Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fired Up!

Collectors have been pretty fired up the past few days regarding Topps Fire, the Target-exclusive featuring the artwork of Tyson Beck. I haven't bought any, nor have I seen any in-hand, but from what I've seen online, it's a product that I will pass on, should I see any in the retailer. I will, however, probably try to get the Griffey, Randy Johnson and King Felix singles.

What's getting hobbyists all fired up? Well, there are those who were upset that it was released as a retail-only product that dried up quickly and showed up online at inflated prices. Others, who were able to stumble upon blasters, were left feeling a bit burned. Me? I'm fired up for something else hobby-related.

Having neglected the COMC cart that held about two dozen cards for a while, I finally decided it was time to pull the trigger on the purchase. The cards, of which about 15 were of players I collect, while the other ten or so are for the all-time roster projects, showed up earlier this week.

I prefer my art-inspired cards to be of the Upper Deck Masterpieces and Topps Turkey-Red kind. The Masterpieces set... one of the most beautiful modern day sets. And this Felix card is one of my favorites in my collection. As far as the Turkey Red, I prefer this exclusive (albeit, online exclusive) to the Target one.

While some collectors get excited about cards from the '70s (or any other decade from the '50s through the '80s), I get excited about cards from the '90s. Particularly those from the 'etched foil' variety. Walter Jones... cards of this HOFer seem to be much more difficult to find than many of his contemporaries. Many of Griffey's insert cards from this decade still seem to be in demand. I suspect they will continue to be sought after for some time still.

Thankfully there are still many inserts of the Kid that are within my budget. No way am I  taking out a second mortgage to finance a collection.

1991 Fleer= gross   1991 Kenner Starting Lineup Cards= glorious

Stripes on the 1994 Collector's Choice set > stripes on the '89 Fleer set. Maybe Fleer shouldn't have gone with gray?

And finally, a card- and an insert set- that leaves you smiling. 

And I'm going to leave you with a video from Powerhouse Pat

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Player's Ink: My Name is Earl (?)

Everyone believes in some form of the law of cause and effect. Some refer to it as karma; others refer to it as reaping what you sow. What comes around, goes around, after all. This universal concept was even the focus of My Name is Earl, a tv sitcom about a petty-criminal who wins a $100,000 lottery, is hit by a car and loses his ticket while celebrating his new found riches. Sitting in a hospital bed while recovering, Earl is introduced to the concept of 'karma' while watching Carson Daly interview Trace Adkins on his television show. Earl decides he needs to right all of the wrongs he has done to others, and makes a list of 259 things he needs to do in order to change his karma.

Earl Hickey might have needed to repent of his thievery and other sins such as breaking his ex-wife's figurine, but Seattle's Earl Thomas has no need to make right his interceptions, forced fumbles and the hard hits he puts on his opponents.

The heart and soul of the Seahawks defense, Earl came up big in this past weekend's game in Los Angeles. His forced fumble of what looked to be a Todd Gurley touchdown and then interception of a Jared Goff were instrumental in Seattle's win.

Thomas is my second-favorite, if not favorite, current Seahawks player (Russell Wilson being the other) and is a player whose autograph I had long wanted. There are plenty of autographed cards on the market and the pricing is all over the map. Earl's signature isn't all that great (it's 'neat', but how do you get "Earl Thomas" from it?) After recently finding one on eBay that fit two criteria (price and desirableness), I put in a maximum bid of $7.11 and won.

Two final things: why I bid $7.11... haven't a clue. Perhaps the name, Earl, brought back thoughts of the television show, which conjured up thoughts of convenience stores. I don't know. Second, I sure wasn't about to go running into the street with my winning 'ticket', lest I get run over by a car. I'll just stick to waving it in the virtual air.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

One-Hundred and Fifty Big Ones

If you've ever seen the Steve Martin classic movie The Jerk, you will remember the scene where Martin's character, Navin Johnson, goes to the bank to cash a cashier's check that he believes to be for two-hundred and fifty dollars. As Navin is speaking with the account manager, he keeps referring (quite proudly, I might add) to it being for two-hundred and fifty Big Ones. Two-hundred and fifty dollarinies. Two-hundred and fifty donuts.
It isn't until he goes to endorse the check and fill out the deposit slip that he discovers that the check is for much, much more than he thought. When he realizes this, Navin's eyes get as large as silver dollars and his head spins. (If you haven't seen the movie, the amount was actually two-hundred and fifty THOUSAND dollars) I kind of had my own similar experience yesterday. Well, sort of.

Speaking of Johnson's and jerks... One player whose cards I collect was often viewed by many fans (or perhaps mostly by the media?) as a jerk. I never paid too much attention to the criticism of Randy Johnson, chalking it up more to a guy who just liked his privacy and who was extremely focused & didn't like having that focus interrupted. A recent eBay search for a lot of the Big Unit pulled up a hit that was too good to pass up: 150 different cards of the lefty for $9.90 w/ free shipping. Most lots such as this would include cards of the HOFer's time in Montreal, Arizona, Houston, New York and San Francisco, and I would not be interested. But this one promised cards from his time with the Expos and Mariners- and did I mention 150 different cards?- which is the time period of Johnson's career that I'm most interested in. So I figured I would take a chance on the lot, just hoping that I wouldn't get a bunch of ones I already owned. 

The cards arrived in the mail yesterday in a 200-ct storage box, which cost $7.75 to ship. The poor seller isn't going to net much off this transaction- but that isn't my concern. What I was concerned with were the contents of the box, and I was very pleased- so much so my head very well might have spun three-hundred and sixty degrees. 

Why the reaction? Well, the Unit's time with the Expos and Mariners was during the latter parts of the junk-wax era and the time shortly thereafter- meaning he's featured on lots and lots of junk wax. And while there was some of that stuff in the box, there was also so much more. First off, there were only two cards featuring him in the red, white and blue of Les Expos ('89 Topps, '89 Donruss). And then there were oddballs, inserts and parallels... oh, my!

I haven't checked the cards I received off of my wantlist (which is still a work in progress), but I know just by looking at them that I need probably 130-135 of them.

And if someone is thinking of sending me their Astro, or Yankee, or Diamondback, or Giant Randy Johnson cards, forget it. I don't need them. I don't need any of them.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

75 Reasons to Smile

This past weekend was kind of a tough one, as far as my sports fandom. The Boise State football program showed (once again) that it is in a state of decline, the Mariners were officially eliminated from the Wild Card chase and the Seahawks... well, they went down south and got beat by a solid Titans team, dropping them to 1-2. Add some other ingredients to the pot, and the whole thing put me in a quite a sour mood.

Things were forgotten by Monday evening, when I got home to a package that had arrived in the mail. Actually, my mood changed once I received a notification from eBay that the package had delivered an hour, an hour and a half, before I got home. The anticipation made that last hour of work go by slow, but it was totally worth it once I tore in to it.

The package contained Seventy-Five unique Cortez Kennedy cards (that's 7-5!!) that I paid 18 cents per card for (or, $13.50 for those not wanting to do the math). Of those, only 19 were doubles that I already had. Not a bad way to add to the pc, if you ask me.

While I won't scan every single card, I thought I'd show off a few of my favorites- and even some that I might not like, but can appreciate nonetheless.

I always liked the Action Packed brand (football only- didn't care for their baseball product). I saw something a while back about Panini now having the brand and having released a set or two under the name. Has anyone seen this, in-hand? Is it still embossed? I don't know if I'd have any interest in it if it weren't embossed. That was part of its attraction.

The NFL has only had paid patriotism since around 2009, but prior to that, All-World NFL Trading cards featured the red, white and blue on its lone release (1992). I really don't know anything about this company and what happened to cause it to release only one product. Overall, a nice looking offering.

The nineties featured many brands that I was never fond of, including offerings from SkyBox and Wild Card. I did, however, get caught up in the initial Wild Card craze. Not because I liked it, mind you, but because I was chasing after the 100x or whatever the gimmick was. The SkyBox card on the left (above) is actually a pretty nice looking card. And I later came to like a couple of the SkyBox Impact sets (just not the colorful offering above).

Pinnacle... I always liked the back of this set better than the front of the cards. Would never collect the set (or, at this point, the team set), but I don't mind having a specimen for the collection.

Select was a set that I did enjoy, and I wish that Panini had done something different to make the brand's most recent set more attractive. I'd even take the same amount of gold foil, as long as the cards didn't have that typical 'Panini' look. 

Paul Simon might have sung about '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover', but the late Cortez Kennedy, along with a number of card manufacturers, gave me 75 reasons to smile. Now, it's back to the real world and all the other emotions it evokes.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Price to Pay

There's always a price to pay when it comes to being a card collector.. It costs us time, money and space- to name just a few. In the worst-case scenario, it comes at the cost of a relationship. While I don't know of anyone personally, I'd be willing to bet someone has lost a spouse because of their out-of-control spending habits on wax or singles.

When I took on my latest collection project (a card of every player to appear in a game for the Mariners & Seahawks), I knew that at some point I'd be forced to over-pay for a card of some Joe Common who appeared in one game and whose only card is hard to come by. After all, if you look at some of the regional oddball Seahawks cards from the '80s and early '90s (including the team issued postcards), you will find some of them feature the only card of a particular player. Pacific was one such manufacturer (and this was before their first mainstream release in 1991). Perhaps you're a Braves or Dodgers team set collector and have had to pay big bucks for that vintage high-numbered series card of a back-up catcher. Yeah, that's the same predicament I have found myself in (although on a smaller scale, price-wise).

I discovered today's card while working on my want list and immediately went to eBay to try to find one. And, not to my surprise, I found some copies- copies that were more than I would like to spend. But when you're committed to something, you go into it knowing that there very well might be a heavy price to pay. Or at the very least, a minimal amount. 

So while I'd much rather have gotten more for my money, I can at least know that the $5+ spent for this card will have been spent more wisely than the $9 it would take to buy that jumbo pack, from which nothing would go into my collection.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trade of Thrones

It's been a while since I've done any online trading, but that didn't stop me from reaching out to Chris from Nachos Grande recently to inquire about some cards of King Felix. I've been slowly going through a reorganization project and found a card I thought the fan of Reds might like: a 2010 Topps variation of Johnny Bench. A deal was struck and a short time I received a PWE full of the King.

I was quite surprised upon opening the PWE that Chris had sent. I originally inquired about three Felix cards: the two Lineage cards above, as well as the 2008 Stadium Club card shown below. I wasn't expecting the Bowman Chrome, nor the custom Munnatawket Baseball Bats card. As you can see by the note, the custom card was something a friend of his had created. Didn't he do a fantastic job?

The King may never return to his 2010 form (or even his 2008 form), but at least we still have cardboard that depicts that young ace.

Got Felix to trade? Let me know and maybe we can work out a trade.

Thanks again, Chris, for the trade. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Mule Time

I used to go to just about every rock concert that hit Boise between 1984 and 1992, but have been to less than a dozen since those glory years. Tonight marks the second since July- and will be the second time I've seen Gov't Mule live (the first coming in Portland four years ago). To say that I'm excited is an understatement and I thought I'd share some of the excitement by showing off something of theirs I added to my collection recently.

This awesome signed copy of the band's most recent CD came via Newbury Comics. The band's twitter account announced that there was limited signed copies available through the music store. I immediately got online and snagged one for about $16 or so- which is a great deal considering I got the signed  CD cover, along with the delux CD (which had the  alternative cover).

I know guys who have every ticket and every T-shirt from every concert they've attended. I only wish I had kept a piece of history like that- I did for awhile but then threw them away- but I do have the ticket from Mule's gig at the Roseland Theater in October of '13. Unfortunately, tonight's ticket was printed off the computer and just isn't the same as the 'old school style' ones.

I'll leave you with Thorns of Life- my favorite song off the new album.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The A & B's (and yes, a C) of Using Sportlots

I've been using Sportlots for a few years now and it's become my number one source for cards. If you've ever bought off of the site, you know that it's a great resource for most cards, particularly base cards. You're probably also aware that you have to do a little bit of searching in order to maximize your savings with shipping costs. For larger purchases, I've started using a spreadsheet (Google Sheets) when shopping.

I begin by doing a search of a particular card and then copy the condition, price, qty and dealer name, and then paste it under the card info. I'll do this for as many cards as I'm interested in. Once finished, I'll flip back and forth between tabs, checking shipping costs and the maximum number of cards under one cost for a given dealer. When I feel I'm ready to begin filling the cart on the sportlots website, I'll highlight all of the info on the spreadsheet and then click Command F (on a Mac). Doing this will allow me to search for all the cards I'm interested in that a particular seller might have. It can be a little time consuming, but I feel like it's the best way for me to get the most out of my collecting dollar.

I did this to purchase a number of cards for my newest projects- The Hawk's Nest (all-time Seahawks roster) and the U.S.S. Mariner (all-time Mariners roster). It amounted to 21 cards for a little over $11, from 6 different sellers. Unfortunately, one of the sellers couldn't find the card I'd ordered from him, making it only 20 received for approximately $8.50.

One of the conditions I set up for this project was no cards of players in other uniforms, but, as I found with Bradford, sometimes that's the only card that lists them as a Seahawk. Or, as the case with the former Bucs running back, every card listing him with Seattle shows him in a Tampa uni. I'll accept this and put him in the binder.

One of my favorite things about things like this is discovering that a player only appeared on one card as a member of your team. This was the case for Kim Allen and Rick Anderson. It makes the decision easy as to which card to include for that player.

In announcing my new projects, I also mentioned how I'd like to have a variety of card products,  represented. So there will be junk like the Score football below (Burleson) or Fleer above (Glenn Abbott) that I'd otherwise not collect. 

Then again, it might also help me in a renewed appreciation for products like Ultra and a number of different Pacific products. For team collectors, Pacific was a godsend, as they would often have some of the more obscure players. I have a feeling I'll be acquiring a lot of Pacific cards for these binders.

So there you go... some guys whose last names begin with 'A', others with 'B', and even a 'C'. And a few simple, albeit time consuming, steps in shopping on a budget.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Base(ball) Oddity #46: Ray Fosse and the Phantom Brewers Card

Most of my viewing habits when I was younger consisted of comedies, but they have since been replaced by crime dramas and mysteries (oh, and horror). It's funny, now that I'm older and more jaded, you'd think comedies would be my preference, but I digress. Anyway, as a young lad there was one mystery show that was 'must-see tv' (before that was a phrase) each week: Scooby-Doo. Okay, so it was a cartoon and the plot structure was the same each week. But 48 years later, it's still in production. You can't argue with success.

Let's just recap any given episode, shall we?

Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and our hero, Scooby-Doo, arrive at any given location in their groovy van, the Mystery Machine. Once there, they discover that the locals have been terrorized by a supernatural creature. The group will then split up as they begin looking for clues; a chase scene will occur; the group will catch the villain and then unmask him or her. This villain is usually someone from the town whom the kids (were they kids?) had encountered earlier and who, as they're being cuffed, proclaims (everybody, with me) "and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids." Mystery solved- at least until next week.

As I was going through the Mariners all-time roster, working on my USS Mariner project, I came across a player whom I didn't realize had donned the trident- Ray Fosse. The catcher, best known for the collision with Pete Rose during the 1970 All-Star game, was acquired from Cleveland by the first year team and spent the final three weeks of the '77 season with Seattle. During those three weeks, Fosse appeared in 11 games for the Mariners, collecting 36 plate appearances while batting .353 with 5 RBI. The M's granted Ray free-agency after their debut season and he would eventually sign with Milwaukee. An injury during Spring Training of 1978 would cost him the entire season, but the backstop would return to play (very little) for the Brew Crew during his final MLB season.

I don't own this card, thus the borrowed picture from COMC

So, back to the project... unfortunately there is no card of Fosse as a Mariner. He did have two cards during the 1978 season- this Hostess card and a Topps card, but both listed him as a member of the Brewers.  Looking at this food-issue favorite, I was driven to pull out my detective/sleuth hat and pipe and get to business.

My hope was that this photo was from his time with the M's (the colors on the v-neck), but that theory dissolved quickly. First, this looks like it could be from spring training, and Ray only spent a few weeks with Seattle (in late summer/early fall). Second, like the hat, the v-neck appears to have been airbrushed. Third, the jerseys in the back ground appear to be gold, as in the uniform of the Oakland A's, whom Ray played for from '73-'75. As I searched out photos of Fosse with the A's, I had a hard time determining that this was taken while in Oakland (going primarily by his hair/facial hair styles and how aged his face appears). It could be as a member of the Indians, but how do you explain those gold jerseys in the background? Perhaps the teams shared a training facility? Nope, Oakland trained in Mesa, while Cleveland called Sun City their spring training home.

My conclusion is this was from '75, while with Oakland. One thing I do know- Topps tried to mask this photo and they would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for us meddling collectors.

Monday, September 4, 2017


They say that weekends are the perfect time for home improvement projects- and I suppose that hold true even more so during holiday weekends. Turn on the tv or open your Sunday paper and you seem to get bombarded with sales ads for those holiday projects. For the collector, the weekend is also a perfect time to start a project. But for me, it's just an opportunity to continue a project that's already in progress.

I have recently been forced to re-evaluate my collection. As I mentioned in a recent post, my wife has gone into business for herself and as a result, I decided to sacrifice some of my office space for her Scentsy inventory. What this means is the space I had dedicated to my complete sets has been dramatically reduced, leaving me to rethink my collecting goals. Had this not forced a decision, I would eventually have to make a decision regarding those sets; this just expedited the process.

Not only did I decide that I can no longer dedicate space for the run of Topps sets, I also decided to start two new collecting projects: one I'm calling The Hawks Nest, and the other I'm calling The USS Mariner. While collecting team sets isn't nearly as space-consuming as  complete sets, they still take up a lot of space. So these two projects are really just a way to be a team collector, but on a smaller scale. In other words, it's an all-time roster on cardboard. One card for every player to suit up for my two teams. Now instead of having 45 cards of Joey Galloway or Freddie Garcia, I'll only have one in each respective binder.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? But I'm going to make it a little more difficult on myself by setting up certain restrictions. Because I'm still collecting Topps (flagship) team sets for each (and Donruss 2016-, since Topps is no longer making football cards), flagship cards are not allowed, unless it's the only card made of a player as a Mariner or Seahawk. I want to try to keep the projects as diverse as possible, so I'm trying to have as many card sets represented as possible- which means I will not discriminate against such sets as Pacific, Fleer, Donruss ('94-) and other such atrocities. The card must picture them as a member of the team (again, unless no other card exists) and no minor league cards are allowed. One of the more difficult aspects of this project will be for those players who have only one or two cards made, which were regional or team-issued cards. Some of those can be very expensive.

How do I come up with such a list? Well, I visited the website for each team and copied their all-time rosters. I then printed them off and am in the arduous task of visiting the Trading Card Database website, keying in the player's name, and then choosing which one I would like to add to the collection. I've also used COMC for some visuals.

As far as the project names... the Hawks Nest is a bar & grill in Pioneer Square, near Century Link Field. I want to say it was there even back in the team's early days (I seem to remember us walking by it as we attended games at the Kingdome in the late 70s/early-mid 80s). The USS Mariner reference... it was a fixture at the Kingdome from 1982-1989 and sat just beyond the center field wall. The cannon would fire after the National Anthem and after every Mariners home run.

Anyway, that's where I'm at with the collection right now. I still have some player collections I'm working on, too. I'm in the middle of creating spreadsheets that will serve as a checklist for those I have and a 'want list' for those still in need. I'll have them up on the blog soon, hopefully.