Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A painting for my friend Wes

In an effort to give JBF a unique return in the World Cup of Trading, I decided to make him a painting of his favorite player.

There were a few reasons I chose this route.

  1. Wes has been very generous to me over the years, so I wanted to provide him with something a little more personal.
  2. I am out of Willingham cards. They are going to become harder and harder to find as Wes gobbles them all up.
  3. I haven’t done a painting in a few years, and had been itching to jump back in.
I was definitely quite rusty, but overall think it came out pretty good. Here’s a few photos of the process.

I started by painting the background and then drew the image on the canvas. Usually I draw the image (using grid boxes) and then paint the background around it. I’m not sure why I chose to paint the whole canvas first this time. I also drew freehand looking at a picture on my phone. I actually combined two images, using the legs of one photo and the upper half of another.
I then started painting the legs and pants. I think the right leg is the best element of the painting, as it came together nicely.
Then I did the shoes, skin, blue jersey, in that order.

And once again, the final piece. The last stages included helmet, bat, ball, and a few touch-ups elsewhere.
I enjoyed doing this, and glad it turned out well for my friend. I’m not sure what’s on tap for my next painting, but hopefully it won’t be a few years before I churn out another one.

Monday, August 21, 2017

JBF's World Cup of Trading

As many have undoubtedly seen, JBF of Willinghammer Risingheld his World Cup of Trading. In return for the good below, I sent Wes an 8x10 acrylic on canvas painting of Josh Willingham:
I’ll start by showing what I claimed. First and foremost, a signed Kevin Mitchell jersey:
I did feel a little bad about claiming this, as I feel a Giant fan would have really liked it. However, in a previous Big Fun Game held by Wes, I had a Mookie Wilson signed jersey and some point that was stolen from me, so I felt like this was a second chance at adding a signed jersey to my collection, which is a first for me. I do plan on hanging it alongside the area in my attic where I am organizing my cards.

I also claimed two cards:
The Andy Carey, because 1956 Topps. And the Carmelo relic? Well, I don’t really collect basketball, but Melo is a favorite of mine from my Syracuse days, and I thought it’d be cool to add a jersey swatch of his to my collection. I have a rookie card too, so I guess now I need an autograph?

As Wes usually does, he included a stack of Yankees.
I could never have enough of this card.
This is a great card. It’s like a 20 year old Superfractor, although not 1/1. It’s from 1994 Pacific Prism. I really don’t need to show any more proof on why Pacific was awesome, but I’m going to keep showing off their cards because they dominated the ‘90s, most people just didn’t know it.
Circa Thunderboomers! I already had this card, although this one is in better condition than the one I had. The hole in the wooden fence is actually clear cut. Pretty neat.
Classly looking Jeter card.
I liked these Bunt Lightforce cards. Pretty fun design, and in my opinion, what an insert card should be.
Last but not least, a confusing, yet cool set: Topps Stars N Steel. I’m not surprised this had a short shelf life, but they were actually pretty cool. They were metal! It’d be neat to see this come back as a one-off, maybe in some high end product.

Wes, my man, thank you as always!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Chrome is pretty

It came out like a month ago, but I never stumbled to my LBBS (local big box store) to pick some up.

However, this is my first in-hand look at a 2017 Topps Chrome card.
It came as part of a prize package sent to me by Paul of Paul's TTM Autograph Blog. He sent a great package, and I'll have more to share in an upcoming post.

I think these look awesome. While I'm generally fine with 2017 Topps design overall, I think they look much better in Chrome, just as 2016 did.

In the refractor version, I love the diagonal rays of color in the back. It's a nice, subtle touch, but it helps the background jump quite a bit, and add a bit more depth to the card. It also helped me, personally, to quickly spot that the card was a refractor.

I don't always go out of my way to pick up Chrome, but I do always find myself enjoying it when it finds its way to me. Thanks for this one, Paul.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A lost package finds The Lost Collector

Since I started this blog, I've had four different residences in six years.

In 2011, I was still living in NYC when I made my first post. In 2012, I moved to Hoboken, NJ, where I stayed for three years. In 2015, we moved further west into the burbs to a rental in my current town. And in 2016, we purchased a permanent home in that same town.

I don't blame anyone for not being able to keep up, and I'm sure I've lost some mailings and TTM returns along the way. Although I've always set up mail-forwarding, that service is not always reliable.

Just yesterday, my wife got a Facebook message from the family that currently lives in our prior residence, the one before we bought our house. She said that there was a package for me there, and that it was just delivered, although the postage said May. Weird. Whether or not that last part was true, I appreciate that she reached out. I wasn't expecting anything, but had a hunch it was a card package.

And it was.

The package was from way upstate in NY from Night Owl, someone who has been trading card packages with me from day one and has had to ensure these constant address changes of mind. Greg was only one address behind, so I don't think that's too bad.

Anyhow, I was happy to have a bonus, unexpected package! And even happier when it contained some vintage:
I love '56 Topps and love Jerry Coleman, so this card is very welcome in my collection. I don't get too many vintage cards in trade packages, so I always appreciate them. The little hop Coleman is doing as he turns two is great.
There was also a nice stack of Allen & Ginter minis. I don't know about you, but I've officially gotten to the point where I have no idea what year of A&G each card is by simply looking at them. They have officially all blended together.
The last few years of Topps Chrome have really outshined the flagship, no pun intended. The Pink Refractors are ones I always enjoy, and I believe this is my first from 2016. Greg Bird is currently about a week away from returning to the Majors in what has been another lost season. Many Yankee fans feel the team needs another bat down the stretch, but in the next few weeks should be getting back Bird, Starlin Castro, and Matt Holliday. That's like making a trade! Hopefully one or two of them will give them offense a nice boost.
I'm not the biggest Chase Headley fan, but I've really respected the way he moved from 3B to 1B without a peep to help the team. And he even started hitting! The black border looks great on the '68 Topps design.
I like the 2017 Yankees team card because it shows how much can change in a year. Gone are two players from this photo, Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira. The 2018 team card should feature younger, more exciting players.
I expect the guy above to be on that card, as he's having another great season for a catcher, at least offensively. His passed balls have been an issue, but honestly not to the point where he should sit. His three-run bombs outshine a ball or two going to the backstop every couple of games.
I don't buy much Opening Day, but I love the card of the player running onto the field during actual Opening Day. I'd be cool if the entire set featured cards like this instead of just the re-hash of flagship.

Greg, thanks for the cards. I swear I wasn't being rude by not thanking you for the package from three months ago.

And if anyone needs my latest - and most permanent - address, let me know.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Subway cameos

It's hard to believe that this is the 20th year of Interleague Play and The Subway Series. The Yankees and Mets first started the yearly tradition in 1997. Back then, it was only one series per season. Eventually a second was added, and now they do a 4-game series broken up into two games at Yankee Stadium and two at Citi Field.

I like the way it's done now. Get it all over with at once, although mid-August feels late. I'd like to see it played in May or June every year.

With the weird drama between the Yankees and Mets front office last week, I told my co-worker (a Mets fan) that this has the feeling of a four-game Mets sweep. Luckily the Yanks got on the board first last night.

On cardboard, I've noticed a lot of photos of the Yankees/Mets series finding their way into sets. I see it with a lot within my Tino Martinez card collection. Perhaps it was an easy assignment for a company photographer to get both NY teams at once.
I liked this Fleer Ultra a lot, as I remember watching a game where Fox cut to a helmet cam that Mike Piazza was wearing (remember those?). During the at-bat, Tino hit a homerun. I'm not sure if this is the exact photo, but it was at Shea Stadium, so this could be it.
This 1998 Upper Deck also celebrates Tino's walk-off single versus John Franco, giving the Yanks a 2-1 series win in the inaugural series. Very cool to have that moment captured. It was like a 1997 Topps Now...in 1998.
I'm sure I could easily find other card of Tino Martinez in the subway series, as these took me all of five minutes to find. That's how common of a cardboard occurrence it was.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The late plate

On Tuesday, I received an email notification that an eBay purchase had been delivered.

However, when I got home from, it wasn't there. My wife told me nothing was delivered all day.

I checked the mailbox. I checked the backdoor. I even looked in the front bushes to see if maybe it had blown off the porch and landed in the mulch.

It definitely wasn't there. I checked eBay again. The tracking number still said it was delivered to my mailbox. I was stumped.

I contacted the seller and asked to confirm the address where it was sent. I decided to give it one more day before reaching out to the post office.

Luckily, at about 5pm yesterday, my wife texted me saying she thinks my envelope just arrived.
And it did! My 1998 Tino Martinez Pacific Omega printing plate was safe. I have no idea what happened. Perhaps just a postal error, but I'm glad it all worked out in the end.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The commish

I don't have many signed baseballs in my collection. They take up a lot of room, and I don't really have anywhere to display them.

Still, I probably have six or seven of them, and never turn them down.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is a great TTM signer, and it's frequently shared that he'll send a signed ball if asked within a letter. I took a chance, and in just a week, this arrived:
Very nice. It's an official MLB ball, which still always feels so premium to me compared with past baseballs I've held. I'm not sure if this is one of the extra juiced up ones or not, but I do appreciate the effort of Manfred/his staff answering fan mail and paying to ship baseballs to fans all over the country.

Overall, I think Manfred is doing a decent job as Commissioner. He doesn't seem to make controversial headlines the way his predecessor did. He seems to understand the challenges the game faces, and I think baseball is in good hands with him at the helm.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

RBI Kings

I know that the RBI doesn't have the same significance among baseball stats as it did years ago. A lot of it has to do with the lineup around a given player, a variable not really considered for a long time. Assuming they put up the same batting lines, a cleanup hitter with some .400 OBP guys in front of him is going to have more RBIs than a cleanup hitter with a bunch of .300 OBP guys a head of him. More men on base should mean more RBIs. Easy.

Also - it's dumb that an RBI is awarded on a fielder's choice, but not on a double play.

Regardless, one still has to be a good hitter to collect a chunk of these so-called runs batted in. And in 1997, Tino Martinez was just that. He hit 44 HRs and drove in 141 runs. That's pretty damn good, RBI stat flaws or not.

In most instances, Tino hit fourth that year with a combination of Derek Jeter (.370 OBP), Wade Boggs (.373), Paul O'Neill (.399), and Bernie Williams (.408) ahead of him. Four guys with OBP percentages over .370 = lots of RBI chances. Plus Tino drove himself in 44 times.

One constant with Fleer Ultra over the years was an insert set called RBI Kings. Despite consistently driving in over 100 runs, Tino only appeared in the 1998 set after his monster year.
Still, it's one of the better looking RBI Kings inserts that they made. The pinks and purples make for a card color combination not frequently seen in my Tino collection.