“I put them in my pocket …” (National Baseball Card Day 2019)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on August 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

National Baseball Card Day is One of the best days of year when it comes to our beloved hobby.

This year I gathered up my two kids and headed to the card shop. And moments later my sister showed up with her kids, including her son who has gotten into baseball cards thanks in part to my son and I.

We went to South Bay Sports Cards in Sunnyvale, Calif. and while there I ran into one of my Twitter followers who recognized me from pictures I had posted of my kids. (Nick, we should have taken a group photo.)

We made a few small purchases and the kids got a few free packs and the Special Bryce Harper Card.

The purchased packs yielded nothing of real interest. Chrome had a “short” printed Eloy Jimenez.

And so had hoped to personally pull my first Mike Oz Card from a Ginter pack, both of my packs turned out to be less than spectacular.

But, that’s not really what the day was about. It was about the cards that Topps and South Bay Sports Cards put into the hands of the kids

The highlights of my son’s packs included Ronald Acuna, Javier Baez and Justin Verlander.

And my daughter’s packs yielded two of MY PC guys in a single pack and Pete Alonso.

My packs were highlighted by Mike Trout and Matt Chapman, also guys whom I have put aside for my son.

The family posed for a photo in front of the store before we set off on our separate ways.

Then after the photo I asked my daughter where she put her cards since I did not see them in her hand.

Her answer: “I put them in my pocket…”

I shook my head, told her to show me and then took a photo before telling her to take them out. The cards are hers, and I LOVED that she put them in her pocket since most of us have done the same at some point during our collecting careers. But I advised her to take them out and put them in her binder later, which she agreed was a better course of action.

I may not be able to take the kids back next week for the Vlad Guerrero Jr special card, but I’ll find someone to take the kids for me. I love these promotions, it’s especially fun for the kids now that they also collect.

That moment when your friend gets his own baseball card in Allen & Ginter

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

There’s been no shortage of complaining about this year’s Topps Allen & Ginter non-baseball checklist, and sadly one of the figures who had drawn the ire of collectors early on was Yahoo Sports’ Mike Oz, touted on the back of his card #157 as “Baseball Card Video Host.”

The complaining is something that happens every year. Let’s face it: 2006 may have had the greatest non-baseball checklist that Allen & Ginter will ever have The bar was set so high that it was impossible for Topps to match the product year after year.

And so with each year Topps looks to diversify the checklist, and each year that checklist is subjected to scrutiny, fair or not, and the persons who the company selected to appear on official cards draw the ire of hobbyists, many of which who truly believe THEY deserve a spot on a baseball card instead of the subject they can actually find in their packs.

I’m not going to act like I’m above this. I’ve complained about checklists in the past, and have done my fair share of questioning who some of the folks are. But this year has been a bit different.

Mike Oz, the guy who appears on card 157 of the 2019 Allen & Ginter set, is more than just the guy on another card in my collection. That’s the guy who befriended me when we both wound up at the college newspaper together in 2000. That’s the guy who helped me get internships and acted as a peer and mentor. That’s the guy who has been a friend to me for almost two decades and is one of the most liked people I’ve known in my life.

Additionally, that’s also the guy who has done a lot in recent years to bring more attention to this hobby through his work with Yahoo by putting baseball cards in the hands of current and former players and having them tell stories — something that he has been doing before multiple other people started to copy or adapt versions of the format.

But what’s also important to know is that Mike is not just a dude off the street who decided to open cards with players — something that many folks think they also could do given the opportunity. Mike is an accomplished media man — he was a nationally-recognized collegiate sports journalist and a contributor to a major hip-hop magazine and a radio DJ while in college. After school he worked as a professional journalist at a major newspaper in central California covering local happenings, sports and the music scene. He then parlayed that into a dream job covering Major League Baseball for Yahoo, which has evolved to now include the “Old Baseball Cards” series which as gained him notoriety with a whole new audience, which includes the folks at Topps who reached out to him to include him in the 2019 Allen & Ginter set.

I realize that my personal connection to him leaves me in a space where I would not criticize his inclusion on this year’s set. But it is this connection that also puts me in a unique position to share with the hobby who this guy is. So while others are also deserving of being in such a set — which every year by design has more than a dozen non-players on the checklist so I’m sure we’ll see more debate next year — Mike’s inclusion this year doesn’t shock me one bit, and it absolutely gives me a reason to purchase Ginter, as it’s a product that over the years has drawn less interest from me.

The set isn’t for everyone, including myself. It’s not a traditional baseball card release. It wasn’t when the line started in 1887, and it wasn’t when Topps adopted the brand and rebooted it in 2006. And if you expected Topps to change the formula for this year, or for other releases going forward, you’re going to drive yourself crazy fighting a battle not worth fighting. It’s best to embrace the checklist as it is presented each year, or just dismiss the product all together and just wait for the next release, which as history has shown us, is just a few days away anyway.

My love-hate relationship with the NSCC

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I’m just going to say this right up front — I don’t want to see your NSCC Twitter posts.

I don’t want to see the bargains I can’t have.

I don’t want to see the people I can’t meet.

I don’t want to see all the fun you’re having while I’m stuck at work.

Yep, I’m a hater … or maybe I just have extreme case of FOMO.

I’ve been to two National Sports Collectors Conventions, ones in 2012 (Baltimore) and 2014 (Cleveland), both times as a freelance writer for Beckett. Both times I was there more or less in a work capacity. And if it weren’t for those professional dealings I probably wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve had the pleasure of being in the room where it all happens.

It is a lot of fun to be there. It’s insane how much stuff gets crammed to a building. It’s great to track down pieces you’d never imagined seeing or holding in your hands. It’s really something most collectors should experience at least once.

That said, it’s tough to be on the outside looking in, and I know I am not the only one who struggles with this.

Call it jealousy, FOMO, whatever … I admittedly have a tough time during this time of year and I purposely try to stay away from Twitter because seeing the stream of photos and tweets can cause a sensation similar to depression.

So for those going this year, enjoy yourself. I’d love to hear the stories, and see the great deals you got. I just don’t plan — keyword here — to see them in real-time.

Collecting Kershaw: The Ginter Stained Glass Mini is lost in the mail …

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , on July 28, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Last weekend while traveling to my grandmother’s 80th birthday I was checking eBay looking at the newly released Allen & Ginter cards of my favorite players. During one search I located one of the Stained Glass Clayton Kershaw minis.

The card was gorgeous. It was listed as a Buy In Now and at the time was one of only three copies for sale. One was at auction, one was listed at $129.99, and this was posted for $89.99. I waited an hour or so, then checked again and the seller had dropped it to $79.99.

It was at moment I decided to pull the trigger.

I purchase was made, the card was mailed and … five days later, the packaged was supposedly delivered. At least that is what the United States Postal Service Tracking Number suggests.

The packaged was reportedly delivered at 5:07 p.m., which is an odd time for the mail to arrive in my area. Nonetheless, the card was not at my door. I figured this was the latest in the unresolved scam of scanning cards a day before their true deliver — something I’d written about in the past — so I didn’t freak out too much. Perhaps it would be delivered a day later.

The next day there was no Kershaw.

And the day after that? There was still no Kershaw.

And the day after the day after the day? Yep, no damn Kershaw.

As a buyer I’m sort of screwed, because it’s assumed that the seller did all that he was supposed to do. He added tracking information and for his part it does show Delivered in the appropriate city. Yet here I am with another crappy story of failed delivery.

I’m still holding out hope that the package arrives at some point in the next few days. But I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, I’m sort of SOL.

What I did with my Q2 eBay Bucks

Posted in Game-Used Items, Mail Day with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

It’s always fun to get something for free. This quarter, my eBay Bucks amounted to a tad over $50, and honestly, it could have been much higher had I been smart about when I made some purchases during the second quarter of 2019.

So, what did I get with my reward?

A game-used baseball thrown by Perennial National League CY Young Award contender Max Scherzer that struck former mega prospect and All Star Yoenis Cespedes.

In the bottom of the first inning, Scherzer faced off against Cespedes and on the sixth pitch, he nailed Cespedes on the leg with a 84.5 mph changeup. The Nationals TV announcer had a great comment during the replay:

“With quads like that, you figure that’s a likely place to get hit.”

The encounter was the 28th time Cespedes has been struck by a pitch, and it was the 60th time Scherzer hit a batter during his MLB career. In this game, Scherzer earned his 133rd career victory with his 8-inning, 10-strikeout performance.

The game-used ball represents the 36th in my collection of Hit By Pitch balls I’ve collectively dubbed “The Wall of Pain.” More are on the way; all will eventually be shown here.

Mailday of game-used baseballs also includes a vehicle title? Oops …

Posted in HBP Collection, Mail Day with tags , , on July 8, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Monday was a glorious mailday. I received a handful of game-used baseball cards and a few packages of new Clayton Kershaw cards for my collection.

But one of these packages contained something completely unexpected …

I ripped opened a large bubble mailer that I knew contain two new balls for my game-used collection and removed the balls. And then I peered inside the bubble mailer and found something I KNEW had to have been sent my mistake — the title to the seller’s truck.

Had I been a person of no morals, I could have made this an absolute nightmare situation. But that’s not who I am. I immediately reached out to the seller — who is part of a Facebook group for game-used collectors — and confirmed it was indeed a mistake. He offered to send me money in exchange for the title; but if you know me that’s not necessary. It was an honest mistake; the paperwork will be in the mail in the morning.

The moral of the story for us all is to make sure that in the haste of packaging up collectibles, make sure you don’t accidentally include important documents as packing materials.

So, what was supposed to be in the package? Two new additions to the HBP Collection — Shelby Miller’s first-thrown HBP, and the first ball that struck former prospect Mike Olt.

In Memoriam: Tyler Skaggs (July 13, 1991 – July 1, 2019)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , on July 1, 2019 by Cardboard Icons