Archive for the Commentary Category

Boooooo! Give it to the kid!

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

He sits in his seat, left hand in his fielding glove, eyes transfixed on the field before him.

Like many other kids his age, his dream is to catch a ball. Game-used, player-thrown or -hit, whatever … it doesn’t matter. A ball is a ball, and it was the object of his desire.

This was me as a youth. Hell, it was you, and your friend. It was your dad, your brother, your cousin, your nephew.

It is my son.

My boy in recent months has taken a liking to the game, more so than I ever images he would at his age. I mean, like many baseball-loving dads, I hoped my son would be the kid who would be crushing Whiffle balls with a pacifier in his mouth, or throwing darts from right field to third base before the third grade. But that hasn’t always been the case. Even though he had been exposed to the game since birth, my son until recently hadn’t shown love for the sport.

But then it happened. He wanted to know about cards; about the game; about the rules.

And recently, when attending games, he started bringing his glove. And just a week and a half ago — on June 7, 2019 — while at the Dodgers-Giants game he asked if he (and his sister and cousin) could go to the front two of the bleachers during batting practice to see if he could snag a ball.

They didn’t get close to catching one, but watching their faces being among the crowd of folks with the same childhood dream — was priceless.

At one point a ball had gotten tossed into the stands and a scrum ensued and my nephew managed to get a finger tip on it, before a group of guys crashed into each other and a young girl walked away with it in her hands. No one was upset; hell, I was proud of my nephew for the effort. And found great comedy in watching a group of boys (and men) picking themselves up as the pre-teen girl held it up and flashed a giant smile.

Fast forward to Monday, June 17, a day after Father’s Day. My kids were with me for a few days and I sought out cheap entertainment. Of course my mind instantly went to baseball. I managed to find some bleacher seats for the Orioles at Athletics game and asked the kids if they wanted to go. Without hesitation, both my son and daughter agreed. And as we headed out the door, my son grabbed his glove.

By the time we got to the stadium, the first row on the left-field bleachers was full — which is to be expected in Oakland. They have some die-hard fans in left and right field bleachers, the type that bang on drums and cow bells, wave flags and have hand coordinated gestures.

But, we got there early enough to pick the seats we wanted. And sure enough, as we say down my son had his left hand in his glove, seemingly ready for anything that came his way.

For the first two innings, my son jumped out of his seat for anything that got hit toward left field. He wasn’t the only one. But his instincts were making me proud. Then in the third inning — after the A’s scored two runs — outfielder Ramon Laureano hit a flyball to left field for the third out.

Orioles left field Anthony Santander gloves it and began running toward the infield, and he threw it to Second baseball Hanser Alberto (who at this point was standing between second base and left field) and Alberto threw it into the left field bleachers. The ball clanked off a seat in section 136 and rolled down to section 135, row 29 — right behind my son. My son reached back and hand two fingers on it when an older kid — maybe late teens early 20s — comes flying over from 136 and aggressively grabs the ball, then turns around with his treasure.

Almost immediately, the crowd laid him.

“Booooooo! Give it to the kid!”

I asked my son if he was OK, and he said he was. He explained he had two fingers on it when it got snatched away by the other person in a blue shirt. I put my hand on his head and told him it was OK. I can’t say I was upset because I didn’t see how much control my son actually had of the ball. Also … I don’t know that older guy’s story. Hell, it’s not like the guy appeared to be in his 30s or anything.

Nonetheless, after a few moments, the guy in the blue shirt comes over and hands the ball to my son, apologizes and walks away halfway through my head nod to acknowledge his actions.

It was a great gesture, one I wish I could have thanked him more for at the time — but I froze. I was concerned about my son being embarrassed — also I wanted to make sure he actually held the ball and didn’t let it roll away.

To the guy in the blue shirt, thank you. I wish I could have shaken your hand before you disappeared. It’s not something you had to do, even if the others around you put pressure on you to give it up.

Having said that, what IS the protocol for older kids, young adults or older folks chasing a ball when clearly it’s in the grasp of a kid? Is this something I should have been upset about? Is this a scenario for which I should even be thanking the guy in the blue shirt?

As for the ball … I went aback and watched the replay of the final moments of the third inning. It appears this ball was initially used in a Khris Davis groundout to Hanser Alberto, who threw it to third base on a fielder’s choice — that’s where they tagged out a Matt Olson for the second out. Then on the next pitch Laureano pops out to left and eventually the ball ends up in the stands.

It was of apropos that Laureano was the guy who last hit it. He has been a golden thread weaved through my baseball story over the last year or so. My kids and I were there for his first career homer; I was there in April when he gunned down Xander Bogaerts at home, and again in May when he threw out another player from deep centerfield. And of course now this flyout which my son now owns.

I feel like they’re missing the point …

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on June 9, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story. Today my kids and I went to visit my girlfriend and for this trip my son brought along two binders and a stack of loose cards he needed to sort and put in pages.

The loose cards he decided to put into his Flawless briefcase that he got from MojoBreak earlier this week. When we arrived at my girlfriend’s house she had an immediate reaction to the briefcase.

“Wow, that’s a fancy briefcase. What’s in there, diamonds?” She said flippantly.

I laughed and explained that there were diamonds in there at some point. I told her about the Flawless brand and how diamonds were embedded in some of the cards and how those cards were then presented to collectors in plastic cases placed inside this briefcase. So, she was sort of right.

“They do this because collecting cards is no longer good enough,” I said.

Her response?

“I feel like they’re missing the point,” she said, noting that the hobby seems to have strayed from the idea of collecting cards.

You may not agree, but she’s not wrong.

We all know where the hobby is right now with so much focused on high-priced, high-risk products. Her thoughts were interesting for me to hear as she is not a collector, rather someone in a relationship with someone who is involved in the hobby.

It’s refreshing to hear these types of comments from her, and from others — including my kids — because it’s a reminder that I have also strayed far away from what drew me into this hobby in the first place. It’s the damn cards, not necessarily the ink on them, the material in them, or even the precious gems or metals that have seemingly been forced into our hobby as a way to justify high costs and make us believe these cards will carry some immense value even outside of the basic hobby.

People will collecting what’s appealing to them, so by all means you do you. But I love hearing the outsider’s perspective.

Rare, non-serial numbered parallels get lost in the shuffle

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Commentary with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

As a player collector, it’s fun (sometimes) to chase down parallels. In most Topps brands, we can expect there to be some sort of gold parallel and then of course a refractor and variations thereof. Sometimes those cards are serial numbered to match the year, or much lower, say to 5, 10, 25, etc.

But in Stadium Club, Topps has gotten back to an early parallel called “First Day Issue” … and they’re rare, but often forgotten about because they’re not serial numbered.

Topps began releasing the First Day parallels in the early 1990s, and those parallels initially had a holographic logo emblazoned on the front of what looked like a base card. And then in the late 1990s the company moved to a a gold foil logo. The idea — at least in my mind — was to signify a certain batch of cards that were made during the first run the product and then inserted as a parallel of the base card.

In the last half decade or so, Topps brought the parallel back and made them much tougher to pull. And much like the late 1990s Topps used a foil emblem on the front to signify this parallel. Pretty cool, right? One problem: The cards are supposedly limited to like seven copies and they’re not serial numbered.

This means sellers may not know what they actually have, so they may not bother listing them, so they’re missing an opportunity to make money.

But on the flip side, player collectors tend to get them cheaper than other rare parallels solely because they’re not serial numbered.

I hope that when Topps releases Stadium Club in the upcoming months that the First Day Issue returns, and that they are rare, and I hope they begin serial numbering them … even if it means I’ll be paying more for the latest Kershaw.

That’s a long way to come for a card …

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

In this day and age of our hobby, there is almost nothing that isn’t available on the internet.

Rare singles, cheap wax, you name it — it’s all there at the click of a button. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth visiting local card shops.

This week my girlfriend and I traveled to Pittsburgh for a wedding. And while in the area I thought it’d be neat to visit a shop, a place that would give me a flavor of the area, as well as an opportunity to find a card for me to take home as a memento of this trip. After all, cards are the timeline of my life.

I sought out suggestions via Twitter and was immediately reminded that Steel City Collectibles is based in the area and does have a retail store. But while it would have been cool to visit the hub of one of the internet’s largest card dealers, I was short on free time, and really wasn’t seeking cheap wax.

A quick check of a Google revealed several options, which was refreshing since I often hear folks complain about the lack of shops. There were three potential options based on the time available and our location: one was a small shop nearby but based on Online reviews and images, it looked to be more focused on gaming cards — not horrible, just not what I was seeking.

The other two options were SportsCards Etc. and Sports Card Junction. I checked reviews of both and available photos and while either could have worked for me, I chose SCJ solely because I could see they had a larger selection of singles and several Dollar Boxes to soothe my itch to uncover a buried treasure — you all know how I love to unearth gems.

So we set out for the shop and upon arrival I was pleased to see that the store was indeed open for business and was as well-stocked as the photos online showed

Store owner Chuck was behind the counter engaging with another customer who appeared to me buying a Mario Lemeiux card for his son or nephew. I set my eyes on the Dollar Box and began my hunt.

It should be noted that this is the first trip to a shop or show in which my girlfriend of two years has come along. It’s a big deal — how was she going to react when she saw price tags and saw how much time I was going to spend blindly hunting for a possible gem in the stacks?

Much to my surprise she was supportive. Gave me time and space, and even began interacting with the store owner as he continued to field phone calls from a potential seller of a couple of Michael Jordan rookie cards. She made small talk with the owner and even told him we were from California, to which Chuck muttered the phrase: “That’s a long way to come for a card …”

I spent a good 30 minutes digging and came up with 11 cards from the Dollar Boxes that I felt needed to come home with me. They were as follows:

Four 2012 Topps Update All Star Mike Trouts. Why? Because it’s An early Trout.

Two 2016 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor Garret Hampson cards. Why: Because Friend Big Shep has built him up to be someone to whom I needed to pay attention

A 2017 Bowman Chrome Sean Manaea Rookie card. Why: Because I got to shake Manaea’s hand on the morning after his no hitter and my girlfriend was there to snap the picture.

A 1998 Prism Gold Wade Boggs serial numbered to 480 copies. Why: Because the card is gorgeous and will go well with the Revolution parallel my son and I pulled from a box we bought earlier this year.

A 1996-97 Flair Blue Ice Collection Keith Primeau /250. Why? Because I thought I could flip it, but in hindsight it’s also a cool card because it showcases the Hartford Whalers logo.

A 1992 Score “The Franchise” Stan Musial / Mickey Mantle / Carl Yastrzemski

Why: Because I LOVE this insert set and know how tough they were to pull at the time of release. Also, this card had a $12.99 price tag on it which made me feel as if I was getting a steal of a deal. I know the market for these is soft, but open a case of 1992 Score and tell me how many The Franchise inserts you pull.

1952 Topps Roy McMillan

Why? Because it’s 1952 Topps! Sure, this card has had its borders trimmed, it’s creased like crazy and part of the back is probably stuck to the paper album in which it had been affixed at some point. But cmon … THIS is the kind of stuff I dig for.

I could have spent hours digging; and honestly, there were other flippable cards. But I wasn’t solely there for cards on which to profit. I wanted a piece that would define this trip

I located another box on the showcase that had some cards on top loaders at varying prices. This is where I found two Clayton Kershaw cards for my collection.

2017 Topps Chrome Update Gold Refractor /50

2015 Panini Immaculate Jumbo Swatches /15

While those Kershaws would have been sufficient for my defining cards — after all I don’t own a whole lot of jumbo blue swatch Kershaw relics — I continued to look . And then my eye set site on a glorious vintage Willie Mays card that was clearly handcut, and the price tag made my mouth water. I asked Chuck if I could look at the Mays and he opened the showcase for me and handed me the card, which he did not know was a Bazooka release. I pulled the card halfway out of the Card Saver, touched the back and gave it a sniff — yep, it was authentic vintage. I mentioned that I thought the card was a Bazooka release, and as Chuck rang me up, he again asked what I had identified the card as so he could mark it down on his sales sheet.

I thanked Chuck for the hospitality — he threw in a few freebie packs from Topps and Panini and cut me a small discount on the purchase — and shook his hand and left the shop really feeling good about the decision to go there.

In the hours and days after the purchase, I showed a few items off via social media and even tagged the shop and had a little pleasant interaction with Chad, the son of the owner and also the person who does the buying — I know this based on the multiple calls Chuck fielded while I was browsing.

If you find yourself in the Pittsburgh area, make sure to swing by SCJ as you’ll probably find something that suits your needs. It was a long way to come for a card, but now that Mays card will act as the card to define this trip.

Thanks again, Chuck and Chad.

My first Topps Now card of 2019… and it’s a Walk Off Winner from my birthday

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When I was a kid, my parents always asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I was never a party kind of person. All I needed was family and baseball, so in my teens I started asking my mother and father if we could go to an A’s game.

We didn’t go every year, but one of my favorite baseball birthday memories was when I was about to turn 19. My father took me and two friends to a May 1, 1999, contest between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland A’s. As it turned out, Pedro Martinez was on the mound for the BoSox and he wound up dominating Oakland to the tune of 13 strikeouts over just 7 innings en route to his career 89th career victory. Needless to say I, being a Red Sox fan, was happy. And in the context of baseball history, that dominating start really summed up 1999 Pedro, damn near untouchable.

I’ve gone to many other games around my birthday, and as it turned out, this year, my 39th birthday, wound up probably being my second favorite, even eclipsing that one from a half a lifetime ago. (My top favorite is still this trip to Fenway in 2010.)

This year my son’s Little League participated in three different “Youth Sports League” days/night in the area. The league participated in San Francisco Giants and San Jose Giants events, as well as one of the several hosted by the Oakland A’s. This year, the League chose the night that happened to be Friday Fireworks Night, which just so happened to be my birthday.

We tailgated with the League President and other families. The kids played Wiffle Ball, I played catch with my kids, and I tweeted out a picture of my son wearing my personal Mark McGwire jersey, the one I wore during my high school days.

The tweet received a lot of attention, including an epic comment from the Oakland A’s organization itself. The response from the team was a gif of McGwire bashing elbows at home plate following a walk-off home run in Game 3 of the 1988 World Series — the gif really hit home because I remember staying up late to watch that game with my mom, who lovingly bashed elbows with be after the homer.

As for this day, my kids, their mother, and I sat in the left field bleachers, which is not a typical spot for me. I sat here on this day because I didn’t want the sun to be in anyone’s face. As it turned out, it was fate.

My daughter wore a Matt Chapman jersey I got as a stadium giveaway last year, just as she has done every time we’ve gone to a game since I acquired the garment. And every time he comes to the plate or makes a play in the field, I point him out so that she and my son can draw a connection to Chapman, who is the face of the franchise.

On this night we watched Chapman smash a single into left field past shortstop Francisco Lindor’s glove, and later make it to second base on a following play. This turned out to be significant for me because I managed to purchase the ball that Chapman struck for the single, and later photo-matched it thanks to a bobble by Jose Ramirez, which was captured by a photograph. In the photo you can see the mud that exists on the ball which was authenticated and sold by the ball club.

And then several innings and hours later, as fans who were there for fireworks grew restless, sat Chapman in the 12th inning slugged his first career walk-off homerun, which happened to land in the general area where we were sitting. If you look closely at the television broadcast you can see my family just a few rows away,

The walk-off homer wound of being chronicled by Topps the very next day on a Topps Now card, which of course I had to purchase. And that card of course just arrived this week to act as a keepsake for what has to be one of my top best baseball-related birthday memories I have had to date.

I hope 2019 Bowman Mega Boxes are gone before I see them

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

2019 Bowman Mega Boxes have begun to hit shelves — a week earlier than the advertised release date — and people in the hobby are going nuts trying to find these lottery tickets.

Personally, I hope they are gone before I see them.

Why? Don’t I like cards? Don’t I want a shot at pulling some ridiculously priced prospect card?

The answer to all of that is yes. And that’s MY problem.

I’ve got an addictive personality, and a serious case of FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out — so I tend to over extend myself on retail products I don’t even collect simply because that’s what’s hot, and I have this feeling that I must buy some (or all) if I actually locate it in the wild.

We’ve been breeding this culture that once you see it, you’ve got to buy it all. I know I am not the only one. Go look at your Twitter feed and message board posts and look at the number of people dropping $300-$500 on baskets full of Bowman Mega Boxes; go look at the walls of Mega Box Wax being shown off.

This isn’t the only product that gets us doing this, but it is the latest. Because we know that somewhere within these $20 boxes of surprise could be lying a card that might be worth (resell value) thousands, but we participate en mass knowing that most cards will be worth just a few quarters in most cases.

Personally, I know what I’ll do when and if I see these things. I’m sure I’ll buy two or three. And I’ll feel that excitement and rush as a I check out. And moments later that feeling will be gone after I open them, a replaced with the idea that “what if” I bought another two or three? And then the sickness continues.

Good luck to any and all who open Bowman Mega Boxes. I have no ill feelings toward any of you. Just do yourself a favor and make sure those boxes are FACTORY SEALED … we all know that only two packs in each box are really why you’re buying them, and if history has shown us anything, cheap-ass scammers can and will find a way to remove them from boxes.

So I was thinking … A recommendation for Beckett Magazines

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on May 8, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of the newest Beckett Baseball. Don’t ask why. I just like to have a new copy in my hand every few months. I really only buy it once or twice a year.

Anyway, I was just flipping through the magazine as I normally would and it dawned on me that Beckett is missing an opportunity.

Hear me out.

A few years ago Beckett stopped publishing in its monthly magazine any set released before 1980. The move was done to keep a more modern presence and to reduce the size, and maybe the cost, of the monthly magazine. I get it.

So here’s my idea. Why don’t we trim out all this nonsense like the 3-inch listing of 1990 Fleer and just list key cards going all the way back to t206? I mean seriously. Not to pick on Ozzie Smith or Robin Yount, but we don’t need to know that those cards are listed at 15 to 40 cents in the book.

What’d be more valuable is seeing key rookie cards and even other major HOFers from vintage sets from t206 to 1980; and then list other key rookies and some inserts from 1980 to current. Don’t you all think it’s a bit asinine that a person returning to the hobby can’t buy a copy of the monthly magazine and see what year or how much a rookie card of Mantle, Mays or Aaron is, but can go find damn near every 1990 card of George Brett or Greg Maddux?

And this is not a forum for you to blast the magazine. I know — hell, we all know it’s not as valuable to the hobby as it used to be — rather this post is a suggestion to improve the product, and maybe help find a way for it to be useful in today’s market.