Sunday, December 31, 2017

(Almost) New Year, New Red Sox Cards

Along with a hobby box of 1994, Ted Williams set, I acquired a handful of Red Sox cards for my player collections during my trip to the card shop. The store had a small row of Red Sox dime cards along with another row of cards that were marked as inserts and parallels that went from 50 cents to about 3 dollars each.

The first thing that instantly stood out was the abundance of 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter cards. They seemed to have the entire team set in one box, so I quickly picked up some singles that I had yet to get this year. I wonder how Topps chooses the color splotches to include on these cards since green and purple aren't the only colors on Red Sox cards as I've also seen orange. I guess they just try to switch it up by using a few colors per team.

Next, I began to focus on specific player collections, and the first of those was Xander Bogaerts. X-Man is one of just 6 players left from their 2013 World Series team (that number could very well shrink soon) and is unbelievably one of the longest-tenured Red Sox. That's surprising considering that the 2-time Silver Slugger is just 25 years old. Bogaerts has provided a fantastic balance of defensive and offensive ability over the last few seasons, and with a possibility of arbitration for the years 2018 and 2019, it would be smart to sign him to an extension before it's too late. 

Another player whose time in Boston may sadly run out soon is Craig Kimbrel, who is a free agent after this year. Kimbrel was unbelievably within 2 strikeouts of striking out half of the batters he faced in 2017, which means he will ask for a lot of money if he keeps this performance up. However, he seems to have adjusted to playing well in Boston and has shown his consistency so it would be wise to not sign JD Martinez because of how much the power-hitter is asking for. But instead, lock up Craig Kimbrel for a multi-year deal. 

Ortiz may have retired after the 2016 season, but after being last in the AL in homers, the Sox may have wished he stuck around. I still think a power-hitter could do the Red Sox good, but not for the insane price and length of the contract we'd have to give JD Martinez. Plus, they still won 93 games with that team so they did something right. A few minor tweaks here and there could definitely get them ready to make the Fall Classic in 2018.

But if there was one player that was showing his age in 2017, it was Dustin Pedroia. He's still the longest-tenured Red Sox and a fan-favorite which are some of the many reasons I like him. But Pedroia played in just 102 games this year which is very low considering that he's used to playing almost the whole season. And with the 2008 AL MVP expected to miss around 2 months of 2018 due to knee surgery, the Red Sox may have to plan ahead for their future at second base.

But Dustin Pedroia is still a favorite of mine, and he certainly helped the Red Sox win it all in 2007 and 2013. Without him, I don't know if the Sox would be where they are today, so while he may be getting up there in age, the Red Sox should know they owe a lot of where they are to Dustin Pedroia.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Card Collecting Goals for 2018

Since 2017 is coming to an end very soon, I've decided to do something many card bloggers do this time of year. That happens to be my card collecting goals for the upcoming year.

I've had a few goals in mind for years past, but this is my first time making a clear list of things I want to accomplish next year in the baseball card collecting hobby. I have 7 goals that I'd like to complete by the end of next year, here they are.

#1 Complete 1972 Topps
I put this goal at #1 because it is the number one priority for next year. My dad started collecting my favorite set of all-time the year it came out and since then he and I have acquired many cards from the set, but have still yet to complete it. I need just 31 cards from the set and then I will have it completed. And while I still have expensive cards like the Steve Garvey to check off my list, I'm confident that 2018 will be the year I complete the set.

#2 Complete the 1969 and 1970 Pilots Team Sets
The Pilots were around for just 1 year but appeared in both the 1969 and 1970 Topps sets. This is another part of my collection that I began collecting with my dad, but with 4 cards missing from the 1969 team set, and just 1 missing from the 1970 set, it seems quite likely that this goal will be completed in 2018.

#3 Continue to Focus on Player Collections
Player collections make up most of what I focus my collection on nowadays. And with many inexpensive options available regarding adding to these collections, it makes sense to keep on adding to them. I collect almost 200 players, but thanks to dime cards I am almost always able to add to these collections. My goal for player collections in 2018 is to keep on adding to them and have them remain the main focus of my collection. 

#4 Control Impulse Purchases
The main lesson I learned in 2017 is not to buy cards for the sake of buying cards. And although I don't typically regret card purchases (because every purchase has to give you at least 1 card you like) I still have made some collecting in 2017. From now on, I'm not going to buy a product or an individual card that I'm not completely interested in if it's going to set me back a fair amount of money. This will not only be good for me but also allow me to use the money I didn't spend on the goals listed above.

#5 Continue to Trade and Eliminate Cards From My Want List
I have to say, one of the best parts of having a card blog is that it allows me to discover new bloggers to trade with. I've completed several trades since starting my blog and all of them have helped me take cards off my want list. My goal for 2018 is to keep this up and continue to trade with both people I haven't traded with before as well as those who I have. This will help me as well as whoever I trade with in terms of getting cards off our respective want lists. 

#6 Complete My Player Collection Project
Recently, I've spent a lot of time putting all of my player collections into penny sleeves and into 5200-count boxes to decrease the amount of space these collections take up. And while this has been a worthwhile process, one that I touched on in an earlier post, it still takes time. I feel certain that I can have all of my player collections in boxes by the end of next year, because of all the progress I've made. I'm well over halfway there, so I believe that this could be one of the first goals I complete.

#7 Buy a Topps Now Card
This final goal is a bit random, but I've always wanted a Topps Now card, I just don't like the price they go for and only have a day or so to buy a card. With that being said, I am making it a goal to buy 1 carefully chosen Topps Now card next year for a Red Sox player. Since Chris Sale and Rafael Devers are bound to have cards of them made next year, as well as other Red Sox players, this shouldn't be too hard. The hardest part will simply be making sure I'm choosing a worthwhile card.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Even More 1994 Ted Williams Set

First of all, I'm sure you can all see that I changed my background image on the blog. I didn't mind the old one, but when I was setting up the blog I didn't really know what I was going for. And while I still do post about all sorts of different topics, my main interest is the Red Sox, so I felt I needed to showcase that on the blog.

Second, I did a complete makeover on my blogroll and I added about 10 new blogs to the list. If you don't see your blog there, please leave me a comment and I'll gladly add it. I'm always looking to improve and expand the list.

Now, with that out of the way, I'm going to show some more cards from the 1994 Ted Williams set that I posted about yesterday. And while I still have 15 of the 36 packs (my dad and I like to take our time with packs) I still have many new cards that I am very excited about. 

One of those sets gives credit to many players that were unfortunately never able to make the major leagues, and those are the Negro League players. Both the 1993 and 1994 Ted Williams set included around 10-15 cards of Negro League ball-players on the checklist. Some of those players are players like Monte Irvin and Buck Leonard who went on to be well-represented in future sets. Other players like Newton Allen, not so much. I really admire the Ted Williams set for including players that most every other brand wouldn't include, and for giving us a more in-depth look at baseball history. 

Another part of the set that I really enjoyed was the 500 Home Run Club insert set. The 8 players that had reached the impressive milestone at that time were rewarded with a card in this set. And while I have acquired this complete insert set at a card show before, the cards are so sleek and stunning that I don't even care if I have more than one. 

But there is one insert set that I enjoy even more than the 500 Home Run Club, and that is '68 Memories. It pays tribute to the players and the plays and moments that were so memorable during the 1968 season. The 2 cards I have gotten so far are both Tigers, the team that won the 1968 World Series. I have gotten Norm Cash...

and Denny McLain, the most recent pitcher to win 30 games, which he accomplished in the 1968 season.

But the best card I have gotten thus far is the one I was hoping to get yesterday. Derek Jeter's The Campaign card is finally mine. After acquiring cards of prospects that never made it big and the highlight of the insert set being Jason Giambi, I finally pulled the Jeter as the final card of the pack. The card shows him on the single-A Greensboro Hornets, and even though I'm not a huge Jeter fan, especially President of the Marlins Derek Jeter, I'm still grateful to get this card.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Opening a Pack of the 1994 Ted Williams Set

In addition to the dime cards, another holiday baseball card gift was a hobby box of the 1994 Ted Williams baseball card set. This is a personal favorite set of mine because of the lesser-known players that were included in the set. This includes players like Ralph Garr, Dock Ellis, and Randy Jones. These were all players that were good, but not great. The Ted Williams set is a place for these players along with Hall of Famers like Juan Marichal, Harmon Killebrew, and Ty Cobb.

This rare product was available at the same card shop that I got the dime cards at. The box has 36 packs and had 12 cards per pack. I paid $15, a steal considering that these boxes are going for around $70 on eBay, I'll go more in-depth about the set tomorrow, but for now, I'll be opening a pack of the 1994 product.

#55 Mel Ott
Here is the base set design from 1994. It shows a picture and a background for old-time players and a picture with a silhouette for players who played closer to 1994. It also has the Ted Williams set logo in the top left along with a stone slab (there's an insert set called Etched in Stone) that includes the players' name in a faint gold writing. Other than not being able to see the players' name, I really like the set design. It's also nice to have a card of Mel Ott, who is quite possibly the most underrated Hall of Famer to ever play the game.

#157 Cliff Floyd Dawning of a Legacy
The Dawning of a Legacy subset was focused on 2 rising stars that debuted in the early 1990's. The first player is shown here, Expos outfielder Cliff Floyd. The other player included is Tim Salmon. Each player gets 4 cards in this subset that highlight what the player has done in order to make it to the Majors. I especially like how Cliff Floyd was included in this since he's near Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, and Tim Raines in terms of my favorite Expos. And if I were to ever make a team of players who were near-greats, I'd have to consider Cliff Floyd. 

#70 Al Simmons
I don't really have much to say about Al Simmons, but I like this card a lot. I'm not sure which ballpark this photo was taken at, but I really like what it does for this card. It really helps the card look a lot better in comparison to if it was just a boring background. I don't really know why Simmons' foot is stretched out onto the stone slab instead of it just being cut-off, but other than that I like this card a lot. 

#161 Tim Salmon Dawning of a Legacy
Like I said, the other player included in the Dawning of a Legacy set is Tim Salmon. Salmon arguably went on to have a better career than Floyd considering that the 1993 AL Rookie of the Year hit .282 in his career with 1 homer short of 300 and over 1000 RBI. The shocking thing about these 2 is that combined, they only have 1 All-Star appearance which is Floyd's 2001 appearance with the Marlins. Considering that both of these players had some very good seasons, you'd think they'd have more than 1 All-Star appearance put together.

#77 Roy Face
It may say Elroy on the card, but he was mostly known as Roy Face, and most recognized for being one of the star pitchers on the 1960 Pirates World Series team. The Pirates are one of my favorite teams besides the Red Sox and Cubs, because of the unique players like Willie Stargell, Rennie Stennett, and Dave Parker. Their historic 1960 team was one of the most talented teams in baseball history, at least in my opinion. Their talent included Roberto Clemente and yes, Roy Face himself.

#5C8 Ted Williams
I really enjoy how Ted Williams put his own cards in this set because it would be kind of weird if he left himself out. This insert set included all the players that had reached 500 home runs up until the 1994 season, which was unbelievably only 8 which is nothing considering that 23 years later there are now 27 players that have reached that milestone. 

#18 Bruce Sutter
These Cubs jerseys from the early 80's have been regularly called the pajama uniforms, but I have to say I like them a lot. The powdered blue jersey is symbolic in terms of the Cubs, not to mention that Bruce Sutter is a player I collect. This is definitely a nice card to add to my Sutter player collection. It may even be my first card of Sutter in these jerseys.

#48 Jim Kaat
Another fabulous card with a very good uniform choice. Seriously, whoever chose these images and players for this set did an excellent job. It's really nice to see all these lesser-known players get represented in these sets considering that I hardly see any Jim Kaat cards that aren't from the 60's and 70's. 

#125 Charles Johnson The Campaign
I haven't finished opening the box yet, but I sure hope my best card from The Campaign subset isn't Charles Johnson. There are players like Billy Wagner and even Derek Jeter on the checklist, so I hope I get lucky. I still like the set that's focused on players' journeys to the MLB, it's just a shame most of the players on the checklist never made it big.

#45 Gorman Thomas
Now I'll take the time to show off the card backs, which are another strong point of the set. They include key information about the player along with a quick blurb, and the players' 5 best major league seasons, which is something unique and that I haven't seen too much of out of this set. I do like the detail, as normal card backs can get a bit repetitive, so including the 5 best seasons is a good touch.

#97 Women of Baseball Sophie Kurys
Another subset that makes the Ted Williams set so great is the Women of Baseball, a set of 6 women who played in the All-American Girls Baseball League. This set remains the only one to my knowledge that includes cards from that baseball league, so kudos to Ted Williams for including that in the set.

#83 Red Schoendienst
Here's the final card from what I would call a very successful pack. I'm so excited to open more packs from this fantastic set that I can truly say is really like no other. It's such an out of the box set that it actually works, which I both enjoy and appreciate.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Favorite Card of 2017

This is my very first year participating in P-Town Tom's end of the year contest. You've probably seen many other bloggers post about their favorite cards of 2017, and I'm finally ready to show mine after a few days of careful consideration.

As you can probably tell, my favorite card of the year is card #126 from 2017 Topps Stadium Club, Brooks Robinson. I knew that I was most likely going to choose a Stadium Club card, simply because the set produces incredible and memorable cards year after year. This year, many cards stood out to me such as the Tim Raines, Reggie Jackson, and Willie McCovey base cards. However, I stuck with the one that stood out the most to me, and that's the card of the 16-time Gold Glove award winning 3rd baseman. 

Robinson's card perfectly captures everything I like about 60's and 70's baseball, lots of bright colors. I hadn't seen these all-orange Orioles jerseys before I saw them on this card, so I appreciate Topps for caring enough to use this image. I like the set a lot, especially the silver font used for the player name. Mostly, I just love all the details. The background is something very different compared to what we usually see on cards nowadays. I enjoy that Brooks is holding a bat in this card. There are countless small details along with quite a few large ones that come together for this card. That is a card that's deserving of my favorite card of the year. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Getting More For Less

One thing that I like the most about buying cards for a dime or a quarter each is the number of cards you're getting for such a low price. Think about it, dime cards allow you to pick out the cards that you want to get, and aren't risky to buy like boxes. What you see is what you get, and with dime cards, the possibilities are endless.

For the holidays, my dad and I went to the card shop and instantly sat down at the dime bin, hoping it had been updated since we were there last, and it had been. So we each pulled up a chair and looked through what ended up being one of the best dime bins I've ever looked through. 

It started out like a seemingly regular dime bin. Some of the first cards I saw and purchased were cards I recognized. They were the American Sluggers inserts from 2002 Topps American Pie. I had seen and acquired some of these cards before, however, I learned today that there are different colored parallels in this set. 

The yellows were pretty cool, but the blue parallels were definitely one of my favorites. Especially because the players I got, Duke Snider and Harmon Killebrew, are both wearing blue jerseys. It was also very interesting that I got blue parallels of these 2 considering that they were some of the first players I collected, along with Ivan Rodriguez, Catfish Hunter, and Hanley Ramirez.

The greyish-white parallels were more plentiful than the blue and yellow parallels, but I don't mind that at all. I really enjoy all these cards and I'm glad to get these cards of players I couldn't get other parallels of like Sandberg and Dawson. 

However, the dark red parallels were by far my favorite. The shade is one that I don't think I've ever seen in a baseball card product, and it looks nice. I especially like the Frank Robinson card as the shade matches the color of the Indians logo very well. It's also nice to see Frank Howard and the crazy Senators logo included in this set as well.

After going crazy with the American Pie inserts, I moved on to other cards for my player collections. I was quickly able to not only add 2 1987 Topps Traded cards to my Steve Carlton and Reggie Jackson collections respectively, but I also learned that Steve Carlton played for the Indians. This was something I never knew prior to today, and probably would never know if not for the power of baseball cards. 

These 2015 Allen & Ginter Starting Point cards were almost as plentiful as the American Pie inserts and were some of the better cards of the whole purchase. Each card includes the team and year that a certain star player made their debut, an idea copied and not done as well when it was produced in 2016 Topps. Regardless, the Allen & Ginter cards look great, but they weren't the only Allen & Ginter inserts I got.

The What a Day inserts from 2017 Allen & Ginter were also available in the dime bins, and each of the 4 available was of players I collect. These cards are also based on certain dates, but these cards highlight exceptional performances on a certain day by a star player, both current and retired.

However, not everything I got was a specific set. There were a fair amount of oddballs like the Leather & Lumber Larkin and the 2001 Topps Archive Marichal. I've been keen on getting 2016 National Baseball Card Day cards after I missed out on that promotion. The Freddie Freeman I believe is my 4th or 5th card from that set. And I didn't even know Joe Mauer was having cards made in sets like Upper Deck SPX back in 2004.

But for the most part, the cards I got were from the same insert or base sets. Another example of this was the 2014 Topps World Heroes insert set. They show stars that made the Fall Classic and even include a nice detail of that years' World Series Logo (the 1973 one with Reggie Jackson is by far my favorite).

Speaking of A's cards, there were even cards from the recently released Panini Chronicles in the dime bin. The 2 I got were the same card of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, and they are both numbered to 999. Definitely, something I wasn't expecting to see, especially in a dime bin.

Fond Farewells were another very common insert in these bins. They focused on the retirement of well-liked and well-respected players. The cards are a bit bland and boring, but I still got 4 new cards, all of Hall of Famers. Plus, 2014 Topps was rather bland and boring itself, so it kind of sheds light on what cards were like back in 2014. 

But my favorite designed cards I got were the 2015 Topps Heritage New Age Performers. The design on these cards is by far my favorite New Age Performers design I've ever seen. The cards are so sleek and have a different pop of color on many cards, highlighting how much cards changed in 2015. I may even have to add the remainder of these cards to my want list because this set is definitely something I'd love to complete. 

But just when I thought these bins couldn't get any better, I stumbled upon some high-end cards. And not just somewhat high-end...

I'm talking Topps Tribute high-end. Apologies for the foil making Jake Arrieta's name hard to see, but  I was so impressed and a bit shocked to see 2017 Topps Tribute base cards available for 10 cents each. Even if base cards aren't highly sought-after in high-end sets, I still can't believe that these were a dime each.

And not just players I collect from 2017, but 2016 Topps Tribute as well. Add to that the fact that I got 3 Cubs and 1 Red Sox player, this couldn't get any better.

But somehow it did, it got much better. Please don't ask me how somebody can sell 6 base cards from Topps Museum for 10 cents each because I don't really understand it. With that being said, I'm completely thrilled to add these high-end cards to my collection, especially the Hank Aaron considering that he's one of my favorite players of all-time. Still, each and every one of these cards is incredibly special, so much so that I don't even need to collect Gary Sanchez to add this card to my collection.

After building up quite a large total, I thought the miracles were over when I picked up the final stack of dime cards. However, I was wrong

I was completely wrong indeed. 

Maybe I can try to understand how high-end base ends up in dime bins, but high-end parallels numbered to 99 in dime bins is nothing short of shocking and very special. It's also very cool, to me at least, that I was able to get the green parallel of the card that I talked about in my 2nd blog post, another time in which I was able to acquire high-end cards through the dime bins.