Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Barry Larkin Collection 271: 1992 Topps - #465 - Topps Gold Parallel (Uncorrected Error)

Barry Larkin
Year:  1992
Brand:  Topps
Parallel set:  Topps Gold
Card number:  465

In 1992, Topps introduced the world to the idea of a full-fledged parallel set.  Whether you love or hate parallels now, it has to be said that the idea of Topps Gold was novel back in 1992 (and pulling one of the Topps Gold cards felt special at the time)!  The current Topps Gold parallel set began here as well, though you'll notice there was no serially numbering going on back in 1992.

As for the Larkin card in particular, it's basically an exact copy of the regular Larkin card from 1992 except for gold foil at the bottom of the front where the player name and team ribbons are.  An eagle-eyed viewer may notice an error made by Topps here - they mistakenly said that Larkin plays for the Astros rather than the Reds!

The only change on the back of the card is the large Topps Gold logo that is lurking in the background of the card behind the career statistics.  Personally, I like that Topps did that so that when you are sorting cards (and only looking at the back of the cards), you can easily pull out any Topps Gold parallels that you may have in the midst of your regular base cards!  I also have to give another shout out to the photo of the stadium at the bottom of 1992 Topps cards - easily one of my most favorite features on any baseball card when I was a kid!

Digging into the Box II: The Many Ways to Skin a Cat

There's an old saying that goes something like "there's more than one way to skin a cat."  While the original meaning of the phrase (and how it came to be) is unknown to me, the sentiment definitely rings true whenever you are handed (or purchase) a box of cards.

For me, here are the various ways to "skin the cat."
1.  Open the entire box at once, ripping through packs like a kid on Christmas morning.
2.  Open a few packs a day, prolonging the experience
3.  Open one pack a day, turning a box into a month-long event

After figuring out how you want to open a box, you then have more ways to "skin the cat."
4.  Throw all the cards (minus hits/inserts/team or player collections) into a big pile
5.  Carefully sort and collate all the cards to collect
6.  Carefully sort cards by team for trade bait

So, by my count there are at least six different ways to skin a cat - at least if you define "cat" to be a box of baseball cards and "skin" to mean open.  Mathematicians love to make definitions like that so it's all good.

Anyhow, this all goes back to the giant box of cards that my brother recently sent me.  Granted, this wasn't a box in the sense of box full of unopened packs (though there are a few of those in the box), but rather, this was a box full of random cards.

Whenever I get something like that, I tend to gravitate towards option 2 and then option 5 in terms of how I want to skin the cat.  Thus, this is the third post (of quite a few I'd guess) where I show off some of the cards from the box.  This time around, I grabbed another small stack of cards (about 50) and decided to go through those and see what might show up!

As usual, I find countdowns to be the best way to tie together otherwise totally unconnectable cards, and so without further ado, here's the top 5 cards from this randomly selected stack (which ended up about 50% Reds and 50% other teams by the way).

#5:  1988 Topps Rookies:  Billy Ripken

An All-Star card of the "other" Ripken.  Poor Billy, he had no shot at fame and fortune when compared to his Iron Man brother.  He did get at least one Rookies insert card so there's that (and he also had a lovely error card that isn't safe for work - Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about).

#4:  Fleer Stickers (1990)

As a kid, I loved, loved, LOVED, getting stickers in my baseball card packs.  I used to stick these things everywhere - especially on this plastic "cabinet" that I had that I used to sort my cards by team.  I can still picture that thing covered in team stickers...though I no longer no what happened to the cabinet.  Maybe it's still residing in my parents' attic?  While I obviously like this sticker because it features the Reds' sweet running man logo, I also really dig the Astros' logo.  That's some quality that Houston should really bring back!

#3:  Chad Krueter

This card doesn't mean a heckuva lot to me, but it did catch my eye because of the apparent United States flag lying on the ground behind Krueter.  As I look at the card more and more, I can't decide it the flag is actually some sort of design on the on deck circle or if it's an actual flag.  I also can't tell if this card is a canned shot (which would support the whole US flag on the ground theory) or actually from game action (in which case it must be the on deck circle design).  Either way, a card of an otherwise forgettable player made me pause and take notice so it's a winner in my book!

#2:  Barry Larkin

Anytime I get a Larkin card, I'm happy - though this one didn't finish #1 in the countdown since I actually own it already (and, in fact, I've written about it in my ongoing Barry Larkin Collection).  Even so, it's a fun card that was designed to be part of some sort of game that Upper Deck concocted.  Maybe someday I'll take the time to try and see if I can track down the rules of that game...not today though!

#1:  Billy Hamilton 2014 Topps

Other than 2014 Topps Heritage, I've steered clear of all 2014 cards this year!  As such, getting the Reds from this year's set is a great thing for me!  I chose Hamilton to be the poster boy for my 2014 Reds' collection since he pretty much sums of the Reds thus far...  Plenty of potential but nowhere near enough offense to actually be a good team thus far.  I do like that Topps' rookie card photo for Billy has him stealing a base, there couldn't possibly be a better image for Hamilton!

That's it for this dip into the gigantic box of cards.  I am curious though how you all choose to skin your (baseball) cats.  Do you rip through everything at once?  Do you set some aside for later?  What's your plan of attack?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Trade Stack 60: There Aren't Many White Sox Fans Are There? How About a Bench & Griffey Jr. Then?

Here is how this works:
Every so often (i.e. whenever I feel like it), I will add a card to a "Trade Stack".  Whenever the stack becomes appealing enough to someone, that person needs to comment on the post saying they'd like to claim the stack AND tell me which card they are sending off of my want list.  That's all you have to do - trade me ONE card (or more, of course) card from my want list for the entire stack of cards that I'm offering.  Each time, it will be first come, first act quickly (unless of course you are a gambler and hope to wait it out until there are 10+ cards in the stack that you want in exchange for a single 2004 UD Vintage card that I am looking for)!

The Trade Stack:
Last update:  4/18/14

I was fairly certain that the current trade stack was going to be claimed with only one card on it since that one card was one of the rare(ish) orange refractors out of Topps Chrome.  Unfortunately, I severely underestimated the number of White Sox fans out there (or at least the number that frequent my blog) and so the stack has laid dormant waiting for something new to be added to it so that someone else might jump in and claim the pile.  

It's time to do just that, maybe two new cards will be the charm!  This time around I decided to add two cards at once (eschewing my usual one card at a time pattern for the Trade Stacks) since the one card shows some serious chipping thanks to sticking cards when I opened up the pack!  However, it's a card of a superstar so I thought someone might want it - and the other card that I added today is just as nice (and not at all chipped up)!

If you want the stack, remember - all you need to do is offer up any one card from my want list.

2002 Fleer Maximum and 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter's:
83.  Ken Griffey Jr. - Reds and 38.  Johnny Bench - Reds

2010 Topps Chrome:
Orange Refractor:
211.  Sergio Santos - White Sox

Want the card(s) in the stack?  Act fast - tell me which card you will send me off my want list in the comments below!  You must leave a comment on the trade stack post in order to claim the card - no more claims via email!  If no one claims this card within a reasonable amount of time (a few hours up to a few days, depending) - I'll add another card to the stack and the process will start again!

Previously Claimed Trade Stacks:
Stack 01:  2 cards by dayf
Stack 02:  8 cards by Justin
Stack 03:  17 cards by Cam
Stack 04:  4 cards by Cam
Stack 05:  9 cards by Daily Dimwit
Stack 06:  4 cards by The Lost Collector
Stack 07:  1 card by Baseball Dad
Stack 08:  1 card by M. Spiegel
Stack 09:  6 cards by bwsmith25
Stack 10:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 11:  1 card by Patrick
Stack 12:  5 cards by Matt B.
Stack 13:  4 cards by Steve G.
Stack 14:  3 cards by ShaneK
Stack 15:  7 cards by Ryan G
Stack 16:  1 card by longlivethewho
Stack 17:  4 cards by hiflew
Stack 18:  4 cards by Potch
Stack 19:  2 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 20:  5 cards by by Play at the Plate
Stack 21:  5 cards by BA Benny
Stack 22:  1 card by IkesCards
Stack 23:  8 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 24:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 25:  2 cards by Jeff P.
Stack 26:  10 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 27:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 28:  7 cards by ThingsAreFunnerHere
Stack 29:  3 cards by TheBrooklynMet
Stack 30:  4 cards by Adam C.
Stack 31:  10 cards by Play at the Plate
Stack 32:  8 cards by Josh D.
Stack 33:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 34:  1 card by Potch
Stack 35:  9 cards by Cool Breeze
Stack 36:  11 cards by Kev 
Stack 37:  6 cards by Tunguska
Stack 38:  12 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 39:  8 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 40:  1 card by Kyle4KC
Stack 41:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 42:  1 card by AdamE
Stack 43:  1 card by madding
Stack 44:  10 cards by Commishbob
Stack 45:  1 (almost complete) puzzle by Baseball Dad
Stack 46:  8 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 47:  5 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 48:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 49:  9 cards by Swing and a Pop-Up
Stack 50:  9 cards by Commishbob
Stack 51:  3 cards by Need More Cardboard
Stack 52:  1 card by Play at the Plate
Stack 53:  12 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 54:  4 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 55:  9 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 56:  2 cards cards by Joe Frecker
Stack 57:  4 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 58:  2 cards by Chunter
Stack 59:  9 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 60:  ?? cards by ??

Diving Into the Box: The Beginning (Sparky, Gibson, Score Select, and a Radioactive Angel)

This past Sunday, I wrote a bit of a teaser post where I showed off a gigantic box of cards courtesy of my younger brother.

The box holds all sorts of goodies - but since I'm in the middle of reorganizing my cards right now I figured I'd start with that multicolored section towards the front of the photo - you know, the bunch of cards that are clearly from different years, sets, etc.

I ended up grabbing a pile of 40 cards...and going through those I decided to take my favorite six to discuss for today.  Over the next week (weeks?) I'll be doing plenty more out of the box - and I know there is a great variety of stuff in there so it should be interesting throughout (plus unopened packs)!

Tonight though, it's time to look at the six cards that caught my eye out of the first small stack that I grabbed.  Since I love countdowns, I'll do a Least to Most Exciting countdown

#6:  Lloyd Moseby

I never saw much of the 1987 Donruss brand when I was a kid - and I really didn't see any of the Donruss Opening Day set (which is what Moseby belongs to).  I do have the Barry Larkin card from this set (the only one I really want) so that's good!

#5:  Dan Pasqua

Sticking with the late 80s theme, this is a 1988 Score card - a set that didn't get nearly the amount of love that it should have.  In fact, when I think of the set that first had color photos on the back, I usually think of 1989 Upper Deck.  However, I should think of the 1988 Score set - it too had color photos on the back (along with color team logos on the back) and a nice, clean design for the front.  The set is 660 cards in size which probably means I won't try and put it together...but at this point I'm not prepared to say that I definitely won't - it probably will depend on just how many 1988 Score cards I have lying around currently!

#4:  Sparky Anderson

Sparky's a Tiger here so that's not as cool as if he'd been pictured as a Red, but still, it's Sparky Anderson.  How can you not like this?  The card also has a lovely outline of a stick of bubblegum on the back - something that is both annoying and iconic about late 80s Topps cards!

#3:  Gary DiSarcina

You might have thought that this stack was all late 80s "junk wax" but you'd be wrong....  There were some more modern gems in there such as this Circa '97 card of a radioactive DiSarcina.  The best part of the Circa cards is the quote on the front about the player (taken from another player or manager generally).

#2:  Kirk Gibson

Another Tiger - but this one is from 1982, the year of my birth!  I think I already have the 1982 Fleer set complete but I'll definitely have to verify that.  It's always nice to get cards from the year of your birth though...even if I happen to like both the 1981 and 1983 Topps sets much better than the 1982 edition.

#1:  Glenn Davis

Why this card #1?  Because it's my list, that's why.  Seriously though, this 1993 Score Select card takes top billing today because it is the one card that most reminds me of my brother!  Back in 1993, we each received an Easter basket which contained some packs of 1993 Score Select...and I distinctly remember us tearing into those packs in the wee hours of the morning, way before we were supposed to (our family had a rule of waiting to open stuff until everyone was awake and up)!  I loved the Select set then, and that love has continued through today - this is a definite possibility for an older set that I might try and track down!

There will be plenty more where these six cards came from - some modern, some older, and even some that aren't baseball at all!  Stay tuned is all I can say about that - and for those that are interested, here's a sneak peak at some of the other cards that didn't quite make the Top 6 for today's post:

See you next time!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Barry Larkin's Birthday: A Larkin Spectacular! From Mailbox to Binder: The Organizational Process!

Today is Barry Larkin's 50th birthday - and in honor of my favorite player's big day, I thought it might be fun to have a Barry Larkin Spectacular on the blog!

As you probably know, I have a decent sized collection of Larkin cards that I try to continually update on my blog (see the entire collection here).  Despite my best efforts though, that online collection is but a small portion of my total Barry Larkin collection.

Today, I thought it would be fun to show you how I organize my collection of Larkin cards...and in doing so, perhaps those of you have a similar player collection might gain some insight/ideas...or better yet for me, you might have some other more efficient ideas to share with me!

A typical trade for me (when it comes to Larkin cards) is usually me acquiring a big stack of Larkins.  Many times people send me piles of Larkin cards without necessarily asking me which cards I do need and which cards I do not (which is fine by me because I don't actually have a full list of what Larkin cards I own ready to go anyhow)!

All of today's cards are courtesy of Joe who sent me a nice sized pile of Larkin cards about a month ago (however I wanted to save them for this particular blog post - hence the delay in posting about them)!  Joe sent me a stack of 18 Larkin cards which is perfect for the Larkin Spectacular post...some of the cards are brand new to me, others I already had - and so you will get a taste of my entire sorting process from beginning to end!

Step 1:  Open the package, scan the cards for a blog post, update my Excel trading file.

The first part of Step 1 is the best - opening mail!  Whenever I get an envelope of cards in the mail, I immediately open the package up.  Then, sometimes I am able to quickly write a blog post (especially in the summer when the constraints are my time are much, much less than during the school year).  Other times, I carefully repackage the envelope and put the entire package in a small stack of drawers near my desk.
Hidden within those drawers are trade packages yet to be written about - and plenty of shipping supplies.

In that way, when I am able to write a "thanks for the cards" blog post, I'll be sure to know who sent me the cards!

The next part of Step 1 is the actual writing of the blog post.  As I said before, sometimes this is an easy, quick process (especially for a PWE) whereas other times it might take multiple posts to go through (as in the case of the huge box of cards my brother sent me - more on that tomorrow actually)!  A big part of writing the blog post is scanning the cards - but with my new scanner that isn't usually terribly difficult to do (unless the cards are all white-bordered, my scanner hates those)!  I usually tag all of my thank you posts with the tag "delivery time" so that people can quickly peruse my various trade posts.

The latter part of Step 1 can be a tedious step, but it's incredibly important when you like to actively trade with various people.  For myself, I sent out 122 trades in 2010, another 166 in 2011, 107 in 2012, and last year I managed to send out 83 more.  So far this year I'm a bit off the pace, but I still have managed to mail out 26 trade packages.  Why do I cite those numbers?  Because it's virtually impossible to simply remember who I've sent to, who is to be sending to me, etc.  Thus, I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of everything.

My Excel spreadsheet consists of a page for every single person that I've traded with.  Each trade that I complete gets its own row in the appropriate person's page - and in that row I document what I sent, what that person sent, and the status of the trade (complete, I owe, they owe, etc.).  I also try to keep track of what "extras" I send along so that I'm not sending the same person three of the same Nachos Grande bumper sticker for instance.

As an example, I took a screenshot of Greg's (aka Night Owl's) spreadsheet entry.  Greg and I have completed a TON of trades - and as you can, lately our trading as devolved into a series of "surprising mailings" where we each send each other stuff whenever we run across something we think the other person would want.  Down at the bottom of that screenshot you can see a brief bit of how I organize all my trading partners in Excel - and the two pound (hash tag) signs are my way of designated that either I owe someone or else they owe me!  In the case of Joe, the Larkin cards you see in this post are all from him and so I need to delete the two pound signs since our trade is now complete on both ends!

With that, Step 1 is complete.  I open the package, write a post, and update my Excel document.  Each of the three steps are important for their own reasons - but they do take time (hence why I often have a delay between when a package arrives in my mailbox and when a post actually goes live on my blog)!

Once the preliminary work is done, if the trade package contains any Barry Larkin cards, then my work has only begun!  On to Step 2!

Step 2:  Queue the Larkins!

Step 2 is the easiest step of all - I simply take any Barry Larkin cards that I received in a trade and stack them up in a cubbyhole in my desk.  I usually let the stack accumulate cards for awhile before going through it and initiating the next phase of the sorting process.  As you can see right now, my stack is fairly large and so I'll be doing another full-scale sorting in the fairly near future!

The Larkin stack is the large stack towards the back of the photograph.  The other stacks of cards are random relics for trade bait (possible trade bait draft or eBay fodder?) and a stack of cards for the Trade Stack feature that I run on my blog.  The colored cubes are for a game that I use in my Mathematics of Games and Gambling course.

At this point, Step 2 is complete.  This step basically ensures that all of my unsorted, undocumented Larkins stay in one place until I can set aside the proper amount of time in order to get everything cataloged how I like it!

Step 3:  The Initial Year-by-Year Sorting

Eventually the stack of Barry Larkin cards sitting in my desk will reach precarious heights and so I'll be forced to proceed to Step 3, the initial year-by-year sorting.  This process sounds exactly like you would expect - I take each card from the stack and place it in the correct stack of cards sorted by year.

From there, the cards go one of two places.  If the Larkin card was produced after the year 1997, it gets put into the appropriate yearly slot in a re-purposed Allen & Ginter's box.

Anything in that box will set there until I muster up the energy to sort through another year's worth of cards!  For now, I've been focusing on completing organizing the earlier Larkin cards (since they are more prevalent and I'd like to avoid obtaining too many duplicates)!  I have, of course, showcased a fair number of later Larkin cards on my blog though so I'm not entirely consistent with how I do this part of the organizing (sometimes you just feel like writing about a certain card)!

If the Larkin card is from 1997 or earlier, then I have to do some work to see whether or not I already own the card.  You see, many of my pre-1997 Larkin cards are already scanned and written about on the blog. Others are fully scanned but not yet written about on the blog.  As such, for any pre-1998 card, I have a few things to check.

#1:  Have I already posted this card on the blog?  
This is the easiest case because it's easy enough to scroll to the appropriate year on the blog and see whether or not the card has been written about (I've learned long ago not to rely on my memory)!

#2:  Have I already scanned this card but not yet written about it?
This one is a bit more annoying to check, but still not too difficult.  All I have to do is open up my folder containing all my scanned (but not yet posted) Barry Larkin cards.

From the above image, you can see I have a decent amount of Larkin cards currently scanned and waiting to be written about.  You can also see my card image file naming technique.  I'm a bit of a stickler for consistent file naming!

For example, the 1996 Topps Finest Franchise Subset card is one that I already owned - and I've already scanned it into my collection but it hasn't yet shown up on the blog.  Thus, this card is a duplicate and it will eventually be placed in my box of Larkin duplicates to be used as trade bait down the road!

#3:  New cards!
If the card hasn't been written about, and it hasn't previously been scanned, then it is safe to say that the card is a new one for my collection (hooray!).  Any cards that fall into this category are the most work - but also the reason why I collect (the goal is to get 'em all as they say in Pokemon)!

For new cards, the scanning process usually takes two steps:  One scan for the front of the card, another scan for the back of the card.  I then use MSPaint to "sew" the two images together so that I have a single file for each card which shows both the front and back of that card.

Most of the time, this isn't too difficult.  Remember, part of making the image is the file name so once in awhile I have to do some internet research to figure out just exactly what set the card belongs to!  Other times, I get a card that seems just a bit off and I have to do some additional research.  As a quick test, check out this Topps Gold parallel card of Barry and see if you can figure out what's wonky about it.

Did you find the error?

Larkin is listed as a member of the Astros on the front of the card!  Sometimes I discover variations/errors on my own - and other times what I discover is actually already well known (in this case, it turns out that this is an uncorrected error and that all of the 1992 Topps Gold cards feature Larkin as a member of the Astros).  Hopeful wishing by Houston if you ask me.

Step 4:  To the Binder, Batman!

Step 4 is the most satisfactory of all the steps.  I get to put the Larkin card in its final resting place - my binder of Larkins!  Once a card is fully scanned (front and back) it goes into my binder.  In that way, I can have a bunch of Larkin cards waiting to be added to my Barry Larkin Collection without having a bunch of Barry Larkin cards sitting in a stack somewhere on my desk.  There's something immensely satisfying about reducing clutter while at the same time filling up binder pages!

In addition to all my full organized Barry Larkin cards, my Larkin binder also houses my oversized Larkin cards and one of my most prized possessions:

The Sports Market Report magazine issue celebrating Barry's induction into the Hall of Fame.  The reason it's my prized possession though is because it's my one direct personal tie to Larkin since I was interviewed and quoted in the feature article about Barry Larkin on his big day!

Thanks to Joe for all the great Larkin cards (the rest of which you'll eventually see make their way to my Barry Larkin Collection) and a big 'ol happy birthday to one of the best players ever to grace the Reds' uniform!

4,400 Posts (and counting)!

According to my Blogger home page, this is my 4,400th post here at Nachos Grande!  It is also Barry Larkin's birthday today so a big Happy Birthday to my favorite player of all-time.  I'll have more of a Larkin Birthday Blowout Bash later tonight.  For now though, I'm going to focus on that magical number 4400.

While there are a few of you that have me beat still, 4400 posts is a lot!  Unfortunately, I cannot pride myself on writing quality necessarily...but man oh man, I sure do have writing quantity covered nicely!

The good news for my blog is that despite having well over 4,000 posts, I'm not sick of baseball cards.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say I like cards more now than I did when I began the blog.  I will say that my collecting habits have changed though - and given that this is my 4400th post, it's a perfect time to reflect.

In the beginning, my collecting habits could only be described as scattershot.  I bought a lot of packs (almost all at retail) from a wide variety of sets.  In fact, in 2008 (when I began my blog), I bought Topps' flagship, Stadium Club, Upper Deck Masterpieces, Upper Deck's flagship, Topps Heritage, Upper Deck Timeline, and Upper Deck Goudey (just to name a few).  Most of those sets are still not completed...which goes to show just how hard it is to complete a set in the short print era - and just how unpopular many of those sets ended up being.

Flash forward to 2014 and my buying habits are completely different.  I try to only buy hobby boxes now (though that's been a total fail on my part with this year's Heritage brand - some habits die hard I guess).  In addition, I've drastically cut back on the number of different sets that I buy each year.  Last year's sets that I purchased included Gypsy Queen, Archives, Allen & Ginter's, and Topps Chrome.  This year I've only bought Heritage so far (and I've firmly decided to avoid all things Gypsy Queen from now on).  I will probably still buy Ginter and I'll hold off on saying yea or nay to other sets until I learn more about them.

For now, I'll bask in the glow of the nice round 4400 post number, but it won't last for long.  The next post I write will be number 4401 and the march towards 5000 posts will continue once again.  Things won't necessarily be changing around here - though I doubt they'll stay the same forever either if the last few years are any indication.

Finally, for those that are wondering, I haven't given up on my Great Reorganization plan yet.  In fact, I'm getting dangerously close to having all my cards at least sorted into piles by year - a huge first step!!  I'll be posting more information (and probably plenty of trade bait) as the process continues...hopefully within the next week or so I'll have the first run through of all the cards complete and then the fun will really begin - I'll need to decide:
A.  Which sets to keep/collect
B.  Do I want to keep one of each Red for sets that I don't aim to actually complete ever
C.  How many sets is too many to collect
D.  If I answer "no" to B, then which Reds players do I want to keep (besides birthday boy Larkin who already has his own binder)
E.  How do I get rid of the excess cards - and can I somehow make a bit of money on them in order to fill in some of the gaps in my newly organized collection

I'm sure more questions will arise as my organizing continue...but that's for another post!  Until then, feel free to go back and read through my archives - there are now 4,400 different posts for you to peruse!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Card Package That Was Too Big and Heavy to Mail!

Sometimes packages don't get delivered to you and instead you have to go and get 'em.  When that happens though, you can usually expect great things.  Such is the case with my latest "mail day" courtesy of my younger brother.

You see, my parents recently went down to visit him for Easter - and he gave them the box you see above to give to me (I live a couple of miles from my parent's house so that's an easy delivery)!  You probably can't tell the actual size of that box based on the let me take off the lid and give you a sneak peek.


That's a lot of cards sent my way.

...and now I have a lot more to organize - and to think I was doing so well with my collection!

As you can see, my brother sent me a boat load of cards as well as some unopened packs (mostly of the junk wax era I believe).  There are also some Magic:  The Gathering cards in there - a game I used to play years ago but haven't bought a single pack of in probably a decade or more.  That should be good for a laugh or two - (plus complete bewilderment at what I can only assume is about 2,353 new rules and rule changes)!

Over the next week or so, I'll have plenty more out of this box - basically as I sort and organize I'll continue to give updates on the blog.  I know for a fact that some of the cards I want - and some will be trade bait...and the others?

Well, I don't actually know what all is there so we shall see!

Barry Larkin Collection 270: 1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated Then and Now - #105

Barry Larkin
Year:  1998
Brand:  Fleer Sports Illustrated Then and Now
Card number:  105

Despite the long set name, this is not an insert card.  In fact, Fleer teamed up with Sports Illustrated and created three different sets in 1998.  The Then and Now set featured 150 base cards with a mix of retired and current players populating the checklist.  As for the Larkin card itself, it's quite nice.  The card is printed on a thicker than usual card stock (which I like) and features full bleed photography on the front.  The photo is a nice action shot of Larkin sliding into the base - but it is a bit weird that there isn't a single other player to be found in the background.

The back of the card is interesting in that Fleer had three different legends rate Barry Larkin.  Harmon Killebrew rated Larkin average for power, Lou Brock said Larkin was above average for speed, and Brooks Robinson granted Larkin the highest possible rating of excellent for fielding.  All things considered, I think the legends were all correct!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blast(er)! The Conclusion of the Wal-Mart Blaster (Complete with a Retail Hit)!

If there's one thing that I've learned it is that buying blasters does not help me with my goal of sorting all my cards.  Oh sure, the new cards from a blaster aren't hard to catalog (after all, they are all from one set)...but they take up even more space and they take away time from me organizing all the cards that I already own.  Despite all that, sometimes the urge to rip new packs is too much for me to handle...and when in Rome Wal*Mart as they say...

This is the second half of the Wal*Mart blaster that I began ripping yesterday.

Pack 5:

The fifth pack from the blaster was a great one for sure.  First, I got another New Age Performer insert card (seeded 1:8).  This time, the New Age player was none other than Colorado's finest:  Carlos Gonzalez.

The other nice card in the pack was the Miguel Cabrera short print.  This makes two short prints for the blaster thus far.

Pack 6:
Pack six was the clear loser pack for this half of the blaster.  Nothing special (and almost all duplicate base cards).  Boo!

Pack 7:

The previous might have stunk, but pack seven made up for it.  First, I pulled the really nice Johnny Bench 1st Draft insert card.  That card has such a wonderful retro feel to the design, I love it!

The other highlight of the pack was my third short print of the box - this time of Yu Darvish.  I kind of hate how Topps made almost all of the stars short prints this's going to make tracking down certain short prints a real bear I'm afraid.  On the other hand, it does mean there are plenty of middle reliever common cards for everyone!

Pack 8:

The final pack had a Devin Mesoraco base card - but the real surprise was the Andy Pettitte relic card.  The relics are seeded 1:69 packs so they are plenty rare for retail shoppers!  Unfortunately, I can't say I have any particular attachment to this card - so it's available for trade (ideally for a similar Reds' relic or else a selection of short prints and base cards that I need)!

Overall, it was a solid blaster - but given the new cards to duplicate ratio, I think I should stop buying 2014 Heritage blasters at this point.  I now have a healthy stack of cards available for trade - and my want list is up to date as well!

The Box Score Finale: A Three Swatch Jersey Card Ends the Box!!

It's a sort of sad day in that today is the day that I finish off my final Christmas box of cards.  Yes, I managed to last deep into April before ripping all the boxes...but now that they are all done I'm sort of sad.  Happily, I do have one more unopened box that I picked up since Christmas - but I'll probably wait to bust that until later this summer when I get the pack ripping itch again!  For now though, let's finish off that box of 2003 Fleer Box Score.  

Editor's note:  I mentioned in the previous post that I "pack searched" the final four packs setting aside the pack that I felt had the final hit in it.  I can now report that I was wrong...  In the spirit of keeping things interesting right up 'til the end, I will first present that pack that I thought the hit was in...and then the final pack will have the final hit (which is pretty cool I have to admit)!

Pack 17:
18.  Craig Biggio 
22.  Torii Hunter
64.  Manny Ramirez
69.  Moises Alou
72.  Jose Vidro
78.  Ken Griffey Jr.

A great card of the kid (even if it is a duplicate for the box)!
93.  Eric Hinske
117.  Bernie Castro

Another rookie short print - I really beat the odds with these in the box (which is awesome for me since I hope to build the full base set)!

Pack 18:
21.  Matt Morris
27.  A.J. Burnett
41.  Paul Lo Duca
60.  Carlos Delgado
63.  Edgar Martinez
77.  Aubrey Huff
Box Score 3-Swatch Jersey Rack:  Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, & Greg Maddux #340/350

Woah, that's an awesome card to end a box break!!  I don't think I've ever pulled a three-swatch card where each swatch is from a different player...and I know for sure that I've never pulled one where the three players are of the caliber of Schilling, Johnson, and Maddux.  

When Curt Schilling is the worst player on a relic card, you know you've done alright!  I like the design of the relic as well - the shirt rack motif works well with three random cloth swatches.  I am also happy that all three shirts appear to be different - and only one is boring white!  

Overall, I enjoyed opening this box a lot!  In fact, I might see about getting another one to open in the near future...depending of course on how I do collation wise in terms of the set.  What do you think of the Box Score set?  Should something similar be brought back by Topps (or maybe Panini)?  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blast(er)! Heritage Sucks Me In Again!

By now, 2014 Topps Heritage is old news for most of you.  However, for me it's still relatively new (and it will remain "new" to me for awhile as I plan to completely avoid this year's edition of Gypsy Queen).  A few days ago I found myself in Wal*Mart (which means I couldn't help but check out their meager card aisle).  I was pleased to see that they had exactly one Heritage blaster I bought it.

I won't bore everyone with the pack by pack breakdown (as I usually do) but I will split the blaster into two posts so that I can show off the goodies that I did get!

Pack 1:
The first pack out of the blaster was rough!  There wasn't a single short print, insert, or even Red in the entire pack.  Even worse than that, of the nine cards in the pack, I already had five of them.  At this point, I was thinking that I made a mistake by buying the blaster...luckily, this was the worst of the eight packs and I just happened to open it first.

Pack 2:

The second pack contained a Cespedes (the last of the non-short printed cards) plus a nice Baseball Flashbacks insert of the Astrodome.  This is a pretty cool card (though I always liked the 1992 Topps set for their card backs featuring stadiums as well so I'm probably biased).

Pack 3:

The third pack was a great one.  I ended up with a nice Aroldis Chapman base card plus a pair of inserts.  The first was a Jordan Zimmerman short print - always a nice thing to be able to inch closer to completing the short print portion of the set.

The third card of note out of the third pack was this Robinson Cano blue border Wal*Mart parallel.  I don't have any plans to collect the blue (or red) borders so this one is available for trade!

Pack 4:

The final pack from the first half of the blaster rivaled the first pack for "worst in blaster."  No short prints, blasters, or other cards of note.  However, I deemed pack 4 to be slightly better based on the pitching leaders card showing five different players on the same card.

Delivery Time! A Slew of Larkins from It's Like Having my Own Card Shop

I haven't done a great job lately at posting some of the many trades that have rolled into my household.  I'd blame it on work but I'm pretty much done with that now for the summer...  Anyhow, I figured I'd start digging through my mail packages and show off a recent package courtesy of Daniel over at It's Like Having My Own Card Shop.

Daniel sent me a whole bunch of Barry Larkin cards - and I believe all of them (except maybe one or two) were new to my collection.
I decided to crop the above scanner feed just for a fun little game - how many of the sets can you name?

Personally, I don't think I'd do very well - I know the '04 Topps and the '96 Collector's Choice - but without seeing the full card I wouldn't know which year of Donruss that middle card is!  How about you?

You'll get all the answers in due time as I'll be adding each of these to my ever growing Barry Larkin Collection!

Many thanks Daniel - and if anyone else would like to trade, check out my want list and make an offer!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

You Have to Be a Fan of Newspapers I Guess.

I'm down to a mere four packs remaining in my 2003 Fleer Box Score box.  Thus far, I've found one relic in the packs - there should be one more in the final four packs.  I will admit that I attempted to "pack search" and I set aside the pack that I thought was the thickest for the final post.  Did I get it right in terms of which pack had the relic - or do my pack searching skills completely suck (in which case the second relic will show up in this post)?  Let's find out!

Pack 15:
20.  Pat Burrell
23.  Curt Schilling
70.  Bartolo Colon
73.  Scott Rolen
80.  Ben Grieve
82.  Austin Kearns

I believe this is the third (and final) Reds player in the base set.  That's a low number - but not unexpected for a 100 card set.
91.  Bernie Williams
98.  David Eckstein

No hits in that pack...only three remain!

Pack 16:
6.  Tim Hudson
17.  Luis Gonzalez
34.  Jason Kendall
39.  Roger Clemens
45.  Sean Burroughs
90.  Todd Helton
11 of 20 PC. Press Clippings:  Tim Hudson

The Press Clippings inserts are seeded 1:18 packs - which makes them one of the most boring box hits that I've ever seen.  I think you have to be either a fan of newspapers of the Athletics to have any love for this card.  I don't mind newspapers but the Athletics don't do anything for me...  This one's available for trade should someone be interested in it.

Not a bad pair of packs for the penultimate post dealing with 2003 Fleer Box Score.  I'm hopeful that the final pair of packs will produce the second promised hit!

Barry Larkin Collection 269: 1992 Topps Kids - #37

Barry Larkin
Year:  1992
Brand:  Topps Kids
Card number:  37

In 1992, Topps released a 132 card set aimed towards children (and showing an utter lack of creativity called the set Topps Kids).  The set was organized by team so Barry Larkin joins Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Rob Dibble, Paul O'Neil, and Jose Rijo as the Reds' representatives in the set.  Each card features a colorful front (basically a simple photo of the player overlaid some sort of psychedelic background - because kids love bright colors dontchaknow). The back of the card features very little in the way of statistics but that's made up fro the great comic and the "fun box" where Topps teaches kids what certain statistics mean and/or how to calculate them.

Overall, I think that this was a solid effort to appeal to kids - but I do remember when I was a kid I saw some of these cards and thought to myself "meh, these things are for kids - I want the real stuff."  That was, of course, foolish since "real stuff" to me meant Upper Deck Collector's Choice...but that is the difference between marketing to kids and labeling your product as for kids.  Kids aren't totally dumb - but they can be tricked rather easily!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Proof That Not All Cardinals Fans are Bad! (Delivery Time from Yadier Molina Baseball Cards)

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds have a spirited rivalry.  Unfortunately for Reds fans, Cincinnati almost always seems to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard (or standings).  In some ways, I think the Reds actually aim to be like the Cardinals (strong farm system, dedicated fan base, etc.).

I definitely don't care much for the Cardinals (though most of the egregious players are either no longer in St. Louis or else aren't playing due to injuries, etc.).  In fact, I would say the worst Cardinal from my perspective was Chris Carpenter.  That dude would whine about anything and everything when things didn't go his way - and his wrath wasn't just aimed towards the opponent - there were many games I watched were Carpenter would turn around and scream at an infielder if that player made an error.  Way to pick up your teammates jackwagon.

Anyhow, episodes like that make me not care for the Cardinals - but as I'm quickly learning, just because you don't like the team doesn't mean you won't like some of the fans of that team.

My latest case in point?  Brady from Yadier Molina Baseball Cards.

Brady recently contacted me saying he had some cards for me as a "thank you" for my blog.  Quite frankly, that was a surprise in an of itself (Reds/Cardinals connection notwithstanding).  Who ever thanks me for my blog and the drivel I throw out here on a (twice) daily basis?  Not many, that's who!  However, I was deeply touched by Brady's kind gesture - he even included a little note in the package saying that my blog was the inspiration for him to start his blog - very cool indeed!  (And with that, welcome to the blog-o-sphere Brady!)

As for the cards that Brady sent my way, there were a bunch of goodies!

Brady hit me up with a few 1966 Topps cards - most pre-1970s stuff is a giant hole in my collection so cards like this are always appreciated!  I'm in the middle of a complete collection reorganization and it's quickly becoming obvious just exactly how few pre-1970s cards I actually own!

Brady also sent me a bunch of more modern stuff including this O-Pee-Chee card of Joey Votto.

Votto seems to be deep in thought in this photo - but then again, Votto is almost always deep in thought!  He's a great hitter for a reason - a true student of the game!

Votto isn't only a student though, he's also a teacher to another player who came up through the minors with him - Jay Bruce.

Bruce and Votto can almost always be seen on the Reds' bench sitting side-by-side chatting about (presumably) hitting (or maybe the cute blonde three rows up, one never knows for sure).  The Bruce that Brady sent me was one of the Archives gold parallels - and they look awesome in the 1990 Topps design!

In a fun twist, Brady also sent me some cards off my want list - though I didn't actually add the 2013 Topps Chrome set to my want list until about a month after receiving Brady's package in the mail (I told you I am behind posting trades)!

No matter, two of the three Chrome cards were needed for my set (and if anyone else has some 2013 Chrome lying around let me know)!

We end today's scan happy post with one more goodie from Brady - this super thick 2013 Topps ManuPin card of Johnny Bench.

This is a pretty cool card, though I have no idea how I'll ever store it safely as it's thicker than your typical pack of baseball cards (and heavy too)!  I also wonder if anyone has ever taken one of these cards apart to see if the pin is a true pin (i.e. is there the sharp pointy bit on the back)?  I'm not going to wreck my card though so I'll rely on one of my readers to do a bit of baseball card dissection on their own collection!

Thanks a million for the cards Brady - and even more thanks for the kind words!  As for anyone else, if you want to trade be sure to check out my want list and make an offer!  (And if you find yourself with a pile of unloved Yadier Molina cards - send them to Brady!)