Monday, June 29, 2020

Will we see Schmidt?

It's going to be a weird year for prospects.

With no minor league season, key up and comers will be missing out on a crucial year of development. By this time we would have seen guys putting themselves on the map, others taking a step back, and then the start of short season rookie ball for new draftees. We might have even gotten our first glimpse at Jasson Dominguez.

Instead, teams will bring some prospects to Spring Training 2.0, but the numbers won't be vast. It'll be guys who need to keep developing and are close to the majors, which can be a combination of top prospects and organizational depth.

Yankees top pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt fits that mold. He's a guy that would have been knocking on the door at some point this season, assuming he stayed healthy.

Now, he'll have the chance to help the Big League club. Whether the Yankees will need to turn to him or not is another thing. The Yankees starting rotation should probably be Cole, Tanaka, Paxton, Happ, and Montgomery. I'd bet money on the Yankees needing to dip into that depth with the injury history of some of those guys.

Should they need a sixth or seventh starter, Schmidt could be in line.

I'm all for it. He's 24. If you can get something valuable out of him this season, I say you do it. In a year like this, it's almost like you might need to throw service time out the window if you've got a shot.

I've continued to pick up Schmidt cards here and there, although they have much more momentum now than they did a year ago, when I was routinely picking up autographs for $5.
Yes, it'll be a weird year for sure. But with that weirdness could come the debut of some prospects I've been looking forward to seeing.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

A little Big League

On Friday night, I was fortunate enough to join a 2-box break of 2020 Topps Big League hosted by Colbey at Cardboard Connections. Today, I was able to open my own blaster.

I've been ordering blasters on Amazon with regular success. I usually have to pay $3-4 more than the suggested $19.99 price tag, but it beats schlepping 15 minutes to Target only to find zero cards. I'd rather just spend the extra few bucks and let it come to my doorstep. Plus, coronavirus could be at Target.

After enjoying Colbey's break, I decided I'm ready to like 2020 Big League. Not much else needs to be said about the design. Simple and classic. 2009 Upper Deck OPC has definitely been thrown out, and I agree with that. This year's is so much better than last year's mess! Leaps and bounds. Not close. I know many liked it, and that's fine. You do you, people. I was not one of them. I thought it was putrid and a big step backward from 2018.
Trash design.
But that's every set and part of the fun of collecting. One year the design can stink. The next, it can be really good. Or somewhere in between. And even when it stinks as bad as 2019, plenty of people still like it. Different tastes. I liked 2016 and 2017 Bunt, you didn't! It's ok to not all like the same thing, you know?

I thought the inserts and parallels were both done better this year, as well. Colbey called the one-per-pack orange parallels "safety orange." And I think that's a good assessment. As a Syracuse grad, give me more orange. I'll never say no to orange. I love the brightness, especially.
The one-per-blaster blue pack didn't yield much, but give me a little more Syracuse orange and blue when I put them next to each other.
As for the inserts, well done, Topps.

The Caricatures look a lot better in 2020, I think. A little less weird, and the cards are a bit fuller.
Here was 2019. Not totally different, but a little less weird. I think the team logos in the back help.
Roll Call is a good-looking set as well with a big old last name taking up most of the card. It reminds of these old Pacific cards, although in design alone with the giant name behind the player. Even though I like this set, it shouldn't be put anywhere near my Pacific pedestal. Enough of that nonsense. My fault.
Flipping Out is really fun, memorializing all of those disgusting bat flips today's players tend to do. We might even see more of them with twice the amount of DHs now. The horror. I was lucky enough to pull Aaron Judge from my packs. Colbey pulled Aaron Hicks for me too. I am happy about his inclusion because he has some great bat flips. Actually, they are more like bat drops. But they have a lot of swagger. He drops the bat like Bonds did.
Defensive Wizards are a lot more cartoony than I realized, although I don't have a problem with that. They are very neat cards. I didn't look at the checklist to see if they actually kept it to really well-regarded defensive players, but Gio Urshela is in the set, so it's good in my book. They would have looked great with some '90s foil!
Going back to the base for a second, I wasn't prepared for the backs all having a different color, which is a nice touch. For all you card-graders, be careful. The backs are very chip-prone.
My one real complaint about the set is how many tri-cards there are. Holy hell are, every other card felt like it was a league leader of some sorts. Doubles, Walks, IP, and on and on. That part of the set feels a little tedious. They aren't bad looking. They are just plentiful.
One thing Colbey's hobby boxes didn't have is the cutout card on the side of the box. I guess a downside to Amazon is that I couldn't choose who I got. Annoyingly, I got Miguel Cabrera, but will send it over to Scribbled Ink.
Solid effort by Topps Big League, and a breath of fresh air from an uninspiring flagship and the craziness of Bowman.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Coot Veal?! What!

Quarantine has seen a bunch of dormant bloggers come back.

One of them is not Coot Veal and the Vealtones run by far! Never say never. But he still resurfaced...via eBay!

I unknowingly bought a card from him, a Tino Martinez 1989 Bowman Tiffany. This card puts me at four Tino's to go to hit 1,000. DHoff hit me with an eBay messaging saying he assumed that this was The Lost Collector, and he was absolutely right. What a fun coincidence!
The Tino arrived perfectly, and I certainly trust that it;'s a Tiffany. DHoff wouldn't steer me wrong. The Card is certainly brighter than most 1989 Bowman, a good sign. The gloss level is much higher too. Yep, a Tiffany!

I believe there were only 6,000 of these made, so I'm glad to finally have one.

He also threw in a Jason Giambi, numbered to 999.
DHoff, nice to see you. Thanks for the sale!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Another old TTM success rolls in

Early on during 2020 Quarantine, a few TTM successes rolled in. I figured a few would pop in here and there, as current and retired players were at home with time to pass.

After getting a few in late March, all went quiet again. I did not send out any requests during this time out of respect to these athletes. I'm mostly done with this part of the hobby anyways, as the only part of it still desirable to me is to keep my Topps Yankees Project moving.

In 2019, I had a bit of a hard time early on getting a success to check off the current year, but eventually got Chance Adams to return his card. Later on, I replaced him in my set with Troy Tulowitzki, which felt like a fun one to include. However, one that rolled in yesterday might give Tulo a run for his money:
Yankees reliever Chad Green! I sent this is February of 2019, so about a year and a half ago. The bold signature looks really good, and Green is obviously a Yankees bullpen staple. He has appeared in 169 games for NY over the past four seasons, putting up a 5.3 WAR, 347 Ks in 259.1 innings, and posting a 3.16 ERA. He's been an excellent force for NY, especially since his move to the bullpen in 2017.

I'm still 0-for in my quest for a 2020 signed Yankees card, but glad I have a few really good options for 2019 should I decide to change my mind.

Friday, June 19, 2020


It's really a stupid thing. I'm a Bengals fan.

I was born into it. I have no Cincinnati ties. Never even been there. I hear Skyline Chili is actually quite gross.

But my Dad knew someone whose son was drafted by the team, and that coincided with the team actually being good in the 1980s, twice going to and losing the Super Bowl. So fans were born.

By the time I was old enough to pay attention to the NFL, the Bengals were perennial losers and an overall joke of a franchise. So while my friends in update NY all latched onto the Giants and Jets (no one cared about the Bills despite 4 SB appearances), I was stuck rooting for a constant loser. Not only a loser, but often a joke of a franchise.

I've seen this before, but I hope this time is different. There's reason for hope. Because the Bengals just drafted perhaps the best QB prospect to come out of college in the last 10 years.

Joe Burrow is from Ohio. He was supposed to lead Ohio State, but ended up at LSU after transferring. The rest is history, as he put top the most prolific season a college QB has ever had.

He's now a Bengal, and the fanbase has high expectations that this time is different. That this time, we have someone who can lead the franchise into and beyond the first round of the Playoffs. While I don't college football, I did snag his Panini Instant draft night card.
Time will tell. And there will be some growing pains this season. But for once, I have hope.

Don't let me down, Joe.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Mantle Walks into my collection

Have you ever gotten an unexpected card that makes you stop in your tracks?

A couple weeks back, Matt over at Bob Walks The Plank sent me a bubble mailer. I wasn't expecting anything from him, although he did give me a shout about a few Jeters he set aside. (side note - Matt blogged last week - check it out!)

When I opened the package, a post it note apologize for the condition of a Dirk RC he sent me. I wasn't worried about it! It was cool to have, and happy to add it to my collection of growing basketball rookies. 
But the Dirk wasn't what made me say "wow."

It was the third card in the package.

The second card, and on top of one of the team bags, was a very cool Don Mattingly Leaf bat relic. Pretty solid relic card, actually. Nice photo of the player, nice chunk of bat, some classy script font. Certainly an excellent addition to my Mattingly collection, but still not the card that made me say "wow," even though I was thankful for it.
Now, onto the third card, tucked nearly behind the Mattingly, was the one. I legitimately said "WHAT" out loud. No exaggeration. Flipping past the Mattingly was this piece of vintage goodness:
WTF, Matt. Are you kidding me? That is a Mickey Mantle card. A real one. Just look at what a perfect card that is. I was so floored I could barely even focus on the Jeters that followed.

To me, original Mantle cards, all of them, are still such holy grail territory. And to have one as part of an unexpected card package was something that was hard for me to grasp.

The Jeters were great as well, highlighted by an Action Packed I had seen for a long time but never owned.
I also thought this was a great looking card on the old school Fleer design. Jeter rocking the Franklin batting gloves in his pre-Jordan days.
I had no idea Jeter was in 1998 Ultra RBI Kings. Tino was in this set, but I never expected to see Jeter in there, as he wasn't quite known as an RBI guy.
What an amazing gesture from Matt, and I look forward to repaying him with a package of Acunas, Vlads, Bellingers, Trouts, and maybe even a Dominguez.

Monday, June 15, 2020

100 TCDB Trades!

In somewhat of a mind-boggling feat, I have surpassed the 100-trade mark on The Trading Card Database.

That's a lot of stamps, considering all but one or two were PWE swaps.

For the most part, I'd say Gleyber Torres has been the subject of most incoming trades. While I would prefer to mostly grow my Tino collection, I do need something on my waitlist for trade partners. So I added every Gleyber card I didn't have. And now I'm up to well over 100 cards of the young star.

However, it hasn't all been Gleyber. I have probably managed to get about 30 new Tinos or so. 

My trade activity picks up most when I am able to add newer cards for trade. For example, I recently added some 2020 Donruss yellow, as well as some 2020 Bowman. Once you do that, others get alerts that waitlist cards have been added, so trades come in more frequently.

However, it was only fitting that trade #100 brought in a new Tino, and I'm now down to needing just 6 to hit the 1,000 mark.
This card is from 1999 SP Authentic, a perfectly uninspiring set that doesn't find it's way into trade packages or eBay listings. That's there the TCDB really comes in handy. I flipped two Red Sox prospect cards from 2020 Bowman for this Tino, as well as a 2020 Chrome Clarke Schmidt. Two cards for cards. That's why TCDB is awesome.

While trades on the blogs have certainly died down, it's nice to have an influx of cards coming in while getting rid of ones I don't need.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Great Home Run Chase of '98

Similar to The Last Dance, I'm excited to watch ESPN's 30 for 30 tonight titled Long Gone Summer, which will chronicle the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

Unlike the 10-part series on MJ's Bulls, this is a solo episode focused solely on that epic summer barrage of homers. Not a big time commitment!

I remember that summer fairly well. It was between the summer of finishing 8th grade and heading into 9th grade. The Yankees were on an epic tear, but that story was secondary to McGwire and Sosa's pursuit of 62.

The groundwork was really set in 1997, when McGwire hit 58 between Oakland and St. Louis. It was almost assumed he was going to make a big run at it in 1998.

Sosa was the one who caught everyone by surprise. While still an elite power hitter, he was coming off 36 homers in '97. In '96 he hit 40 in just 122 games, so it shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise. Still, to hit 36 and then hit 30 more on top of that in the next year? Yeesh. No one was predicting that.

We obviously know how this story ends and that the summer is tainted, but I look forward to once again traveling down memory lane and experiencing the chase. Similar to MJ's '98 Bulls, which coincidentally happened in the same year, there was a lot I forgot about the story, and I'm sure that will be the case here as well.

As for cards, McGwire and Sosa cards were on fire. Pulling a McGwire became the new "pulling a Griffey." I've held on to a few cards of each over the years, but nothing tops this:
I pulled this in a pack of Score from CVS. I think at the time Beckett had it in the $60 range. I'm sure it' can be had for a few bucks now, but I can honestly say it might be the best card I ever pulled from a least from a $.99 pack.

Back in 2011, I also was fortunate to get a McGwire TTM success. I maybe wish I sent a different card, but I was just coming back into the hobby and didn't have much of an inventory to send.
I don't have a particular amount of memorable Sosa cards. My favorite is probably this Leading Indicators from Finest, which changes color when you apply body heat to it from your finger.
I also like this one quite a bit - a 1999 Gallery Heritage Proof, although I have no memorable story behind it. It simply was thrown into a box of cards I acquired last summer on a social media marketplace. It's still in a screw holder as well, as at the time I'm sure it was a solid pull.
I guess what's cool about Sosa and McGwire cards are that during that summer, it was a big deal to pull cards of these two established stars. Now, that's not cool. It's only cool to pull cards of guys who maybe stars in six years if everything works out perfectly. It's the cool thing to pull cards of guys who have potential, and at their peak, we can only hope they have a sliver of the success that these guys had.

Nowadays, it's almost like once they are stars, their appeal fades, and the hobby focuses on the guys who may eventually become them if all works out perfectly.

What a weird hobby world we live in.

Friday, June 12, 2020

ZZ sends a BG

The mail in my neck of the woods has been unusually fast, at least for PWEs. It's easy to crap all over the post office, and I know they often cause headaches. But during these last few weeks, I give props to them for role as essential workers and for dominating, at least in my neck of the woods.

On Saturday, I made a trip to the post office where I sent three different PWEs, as well as three bubble mailers.

I know he probably lives only about an hour away, but in that time, my PWE reached Zippy Zappy, and by Wednesday - just five days later - a return PWE from him was in my mailbox.

That is crazy efficient!

Props goes to ZZ as well for an unnecessarily quick turn around.

Anyhow, I recently picked up a Kei Igawa autograph, as they don't pop up very much in Japan, so thought it might give him some collateral next time he made the trip to Japan and visited their local card shops.

In a lightning quick show of gratitude, ZZ sent me this:
It's only my second Gardner autograph, I believe. This is from 2008 Tristar Projections, and is a gold numbered 24/25. He noted that Gardner is a bit like Igawa in the fact that there just aren't a ton of their autographs floating around out there.

Gardner's signature is very uninspiring here, just a straight up BG. His autograph has evolved over the years a bit - still not great, but better!
Thanks, ZZ. And thanks, USPS.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Single Digits

My quest for 1,000 unique Tino Martinez cards has hit another milestone. I'm down to needing just 9 more.

Sometimes I think that 1K isn't that impressive. Other collectors often have a few thousand of their designated guy. But then I tell myself to shut up because 1. it is impressive and 2. Tino just doesn't have that many cards.

According to TCDB, I only have 38.9% of Tino cards. But that number is crap when you consider the hundreds of cards that consistent of Yankee Stadium Legacy and Topps Tek's 900 patterns in the late 90s.

The latest two came from Tim over Cardpocolypse. Tim was kind enough to match his Tino collection with my want list and send me two. So generous and cool, and he pushed me into single digits! The International Chrome Refractor is so pretty!
I also have snagged a few serial numbered shiny recently. I'm not sure why, but some uncommon Tino's have been popping up on eBay. People selling their old stuff during quarantine, maybe? The Revolution is a Shadow Series #'d to 99.
Several gold cards have come my way, as well. I have several of the 1992 Topps Gold Winners, but never had the plain old gold by itself. The Bowman is also a gold foil version.
A couple of oddballs made their way in as well!
Last but not least, I had totally forgotten to pick up 2019 Allen and Ginter X. I'm not a big A&G fan, but the all black version is pretty cool.
I still haven't decided what I'm going to do for #1000. Maybe I'll splurge. Maybe it'll just be a run of the mill base card I missed.

Time will tell. But I'm getting close. And it's getting very real.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Daily mailbox trips

Over the past couple of weeks, I feel like my mailbox has been extra busy. Between a few TCDB trades, blogger packages, and small eBay purchases, it's infrequent that a day goes by without something for me in the mailbox.

While fun, it does force me to do one thing I don't like! Sort cards!

But that's ok. The alternative is no cards.

Here's what a typical day at the mailbox looked like just the other day.

The first was a PWE from Bo of Baseball Cards Come To Life. He gave me a heads up this was on its way, and it was six cards for my son's HOF binder that I keep for him. While I am a slacker at actually updating that page on my blog, I do take everything that is sent for him and put it into his binder. I'll provide an update one of these days.
Thanks, Bo! Some good stuff here and a nice range of cardboard from some of the more recent HOF inductees. Baines even looks like he's in disbelief that he was voted into the HOF.

The next envelope was an eBay purchase from One Million Cubs. He always has free PWE shipping, and one day tweeted he had a few new cards listed. So I checked out his page and found a card I liked at a good price.
I like the camo parallels from 2020 Bowman. This was kind of a make or break year for Florial as a prospect, but I still hold out a touch of hope he can put it together.

Speaking of prospects, I snagged this autograph for under 2 bucks including shipping from a different seller. The Yankees got Josh Stowers from the Mariners via the Reds in the Sonny Gray trade. I was confused as to why the Yanks just didn't keep Shed Long (who was sent to the M's in the trade), but they don't have many decent OF prospects, so I guess it was more important for them to try and fill that gap than with another middle infielder. I don't know, I wasn't really feeling that.
Stowers spent the year at low A and hit .273 with a good .386 OBP and 35 steals. We'll see if he can become a useful piece at some point. He was a second rounder in 2018 and last year was his first full year in pro ball, so he's got some time.

Three envelopes, all with a little something different. While it's still weird working from home, I do like being the one to grab the mail every day.  

Friday, June 5, 2020

A 2020 Bowman Blaster

From what I understand, Bowman in the wild is quite rare.

We're still relatively locked down in here in NJ. While Targets and Walmarts are indeed open, I'm not going to risk it by going hunting for baseball cards. That's silly.

What I did do, back in April, was pre-order a blaster of 2020 Bowman on Amazon. I paid $22 for it, which is $2 more than the price tag in store, but much less than you can find them on eBay from retail flippers who fill their cards and take a picture of it for Twitter. Ever notice how these flood your timelines, even when you don't follow 99.9% of the people posting them?

Since the product was still a month away, and prices went crazy, I figured I'd end up getting an order cancelation. That's apparently happening with the big box stores, unable to fulfill online orders.

However, in a true credit to this Amazon seller, I recently received a notification that my order had shipped.

I did hope to pull a Jasson Dominguez card. He's the prospect rage right now, and surely many of you consider him an overhyped Yankees prospect. Maybe he is. But he would be this hyped on any team. That's what happens when you sign for $5.1Mil and are nicked The Martian. His tools are that good. Remember, last year it was a Rays prospect who was the rage. The Rays. Whether or not he puts it all together in a few years, obviously we won't know.

Spoiler alert: of my 72 cards, he was not one of them. Bummer.

Still, it was nice to open a few packs, and I was still in disbelief the vendor came through for me.

In a rare occurrence, I pulled an autograph. First pack too. This is Reds 3B prospect Rece Hinds. He's their #8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. These fall 1:62 in a blaster.
I also pulled a shimmer blue refractor. These are awesome looking, and actually fall 1:256, so actually a pretty rare pull from a blaster. I don't know much about him, but hopefully will recoup a couple bucks back on eBay with this card. It's numbered /150.
In terms of Yankees, I did come away with two decent ones.

I am a big Clarke Schmidt fan, so I'm happy to get his base card here. Yep, not calling this a "paper" version because that is dumb.
As for major leaguers, the only ones in the set are Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres. I was able to snag the Gleyber. Fun to see him officially listed as "SS."
Otherwise, I got a few solid RCs and prospects, which is to be expected in Bowman. I know Luis Robert is well regarded, although nit sure why this is a RC? I guess because he was expected to be in the Majors by this time when planning was underway?
And the inserts - while no keepers (these are available on TCDB) - are all nice looking and very refractory. The 1990 Reprints look cool as Refractors, that's for sure.
It was fun to open some cards. I haven't done that in quite a while, and more than anything, appreciated the seller here honoring the original price.