Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 5 TTMs from 2017

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how many TTM successes I had in 2017. In all, I got 40 back during the year 2017. I sent out 143, although a few that came back were sent in 2015. I actually sent out 150 in 2016, so I was pretty consistent. Most were sent out in the first half of 2017, as I really slacked off from late summer onward.

While I appreciate all forty of my TTM successes, here are 5 memorable ones:

5. Tyler Clippard
This was special because it checked of 2017 for my Topps Yankees Project.

4. Brooks Robinson
2017 saw Robinson signing autographs for free or a very minimal fee compared to what he had in the past. I was happy to add his autograph to my collection. I included a $5 donation.

3. Don Mattingly
I was thrilled to get this one back that was sent in 2016. I love the card choice here!

2. CC Sabathia
This was a lucky return, as it went to my old address and was in a stack of mail that was held by the new tenants.

1. Roger Clemens
I took a chance writing a nice note, and received this back without a fee. Topps Turkey cards look awesome signed!

Hopefully there will be another nice assortment of TTM autographs in 2018!

Happy New Year to all, and have a safe night!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Hall or Nothing

I'm really hoping Mike Mussina gets the Hall of Fame nod this year, although it's looking like it might have to wait until next year. At the time of writing this, he's at 71% of the vote on Ryan Thibodaux's HOF tracker (link here).

While I don't think I'll fill out a ballot like Gavin did, I do appreciate seeing various rationale for why decisions are made. I also appreciate when a writer publishes an article with his or her decisions and why. I may not always agree, but at least appreciate a glimpse into the thought process.

With Mussina trending at 71% and 134 ballots accounted for, I feel like he's going to fall a few votes short.

One guy who didn't fall short was Wade Boggs. One of the greatest hitters of our generation, he also played at a time when he was part of some fantastic insert sets in the late '90s. While I wouldn't call myself a Boggs collector, I do frequently pick up his cards because he was included in some of these aforementioned sets.

A COMC order I recently placed yielded two such Boggs cards. The first is a 1997 EX 2000 Hall or Nothing insert. It's actually both diecut and clearcut. Two of my favorite things! It's a classy-looking design that fell 1:20 packs, although I can't imagine many of us bought these packs. I assume they were pretty much exclusive to hobby shops.
Not quite as rare, but cool in its own right, is the 1996 Fleer Ultra Prime Leather set. I remember pulling a Mark Grace as a kid, and always really feeling like it was a special card. The leather stitches are embossed, as the card has a leather-like texture, althought a little rough.
We really don't get cool-looking cards like this anymore, and I'm thankful I have COMC to go pick up cards like this from my childhood.

Friday, December 29, 2017

An airport encounter with a Cardinal

I know I mentioned it at the time, at least on Twitter, but back in March I had the good fortune of briefly meeting Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes at the Newark airport.

I had just landed from a flight from Los Angeles and was awaiting for an Uber. Next to me was a young, athletic looking guy with a huge Cardinals duffle bag. It wasn't the kind of bag an everyday fan would be carrying. It looked like it had to be something team-issued.

Standing next to the guy, I asked if was with the team and he said "yeah." I asked him is name and simply said "Alex." Knowing a bit about top prospects, it then struck me and I said "Reyes?" He looked surprised to be recognized in NY in an airport, but then he said "yes!"

After briefly chatting, he disclosed he had had TJ surgery just a few weeks back, which I remember hearing about. So he was about 6-weeks post-recovery at that time.

He was very pleasant to chat with when he didn't need to be, and I certainly took a liking to him. I hope he comes back in 2018 unfazed by the surgery. He's one of the top prospects in the game - still #1 for the Cardinals and #15 overall by - so the talent is certainly there.

I made a deal with myself to pick up an autograph of his, especially since prices had cooled following the injury. I waited until COMC Black Friday and got the one above for just a few bucks.

I'll certainly be keeping an eye on his career, and I hope he's 100% healthy in 2018.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

TTM Success: Toby Harrah

A fun thing about sending out a lot of TTMs is that you tend to forget about some and are pleasantly surprised when they roll in after a long time. Just before Christmas, I received a return from 4x All-Star Toby Harrah. I sent the card out about 11 months ago.

Harrah only played one season in NY, hitting a lone homer in 299 plate appearances for the Yankees. He spent 11 season in Texas and 5 in Cleveland, and was an All-Star in 1972, 1975, 1976, and 1982. One thing I noticed when looking at his stats was that he was a very good OBP guy. He led the AL in walks in 1977 and routinely drew 90-100 BBs. I'm not sure how valued that was in the '70s, but I think he would have been more appreciated in this day and age. He ended his career with 51.3 WAR...pretty pretty good!

From what I can tell he appeared on two cards as a Yankee - 1984 Topps Traded, and 1985 Topps.

I thank Mr. Harrah for signing my card!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

My card of the year - 2017

Thanks to P-Town Tom for once again running the Card of the Year Contest.

I was torn this year.

I really wanted to choose the 2017 Topps Jacoby Ellsbury Lightning Butt card. It's awesome. But Ellsbury and Yankee fans have a bit of a tough relationship, and while the photo is awesome, I'm not going to remember cards in 2017 because of him.
I'm going to remember cards in 2017 because of this guy, and because of how many Topps NOW cards I bought of him. So, my card of the year, is one of my newest additions: Aaron Judge Topps NOW Rookie of the Year.
Last year I chose a Topps NOW as card of the year - Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin homering in their MLB debuts. I didn't want to do it again, but it's really what my 2017 collecting was defined by. I bought a lot of Aaron Judge cards via the Topps NOW program, although most came from eBay versus directly from Topps.
It was hard to choose just one. There were many moments and instances to be commemorated, but on the whole, it was a record-breaking rookie season for Judge, and the card that simply states "Rookie of the Year" sort of encompasses all of that.

So here it is again, Rookie of the Year, and my Card of the Year.
And here is my Topps NOW Aaron Judge year in review. I spent a lot on Topps NOW cards this year. Sheesh.

Maybe I'll switch it up in 2018, but considering I already bought a Giancarlo Stanton Topps NOW from his press conference, I highly doubt that.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I want my buyby, buyby, buyby back

I don't think that post title worked. Baby back? Buy-by back? Buy back?

Oof. Lay off the spiked eggnog, Lost Collector.

Anyhow, my dude over at Collecting Cutch sent me a finder's fee for helping him track down that Andrew McCutchen card of the year he recently showed off.

It was a gesture he really didn't need to do. He's sent me far more Tino's that I need versus anything I've done to help his 2,000+ McCutchen collection along. Still, I very much appreciate it.

I'm not sure if he found these grouped together or what, but here are four Tino Martinez buy back cards from this year - 1 Rediscover Topps in blue, and then three Bowman 70th anniversaries. I believe two are gold and one is bronze.
From what I can gather, the blue buy backs from Topps are amongst the rarer ones. In terms of Bowman, the golds are rarer than the bronze.
And to top it off, there was also a Tino Martinez printing plate from 1998 Pacific Online! I think this is the second plate he has sent me. I don't have many Tino 1/1s at all, so this is quite special as well.

Brian, thank you for thinking of me and helping my Tino collection at all! I hope 2018 sees you add even more amazing McCutchen cards.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Secret San(ta) Jose Fuji

My Secret Santa gift from Bob Walk The Plank's second annual event arrived yesterday, and I was thrilled to see it was from my long-time blogging buddy San Jose Fuji. He's obviously one of the more established bloggers out there, so I knew there'd be something good awaiting me. And between P-Town Tom last year and Fuji this year, I've really drawn some lucky straws.

I know several bloggers have been waiting to open theirs on Christmas, but I have no restraint so I tore into Fuji's package.

There were seven cards total, but I saw the back of this first and was immediately excited:
And the front!
This is a card I've wanted for a really long time! 20 years to be exact. It's a 1997 Studio Derek Jeter Hard Hat. The set is one of my favorite inserts ever. I remember seeing them in Beckett and really wanting one. I eventually got the Bernie Williams, then last year picked up the Juan Gonzalez and had him sign it TTM.

I am particularly horrible at keeping want lists, but I was fortunate enough to have it on my "Ten Most Wanted" on the right-hand side of my blog. Most are generic wants - Derek Jeter auto, Robinson Cano auto, but this was one of the actual specific cards I've wanted, and Fuji was able to track one down. Amazing!

While they are numbered to 5,000, they are a lot tougher to actually find. I can't believe I finally own the Jeter!

Fuji also bundled up three Tino Martinez refractors for me. I am partial to the Bowman's Best. It looks awesome.
And three other shiny Tinos from his Mariner days.
Thanks again, Fuji. You really hit it out of the park! I'm very grateful for the cards, and hope you and your family have a great Christmas. And special thanks to Matt for organizing once again. It can't be easy!