done. The protective coating is weird, but the gold is stunning. I took it out of the case to scan and examine it, but it wouldn't budge from the penny sleeve.

Look closer. Look at the edges of the card. For some reason, the edges are perforated. And it's not just any perforation. We're not talking SI for Kids cards. These are like the teeth of a freakin' piranha, digging into the flesh of the penny sleeve. It was nearly impossible to get this free from the sleeve, let alone get it back in. I definitely did some damage to the edges in the process.

I probably still would have bought the card had I known about the edges. It was a PC need. I just know that my attention to detail needs - errr, attention - and hopefully I can use this as a reminder to bid a bit more carefully.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

SuperTraders #6: Infield Fly Rule

Man, the #SuperTraders packages are rolling in faster than I can keep up. I will say that I've been spending some time each night organizing cards by team in hopes of sending packages soon. One of you is also getting a 1998 Donruss Crusade, but that's all I'll say.

Package #6 comes from Adam over at Infield Fly Rule. I have a decent amount of Rockies laying around, so Adam will be getting his fair share in return.

For some reason, this Brien Taylor card jumped out at me. I know most of you are familiar with his story. Lefty, threw 100, was picked first overall by the Yankees, was a top prospect in all of baseball, but got hurt in a bar fight and derailed his career.
We tend to prospect hug so much and are so aware of top prospects now, I can't imagine what Taylor's story would have been like in today's world, especially with social media. It would be crazy newsworthy. Seriously.

Anyhow, Adam sent me some other cool stuff from the past. I have honestly never seen this Mattingly Bowman.
Mike Stanley looks extra nerdy here, but man that guy was good for the Yanks. He doesn't get the credit he deserves for helping to turn the team around in the early '90s. His helmet also says #65, but he only wore #20 with the Yanks.
Do you know what I see when I look at these cards? TTM requests!
It was a great stack of Yanks, and I really enjoyed sorting through them. Thanks, Adam!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I love the smell of contest victory in the morning

Some time ago, I was lucky enough to win a contest on the well-run blog I Love The Smell of Cardboard In The Morning. Tim is one of the surprisingly few Yankees bloggers out there, so I always appreciate swing by his blog and checking out what Yanks he's showing off, in addition to the other teams and players he collects.

I recently received my package, and I was shocked by the card that headlined it:
Whoa whoa whoa, why was this not in my collection?! It's true. A card of Tino from 1987 exists, and I had never come across it. I am a failure as a super collector. I am very, very grateful to now add this to my PC. Seriously, I am as disappointed in myself as I am excited to now own it.
I love this as well. It's another not-so-gentle reminder that Pacific in the late '90s was freakin' awesome.
Ohhhhhh shiny. So the day this card arrived, I had put in a bid on eBay on this exact card. Luckily I didn't win! It's a pink foil parallel #'d 46/50. It's pretty!
I admit I know next to nothing about turn of the century Stadium Club. This is a pretty insert. It's like 2016 Topps Perspectives, only nicer and better and not lamer.

Here is how Tim rounded out the package:
Tim, you are the man. I'm really psyched about that Tino. Thanks, my friend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

SuperTraders #5: Off Hiatus Cardboard

I remember reading somewhere that Tony of Off Hiatus Cards is the king of oddballs. Well, this #SuperTraders package he sent really lived up to his reputation.

Honestly, check out all of these oddballs from various Dover Publications baseball books. I must preface and say that these are reprints. Were they not, I would give Tony a giant kiss. I would also sell the cards, shut down my blog, move away to a warm climate, and forget about this whole life. But the perforated edges prove that they are indeed reprints, so I will keep the blog running, keep living in my too-small house in overpriced NJ, and just enjoy them being a part of an epic #SuperTraders package.
A lot of beauties, eh? This Chesbro is pretty cool, but it belongs in someone else's collection. You know who I'm talkin' about. He'll be getting it.
I also really like these old Drake's cards. I remember having a lot of these growing up, but no clue where they are now.
Front Row! I also had a bunch of these sets growing up. Every so often, I got a catalogue from a company called Mail Order Concepts (later Mail Order Collectibles). Anyone else remember them? They sold autographs, cards, memorabilia, etc. I always remember them having some great deals. One time, I brought a grab box that was literally a $10 box stuffed with cards and odds and ends. It was a huge box! I remember an Allen Iverson auto being in my box, as well as some random sets and packs.
A whole bunch of oddball Mattinglys!
Some sweet Pacific Invincible. Man, '90s cards rock. I'm sorry to those of you who missed out on Pacific. I really am. Why these inserts each came with A and B versions I'm not sure, but I'm glad I now have 'em both for each card.

I've been seeing Panini Contenders popping up all over the place. I actually love them. Tony was nice enough to fish out the Yanks for me of guys in their college jerseys, including Aaron Judge, Robert Refsnyder, and Jeff Degano. I totally forgot Reggie went to ASU!
Oh, and this Severino guy might be pretty good.
Tony rounded out a package with some Topps minis.

Just great stuff all around, and a blast to go through. Thanks, Tony!

Monday, March 21, 2016

TTM Success: Bob Shirley

Another TTM success, although this was from a retired player and not from 2016 Spring Training. Based on my returns over the last week, I really need to just send to retired guys and forget spring training. Hey, 2017 Lost Collector, remember this post.

Former Yankees southpaw Bob Shirley signed four cards for me. I definitely offered for him to keep a few, but looks like he chose to sign and return them all. I like his signature a feels very lefty-ish with the tilt.

These all game out great. I'd say the 1987 Fleer is my favorite, as the signature pops and the photo is post-pitch (I think) as opposed to mid-pitch. The other three share a similar angle.

Thanks, Mr. Shirley!

Friday, March 18, 2016

TTM Success: Wayne Granger

Another vintage TTM success with another assist from Mark Hoyle!
In his 9-year career, Granger only pitched 7 games with the Yanks in 1973. He spent most of his career with the Reds and Cardinals as a reliever. He was one of the best relievers in the game, leading the NL in games pitched twice and saves once. He is a member of the Reds Hall of Fame. Not bad at all!

Thanks for the autograph, Mr. Granger.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

TTM Success: George "Doc" Medich

In addition to a few spring training TTMs, I also sent out a few vintage cards for signatures. Per usual, the assist goes to Mark Hoyle, as the vintage I send out usually comes from him.

I like the 1974 Topps set. It's rather simple, but in a good way. So when Mark sent me a batch recently, I knew I wanted to send a few out.
In just 8 days, George "Doc" Medich returned my card signed. He pitched from the Yankees from '72 to '75, winning 49 games total for them. He certainly enjoyed the best years of his career with them, although the teams weren't great. The Yankees then used him in their infamous Ken Brett/Dock Ellis/Willie Randolph 1975 trade with the Pirates. The Yankees certainly got the best end of the deal due to Randolph alone.

It's also crazy to see him wearing #42 in this card. Obviously #42 on NY, while retired for Jackie Robinson, belongs to Mariano Rivera. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see who else wore that number as a Yankee. Notably, Jerry Coleman wore if from 1949 through 1957. It was also worn by a collection of coaches from 1977 through 1989. The last player to wear it for the Yankees before Rivera was Domingo Jean.

Anyhow, Medich later got his medical degree, although his medical license is suspended due to legal reasons.

Reagrdless, I appreciate him taking the time to sign for fans, and I'm very happy to add this autograph to my TTM collection. Thanks, Doc!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Topps Yankees Project: 2016 is complete!

The most stressful part of Topps Series One launching each year is combing through the Yankees checklist and seeing who the good TTM signers are. It’s crucial so that I can get a jump on the next addition to the Topps Yankees Project. I prefer to get it out of the way early. If I have to, I can always wait until Series Two, or god forbid, Update, but it calms me to know as early as possible that the Project lives on another year.

It’s not easy. Many of the players included in the checklist are aging stars (not shocking, I know) who haven’t signed in years. Then you have the group of younger players who do sign at decent rates, but aren’t included. Plus, I assume by sheer volume of mail, guys instantly become worse signers once  they are a Yankee. 

I always hope for a reliever or two and a prospect, as that usually results in the best odds. Also of note, when players move on to other teams, that can help with their success rates as well.

Once my team set came in, here is who I sent a request to:

Nathan Eovaldi – previously good signer, but I haven’t had luck with him
Robert Refsnyder – signed in minors early in career, doesn’t seem to be much of a signer now
Luis Severino – not a good signer, but I took a shot
Chase Headley – used to be a good signer
Andrew Miller – my best hope, I received a TTM success from him last year
Chris Young – good signer in past, now with Boston
Greg Bird – good signer in minors, tough now after Big League success; just had shoulder surgery as well. He better not be straining that shoulder answering mail.

As you can see above, there are a few chances, but not many golden opportunities. I sent to those guys knowing it would be a longshot. I was thrilled when this came back last week:
Boom! Andrew Miller checks all the boxes I need for the Topps Yankees Project for 2016. Not only is he an awesome reliever, but the signature looks great and I don’t have him included in the Project. He’s definitely only of the bigger names I’ve gotten recently. I’m not sure if I’ll get anyone else back, but if not, I’m thrilled to use this as my entry for 2016! If I do get more back, then I’ll have a decision to make. That’s a good problem to have.

Thanks, Andrew Miller! You’ve saved me a lot of stress. Now, on to the 2017 edition…

Friday, March 11, 2016

TTM Success: Eric Jagielo

So I cheated a little bit. I had already had a TTM success from a few years ago from Eric Jagielo, the former Yankees prospect now with the Reds. He was one of the pieces the Yanks sent to Cincy for Aroldis Chapman.

However, I had reason for sending to him. I had this:
Man that would look fancy with a second signature on it, wouldn't it? Therefore, I present this:
Looks great, eh? It's sad that these guys are no longer in he organization together. The Yankees had three first rounders that year - Ian Clarkin, Aaron Judge, and Jagielo. Judge is certainly the top prospect of the bunch, on the cusp of the Majors. Clarkin is still a top prospect despite missing last season with an injury. Jagielo performed perfectly fine, but has caught the injury bug a bit. Still, I wouldn't be shocked if he ended up being a very solid offensive player for Cincy in the not-too-distant future. I wish him the best!

He also signed two cards for me. I'll probably toss one of these to Cardboard Clubhouse in a SuperTraders package at some point.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Making my 11-year-old self proud

When I was a kid, I constantly scanned the pages of Beckett and Tuff Stuff, feasting my eyes on cards I couldn't have. Sometimes, it was vintage, like 1972 Topps, which seemed like cards that were so old I would never own them. In fact, I remember being in 8th grade when I bought a lot of Yanks, and was floored when a 1972 Topps Mel Stottlemyre was included.

Beyond the vintage were shiny, beautiful cards that just weren't available at CVS or Revco, where I got my cards. Once in awhile I'd go to a local card shop and blow some money from shoveling snow, but I almost always bought several packs as opposed to spending my money on a higher end pack or single card. I'd always glance at the display case, looking at the shiny cards that belonged behind glass or in the pages of the monthly magazine. Those weren't for me. I was buying packs of Collector's Choice and Hoops, and if I splurged, Fleer Ultra. I don't think I even knew Topps Finest was its own set that came in its own expensive packs. I just wondered why they never fell out of my regular Topps packs.

We were a very blue collar, middle class family. I never had the new Jordan or Penny Hardaway or Griffey sneakers, even though I spent hours looking at them in Eastbay catalogues. Cards were like that too. I could have the affordable ones, but just not the ones behind the glass. It was better than nothing.

It has stuck with me to this day, and is part of the reason I love '90s cards so much. They represent the cards that are ingrained in my head. The cards I put on pedestals on that I saw in the magazine pages. Now, with the magic of the internet, and the fact that I have a little money in my pocket, I can now have many of those cards I wanted. In fact, I can have them for a fraction of the price, because they aren't too pricey 20 years later.

Take this card, for example:
Man, I remember seeing this set. The neon. The cardstock. The futuristic look. This card was probably $10 or $12 back when it was out. Barley won an MVP that year. Fast forward to 2016, it was basically a throw-in for me on a recent COMC order. Seriously, it was probably a quarter or something.

And the thing is, I have no use for this card. At all. I'll probably put it in my kid's HOF binder. It was just the fact that I can now own something that I never dreamed of when I was a kid. It's very superficial and pretty stupid of me, but I felt like I needed a card like that to help bring some peace of mind to my 11-year-old self.
I then snagged a Refractor, because, why not? Again, it cost mere cents. But a 1993-94 Finest Refractor?! In my possession? I had to. I picked Seikaly since he is a Syracuse guy. But seriously?! A Refractor. From 1993-94. That's big.

While I can't quite pony up for a baseball Refractor from 1993, I did pick up a couple base cards.
Now, where can I buy a pair of 1997 Air Max Griffey sneakers?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

TTM Success: Austin DeCarr

My second spring training TTM success arrived yesterday, and it's a good one. Yankees pitching prospect Austin DeCarr signed two cards for me. I must mention that I did offer for him to keep one of the cards, yet he signed both and even personalized one.
DeCarr was a 2014 3rd round draft choice out of a Connecticut prep school (spent a post-grad year there), and unfortunately missed last season with Tommy John surgery. It appears his rehab has gone well, and hopefully he'll be taking the mound again early this summer.

Turnaround time was only 9 days, which is pretty fast from NJ to Tampa and back. I thank Austin for his generosity, and wish him the best of luck this season.