Archive for sports

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.

The err of my way: Not everything needs to be collected

Posted in Commentary, Dad Life with tags , , , on June 28, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

As I’ve grown older, I’ve done a lot of thinking — some good; some bad. But when it comes to this hobby, I’m always thinking about it: the cards, the purpose … the addiction.

It’s a tiresome exercise to be up one day and down the next on a hobby that is supposed to be nothing more than a hobby, yet has become your life.

I like to act like this is merely something I do for fun, like it’s an escape from reality. And in some ways it is. But at times I’ve got things completely backward, sometimes my life has actually become my escape from this hobby.

Too deep for a Friday? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s time for me to check myself; to again write words that I can reflect on to help remind me why I still do this. And of course as the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present.”

I have brought my son into this hobby, for better or worse. I’ll say for better — it’s helped further an amazing bond with a young man whom I see so much of myself in. But it’s that same notion that makes me reflect on it all the more — Do I want my son to be like me? Do I want his thoughts to be consumed by his hobby?

Clearly the answer to the latter is no. A resounding Fuck No!

But I’ve arrived at this conclusion today: A lot of my driving force in hobby spending lately has been to establish this unbreakable bond with my son — which I didn’t have fully with my father — so much so that I am finding myself generating reasons to buy cards so we can “experience” these things together. When really, we can experience much of the same with items we already have, or even outside this hobby.

I do not need to collect everything; and everything doesn’t to be collected.

This is a mantra I need to repeat to myself every day. Because while I have an absolute love for a product like Topps Stadium Club, and feel good about purchasing it, I often find myself manufacturing a similar sentiment to help justify purchases of other items.

My son can enjoy a pack or two of a product and walk away. He’s innocent. But I don’t need to go buy a box or multiple blasters of said product to maintain the father-son bond.

I don’t need those cards in my collection; I don’t need them for our relationship; I don’t need them to stay active in social media circles..

Simply put: I don’t need them to And believing that we do has been an error of my way.

2019 Topps Series 2 Blaster Break #1 (results)

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When it comes to Topps Series Two, I am usually not one to overly indulge. By the time this set comes out every year, the luster on the Topps base set has worn off and there are lots of products available from which we can choose, so it’s somewhat of a secondary option.

This year, the feeling is a bit different since there are key rookies in Series Two including rookie cards of Pete Alonso, Eloy Jimenez and Fernando Tatis Jr.; a short-printed Vladimir Guerrero Jr. release (technically not an official rookie card). Also, the set features new cards of two of my favorite players, Clayton Kershaw and Roger Clemens. So it seems natural for me to open at least one blaster to chase the aforementioned, as well as to casually complete the Series Two set to go along with the first series my son and I have nearly completed.

I checked a few Targets this week and managed to find blasters of Series Two at only one store, so I grabbed the first one I saw and headed to the register. Each box contained seven packs of 14 cards, and one manufactured relic card for a total of 99 cards. Here are the overall results.

The manupatch for this blaster bore one of the hottest names in the hobby, Vladimir Guerrero. However, it is of the Hall of Famer Vlad Sr., not the son, Vlad. Jr., whom hobbyists are currently swooning over.

The seven packs contained the following:

Key rookies: Pete Alonso, Eloy Jimenez and Yusei Kikuchi — which really could have been much better if Topps could have used an image from his debut during the Opening Series in Japan, but I’m sure they’re saving that for the Update Series. This photo on the Kikuchi is the same that was used on the Opening Day rookie card.

Short Print: Veteran, Dale Murphy — I dig these horizontal short prints.

Parallels: Rainbow Foil Raisel Iglesias, Gold Carlos Carrasco

Inserts: Aaron Judge Exclusive (#23); 84 All-Stars Alex Bregman and Rickey Henderson; 84 All-Stars Blue Roger Clemens; Franchise Favorites Tony Gwynn and Jose Altuve; Iconic Card Reprints: 73 Topps Carlton Fisk; 150 Great Moments Bartolo Colon.

Comments: This blaster was better than I expected as it held two of the key rookie cards in the set, a short print and a insert parallel of one of the guys I collect.

As for the base cards, I’ll be building a list of needs in the near future. I’ll be more than happy to trade most of the inserts here within for base cards that my son and I need to complete this set, or cards of Kershaw and Clemens.

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.

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.

2019 Finest half-box break makes a case for sticker autos

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

We all want hard-signed autos, right? Welp, here’s an argument for stickers.

I opened a half-box of 2019 Finest baseball today (6-packs in a sealed inner box) and the auto I pulled was a Justus Sheffield blue refractor, serial numbered to /150. Not a horrible auto. Just one problem: Sheffield is shown as a Yankee even though he was traded from New York to Seattle in November.

The blue refractor technology would have looked great on a Mariners auto of Sheffield, but instead I am looking at yet another auto of a player who no longer plays for New York. But we all know why this card exists … it exists in this form because Topps made the card before the trade and had Sheffield sign them instead of re-making them. (Jake Bauers is also shown on his old team on his Finest auto.)

This is why Sheffield is a Yankees on autos in Bowman as a Chrome auto, in Definitive, and in other Topps products released to date. I don’t blame Topps entirely for this; I mean we the collectors are the ones lobbying for more hard-signed autos. And in order for that to work, the company needs to produce these cards and send them to athletes way in advance to have them signed and returned before pack-out. (For the record, the Sheffield and Bauer base rookie cards do show the players on their current teams.)

Of course, this puts us consumers in an interesting spot: Would we prefer the hard-signed autos showing players on an old team, or would we want to a sticker that can be placed on an updated card of the player showing the player on the current team?

If you ask me, this could have been a good use of a sticker. But how would Topps have known that the trade was going to happen? And what would Topps do with a backstock of hard-signed autos if they did re-create the cards and had Sheffield sign a new batch?

I agree with Topps in releasing the cards; it’s what they had as of the deadline they had for the product and it’s just not a smart business move to not release (i.e. destroy) inventory that was already created. It’s really just unfortunate that it exists in this format.

Fortunately for everyone it wasn’t one of the higher-valued prospects who was in this situation.

How was the rest of the break?

Refractors: Kris Bryant, Marcus Stroman

Blue Refractor: Cody Bellinger

Prized Performer: Justin Smoak

Mariano Rivera Die-Cut MR2

Blue Chips: Miles Mikolas, Trey Mancini

Rookies: Eloy Jimenez, Cedric Mullins, Corbin Burnes, Touki Toussaint, DJ Stewart, Steven Duggar, Ryan O’Hearn, Rowdy Tellez

Base: Mookie Betts, Salvador Perez, Marcus Stroman, Paul Dejong, Jose Abreu, Willy Adames, Whit Merrifield, Josh Bell, Mitch Haniger Ozzie Albies, Ronald Guzman, Kris Bryant, Trea Turner, and Max Scherzer

Anyone have Kershaws from this set? Everything above is available.

Collecting Kershaw: Came home to a mailbox full of a sack of rocks …

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , , , on June 4, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I returned to my California home yesterday from my trip to Pittsburgh and found a sack of rocks waiting for me in my mailbox. Under most circumstances, this would be cause for concern, but let it be known that this sack wound up here intentionally.

Before embarking on my first trip to the East Coast in almost a decade, last week I struck a pretty neat deal for a pair of game-used items from Cleveland Indians games. One was a ball struck as a single by 2018 MVP candidate Jose Ramirez, the other was an MLB authenticated Game-Used rosin bag from the June 13, 2017, battle between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians. The pitching match-up for the day? Just Trevor Bauer versus future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.

I wouldn’t say that I forgot about this purchase, but I was dumbfounded for a second when I grabbed the bubble mailer and felt what literally felt like a sack of rocks. Then when I opened the package I got a smile on my face.

I own more than a half-dozen baseballs thrown by Clayton Kershaw, my favorite active player. Among them are two that were used during his 2015 NL West clinching 13-strikeout, 1-hit performance against the San Francisco Giants, a game in which I attended. Also, I own the first ball thrown by Kershaw against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2018 NLCS Game 5. There are a few other balls in the collection including ones he threw against Oakland in 2018 when I again saw him live, one fouled off by fellow 2006 first-round pick Evan Longoria in 2018, and another fouled off by Giants catcher Buster Posey in 2015. But in terms of other game-used items, I’d never even seen a rosin bag like this for sale so it was a must-own when it popped up.

The seller accepted offers and after a bit of back and forth we were able to negotiate a price that would end up with me owning this often forgotten piece of baseball memorabilia.

We all know about balls, bats, helmets, cleats and jerseys being collected. But rosin bags? Do people collect those? I know I have seen other rosin bags for sale on eBay and other sites, but I never really thought I’d end up buying one. But in this case, this seemed like a no-brainer, even if the MLB attribution does not specifically mentioned any players. And the bag itself does not have any pine tar on the exterior so it is unlikely to be from the on deck circle. The bag is full, the exterior is caked in powder and dirt that appears to be from the pitchers mound.

This was a battle between two big name, big league pitchers and in the end my guy, Kershaw, wound up with his 135th career victory after throwing 7 innings and striking out 4 Indians batters.

The item was shipped to me in an Indians Team Store bag and left me wondering just how I was going to display it. I thought about purchasing a plastic case like the ones used for Beanie Babies, but found a 200-count two-piece plastic box in my stash of supplies and that seems to be working just fine.

My next step is trying to find a screen shot showing Kershaw, Bauer and others handling the bag.