Friday, July 28, 2017

Maybe it's Time to Rethink Tradition

While many collectors spent their Thursday at the National, this collector was walking the aisles of Target. Yes, cards were on my mind, but the reason for this trip was out of necessity. My Epson printer/scanner was out of blank ink, rendering even the scanner useless. In the market for a new printer? Don't purchase an Epson. My trusty old HP never did that.

Okay, on to better things... 

Before checking out, I decided to hit the card aisle. I mean, what would a trip to Target be without checking out packs and blasters?

What do I spy, but 2017 Stadium Club! Finally.

I had made a couple of trips to Walmart recently, in search of the glorious product, only to walk away disappointed. And now that I find some, I have to decide whether I'll buy multiple packs or just a single pack. No matter how badly I want to purchase a handful of packs, I walk to the checkout counter with just a single, 5-card pack.

Two days earlier I checked my Facebook feed during lunch and decided to share a post from the Idaho Statesman regarding Donald Trump speaking at the Boy Scouts Jamboree. My response was simply, "they should have seen this coming. Why didn't they just break from tradition and not invite him to speak. Some traditions aren't worth the hassle."

I thought of my comment again last night as I opened this pack. Not concerning Donald Trump, mind you, but about set collecting. And it wasn't the only time I've thought about this in recent days.

There's been a sense of tradition for me in collecting Topps' flagship set. Sure, I took a break for a few years, but Topps has been my primary card mistress all these years- dating back to my childhood. But I have to ask at what point is enough enough? Design is important in judging a set, but so is photography- and flagship is starting to bore the hell out me. Every photo looks the same; and those that are interesting seem to be SSPs.

When Topps went borderless in 2016, I eventually accepted it and thought, "maybe it is time to break from tradition." Now my thinking is, "maybe it is time to break from tradition- and begin to collect Stadium Club as my annual set."

Friday, July 7, 2017

Nautical Needs: 2016 Stadium Club

A recent purchase on Sportlots netted me a few singles that were needed to finish off a couple of team sets. Or, shall I say the base team sets; inserts from both sets are still needed.

I've seen various comments on the internet from collectors who would like to see the return of Topps Total, or an all-Negro League set, or an all-retired players set- all of which are good ideas- but one set I'd like to see would be an "all-fun" set: cards with photos of players blowing bubbles, signing for fans, or any other number of crazy antics. That would be asking too much, however, so we'll just have to settle for the occasional 'fun' card in products like Stadium Club or SP's SSPs out of flagship Topps.

The Ketel Marte card... I pulled the autographed version from one of my two hobby boxes last year, but since that doesn't count towards the base team set, I had to pick this one up.  And with it, my base team set is now complete.

Needs- 2016 Stadium Club
Beam Team #BT07 Robinson Cano

Have any of your own needs from the base set? I have quite a few singles, so let me know what you need and I'll take a look.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

No License Required

Thanks to government regulations, it's getting dang near impossible to start or operate a business in America today. Hell, it's getting damn near impossible to just live your life without some kind of license or permit being required. And lest you think that it's just the federal government that's out of control with bureaucratic red-tape, think again. All of us have heard stories about children's lemonade stands being forced to close due to the lack of a permit  or some town in California that requires a permit if you want to park in the streets between 2am-5am. One city- Milwaukee, Wisconsin-  requires businesses that are closing to acquire a license to announce they're going out of business. And just as it is with the taxman, the bureaucrats have got you coming in and they've got you going out.

One sphere where there is a dearth of licenses is in the sports card world. On this, I think there is 100% agreement.

Most of the non-licensed (league-licensed, that is) stuff that is released these days are poorly done, in my opinion. Team colors are off, there are too many photos being used where it's obvious that the team name/logo has been airbrushed, draft pick sets of players no one has ever heard of. But done right, unlicensed products can be a good thing. I love the oddball/food-issue sets from the '80s and '90s, most of which did not have an MLB license, but were nevertheless done tastefully. 

Panini got it right on the Cano and Johnson cards. In fact, the only way a newcomer to the hobby (who's not aware of the licensing issues) might become suspicious by the lack of a logo is on Robbie's helmet- and that looks like the 'S' could be blotted out by the reflection of lights.

I'll also say this: the odds of me collecting an unlicensed product are much higher if the company issues something with a retro design. I'm probably not alone in saying that, either. Nostalgia plays a huge part in the hobby, and I don't think it's a coincidence that Panini and Leaf often go back to the well from which they had earlier success. Now, it could be due to laziness- that the creative juices just aren't flowing- but I don't think that's the case (or entirely the case).

While licensed products are (by far) the most popular ones in the hobby, you can still find cards that will convince you that a license isn't required in order to make an attractive set (or, insert set). 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Glove, a Bird and a Book

I was speaking to a friend at the card show I attended back in May and, over the course of our conversation, told him we were getting ready to go on vacation to the Oregon coast. He asked me where we were going and when I told him one of the towns would be Newport, he suggested I go to the Antique Mall. "I'm aware of the place," I said. "We've been there a number of times." He went on to me of the good buys he had found while there on their recent trip.

The "Antique Mall" is really just a big, indoor flea market with everything from tools, to clothing, to antiques and collectibles. Lots of junk, but there is plenty of good stuff to be found, if you take your time to search its maze. And the way it's set up, with the different vendors set up, it is like a maze.

As we rolled in to Newport, we decided to stop by the Antique Mall before continuing north to Lincoln City. It was just as I had remembered it from the last time we were there, which had been four years ago. Immediately upon entering the store, I saw the first sportscard vendor's set and perused the display case and shelf for a while, before moving on through the rest of the store. As we were towards the back of the store, my eyes caught something: baseball gloves. I picked up the first one and noticed it was a Ron Cey model. The asking price was way too high ($15) for as poor of shape it was in; the back of the mitt was peeling reallying bad and wasn't worth but maybe $5. The other glove was in much better shape and as I turned it over I saw a name on it that I certainly didn't expect to see. Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. The asking price on it was much more reasonable ($10), but I decided to hold off from buying it. I did, however, take photos of each to tag a couple of individuals on Twitter, both of whom I knew would be interested in the finds.

I tagged Night Owl on it later and he replied it was a 'keeper'. Too bad the glove looked like mice had attacked it; had the Cey model been in better shape, I would have bought it for Greg. The other individual tagged was journalist and author Dan Epstein, known for his books Big Hair and Plastic Grass:A Funky Ride through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s and Stars and Strips: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76. Many of you are probably aware of Dan's writings and have perhaps seen him on any number of baseball documentaries (Doc Ellis: No No; Lenny Randle: The Most Interesting Man in Baseball; Mark Fidrych: The Bird). I was well aware of his love for Fidrych, and when he responded; "I'd pay $10 for that glove", I decided to offer it as a gift to him. I asked him to DM me his address and I'd send it his way. He obliged and was very grateful, thanking me again for my kind and generous act. I told him to prove it wasn't altogether altruistic (I kidded- I really had no ulterior motives), would he be willing to sign my copy of Stars and Stikes for me, if I were to include a pre-paid envelope. Dan was more than happy and asked if there was any player or team from the era that I'd want him to reference in the signature. Since the Mariners didn't start their maiden voyage until '77, I suggested The Bird. I mean, how can I not have Dan Epstein reference the Tiger phenom in a book about the 1976 season?!!

A couple of weeks later, the envelope arrived in my mailbox and sure enough, Dan was kind enough to sign the book and include another interesting piece. 

The piece that showed up that I wasn't expecting was this very cool HOF postcard of none other than Bill Veeck.


The cards Dan referred to were a couple of customs I did on the Topps website. I was in the process of creating a 'Guitar Greats' set of my favorite axe slingers before Topps caught on and would no longer produce them for me. The two that I did create were Vivian Campbell and John Sykes, both of whom played for Thin Lizzy at various points. Sykes actually played with the band while Phil Lynott was still alive; Campbell, in the reincarnated TL from 2010-2011. I knew that Dan is a huge fan of the band and thought he might appreciate the cards.         

Anyway, we're now forty-one years removed from that bicentennial year, but I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy 4th of July!