Saturday, July 21, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: too many Verlandersons

After lots of scanning and more I'm finally ready to start showing off the goods from my latest bunch of Sportlots purchases.  This group totaled around 950 cards (including trade bait for others) for a bit over $200 when including shipping.  I managed to hit the vast majority of my PCs from baseball, football, and hockey, and even added my first card to one of them.  You can look forward to a lot of fun stuff ahead in many, many purchase showoff posts on both blogs (my bread and butter at this point, let's be honest).

Today I decided to kick things off by featuring both of this here blog's namesakes because it's fun to post them together, plus their combined number of cards was manageable.

Let's begin with the blog's original title guy, Curtis Granderson.  In the past I hadn't really included him in my Sportlots searches but this time the light bulb when on and I was able to add a solid bunch to his collection:
Though I'm open to acquiring cards of Granderson on other teams I went 100% Tigers here.  That includes a 2008 Topps brand pair of Finest and Chrome.  I don't think Finest has put out designs as good as some of those from the 90s, but the '08 is still solid.  A cool postage stamp-style 2009 SP Legendary Cuts rounds out the vertical cards here, and it's fun to see a modern PC guy from that product for a change!

Continuing on the rest of this scan is all UD all the time.  First we jump back to 2008 again with SP Legendary Cuts once more, and another very cool design, then on to SPx, a die-cut set that calls back to the original '96 offering.  Then we go ahead one year to '09 and UD's flagship product.  These are two of Grandy's three appearances in that base set:  a fantastic shot of him sliding back to first plus a team checklist card that also features Miggy and the next player in today's post.
I also grabbed six of Curtis' cards I needed from Topps' 2007 Generation Now insert.  I've mentioned and/or showed this one off numerous times so I think by now you all know there's one card of each of his 31 doubles in 2006.  While I wasn't going to chase these if the price didn't make sense, I found this group at or near the site minimum of $0.18 so I happily knocked them off my list.  At this point I still need:  522 526 527 528 534 537 542 547 548 549.  I'll do a showoff post when I acquire all of them, of course.

Next up, naturally, is current namesake (if not current Tiger ::sad face::) Justin Verlander:
In terms of what I added for my PCs this time, some of it came down to brand name recognition and some was design; I even looked up a bunch of stuff on COMC to get an idea of how much I liked it before adding it.  So I would say the Topps bunch of 2007 Bowman Chrome/Finest/Topps Chrome and 2008 Topps Chrome falls more into the former category, though they each have something going for them.

Card #3 is a 2007 Fleer Year in Review insert that was fun to add since most of what you get on Sportlots at or near minimum price is base.  I love adding stuff that highlights JV's amazing 2006 AL ROY campaign.

As for the rest of the scan, it includes one of Verlander's appearances in 2007 Topps Co-Signers, an Upper Deck base from the same year (with more to come in a minute), and Heritage cards from '07 and '08, with the latter being a Black Back parallel.
This scan starts of strongly with one of my favorite photos on a card (in this case a 2008 UD base) showing Justin having signed a newspaper celebrating his first no-hitter, the one he tossed against Milwaukee in 2007.  That's joined in vertical solidarity by a 2009 UD base and 2011 Playoff Contenders issue, one that makes me appreciate football's version.

Switching to the other axis we'll start with a 2007 SP Rookie Edition offering that gives way to two more flagship base cards from the same year to go with the one above.  Then jumping ahead to 2008 there's a fun SP Authentic Marquee Matchups insert that pairs JV with retired star Vladimir Guerrero.  After that, Verlander joins Granderson in the 2008 SP Legendary Cuts set and on the previously seen team checklist from '09 Upper Deck.
That's not quite all, though, as I found the last nine cards of his I needed from that Generation Now set.  Of course his was easier to finish since it was only 17 cards, one for each of his wins in 2006.  At some point, probably after I'm done posting the rest of my Sportlots pickups, I'll devote a post to showing these off front and back.

These 27 new additions put Verlander's collection over the 300-card milestone to 309, so happy mini-milestone to that bunch!

That's all for today and I'm not sure who you'll be seeing next, but I'll at least try not to keep you waiting.  I'll likely be alternating posts with TMM depending on how I want to schedule things so keep and eye out of there as well!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mail goes out, mail comes in. You can't explain that.

First up today is an outgoing mail call.  With all but one of the envelopes shipped out (that one may have to wait another few days), I want to mention the common theme of many of them.
Image result for with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind
Michigan fans are well aware of the phrase "attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind", a phrase Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh (and his brother John, above) attributes to his dad Jack.  I decided to put that kind of effort into one of my favorite card collecting pasttimes:  going through the wantlists of bloggers I trade with.  

For a long time I was a big-time set-collector, especially in the days where I busted a lot of boxes, and throughout my time with this here blog I pretty much whittled my own sets down to practically nothing.  Since then I've become more of a player collection guy, and that's lots of fun too.

But the completionist in me still likes to see sets and projects get finished, so I found a great way to scratch that itch and benefit others.  Kind of like I did last year, I put some time into scanning base and team set wants (and "most wanted" lists like the "elusive eight" and "nefarious nine" types many of you are familiar with) of the many blogs I follow.  I was looking for lists that were down to just a few cards--maybe up to four or five and as few as just one--to see if I could blow them away.

Mostly through Sportlots, with a bit of assistance from COMC, I picked up stuff for 13 different bloggers.  By my count I completed more than 20 base and insert sets and found many more to finish team sets and put a big dent in most-wanted lists.

As always I hope this project inspires those folks and others to keep attacking their wantlists while remembering they're not in the hunt alone.  And for those of you that haven't, get those lists up on your blogs--you never know who might be able to help!

To wrap up this portion of the post here's a look at who I sent PWEs to week or two ago:
The following will be receiving bubble mailers starting next week (not all of which are part of this project; some are just getting random trade packages!):
Keep an eye on your mailboxes starting early next week, guys!
And now here's an update on my Sportlots Box experience:

As a reminder, here's a look at the shipping options for the seven sellers with whom I used the Box option:
So had I had the cards shipped directly from each seller I would have paid $31.04 for whatever the best shipping option at the lowest price was, and $11.19 is the total cost for each seller shipping their cards to Sportlots.

I can now tell you how much Sportlots charged me to ship my box cards and give you the total amount I saved using that method.  I can also present the shipping times in case you want an idea of how long it might take for your cards to arrive.

First, my shipping cost for these seven packages (boxes, envelopes, or other), left unopened and shipped together), was $9.05.  So in all I spent $20.24 on shipping, as opposed to the $31.04 direct cost.  A $10.80 difference might not seem like much, but when many of the cards you're buying are in the $0.18 to $0.20 range that could be another big stack of cards you can buy instead of paying to get them sent to you.

As for how long I waited here's a quick timeline:
  • All orders placed:  6/12
  • Packages arrived to Sportlots Box on 6/19 (x3), 6/21, 6/22, 6/26, and 6/27
  • Box package shipment requested and shipped on 6/27
  • Box package arrived 6/30
(The final package that made it on the 27th was from Canadian shipper barriere)

In conclusion, my final verdict from this experience would be to utilize the Box option again whenever there's a noticeable different in cost.  It was nice getting everything in one package and Sportlots quickly got that package to me once everything arrived.  Plus I was able to spend an "extra" $11 on cards.

I hope some of you find this useful and I'd be happy to answer any other questions about my experience or Sportlots in general that you may have.  And as always I highly recommend Sportlots as a source for lower-end cards, especially base for your PCs and to fill your sets.  Be prepared to put in a lot of time optimizing your cart to get the best price per card with shipping, but know that it's worth it.  I'm betting a number of the folks I mentioned in the first second will sure appreciate it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

7/7/18 show report: feeling lucky on 7/7

Last Saturday a holiday and extra couple days off led into another fun weekend show.  I ended up being able to get a good look through just about every one of my favorite seller's quarter boxes (5/$1) and come up with 150 cards.  To those I added 13 from his $2 to spend a year-high $55 on some new stuff for me plus lots and lots of trade bait.

Check out a couple scans worth of Michigan stuff over on TMM after you read this post!

Here's the goods you came to see:
I came home with this trio of Griffey cards I liked from the late 90s/early aughts.  That includes a '97 UD Predictor (unscratched!), 1998 Mariners Score team card (peep the stamp near the lower left corner), and a shiny Reds insert from 2000 Fleer Mystique called Diamond Dominators.  Junior certainly dominated in 1999, his final season in his first stint with Seattle, with 48 bombs and 134 RBI, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, yet another All-Star nod, and 4.9 bWAR.  His debut with the Reds in 2000 went pretty well too, including 40 dingers and an improvement to a 5.5 bWAR.
Speaking of All-Stars I left the show as the man with the golden Gwynn after snagging this '96 Ultra Gold Medallion of Mr. Padre.  This one parallels his Series II card and hails from the only Ultra version I know of that went with this cool gold foil/embossed design.
The show was an above-average day in terms of coming up with some new Barry Larkin fodder, all from a pretty tight window.  Up top are the foily 1997 Collector's Choice Toast of the Town and more laid back 1999 Paramount Team Checklists (Paramount was a great brand).  The bottom starts with an out-of-order and much more Pacific-like 1998 Topps Tek Pattern 58 (I totally need to do a post on confusing set ideas) and then moves on to the much more fun 1998 SPx Finite (#1794/9000), a fine looking horizontal card.  These additions give me a fun little milestone of 700+ Larkins!  His 702 are second only to another SS PC that you'll get to see in a minute.
Greg Maddux, star of my recent COMC big finish post, gets to be the marquee PC guy again thanks to a whopping eight new cards I scored on Saturday.  The top row is all 90s stuff:  a '95 Donruss Diamond King (fantastic as always), a die-cut 1997 Upper Deck Star Attractions, and one of Greg's appearances in UD's 1998 Prime Nine set.  As a reminder I have all of the Griffeys and Ripkens from that set and showed them off a while ago.

Down the middle is a trio of early aughts stuf:  2001 Fleer Tradition Grass Roots, 2002 Fleer Focus JE (Jersey Edition) K Corps, and 2004 Leaf Home/Away (obviously an "Away" card).

Then I have a couple horizontals for the bottom row:  another 1998 SPx Finite issue, this time the Radiance version (#1847/4500) that's rarer, and a variation of his 1999 Pacific Invincible Sandlot Heroes insert.  Not a bad little haul!
It's pretty rare these days that I can come home from the show with a new card for one of my many supercollections, and yet here we are.  I grabbed this Matheny 2004 Topps Gold parallel (#0713/2004) figuring I probably had it but could toss it in a trade package to Kerry otherwise, then looked at my checklist and found that I hadn't added it yet.  You'd think I'd have tracked down something this simple already but for some reason collecting him just isn't that easy.  This is card #91 (out of 217) I have of the Cards manager (who's probably a dead man walking).
Let's finish up this post with a pair of cards starring current PC leader Cal Ripken Jr.  Like Griffey the Iron Man features on another team set--this one from 1997 Donruss--with a design I like, and he joins Maddux from 1999 Pacific Invincible Sandlot Heroes with a great fielding shot.  He continues his assault of yet another milestone with a new total of 797 items (and counting!).

None of the trade bait items have been sent out yet as I'm currently putting together some 11 trade packages that'll join a half dozen PWEs I did send out last week, some of which I know have arrived.

As for the Sportlots stuff I keep promising to send out, I swear I'll get to them while I wait for one last package from a seller that I forgot was notoriously slow about shipping (as in it still hasn't shipped yet!).

Friday, July 6, 2018

2018 trade package #15: Baseball Card Breakdown

Baseball Card Breakdown
Buddy of the blog and custom king Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown was nice enough to send me my final trade package in June, and I'm happy to be showing it off kinda sorta reasonably soon after I received it!  This time the word "oddball" comes to mind--because of some of what Gavin sent, not because he's a weirdo.  I dunno, he seems pretty normal to me *goes back to staring at Gavin's animated .gifs for hours*

Here's what he sent this time:
Former Tigers prospects in Refractor (or thereabouts) form.  Boesch (2010 Topps Chrome) had some success in Detroit earlier in the decade before washing out.  Dirks (2011 Bowman Chrome Draft) was another potential slugger from around the same time that didn't work out in the end.  Kivett (2014 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks Prizms Powder Blue, #d /199) is a guy I had to look up because he only appeared in a few 2014 Panini brands.  He was a 2014 6th-rounder in the OF who appears to be in indy ball right now.  And Ramirez (2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects, #d /500) is another OF who barely played in the league.  So I guess the theme here is that Detroit sucks at drafting outfielders.  But at least these cards are shiny!
Thumbs up to Gavin for hitting one of my Michigan PCs, Clayton Richard, with a 2013 Gypsy Queen Mini.  His 2012 win total was anything but mini--in fact it was "many":  14, tied for his career high!

Now let's take a look at a couple more examples of Gavin's amazing customs:
This Barry Larkin looks like it came straight from '71 Topps, a set produced when the '95 NL MVP was just seven years old.  He chose an excellent shot of Barry catching some air-y while doubling up Eli Marrero, and that's levitation, holmes!  Like a true collector he paid the same amount of attention to the back with a great write-up and stats from Larkin's sunset season.
As if that weren't enough, Gavin went back and consolidated three cards into one much-improved version.  1978 Topps RCs of Paul Molitor/Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker (with a non-existent Ozzie Smith from that year) get mashed up into one super card that would be the greatest collection of talent on a first-year if it existed.  Here's the original versions:
Gavin left Tram and Whitaker more or less intact but added Smith and a new (and better) photo of Molitor.  And yeah, he absolutely killed it.  Gavin, I may have to commission a custom from you sometime of the '78 Topps Tigers quartet of the two guys you used here plus Jack Morris and Lance Parrish.  That would be an insane item to get signed!  Anyway, thanks as always for thinking of me when sending these out, I love getting them.
Back to more standard stuff for a minute, in this case three many Verlanders!  The trio of 2017s starts with a Diamond Kings insert called Aurora, a canvas-y card with lots of color.  That's joined by another insert straight from Gavin's playbook, a Topps Chrome X-Fractor.  Last up is the thickest of the bunch, a Triple Threads Gold parallel (#42/99), the best (non-custom) card in the package.  These are all new to me and look great.
And now we'll finish on an oddball note.  I had plenty of trouble identifying the Larkin so for now I'm labeling it as a 1990 MLBPA Baseball Button.  My research seems to indicate those are much smaller so I may be off by a bit.  If anyone can correct me please let me know!

Those are joined by a Tigers pin of unknown origin, though I love that it features the old logo.  More familiar, though, are 1984 Fun Foods Pins of Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish, and Trammell.  That's a damn fine group of '84 champs right there!

Gavin, thanks once again for this unexpected bounty of the familiar and the oddball.  Please keep on cranking out those high quality customs!  By the way, you should hopefully have a PWE on the way to your side of the country and in your mailbox soon.

For those of you wanting to see a bit more of my collection please head over to this evening's TMM post where I'm celebrating a huge milestone for my Michigan collections.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

2018 COMC purchases: Maddux-splosion

With this final post from my latest COMC package it's time to end this series once again.  Yesterday I showed off some red, white, and especially blue Wolverines cards on TMM and now I present the big finish I've been teasing over here:  some outstanding Greg Maddux inserts!  You got to see some really nice stuff from several of my PCs but in my opinion the best quantity of quality this time was the HOF pitcher for the Cubs and Braves.  I happily plunked down more COMC credit than I usually do because I was hitting some of my most-wanted inserts while getting introduced to some new favorites.

Take a gander at these Gregs and be amazed!:

Only one card in and I'm already busting out the "90s inserts rule" tag.  1996 Leaf Preferred's Staremaster (#0776/2500) is one of my favorite offerings from that brand, one for which I bought a box at a card shop that no longer exists very close to my childhood home.  The punny title (one of two today!) belies a great design, and the print run of 2500 was quite low for the time, making these very desirable pulls.

Card #2 hearkens back to the Gwynn post as we get a second entry from 1996 Ultra's Season Crowns insert in the form of this Maddux issue.  The card notes that after the '95 season he was celebrating leading the NL with 19 wins and a paltry 1.63 ERA (his third straight crown in that stat).  For as nice as these acetate-like cards look they're fairly cheap on COMC so check them out!

Then we move on to another favorite:  1998 Leaf Heading For the Hall (#1049/3500).  This is another insert with a cool rainbow foil design and great player selection, as you'd expect.  Of the 20-card checklist only Albert Belle (fairly understandable at the time), Kenny Lofton (who knows?) and PED guys Bonds/Clemens/Juan Gonzalez/McGwire haven't made it yet.  As for my collection I'm still searching for the Griffey and Ripken issues having already added the Gwynn and Larkin.

This 1999 trio starts strong and finishes well too.  Up first is one of my top inserts from one of Pacific's best products:  Paramount Fielder's Choice.  I busted a cheap box of that set way back in the day and pulled some great stuff including a numbered Griffey and a Derek Jeter from this glove-centric chase set, and now I'm happy to have the Maddux in-hand.  As I've said numerous times the 18-time(!) Gold Glover belongs first and foremost in these sets, especially one of this quality where the die-cutting extends to the webbing of the glove.  Just a kick-ass card!

The next offering is one of the lower-end cards you'll see today but still a solid one.  Stadium Club's inserts were better than flagship's more than 90% of the time and this Never Compromise card is a good example.  It's a nice shot of the master of his craft.

Last up in '99 is another card that brings us back to the Gwynn post, a 1999 Topps Chrome Lords of the Diamond.  For as cheap as these are they're fun pickups, and I may turn my attention to the Refractor versions in the future.

Now this might be my favorite trio in the whole series.  It begins with one last insert you previously saw in the Gwynn recap, 2000 E-X E-Xceptional Red (#0903/1999).  These cards and their various iterations over the years (and several sports) definitely belong in a top 10, something I should make a personal list of at some point.  Maybe someday I'll track down the Griffey and Ripken cards, and if I'm feeling particularly adventurous I'll look for the other colors as well!

2000 Fleer Showcase's Consummate Prose is up next, and that's today's other set with a punny title.  The homonym "pros" would of course work just as well for an MLBer like Maddux, but the writing on the back justifies the title:
And last in this group is another top 10 card in the entire package.  I love scanning for my PC guys and coming up with new designs I've never seen before like the 2003 Playoff Prestige Inside the Numbers (#1595/2002) card you see above.  Once again it's acetate, so it's already got that going for it, and the gradient of the Braves uniform colors works beautifully with the photo on this design.  Maddux's 2.62 ERA in 2002 didn't lead the league but it was the 9th time in his career with a sub-3.00 ERA.  Yeah, you could say he was as good at pitching as he was with the glove, I suppose.

And now we reach the final group of verticals (sort of).  First up is Maddux's solo appearance on Donruss's well-known Passing the Torch insert, in this case from 2004 Elite (#0968/1000).  Go on and take a wild guess who he's paired up with on the two-player card.  Hint:  it's 2004.  That's right, pre-injury Mark Prior, who put up 7.4 bWAR with an 18-6 record over an All-Star 2003 campaign.  Man, what could have been....

What was, at least, was the 1995 Braves, the only Atlanta team to win it all over that multitude of playoff appearances and pennants.  Donruss' 2005 Throwback Threads honors part of the core of those teams with this Dynasty card that co-stars HOFer Chipper Jones and slugger David Justice.  Those teams were a ton of fun to watch and I wonder if the Baby Braves are on their way back to that kind of relevance once again.

Also hailing from 2005 Throwback Threads is the last insert in this group, a three-player Generations insert.  You previously saw a card from that set in my most recent post, one that includes PC guy Barry Larkin along with HOFer Ozzie Smith and one-time top prospect B.J. Upton.  Thanks to Jack Morris' election this year this card that also includes longtime Giant (among nine total teams) Gaylord Perry is 100% Hall of Fame certified.  Not a bad group at all!

And now we've almost reached the end, but first there's a couple horizontal cards to show off.  First is a Bound for Glory insert from what's probably my favorite iteration of Upper Deck's SPx product, the debut 1996 edition.  These cards aren't crazy expensive now but they still look cool to me more than 20 years later, and this one even surprised me by scanning better than I thought it would!

Joining that is another lower-end insert that still interested me enough to toss it in my cart.  Found in 2007 Fleer Crowning Achievement, it highlights the 18th and final team in Maddux's career that he reached the 15-win mark after setting a record by achieving the feat in 17 straight campaigns.  In fact he missed out on a run of 19 by two wins in 2005, then put up another 14 in 2007.  That record-setting run is one of the many reasons I continue to collect Maddux to this day.

Well that was a pretty nice bunch, but I'm happy to report that I'm not quite done yet.  See, I discovered another insert set I wasn't previously familiar with, and when I came upon Maddux's cards (yes, cards), I went whole hog and grabbed them all:
This here is Greg's quartet from Donruss's 2005 Zenith Spellbound insert, a group that spells out his first name.  My only PC guy in the bunch represents the first four cards in the insert because he's just that awesome, and these make for a fun non-relic nameplate.  It certainly doesn't hurt that these feature Pinnacle's trademark dufex look, does it?

I have to say that was a fun end to another nice run of quality stuff from COMC.  I'm not sure when I'll have stuff from there to show off again--maybe after Black Friday?--but I'm already looking forward to filling out another great package.

Next up I have a surprise trade package, a possible show recap, and once everything is in-hand and ready, another huge Sportlots run.  I'm also about to hit a huge milestone in my Michigan collection and will be sharing that on TMM so watch for all of that soon!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

2018 COMC purchases: soMe More uncoMMon coMc iteMs

That's one "M" for each former Wolverines baseballer in today's post, the penultimate in this series.

Speaking of Michigan, please head over to TMM for a look at some fun football hits, including a non-zero number of printing plates!

Now on to the aluMni:
A pair of new Rich Hills already makes this a good little haul for me as I work to keep up with the still-relevant Dodgers lefty's cardboard appearances.  On the left is the Sapphire Edition version of his 2017 Topps Chrome issue while the other is another parallel, the Rainbow Foil variation of his card found in this year's flagship product (which I managed to grab before landing the base card).  In each case blue is a very appropriate color for the former Wolverine!
This was another Barry good package in terms of my Larkin collection (no apologies for the pun).  Card #1 is an insert from Donruss' 2005 Throwback Threads product called Generations.  Larkin is joined by fellow HOF SS Ozzie Smith and B.J. Upton, who at the time was one of the top prospects in the game.

#2 is one of my favorite parallels, a 2012 Panini Cooperstown Crystal Collection Blue (#027/499).  These Cracked Ice-style cards look great in this color which, again, is very apropos of today's post!

And speaking of colors, our third card is all about them:  2017 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Old School Colors.  Any new card of Larkin in his college duds is a big win for me.
Former Red Hal Morris is one of my supercollections so of course I was happy to knock this pair off of my wantlist.  The Bowman Tiffany you see on the left was the oldest card of his I needed and that gives me a run of his stuff from 1989 into 1993.  That's joined by his 1997 Bowman Chrome International insert, an ideal card to show off this week.  I now count 259 of Morris' 359-card run in my collection.
Sox pitcher Zach Putnam remains on the shelf after elbow surgery but that hasn't stopped me from chasing his cards, especially since I'm thankful for his few recent cardboard appearances.  I was glad to see him make the cut for last year's Topps flagship product, which meant he'd also appear on the various parallels such as this Gold parallel (#0099/2017).  I have 25 of the 44 cards on Putnam's checklist and 49 overall, so I can look forward to another mini milestone soon!
Representing the team from Chicago I actually like is former Cub Bobby Scales on this 2009 Bowman Sterling Black Refractor (#11/25) that finishes up the four-card rainbow from that set:
It's not quite a Christmas card but tracking it down at a reasonable price was definitely a gift for me!  That's my 23rd of Scales' 31 cards, putting me at around 3/4 of the way done with his run.
And now we'll travel all the way back to 1939 and one of the oldest Wolverines in my collection, "Gorgeous" George Sisler, who can be seen on a base card from Upper Deck's 2005 Hall of Fame product (#358/550).  This nicely designed card highlights the outstanding hitter's election to Cooperstown that year, joining Lou Gehrig, Eddie Collins, and Willie Keeler.  This makes a fine addition to my Sisler collection, how 82 cards strong.

With these in the books stay tuned for the big finish:  some fantastic looking cards for one of my favorite PCs (along with some great stuff of my favorite football collections over on TMM), probably this week!