Friday, April 29, 2016

Hard to let go

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about why I collect. I've also been gravitating toward cards from the '90s, when I was growing up. I'm sure it's rooted somewhere in keeping a piece of my childhood alive. You know, all that deep stuff buried within yourself.

I'm no psychologist, but I have an oddly weird time getting rid of cards from when I was a kid, even of other teams that have no meaning to me. I spent so much time with my cards, I can remember where and when I got so many of them. It's pretty crazy.

I still have a stack of Griffeys and Frank Thomas and Mike that were tough for a 12-year old kid to pull. They used to "book" in Beckett for like $3 each. For some reason, it's tough for me to clear them out, even though I don't collect those guys. Plus, I could re-buy most of them for pennies if I ever wanted.

It's definitely some sort of sentimental sickness. May sickness is too strong a word, but you get what I'm saying.

Back when I was 12 or 13, we had just gotten AOL, and I started buying cards through collecting news forums. Usually it was a small deal where I'd send a buck or two in cash. A lot of the time, I'd send a dollar and a SASE for my card. My how times have changed.

There was one deal I made with another collector for a 700-card box full of Tino Martinez cards. I thought I was getting a steal, but I got duped pretty good. Sure the cards arrived as advertised, but it was basically like 100 1992 Fleer, 100 1992 Upper Deck, 100 1991 Donruss, etc. I don't know why I did it. I probably still have that box somewhere in my parents' attic.

I remember the exact three cards I sent for this box of Tinos.

1998 Fleer Ultra Ken Griffey Jr Notables
1998 Fleer Ultra Ken Griffey Jr Fall Classics
And this:
Michael Jordan 1995-96 Fleer Ultra Double Trouble Gold Medallion, which was about 3x the book value of the regular Double Trouble insert. At the time, it booked for $24 ($8 x 3 for Gold Medallion).

I always regretted it. I know, dumb, right? But it stuck with me. So I bought the Jordan on eBay the other day for a couple bucks.

And I've asked Junior Junkie to see if he has dupes of the Griffeys. If not, I can probably get them for $4 total on COMC. They booked for a lot higher at the time.

I didn't need that Jordan. I don't collect him and rarely buy NBA cards. But I felt I needed to make it up to myself. It was 20 years ago, but obviously I haven't let it go. I'm not sure why, but I think I need to let go of a lot of my random cards of the past. So if you see a bunch of mid-90s cards popping up in my #SuperTraders packages, just know you're helping me get rid of cards I don't need anymore, and that it wasn't as easy to send them as it might appear.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Commute with me

Right now, I'm commuting home from my job in NYC. I live about 15 miles from the city, but the bus ride takes about an hour, give or take. Therefore, I am currently in the Lincoln Tunnel using the Blogger app (no clue if the format will be off) and taking you along for the ride.
I live in one of the few NJ towns outside of NYC without a train station, which is why I am on the bus. It's nice to not have to deal with crazy Penn Station, although Port Authory is no cup of tea. 
Most nights on my ride home, I have a row of seats to myself. Tonight there is an emo-looking girl to my left. She's kind of cute in a weird way so that's better than the usual 7-foot guy who likes to sit next to me taking up all my space. 
She just whipped out her Mac Book and has a Bernie Sanders sticker on it. She would.  
Ok, I am now out of the tunnel and on 495. It'll be smooth sailing until the normal Newark bottleneck on 280. 
<Quick break to submit a daily fantasy lineup for tonight because I'm now in NJ and I can do that here>
The man behind me definitely smokes. I know it's a choice and I'm sure some bloggers do. No judgment other than be considerate of how bad you smell when/if you take public transportation. This guy reeks of smoke and it's not enjoyable for any of us. 
In the morning, there is this lady in a purple puffy coat who always gets on the bus first, no matter when she gets to the stop. It pisses me off. It's not even a matter of "ladies first" because she budges in front of other women. I was there before her today and I cut her off and got on first. It felt great. 
It just started sprinkling. Good thing the  Yankees don't have a game tonight where they can score 2 runs and get bad starting pitching. 
It feels like this post is long, but I bet it's just the app tricking me. 
I just passed about 12 geese sitting in a roadside puddle. Are they really that dumb? They could fly 5 miles in any direction and be in a lake, river, or the ocean. Idiots. 
I'm going to wrap this up. Thanks for commuting with me. 
P.S. These cards are from a recent COMC purchase. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

105.5 MPH

Aaron Hicks has a cannon.

When the Yankees acquired him, the book on Hicks was that he was a great defender, but hadn’t reached his potential with the bat. From what I’ve seen in a 25-day sample size, I get it.

To be fair, he hasn’t had regular at bats, so it’s tough to get in a groove. But his defense is elite.

Last week, I was actively rooting for the ball to get hit to him to see his arm in action. He threw several guys out in spring training, and carried that over into the season. By now, most of you may have seen his 105.5 MPH cannon to throw out a runner at the plate:
Before that, he had another strong through that Brian McCann didn’t handle. Then, the next night, he gunned down a runner trying to go for a double. I don’t think it was even his best throw, but he nailed the runner by a good 6-8 feet.

Next month, the Yanks should have two players who throw well over 100 playing at the same time – Aroldis Chapman and Hicks. That should be fun.
I picked up a cheap auto of Hicks on COMC during a recent splurge, and look forward to eventually adding a Yankees auto of him. I really hope he develops into a solid everyday OFer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Meeting the legendary Napkin Doon

I tend to keep my real life and my blog life fairly separate. There’s no real reason I do this. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed or anything, but I just like to keep the two worlds separate. From time to time I do mention my kids or my wife, but I try to keep my professional life, or too many other personal details, to myself.

Some bloggers are less private. Some of you share photos and other real-life anecdotes. It’s an individual choice and one I respect, regardless of which way you lean.

On the flip side, some of you are far more mysterious than I am. The most notable of the All-Mystery Blog Team is someone who goes by the name of Napkin Doon. For you newer readers, Napkin Doon had a great blog several years ago called The Adventures of Napkin Doon, but decided to hang ‘em up as life got a bit busier. It happens. I still like to call him out on Twitter or mention him once in a while in a blog post, just hoping he might grace us with his virtual presence once again.

Well, I have some news. I met the real-life Napkin Doon. 

It’s true. He’s the first blogger I’ve actually met. I know many of you have met up at The National or other card shows, but this was a first for me. Nap was kind enough to shoot me a Twitter message saying he was going to be in NYC for a few days, and it turns out his hotel wasn’t far from my office. We arranged a quick meeting prior to a scheduled activity he had (which may or may not have involved a Times Square hooker and an I <3 NY shot glass), but I finally was able to meet someone I consider to be a friend made through collecting and running a card blog.

We mostly talked about our kids and baseball. I tried an awkward “so…get any cards lately?” But I gotta say, it’s not natural to talk to another grown man about cards, at least when you do it so infrequently. Anyone else notice that? I’m sure if you have someone to chat with regularly it’s not like that, but it’s definitely not something I’m used to doing in person as opposed to in 140 characters.

Napkin Doon was nice as can be, and while we only hung out for 15 minutes or so, I enjoyed saying hello and putting a face to the mysterious name. Sadly, I didn’t even ask him what “Napkin Doon” meant. Somehow, I don’t think he would have told me anyways. Here is a photo of us in Times Square:
Prior to this, Nap actually sent me a nice package of cards. There was a large chunk of Sportflics for my kid, and he threw in a few cards for me:
Now, the Mazeroski was a mean card to send a Yankees fan, but I’ll gladly add it to my son’s HOF binder. The yellow Bowman Mateo was the highlight of the package for me.

Nap, it was a pleasure meeting you. Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your trip to meet up. I was also honored that you called me to post bail. Now go fire up the blog again!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Milk, toothpaste, cards, deodorant, shaving cream...

Right down the street from me is a Rite Aid. I pass it frequently, especially when I get off the bus on my way home from commuting from work in NYC. The bus stops directly in front of the store to let me off. It’s very convenient if I need to grab something on the way home – milk, a light bulb, cards, toothpaste, paper towels, etc.

Did I shove a ‘cards’ in there?

Of course I did. You see, this Rite Aid has the 100-card repacks in the toy aisle. They also come with a pack of Triple Play, which I could do without. However, at any given time, there are 3-4 of these repacks. That is a pain considering I go to Rite Aid 2-3 times per week, which means I am tempted 2-3 times per week.

Most days, I can go in and out without grabbing one of these. But once in a while, I just need a snack. A cardboard snack. So I snag one.

I’ve bought a few before, and have yet to get one of the “1 in 4” contain a hit. I just figured the hit is probably visible through the plastic window and gets snatched up. Obviously not why I get the packs, but would be a nice added bonus.

So I found a pack and chose one with a Cal Ripken insert on top, knowing it will go to a #SuperTrader. From there, I was treated to a pretty good selection of cards, especially Yankees. I wonder if Fairfield makes these regional, because it certainly felt that mine had a an unusual amount of Yanks. I get that they are always well-represented, but this seemed pretty high:
You may have noticed this card:
That’s right, a hit! And not just any hit, but a Yankees auto! I was expecting the hit (if I ever got one) to be a relic, so an auto was unexpected, and helps ward off pack searchers. Angelo Gumbs was once a second-round pick of the Yanks who unfortunately didn’t pan out. He’s now in the Reds organization and remains in High-A ball, but hopefully something good happens for him. I always liked him, and think this is a pretty cool auto to come out of a repack.

Here are a few more Yanks. Jeter cards seem to pop up a lot in repacks. There are a ton of them and helps it feel like there are “star” cards in the product. The Bernie Williams rookie is cool, as is the ’78 Topps. I also bet this 1992 Topps Gold Winner Brien Taylor went for a lot back in the day.
I loved getting this Dermis Garcia in a repack as well. I’m anxious to see this guy develop.

Here’s the best of the rest, including a nice Frank Thomas for my son’s HOF binder. I’ll probably put the Sisler in there too.
Not too shabby for a repack, and some good stuff for the #SuperTraders.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A set just for autos? Yes please.

Yesterday I mentioned the first two TTM successes I had while growing up. They were basketball cards, as I was a very seasonal collector. Basketball in the winter, baseball in the summer.

I did like basketball because it was easier to get a star player. With 12-man rosters, I had better odds of getting a Jordan or Shaq than I did a Griffey or Thomas. Plus, admittedly I didn’t know a lot of relievers or utility guys, which is ironic because those are now the baseball cards I cherish and wish there was more of.

As a youngster, I remember reading an article in Beckett about how Fleer changed to this matte finish on their cards in order to entice kids to get autographs. I totally bought in. For whatever reason, I chose this Matt Wagner card – a guy I had definitely never heard of, and sent him a TTM request. If memories serves, I sent it to the Expos spring training site. 
Luckily, I got the card back. Fleer was right. The cards were perfect for autographs. Since then, I’ve gotten a few more of these signed (by guys I’ve heard of), and each one comes out great.

I also love the idea of creating a set just for autograph collectors. Maybe it’s too niche, but it would be cool. I could see the set being called “Topps TTMs” or “Panini Penned” or “Stadium Club Script” or something. Maybe a card company would give them out to kids at fan fests or spring training with the purpose of having something to get an autograph on other than a baseball or photo.

This will never happen. The cost outweighs the benefit and it’s too small of an idea given the cost. I get it. But just seems like a great way to get baseball cards in kids hands and encourage autograph collecting, a great part of the hobby. It worked for me as a kid when Fleer did this, so perhaps it could work again.