Archive for Roger Clemens

Breaking a lonely 2017 TSC Baseball Value Pack

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve always been a fan of Topps Stadium Club.  You can count me among the collectors who paid through the nose for singles of our favorite players from the original release in 1991. True story, I once road my bike three miles to drop $5 on a single Roger Clemens card from this set. Yes, that’s how it went when I was 11.

I digress, this year’s Stadium Club has been nearly impossible to find at retail. And I have not had time to hit my Local Card Shop to buy a hobby box.  Like most 2017 products that contain Aaron Judge, TSC has flown off the shelves.

But while shopping at WalMart with my son I managed to find a lonely Value Pack hanging on a peg hook. I had to snatch it up as it could be the one and only TSC pack I break this year.

And so, here are my results.


I did not pull any Aaron Judge cards, BUT I did pull a Andrew Benintendi rookie card, which features a cool photo of him robbing a homerun.


Other rookies in the pack included ones of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Renato Nunez of the Oakland Athletics.


Baseball legend Ted Williams always manages to find himself in this set, which is great because I love me some Teddy Ballgame. That said, the image used on his card this year made me stop immediately. It’s fantastic. Ted seemingly is doing push-ups in the outfield and there is a building in the background, making him seem larger than life. Great photo choice.


My lone insert in the pack is a “Scoreless Streak” Justin Verlander. Ho-hum, in my opinion. The reverse of the card mentions several dominant streaks by Verlander but doesn’t touch at all on anything from 2016. Go figure.


The remainder of the pack features a random mix of players, including Salvador Perez, Joe Panik, Trayce Thompson, Albert Almora, Adam Conley, a random appearance by Derrek Lee and a gold parallel of JJ Hardy.

It’s probably a good thing there was only one pack on the shelf. I have a tendency to mark out for TSC and likely would have bought more.  If I see some in the wild, I’ll probably consider purchasing more, but it’s not exactly something I’m going to go way out of my way for right now.

If anyone has any Clayton Kershaw cards from this set or any others, I’m openly trading for them — just don’t ask for any autos or hits in exchange.

Blaster Break: 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time when the brand name “Allen & Ginter” set off all sorts emotions for me as a card collector. I would get caught up in the craze that seemingly came with the set.


What major non-sport stars would have signatures in the set? What weird relics would Topps include this year? Would there be a Ginter Code, or any other secrets such as the time Topps embedded unannounced 1/1 parallels within the panels of some hobby boxes?

I’d buy one or two hobby boxes, and then do damage at buy ripping blaster after blaster.

But those are emotions and actions of yesteryear. For me, the appeal of Ginter has waned. I no longer feel the need to hit the Local Card Shop on release day, or do an online break, or even hit retail stores with a fervor. Instead it’s become a product that I open every year in lesser quantities, partially because I feel the quality and bang for the buck has diminished, but also because my interests as a collector have changed.

I know some have argued that the product has jumped the shark and call for its dismissal. I’m not one of them. I’m just saying that I personally consume less Ginter each year.

That said, here I am with a blaster and “fat pack” of this year’s version in my hands and I am going to break it here, show a few, and share some opinions. It’s a bit of an old school ‘Icons act for a pseudo retro product.

I’m not going to do a product break down, link you to checklists and try to act like I am the greatest source of your information. I’ll spare you the bullshit. I bought a random blaster and a fat pack that had my favorite player (Roger Clemens) clearly visible through the front of the wrapper. These are my results; your’s will vary.

The Fat Pack:

Yes, I looked at the front of the packs to see what players were visible. No there was no Aaron Judge otherwise I would be showing that here.  Instead I saw one with my boy Clemens on top and decided to rip it. I don’t care if you consider that unethical. Really. I don’t.


From the moment I opened the pack I could see the middle was a bit different. I had two minis in this pack (which I think is typical for the Fat Packs) and I could see a wood grain border, which turned out to be a 1987 Topps Tom Brookens (silver stamp) buy back. At least this card was mint. I did pull an ’87 buy pack from a Topps Series One pack that was creased across the middle. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m glad I locked down the Clemens base card for my collection; an SP of Seung-Hwan Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a Mini SP of Willie Stargell, and a Required Reading mini that are seeded 1:30 Fat Packs.

The Blaster:

There are eight packs as usual in the blaster and when I opened the first one, there was clearly a framed hit inside. This has been one of the joys of this product over the years.  It’s also been fun to see the shiny frame of a mini hit in the middle of a desert of white base cards. 


As my luck had it, the first single pack of the year held a Framed Mini Relic of Rockies star Nolan Arenado, which to my surprise is a tough pull considering the framed mini relics are seeded 1:733 packs, almost four times HARDER than a framed mini autograph. It’s an interesting ploy by Topps to make these mini relics appealing to some collectors by making them more scarce.  But let’s face it … unless you’re a master set collector, or in dire need of a framed mini relic of Arenado, it’s not paying the bills, not even for this one blaster.


In the third pack I hit an Aaron Judge rookie card, which could be one of the most boring looking rookie cards of the game’s hottest player. But, it is what it is — read: in demand and not something at which to scoff.


In Pack Five I got a rookie card of Mitch Haniger the Mariners’ prospect who hails from my home town.


In Pack Six I got a base card of Clayton Kershaw — the only active player I actually collect — and another one of those Required Reading minis, which are seeded 1:50 regular packs.


And Pack Eight held perhaps one of the coolest Ginter cards to date, that of my friend — and that of like 8 million others — Tom Anderson, co-founder of MySpace. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the photo chose for this card. So so good. It deserves a thumbs up, honestly.


Final Thoughts:

Even though I’d heard some people say this year’s design wasn’t good, I actually disagree. It feels like the base cards are spin on Transcendent, which if was by design, is smart because it plays on the subconcious of those seeking high-end stuff. The brand itself needed something new, and I think this portrait frame design look does it.


I actually dig the fish and fishing lure set — because I like fishing and this is somewhat of a proper homage to the early Ginter sets. And while I applaud Topps for including a slew of other random inserts celebrating animals and events of the world, it all just gets lost in the shuffle for me. Like I said, my personal tastes have changed.

Oh, and I still dig the minis. The design actually looks really good in the minis.


Would I buy more? Probably. But as has been the case in recent years, it’ll be less. I’ll likely steer entirely clear of hobby boxes — if for no other reason it’s already crazy expensive.

 

The dream Roger Clemens card has arrived

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Ask any player collector what they’re dream card is and it’s likely going to be a signed rookie card of some sorts.  Or maybe a 1/1 featuring a sweet patch or button, coupled with an autograph.


For me, with Roger Clemens being my guy, that dream card is a 1991 Topps Desert Shield, signed by the man himself.

Some people may not understand my fascination with this card. I was a big fan of the photography used in the 1991 set and from the outset, I had my eye on the Clemens card because it features him standing at the base of the iconic Green Monster. I’ve owned probably 30 or 40 copies of the standard card, but always wanted the Desert Shield version. For the uninitiated, the Desert Shield version features a gold stamp in the corner. These were cards that were sent (in pack/box form) to the US troops stationed abroad during the Gulf War. The fact that some of these actually made it back to the States is impressive in their own right.

(Side note: Surely some of the boxes never actually made it abroad as sealed wax can be found if your pockets are deep enough. Nonetheless, the mystique surrounding the product remains.)

When I first learned of the cards, I hoped that one day I could own one card — any card at that — from that special set.  My hopes, obviously, were to own the Clemens card but I figured it would cost me a fortune. Remember, this was a quarter of a century ago.

Over time we as a hobby have found new ways to get the cards of which we’d always dreamed. The internet has made the impossible possible as we were no longer limited to just the cards we had in local shops and shows. Even so, I failed to obtain a Desert Shield version of the 1991 card until recently, when I not only located THE card, but one that had been handled and signed by the legend Roger Clemens himself. The autograph is authenticated by JSA, as noted with a sticker affixed to the back with a matching serial number on the COA.

The term “priceless” gets used quit a bit by collectors, but this one truly is in my mind.

Target run reminds me WHY I collect

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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I made a brief Target run late last night to grab some necessities and made the obligatory stop in the card aisle. There wasn’t anything “new” to buy, but there was a Fairfield repack 20-pack box that intrigued me. There were a handful of 2014 Prizm Draft Picks packs inside, some 2015 Topps Series 2 packs (Think Kris Bryant rookies) and what was clearly two 1991 Stadium Club packs, along with other stuff.

I’ve opened my fair share of 1991 Stadium Club, but I was still feeling nostalgic about cards at the time. You see this week I think I finally got my son into the hobby; earlier in the day we went to the card shop and he had a blast. (*Side note: A big thank you to Kevin at Stevens Creek Sports Cards for the stack of free commons you gave to my son. He loved them.) I digress.

The Prizm packs, the jumbo 2015 Heritage and Topps Series 2 packs seemed to make the box worth the price, but the two 25-year-old packs really set the hook in me.

For the uninitiated, 1991 Stadium Club was quite possibly one of the finest card sets released in it’s time. Sure, we remember 1989 Upper Deck for the premium Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  And we recall 1990 Leaf for having another iconic rookie card in Frank Thomas, as well as dozens of other rookie cards of stars from the time. But 1991 Stadium Club was THE premium baseball card. Every card featured full-bleed photographs, gold foil and high gloss that got you high (read:not really, but if you opened this stuff as a kid, the scent is one you’ll never forget. Packs were several dollars each upon release and star cards — not rookies — were in high demand. Griffey and Thomas were each well over $20 for a while.

My guy at the time was Roger Clemens, the flame-throwing perennial Cy Young award candidate. I couldn’t afford these packs when I was a kid, but I distinctly asking my dad for $5 and then riding three miles on my bike to the local card shop to buy one card — the Roger Clemens 1991 Stadium Club that had been sitting in the show case of Brian’s Books  in Santa Clara, Calif.

Flash forward to last night.  I worked late and then made said Target run.  When I got home I took the above photo, opened all of the packs save for two — the 1991 Stadium Club. Whatever lurked inside these packs was surely worth nothing more than a few pennies. But the nostalgia is everything and that can be priceless. I tore opened the first pack, flipped card by card and then it happened — the second last card:

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There is Clemens is all his glory. That pose. That glove. That spring training uniform. Just like I remember it. True, I could probably get a brick of 500 of this exact card for like $10 because no one cares about him or this card anymore, but none of those would be as valuable as just this one card, for at last I had pulled something I could only dream of as a kid.

Someone asked me recently: WHY do you collect baseball cards?

This is why.

It’s not really about the money. It’s not really an investment because cards rarely appreciate with time under normal circumstances.

It’s about the memories. It’s about how in an instant single worthless card can transport you back a quarter of a century to the moment when you asked a parent for money and trekked clear across town to buy a card of your childhood sports hero.

I have other reasons for collecting what I do. And sometimes I can’t fully explain it. But THIS is probably the strongest reason why.

A Flawless Diamond added to my collection

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Gem stones and baseball cards. This is hardly a new concept.

There were some “24 karat gold” cards (made my Bleacher if I remember correctly) sold via television home shopping channels during the 1990s that also had stones — rubies if I remember correctly — but as clear as I can remember, Pinnacle Brands was the first company to incorporate actual pieces of stones (diamonds) into mainstream baseball cards when they brought us The Diamond Club inserts in 1996 Pinnacle Zenith.

It was cool in theory. I mean aside from putting cash into cards, actual gem stones are the only other way to ensure that a card in your collection has some real value outside of just this hobby. But those early cards were poorly produced.  They were the same thickness as regular cards and the stone was in a small metal mount that easily came off some of the cards. Furthermore, the size of the stones was tiny. Think smaller baby earrings.

Fast forward a decade and a half and Topps brought us some special 1/1 Diamond parallels with gem stones to coincide with the company’s 60-year anniversary. The design was much approved over one of the rival companies from 15 years earlier. But they were 1/1’s Good luck finding a card of your guy.

And then in recent years, Panini America seems to have taken a liking to the idea of gem stones and cards and the company has used diamonds and what appear to be rubies in some of its higher-end brands.

Watching from a distance, I really wasn’t overly impressed with the cards, or really the notion of the gem stones in the cards. Truth be told, my sour experience with the inserts from 1996 and the difficulty actually obtaining one of the 2011 Topps cards really put me in a negative mindset as it pertains to such cards.

And the more recent Panini cards to me looked more like a way for the company to justify the price point at which the MSRP was being set rather than something collectors actually wanted. While it’s completely unfair of me to make such a broad assumption, it’s pretty clear that there is at least some truth to my thought as the secondary market on these cards remains relatively soft given the quality of card, the fact they contain actual stones, and the limited serial number nature of the cards.

Side note: I’m assuming these stones are real as there is a statement of guarantee on the reverse of the cards. And yes, I have seen some of the videos on YouTube calling their legitimacy into question. But it should be noted that while some didn’t pass the test of jewelers reviewing the cards, many did.

That said, I decided to buy one. Why? Because I found one of my all-time favorite player, Roger Clemens, … and the price seemed cheap.

This 2015 Panini National Treasures Multi-Sport Flawless Diamond card shown above is limited to 20 copies and shows Clemens in his University of Texas Longhorns garb. It has a few factors that might keep it out of the hardcore Clemens collectors, which kept the price low I think, but for $30 it seemed like a good addition to my collection.

So, do I feel any differently now that I have one of these nice, shiny Flawless Diamond cards in hand?

Yes and no. The quality on these cards is fantastic. Thick card stock and flashy foil help the “bling” factor if you will. I do think this one is a cool addition to my collection. But are they for everyone? No.

For the rippers and flippers, these are merely the equivalent of pocket change — nice to have as they are better than a pocket full of lint, or premium base cards, because they’ll eventually decrease the net cost of your break. But they are hardly the chase cards that collectors will hunt with an open wallet, which in turn would make a flipper a small fortune.

For player collectors, I think they present an interesting opportunity especially with prices for most guys being relatively cheap. And by relatively cheap I mean in the $20-$60 range for a hit that hails from a product that commands several hundred dollars sight unseen.

For everyone else it just depends if you want to spend your money on a piece of cardboard with a small diamond. Bottom line, that’s all this really is. There is no significance to the stone, or the paper in which it has been embedded.

Thrift Treasures XLVIII: Count Your Lucky Stars

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

And I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack with another Thrift Treasures you ya’ll.  And as you can tell from what you see below, I did it via video.  Had a problem though … I shot this with my iPhone and had a problem uploading it as one whole video to YouTube.

Anyway, this might work out better as it’s a lengthy one.

Enjoy.

 

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click here.

Indictment renews interest in Roger Clemens collection

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am a Roger Clemens fan until the end.

News of a federal indictment against Clemens made the rounds Thursday morning, giving lots of people reason to bash the once-heralded Major Leaguer once again.

The first mention I saw of this was a Tweet from NBC’s Darren Rovell that suggested that Clemens’ wife, Debbie, would be dubbed “Miss Remember.”

Clever I thought, as I stood in line waiting for my Starbucks. But why Tweet that today?

No. 3: Roger Clemens

And then the floodgates opened, the news was being reported everywhere.

Admittedly, I laughed. And then I thought about all of the money I had spent on Clemens cards over the years. And while the cards are surely not “worth” what they were a half decade ago — when he was Mr. Cy Young and a first-ballot Hall of Famer — they do remind me of better times.

And it is because of what they remind me of that my Clemens personal collection will remain mine and likely will grow in the future.

Obviously the market for Clemens collectibles has all but died, save for a few holdouts such as myself.

But this also brings about a prime opportunity for Clemens collectors; more of his “rare” cards will be hitting the market soon, and more than likely at reduced prices.

Personally, I’ve wavered in my Clemens collection for the last five to seven years, but none of it has had to do with the allegations of performance enhancing drug use. This new news does make me want to return to building that collection, I’m still missing lots of singles since the early 2000s.

Did Clemens use PEDs? Probably.

Does that make me hate him? No.

Do I think he eventually gets into the hall of fame? Absolutely.

A few days ago I wrote this piece proclaiming such, while drawing some similarities to ne’er-do-wells from the early 1900s.

Bottom line is Clemens was one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, and he afforded me many great memories of the game I love.

Do I expect others to feel the same way about him? No.

You can hate Clemens all you want. You can call him a cheater. You can burn his cards in protest. None of this concerns to me. Just as my decision continue collecting his cards shouldn’t trouble you.