Thursday, April 28, 2016

Great Pages in the Annals of Topps #5: 2013 Topps (514-522)-- Or,About-Face

I'm probably stretching it a little by including this page in the Great Pages series. There's really only two cards worth mentioning, but the way they're placed side-by-side is purely genius.

If Topps has to include stupid faces, better to do two like the Palpalbon and Roberts than some pitcher  (or 300) grimacing like he's trying to squeeze one out. 


On another note, you may (or may not) have noticed the blog title change. An even closer look will reveal that the URL has remained the same. Let me explain, in case you missed the post earlier this year where I said I had been thinking of a change (but had decided against it at that point).

When I first started this blog I wanted a blog title that reflected my primary collecting interest: Braves teams sets. And so I made a word play on card shop with 'Card Chop.' 

My interests have changed in recent months- where I have moved away from collecting Braves Topps team sets to being a Topps (flagship) set collector and a Heritage set collector (along with my Dale Murphy pc). Thus, I have decided to change it to the title of another blog I had for a while- one that better reflects the focus of my collection moving forward. 

Honestly, my interest in the Braves has waned with the trade of my favorite player (Andrelton Simmons) and the garbage product they have put on the field the past couple of years. And don't even get me started on ownership...

Anyway- thanks for reading, whether it was The Card Chop or now, Baseball Picture Cards.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


I saw a contest on Twitter recently held by a collector by the handle of @wcshaw84, who was going to give away some packs of 1988 Topps once he hit 300 followers. Well, he hit the magic number (and surpassed it) and, though I wasn't announced as a winner, I was contacted by Cody, who told me I was the second winner. Hey, there's nothing wrong with being runner-up if you can't be Top Dog. Know what I mean?

So, I dm'd my info to Cody and a few days later the prize arrived in the mail. Let's take a look at what I received...

Isn't it glorious? We need to bring back the wax pack. If I'm elected President in 2016, I will issue an executive order that requires card companies to go back to packing out in wax packs.

And they must include bubble gum in those packs. Without protection.

Pack one highlights:

Gary Carter
Rookie Cups! X2!!!
Tom Brunansky-- with Gum Stain. SP!!! $50. Anyone?
Jackass Clark- X2 (Booo!)

If I'm elected President, I will also enact an executive order requiring all Gary Pettis cards be recalled and re-issued with his classic 1985 Topps 'Finger-on-chin' pose.

Pack 2 Highlights:

Harold Reynolds- everyone's favorite MLB Network employee
Pudge! Hall of Famer
Phil Garner- Sans Mustache (another executive order? Men must wear a Scrap Iron 'stache)
Jose Canseco-- I'm going to retire! Whooooohooo!

Pack 3 Highlights:

A card of The Blob- which just ate a couple of Tigers
Alan Trammel
A couple of Expos cards- Yes, you guessed it- bring back the Expos!

Pack 4 Highlights:

Yes, I think Topps is pulling for me to win the 2016 Election!

While I'm not holding my breath for election results, I will be holding my breath as I await the Spring Fever sweepstakes winner to be announced.

I don't know if you'll read this, Cody, but thanks for the opportunity to enter your giveaway and for pulling through on the contest! And congrats on meeting your follower number!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ball(ball) Oddity #43: Hardware

Like most families, we operate our finances within a budget. And while we have a little more wiggle room now than we did, say, 8 years ago, we still look to save anyway we can. After all, how else am I going to keep involved in the hobby?

I have become a little more lenient, however, when it comes to shopping at the Big Box stores vs locally-owned business. It might cost us a dollar or two more, but I'm becoming more convicted that we need to support those mom and pop stores.

Murphy's Hardware:
2- N.L. MVP's (1982, 1983)
4- Silver Slugger Awards (1982-1985)
5- Gold Glove Awards (1982-1986)

When it comes to hardware stores, I still prefer to shop at the local True Value store over Home Depot or Lowe's. For one, it's really the only place in town- and I'd rather shop here than drive to the next city. And second, True Value is actually a co-op of independent store owners (as is Ace), so I am still supporting a locally-owned business.

And now to get up on my soapbox...

Let's not forget to mention that, sadly, our hobby seems to be going the way of mom and pop stores. First it was the oddball cards that all but disappeared (until recently, that is- talking Marketside Pizza) and now it appears that Topps may be on their way to eliminating the middle-man.

 I have a problem with this type of move because:

a) Topps is supposedly going to be charging more than what the cost would have been previously- thus, the consumer is paying more.

b) I think it's safe to say that many of those distributors are family-run businesses.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Recent COMC Pickups

It had been a while since I had bought anything from COMC, so I recently decided to see if they had any Heritage SPs that I needed for my sets. Since I have very few, the odds were pretty good that I would walk away with some in my basket.

From 2014 Heritage:

Here's an updated want list for 2014 Heritage

2013 Heritage

Here is an updated want list for 2013 Heritage

Considering I only spent about 75 cents per card, that's not too bad of a pickup. I'm still thinking I'm crazy for going after these sets, but what do you do? No one ever said collecting is easy.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Recognizing Greatness

Have you ever had one of those moments where you run into someone who should know who you are, but they haven't a clue? It's probably happened to me- where I should have recognized an old classmate, etc- but nothing I can remember. I have had people who did not recognize me but should have. And I'll tell ya... having that happen is a blow to the ego. I'm important, after all! (I'm joking, of course- where's that sarcasm font?)

Now imagine you're a famous dude who runs into another famous dude out on the streets and you go up and express your admiration for him, but he doesn't seem to know who you are. That's the situation I read about while eating breakfast yesterday morning.

*Mike went on to break down their conversation- I wasn't able to get a screen shot of the last part of this post.

I've never seen Mike Rowe's show and I'm not really a Metallica fan, but I did find this encounter very funny. Like I said above, I think all of us have had some sort of embarrassing moment of not being recognized (whichever end we were on). And sometimes when a third party- like Topps- becomes involved, who knows what embarrassing things will happen.

As the Royals first-round pick in the 1995 draft (#19 overall), LeBron had a lot of hype- the back of his Topps RC mentions a Juan Gonzalez comp- but he never lived up to it, topping out at AA in 2002 for both Seattle and St. Louis before moving on to the Mexican League.

Beltran, well, we all know his story. He's still playing strong for the Yankees at age 38 (soon to be 39, next week)- in what is his 19th major league season. Not only did Topps not recognize Beltran (or LeBron, for that matter) on his rookie card, but I believe many collectors- and fans- have failed to recognize Carlos' greatness. He will be an interesting Hall of Fame candidate once he becomes eligible. He entered this season with a 68.3 WAR, which is higher than HOFer's such as Andre Dawson, Willie McCovey, Duke Snider and Billy Williams, to name a few. Perhaps the biggest thing that will hurt Beltran is the position he has played for the most part: centerfield.

Finally, it's quite unfortunate that the 1995 regular set and Update set doesn't contain any other strong rookies, because with the reported lowest print run since 1966, it could have been a great set for the collector. Even with one of their worst designs ever.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Taking Back My Masculinity

My daughter celebrated her 15th birthday this past week, but, because it was on Monday, didn't have her obligatory birthday party until last night. Imagine being the only male in a small house with the wife, your daughter and five of her teenage friends. Oh, and a female dog. Yes, that was my Friday evening / Saturday morning. It left me feeling a bit emasculated.

And so you can imagine how I was desperately in need of something to affirm my masculinity. Thankfully, the father of two of the girls is a good friend and he hung out for a bit. You know, just two dudes bonding.

But the rest of the time it was giggles and all the silliness that accompanies tweeners and those early teen-aged years. 

One positive out of all of this is that it afforded me time to put my 2014 Heritage set in binder pages. That certainly got the ball rolling. I mean, how could you not look at 425 pictures of men and not feel like one of the guys? The only thing missing was a big chaw or dip, then I'd feel right at home.

You can't possibly page your cards without some killer tunes in the background and so that was step two on the road to healing. Seventies rock is always a good choice for this. Something like Rick Deringer's Rock and Roll Shin-Soo Choo Hootchie Koo. (credit: Super 70s Sports)

Or Lynyrd Skynyd. 

Mr. Saturday Night Special

My wife and I also spent a little quality time together while the girls took some time to go goof around outside. Now, you're probably saying, "how can you feel manly when your wife keeps asking you about your feelings...," but that isn't going to happen this night. No, we're going to make sure our time together includes testosterone tv- so we watched the dvr'd episode of Fear the Walking Dead. It's too bad Darryl isn't on this one. He's a manly dude.

Some of the things you think about when you have time to yourself... I remember my mom once told me that if I had been a female, she'd have named me Stephanie. Maybe I should change my name to something that can't be emasculated. Something like Tuffy. 

If you still don't feel manly after all these things, there are always beards. Those are manly.

Or dapper hair-dos and mullets.

Yes, mullets are the answer to everything.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Food-Issue Friday: Finally! Marketside Pizza

After two wasted trips to Walmart in the past week and a half, I made a third trip to the most frustrating place on earth. And, as the cliche goes: the third time was a charm.

And if that weren't great enough, I didn't even have to eat one of their crappy pizzas- I was able to spend less money on breadsticks which, I might add, weren't that bad. To be honest, they didn't even have any pizzas with the Topps toppings. I guess you can say it was a win-win for me.

I know that the prevailing opinion has been positive on these cards. I get it- the popularity is more of a nostalgia thing. After all, we haven't had food-issues for what seems to be ages and these things make us feel all gooey inside- just like the breadstick dough prior to being put into the oven.

But as much as I've enjoyed food-issues over the years, I'm just not feeling it on this product. So I contacted Tim at I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning, who is working on the set, to see if a trade could be worked out. Tim had posted some Heritage cards he had pulled from some breaks and, being that this is my latest love interest, I hit him up for a trade. It's one of those agreed-upon trades like you read about in the news. Cards have yet to be exchanged, but I'll soon be sending these off (with some others) and thought I'd better milk a "Food-Issue Friday" out of them before doing so.

While I'm not real fond of the design used for this set, I am thrilled that Topps has done this promotion- and hope that they continue to find ways of stirring up interest in the hobby. But can you imagine the frenzy it would have created if they had released a more retro-style design in cereal or snack cakes?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Better With Age

My throat is dry; my knees are weak. It's so damned hot, I can't even speak.~ Free's Walk in My Shadow

My interest in Heritage lately has left me like a moonstruck teenage girl- thinking of little else, hobby-wise. Remember those days when you first began dating your wife? Yes, even baseball cards can become an obsession. But you already knew that.

There's something to be said, though, for the originals. And since this year's Heritage set pays homage to Topps' 1967 release, we're going to look at a few from that classic set.

I don't have many '67s to chose from- and the only cards I have from that set are Atlanta Braves. But if I'm going to feature a Brave or two, why not feature Bad Henry- who made his MLB debut 62 years ago today.

Or one featuring 'Bob' Clemente with the Hammer and Dick Allen.

How 'bout Dick Allen, Hank and Willie Freakin' Mays?

 Is there any doubt that these things get better with age?

Speaking of getting better with age- Mr. Paul Rodgers, vocalist with Free, Bad Company and The Firm, seems to have gotten better with age. The greatest voice in rock joined bad-ass Joe Bonamassa onstage in 2012 to perform Free's Walk in My Shadow from 1968's Tons of Sobs album.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Joining the Club

I've never been one to be a part of a club. Sure, I've been part of a team (athletics) and been a member of a band. I suppose it's more semantics than anything since those are pretty much the same thing. I guess I am a member of the PWE club, so there's that.

 I remember seeing something during my childhood about the KISS Army and how desperately I wanted to be a part of that. I never joined and I honestly don't know why. They had a bad reputation and perhaps my mom wouldn't go for it.

Recently, I decided to become a member of an exclusive club: Heritage Builders. It's not an official club- in fact I named it. And no, I'm not going for the Master Set, with all the variations and whatnot, but I am trying for the complete set w/ high number SP's. Might even try a few of the inserts...

One of the only ways I'll be able to do this is by picking up lots of SPs and all of today's cards were included in a recent eBay purchase. Each card averaged out to $1.85 w/ shipping, so that's not too bad.

Especially for guys who belong to the Cy Young club, soon to be 700-HR club, ROY club and MVP club.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Farms, Ranches and Rock and Roll

Because sometimes you just want to share a tune...

I have to be careful what I say about farms and ranches around my wife, so as not to offend her. She spent a lot of her childhood on her grandparent's farm/ranch in Montana and it was a special place for her. In fact, it still is;  her uncle took it over years ago and we always make a point to stop by while we're visiting Big Sky country.

It's because of this love of her family's business that she didn't find the humor in Guns N Roses' Farm Aid IV performance from back in 1990.

If you're not familiar with the story, William Bailey (aka Axl Rose) was born and raised in Indiana- where this particular Farm Aid concert was held, so it was a homecoming of sorts for him. In introducing the bands second, and final, song of the evening, Rose declares it to be the 'only farm song we know' and asks the crowd to 'not take it too personal.' The band then breaks into a cover of the UK Sub's 'Down on the Farm'

I can't fall in love with a wheat field, I can't fall in love with the barn, when everything smells of horsesh*t down here on the farm.

If that didn't offend folks, then surely the bands exit did- as Rose walked off stage, saying, 'Thank you. Good f***ing night.'

Live, on national tv.

Yeah, that's Dick Clark saying, 'no!'


I won't pretend that Axl Rose isn't a punk- he is (or, at least was- don't know if he's changed at all). And what he needed during the 80s and 90s was a good ass-kicking by someone like Nolan Ryan.

Remember "The Robin Ventura Incident?"

Like Rose, Ryan speaks his mind and isn't afraid of offending others. In fact, I vaguely remembered some things in his autobiography that could be viewed as controversial,  so I dug out the book and looked it up. Yep- first chapter. There's something for politicians, homosexuals, minorities and lawyers to (perhaps) find offense with. Heck, he even admits, "Well,  now that I've offended just about everybody, let me take on the lawyers..."

Anyway, cards....

These aren't anything I would collect (I found the images online), but it was a cool tribute to the Ryan Express. I wasn't aware until now, as I researched this set, but Pacific actually produced three series on this thing, beginning in 1991 (110 cards) and then another 110 cards in 1992. The final 30 card set was released in 1993.

I think it's safe to say that the punk and hard rock genre's aren't Nolan's cup of tea- which is really too bad. I think his pitching style fits it perfectly: fast, powerful.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Junk(ie) Food

I don't recall a lot of family time at the dinner table while growing up. My dad was a workaholic and didn't make much time for the family. The time we did have together at the table was probably spent listening to his bitter rants about the government, or this group or that group that was ruining the world. Of course, any time spent talking meant less time he had to work in the evening, so it's more likely dinner time was spent in silence. That was a long time ago and my memories have kind of faded.

By the time I was fifteen it was more or less fend for yourself. I was usually working during dinner time, anyway, and when I wasn't working, I was probably out with my buddies. As a teen who spent most of his time at school, work, and then hanging out with other teenagers, let's just say my eating habits were pretty poor. Four food groups? Forget it, I only had one- junk food.

My daughter is only four days from turning 15 and one of the things we have been deliberate about family life these 20+ years has been eating meals together. There are times when the conversation may be minimal, but by spending the time together we are communicating to our children (or spouse) how valuable they are.

Earlier this week while at the dinner table, my daughter started telling us about a friend of hers who brought a bunch of candy bars to school to share with her friends. These weren't your garden-variety Snickers or Reeces- but candy bars from around the world. It got my wife and I reminiscing about candy from our childhood and before you knew it, I got my phone out (which we try to keep away from the table at this time of the day) and we were googling all these goodies. A world of candy just one click away. Kind of like baseball cards.

New father Junior Junkie sent me a bunch of goodies recently from half-way (or more!) across the country. TJ knows how much I like food-issues and has been good about including some in trade packages. This PWE was no different.

Whether a teen on the run or a bachelor, frozen foods that could be heated in the microwave were a staple. I don't recall getting any of these, though. I probably should have, as I was a bachelor at the time of their release.

Frozen foods are okay, but if you're not going to eat out, sandwiches or cereal is the way to go. Nothing says junk food like a nice big bowl of Fruity Pebbles cereal. Mmmmmm.

Thanks again, TJ, for feeding my junk food- er, food-issue addiction. And I know you haven't asked for any advice from a veteran father, but if I might be so bold to say-- be sure to carve out time at the table with that little one as he grows older. It's cliched but one day they'll be out of the house and you won't regret the time spent with them.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Swap Chop: '14 Update Daisuke Matsuzaka Variation

I haven't had much success in the past with posts that feature trade bait, but I've decided to give it another try.

Today I'm calling Mets fans; any Mets fans out there? Or, perhaps you're looking for photo variations for your set. Maybe you trade with a Mets collector. Well, I've got what you need:

2014 Topps Update Series #US-244 Daisuke Matsuzaka

My main wants right now are Heritage SPs between 2013-2016 or any singles from Topps sets that I'm working on, which can be accessed here.

If interested, comment below with your offer. Thanks!