Thursday, April 30, 2020

PWEs keep me going

One thing I really look forward to during my quarantine days of working from home is going to the mailbox each day.

I have set up shop in my dining room as my work from home space. As anyone who has stepped foot in a center hall colonial knows, the dining room usually sits at the front of the house, either on the left or right side once one walks into the main entry way. In mine, the dining room is to the left.

The mailbox on the outside of the house, to the left of the front door, remains from the previous owner. It is heavy, brass mailbox. The clank when the lid is lifted then shut is very loud. It always makes the dog bark. And usually, even if I'm on a Zoom call (all day), I can hear the clank and know something might be waiting for me there.

Whether it's a PWE from TCDB (still alive and kickin'!) or cards from another blogger, I usually get a little something each day.

For instance, Phungo and I made a quick swap on Twitter. I couldn't find. copy of Gleyber's Topps Update RC (even though I swear I had it), and he offered it to me. I sent him a Topps Legend variation of Mike Schmidt. Nice, easy trade.
He also included some homemade cards from photos he took at games!

Johnny also sent me recent winnings from one of his Big Fun Games. I ended with some vintage, which is never a bad prize.
I struck up a quick trade with Bru for these two Donruss cards. I sent him an ugly Altuve card.
The Luis Torrens Fan Club got in on the action and sent a fun PWE. A sweet Judge insert, a low-numbered Frazier, and a Sevy RC? Yes please. Plus a very random collection of basketball cards!
Thanks for all the fruitful trips to the mailbox and giving me something fun to look forward to each day!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

40 to go

My Tino Martinez collection now sits at 960 unique cards.

I honestly think I probably have more because of those weird 1991 Donruss variations, and other odd cards that I have not really kept track of, but am now quite aware of due to Trading Card Database.

I feel like 1,000 is really in reach right now. The number feels very legitimate, and really does feel pretty special. Tino cards aren't easy. I have about 600 Jeter card without even trying, just from various card packages and the amount of products he was in.

Tino was in a lot of products in 1997 and 1998, but other than that, I wouldn't say he has a massive run of cards. According to TCDB, he has 2,416 cards total. While that sounds like a lot, consider that Gleyber Torres already has 3,395.

While it might seem like it's only the rarest of the rare left, it's not the case. I constantly find base cards I need. Like this, from 1996 Leaf Signature:
Didn't have it! Came from from TCDB. And similar to Donruss variations, Upper Deck had all these weird hologram variations. This one is a home plate variation? WTF. Now I have to go through all my dupes and look at the backs of them. This came fro TCDB also.
The recent run of Tino ink has added some new blood to the collection, although is also costing me more money than I need to spend. But they look nice, don't they? The first two are both 04/10.
Shiny cards continue to be sexy,  and these three fit that bill.
Last but not least, oversized oddballs sponsored by the local police?! That helps get to 1,000.
The other day, Mario told me he hopes #1,000 isn't a Cardinal. I have no preference. If it happens naturally, so be it. But if I find myself sitting on 999, I might have to splurge for something rare and one I really want.

I'll worry about that in 39 cards.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Worm

One of the highlights for me in episodes 3 & 4 of The Last Dance on ESPN was the focus on Dennis "The Worm" Rodman. I can't think of too many more fitting nicknames for a player like him.

I really liked watching him play growing up. I didn't look at him as a role model. I knew he wasn't someone to look up to as a heroic figure. But I loved how he played. His job was to be pull down rebounds and be a defensive pest. And he performed both admirably. Who knows if we'll see another player like him ever again?

One thing that gets lost in his zaniness was how intelligent of a player he was. It's easy to chalk him up to being a weirdo, but he was very bright on the court. You don't lead the league in rebounds per game 7(!) straight years by not having a high basketball IQ. Especially at 6'8". He knew how to position himself, and his body, to put him in the best spot possible to pull down a board. From knowing angles to tipping the ball to keep it alive, he was a beast on the glass. It was interesting hearing him talking about the spin on a player's shot, and how that helped to position him for the rebound.

His antics and famous hair also lead to some great cards. When you think of 1995-96 Fleer (and 1995 Fleer baseball), does any player fit better on these cards than Rodman? This set design was made for him.
My favorite card of him is probably this EX-2000 with the transparent background. Look at The Work pulling down that board with two hands.
I've mentioned my love of the Bulls black jerseys, and Rodman always wore them well. They made his hair stand out even more.
I used to love when he'd do something good and run down the court with his fist up.
Some of his non-Bulls cards are classics as well.
He was a hell of a player, and the Bulls don't 3-peat for a second time without him.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

New blog on the block sends some cards

One of the new blogs on the block is run by Jay overt Card Hemorrhage. Jay fired up his blog a few weeks ago, and we recently made our first PWE swap.

Jay collects SF Giants, so I shot him over a few I had laying around. I tried to make it an assortment of cards/sets he might not have seen during his hiatus.

In turn, he sent me some cool Yanks. My favorite of the bunch was this Aaron Judge:
Although a close second is this great card featuring Jeter's 3000th hit. I don't think I've seen this one!
Jay also hit me with a bunch of Heritage.
He also sent two cards for my son's HOF binder. I left the Nolan in it's case because the top loader actually has his name on it in foil. Too cool!
Jay, thanks for the trade, and good luck with your blog!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Don't bungle this one

Tonight, my favorite football team, the Cincinnati Bengals, have the first selection in the NFL Draft.

Barring anything unforeseen, which is never a given with this dysfunctional franchise, they will be selecting Joe Burrow from LSU to lead the franchise for years to come.

It's the right pick. It's the smart pick. Burrow was the best QB in the nation, and while cases can be made for guys like Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, Burrow needs to be the pick.

I like that Peyton Manning has already been talking to him, telling him that the first year will be rough. And I agree. I don't expect him to come in right away and put up college numbers. Take your lumps (but not too many), learn, and be ready for years two and beyond.

The Bengals have a decent WR core as long as AJ Green is back, so that should help.

I don't collect football by any means, but I wanted a few of Burrow's cards. I won't keep chasing these, but I'l snag another once he's in a a Bengals uniforms.
You're on the clock, Bengals. Don't screw this one up.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Great Scott!

For those who cared to watch it, I hope you enjoyed episodes 1 & 2 of The Last Dance on ESPN. I thought it was great. Not only did I enjoy seeing the old footage of Michael Jordan and co., but there was a lot I just didn't remember. I was actually surprised by how little I did recall!

While I followed the NBA heavily in 1997-98 (I would have been in 8th grade), there was so much I just didn't remember. I don't remember Scottie Pippen's drama with ownership, and him deciding right before the season to have foot surgery. I don't remember the Bulls sluggish start that year. I don't remember the vitriol geared at Jerry Krause.

I'm sure I knew about it at the time, but 23 years ago (ha! 23!) was a long time ago. A lot has happened since then to my cloud my brain.

As for Pippen, he definitely deserved to be paid more. On one hand, he dug his own grave by signing a long-term contract in order for security - 7 years and $18mil. On the other, toward the end of the deal, he was grossly underpaid as league revenue - and player salaries - soared.

I have a fairly lot of Pippen cards in my remaining stack of basketball cards I saved. Nothing fancy, but a nice assortment. As I mentioned in my last post, most of my basketball collecting was while Jordan was out, so naturally I ended up with a lot of Pippens.

My favorite is probably the SkyBox Air Raid, which seems a bit like a knock off of Upper Deck's Skylights. It kind of looks more like a Nike shoe ad.
A pretty sweet Provisions card from Fleer, although I'm not so sure of the background. Are those bullet holes?
SkyBox Z-Force is the equivalent of Circa Thunder, I think. I could be wrong. Still, a neat card in a '90s kind of way.
These two inserts from Fleer Ultra would have come from the box I got for Christmas in 1995.
This Hoops Block Party is a really fun card, although not sure I'd say Pippen was known for his shot-blocking. Still, he could do it all, so I get it.
Here's the rest of my Pippen stash:
The next 8 episodes can't come soon enough!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Last Dance

Michael Jordan - and his basketball cards - are sweeping the internet.

I can't log on to Twitter without seeing several people showing off some MJ's, whether it's a stroll down memory lane, or to try and take advantage of the hot card market and make some money.

I love it and am totally fine with it. It'll pass eventually, but it's cool to see. The majority of the reason for Jordan's resurrection right now is not only the fact that there is no NBA (the Playoffs would have started yesterday), but it's in anticipation of the 10-part documenarty series The Last Dance, airing on ESPN over the next 5-weeks.

The docuseries will follow the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls during the final season of their second three-peat. As a child of the '90s, the Bulls might have been the most popular team in a decade that saw the Cowboys and Yankees both have sustained success. It was a decade of dynasties, but none more popular than Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and the Bulls.

I collected basketball cards more than baseball from about 1994-1997. It was different though and you didn't have baseball year round. You come collect by season. It was basically buy baseball cards in the spring/summer, and buy basketball in fall/winter. Now we have year-round releases for all sports, and it's hard with so much overlap to collect multiple sports.

Sadly, the middle years of my collecting were while Jordan was away from the game, but I still managed to collect and hang on to a few Jordan cards. In honor of The Last Dance, here are 23 of my favorite Jordan cards that still reside in my collection from my childhood:

1. 1995-96 Ultra Gold Medallion #25
To me, this is the greatest parallel set of all time. Like baseball, they fell one per pack. My "big" present for Christmas in 1995 was a box of these, and luckily I pulled the Jordan.

2. 1993-94 Fleer Sharp Shooter #3
Growing up, this was one of my most valuable MJ's according Beckett. I pulled it during the spring of 1994, when he has already been out of the game. I love the look of it, from the graffiti in the background to the Sharp Shooter logo.

3. 1991 Upper Deck Baseball #SP1
Probably the most famous Jordan baseball card, before Jordan playing baseball was a thing. My cousin owned this card and I lusted after it for years. When he was a little older and was moving away, he finally gave me his old cards, including this one.

4. 1995-96 Collector's Choice You Crash The Game Gold Set #C30
I loved You Crash The Game. LOVED IT. In all sports. Jordan appears twice in the set, but the final card of the set is one of my favorites. He looks so badass in the Bulls black uniform and in his Air Jordan 11s.

5. 1995-96 Fleer Metal Nuts & Bolts #212
I'm still surprised this isn't an insert, as it's part of the base set. Fleer Metal was cool, and the Jordans in this set are now very sought after.

6. 1993-94 Upper Deck Skylights #466
This card is so freakin' great. The whole subset was.

7. 1993-94 Ultra Inside Outside #4
This card coms with memories. I pulled it from a gas station somewhere between Binghamton, NY and Mansfield, OH while traveling with my dad. The gas station had jumbo packs of Fleer Ultra, and this was in that pack.

8. 1995-96 Hoops Number Crunchers #1
For my 12th birthday, I got a box of Hoops. The main inserts were Number Crunchers and Block Party. It's a damn cool-looking card.

9. 1995-96 Ultra Double Trouble Gold Medallion #3
I had to "re-buy" this card a couple years ago. I originally pulled it in that same box as the Gold Medallion shown above. But I stupidly traded it as a kid for a big box of Tinos, most of which we all dupes from 1991. That was dumb. I should have stayed away from those AOL trading forums.

10. 1992 SkyBox USA Basketball #534
I always had trouble with the fact that MJ didn't wear #23 on the Olympic Team. But those Dream Team Uniforms were so cool. So was SkyBox.

11. 1994-95 Collector's Choice #204
I mentioned above that several of my core collecting years were Jordan-less, so it was always cool to pull a card of his during that time, even if it was him on the golf course in giant pants.

12. 1993-94 Fleer #28
I absolutely loved the design of this set. It's perfect. Solid MJ base card here.

13. 1995-96 Upper Deck #23
I love how often Jordan was #23 in a base card set. While very simple for both baseball and basketball in 1995, Upper Deck gave awesome photos plenty of space to shine. This is one of the best, with MJ going in for the dunk, once again donning the Jordan 11s. This would have been during the 1995 Playoffs.

14. 1993-94 Upper Deck #23
Once again, MJ appearing as number 23 in a UD set. I always like this design. Simple, clean, and reads basketball.

15. 1994 Collector's Choice Baseball #661
This card is too fun. MJ, in a baseball uniform, in his shooting stance. His performance wasn't great on the diamond, but he always looked good.

16. 1995-96 Collector's Choice Jordan Collection #JC4
There were a lot of Jordan cards and collections from Upper Deck the year after he came back from retirement #1. While this card is about 50% foil, I always thought the foil Jordan, pointing in his #45, was very cool.

17. 1994 Collector's Choice Baseball #23
I believe this is one of MJ's true baseball RCs. Solid shot of him reading a fly ball. The back has a picture of him golfing and his basketball stats.

18. 1996-97 Topps #139
Classic shot of MJ taking on Alonzo Mourning. He was never afraid to go after a 7-footer - Zo, Mutombo, Ewing. This is a solid design by Topps.

19. 1993-94 Ultra #30
I always liked the look of Jordan rising above everyone, including Barkley, in this photo. The bunting in the background makes me think this was from the '93 Finals. Classic card design, as well.

20. 1992-93 Upper Deck #204
These Upper Deck sets had a ton of MJs because they chronicled the post-season from the year before. Collectors now would be annoyed. Gotta love the famous shot of MJ holding up 3 fingers to signify the Bulls' 3-peat.

21. 1995 Upper Deck Baseball #200
Perhaps Jordan's second most famous baseball card behind the 1991 Upper Deck, MJ is seen here mid-interview with Harry Caray.

22. 1996-97 Collector's Choice #370
Great shot of Jordan and Scottie Pippen here. I'm curious to see how the relationship between these two comes across in The Last Dance. It's obviously been stated many times how instrumental Pippen was to the Bulls winning 6 titles.

23. 1995 Upper Deck Collector's Edition Oversized Card
I have no idea where I got this. I assume it came in some sort of boxed set with some other packs that I would have gotten for Christmas. The term "He's Back" is so iconic, and I love all the shots of Jordan in #45.

There you have it. I really don't have anything super high end. No Precious Metal Gems. No Beam Teams. No Rookies. But I can't tell you how glad I am I kept my Jordan cards after all these years.

Are you going to watch the The Last Dance? Do you have any favorite Jordan cards?