Thursday, February 10, 2022

Thanks for the ride

Today is my blog's 11th anniversary.

It's also my last post.

I've been thinking about this for some time, but it has become increasingly clear to me over the past year that I need to close this chapter of my collecting life.

I'm a much different person at a very different stage of my life than when I started this little venture, and I've felt myself growing more and more distant from running this blog over the last few years. New cards have come in, and it has started to feel like more of a hassle to scan and show them. This blog has always been a bit more of a show-and-tell, and I've always been fine with that. Some have a lot more to say and frown on 'show and tell', and that's all well and good. But the reason I started this blog was because I didn't really have anyone to show off my new cards and share what I got in the constant flow of bubble mailers stuffed into my Manhattan apartment's small PO box. In a sense, the blog served as critical outlet when I started collecting cards again. No longer did cards just arrive in the mail, get glanced at once, and then stored away in some box. It was a crucial step in my self-help journey to enjoy my '90s inserts just a little bit more.

Life has changed too. I started this blog four apartments ago, three jobs ago, two kids ago, one wife ago. A lot has happened to me over my eleven years on here! The most important years of my life. Marriage. Kids. Homeownership. Job switches and promotions. I was just a young pup when I started this, without obligations other than myself and with a hell of a lot less responsibility. Frankly, life is busier now, despite working 95% of the time from home. Work is more chaotic with a higher stakes role that needs more of my attention. My kids are playing multiple sports and require more rides, more practices, more games, and more of my time. And I choose them. Easy one.

Sure, lots of excuses above. One after another. But in the precious free time I have, scanning and writing a little thoughtless post about cards really isn't what I want to do. It's among the same reasons I no longer care to write TTM letters to strangers. In my free time, I'd rather spend it other ways.

I'm not giving up collecting or put off by the current state of the hobby. Far from it. And I still plan to read the blogs that I most enjoy, as well as hang around on Twitter and on TCDB.

And who knows, maybe I'll be back. Maybe I won't. Perhaps I'll drop in a post down the road if something extradorinaiy happens or if I just want to say hi. But I'm not counting on it.

The blog was a big part of my life for more than a quarter of it, which sounds weird to say. But the time has come to move on and not have the site hang over my head as something that needs to be maintained. I did it for eleven years, and I'll leave the blog turned on and active while it collects dust before Blogger decides one day to no longer keep these tiny sites running, which is bound to happen given Google's lack of investment in the product. 

Lastly, I do genuinely thank you for reading, for trading, for sending unexpected cards, for taking cards off my hands, and for making collecting far more interesting for the past eleven years. It was fun, and I hope you all continue to enjoy collecting the way you want to do it...for you, not for someone else.

As the cranky Upper East Side card shop owner told me back in May of 2011, it's time for The Lost Collector to officially get lost. 

Take care, and thanks for the ride!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

The TTM envelopes still roll in

As this blog and my collecting habits have evolved over time, one thing that has really changed is my desire to send out TTM (through the mail) autograph requests.

I have not sent out a request since 6/28/21. Before that, the last one was 2/15/21.

I collect and view the hobby a lot differently than I did 11 years ago when I started this blog. For the first five or six years, TTMs were a mainstay here. I have 415 posts tagged with TTM. I had some great returns, and great stories from those returns. I had projects and goals.

When the pandemic started, I felt uneasy about sending unsolicited mail to strangers. Was the virus on the mail? I know that was silly, but many of us were freaked out and knew very little how this thing was carried. I then saw some posts of MLB players with mounds of mail sent to their home, pleading fans not to send to their home address. I started to see this element of the hobby as a bit of an invasion of privacy.

I stopped sending to home addresses all together. It no longer felt right. In the event I did want to send to a particular player, I sent it to their stadium or spring training. Maybe that's not that much better, but it at least felt like a bit more justifiable to me if I was going to send a piece of mail.

Despite not sending out new requests, it's not uncommon for an old self-addressed stamped envelope to make it's way back to me. Just last week, a return came back from Yankees 2020 first round pick, Austin Wells:
This was sent to spring training last February, for a 365-day turnaround. Annoyingly, the signature bubbled a bit.

I'm sure a few more envelopes will make their way back to me over the years. But as for new requests, not many will be going out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Doon Swoon

Over the 11-year history of this blog, a guy like Napkin Doon has been here basically for all of it. I remember our first trade was in May, 2011. Previously, I had won a few cards of him from the Big Fun Game that he used to run, a Yankee swap type of blog contest.

That first trade included a handful of Tino cards, and two autographs: Ramiro Pena and Mark Melancon.  Names from the past! He also threw in a bunch of Flair cards of Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams. I remember being surprised by the package because we had only agreed on a portion of the cards, but he sent them all to me. That's just the kind of guy he is!

As he has started to reduce the size of his collection a bit, he's been setting aside non-keepers for me, especially of guys like Jeter and Rivera. He sent me a big old box of cards just a few weeks ago, and the contents definitely delivered.
See, that's a lot of cards.

But it wasn't all cards. He sent me three packing peanut NFTs of Jeter, Gallo, and Odor. If anyone tries to steal this image of my NFTs, then I will be pressing charges.
Right on top is my first Topps Holiday ornament. Fun cards. I mean, no Pacific ornament from back in the day, but I appreciate the concept.
The next card I pulled out was a Dave Winfield Kellogg's 3D stars. I don't really get these cards. They've never done anything for me at all. At least it's not curled to all hell.
The second card in the box might have been my favorite, a Bowman Platinum ice parallel of Yankees 2020 first rounder, Austin Wells. Well, that was my favorite until a Hope Diamond Curtis Granderson popped out! Numbered to 60, Topps just did so much right in 2011 with their parallels. 
Stacks of current Yankees included Gleyber, Judge, and Stanton.
I'm not surprised Napkin had a lot of spare Alfonso Sorianos, as he was the centerpiece of the haul that brought Alex Rodriguez to NY. Doon probably thought he was going to get rich of this guy.
As for Yanks of the past, there were plenty of Rivera, and Mattingly.
Poor Doon even decided to send me a few Rangers who called the Bronx home in 2021. Odor is no longer with the Yanks, but I now have an ungodly amount of his RCs. That's my first Gallo rookie, as well. I am betting he will once again hit .190 with 40 HRs. Baseball!
The bottom of the box had some odd-sized Mattinglys to top - or bottom - it all off. Man, that crouched batting stance is so cool.
This is the 45th post of mine where you're tagged, Nap. Thanks for all the fodder over the years.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Let's get greedy

Today, the Cincinnati Bengals are playing to go to the Super Bowl.

Let me write that one more time.

Today, the Cincinnati Bengals are playing to go to the Super Bowl.

While it's been a fun, exciting ride already, it's time to get a little greedy. I don't want this to be the end. I don't want this to be "well, it was cool to just be here." I mean, sure it is. But it's ok to be greedy and want the next win.

Today, the Bengals defense will have their hands full. The Kansas City Chiefs are in their fourth straight AFC title game, and have won the last two. Indeed, all roads go through KC.

It's won't be easy. A motived Patrick Mahomes wanting to avenge a Week 17 loss to the Bengals. A Mahomes who is at the height of his game and wants a second ring.

Leading the Bengals defense will be safety Jesse Bates. He started off the game last week with an interception on the very first pass of the game. He'll have his hands full today with Hill, Kelce, Pringle, and Hardman.
Then there's Logan Wilson, a second-year LB out of Wyoming. His interception late in the 4th last week set the Bengals up for their game winning FG.
What a tall task this will be today, but this guy is up for the challenge.
Let's get greedy, Joe.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Do you know the way to San Jose?

A few weeks back, I got a nice mailing from San Jose Fuji.

I'm sure many feel the same, but to me Fuji is the ultimate blogger. Thoughtful posts, kind gestures, and always something nice to say.

For me, he's been a constant in my nearly eleven years with this blog.

Fuji sent me a nice rigid envelope of cards a few weeks back, highlighted by two Yankees relics from 2019 Topps Holiday:
I have to think that's my first Aaron Hicks relic, but I'm not totally sure.

Topps Holiday is always a fun set with fun relics, and I always seem to miss out on it. I don't have a Walmart nearby, and even if I did would I ever find boxes of these? I rely on TCDB for the singles, but Fuji certainly helps with the relics.

A couple Tinos were also included, include a fairy rare 1998 UD Authentic Sheer Dominance Gold (/2000).
Lastly, can never go wrong with a triplet of HOFers, including Jeter, Mantle, and Rizzuto.
Fuji, thanks so much for the 'blog friendship' over the years.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Boyd, another win would be nice

I feel guilty wanting another Bengals Playoff win today.

It was awesome to see the team finally get over the hump and win last week's Wild Card game. As a Bengals fan, I should be happy enough with that. But that was six days ago and well, let's go win another one today.

The Bengals head to Nashville to play the AFC's top-seeded Titans. It'll be a tough game, especially with Derrick Henry set to return. I'd feel a lot more positive if he wasn't playing. But still, I'd rather the Bengals play them than the Chiefs or least this week.

One main reason the Bengals won last week was because of veteran WR Tyler Boyd. One of the few holdovers from the Marvin Lewis era, Boyd is extremely dependable. He caught a TD pass in last wake's know, the one on that embarrassing inadvertent whistle. My homer goggles tell me it didn't make a difference and the ball was behind the WR and just about into his hands anyways, but I hated how controversial that became. Let me enjoy the win, controversy-free.

Some games Boyd is targeted heavily, while others he is pretty quiet. It all depends on the game script, but I love seeing a guy like him finally get the chance on this stage. I have a few Boyd cards, but I really like these two:
The 2021 Donruss is cool because I believe he is in his color rush uniform. It's a similar look to what the Bengals will roll out today, wearing all whites.

Another guy who is unheralded but an important part of the offense is TE CJ Uzomah. He's generally a 3-4 catch a game guy, but always seems to come through with a big play. It's obvious Joe Burrow greatly trusts him, especially in the red zone.
Can the Bengals advance to the AFC Championship today? I really hope so.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Look how far we haven't come

Last night, Sooz ran a #chadchat about '90s inserts. It was great to see the engagement and excitement, as many, including myself, find the '90s to be the greatest era of baseball cards.

They aren't for everyone, and that's fine. Enjoy your own opinion. You won't change mine.

But for me, give me a beautiful shiny card with a fun theme and some asymmetrical features any day over a vintage card of a guy at spring training in a fake pitching pose rocking a porn 'stache.

The most common answer to "what made '90s inserts the best ever?" had a fairly common theme: creativity and innovation. While some don't feel innovation is needed at all in baseball cards, I find it staggering at the lack of progress over the last 30 years.

Think about cards from the late '60s to '90s, then think about the same time period from the '90s to the 2020s. We have stalled in our tracks, or in some cases, we've gone backwards.

I attribute much of this to Topps and their lack of competition. With a few exceptions, inserts were never their thing. And now, they can save money by printing inserts on the same cardstock as base cards. They can give the illusion of shine without having to actual give the card shine. Mostly, they are lazy.

They'd rather have 150 card insert sets spread across three series than they would a 10-card Hot Gloves set.

They'd rather just give us another 1987 homage or 70 card reprint sets we've seen a thousand times. To them, they'll call those an insert set and be done with it.

Just this past Tuesday, I had two separate insert cards roll up to my house. Neither were crazy Jordan/Kobe/Griffeys that costs hundred of bucks. But each was special to me and cards I had wanted for some time:
Look at those beauties. It's a coincidence that they are diecut, which is not a requirement for a great insert. But boy at they pretty.

Hot Gloves were those cards I saw on the pages of card magazines and as a kid and dreamed one day I could have. Packs of Flair at CVS were out of the question. $4.99 for a pack in a little box? Nope. Grab a pack of Score for $.89 and be on our way.
Pacific was wacky and zany and felt like a brand you settled on, yet over time the efforts have become much more appreciated.
Was it the competition that drove this? Insane designers looking to give their brand an edge? Companies open to fun and not just "you get what you get" because we have no other choices?

It's sad what Topps has done to inserts in their focus on parallels, autographs, SPs, and RCs. 

Long live the '90s, the undisputed greatest era of baseball cards.