Thursday, December 31, 2020
I don't have a lot to say about 2020 that hasn't been said. I know it was horrible for many, and I hope that 2021 proves to be more fruitful to any who had hardships, whether it be health, financial, or job-related.
I'm fortunate to say that my year was pretty good in the grand scheme of things. My family remained healthy and happy. I got to spend more time with my kids during important ages of their lives than I would have ever dreamed possible. Although I have to say, that feels like a negative at times as well. I think I've hit my family-time quota for the next few years.
Work was busy and rewarding. I feel fortunate about that. While not essential, my line of work does provide people with entertainment and an outlet for tough times. We grew when others cut back.
The last time I physically went to work was on March 9. I have not been into Manhattan, where my office is, since then. And it doesn't appear that I'll be going back soon. Remote work has become the norm, and my dining room table is my new desk. I just wish I invested in a better chair than the cheap I bought on Amazon at the beginning of all this.
Baseball was weird this year, but I applaud MLB - and all other leagues - for figuring out a way to get in or finish a season. I actually liked the season quite a bit. Seven inning double headers were awesome. Each inning felt so important. I did not hate the extra inning runner on second, either. For the regular season, I wouldn't be upset if MLB kept that one.
As for cards, it was a really weird year for me. The best way to describe it was up and down, with short term bursts that kept me interested and occupied. It almost felt like I truly lived into my name as "The Lost Collector", as these quick projects are sort of what kept me going once the store shelves dried up. Not that I am a big retail buyer anyways, but the hobby changed around me, and I changed with it and found projects to make me happy and keep me focused, or at the very least, give me something to do that was card-related.
So with that, here's a bit of my year in review on cards.
My card of the year:
In July, I declared this my card of the year. Nothing knocked it off its perch for me. The card brings me back to the '90s, whose cards continue to pull me in ways that neither current cards nor vintage can.
Basketball rookies I missed:
That love of '90s also pulled me back into collecting some NBA cards, notably of rookie cards of guys I missed after I stopped collecting basketball. Playerss like Vince Carter, Dirk, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan, and more. I grabbed RCs of current established guys like Lillard and Durant and AD as well. But that was one of my aforementioned few short-term focuses. I'm glad I did that before the card market went insane
Vintage Syracuse lore:
I did dabble in some vintage, but really more of under-appreciated Syracuse legends Floyd Little and Dave Bing. I'm glad I did. It was fun to look at vintage designs I hadn't seen before due to not being familiar with 70's Topps basketball and football products.
Goodbye to TTMs:
One of my biggest shifts in collecting is that I all but said goodbye to TTM autograph collecting, something I had done fairly religiously since this blog kicked off. A few players publicly expressed their displeasure with having mail sent to home and that it was an invasion of privacy. That, and the whole pandemic thing, made me not want to send mail to home addresses of athletes, past or present. So I all but stopped.
Although the one area of TTMing I will keep alive is my Topps Yankees Project, which luckily I was able to check off 2020 when Mike Ford returned a card signed to me. I now have a signed Yankees Topps card from every year, 1951-2020.
Hello Project 2020:
The varieties are endless. I know some who bought one card from each artist, and will display 20 different players from 20 different artists. I know some who collected entire runs of teams or players. Some picked and choosed here and there based on simply liking a card. Some bought none and at and wanted to brag about that.
Me? I got all 20 Jeters directly from Topps, and supplemented a few more on eBay for much more affordable costs. There are lot for under $5. I even split a lot of Don C. Ripkens with Napkin Doon!
I definitely have my favorite artists of the bunch. I have some I wasn't a fan of. I think a few artists were out to lunch and had no idea what they were doing at the start. But I sure do respect anyone willing to put their art out there, and I admire the work done by these men and women.
I started using the Trading Card Database in 2019, but it took off for me in 2020. I completed over 100 PWE trades. It has been a fun way to add a few new Tino cards, as well as 2020 Yankees that I wasn't able to find in stores or by ordering online.
Tino hits 1K, and beyond:
Last but not least, my favorite collecting achievement this year was when I hit 1,000 unique Tino cards a few months ago. And since Tino found his way into the likes of Allen & Ginter (and all its spinoffs), as well as Topps Update, my collection has continued to grow. I now sit at an even 1,050!
I'm sure I'm missing a few things from collecting cards in 2020. But the year came and went, and I'm still here. I appreciated a few trades with friends old and new, and receiving cards 'just because.' I enjoy being able to share the hobby here, and I look forward to celebrating this blog's 10th birthday in a few weeks.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my small corner of the collecting world. I wish you and your families the best in 2021!
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
When I was a small child, I remember a few television commercials vividly. The Duracell Battery bashing together at the end was one. I don't know why, but I found the noise to be really loud. Like unbearably loud. I remember the creepy Twizzler's spots with the disembodied lips. I recall always enjoying seeing the little Pillsbury Dough Boy laughing while getting his belly poked.
And I remember that funny little friendly Hamburger Helper glove, aptly named Helping Hand. That small hand was adorable, hopping all around the TV screen helping busy families prepare meals quick meals.
That's why I'm a little ashamed that a card I've been aware of for over 20 years finally became mine.
Back in 1998, Hamburger Helper issued some cards on select product boxes. After his 44-HR season in 1997, Tino Martinez became a subject of their Home Run Heroes set. While keenly aware, I never managed to snag the card until it popped up on eBay just last week.
Overall, the card is fine and feels like a late 90s food issue. It was cut out nicely and with care, so no qualms there.
There aren't a ton of Tino oddballs out there, but this is one that was long overdue to find its way into my collection.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
I use the "Make An Offer" feature on eBay frequently. I try not to low ball, as most of the cards I'm making offer are only a few bucks anyways. But if someone has a card for $4.99, why not see if I can get it for $3? At worst, I can usually get it for a few cents cheaper after seller counteroffer.
However, there are times when cards pop up that are rarely seen, and out of fear of missing out on the card, I immediately choose "Buy It Now" instead of hoping I can get it for $.75 less. The opportunity cost of missing out is too great.
That recently happened with two Tino Martinez cards that I rarely see pop up, so naturally they would within a week of each other. These are not high end. But they are cards I have been keenly aware of, yet rarely see.
The first is from a brand that keeps aging like a fine wine. Pacific! For years, Pacific had a "Latinos of the Major League" insert set. I was always a little confused by this set, as I felt it was unfair to peg these particular players because of their heritage. However, Pacific was geared toward a Spanish-speaking population for years, so perhaps it wasn't odd at all. I'd be curious as to what others think.
It's a beautiful card. A nice, textured foil with colors that really pop. Once again, Pacific designed a card that gets better in time.
The next is a rare card only in the sense that I never see it. I have plenty of the non-shiny base versions, but the Museum Collection never finds its way into my eBay feed. I finally snagged it for just over a buck, and again, no time to haggle over pennies.
Sometimes you gotta jump at the chance and not hold out for a sale or a better price. It's not worth the agony over missing rare cards to get a slightly better price.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Over the past few weeks, holiday cards have been flooding in. Relatives and neighbors send family photos printed from Snapfish or Shutterfly, usually of photos taken from the fall at our local park. Some even include those letters about what the family has been up to this past year, which admittedly we usually mock. "Jim has taken up jigsaw puzzles during quarantine. Janie finally opened her Etsy shop. Suzie went to competitive cheer camp. Billy continues to play Fortnite and takes tuba lessons."
Each day, three or four cards grace our mailbox, but lately between the holiday greetings, I've found something even better.
I recently got four of them over the past few days, and I'll take those any day over the standard Christmas greetings.
The first is from Cards on Cards. I claimed a sweet Tee Higgins rookie card, which Kerry graciously set aside for me during one of his free card postings. Higgins has had a really good rookie year and developed a great rapport with Joe Burrow. He had a good shot at 1,000 yards before Burrow got hurt. He might still get there, but it'll be tougher now without a competent QB.
Next up was a very unique gift from Tom of Angels In Order, a long-time trading friend. Tom sent me a bunch of what I assume are TTMs from some very random mid-80s Yankees!
Very cool stuff, Tom.
Third, Chris from The Collector and I exchanged PWEs. He was looking for some new football cards, so I shot him a random assortment. He hit me back with some Yankees, and some cards for my son's HOF binder! I always appreciate when people do that!
Lastly, Jay of Card Hemorrhage sent me a VERY packed PWE with all sorts of goodies. In addition to Yanks, Jay is always good for a surprise or two, whether it's other star players, cards from other sports, and more.
The highlight for me was this Thurman Munson from 2020 Heritage:
Here's a random assortment of what else Jay chucked my way.
Monday, December 21, 2020
I too once resisted the idea of joining The Trading Card Database (TCDB). It seemed daunting. But as blog trading slowed down, my collecting interests stalled, and new products dried out on shelves, I decided to join the site as a way to acquire some Yankees base cards while getting rid of cards I didn't want. I'm glad I did. 155 PWE trades later, I've had nothing but positive experiences.
It's interesting how people who don't use TCDB need to go out of their way to tell you they don't. They seem so obsessed with it that they must let you know. It reminds me of how Mets fans talk about the Yankees more than their own team.
There is a misconception that one needs to load and log their entire collection for it to be a successful foray into the site. That's not really the case at all.
Sure, you may prefer to do that. Nothing is stopping you. But it does not have to be all or nothing. It certainly isn't for me.
For example, I only have 1,867 cards in my collection that are logged onto the site. 1,001 of those are Tino Martinez. The rest are mostly logged as a result of trades, something the site does for you once you mark a trade completed. These are usually Gleyber Torres or Aaron Judge or new Yankees cards from products I can't find, like 2020 Stadium Club.
I actually have zero desire to track and log the thousands of other Yankee cards I own. And it doesn't keep me up at night.
In addition to the 1,867 cards in my collection, my wantlist contains 7,798 cards. Do I really want nearly 8,000 cards? No. But I add those to help others find something to send me in swaps.
I didn't log all of those cards on my wantlist. I simply click on a player - like Tino or Gleyber - and choose the function "add all missing cards to wantlist." Easy.
My for sale/trade list (which is really just 'for trade') consists of 2,205 cards. That is a paltry sum compared to many. If I somehow snag new cards - a rarity these days - I pull out what I want, add what I don't to the site. Into a trade box they go. I've usually had my most trading success right after I add some new product the site, as it pings others who have those cards on their wantlist. Often that's when a trade is born.
Trading can be a little cumbersome, and it did take me a bit to figure it out. I'm not even sure I'm doing it in the most efficient manner now, and would be curious to hear tips from others. But I like moving five or six cards for one or two I want. Here's a how a trade can look:
Or this. This is a successful trade for me. Five cards of a team I don't care about, including four of a player I don't like. For two guys I collect:
My advice is to simply use the site how you want, and don't stress about it. If that means logging every last card you have, cool. If it means logging a player collection(s), go for it. If it means dabbling a bit to see how the site will be most useful to you, that works. If you just want to add few commons and try to swap for a few cards that better fit your collection, have at it. And if the site isn't for you, I wish you well.
There's no right or wrong way to use the site. It can be exactly what you want it to be.
Friday, December 18, 2020
As a kid, I remember how slowly December went. It crawled. Every day felt like a week. To get to the third pink Advent candle was an eternity.
Now as an adult, it couldn't be different. December comes and go with the blink of an eye, and all of a sudden it's a week from Christmas and I have no idea where the time went.
Luckily my wife and I do a pretty good job of starting our shopping around October 1 each year, buying a gift or two per week for the kids. It really does help take the stress off of worrying about cramming all of our shopping into the end of December.
One added stress of December is work. While I'm very grateful to be working and busy, this month has proved to be one of the busiest I can remember. There is little time for blogging, collecting, or generally just participating in the hobby.
Luckily a few cards are trickling in, but the highlight for me recently was this auction win of Hall of Fame Floyd Little's rookie card. As a Syracuse guy, I probably appreciate Little's career more than most. He was the third of three great running backs to change the tide of Syracuse football in the 50s-70s. No comment on the current state of affairs.
Unfortunately, his health is failing him these days, as he has entered hospice care. Cancer. I hope he has a peaceful December, and that time slows down for him as well.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Although it's my least favorite product of the year, I've bough a bunch of Allen & Ginter singles the past two years due to Tino Martinez's inclusion in the set. It's easy: grab the cards I want and move on with my life. No need to harp on the fact that the designs are getting worse or that the checklist is not appealing.
Recently Topps issued Allen & Ginter Chrome for some unknown reason...to go along with Allen & Ginter X...to go along with plain boring Ginter. Do we need three issues of Ginter? Nope!
But I have to say, out of all three versions, this is by far the prettiest. The Tino cards started popping up over the past week, so I've grabbed a few here. The first arrived, and it's a beauty:
I thought it was clever how Topps took the shadow behind "Allen & Ginter" and made it a rainbow foil. I didn't like this shadow on the flagship A&G cards, but I appreciate that they didn't just leave it gray. It was a subtle, yet attractive addition.
I'll have a few more parallels coming in. And while this may be a very unnecessary set, the cards sure do look nice.
Monday, December 7, 2020
Today, my favorite baseball player of all time turns 53. I definitely feel old myself the older he gets. He's in legit "Old Timers Day Age."
Tino keeps getting older. So do I. But collecting his cards helps keep me connected to my childhood memories of him.
What's cool about Tino's birthday is that it's also the day he was traded from Seattle to NY. Dec, 1995. That happened on his 28th birthday. Almost half of his lifetime ago!
I admired the way he played, even when slumping, and became an instant fan. I found a few of his Mariners cards already in my collection, and probably would have gotten a few Yankees cards later that year. I have a very nice 69 cards of him from 1996, although I'd say maybe half of him are actually as a Yankee.
This is my favorite 1996 card of his. It's a die cut, oversized issue from Upper Deck Authenticated celebrating the 1996 World Series Champion Yankees. I'm surprised he was the subject of the card, as opposed to Jeter or Bernie or O'Neill or Pettitte.
Tino keeps getting older. So do I. But collecting his cards helps keep me connected to my childhood memories of him.
Saturday, December 5, 2020
I get bored with collecting a lot. I think it's because I've been collecting Tino Martinez cards since 1997, and that has been my main focus. After 23 years, while I still do it, it can become a bit repetitive. It's livened up a little with the 9 million 2020 parallels, but still. It can be very rinse and repeat. Wake up, check eBay for anything new, buy it if isn't a rip, card comes in, maybe post about it, document in my collection, move on.
I tend to go on collecting fads that help keep me somewhat inspired. It helps liven things up a little. Earlier in the spring, I chased down a bunch of NBA rookies of guys like Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, Donovan Mitchell, Anthony Davis, and more. It was just a little something to do, as I missed out on rookie cards of some of the game's greatest during my lifetime. Some I have been priced out of forever, like LeBron and Curry.
I then went on a mini Syracuse legends tear, gobbling up a few Dave Bing and Floyd Little cards. I don't know much about basketball nor football cards from 1970s, so if anything, it was cool to see "new" old card designs.
My latest focus has been on Derek Jeter diecut cards. There are so many out there from the greatest era of cards, the late '90s, that if nothing else, makes for a very fun eBay search. I have picked up a few lower end ones. I say "lower end" because there are a TON of them that go for triple digits. Even if I don't want to buy those, they are awesome to see and hold up over time.
I'd much rather have 1999 Fleer Ultra Diamond Immortals Jeter than a low-numbered 2020 Topps Update parallel.
So I snagged a few, without much agenda other than they look cool and they hold up over time.
I'm sure this too shall pass, but for now, it's fun to see what's out there and add a few Jeters to my collection that have some personality to them.
Friday, December 4, 2020
Mini cards don't appeal to me. But recently I did a small PWE trade on TCDB to pick up a few from the online exclusive Topps 206 set.
It's not to say the cards aren't good looking. These are fairly attractive. Classic design. Vibrant colors in the backgrounds. The Cole looks awesome with the "flames" back there. However, they are just not a preference as a type of card I like. But I still always want my guys, like Tino from A&G.
Despite not liking them, it's always worth adding to my wantlist on the site to give more options for trading. I have a pretty small wantlist, so anything I can do to help increase the chances of being a trade match. I add any Gleyber Torres card I don't have to my list of wants, as I've found his cards a lot easier to get because of his down year, as well as not quite being the flavor of the week while people chase Luis Robert and other youngsters. And Cole is Cole, and I wanted to gobble up any of his cards this past year.
I know there are mixed feelings about online exclusives because they just enable more flipping and hoarding and bots to take all the cards. I actually like them for the purpose that they should serve - offering some sets as a one-off versus a normal release year after year. Topps 206 would fall in that realm for me. Some current sets, like Gypsy Queen, could as well. A set like that would be much more tolerable popping up online than as a regular release.
It would make them more desirable too. I don't want to see Topps 206 every year. But every few years? Sure.
It all seems a bit moot since cards don't sit on retail shelves anymore, so almost everything has turned into an online exclusive if you want to open something. But if things were semi-normal, I think offering these types of sets online as opposed to retail makes a lot of sense.