Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Some Great Cards Arrived in My Mailbox (If I Could Only Remember From Where)

 It's time I posted a few mail days that have been sitting in my folder for a while. All of these came from bloggers, who are still my favorite people to exchange cards with.


We'll start with one of my oldest trading partners, Matt of Sports Card Collectors. He sent a double PWE my way some Cubs that I didn't have. He eschewed any base cards in these envelopes. The only base he sent my way was a shiny Elite Anthony Rizzo. I have to admit, this particular Panini offering doesn't look too bad. I'm glad to add the trio of Rizzos here. Jose Quintana is a Rainbow Foil parallel, though it is hard to see from the photo. And I have really liked Topps Gallery in recent years.


The rest of Matt's PWEs' contents included more inserts and parallels and featured my current favorite player, Javy Baez. Some great cards here.



Continuing to show Cubs here because I just really want to put them behind me right now. What a season this was. They led the division basically wire-to-wire, but I never truly believed they were going to make it far. Still, I thought they'd at least take the series against the Marlins. Get a game at least, guys! Alas, the unbeatable postseason juggernaut from South Florida was too much to handle. Now I can't help but wonder what happens to the roster and these core young guys who brought home a title not so long ago.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not sure who sent these. Kerry, maybe? It's been too long since I received them and too hectic a time for me these past months for me to remember, but I do love the cards. Poor Kyle Schwarber, being drowned in sunflower seeds and water simultaneously, may not love them as much.

Now, these I know came from Kerry. A couple of them came from his free break of Upper Deck Victory, and a couple came from a Free Friday giveaway. I was surprised to see the Casey Hayward auto still there, as the post had been up for a few hours before I viewed it, but I was able to snag the signature of a former Packer.



These cards came from Fuji, who evidently saw my post about my favorite non-sports cards and decided to send me some American history love. I didn't know who George Read was before I received this card, but Fuji's envelope led me to learn a little about him.




These cards came months apart but all courtesy of Jay at Card Hemorrhage. I love the Lineage set and the Rookie Cup of Andre Dawson. The shiny Bowman's Best rookie of Miguel Tejada is a great fit for my All-Star MVP binder, too.


We'll end with another couple of cards that I have forgotten who sent them to me. Once again, I apologize for my disorganization and guppy memory of late. The identity of the sender may have slipped my mind, but this is a pair of unforgettable cards. Shiny, refractory, and star-powered, they are welcome additions to my collection.

A big thanks to SCC, Kerry, Fuji, Jay, and anybody else whose generosity provided content for this post. I promise I can keep better track of my cards' comings and goings now that my collection is out of storage and I'm not transitioning between living spaces.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Somebody Call the Police!

Because there is a team up in Green Bay who is giving everyone they meet a beat-down! 

The Renaissance of Aaron Rodgers has been really fun this year. The offense is putting points on the board like crazy. I know the team took a lot of heat this off-season for not providing Rodgers with more weapons. I admit that I wasn't too enthralled with the Draft Day strategy, but I was actually more worried about picking up a decent linebacker after watching what the Niners did to the D in the playoffs. The team did neither of those things during the draft. Rumor has it that Rodgers himself was none too happy, but I'm hoping that he is starting to "trust the process" a little more after these earlier successes. I hope the team is treating Jordan Love as a long-term project, and they have convinced Aaron that there is no plan to play him at any time in the near future. My mother is a Utah State alum, so I've seen plenty of Jordan Love over his college career and I will attest that he needs a lot of work before he is ready to take the reins of an NFL offense.

Regardless of what the future of this team is, right now they are fun to watch. To commemorate my current excitement level with this team, I want to post about my latest Packers purchase. I recently found a seller on eBay who has a bunch of the Packers Police sets for sale. These are some of my favorite cards of the Pack, even though I didn't have many before. I don't know of many teams that do this type of set as consistently as the Packers do, so this seller had a few different ones to choose from. I would have liked to get some of the sets from the early '80s, but the seller seemed to have priced them at a little more of a premium. Instead, I opted for a four-year run that for me spanned my 8th-11th grade school years.

1996:


This team won the Super Bowl. After spending about three years getting my heart broken in the playoffs, I was finally able to see my team bring home a championship. I don't have many Mike Holmgren cards, and this is definitely the first time that Ron Wolf has been added to my collection. I think the same can be said for Earl Dotson and Craig Hentrich. I love that Earl Dotson photo.

1997:


And this team lost the Super Bowl. But since this set was printed the year following the victory, the Lombardi Trophy is featured prominently in the set. It even got its own card. If I am to judge the roster by the checklist of these sets, then George Koonce, Wayne Simmons, Keith Jackson, Chris Jacke, and Ken Ruettgers were the keys to the Super Bowl win. They were in the 1996 set but were replaced the following year by Frank Winters, William Henderson, Dorsey Levens, Santana Dotson, and a trophy. That roster then lost the Big Game. Coincidence? I think not. (Actually, I think I would rather have the latter four players on my team than the guys from the year before, but that's just my opinion.)

1998:


I think this is my favorite look of the police sets I picked up. There were several newcomers to this set: Bernardo Harris, Adam Timmerman, Ross Verba, Brian Williams, and Tyrone Williams.

1999:


When I first saw this set, I thought, They were sure leaning hard into the new Millennium, futuristic design. That was before I noticed the "Into the Millennium" stripe running up the left side of the card. The most notable newcomer in this year's rendition is Coach Ray Rhodes. This is my first Rhodes card. There were two new faces that I'm glad to see (Ryan Longwell and Marco Rivera, who I really loved when they were on the team), one I'm not so happy to see (serial rapist Darren Sharper), and one that I really don't have any feelings for (Vonnie Holliday).

These police sets are some of my favorite oddball cards, so picking them up for a little over $5 shipped apiece was a no-brainer for me. Now let's hope the 2020 Packers squad can keep speeding up the field and assaulting the end zone before the police show up and book 'em all.


Saturday, September 26, 2020

A King's Ransom

I wasn't planning on posting today, but something just happened to make me change my mind.

Today is my birthday and, purely by coincidence, I opened my mailbox to a PWE from Jon of Penny Sleeve Thoughts. This is the note he sent me.


When he did his most recent Free Stuff Giveaway, I mentioned that both of the cards I would have claimed were taken. No big deal; I didn't think anything of it. Well, apparently Jon did, and he thought I needed a consolation. So he sent this little, insignificant thing instead.

What?! A 1952 Bowman! My first one and now the oldest card in my collection. It's even got a little star power, since Ransom "Randy" Johnson was a two-time All-Star for the Cubbies at third base. All this because Jon a) thought I somehow deserved something just for commenting on his post b) is a very generous guy. I can't say, "Thank you," enough, Jon. It was a wonderful birthday surprise.

Here is the back, for those who are interested. Hope you are all having a great day, too.



Thursday, September 24, 2020

Reigning on the Diamond

Panini has one good baseball product, I think. I think Donruss looks atrocious year after year. Prizm may be shiny and have cool refractors, but I think it also looks ugly. Logically, the lack of a logo shouldn't make much difference. After all, you're still getting a 2x3 cardboard picture of a baseball player. But the missing logo just seems to detract so much from the card. In the past few years, though, I've found a Panini brand that I have really liked. I haven't had much chance to break a lot of Diamond Kings, but every time I do, I have a lot of fun with it.

 


Over the summer, I found a hobby box on eBay for a price I liked, so I picked it up. I knew full well that I would have no time to crack it open for a while, but I thought it would be fun to have something to bust open when things settled. Indeed, we were already packing for a move when I received the box, so I had to pack it away immediately without a glance. We spent a few weeks after the move living with my parents while we renovated, and most things remained in boxes in the garage after we did move in while we figured out where to put things. It was only recently that I could get to my cards. This past week, I got around to discovering the contents of this box. I don't often post box breaks in this format, but I kind of wanted to show how the entire break went, so here is a pack-by-pack look at a 2020 Diamond Kings hobby box.

Pack 1: 

The box started out fast, with 2 inserts and our first hit. Despite the auto, the highlight for me is the fact that both of my inserts in this pack are guys I collect. I have to admit, I had to look up Mauricio Dubon because I had never heard of him. It turns out he was the Giants' primary starter at CF this year, hitting .285/.342/.365. Obviously, he's not a power hitter, but an auto of a player who has established himself as a starter, at least, is better than many autos I could pull.

Pack 2:


Wow, really bad photo here; I apologize. I got another Yordan Alvarez to add to my ROY binder and the Cubs' top rookie to chase on cardboard this season, Nico Hoerner. The DK Original insert looks really nice, and as I look at the checklist, I think I pulled one of the best players that I could have in Ted Williams.

Pack 3:



The second blurry photo in a row. Again, I'm sorry. I promise that the rest of the pics will be better. Another Cubs rookie makes an appearance here, along with three chase cards. The gray-framed Mookie is my first Mookie as a Dodger. I like pulling the Wagner, and I like the theme of The 3000 set, but I'm not overly in love with the design. I do love the All-Time Diamond Kings set, though. It's reminiscent of the 1992-93 sets, which are probably my favorite Diamond Kings. I'm holding on to Dustin May as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate.

Pack 4:

This pack is rife with Hall of Famers: Thomas, Alston, and Elston (Howard). Harvey Kuenn and Ohtani are keepers for my ROY collection, and of course, I love Javy Baez. Jose Ramirez is leading the AL in WAR (and apparently, the number should be higher) and is a short print.

Pack 5:


A couple more Hall of Famers show up here, but Clemente is probably the only keeper for me. My first Gallery of Stars insert is Vlad Jr. I like the look of this set more than The 3000. Donnie Walton is my second SP of the box, but I have no idea who he is. Oh, look! He has a -0.2 WAR for the year (and maybe should be lower? I don't know.).

Pack 6: 


 
Another All-Time Diamond King here. This is my first look at the DK 206 inserts. I don't like them. I get they're going for a certain look here and the modern players are being portrayed in old-timey uniforms for a reason. But I can only vaguely tell that's Ken Griffey, Jr. Is that a shadow on his jaw, or did they give him a beard? It just doesn't look right to me.

Pack 7: 

Two Ken Griffey inserts in a row! The Artist's Palette insert set sure is colorful and interesting. Add in Kershaw, Ruth, and KB? Already I'm calling this pack a success. Then we can throw in Kyle Lewis, who is the odds-on favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year. This is an SP, to boot. 

Pack 8:


My second Framed Gray card is a definite keeper for me. Another DK 206 card, and this one is a little better. I'm still not a huge fan, though. At least I can see that being Mookie Betts a little better. Here's something interesting. Back in Pack 3, I pulled Framed Mookie.  I mentioned it was my first card of him as a Dodger. Notice here that he is portrayed with Boston. Same player. Same year. Same brand. Different teams. Interesting, no?

Pack 9:

Two more Cubs for me here: base Anthony Rizzo and another colorful Artist's Palette Baez. That makes two Artist's Palette cards and both are players I would have hand-picked to be in my box. Not too bad. Luis Robert, another of this year's rookie to chase, is a nice pull. Mauricio Dubon makes another appearance, in SP form.

We're heading into the last quarter of the box. The second hit of the box has yet to be seen.

Pack 10:


Whoop! And there it is. A quad relic of Tony Gwynn! I'm not one to chase relics, but I think I'm going to hold on to a card with a late legend. There's even a pinstripe. This is a great hit, in my book. I also want to take a moment to notice that this is also a Stan Musial hot pack. But I would like to point out that The 3000 appears to be essentially a parallel of the base. But Tony Gwynn hit!

Pack 11:

We follow up the hit with another good pull, a Gallery of Stars of Ronald Acuna. There's another SP here, this time of Randy Arozarena. This is another player I'm unfamiliar with, but his numbers on Baseball Reference seem like he's a good young player in the making.

Pack 12:

The last pack will wrap this box up with a bunch of Hall of Famers. Mathewson, Alexander, Suttles, Ashburn, Mantle, and Musial are all enshrined in Cooperstown. Pete Alonso is a ROY need. So even though I don't collect most of these HOFers, I can't argue with these cards. Richie Ashburn is a rarer Plum Frame parallel of the All-Time Diamond Kings insert, so that's a pretty nice pull.

Here's a quick summation:

96 Total Cards

  • 67 base cards
  • 6 SPs
  • 2 Gray Framed
  • 6 All-Time Diamond Kings
  • 1 Plum Framed All-Time Diamond Kings 
  • 3 DK 206
  • 2 Artist's Palette
  • 2 Gallery of Stars
  • 2 The 3000
  • 1 In the Zone
  • 1 Aficionado
  • 1 DK Original
  • 1 Auto
  • 1 Quad Relic

I'm not going to build this set, so I have some trade bait available. I thought many of the inserts were interesting, but the bright colored theme kind of made them all blur together to me. As a result, I think I may only chase one insert set: the more subdued, but beautiful DK Originals. I'm also considering the Aficionado set as a possible set-build. Of course, I would go for the sets that gave me the worst head start, but I like them best. I don't know that I'll chase the All-Time Diamond Kings set, but I sure do like it.

For under $70 shipped, this was certainly a great box for me. I had a lot of fun with it. I really think I hit well on the inserts, as most of the subjects of those cards are guys that will fit well in my collection. Baez, Rizzo, Griffey, Ripken, Acuna, Ohtani--I don't know that I could have chosen any better myself. Overall, a successful break for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

State of the Set: 1997 Upper Deck Legends

 

I feel that there are too many sets on my wantlist that have been sitting there for years while I slowly chip away at them. This year I noticed that a lot of those sets are well within striking distance this year, so I've tried to swing some trades for set needs while focusing my recent Sportlots purchase on sets as well. We'll see how many sets I can kill before the year is out.

For the past few years, I have written a post that summarizes my set completion quests for the year. I still plan to do that for 2020, but I also decided to give a progress report for sets that I'm actively acquiring cards for along the way. I thought this might be more interesting than writing one giant post that tries to tie all the different cards from a trade or a purchase together.

I've never, ever opened a pack of today's set. I've seen 20+ year old boxes of it for sale, and it is far too pricey for me. I never even had a card from this set until the day I decided to build the set. But when I first bought a lot of 1997 Upper Deck Legends from somebody on TCDB, it was love at first sight.



Why I'm collecting this set: The checklist. I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't love having retired greats sprinkled in my modern base sets. But that's not the case with this set. This set is an entire set of retired greats in a modern base set. I love the idea. Plus, they're not all the same legendary Hall of Famers you see over and over and over again. In fact, a lot of players in this set aren't Hall of Famers at all. A good portion of this checklist is made up of players who were great in their day, but are less remembered than many of their peers. This is just a flat-out fun checklist.

How long has it been on my wantlist (roughly)?: I'm thinking it has probably been two years now.

Current state of set completion: 186/208 (89.4%)

Current needs: #4 (Walter Payton), #12 (Tony Dorsett), #13 (Fran Tarkenton), #35 (Joe Greene), #36 (Mike Rozier), #37 (Lou Groza), #39 (Elroy Hirsch), #41 (Charlie Joiner), #46 (Bob Lilly), #48 (John Mackey), #53 (Marion Motley), #56 (Mel Renfro), #57 (Jim Otto), #124 (Jack Kemp), #127, (Jerry Kramer) #140 (Tom Landry), #152 (Babe Parilli), #154 (Ozzie Newsome), #155, (Jim Plunkett) #157 (Johnny Robinson), #178 (Joe Montana), #180 (Bart Starr)

Prognosis: Not promising. I mentioned that unopened product for this set is expensive. So are the singles, for simple base cards. Not to mention that some of these cards on my list aren't even for sale on Sportlots, COMC, or eBay at the moment. There is a scarcity to this set that I can't really explain. I'll just keep plugging along, picking up what I can from time to time, like these two cards I got in my latest Sportslot order. And if anybody has some extras they are willing to trade, I'm willing to listen.




Tuesday, September 15, 2020

State of the Set: 2019 Topps Big League

I feel that there are too many sets on my wantlist that have been sitting there for years while I slowly chip away at them. This year I noticed that a lot of those sets are well within striking distance this year, so I've tried to swing some trades for set needs while focusing my recent Sportlots purchase on sets as well. We'll see how many sets I can kill before the year is out.

For the past few years, I have written a post that summarizes my set completion quests for the year. I still plan to do that for 2020, but I also decided to give a progress report for sets that I'm actively acquiring cards for along the way. I thought this might be more interesting than writing one giant post that tries to tie all the different cards from a trade or a purchase together.

Today's set is one that has been surprisingly more difficult to put together than I expected at the beginning. It's a "low-end" base set, so I thought I would be able to pick it up with just a box or two. Unfortunately the collation gods weren't with me, and I have needed significantly more than my initial purchases to whittle down this set. Let's see where I stand in my 2019 Topps Big League set build.



Why I'm collecting this set: When 2018 Big League was released, I really liked the concept because it was budget-friendly and different from Flagship. I wasn't a huge fan of the design, though, so I decided not to build it. When I first saw 2019, I really liked the design. (I like it a little less now that I've seen pages of it all together in a binder.) I still liked the idea of Big League, so I decided to put the set together.

How long has it been on my wantlist (roughly)?: If I'm remembering correctly, I think I picked up a couple of boxes for myself for my birthday last year. Since it is now my birthday month again, I'm going to estimate I've been working on it for about a year.

Current state of set completion: 398/400 (99.5%)


Current needs: #100 (Jose Altuve), #375 (Christian Yelich Award w/ Hank Aaron)

Prognosis: My most recent Sportlots order kicked about 35 cards off my wantlist for this set. With just two remaining, I think I can polish it off this year. Does anybody have my two missing cards for a trade?


Friday, September 11, 2020

A 12-Team Auction Draft Goes Nuts!

I play multiple fantasy football leagues each year. This year I have two public leagues: one that had an auction draft and one that had a snake draft. I just wanted to do both types of drafts. Honestly, draft preparation research and the draft are my favorite parts of fantasy football. This probably stems from my great love of the NFL Draft. Even though I join several leagues, I never count my public leagues as my "league of record." Even if I win a public league, I can't count myself as a champion unless I can win my workplace league. That one is my "real" team every year.

We held our draft on Wednesday. This draft was a fun, unique one because we had never done an auction before, and for the first time we had the majority of the participants together in a classroom. Once again, I learned that you can mock draft all you want, but when you get real people in there with their own strategies, all of your planning and preparation can go out the window. The draft started and suddenly the money was flying around. Patrick Mahomes, whose average salary in Yahoo drafts was somewhere in the low 40s, went for $65. Christian McCaffrey went for $75. Somebody spent $80 on Lamar Jackson! Apparently, our league held quarterbacks at a premium, which doesn't make sense to me because we don't do any special QB scoring or start 2 QBs. But some guys had drafted 3 QBs before I had one. Our principal joined in with an interesting strategy: draft any guy he could find who came from a local university. 

Overall, though, I think my plan held up. I was targeting Davante Adams for up to $60, Kenyan Drake for up to $52, and Miles Sanders for up to $50. While everybody was spending huge chunks of their salary caps for other players, I was able to snag Adams for a discounted price of $47 and I stole Sanders for a measly $21. I missed out on Drake, but made up for it with Julio Jones for only $43 (compared to his average salary of about $49). The only wrench in my plan was that somebody else had the same idea for a late-round pick. Here was my idea: save a little cash and spend my max bid on a Cam Newton flyer late in the draft. The only problem was one other guy had the exact same idea. And he had a higher max bid. He put an opening bid on Cam that was higher than my max, and Newton disappeared from the board right before my eyes. All in all, though, I think I may have the best team in my league because I didn't go crazy when the bids started skyrocketing.

Here is my official 2020 fantasy team:


QB: Josh Allen, Buffalo

Not my first choice of quarterback, but he has more talent around him this year and I think he can still get me some points with his legs.

 

RB1: Miles Sanders, Philadelphia

One of two running backs that I think will get workhorse touches, but weren't going to cost me half my salary caps. I wanted at least Sanders or Drake (but preferably both) going into the draft. I got Sanders to be my RB1.


Photo from TCBD. I don't have a Taylor card yet.

RB2: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis

I shied away from rookies this year because they've had no live reps to get them ready. I think many will struggle as the year begins. But then again, Clyde Edwards-Helaire stole the show in KC last night, so maybe I'm completely wrong.


WR1: Davante Adams, Green Bay

This wasn't a homer pick for me. I just don't see too many other players receiving targets in Green Bay, so I think Adams will have a monster year. He was the guy I wanted going in, and I got him.



WR2: Julio Jones, Atlanta

He may be getting older, but he is still The Man in Atlanta. I put in a bid on him when I saw that it was still low, and nobody beat me out. I got two bona fide WR1s for this team without sacrificing too much at the RB position. I'm extremely happy.



TE: Hayden Hurst, Atlanta

Two Falcons pass catchers in a row may be an issue, but I think Hurst will soak up the targets Austin Hooper left behind. For a late, low-risk price, I'm banking on a breakout year for Hurst. If it doesn't work out, I'll just stream the scraps of the TE position. As per usual.


Flex: Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

I had Robert Woods last year. I spent half the season trying to get rid of him because he couldn't find the end zone. I think he will this year. My top choice for this spot would have been Juju Smith-Schuster, but I was drafting with a Steelers fan.

 


DEF: Philadelphia

For now. I rarely keep defenses for longer than a few weeks. Of the defenses left available to me, I thought the Eagles had the best Week 1 matchup, so here we are.

K: Jason Myers, Seattle

Ditto above.

I couldn't be happier with my starters. But I think my bench is great, too. We added two extra bench slots this year to accommodate any increase of players sitting out with illness this year. Have you heard about this COVID thing, guys?  It sounds like a situation to keep your eye on.

Bench:

Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville

Jordan Howard, RB, Miami

Boston Scott, RB, Philadelphia

Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo

Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas

Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit

Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina


What do you think? Are you as confident in my as I am? Do you view my draft as Fantasy Pros sees it?


 Or do you see it a Yahoo does?

That's a pretty big difference in projections. Yahoo doesn't like my draft, but I do.