Archive for the Misc. Category

He finally said yes to the Mays… and Mantle … and Hank

Posted in Dad Life, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I was sitting at my desk sorting cards and labeling items yesterday when I came across a four 1969 Topps checklists featuring Mickey Mantle.

I grabbed these at a card shop a few years back and they’ve just been sitting around. They are well-love cards, most of the check boxes on the checklist marked. I pulled one out and asked my son: “Hey, you don’t have a Mickey Mantle in your Collection do you?”

Of course the boy responds that he does not.

“Well, would you like one?” I ask.

He smiles and says, “sure!”

I explained what the card is, and then asked about the 1963 Topps Willie Mays I had offered him in the last. This time he agreed to add it to his collection.

But before I handed them to him, I told him I had one more thing to find for him. I figured I had to round this collecting moment with the other major cardboard icon from that generation — Hank Aaron.

So I found the extra 1974 Topps Hank Aaron #1 I had and set it aside as well. We had discussed Hank earlier this week in context of Barry Bonds while we were at the Phillies-Giants game on Thursday night.

Funny thing happened though. As soon as I located the Aaron, I found a 1969 Topps Carl Yastrzemski behind it. That card also felt like it needed to be in my kid’s collection since we talked about him at the game while watching grandson Mike Yastrzemski round the bases after a homer.

These are the father-son collector moments I absolutely love. I’m sure these won’t be the last legends to head his way.

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.

The kids will get to see Kershaw pitch

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Today is a special day. Los Angeles Dodgers star pitcher Clayton Kershaw is set to take the mound tonight at Oracle Park, home of the rival San Francisco Giants, and not only will I be there to see the future Hall of Famer take the mound, but so will my kids and my nephew.

The Points are Poop gang will finally get to watch the player whose cards they see all over my home, the player whose game-used items and cards are frequently arriving by mail, and the guy whose picture I took in 2015 and had the image printed on canvas and eventually hung in my hallway.

This will be my fourth time seeing my favorite player pitch. My sister and I saw him in 2015 as he locked down the NL West title in San Francisco in what was scheduled to be a pitchers duel against Madison Bumgarner. Kershaw was masterful that night, allowing just one hit and striking out 13 batters. It was at that game I took the aforementioned photo I had printed on canvas, and it is also the game at which the image used on this 2016 Stadium Club Gold Autograph card was snapped.

I saw Kershaw again last season when the Dodgers came through Oakland; and of course My sister and I saw him at Game 5 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium when my favorite team knocked around my favorite player in order to clinch the World Series Championship.

If this was just me going, I would have ponied up for seats along the first base line, but with three kids going with me, the budget just doesn’t allow for such premium seats. Instead we’ll be taking the game in from the bleachers.

Kershaw may not be the dominant pitcher he was five years ago, and I won’t pretend that he is the best in the game — pretty sure Max Scherzer has that title at the moment — but it’s pretty special for me to bring my kids and my sister’s son to a game that features my favorite active player.

By comparison, I only saw Roger Clemens — my childhood favorite — pitch twice, once on Opening Day 1999, which his first start with New York, and again in 2007 as a member of the Houston Astros. My ex wife was with me on both occasions.

I did have loose plans to see him in 1997 when the Blue Jays came through Oakland in May of that year, but I had a medical emergency right around my birthday that prevented that from happening — I wound up watching that game from a hospital bed. And in the early to mid 1990s I really didn’t have the means to see him as the Red Sox ace, which is unfortunate.

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.

No Return/refund policy on eBay doesn’t mean what you think

Posted in Misc. on April 30, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I’m sure I am not breaking ground here with this, but for me this is a first time. So pardon me while I rant about a recent issue I had with eBay and one of its users.

I’ve been a member of the eBay community for more than two decades. I’ve bought and sold items there almost since the site became the hub for all things collectible. The site has changed over the years, as have the practices of its users. And sadly, in our hobby of trading cards where the market for our goods is super volatile, buyers have created an environment where they almost always hold all the cards — pun intended.

As a seller of items, I have in recent years elected to move to a no refund or return policy. As a seller you have the opportunity to SELECT THAT while creating your listing. Additionally, I always spell this out in the description of my listings. And until recently, this had not been a problem.

This story begins several months ago when I posted for sale two Mookie Betts cards. They were a Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor and Topps Update Red Foil. I posted the items for sale around the same time the Red Sox won the World Series — I opted to sell these items in hopes of recouping some of the cost for my tickets to World Series Game 5. The items were posted and eight pictures were added to the listing. The photos showed that the Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor was damaged, and the listing also indicated this. I had three people “buy” the item with a Best Offer option, but none of them paid so I had to relist the items. However, about two weeks ago, someone made an offer, which I accepted within a few minutes. And just minutes after my accepting of the offer, the buyer paid. This was refreshing, given the nonsense I’d dealt with a few times already

But things wouldn’t go so smooth. In fact, about five minutes later I got a message from the buyer. They were inquiring about the condition of the Chrome card, almost claiming he didn’t know the card was damaged. I pointed out that the photos were included and the description stated the cards were damaged; I told him that the cards would go out ASAP.

I sent the cards with signature confirmation, half expecting there to be some sort of nefarious activity to come. The same day the cards were delivered, I received a message from the buyer. He wanted a partial refund to the tune of 25% of the total cost, citing that the cards were damaged and they were not worth what he paid for them.

I refused and instead offered 10% even though this goes against my SELECTED EBAY OPTION TO NOT ACCEPT RETURNS OR OFFER REFUNDS. The buyer shot back asking to meet him at 17.5%. I refused and held at 10%. That’s when this escalated because the buyer also didn’t want to budge.

The buyer decided to request a refund through proper eBay channels, citing that the item was not as described and in the process taking a picture of the damage to the Chrome card. His photo didn’t show as much damage as my photo in the listing did. We also went back and forth on the record about value, my belief that he was feeling “Buyer’s Remorse” and so on. This process locked up my PayPal account and put me as a seller in a precarious position.

Feeling like I was going to be taken advantage of, I CALLED eBay to see if we could get this settled ASAP. You know where this is going based on the title of my post here.

The first eBay representative told me that she understands that it is frustrating, and told me that I should accept the return, and eBay could/would step in if I’d like but I had to wait three days for the claim to escalate. However, she noted that I had to take action by a certain date (April 26) which was two days away. I wrestled with the idea and told her that I’d surly be calling back Friday (April 26) to have eBay step in and vindicate me as a seller seeing as how my posting showed the defects, and I had SELECTED THE NO REFUND/RETURN policy.

A day went by and I started thinking about the wording shown in the Refund Request and what the first representative said. It stated that I needed to take action BY April 26. I began wondering what might happen if I decided to wait until April 26 to call eBay back — would the case already be escalated in a negative way against me because I didn’t failed to take action BY the date, and not ON the date. So I decided to call.

I got a second representative on the phone and explained my position. This representative confirmed that I needed to take action BY the date listed above. Furthermore, this representative advised that I SHOULD accept the refund and that I could dispute it further if the item returned to me was not the same as I sold, or had been altered in anyway. We then went around and around about Buyer’s Remorse and what not. But I became fixated on this fact: I SELECTED THE OPTION AS A SELLER TO NOT ACCEPT REFUNDS/RETURNS?

“So, in a way, the option (to disallow returns/refunds) is pointless and I’m being forced to accept the return/refund anyway, right?” I asked of the representative.

She was hesitant to reply, but agreed with my assessment. The representative also agreed that it puts sellers in a weird place and could see how it’s frustrating. She also explained what would happen if I did not Take Action by the date as described. She added that not taking action would force eBay to step in and force the return, refund the money and could ultimately impact my ability to buy and sell on the site.

I laughed, explained that policy is ridiculous from a seller standpoint, but ultimately thanked her for her time in explaining things to me — we were on the phone for some 20 minutes. I understand that she was just doing her job, and my issue was not with her, but with the policy, as well as with the buyer.

After the conversation I shot another message over to the buyer adding that I was accepting the refund in protest because my hands were tied; I wanted all of that on the record should this need to be drawn out further.

There was no additional communication. And Monday afternoon, I received a package from the buyer. It was the two cards exactly as I had sent them.

Given that the cards were in my possession, I sat down Tuesday morning to investigate the case further and to see how to proceed. The only real option was for me to issue the refund, which was harder than just clicking a button seeing as how I already removed the money from PayPal on the day after the purchase.

There are some who would have said that I should have just accepted the return in the first place, or just given the buyer the 17.5% refund they were seeking after negotiation. And that opinion is valid — if I had, I would at least have most of the money that had been sent to me.

But I was taking a stand because I felt I was right. Because the sports card market is volatile and returns/refunds should not be accepted in our market. Also, I felt I had not only shown the cards accurately, but also felt that as a seller I had SELECTED THE OPTION OF NO RETURN/REFUND and by choosing that option, as well as stating it in the description, those words should mean something.

As it turns out, those words mean very little.

On the flip side, I can also see how frustrating this could be as a buyer. However, I also know it is my duty to ask questions before hand, and to accurately read descriptions before hitting a “Buy It Now” button, or even making an offer. There was ZERO urgency in this case for the buyer to pay for the item without doing their homework.

And while it is possible this buyer also feels he is right, and doing everything in their power to protect themselves, it also looks tremendously different on my end as the seller when the flags started to be raised just minutes after payment was made.

If you haven’t noticed, I have not shared this buyer’s name, even though at least a dozen of you have asked via Twitter for me to do so. It’s never been my style to run people’s names/accounts through the mud publicly over interactions like this. This could be one crappy scenario for both of us and and may not be indicative of their dealings going forward. For what it’s worth, I have a 100% rating with nearly 2,900 feedbacks, the buyer has less than 200 transactions.

Small 2019 Bowman break and some thoughts

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , on April 30, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time when I would anticipate the release of Bowman as the true beginning of MY card collecting year. At the time I didn’t value Topps flagship the way many other do. I was all about the rookie cards and what better place than to start the card year than with the self-proclaimed “Home of the Rookie Card.”

But times and collecting habits have changed. And really our hobby has changed as well as finding Bowman on retail shelves “in the wild” has become akin to a Hot Wheel collector seeking the elusive Treasure Hunts.

I shop at Target a lot. Not just for cards, but for pretty much everything I need. So every time I go in I take a look at what’s new. And while I no longer hunter Bowman the way I had say in 2010, I am still keeping an eye out for a blaster or two just to try my luck.

Well, the stuff is gone. Period. I’ve not seen a single blaster, and up until yesterday I had not even seen a “Value pack,” one of the 19-card types for $5.99. All I had seen to that point was an occasional loose pack from a gravity feeder.

Feeling as if I had found some sort of gold by simply locating two Value Packs, I decided to buy them, as well as a single loose pack. I’ll tell you, that $3.99 price tag on Bowman retail is mighty ugly.

If there is one thing I have learned from Bowman in recent years its that unless your card has ink on it or is shiny and bears a low serial number, odds are the secondary market doesn’t care a whole lot. And while as a collector that market shouldn’t matter, it still creeps into MY head when I am shelling out a few bucks — in this case $3.99 for 12 Bowman cards — and it does make think more before pulling the trigger on any said purchase.

Anyway, Bowman is what it is — the lottery ticket of the baseball genre of card collecting. It’s not what it was in the 1990s; it’s really about the Chromes embedded within the backs, and the variations thereof.

I won’t tell you how to collect or spend your money; hell, evenm I get a little wrapped up in this gamble. Which is why I bought the two Value Packs and the loose pack, the results of which I shall share below.

The loose pack had a nice Green Refractor /99 inside of a top prospect Nico Hoerner, who has had Bowman Cards before. It’s a nice hit for 1:141 packs, even cooler since this is a local guy for me. Sadly, this card does bear some scratches on the surface. Ugh.

The first Value Pack sort of picks up where the loose pack left off. Does the name on that Refractor look familiar? Yeah, it’s Nico Hoerner again, this time /499. Surface isn’t bad, but I’d have to balk if someone asked me the age-old Chrome speculator question: “Will it gem?”

The last Value Pack had the biggest name in out hobby right now — aside from Mike Trout — on a good-looking prospect insert. Vlad Guerrero Jr. is THE guy to chase/own/sell and this is a good looking card that would probably net me a whole $1 at auction. I’ll just toss it in the small stack of other Vlad’s I have sitting around.

I definitely beat the odds with the few packs that I found, but unless I find a blaster in the wild, I probably won’t be buying much more of this. (I did buy five Bowman loose packs but haven;t written about them — nothing big in those either — and no Clayton Kershaw cards either.) I have no intention on paying full hobby box prices, or paying $3.99 for a loose pack at this point. This isn’t MY scope of collecting any more.

Cardboard Icons as special guest on Podcast “About The Cards”

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , on April 29, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I had the pleasure yesterday of linking up with the guys from podcast “About The Cards,” who asked me to be the subject of their most recent “Collector Spotlight” episode.

We chatted about my history as a collector, the past and current focuses of of my collection, this blog, my history with thrift shopping — including the story of the Earl Weaver game-used Jersey, my time as a Beckett Columnist, a bit about former editor Chris Olds, and more.

Absolutely flattered to have been asked to be their guest. If you’re interested in viewing it, it’s on YouTube as well as on iTunes as a podcast.

Thanks again to Tim, Ben and Steph for having me on. It was a lot of fun.

Here’s a picture of my kids watching it later.