Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Huddy's still my buddy!

Hey guys!  Do you remember how I showed off a pretty cool triple relic card of Tim Hudson a few weeks ago, featured in this post?  Well this month my spending has been comparably light because I'm avoiding COMC until its catalog gets rebuilt and the backlog of submissions is taken care of.  Because of that, I was able to go after some wants on eBay, and that included a card I've wanted for quite a while.  The price for the one in this post has been all over the place, but about $9 and a few days later, I landed a great new pickup of Hudson, one of my all-time favorite non-Tigers:
Tim Hudson 2000 SPx auto (#0232/1500)
I've long admired the shiny holographic/gold look of the 2000 SPx set, and better yet, the on-card autos from the product.  Hudson has plenty of others out there, but this is the one I've been locked onto for years (with a Sweet Spot being choice #2).  I didn't think I'd be able to find one for under $15 plus shipping, but after checking out some completed listings I started to get more optimistic, and I ended up with surprisingly little competition in this particular auction.

Thanks to the beautiful Tools of the Trade card from last time, I'm in the perfect position to post a trifecta of Hudson soon since I also have a RC to add to that album, and that may inspire me to great a "trifectas and more" page on this blog since I have a few other good examples.

So hooray for a new PC addition that doesn't fall into my Tigers and Michigan Baseball collections but still makes me happy and was therefore totally a worthwhile purchase!  Also, hooray for the return of Huddy's health and effectiveness this season after his last one ended so painfully--it's great to see him back in business!

Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 You Complete Me #3: Score (off the) board

Last Sunday I showed you the first chunk of cards from my Sportlots purchases that led to a couple completed sets, and today I'm back with the ones that hadn't arrived until the other day.  These cards hail from 2013 Score football:
There were 30 in all spread out over a few packages, and these six featured the most exciting photos, which is really no surprise since the horizontal layout gives you better options.  What I thought was most interesting is that Score did a great job with the Derrick Johnson card, giving a great view of a menacing LB staring across the line of scrimmage; cards like these might make defensive players more collectible!

Some of you might vaguely recall that I dipped my toe into collecting this set last June with a few rack packs, grabbed more, and also got some help in multiple trades, including Screaming Line Drive and My Cardboard Mistress (thanks again, guys!).  One of the most productive parts of this quest was nabbing a huge chunk of the rookies last July, meaning I mostly just needed base help, which I got in abundance thanks to several trades.  When I got down to needing just 30 cards, it was off to Sportlots to shut the door on another set--and it didn't even take me a year!

Just three sets remain on my football set wants, and I'm as motivated as ever to knock those off soon too!  Until then, here's to another one scratched off the list.  And some nice photos, there's that too.

Monday, April 7, 2014

2014 COMC pickups #5: 1984 was 30 years ago?!

The last bunch of my COMC pickups thus far this year have a pretty cool theme:  star players from the Tigers' 1984 World Series title.  I'm pretty sure you've all heard of them before, so I'll just get right to it:
Kirk Gibson 2002 Topps Archives Reserve
Gibby was the fire that fueled this team to victory, and his pair of game five homers, including the second off a stubborn Goose Gossage, comprise what's likely my favorite World Series memory ever.

To honor that, here's a sweet looking card that reprints a Gibson from...1988?  Whatever you say, Topps.  I just love the Refractor-y look, and for $0.50 I couldn't go wrong.  Archives Reserve had some amazing looking base cards and hits, and if they could bring it back at a realistic price point, I'd probably jump all over it.  I know, I know, I'll keep dreaming.
Kirk Gibson 2005 Classic Clippings Official Box Score (#1671/1988)
Speaking of 1988, Gibson's OTHER big World Series moment, which I hear is slightly more famous than his heroics of 1984, occurred on October 15, as this box score insert reminds us.  If you've seen more than one of these you know that Fleer cut down the box score to highlight the moment the card celebrates, and as you might expect, since Gibby was pinch-hitting and, you know, ended the game, he's right there at the bottom.  This is a cool concept that's been used just a bit in the last decade and I wouldn't mind seeing more of it.  Baseball is a game that relies upon and celebrates its history, so why not?

Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker 1993 Finest
Besides Gibson, how about the legendary double play combo that included the 1984 World Series MVP and the All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger 2B who often set the table and scored lots of runs?  I scored this pair from the iconic '93 Finest set for around $1 as I was just about out of credit a month or two ago, and I immediately knew it would be fun to show them off together.

Lou Whitaker 2001 SP Legendary Cuts Debut Game Bat bat
However, I did land a card of just Whitaker to show off as well, this sweet bat relic that cost me just $5.  My Tigers PC is also home to a couple other Tigers from the same set--Trammell and Freehan.  This "Sweet" Lou is just a bit sweeter, though, since it's my first relic of the should-be HOF second baseman.  A bat card is certainly appropriate for a guy who hit .276 with 244 HR in his 19 seasons, matching up well with Hall member Ryne Sandberg, who never won a title like Lou did.  Anyway, I hope to land a "real" certified auto (this one's not quite what I would count) to put together a sweet trifecta!

With the site still in rebuilding mode (though for the better, it'll be great!), I may take a month off from buying things on COMC, but rest assured you'll see more new stuff from there on this blog soon.  If you need that fix in the meantime, please head over to Too Many Manninghams, where I'm showing off my Michigan-related pickups from the first few months of 2014.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2014 You Complete Me #2: bye bye, baseball, and another football set down

I have a few more COMC cards to show off, but I also wanted to make sure to cover my recent Sportlots purchase in my first You Complete Me post since January.  Besides targeting more guys from my Michigan baseball PCs, I was able to attack three more sets from my baseball and football wantlists.  I'm still waiting on one last envelope with cards from the third set, but here's the two others that fell:
These 10 cards, all from the rookies subset, close the book on my second set of 2008 SP Rookie Edition football.  I found a few full retail boxes at Meijer a few years ago and had enough extras to make it worth putting together a second set.  In typical Sportlots fashion I got five of these from one seller, three from another, and the last two from a third.  In all, I made purchases from seven sellers but still came in under $30 because I was able to apply some sellers' loot for the first time.

Axing this set makes my football wantlist smaller, and I'll also insert a side note that I decided to cease collecting 2001 MVP football because I just wasn't into it; the incomplete set, minus Wolverines of course, is available for trade, and I'll have more on that at a later date.

Stay tuned as I'll hopefully show off the other football set I completed shortly.

As usual with Sportlots, one card pretty started things off in terms of making a new purchase, and this time it was the one above, a Jose Rodriguez (who?) from 2002 UD Honor Roll.  I'd been searching high and low for this card for quite a while, and then out of the blue it popped up in the search results for that set on the site.  For $1 plus shipping, not to mention three of the SP football cards above, I finally completed this set from 2002 UD Rookie Update, one that's been a thorn in my side for quite a while.  But now that it's complete, I'm feeling pretty damn good.  Can you guess why?  I'll give you a hint:  here's what my baseball set wantlist looks like right now:


That's it.  NOTHING.  I seriously have no idea when the last time was that my baseball set wantlist was empty in all my years of collecting.  In a way it's a bittersweet moment as it pretty much signals the end of my days as a set-builder, but the fact is that newer products haven't interested me, and neither have box prices.  But that's totally fine because it's led to my new focus of player collecting, which has given me a refreshing new lease on the hobby.

That's not to say I won't ever collect any more sets, baseball or otherwise, but if I do it'll be a much smaller part of my collecting experience.

Keep an eye out for one more football-centric You Complete Me post, hopefully this week!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014 COMC pickups #4: Tigers autos of yore (or the 1990s)

In honor of the Tigers' 4-0 start (which was fraught with plenty of danger), here's a couple autographs of players from...the 1990s when the Tigers were terrible?  Well, it's not the era I'm going for here so much as the players.  I didn't have hits of either guy, plus I was a fan of both of them during their stays in Motown, so when I found a couple nice deals on COMC, I grabbed them to add to my Tigers PC:

Tony Clark 1997 Donruss Signature Autographs auto
Clark is very well known among Tiger fans, and likely even many casual fans who watched baseball in the 90s and early 00s.  He was the second overall pick in 1990, right after Larry Wayne Jones, and was often the best offensive player on his team for the decade, not that that's saying much.  A California native, he debuted with the Tigers in '95, and stayed with the team through the 2001 season.  While his 1996-99 campaigns saw him hit .277 and average 31 HR and 98 RBI, his final two Detroit seasons were disappointments, and the team let the Red Sox grab him on waivers in late 2001.

After producing middling results with the Sox, Mets, and Yankees from 2002-2004, he experienced a resurgence, albeit brief (and fluky) with the 2005 Diamondbacks, hitting .304 with 30 HR and 97 RBI in just 130 games.  After two-plus seasons more in Arizona, he was sent to the Padres in 2008, then rejoined Arizona for his final season, 2009, although he played in just 144 games those last two seasons.

The Tigers had a lot of hope for Clark, who, for a couple seasons put up numbers that lived up to his draft status, but it was all for naught since the Tigers were downright awful during his tenure, going 471-644 (.422) and failing to surpass 79 wins.  His declining stats made letting him go a bit easier, though it was still sad to see a mainstay leave.  Fortunately, his post-playing career has been more positive, as he was recently named the permanent executive director for the MLBPA.  The highly-respected Clark was deputy to the previous occupant of that position, Michael Weiner, who passed away last year.  According to wikipedia, Tony is the first former Major League player in that role.  Based on that respect, plus many good memories from his playing days, I'm happy to add a beautiful on-card auto from the excellent '97 Donruss Signature set to my collection.

Mike Henneman 1996 Leaf Signature Extended Autographs auto
Henneman, a fourth-rounder in 1984, was a Tigers RP from 1987-1995, so unlike Clark, he at least got to experience playing on some GOOD teams, especially his 1987 rookie season when Detroit clawed its way to the playoffs before losing to the eventual champion Twins in the ALCS.  Mike was an incredible 11-3 with seven saves out of the bullpen that year, and he actually went 49-21 between '87 and '91, also tallying 80 saves.  With a few exceptions, he was pretty much the team's closer from '88 on, and do you remember when relievers used to pitch that many innings per game?

Detroit traded him to Houston late in '95 for 1992 #1 overall pick Phil Nevin, who wouldn't begin to live up to his potential for a couple more seasons, after he was gone from Detroit.  Henneman, meanwhile, finished 1995 with the Astros, then signed with the Rangers for the '96 season, piling up a career-best 31 saves, though he also went 0-7.  His only autograph would come in the form of the above card with Texas as he was included in 1996 Leaf Signature, along with like EVERYBODY else that year (but seriously, it's a landmark set, and one I still enjoy to this day), giving me a second on-card signature to enjoy today.

Mike also found his calling after he retired as he's now serving as the pitching coach for the West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit's single-A team near Grand Rapids.  I attended a Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays affiliate) game last summer and caught a glimpse of the former bullpen ace.  I hope coaching suits him well and that he can work his way back up to the Majors, imparting advice from his 10-year career.

Stay tuned for more COMC Tigers pickups soon!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Complete sets: 1984 Drake's Big Hitters

It's been a bit more than a year since I received my final trade package from legendary blogger Mike of BA Benny fame--and it was a huge one!  He included a lot of smaller boxed sets, so I thought I might scan some or all of them eventually.  The one I'm showing off today just turned 30 years old, and is just a bit younger than I am.  It's a joint effort by Drake's (which was apparently a bakery I've never heard of) and Topps, entitled "Drake's Big Hitters."
Here's the front and back of the box.  The back helpfully includes the checklist, plus an explanation of what they consider a "big hitter," which seems pretty reasonable.

As you can see, the set includes 33 cards, and here's all of them, in their 30-year-old glory:
To start things off, this is a pretty good group that includes five HOFers.  Baylor was four years removed from an MVP and still hitting pretty well.  Buckner, Cey, and Cooper were also statistically pretty good during this era.
Reggie is the only HOFer in this group, but it's still decent.  Garvey's appearance gives us the first half of GCRL's favorite trio; sadly the other players didn't make it.  Hendrick is a guy I didn't have any memory of, but the former #1 overall pick had some nice years in the mid-70s and early 80s.  Kemp was also a former #1, for the Tigers in this case, but didn't have much left in the tank by the time he made it into this set.  Greg Luzinski, who still had a bit of power here, was the 70s/80s answer to Prince Fielder, if by "Prince Fielder" you mean "Who was a fatass power hitter in the 70s/80s?"
Lynn had come off a couple off-years but was very good from '82 to '88, while Madlock's best days were recently behind him.  Murphy, however, had just won back-to-back MVPs, and he had a few more similar seasons through '87.  HOFers Murray and Ripken enjoyed success in '83 by winning it all, with the latter following up his ROY '82 with an AL MVP.  Their fellow Hall member Rice absolutely mashed in '83 before slowly declining the rest of the decade.  And Pete Rose was an idiot gambler with a stupid haircut, though his inclusion in any hitting-themed set is a must.
Finally, this page is pretty damned good for having only six players.  Schmidt, Winfield, and Yount were of course HOFers, Strawberry ('83's NL ROY) could have been one had he not thrown it away, and Trammell deserves way more consideration than he's received.  Also, I hope Red Sox fans don't hate me for being amused that Mookie and Buckner appear in the same set a couple years before their infamous play.

Your final HOF tally is 12, which is pretty solid.

Although the cards were made by Topps, the fronts are clearly different from the '84 flagship set, which makes sense.  The backs, however, are nearly identical:
Really the only difference (besides the numbering, obviously) is the Drake's logo in the upper-left corner.  Here's a flagship (Tiffany, not that it matters) back for a comparison:
From tradingcarddb.com
I hope you liked this look back at a set that's likely older than many of you!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 COMC pickups #3: roarin' to go with too many namesakes!

I don't know about you guys, but I'm totally ready for tomorrow's REAL opening day, which includes the Tigers' home opener against division foe Kansas City.  Baseball is back and I couldn't be more excited!  To celebrate, here's an all Refractor COMC pickup post featuring both of this blog's namesakes:
Curtis Granderson 2007 Bowman Chrome Refractor
Curtis Granderson 2008 Bowman Chrome Refractor
A mere $0.96 was all it took to land consecutive BowChro Refractors of this here blog's original namesake.  I prefer the '07 version by a bit, maybe because of the font and color where the player's name is featured, but really they both look great.  I was on my last few dollars of COMC credit when I got these and was happy to get nice value on some quality PC additions.

Justin Verlander 2012 Topps Chrome Refractor
Justin Verlander 2013 Bowman Rookie Reprint Blue Sapphire Refractor
Justin Verlander 2013 Topps Chrome Refractor
JV's cards didn't cost me much more--just $1.67 for these three beauties.  I'm as surprised as you are that inserts of the AL's best pitcher were this cheap, even on sale.  You might think that the Blue Reprint is my favorite of the group, and while you'd be close, you'd also be wrong.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great reprint and I love the blue Refractory-ness of it, but the horizontal 2013 card featuring a great photo of an "A"-shaped Verlander is just too tough to beat.  In a way, it's a good glimpse of what the 2012 card could have looked like if Topps had cropped that photo correctly.  The 2013 version gives you a great look at what's going on in the background too.

As usual with going into a new season, I have no idea what to expect.  The lineup looks very different this year, including notable losses like Doug Fister in a trade rightfully panned by fans of the team.  Still, there's plenty of hope for the team to continue its winning ways, especially the one-two punch of Verlander and reigning Cy Young-winner Max Scherzer.  LET'S GO TIGERS!