Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Yawn! Ginter

I've had this feeling coming on for a few years now -- that Allen & Ginter was becoming just another card set.

I've tried so much not to feel that way that I've been in denial for a long time. My enthusiasm for the set probably first started to wane around 2010, yet you can see my excitement for all things A&G all over this blog for the past four years. And I completed the 2010, 2011 and 2012 sets and am very close to finishing off 2013.

It's been a slow drain. A slow recognition that I'm not feeling it like I once did. This isn't really Topps' fault, although I'm sure one of their many critics out there would be able to pin it on them pretty quickly. It's more of me and the fact that either there hasn't been enough excitement in the last few A&G sets or I've just grown bored.

It's tough to dive into a brand new 2015 set that you're supposed to complete while you're maybe halfway through last year's set. This is why I've made only half-hearted searches for Ginter the last couple of weeks and why I haven't minded that I didn't find any until today.

So I grabbed a couple of rack packs all the while staring at a blaster (by the way, A&G first emerged here in August, which as I've said before -- but nobody wants to listen to empty pockets night owl -- is about the worst month to release a card set if you want me to buy it).

What I opened isn't going to get me to go back anytime soon.

But I'll discuss more while I open the cards -- that you've all seen before.

Rack pack 1:

#60 - Marcus Semien, A's
#233 - Ike Davis, A's

And we're off to a blazing start with two almost identical Oakland A's. I can see these being used at the eye doctor's office: bat on right shoulder or bat on left shoulder? How about now? Right or left? And now?

#170 - Chris Davis, Orioles

The images in this year's set are cropped much closer than in past sets. It's rather obvious and I don't think I've heard anyone else mention it. Although it makes this year's set distinctive, I don't really like it.

#253 - Carlos Beltran, Yankees

I like that the border colors change though. This is the best part of the design. It's fairly subtle, but in a binder, I'm sure it stands out.

#334 - Nick Tropeano, Angels (I don't know who he is, but his name sounds like a shady travel agent character on the Simpsons)

In a major break from tradition, base cards 301-350 are not short-printed this year. I don't know why this is, and it figures that just when I'm tiring of A&G they go and get rid of the most frustrating part of completing the set. I wonder how quickly I could complete this set if I had the enthusiasm for it I did in 2008?

#196 - Ian Kinsler, Tigers, regular-back mini

Makes the frankenset!

#MM10 - Nanabozho, Mythological Menaces mini

Nanabozho is neither male nor female, can turn into animals and plays tricks on people. One of his/her/its tricks is putting this card of a naked man/woman/animal into my collection.

#192 - Fernando Rodney, Mariners
#186 - Desmond Jennings, Rays

A Mariner and a Ray. And thus ends the dullest top half of a rack pack of A&G I've ever opened.

#277 - Starlin Castro, Cubs

#185 - Gus Malzahn, Auburn football coach

This might be my overall boredom with A&G talking, but I don't think the non-baseball subjects have been as interesting as in say, 2008-2012. I know that Masters of Knitting would be more interesting to me than a college football coach.

#SP-32 - Jose Altuve, Astros, Starting Points insert

This is the giant insert set that A&G foists on us every year. Like everything else, this used to be interesting. It's not anymore.

#GS-10 - Dolly the Sheep, Great Scott insert

RIP cloned sheepy.

#247 - George Springer, Astros

Bringing the dullest A&G rack pack I've ever opened to an end.

Rack pack 2:

#254 - Alex Gordon, Royals

The Twitter feud between Royals and Blue Jays fans is adorable. You're practically the same team, guys.

#69 - Christian Bethancourt, Braves
#257 - Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox

Kudos to cropping Sandoval tightly and still getting him in the frame.

#345 - Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
#332 - Matt Cain, Giants

There's evidence right there that cards 301-350 are not short-prints. This would never happen in A&G 2008-14.

#212 - Chris Tillman, Orioles, mini, regular back

Both non-insert minis make the frankenset binder! Actual success from these rack packs!

#154 - Rusney Castillo, Red Sox

#56 - Apollo Creed

OK, this is where the rack pack plunges from indifference to indignation. Both top corners of this card are massively dinged. I spotted it when I opened the top half of the rack pack and hoped that it wasn't a card I cared about.

Unfortunately, this is one of the few interesting things to me about this year's A&G -- Rocky characters as part of the base set. And as you can see, Creed is rocking his Uncle Sam hat. This is a magnificent card carelessly damaged.

I could go on, but My Cardboard Habit has already volunteered to send me an improved copy. A travesty avoided and night owl shuts up.

#121 - Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
#281 - Cory Spangenberg, Padres

The horizontal cards feature much more photo than past A&G horizontal cards. This is a big plus.

#SP-79 - Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners, Starting Points insert

Lovely. This will go in the stack with the other Iwakumas as I haven't traded a non-Griffey Mariner since probably 2010.

#AA10 - Flanged Mace, Ancient Armory insert

I think someone took a flanged mace to my Apollo Creed card.

#First-33 - Lady Bird Johnson, First Ladies mini insert

I think I got the cards mixed up. The two minis were together in this rack pack, just like the other one.

I like this insert set, and there is not a political feather on this bird's body.

#97 - Kendall Graveman, A's

And that does it. Two rack packs, three Oakland A's. That might explain my boredom.

I still plan to collect this set. And one day you will see a want list up. But it's almost out of habit, I'm afraid.

I'm not planning to turn completely around and collect Panini full-time, but right now Allen and Ginter is a solid No. 3 in the year's sets behind Stadium Club and flagship. We're talking about a set that used to be my indisputable favorite for several years, relegated now to No. 3.

I still haven't sorted out the reasons for this, but that ain't good.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Always chasing rainbows

A few days ago, I read at Dodgers Blue Heaven that Panini was releasing its Cooperstown series again this year, and that each base card had three different versions. One card number, three photo variations.

I shook my head at Panini, which I still have difficulty considering a legitimate baseball card company, pulling something that many take Topps to the woodshed over year after year.

But I realized I was reading this at the same time I was unearthing card variations from sets that are decades old, which arrived long before what we consider as the era of variations/parallels.

For instance, the above card from the 1983 Authentic Sports Autographs series. The series featured 12-card sets of 11 different Hall of Fame players. Each set also had a separate version in which the first card was autographed. Oh, and you can also find the cards with red or green borders.

Which explains this:

Each of these are card No. 10:

Then, not long after I came across that, I came across this:

"Who cares," you're saying, "it's one-third of a 1981 Topps Scratch-Off item."

Yes it is. I received it from John of Johnny's Trading Spot.

But the Lopes '81 Scratch-Off that I know -- because it's sitting in one of my Dodger binders -- is this:

So now you see why I think the pink-bordered Lopes is some kind of sorcery.

I thank John for sending this because it also brought to light that I did in fact have the pink-bordered Lopes already.

It was just attached to a couple of guys from lesser teams.

This raises the question of how many different colored Lopes Scratch-Offs there are.

Or how many different colored Dusty Baker Scratch-Offs or Reggie Smith Scratch-Offs or Jerry Reuss Scratch-Offs, or (*gasp*) ...


I don't know if there's any realistic way of finding out how many different-colored borders that your favorite player features in the 1981 Topps Scratch-Offs.

For instance, the backs for the orange and pink Lopes Scratch-Offs are different:

But, as glorious as these are, I don't think it indicates anything. The backs seem to fluctuate advertisements without any sort of pattern.

I suppose this is why they call them "oddballs," and probably why people are more forgiving of variations in sets like this than in mass-produced flagship sets.

Of course, I'm obsessive enough that I'm chasing color parallels in sets like these, even if I just found out today that there are color parallels in freaking 1981 Scratch-Offs.

It's enough to drive you to sweet vintage, which Johnny also supplied:

One of the last subset needs from 1960 Topps recognizing the Dodgers' 1959 World Series title.

And a needed 1958 Junior Gilliam. Love that painted L.A. on the cap. Virtually all of the Dodgers in this set have one.

And there's a whole bunch more. You can never have enough Wally Moons.

John had quite a bit of variety for me, every color and every shape:

And from today's players ...

... to today's players yesterday.

This card -- from Sports Illustrated For Kids (although I don't know the year) -- is quite a hoot.

John's even trying to get me hooked on some Headliners. But since I already have the Piazza, and I think that I now have all the Dodgers (don't tell me there are more incarnations because I don't care), then I'm done.

Thanks, Johnny, for the wide variety of stuff, and your package should be on the way soon. Also, thanks for alerting me to yet another rainbow to chase.

The best thing about collecting is never having to say "I'm finished. What do I do now?"

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The poor man's National

I missed the National Sports Card Convention again this year. Honestly, the show isn't exactly convenient for those with families, unless it's in your backyard, and, of course, Chicago is nowhere near me.

One day I will make it a priority, schedule a budget (I have a difficult time with "spending a lot of money to spend a lot of money"), and hit the road. Atlantic City is unlikely next year, but Cleveland looks real good in 2018.

So what did I do while a bunch of collectors were at the National? Well, I windowshopped from afar, as usual. I really enjoy the videos that people put together while either out on the floor or back in the hotel as they show off their wares.

And I also settled down with the giant box of Dodger dupes that you see there and started organizing.

I know, it sounds pretty pathetic when you know that there are people a thousand miles away marveling at 36 graded Michael Jordan rookie cards all in one place or unearthing that card from 1923 that they've been in search of for 12 years. But that's what a poor collector does when he has time but no money.

That giant dupes box was my National.

I've shown this box before. I've had it since I moved out of my parents' house. You can see scrawlings of what it once held -- old school stuff that I don't even know where it is anymore (I hope nobody suddenly asks to see my high school diploma). It's large, sturdy, and can pack rows and rows of duplicates. And that's what's in it. Rows and rows of Dodgers and rows and rows on top of the rows.

It's such a pain to go through that it's been years since I last sorted it. And there have been large stacks piled on top of the box for years. Even a couple of mass mailings of Dodgers out to people hasn't done much to reduce the stacks.

So, in the last week, I organized all the stacks. They're sitting on my desk now, waiting to go in the box (that's another big process). But meanwhile, I was able to find some cards among all those doubles that I NEEDED. Yay! Free cards. That I didn't even have to go to Chicago for!

Let's see what I found:

This is one of those Cards Your Mom So Callously Threw Out cards from 2010. Obviously, I tossed this into the dupes box because I thought I had it.

But everyone was drunk on back variations in 2010. This is the original back version, which I knew all about, but forgot to check!

New card No. 1 discovered!

The next card I found came from last year's Stadium Club.

I swear these things are too easy to miss. This is the black parallel version and I had tossed it into the stacks of doubles at some point.

 As you can see, they are clearly different!

New card No. 2 discovered.

The reverse happened with another card from Stadium Club:

This is the base card of Alex Guerrero.

But I had forgotten that when I entered a group break of Stadium Club, the only Guerrero selected for me was the black parallel version. So, when this base card Guerrero arrived, I dismissed it as a double.

Even in this modern card parallel world that has been operating for decades, I'm still acting like it's 1980.

New card No. 3 saved from the giant dupes box!

The final card isn't really a new card, but I thought it was interesting enough that I'll probably add it to the Dodgers binder:

This 2012 Topps card of former Dodger hopeful/current Cleveland Indian Jerry Sands is lacking its foil.

The imprint of his name is actually there, but there's no foil on it, so it looks like his name is completely missing.

Good enough to be New Card No. 4!

It never fails that I find cards that I need when sorting that box.

And when I can't find goodies at the National, it's the best time to drag it out of its hiding place.

Still, if I don't want to be retelling this sad story year after year, I better start saving up. Then you can make fun of me in person in 2018.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The legend grows

Of all the many series that I have on this blog, there have been few that have connected like the Legends of Cardboard series.

I still don't know why that is. The topic is interesting to me, but that doesn't mean anything. There are plenty of posts on here that are interesting to me that were probably read by two people. So it must be something more, whatever that is.

All I know is that the Legends of Cardboard posts receive an extraordinary number of clicks. And when a new one is posted, that causes previous Legends of Cardboard posts to increase their readership. It's like the old days when a group would put out a new record album. That would generate new interest for its older albums.

A new indication of the impact of Legend of Cardboard is that it has landed me some cards.

I wasn't expecting any new cards of recent Legend of Cardboard subject Alex Cole, but Bo from Baseball Cards Come To Life was there for me with a nice selection of Goggles ... I mean, Coles.

Take a look:

That isn't even all of them.

I'm particularly happy about the 1995 Collector's Choice in the middle. That's one of the Coles I specifically pointed out as desiring in the original post.

As some of you longtime readers may remember, I've been threatening for awhile (i.e.: years) to do an updated Best Glasses in the History of Baseball Cards post, and Alex Cole is an excellent candidate. He's assured of making that list, whenever I get around to it.

Bo also sent this non-Alex Cole Alex Cole:

This is an uncorrected error card that I didn't know about because '91 Stadium Club completely avoided my neighborhood that year. I have no idea how SC mixed up two so very distinctive-looking individuals like Alex Cole and Otis Nixon, but it makes for one of the most amusing error cards that I've seen.

At least they got the back right. GOGGLES!

Also, there were also some needed Dodgers in the package:

And some Dodger prospects apparently jinxed by Baseball America:

It's good to know that other collectors appreciate players who may not have had the most notable careers but still had some great cards, and that's what the Legends of Cardboard series is all about.

I have at least three or four Legends of Cardboard topics in mind for future posts, and I hope there are many other subjects to follow.

As always, thanks for reading.