Thursday, August 31, 2017

Great Cards for a Great Price

I went to a baseball card shop in Boston that I had been to just once before. I was looking for individual cards for my player collections.

I went in and began to look around. The owner asked what I was looking for and I said individual cards. Upon looking around I found a bin of Red Sox cards and I asked to look through it. Here's what I found.
I got a couple of 1983 cards for player shrines. These were just 50 cents each and are something different from what I usually get.
Wade Boggs is one of my largest player collections. Last time I counted I had about 120 cards of Boggs from all the teams he played for. However, I didn't have these 3 until today. The 86 Donruss and Fleer were 50 cents each, but the All-Star card was a bargain for just 20 cents.
I was also able to get cards of not quite all-time greats, but definitely Red Sox greats. The Lynn is an All-Star card from 1981 Topps and the Crisp is from 2008 Topps. I don't get a chance to get Coco Crisp cards that often, for I don't usually see them at the show so I was pleasantly surprised to get that card. 
I already had a few cards from 2001 Fleer Game Time, but not of Pedro or Manny. These are 2 more of my largest player collections. Martinez is at about 120 cards while Manny Ramirez is my 2nd largest player collection with around 190 cards.
But it wasn't just Red Sox greats on the Red Sox. I was able to pick up this David Ortiz on the Twins as well. I always am looking for Ortiz cards on the Twins and I've now accumulated about 10 different cards of him on Minnesota. It's even numbered (1257/9799). Granted the print run is still pretty high, but I'll take it any day.

I also have a pretty large total of Manny Ramirez cards on the Indians. Last time I checked it was at about 30 and I was pleased to add to that total. This card is from 1995 Score Gold Rush and features a nice action shot of Manny.

These cards cost me just under $10, but these weren't the only cards I got.
The owner gave me this National Baseball Card Day Mike Trout as I was leaving. I already got these on National Baseball Card Day a few weeks ago and I'm stoked to get another. You could only get one of these by making a $10 purchase.

I guess I did make a $10 purchase even though it was over 2 weeks late.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

You Just Can't Beat Trading

Sometimes you are just not able to find some of the cards you're looking for at a card show or in packs. Since I'm mainly a player collector I don't usually have this problem, but occasionally I want to add cards to my player collections that I may not be able to get.

Unless of course I trade.

I began making trades this year and I was surprised on how easy it was. I would send an email about cards I'm looking for to someone and I would state what cards I can trade them. A little over a week later I'd have new cards. It's the perfect way to upgrade your cards. I can get cards that I'm looking for while the person I'm trading with can do the same.

That's why I reached out to Nick of Dime Boxes to ask him for what cards he had on hand of some of my largest player collections.
Like Chipper Jones and Ryne Sandberg.

Nick was able to send me a card I didn't have of both players. The Gypsy Queen Sandberg is nothing I haven't seen before, but it's still a pretty great card. However, the Pacific of Chipper Jones is a card I've never seen before, and it's just so cool and bizarre that it works.
I was also able to obtain a trio of Nolan Ryan cards. These cards are all just so different that they work. The Jimmy Dean doesn't have licensing, but the colors distract from it. The 1992 Classic Best is a card of Ryan on the Jacksonville Suns. But perhaps the best of them all is the Upper Deck card of the "Ryan Express." Probably one of the weirdest cards I've ever seen, but I still love it.

But more than any other player Nick had a lot of Vladimir Guerrero cards. 
Some nice cards of Vladdy on the Expos which is, in my opinion the best team to get cards of Guerrero on.
Which is why I'm so thankful he had so many of them.

But it wasn't just Guerrero on the Expos.
He had a few cards of Vlad on the Angels which I have to admit look absolutely amazing. They even look better then some of the cards of him on the Expos.
But it wasn't just Angels and Expos. Nick sent me a card of Guerrero during his last season. The 2011 season spent with the Baltimore Orioles.

Pretty great cards right? Well I didn't just trade with Nick.

Greg from Night Owl Cards had an odd amount of Anthony Rizzo relics that he pulled in retail packs. If only I had that kind of luck. I was able to get one of them by trading him a Joc Pederson relic.
Sure I has a crease to the right of the relic and a small one to the left, but I don't really care. It's a relic card which are sadly becoming less common especially this year. But not just any relic it's a relic of my favorite Curren Cub Anthony Rizzo.

Getting these specific cards at the show or in packs would simply be impossible. That's the main reason why trading is so vital.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Top 10 Worst Moves by the Red Sox in the 21st Century

Part of being a die-hard fan is supporting your team through the good, the bad, and the terrible signings and trades. However, in recent years it seems no team has made more bad moves then the Boston Red Sox.

Today I will be counting down the 10 most moves by the Red Sox for this century only. This list is not about who they might've traded, but rather who they spent the big bucks to acquire.

#10 Ryan Dempster

Yes he was on their 2013 World Series team, but he was most definitely not the reason they won it all.  Dempster signed a 1-year $13.25 million dollar contract with the Red Sox in 2013. He was dismal in his final year going 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA. After winning the World Series Dempster called it a career and retired. I suppose Dempster wanted to go out on top and while the team did he sure didn't.

#9 Wily Mo Pena

In March 2006 the Red Sox sent a young, promising pitcher named Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for Wily Mo Pena. Pena had never put up spectacular numbers with the Reds. His best Batting Average was .259 and he never reached 70 RBIS. He ended up having a pretty good 2006 season with the Red Sox, but he was washed up come 2007. He hit .218 with the Sox before being traded to the Nationals for a player to be named later in August.

#8 David Price
It's only the 2nd year of his jaw-dropping 7-year $217 million dollar contract, so there still could be hope. However judging by his performance with the Red Sox thus far we may be out of luck. Price had a great win loss record last year, but it's because of the Red Sox's offense. His 3.99 ERA in 2016 shows he's regressing. To add insult to injury he missed the first few months of this year and now he's back on the DL. If Price can be the pitcher he was before he got to Boston there may be hope. But if he doesn't he might rise a few spots on this list.

#7 Carson Smith
The sheer fact that he was acquired by the Red Sox in December 2015 and he's only pitched 2.2 innings for them speaks volume. Smith missed most of 2016, because of Tommy John surgery. He finally seemed ready to pitch full-time this year, but was transferred back to the 60-day DL, for he is still recovering from surgery. Many pitchers have never been the same after Tommy John surgery, but it's hard to know what Carson Smith can even do for the Red Sox since he's only pitched 2.2 innings.

#6 Daisuke Matsuzaka
For a few years it seemed like "Dice-K" was the next big thing not just for the Red Sox, but for baseball. His first year saw him ranked 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting while his second year was his best. He went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. Sadly everything went downhill after that for Matsuzaka. Each year after 2008 just seemed to get worse and worse. His pitiful 8.28 ERA in 2012 was perhaps the last straw as he became a free agent at the end of the year. He went on to have 2 separate stints with the Indians and 2 with the Mets before retiring from professional Baseball.

#5 Edgar Renteria
After seeing what he had to offer the team (which wasn't much) while facing the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series the Red Sox signed the shortstop to a 4-year $40 million dollar contract. Renteria lasted only 1 season with the Red Sox. He hit .276 with just 8 homers and 70 RBIS. They were able to unload his contract to the Braves in December 2005 which brought an end to his nearly disastrous stint with Boston.

#4 Julio Lugo
Julio Lugo never had a spectacular season, but that didn't stop the Red Sox from falling in love with him and signing him to a 4-year $36 million dollar contract in December 2006. The Red Sox may have won the 2007 World Series, but Julio Lugo's season was a disaster. He hit .237 with just 8 homers and struck out more than he had since 2004. He hit .251 in 2 1/2 years with the Red Sox before being traded to the Cardinals in 2009.

#3 Rusney Castillo
3 years from now we could see Castillo at #1 on this list or not on this list at all. However, right now Castillo is terrible. The Red Sox signed Rusney to a 7-year 72.5 million dollar deal and he has not even come close to expectations. He's hit .262 in 317 at-bats for the Red Sox which is not good especially for what he was paid. Supposedly he's doing okay in the minors, but the Sox can't call him up because of his huge contract. If only they learned from their mistakes maybe he'd be some other team's problem now.

#2 Carl Crawford
Where do I even start with him. The Red Sox signed Crawford to a 7-year $142 million dollar deal at the end of 2010 and what a mistake it was. Crawford played pretty decent Baseball for the Rays hitting .296 career with them with almost 600 RBIS. But once he came to Boston it all changed. In 1 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox he hit .260 with just 14 home runs and 75 RBIS. He struck out 126 times and just seemed to lack the passion he had in Tampa Bay. The only good part of this trade was that we were able to unload him to the Dodgers along with Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett in the 2012 blockbuster deal.

#1 Pablo Sandoval
This could very well go down as not just the worst Red Sox signing ever, but one of the worst all time signings. After a terrible 2014 season the Red Sox were looking to bounce back. They signed the 3-time all-star and 3-time World Series champion to a 5-year $95 million dollar contract. In just 2 1/2 years with Boston he hit a pitiful .237 with just 14 homers, and only 59 RBIS. He struck out 101 times. If that wasn't enough he had multiple DL stints with the Red Sox, including missing most of the 2016 season. Sandoval was a disaster from beginning to end with the Red Sox and even though they still have to pay him I have to say I'm glad he's gone.

So there you have it the 10 worst moves of the 21st century by the Red Sox and there were a lot of them. I hope that they have learned from these mistakes and won't make any big signings unless they are sure it'll work out.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday's Are For Baseball Cards

Today I went all the way to the card show which is about a 30 minute drive just to find it closed. I was instantly disappointed, but that wasn't going to stop me. Today was a beautiful day with amazing weather. Perfect for baseball cards.

I decided to take a trip to a card shop and asked the owner what he had for boxes around $75 dollars.

He responded by saying "nothing from this year." That figures. He looked around and dug up 2 boxes, 2008 Topps Chrome and 2011 Topps Lineage.

I knew what both of these sets were like and looked closely at both boxes. The guarantee of 2 autographs and 1 relic caused me to immediately decide on 2011 Topps Lineage.

For those of you who don't know Topps Lineage is like Bunt and Archives combined. The base set is similar to Bunt, and includes current and past players. The Archives aspect is the inserts which are different designed cards from all different years.
You also get one reprint of the 1964 Topps Giants cards as your box topper. Night Owl Cards just ranked this as the most underrated set of all-time which is true, but a shame considering how amazing the reprints and originals look.

Like I said the base set reminds me of Bunt. The player choices are great and suit the style of cards well. It's nothing spectacular mind you, but it's a solid design.
Like most sets Lineage has parallels. These aren't numbered, so they're pretty easy to acquire They're the Diamond Anniversary parallels. These like the set are a tribute and celebration of Topps' 60th Anniversary.
You can also get these. They are just as common as the Diamond Anniversary. These are the Platinum Diamond parallels. I still prefer the more basic parallels, but these aren't bad.
A big part of this set are the inserts and Topps chose to feature one of it's more iconic sets as minis in this set. They're pretty common (1:4 packs) and feature a wide variety of players.
Topps even recreated these iconic rookie cards from the late 80's. They pretty much nailed it and I was very pleased to get one of Kimbrel who is having perhaps his best year yet this year for the Red Sox.
However these were by far my favorite cards. These Stand-Ups were originally in 1964 Topps and featured some iconic Hall of Famers. I managed to get cards of Bautista and Howard. These would've been great in 2011, but not so much in 2017. Still great cards though.
I know it's hard to tell, but this is a cloth sticker. They decided to include these with the Lineage design itself and I got one of my biggest collections and one of my favorite players Mike Schmidt.
But nothing could beat pulling this card. These 3D cards were in 2017 Topps Heritage as box-toppers. They were incredibly rare (1 per case), so I never got one. But thanks to Topps Lineage I have one and of Joe Mauer the cover guy of Lineage along with Mickey Mantle.

Finally onto the 2 Autographs and 1 Relic.
I had no clue who Michael Morse was in 2011, nor did I know who he was when I got this card. Turns out he's still playing for the Giants, although probably not anymore as he's hitting a dismal .194. Still it's a great autograph because pf the 1952 design and that's it.

But if Morse was underwhelming then the next card was just utterly disappointing.

My first ever redemption! 

And it's expired. I didn't even know they had redemptions back in 2011, and I've heard Topps doesn't accept expired redemptions. I'm gonna try to send them the redemption along with a letter in the mail so wish me luck. I don't even know what the card is, nor do I really care much about it. But I feel entitled to this card since the box guaranteed 2 autographs.

Oh and 1 relic as well.
The relic truly saved the day. Despite not really having the best year or tenure with the Red Sox I'm still confident that this 32 year-old Cy Young award winner can turn it around next season.

Despite getting a dismal autograph and 1 more that I may never get this box was amazing. The inserts blew me away and Price for the first time since he came to Boston saved the day. If anyone from Topps is reading this I know that you're putting less and less relics in sets. Please don't do that. I love relics and sometimes they can truly be one of the best parts of collecting.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Relics/Autos By Team: Baltimore Orioles

This is another series I'll be doing called Relics/Autos by team. It's basically where I will post every certified relic card and autograph I have for each team in the MLB.

I've decided begin with the AL East and work my way through all 30 teams (plus some more). As you can see from the dual relic of Jim Palmer above from 2011 Topps Tribute (64/99) the 1st team I'm doing is the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles are one of my biggest relic/autograph collections. I have 19 certified Orioles relics. Here they are.

These are a couple of bat relics of former Oriole's stars from 2005 Bowman Heritage. The Miguel Tejada seems to use a different part of the bat then the Melvin Mora. The Tejada bat relic is also how bat relics usually look like nowadays.

An couple of oddball cards. The Matt Wieters is perhaps one of his first autographs. It's from 2008 Razor and is numbered 182/199. The Palmeiro on the other hand is perhaps one of his last career relics. This is from 2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics.
A vendor at my local card show gave this to me after I made a large purchase with him. It's a nice card from 2015 Allen & Ginter of Chris Tillman, but I have no idea to this day what possible Orioles relic could be blue.
These Heritage relics, however are cards I can tell are jersey relics. The Davis is from 2015 Heritage High Number while the Machado is from 2016 Heritage. I especially love the black Jersey on the Machado card.
I know most current collectors don't know who Boog Powell is, but I hope someone reading this does. Powell was a power hitter who played most of his career for the Baltimore Orioles. He won 2 World Series rings alongside Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, and legendary manager Earl Weaver. He was also the 1970 AL MVP. The card on the left is from 2003 Topps Retired Signature Edition and the card on the right is a bat relic from 2006 SP Legendary Cuts numbered 56/199.
Now comes the big stuff. 4 Brooks Robinson bat relics.
Correction, 8 Brooks Robinson bat relics. None of these are numbered, but that doesn't prevent them from being some of the most impressive relics I own. My dad picked these up at a card show for about $5 each around a year ago. You have some from every major brand of the early 2000's. Topps, (first image top left, second image bottom right) Donruss, (first image bottom left) and a lot of Fleer relics which I believe look the best by far.
But then there's this. 1992 Front Row Brooks Robinson autograph.
With a certificate of authenticity. The card itself is without licensing and this was back in the day where unlicensed cards couldn't look good even if the company tried. Still it's a certified autograph of the greatest defensive 3rd Baseman of all time and that's good enough for me.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Why I'm Starting to Like Panini

Panini brought the Donruss brand back in 2014 and even though the non-licensing really makes me hesitant to buy it there isn't really any other reason.

Recently as I've been organizing a lot of my collection I have come across a lot of Panini card from the Donruss brand and other sets they've put together. I've grown to like Panini more and more and even though I'm not super likely to buy any retail products that won't stop me from getting these cards for cheap money at the card show.

I've warmed up to Panini for my reasons and here they are.

First things first. When Panini brought back Donruss they revived Diamond Kings as an insert set like it was in Donruss.
As well as the Rated Rookie Cards with that iconic logo used in 80's and 90's Donruss
They perfected these card designs as the years went on. I was and still am very impressed on how well they recreated these cards so many people collected 30 years ago.

However they didn't just bring back old Donruss ideas. Panini came up with new ideas to make their Donruss set unique.
These are "The Prospects" insert cards. I pulled these out of a hobby box of 2016 Donruss (yes I got a hobby box of Donruss last year it was at a card show that was not well attended and the box was cheap.) Both of these players made their debuts and have both put up respectable numbers so far in 2017.

They also came up with inserts using non-prospect players.
Panini paid homage to older Donruss sets by recreating a set every year as an insert set. These cards of '82 Donruss look pretty similar. They also made these Power Alley inserts which I think look phenomenal.

Panini also introduced their fair share of serial numbered cards in all of their sets.
Whether it's Press Proof like the Simmons or the Stat Line cards like the Taylor Panini was able to make serial numbered cards that aren't just a different colored border. Points for creativity.

Another good thing about Panini is that they're able to make cards of players that Topps can't due to licensing restrictions by MLB.
Pete Rose for example. Topps can't make cards of Charlie Hustle, but Panini can because they don't have licensing. Maybe not having MLB licensing can be a blessing in disguise as they can also make cards of the accused member of the Black Sox Scandal, Joe Jackson.

But perhaps the best part of Panini are the relics. This is from 2016 Panini Pantheon ( numbered 121/199) and this set commemorates members of landmark clubs like 3,000 hits or 1,500 RBI (shown above.) I got this card in a 100 card box at the Red Sox game believe it or not. Each box had a relic you could see and after much deliberation I chose the one with Dave Winfield. I chose it because of how much of a stickler I am for stripes in relics and that I didn't even know it was unlicensed until I opened the box.

If Panini could do that for every card then I would definitely buy way more of it.