Thursday, April 29, 2021

eBay Bucks for the win

With my buying habits, I usually only have a couple dollars of eBay Bucks.

Sometimes I'll play a game and see what I can buy with my $2.31 credit. Other times I'll just apply it to whatever purchase I'm making and save a buck or two.

This past quarter, I had a bit more eBay Bucks than usual, despite the program changing and eBay Bucks becoming rarer. By far the most I've had. I had purchased two Mickey Mantle cards in March, and did so during an additional 5% eBay Bucks promo. So I had some funny money to play with.

Problem is, I don't have a current project or anything on my wantlist that a high priority. I couldn't get a Griffey RC or a Carmelo Anthony autograph. I could have applied the Bucks toward one, I guess. I thought about maybe getting a Tino autograph I didn't have, but I have a lot of Tino autographs and there isn't an apple of my eye.

Instead I turned my attention toward a Derek Jeter card I had been following for quite some time, and snagged this via auction as opposed to BIN:
It's such a great looking card from 2000 Fleer/Skybox E-X, part of their insert set called E-Xceptional. These come in red /1999, green /999, and blue /250. While this is the most common of the bunch, it's still not an easy card to come across.

The card itself is diecut, yet symmetrical. The background effect is a little hard to explain. It gives the card a lot of depth. I was expecting more of a flat foil from scans, but it's quite different in person.

I still don't fully know why this was the card I settled on, but in the end, I'm happy with my decision. I just wish eBay Bucks were still a regular thing, and not a special promotion.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

What a fancy little holder

Currently, my favorite ad campaign on TV is from Progressive. No, it's not Flo. It's actually Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rick is a coach who helps new homeowners from becoming their parents. Each scene is humorous and relatable, from a parent talking loudly on speaker phone in store, to having too many throw pillows or decorative signs, to hovering over the plumber while he works on a nearby sink.

While slightly fabricated, I think we all have moments where we feel ourselves becoming our parents. For me, lately it's walking upstairs only to find every light on in my house...despite no one being in the upstairs, and grumbling as I turn them off. Or threatening to go into the playroom with a black garbage bag if the toys aren't picked up.

I recently had another moment.

A package arrived from Bru, a long time trading friend and blogger. We completed a small TCDB swap (the best place to trade), and he threw in a nice stack of extras. This was the card on top, which was a Tino I needed:
Instead of letting out a "yessssssss" for the Tino card (which was new to my collection), instead I said to myself, "Oh. What a fancy little holder!" That was in response to the penny sleeve that had a built in pouch for a mini card, mitigating the risk of it sliding all around because that's what pesky minis do.
I was more captivated with the actual case than the card. I had never seen one of these. And like a complete geezer I actually said "what a fancy little holder." I didn't call it a penny sleeve. I didn't say anything macho. I called it "fancy." And "little." And "a holder."

I need some Dr. Rick in my life, I think.

I'll get to the rest of the cards Bru sent me another time, but I need to go examine my life for a bit.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Bonus card with purchase

I really like when eBay sellers throw extra cards into a package.

Sometimes it's just for extra passing, and included a few base commons. Other times, the seller actually throws something in of the same player or team. Even if I don't need the card, it's always a cool gesture. I once read a Twitter post about someone being mad when they received bonus cards. Weirdos.

The main attraction was an awesome, CD-looking card from 2001 Fleer Ultra of Derek Jeter. This is another one I've wanted for some time. The CD is diecut, and gives a off a metallic, mirror-like finish. It really does look a CD.
While this is from 2001, I'll still lump it in with sweet 90s designs. I'm tired of saying I wish we got cards like this in 2021. Lost cause. We don't and won't.

But wait...there's more!

While the Greatest Hits of Jeter was the only card I ordered, there was a bonus card thrown in...literally:
Very cool of the seller to add a second Jeter, and I chuckled with the penny sleeve being labeled "Bonus Card." He wanted me to know!

I appreciate it. The seller definitely went above and beyond. And I'll always take another Jeter. 

Not a bad pickup at all: a diecut of a great design, and a freebie just for ordering.

Thanks, kind seller!

Friday, April 23, 2021

Gleyber, you ok?

 Over the past year, Gleyber Torres has not been a good baseball player.

After All-Star seasons in his age 21 and 22 season in which he hit 24 and 38 HRs, respectively, he's struggled a bit. He never looked good in last year's fake season, and he's off to a slow start this year. While that can be said for the entire Yankees team, Gleyber really has not been good.

Just twenty three days into the season, I'm not worried. I think he'll find his stride and hit .250 with 25+ HRs. Fine numbers for a shortstop. But why the sudden struggles after the game looked so easy for him just a few years ago?

One theory is that he was moved over to shortstop, and the defensive pressure of the position is weighing on him. I don't know if that's true. It might be. As a rookie, he was inserted into second base and asked to really be a bat-first player. But since Didi Gregorius left, the keys to the left side of the infield were passed to him. A lot of pressure? Yes. And perhaps it's affecting his offense.

I think he'll be fine. He's too talented not to be. Games are a lot more fun for me to watch when he's a threat at the plate. Right now, he's not scary in the box. He did have a 3-hit game last night after his hustle was called into question the previous night, so perhaps he's on his way to finding his stroke.

I write about Gleyber today because I just received two of his Chrome rookie cards from Shane of @shanekatz73 on Twitter. I sent him a single card of Jazz Chisolm, and he reciprocated with two Gleyber RCs. I felt like I came out a bit too far ahead here.
Shane also included a few others, including a nice looking holo from 2020 Donruss.
Thanks for the trade, Shane! And hey Gleyber, get it together. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

SI for Kids nets me two Mantles

Cards are crazy right now. 

We all know that. The day trading that's going on is insane. Guy who has been meddling in the Majors gets off to a hot start, and his RCs go high. I've parted with several Tyler Naquin RCs over the past week for $3-5 each, and don't feel like for a second "maybe I should have held because he's going to be a star." Nice story of a 29-year-old who had a good first few weeks of the season. Nothing more.

Beyond low-end stuff like that, cards from the non-core sports are also in a similar state. When Hideki Matsuyama won The Masters, I was sad to see I didn't own an SI for Kids card of him (he doesn't have one), since those have been a go-to source for taking advantage of the topicality of an event.

I've mentioned a few times that I still hold a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine subscription. A few years back I booked a flight on an airline I didn't often use, and accumulated a few frequent flyer miles. Since then, I've been exchanging these miles for an SI for Kids subscription. I do it strictly for the cards.

I always hand off the magazine to my son in hopes he might flip through. But he never does. Kids don't care about magazines or pro sports. 

Regardless, the cards are interesting because they feature a wide-range of subjects, from pro sports to olympic sports to college sports to extreme sports to motor sports. The oldies can be quite valuable, such as the 1997 Tiger Woods. Iconic, even.

One card that spiked in value in my possession was the Naomi Osaka 2018 edition, considered by many to be her rookie card. She's a terrific talent and excellent ambassador to the sport. But when she won the Aussie Open again, I immediately listed the card on eBay for $749.99...and sold it in a matter if hours. $750 for an SI for Kids card of a tennis player. Laugh out loud.
Image from Google because I sold mine...
The card has now settled in the $200-$300 range, and will probably spike again after her next Grand Slam title...probably some time this year. Maybe the card will be worth thousands down the road, but I didn't blink twice. It's nothing against her. She's incredible and I'm sure has many more Grand Slam titles in her. She's a role model for many young fans. But a tennis card sitting a box of other perforated SI for Kids cards really didn't mean anything to me.

After eBay got their astronomical cut, I had a bit of funny money to play. Most of my surplus goes into the stock market these days, but I decided I'd treat myself here. I considered buying new golf clubs, but ultimately chose to put a portion of it back into cards. Napkin Doon kept pressuring me not to back out and to buy something card-related. Peer pressure at it's highest form.

Without a want list or a current project I'm working on, I decided I couldn't go wrong with a few Mickey Mantles. So for one SI for Kids card, I bought these two Mickey Mantle cards, and had a nice chunk leftover after the fact:
1958 and 1964. I think many of us would make that swap any day. A card that came in a magazine for free and sat in another pile of cards ended up netting me two vintage Mantles.

There was no real reason I chose the two I did. I liked the look of them. It boiled down to that. These will immediately go into my "honey if I die unexpectedly just focus on this box of cards" box.

All that for a 2018 Sports Illustrated for Kids tennis card.

What a world.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

After all these years

One fun thing about being an adult with disposable income is picking up cards that I didn't have as a child.

I remember flipping through Beckett or Tuff Stuff and seeing the unattainable cards. They might not have even been that expensive, they just weren't accessible. Not like they are now, where we have a means to pretty much find any card we want. They were from brands that weren't carried at CVS, or from brands that weren't allowed on a little tiny boxes of Flair. 

Another source of card lust was the collections of friends. I remember being at my friend Chris's house, and not only being envious of the dedicated space he had in his room for cards, but he always managed to pull such cool Upper Deck basketball cards. No matter what I offered, I couldn't get him to part with his 1993-94 Upper Deck 3-D Standouts Triple Double Michael Jordan.

The card was so cool. Triple Double in block letters. Jordan shoot a fadeaway off one foot. A hologram. The card had it all.

I know I offered him a lot, but he just always shook his head "no." I don't blame him.
I'm not sure what took so long, but recently the card popped into my head. After a quick eBay search, I found one. I didn't have to got to all ends of the earth. I didn't have to make a financial sacrifice. It was less than $10 all in.

That's part of the fun of collecting as an adult. I've done it numerous times: picked up a card I never could have as a kid. In some instances, it's a big card, like an original Mantle. In others, it's just a good-looking insert card that I could never bring into my collection.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Eastern League

I was always a fan of the Eastern League.

I probably never knew it's history well enough, and still don't. But I grew up in a city that had an Eastern League presence for many years, with the Binghamton Triplets a feeder team into the New York Yankees. That went away for a long time, until the return of the AA Binghamton Mets (now Rumble Ponies) for the past nearly 30 years.

With MiLB's new realignment, the Eastern League is no more. There is something called Double A-Northeast, with a few of the familiar teams. But there's no more Eastern League.

I saw many great players over the years, both on the home team and visiting teams. I enjoyed going to the game and watching the pros. I remember how different it looked when they threw the ball across the diamond, with the ball randomly rising and dipping in mid air. Regular people couldn't make a ball do that.

I was recently reminded about the Eastern League when Kin of Bean's Ballcard Blog DM'd me on Twitter and said he had a Tino for me that I didn't have. He was right! I indeed did not have this card of Tino on the Williamsport Bills, when he was in the Eastern League as a Mariners farmhand.
Tino was drafted in 1988 and played for Team USA in the '88 Olympic Games, so AA was actually the beginning of his pro career in 1989. That doesn't really happen now, even for advanced hitters.

He hit .257 with 13 homers in 137 games. The next year, he made his MLB debut, although shuffled between AAA in both 1990 and 1991 before sticking for good. But it's cool that he spent a full year in the Eastern League, a few years before a team even returned to Binghamton.

It's sad that the EL is no more, but hopefully we can find a way to have a somewhat normal minor league season, despite the changes and contractions. It's part of the fabric of many small cities and towns, and crucial for the development of prospects.

Thanks, Kin, for thinking of me with this card.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Trying to hold up my end of the bargain

Each Sunday, Johnny from Cards from the Quarry has been holding a PWE trade event. Usually he posts a card from each team, and all you have to do is claim it, and send him one back from his wantlist. Simple, right?

The problem I keep running into...he has every Rockies card known to man! I keep thinking I came across a good one - a numbered insert or a parallel from some random Bowman set no one bought. Then I check his wantlist...


I have a stack of Rockies I've come across over the last few weeks, and each time I think I got a good one, I come up empty. Which makes me feel bad because I've been claiming away each week. And while he makes it easy by also requesting cards from teams he is low on for trade bait, I feel like I'm having a hard time keeping up my end of the bargain. Plus, I don't want to just send him cards of other teams!

So I'm continuing to scour my unsorted boxes in hopes I can finally land a few Rox for him. I did just send him an older Stadium Club First Day Issue I think he needed. But I'm still behind by a couple cards due to a few cards I claimed over the last few weeks:
The first was a nice Gary Sanchez Bowman parallel. Gary has gotten off to a good start so far, thank goodness. I'm kind of tired of hearing about his struggles, so I hope for his sake he has a huge few months and everyone can focus on other things, like why can't the Yankees score runs, why can't they stay healthy, why do they suck at situational hitting, and why on earth did they trade for Rougned Odor. I'd rather focus in all of that over Gary.
Another guy who is off to a slowish start...but at least he's on the field? Sad that that's the positive, but it's how it goes. As long as he is on the field, he'll put up numbers when all is said and done. Speaking of numbers, I couldn't turn down a low-numbered Giancarlo numbered to 50 from one of those expensive Topps sets!
Lastly, this isn't a card I needed, really. But Garrett Mitchell seems to have a bright future, and even if he never sniffs the bigs (unlikely...he showed in the spring he's not far off), he dates Haley Cruse. So I admire him quite a lot for that.

Also, this dude graces the back of that same card:
Johnny, thanks for all the fun trade bait Sundays. I'll do my best to keep finding stuff for you to hold up my end of the deal. I'm trying, I promise..

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Balls rule!

One of the fun things I did a few months ago was pick up Derek Jeter diecut cards that I found to be visually appealing. While I have cooled on that, I still have an eBay saved search and enjoy taking a peek every now and then.

A few days ago, I won an auction for a very cool 1997 Fleer Ultra Baseball Rules card of Jeter. The card is diecut, cut along the lines of the baseballs. It makes for a very cool, yet oddly shaped card. That's just the type of '90s weirdness I love.
I actually wasn't that sure when I bought the card what the subject matter even was. Just that it looked cool. That's all I need, sometimes.

Once it arrived, I noticed the back actually does have a "baseball rules" tidbit. I'm usually not a huge fan things like rules or trivia on cards but I like how it's done here:
Simple, clear definition of the a somewhat confusing rule around rookie status, and then a topical note on Jeter's current status and that he's on his way to winning ROY (they were right).What's odd is that the card was made in 1996, but it was for the 1997 product. According to baseballcardpedia, 1997 Fleer Ultra Series One was actually released in November of 1996. That's crazy! So they clearly printed the cards well before the conclusion of the '96 season. They were in Topps Update territory.

It also makes sense as to why I got a 1998 Ultra box for 1997.

Collectors would go nuts now if Topps released flagship or some other brand November for the following year. I don't think it was that odd back then though.

Regardless, this card rules and is a great Jeter diecut addition to my collection.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Napkin Doon > The Easter Bunny

I didn't get cards in my Easter Basket this year.

It's actually been hit or miss for me on this one. Every couple of years my wife has put a pack or two in the small baskets we fill for one another. But I knew that this year wouldn't stand a chance given the current situation at Target.

I haven't even been to Target in months, so I'm not sure what sort of policy mine currently has. But it's never been one to carry much inventory anyways, so I don't even bother. It's actually nice to not have any needs in life where I need to go to Target or Walmart.

But I don't need the Easter Bunny. I still have cards coming in, whether eBay purchases or excellent TCDB trades or other random mailings. For instance, right before the weekend, an unexpected PWE arrived from Napkin Doon himself, a guy perhaps even more mysterious than the Easter Bunny himself.

The PWE contained three very shiny cards, and excellent additions to my collection.
These Refractors are from 2010 Finest. I was not collecting then, so the design is new to me. I don't think I've come across any cards from this set before, so it's like seeing a brand new set for the very first time. You could have told me it was 2021 Finest and I would have believed you.

The other card joining these two:
Beautiful! 2020 Bowman Prospects Mojo Refractor (thanks to TCDB for helping me identify this card). I have a lot of Schmidts, but this is a new one. I wish the name "mojo" wasn't official, but it's ok. It's a good looking card.

So while the basket was filled with delicious treats, my cards came from elsewhere. And that's just fine with me!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Grizzly bears and snakes

One of the best inserts I've seen in the young 2021 cards season is Donruss' Unleashed. I saw Colbey pull one is his 2021 Donruss break (Mike Trout), so figured I'd check which Yanks are available.

After a quick eBay search, I found a low-priced card of Giancarlo Stanton. It felt appropriate.
Grizzly bears and snakes. Yes!

Stanton's swings can best described as 'unleashed'. The man swings and and unleashes his wrath on baseballs like no one else in the game. One doesn't really see how hard he hits balls until you see him on a regular basis (insert joke that no one sees him on a regular basis because he is on the IL). The compact stroke and - bam - the ball is out of the TV frame in a way that other players just can't replicate.

The creativity and design is refreshing in a time when Topps' inserts are just reprints and other boring subjects that allow them to shove as many players into a set as possible. I know there are some who don't care about inserts and don't care for innovation. This isn't innovation; it's creativity. And we don't get that from the officially licensed brand right now.

I haven't opened any Donruss this year. If I can find some, I will. But for now, I'll do what I can to pick up a few more Unleashed inserts. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Beavis and Bretthead

Oh man, Topps Glossy All-Stars. I still remember being at Great American grocery store or Philadelphia Sales or some other drug store, and begging my mom for a cello pack. Three glorious windows of Topps baseball cards, with a a Glossy All-Star in one of the windows. You know, one the looked like this:
It was kind of cool how Topps never really changed up the design on the Glossy All-Stars. Year after year, they were the same. They served a purpose, felt special (at least to a kid), and were a nice reward within the cello packs. It was always fun to dig through the box of packs looking for a Mattingly or Winfield or Henderson.

When one of those guys weren't there, then I would snag someone like George Brett or Wade Boggs or Darryl Strawberry. 

Speaking of childhood memories, it's hard to believe how long ago Beavis and Butthead debuted. I still remember arriving at my cousin's house in Connecticut late on Holy Thursday (which is today, coincidentally) for our yearly Easter trip to visit family. We always left on Thursday night and stayed until Sunday afternoon. And he greeted us at the front door and said to me, "hurry, let's go downstairs. Beavis and Butthead is on."

That was a special occurrence. 

Man, watching that show with an older cousin I admired. Those were the days, sitting in his basement just cracking up.

Huh huh huh huh huh...crack.
What I did not know until recently was that there were Beavis and Butthead cards. In fact, in a recent collection I bought, I found one lonely acetate MTV Beavis and Butthead card. It was one of the coolest, most random cards I unearthed. It actually still sells for a few bucks on eBay, but I'll be keeping this one in my collection.

Oh, and Happy Opening Day!