Thursday, January 30, 2020

Topps Yankees Project - 2020 Challenges

Although my team has more than one card in 2020 Topps, the checklist is not going to be conducive to quickly checking off 2020 for my Topps Yankees Project. For those unfamiliar, it's a TTM autograph for each year Topps has existed. I have completed 1951-2019, but 2020 will be a tough one until Series 2 comes out.

Here's what the Yankees checklist is looking like, with the signing habits of each player.

  • 7 Aaron Judge - rarely signs
  • 16 Gleyber Torres - doesn't sign
  • 46 Gary Sanchez - doesn't sign
  • 68 James Paxton - rarely signs
  • 83 New York Yankees Team Card - doesn't count
  • 121 DJ LeMahieu - rarely signs
  • 157 New York Yankees Combo Card - doesn't count
  • 161 Aroldis Chapman - doesn't sign (used to!)
  • 252 Aaron Hicks - sometimes signs
  • 279 Masahiro Tanaka - doesn't sign
  • 301 Mike Tauchman - signs
  • 335 Luke Voit - doesn't sign
My best bet is going to be Mike Tauchman, which I'd be thrilled with. I've gotten him TTM before, actually, so I've got a shot here. I'll still probably send to Tauchman, Voit, Hicks, Chapman, and Judge in hopes that I catch them on a good day. Maybe I'll send the team card to a lesser-known player as at least a placeholder in my binder.

I haven't updated the project and shown pictures since 2017, so I'll have to do that at some point this spring. Here's who I have for each year, though:

Progress:  63/63
1951 - Jerry Coleman
1952 - Charlie Silvera
1953 - Irv Noren
1954 - Bob Kuzava
1955 - Steve Kraley
1956 - Bob Turley
1957 - Bobby Shantz
1958 - Gil McDougald
1959 - Virgil Trucks
1960 - Art Ditmar
1961 - Joe DeMaestri
1962 - Bobby Richardson
1963 - Hector Lopez
1964 - Bud Daley
1965- Phil Linz
1966 - Al Downing
1967 - Dooley Womack
1968 - Mike Hegan
1969 - Jake Gibbs
1970 - Jerry Kenney
1971 - Ron Klimkwoski
1972 - Mel Stottlemyre
1973 - Fritz Peterson
1974 - Roy White
1975 - Ron Blomberg
1976 - Ed Herrmann
1977 - Chris Chambliss
1978 - Fred Stanley
1979 - Cliff Johnson
1980 - Jim Beattie
1981 - Greg Nettles
1982 - Bob Watson
1983 - Goose Gossage
1984 - Bert Campaneris
1985 - Clay Christiansen
1986 - Don Baylor
1987 - Bobby Meacham
1988 - Rick Cerone
1989 - Dave Eiland
1990 - Steve Balboni
1991 - Randy Velarde
1992 - Roberto Kelly
1993 - Andy Stankiewicz
1994 - Lee Smith
1995 - Scott Kamieniecki
1996 - Jimmy Key
1997 - Mariano Duncan
1998 - Joe Girardi
1999 - Chuck Knoblauch
2000 - Chili Davis
2001 - Clay Bellinger
2002 - Scott Brosius
2003 - Steve Karsay
2004 - Chris Hammond
2005 - Tony Womack
2006 - Kevin Thompson
2007 - Scott Proctor
2008 - Kei Igawa
2009 - Phil Coke
2010 - Michael Dunn
2011 - Mariano Rivera
2012 - Austin Romine
2013 - David Robertson 
2014 - Boone Logan
2015 - Shane Greene
2016 - Andrew Miller
2017 - Tyler Clippard
2018 - Garrett Cooper
2019 - Troy Tulowitzki

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Finally Bernie

If I ever scale down my collection, which I really hope to do, I want to make sure some of the cards left are guys that mean something to me. If I was left with one or two boxes of cards, I'd rather be left with a few nice autographs and vintage cards.

One guy that meant a lot to me growing up was Bernie Williams. Often overshadowed, he was never a main collecting focus. I liked getting Bernie cards, but I didn't go out of my way to get them.

The first jersey I ever got, in 6th grade, was a mesh Bernie batting practice jersey. The only reason I got it was because the Champs Sports I was in at the mall was out of Jeter and Tino.

However, in time I've really appreciated Bernie's career, and the fact that the Yankees don't win in '96, '98, '99, '00 without him. He was a steady force in the middle of the lineup and in CF.

I do have one alleged autograph of Bernie Williams. It was a TTM from about 2006 or 2007. He signed a lot at the time, although there were many rumors it might have been a ghost signer. So honestly, I'm not sure and have always looked at that autograph with a side eye.

With Bernie autographs popping up more and more with recent Topps releases, I decided to finally get one for about the price of a blaster box:
I like the '99 Topps design and seeing Bernie on a card design from when he played, despite the fact that this was a 2019 release. It felt right. Plus the autograph is on-card, which I like even more.

I hope to make more pickups like this over the next few years, and start to stash away my long-term keepers. This is definitely one of them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Thanks, Didi

Didi Gregorius signing with the Phillies capped his Yankees career.

It wasn't big news, as the Yanks were still a bit elated about Gerrit Cole at the time. 

But he will be missed. He was a great player and I'm not sure any shortstop could have performed the way he did in a very tough situation, which was replacing a Yankees legend. He reminds me quite a bit of the burden Tino had to deal with when he replaced Don Mattingly.

He evolved into a middle of the lineup force, and hit some massive post-season homers.

Didi's TJ surgery was unfortunately what began to end his career with NY. He came back and just didn't quite produce the way he had before, although he still managed to hit 16 homers in 82 games.

But what is also showed was that Gleyber Torres could handle the everyday SS duties. And with DJ LeMahieu and and Miguel Andujar coming back, letting Didi go was the easy way to save some $$ for the Cole signing.

Didi was a team leader and a great personality, and I wish him nothing but success in Philly. Here is a card I picked up of him right before he left:
Thanks, Didi.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Recently, I realized Luke Voit was the subject in some 2019 autograph sets. Voit's a pretty awesome player and I didn't have an autograph of him, so I decided to browse to see what I could find.

One of the first cards that popped up, with a very reasonable BIN, was a 2019 Topps Gold Label framed autograph. While I wasn't sure if I wanted a framed card, I ended up pulling trigger, as I don't have any other framed cards like this in my collection. Plus, the autograph was on-card, which appealed to me.
When I finally had the card in hand, I was pleased. It looks really nice, although his signature isn't particularly good.

Still, I was happy!

As luck would have, just a few days later, I would have the chance to meet Mr. Luke Voit!

I was at the NHL All-Star Skills night in St. Louis last night, and by chance I bumped into the man himself. I wasn't expecting to see him, but then I remembered he was a St. Louis guy, so that made a little more sense.

I spoke to him for a moment, and he was as nice as could be. Introduced himself (which many athletes don't), and I told him I was a big Yankees fan, and to bring it back this year. He said he was ready to go and excited for the season. And then he said, "and hopefully we don't have to worry about cheating anymore."

Here we are! I look good.
Love it. What a pleasant dude, and enjoyed the quick chat. I'm even gladder I bought the autograph last week!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Congrats to two new HOFers

My son's HOF binder grew by two yesterday, as two terrific choices were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Derek Jeter was a slam dunk choice as one of the greatest shortstops to ever play. 3,465 hits and another 200 in the post-season? Yep. And certainly a generational player while I was growing up. He was a rookie when I was 12 years old, so he's really all I knew at SS for most of of conscious life. I grew up with him as my shortstop.
It's cool Larry Walker got in. Aided by Colorado or not, he seemed to be a good dude who played the game hard. I always enjoyed checking box scores to see which of the Colorado guys homered the previous night between Walker, Galarraga, Bichette, and Castilla. Fun crew. He always rocked a pretty sweet mullet too.
I'm looking forward to seeing both of these guys take the stage this summer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The cheaper brand is sometimes the Best brand

I've never shied away from the "store" or "generic" brand. Sometimes, it works out. Things like bottled water, hydrogen peroxide, cornflakes. Usually you can get away with going a little cheaper without suffering much quality.

Other items, not so much. Batteries. Ketchup. Peanut Butter. Nope. Stick with the name brand!

When it comes to prospect autographs, the name brand, and really the only brand, is Bowman Chrome.

However, there is a cheaper alternative. The store-brand Rice Krispies, if you will. And while still "Bowman," these cards run significantly less. And sometimes, they even look better. That is what Bowman's Best is all about.

I went down an eBay rabbit hole a few weeks back and picked up three prospect autographs that would have cost me significantly more if I went with the name brand BoChro. Yet, I'm a discount shopper, and am happy to have these.

The one I'm most pumped about is top Yankees pitching prospect Deivi Garcia. His Bowman Chrome is a no-go for me. Just too much. But this one? For under $10. Sign me up. Maybe I'll regret not getting the real one, but I'm happy to have this one for sure.
Garcia, as long as he stays healthy, should find his was to the Bronx this year. He's MLB Pipeline's #1 Yankee prospect right now, although Jasson Dominguez is getting ready to de-throne him.

Another guy who should move fast is lefty TJ Sikkema. He was taken 38th overall by the Yanks last June, coming from Missouri University. He only appeared in 4 pro games after a heavy college workload. MLB Pipeline has him at #16.
Last but not least, Luis Gil, MLB Pipeline's #4 Yankees prospect. The Yankees got Gil from the Twins after Jake Cave was DFA'd. It's fun to see a prospect rise this high after trading someone to make roster space.
These are good-looking cards, and all the autos are on-card. Sometimes the cheaper brand isn't a bad alternative at all. In fact, it can be the (Bowman's) best option.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Great Flood of 2019

Prior to 2019, Tino Martinez autographed cards weren't easy to find, nor were they cheap.

He was a part of some cultural autograph sets, like 1997 Donruss Signature Series and 1998 Stadium Club Co-Signers. These cards still hold a premium price.

The more affordable signatures came from Panini USA baseball, but even those ran towards $20. Simply put, he just didn't have a lot of autographs on the market.

Then came 2019, when Tino signed a new deal with Topps. Product after product came out, and autograph after autograph. On one side, it was cool to see. On the other, there were a lot of cards to chase.

I now have seven autographed Tino cards from 2019, but whats interesting now is that with the market flooded, they are more affordable than ever. Many of the base autographs will run under $10 shipped. Many sit unsold on eBay, as sellers still think Tino might command a more premium price.

Will I collect them all? No chance. Too many low parallels. But when both of these come to me for less than $10 shipped, it's pretty telling.
It'll be interesting to see what 2020 holds. Will Tino continue to be featured, or was 2019 just a one-time blip?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Growing my Tino collection on the TCDB

While most of my TCDB trades have been for current Yankees, a few over the last few weeks have brought be a few new Tinos. There aren't a ton I need for trade on the site, but I do appreciate finding a few. Brick by brick!

The first was from member alh. I exchanged a few NL stars like Blackmon, Freeman, Bryant, and Baez from random assorted sets, and got a Tino 2003 Topps HTA stamped card. I also snagged a Gio Urshela RC in the deal!
The second Tino came in from a member named obxyankeefan. This was the only card in the deal, a 2005 Fleer Tino. I sent along three cards from the 2019 Topps Update set. Great 3 for 1 deal for me.
The next, from shaggy69 (hehe), was one I thought I had, but alas, it was not! This 2005 Upper Deck became mine for two cards from the 2016 Topps Wrigley set.
Some of the easier Tinos to find are from '08 Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy. Tigerhead sent me this for a 2019 Heritage Shane Greene insert.
A two-Tino deal came from Torcato for five 2019 Update inserts/parallels. A Yankee Stadium Legacy, and a card from Tino's lost Cardinal years.
And last but not least! nwcardsupplies hit me with three new Tinos! These came for a 2017 Heritage SP Chris Sale, and a Sixto Sanchez Bowman card.
All such easy, efficient trades. And a great way to continuo my climb to 1,000 Tinos (currently at 930!).

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Habit Returns

Out of the blue, Judson from My Cardboard Habit shot me a note on Twitter asking if I wanted the following card:
Um, yes, Judson, I do.

This is a card of 2019 Yankees first rounder Anthony Volpe, and it's numbered to /25. That is pretty awesome, and despite the hard time he likes to give me on Twitter, shows what a good dude Judson is.

Volpe is still just 18, and got off to a so-so start in his pro debut. While his average wasn't great at .215, he did get on base at a .349 clip, showing the eye was there. Volpe comes in at number 10 on the Yankees MLB Pipeline Top 30 list. A local NJ kid, if he ever makes it, the fans will love cheering for the Jersey guy.

Judson, really appreciate this card, and your friendship. Thank you, sir!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Big @ss Refractors

Refractors are still cool. However, larger than standard cards are not. They are clunky and hard to store.

But when the guy you collects has a big ass card and it's a big ass refractor, sometimes you just gotta pull the trigger.
This is the first time I've ever seen a Topps Superchrome Refractor, and it was listed for a very low price on eBay, so I snagged it storage issues be damned. The seller even threw in a bonus card of Brett Gardner, so you can see how much bigger the SuperChrome is.
I will say this: its a lot of surface area for a refractory shine. It's really pretty looking. I'm glad it was (I think) a one and done set, as it was an interesting concept. Not shocked it didn't work out through.

No idea where I'll put it, but these are minor details. I'll just sit back and enjoy this one, because it's a hell of a card and it's just so shiny.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Thank you for stepping in (except for you, Napkin Doon)

Yesterday, I encountered a Twitter troll of the worst kind. It ended up being fun, but just wanted to throw a quick thank you to those of you who came to my defense. Except for Napkin Doon, who tried to feed the troll.

I woke up to a hilarious Twitter reply from someone I had no idea who it was. I had previously simply showed a Kirby Puckett RC I had unearthed in a random box of cards, which was part of a larger lot I recently bought from a local guy.
Apparently, unless I am giving this card away, Darrell has no interest in following me. And if I deleted this post, he had taken the measures of screenshotting it so it would live forever.

I came back with a cheeky response that he had in fact won the card, and then he said, "You can keep it. And unfollowed." Oh no!
I gave him the simple emoji wave and was done with it, amused for my commute into work. But then you guys all saw the interaction and sprang to life. It was awesome and very amusing.
Again, except for you, Napkin Doon.
This was some Twitter fun a boring Monday at work, so thanks to everyone for the nice things you said, and for giving Darrell a little piece of your minds.

Except for you, Napkin Doon.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Get paid back for buying cards

Not an ad or an endorsement! Just something I wanted to share...

I buy a few cards eBay on eBay each month.

I'd say I probably make 5-6 eBay purchases a month, give or take. Most of those are in the $7-8 range after shipping.

One thing that I highly recommend is making money back on the cards or purchases you make off of eBay. It just makes too much sense to get rewarded for purchases you were going to make anyways, similar to cash back rewards from credit cards.

Many of us are opted into eBay Bucks and usually get 1% back on purchases, unless they have a 8 or 10% back promotion, which is always fun. Seriously, when they do that, I am more apt to buy items that have been sitting in my watchlist. I bet I am not alone.

But did you know there's are a few ways to make back Monday ON TOP of eBay Bucks?

My personal preference is via Acorns. For those who don't know, Acorns is a robo-investing app. I've been a customer of theirs for a little over 2 years, after I heard that Kevin Durant invested in the company. Seriously, that's when it came across my newsfeed and I thought it was interesting. Basically, what happens is that Acorns rounds up your debit card purchases and once you've got $5 of round-ups, invests the money into an ETF (exchange-traded fund). No work needed on your end. For example, if I buy something for $4.25, then they round up to $5 and $.75 is set aside. Once the "spare change" hits $5 or more, it transfers from your bank account to your Acorns account.

Beware! The subscription is $1 a month, which is high if you don't put much in every month. I probably put in $30-$40 in each month (I use my debit card every day...I never carry cash), so the $1 doesn't hurt as bad. $12 a year for the account is covered easily, so far, in dividends, so I don't take the fee too seriously. But I know it could be a blocker for some if you don't put much in, such as $10 a month, and 10% of that goes to the fee.

Now on to getting money back! One of the best features is a section of the app called "found money." Found Money consists of a ton of retailers and services that will deposit additional money into your Acorns account by spending with them. eBay is one of those companies, and invests 1% of the final purchase price into one's account. Other retailers include Uber, Dick's Sporting Goods, Walgreen's, Walmart, Apple, Macy's, Nike, and not just random places you've never heard of.

The only thing is, you have to go into the eBay app by way of the Acorns app, or by using the Chrome extension on desktop. So here's what I do:

Once I win an auction, or add a card into my cart, I'll close out of eBay, open Acorns, then click "eBay" under found money. The app opens right back up, I go to my cart, and check out. Then I still get my eBay bucks, plus another 1% of the purchase hits my Acorns account. Pretty cool.
It's not going to make me rich, but I've gotten about $17 back and invested in my account over the last year from purchases I was making anyways on eBay, with the only effort being clicking into eBay through Acorns. Small contributions, but they add up:

Other companies do this is as well, such as Rakuten (formerly Ebates), which actually offers actual cash back in the form of PayPal or a check. There are also other similar investing apps such as Stash (which I also use), and Robinhood. Tons out there if you're looking for a way to invest in some stocks/funds without going through big brokerages.

I'm not advising anyone to invest outside of their means, and in no way is this spare change app thingie going to make me rich. But it's a cool feature to consider and hopefully gets you looking for some other services where you can be rewarded for purchases you are making anyways. It's helped me save without feeling it in my wallet.

I have saved over $1300 from these round-ups, and I'd like to think it was $1300 I wouldn't have saved otherwise. Plus with dividends, eBay found money, and the market's current performance, it's nice to have a small investment account that just does its thing without putting much thought into it.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

No Saturday Blues

I don't have the blues. It's going to be a great and productive Saturday. It's supposed to be in the mid 60s today in NJ, which is pretty unheard of for mid-January. I should be snowblowing today, but nope! I'm going to rock some shorts and do things I need to do outside.

High up on that list is taking down the Christmas lights off of the house/bushes. Usually that's a task I hate because it's frigid, but not today. Perfect day for that. Plus, the Patriots-less NFL Playoffs are on.

Nope, no blues here. Instead, the only blues I have is a new card of Yankees prospect Clarke Schmidt.
This parallel came from Heritage Minors.

Schmidt is pretty awesome. He out dueled Casey Mize last season on Opening Day, throwing five no-hit innings against him. By the end of 2019, he was dominating in the AA playoffs for Trenton. If things go according to plan, he should find a way to the Bronx in 2020. Although, things never go the way they are supposed to, especially for pitching prospects.

Still, he is talented, a bulldog, and is a very exciting prospect who is still flying under the radar.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Friday Ink

It's amazing how the prices of autographed cards can change. Back in the summer of 2018, I reluctantly sold a Miguel Andujar Bowman Chrome autograph for $180. I say reluctantly because I was between jobs and at the time felt like the responsible thing to do. He was in the middle of a very impressive rookie season, and the market was hot. So I sold it. That same card sold for $36 and $38 this past December, so 1. I'd like to buy it back some day and 2. I made the right call at the time.

Obviously missing the majority of 2019 due to injury caused his cards to plummet a bit, and they could still go back up with a strong 2020.

Still, I wanted to made sure I kept a few autographs of his in my collection, so I recently snagged this for less than $8 shipped. Pretty cool looking card, and quite affordable!
That same day, I picked up an autograph of a player I've wanted for awhile, and the object of many prank calls to Mike Francesa:
The joke got a little played out, but still was funny most of the time.
I had been wanting an autograph of his for sometime, but his Yankee ones are a little tougher to find at a good price. This was a minimum bid and I was happy to pay. I know his career certainly was very up and down, but I always enjoyed him as a player and as a personality.

Not a bad two autographs to pick up, and best of all, the price was right.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Sacrificing quality for speed

A couple weeks ago, one of the latest Topps OnDemand sets issued three new cards for their 150 Years of Baseball set. From what I can tell, they issue three of these at a time. Collectors can buy them individually from Topps, or as a bundle.

Not wanting to buy all three, I turned to trusted eBay for a seller who was pre-selling one of these cards. I purchased one for under $5 shipped, and then waiting another two weeks for the card to arrive.

Once it did, I was very underwhelmed. 

I know that from some of these OnDemand issues I've previously gotten, the cards tend to not be the greatest quality. Look no further than Topps Total. But I couldn't believe how bad this particular card was.

The photo, taken from the 1998 World Series and used on several Topps cards, was blurry and of poor quality. The entire card felt cheap to me. Something I'd expect from a non-licensed company or app where one might make his own custom trading cards. In that instance, I'd get it. But from Topps? I expect more.

I expect sharper photos and better printing. I expect a sturdier feeling card. I expect something that doesn't feel like I just grabbed it from my HP2600 series printer.

I know that Topps likes to turn these around quickly, but I'm sure I'm not alone in being willing to wait a few days longer if it meant a better end product.

I was happy to see Tino as part of this set, and with the final print run being 686, I am glad to add it to my collection. But I can't say it'll go down as one of my favorite cards of his.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Second Base is the Best Base

It dawned on me recently that I never properly showed off some of my loot from Collecting Cutch's annual Breast Cancer Awareness event.

That was not intentional at all, and I wanted to make things right. Cutch is always super generous with his mailings from the event, and this is no exception.

He sent it in early December as well, so lead off the package with one of his fun painted customs of Andrew McCutchen playing the role of Santa Cutch:
So fun. The GQ card was a great choice to point given the non-glossy card stock.
The whole package was generous but to me the highlight was the Luis Severino Topps Salute Mother's Day autograph. The pink interlocking NY and the MLB logo with pink ribbon is really one of the perfect cards to honor the event that Brian runs each year. Great themed card of a great pitcher. I look forward to seeing Severino on the mound for (hopefully) a full season in 2020. It was a bit of a wasted season for him due to injury, but he showed he was healthy when he did come back, and he's still very young. He'll be just 26 for all of the 2020 campaign.
I had seen this card a few times, but never got one. It's a Fan Favorites card of Bald Vinny. I can't really say I agree with Bald Vinny being a fan favorite. Yankee fans don't really care about Bald Vinny at all. Still, must be cool for him to have a signed card in a set.
I didn't mind these Player's Weekend Manu-relic thingies at all. I really like Player's Weekend and don't mind seeing the Yankees in different uniforms for a few days. I know people (especially Yankee fans) get up in arms over any changes to the uniform (including the lovely Nike swoosh in 2020!), but I'm not one of them at all. I don't want to see a full-time change, but I have no issue with taking part in a weekend like this. Hopefully MLB starts to design some better-looking uniforms for the weekend.

I also think the nickname thing is a little played out after a few years. I'd love to see the theme continue in a different way. Maybe put the name of a charity or honor a family member. Or maybe put the name of a past player that the current player enjoyed growing up. Or auction off the spot to fans with the proceeds going to charity.
Anyhow, I was happy to get these two cards of current superstars. The Gleyber Donruss is a variation (thanks for telling me that, TCDB), and the Judge is from the ultra fun 2019 Topps Holiday set.
Last but not least, I'll bring it back with a pink Refractor of Chance Adams, who has 2,000 cards in 2019. The pink once again is a great reminder of the support Brian shows for his cause. Chance was a 40-man roster casualty earlier this offseason.

Thanks again, Brian! I really appreciate the package, and all you do for Breast Cancer Awareness.