Wednesday, June 5, 2019

One Thing Led to Another, and I Made an Ebay Purchase

Have you ever tried to trace your thought process, how your brain wandered from one thought to a completely different thought?  Perhaps I'm alone in my quirky head, but I sometimes find it bizarre to see how one thought led to another, which led to another, which led me to pause and think, How did I get here?  And then I committed an ebay purchase that when it arrived, I thought, How did I get this?  All the cards came from the same seller, but there were six separate lots I bought, with a bit of a range between the contents.  Yet somehow, I jumped from one lot to another and ended up with a big purchase from one person.

Where this started was one of my periodic searches for players whose names might have been misspelled, which could eliminate some competition for auctions.  This time, I searched for "Aaron Rogers" and came across these cards.

I needed all of these.  They're all inserts, which is cool, and there are even some parallels of inserts, like the green Score Franchise above.  I'm not a huge fan of shared cards, but the Team Leaders with two of my favorite players to collect--Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy--is really nice to me. 

These cards were for sale by auction, but they also had a best offer option.  So, just to throw something against the wall and try to get a good value per card, I  made an offer for a little under the starting bid.  When he accepted it, I did what everybody else does: I started looking for other items from the seller to combine shipping and justify the postage.

I decided to stay on the Green Bay track.  First, I found a single Jim Taylor.  It's from 2018 Classics, but it's shiny and chromey.  I had no idea what it was.  It turns out that it's called "Optichrome Premium" and I found it cheaper on ebay than I would have found it on COMC, which is usually my barometer.  I count that as a win.  Then I found my current favorite player, the guy who once made my son dance with him for an autograph, former BYU Cougar Jamaal Williams.  It's a nice Red & Yellow Prizm from Optic.  It was actually part of a lot of four Red & Yellow Prizms.  The other three
are sitting in trade stacks that I will send someday.  Like the "Rogers" lot, I made an offer on both of these just below starting bid, and received an acceptance almost immediately.

Having exhausted the seller's offerings of football cards, I switched my search to baseball. 

The first thing I wanted was a lot of Corey Seager for my Rookie of the Year collection.  I needed seven of these eight cards, with only the Award Winners in the bottom right already in my collection.  A couple of these cards I had no idea what I was seeing.  In the top right, in the 1994 Topps design, is a Wal-Mart Exclusive rookie SP from 2016 Update.  The cracked ice effect in the bottom left is from 2018 Donruss.  It's the All-Stars set, but a "Crystal" parallel.  Here's what I don't understand: the All-Star inserts are serial-numbered, but this parallel is not.  I have no idea if the print run is higher or lower for the Crystals.  It's a nice-looking card, even if it is Panini.

From ROY, I made jump to All-Star MVPs.  I found these four A&G SPs, and 3 of the 4 fit nicely in my collection.  The odd man out here is Justin Turner, who is possibly my current least favorite player. (I've seen him deal too much damage to the Cubs for me to enjoy watching him play.)  It's available for trade, if anyone wants/needs it.

The final lot was another set I had no idea what it was, but it looked kind of cool.  This is 2015 Donruss Preferred.  I bought the lot for these five players.  This was the only purchase that the seller did not accept my offer.  He countered with the price of the starting bid, and I thought it was fair.  Already he had given me all the other lots at less than starting bid.  This one he obviously just felt the value was enough to at least get what he was asking.

 These players also came in the lot, but I they're all trade bait.  If you want any of these, let me know.

So here I am, starting with a misspelled name search of Aaron Rodgers.  One thing led another, I got combined shipping and kept looking for another fit for my collection.  Moving step by step, I ended up at shiny, logoless Donruss inserts of guys like Rymer Liriano and Yasmany Tomas.  Like tracing my thought process, I can see how this eclectic ebay purchase came about.

The seller also threw in a couple of bonus relics.  The first is Jason Bay, my first relic of this ROY and a great fit for my collection.  The other is Joe Williams, a former Utah Ute (booooooooo!), but a card that could bring me a trade at a card show, since he is local. Both are nice random bonuses for me. 

If you're interested, the seller was eghigh01, and he was very pleasant to work with.  It was a bigger ebay purchase than I usually make, but I felt like I got good cards for a good price.  If any of the trade bait interests you, let me know and we can work on a trade.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I Finished Last in March Radness--Will I Survive to Tell About It?

Since I was appointed our school's testing coordinator last year, March has been an insanely busy month for me at work.  So when Cards on Cards opened up his March Radness NCAA basketball tournament this year, I wanted to enter without spending a lot of time choosing teams.  I ended up sitting down with my 10 year-old and 8 year-old and having them take turns choosing teams in the bracket.  When I ended up with Old Dominion in the championship, I knew I had a winner. . . or not.  It turns out that I did win, because Kerry puts together a package for last place.

He made some vague threats about the loser getting a really bad package.  I was curious.  I imagined a box of Norfin Trolls or *gasp* a priority mail box packed to the gills with junk wax dupes, like 50 copies of 1989 Fleer Steve Jeltz or something.  Kerry mentioned in one post he might send me a box of spiders.  I didn't think he was serious, but the thought creeped me out.  But I braced myself for the worst.

And this is the worst Kerry could do.  At first glance, it's a healthy stack of cards, and I could certainly imagine worse than Anthony Rizzo.  But is this top card merely hiding something a little more nefarious?

Three 2016 Cubs from the Topps National League Stars set?!  Why that's, that's--pretty cool, actually.  I didn't have any of these, although I think I have about a full page of that Jake Arrieta design, between Flagship, Chrome, Opening Day, parallels, etc.

This may be the extent of all the 2019 Donruss I get this year.  A red holofoil of Albert Almora and his currently hot bat and a really nice DK El Mago are two of my favorite cards of this package.

A couple more of 2019's offerings.  This is my first look at Opening Day's Rally Time inserts.  I like the concept, and that is definitely a fun card of David Bote, but why does it look just like a base card?  Could they really not come with anything to make a unique design? 

I didn't buy any Chrome at all last year, so these were all needs.  I really liked last year's design, and I do like it all chromed up, but I don't have much of it.  Once again, Javy is my favorite here.  I think I would like the Contreras more if it were a photo from the front angle.

More Javy.  This is the first Panini Chronicles card I've ever gotten, but I did get some blasters really cheap from Dave and Adam's last week that I'm going to bust.  I'm not in love with the product, but I figured for $6 a box, I would try a couple.

Who doesn't like early Bowman's Best?  Or the Cubs jerseys that look like they say "Cuba?"  I sure like them, and I'm glad to receive them.

And there's the junk wax I was expecting.  Walton, Sandberg, and Gracie are always welcome in my collection.  But Stadium Club has me in suspense--was Dwight safe or out?

Yes, there were some dupes for me, as I expected from Kerry's evil plan.

Some Team USA cards, including two players who made it to the Show in Austin Jackson and Kevin Gausman, and a relic of Cody Wheeler, who never did.

And now we're just getting some random stuff here.  I don't recall a "History of Topps" insert set.  I'm not a fan of either the card or the concept.

What's this?  Tyronn Lue?  Well, this is A&G, so I guess it's still a baseball card.  Kinda.

Now we're really getting random.  I never got into Star Trek.  My sci-fi fix comes from Doctor Who.  Like the good Doctor, the NBA sticker comes from overseas, from a European Upper Deck release.  That's kind of cool.

Also included were two unopened packs.  I have no interest in either of these two sets, so I gave them to my boys.  They were the ones who earned me this package, anyway.

I can see what Kerry was trying to do here.  As a Cardinals fan, the scariest thing he could think of was Cubs cards!  These were probably hiding in his closet, haunting him when the lights are off in the dead of the night.  He thought this package would keep me away from his contests forever.  But he failed!  I get the last laugh here, because, unbeknownst to him, I actually love Cubs cards.  I win!

But wait, what on Earth is this?

*Runs away screaming*

Friday, May 10, 2019

A Few Random Sportlots Auctions

In a recent post, I checked out a Sportlots box for the first time and came away a pretty good sized "sportlot" of cards for my collection.  Around the same time, I decided to take a peek at a couple of auctions.  I don't usually look at the auctions on Sportlots, but this time around I found a few that caught my eye.  The titles were simple--things like "34 Stars Inserts Favre"--but they were on Day 3 with no bids, so I decided to check them out.  I saw a few cards I wanted in the photos and figured if I could win multiple auctions for cheap and get the combined shipping, it was worth a shot.  In the end, I won a trio of auctions for $.25 apiece, and with shipping, I had them for about $7 total.  I didn't know every card that would be in the lots, so I was taking a bit of a chance.  As it turns out, it was a pretty good chance to be taking.

This cool insert set came from 2008 Topps and Chrome.  It honors NFL players who also served active military duty.  With all three lots combined, I picked up two copies of this set, minus one card.  I've since remedied that incomplete set through COMC.  After my Black Friday shipping this year, I'll have my Roger Staubach in hand and a completed set in my binder.

The lots were all given titles that included, "inserts," "stars," and at least one player's name.  Most of the cards were stars, inserts, or rookies, which made me happy.  I was a bit scared that I'd get one or two inserts or stars, and the rest would be 1990 Pro Set or something.  Stars from the 90s were well-represented, mostly in shiny.

 The Nineties provided some interesting insert sets.  I remember how cool I thought the acetone Collector's Edge cards were when I was a kid, but Bobby Hebert is the first I've owned.  I also loved the Ultra Stars and anything Fleer Metal at the time, both modeled by Marshall Faulk here.

I don't know anybody who misses Classic, but I won't complain about parallels/inserts of a few Hall of Famers that I received.

Early 2000s inserts were a cool find. Since I bought no cards during this period, there are still many sets I've never seen before.  Not only were the cards themselves pretty cool, there are some pretty good names here.  Most of these guys aren't NFL legends, but they were higher-tier players in their time.

More late 90s/early 2000s inserts.  Marshall Faulk made quite a few appearances in the package.

There were some nice rookies in there.  The Playoff rookies on the bottom row aren't the greatest (or even good) players, but those are some cool transparent cards.

The inserts kept coming into the early 2010s.  These were the most recent cards in the package.  I like the inclusion of two underrated running backs in Lenny Moore and Lydell Mitchell, as well as Packer great Billy Howton.

 Some NFL legends came in 2008 shiny Chrome . . .

and some real 1980s cardboard.

There were two special occasion promos, from 2004 National Trading Card Day and the 1991 National Sports Collectible Convention.  Oh look, there's Marshall Faulk again.

Finally, there were a few additions to my BYU collection.  Playoff was a quality card company in the 90s, and I have liked Panini's reincarnation thus far this decade.

I took a chance on some lots, and though I couldn't fit it all in my collection, I did get some pretty good cards for about six cents a pop.  I really don't feel there was any filler junk in any of the lots.  So, if you're browsing around auctions on Sportlots, and you see a lot from AAAVINTA, I can vouch that it will be filled with some pretty good cards.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Missing One You've Never Met

Preface: I never do this sort of thing.  I write aside from this blog for personal reasons.  Sometimes important topics like faith and family creep in because they're an integral part of my life, but I mostly reserve this space for my hobby.  This one is different.  I just feel the need to get it out there.  So sports fans, I apologize.  This has nothing to do with sports or cards or anything else you might expect to see.


He would be five.  Five years.  Has it really been that long?  One thousand, eight hundred sixty-five days.  I haven’t seen him for 1,864 days since then.  And yet, there have been but few days in which he hasn’t crossed my mind.  April 26, 2014—the day our angel baby was born.

The story really begins the day before.  We had gone in for a routine prenatal doctor’s visit.  At almost 17 weeks, we were getting an ultrasound in hopes of learning the gender of our new little one.  We even brought our two sons—who were five and three—with us.  It was exciting.  They wanted to be there when we learned if they would have a little brother or a little sister.  I don’t remember who the technician was.  I don’t remember what she looked like.  I don’t recall her facial structure or features.  But the concern, growing to anxiety, and finally morphing to panic, showed on her face and burned in my mind as the ultrasound remained still and silent.  The tension seeped into the room.  Kelly’s grip on my hand tightened continuously.  I could feel her breathing picking up as her eyes darted from the screen to the technician to me.  I’m not certain, but I may have been squeezing, too.  “What’s wrong?  What’s wrong?” she asked in a barely controlled strain.  Even the boys started to feel it.  Then the technician stepped out of the room.  I wasn’t long.  It couldn’t have been long.  But the time dragged for a couple of minutes before she returned with the doctor.  It didn’t take the doctor long to confirm.

“I’m sorry.  There’s no heartbeat.”

Miscarriage.  I guess we were aware of the possibility.  Kelly’s own mother had suffered through it multiple times.  But we far along.  Far enough to learn the gender.  I’ve done the research.  Roughly 80% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester.  By the time you get to 17 weeks, the chances drop to around 1%.  And yet, here we were.  I removed the kids from the room and made some calls.  I don’t remember calling my mother-in-law, but I must have, because she came and picked up the boys.  I called my mother.  I remember how cheery she sounded when she picked up the phone.  It was so difficult to croak, “We lost the baby.”

I stayed in the waiting room while the doctor explained the next steps to my wife.  Typically, a miscarriage involves a procedure called a D&C.  It's more a surgery than anything, sterile, impersonal, and with nothing to see when it was over.  For us, that wasn’t an option.  Because of the late term and the size of the baby, my wife had to deliver.  Still in shock and trying to process the grief, we scheduled an induction and a delivery for the following day.  “Oh, and would you like to know the gender?  It’s a boy.”

We drove home alone, mostly in the silence forced by the choked sobs blocking all other noise from our throats.  About two blocks from the doctor’s office, I choked out, “Benjamin Glen?”  Kelly just nodded.  It’s two family names.  My family has a line of Bens in some form or another, and my grandparents had been disappointed we hadn’t used it.  Now it just seemed appropriate.
We spent the evening with family and tried to prepare for the next day.  How does one prepare, though, to welcome in a life that will never take a breath?  He was born.  He was tiny.  I got to touch the fragile body.  Someone came in and took photos for us.  We got the typical footprints in ink and plaster casts of feet and hands.  In some ways it seemed so normal.  But in the end, that was all.  Counselors came in to talk to my wife.  But it wasn’t going to make things any easier.  And when they left, there was no crying, no cooing, no sleeping in a bassinet next to the bed.  Just a stifling aloneness.

I’m not entirely sure that I got a chance to grieve.  Reality set in pretty hard after that.  You see, the aftermath of a miscarriage is not much different from a birth.  There’s post-partum depression.  There’s caring for the recuperating mother.  And, oh yes, there are bills.  We paid in every possible way for this baby.  Yet there was no baby there for us.  In the midst of it all, I was back at work.  I was running interference from all the people who wanted to talk to my wife.  She didn’t want to talk to anybody.  A friend who understood brought a poem to my attention that helped me process.  Pardon that I don’t cite the source, but I don’t know the author.  “It must be very difficult/to be a man in grief. . . .He dries her tears and comforts her/But ‘stays strong’ for her sake/It must be very difficult/to start each day anew . . . . He lost his baby, too.”

And now, years have passed.  I’ve found some understanding in the difference between grieving one who passes from mortal life and one who never passes into it all.  I would never want to lose one my living children.  I’m not saying my burden is any heavier.  But I do realize a key difference is that I have no memories to hold onto.  No memories at all—except for the pain of loss.  I imagine that I’d be teaching him to play tag and catch.  Maybe he’d be riding his bike and getting ready to take the training wheels off.  But I don’t have these memories of him.  My little boy came and left, and the sting of death is the only memento.  I heard a song recently by one of my favorite bands, Yellowcard, that touched on this very subject and resonated to my core.

You would be ten and I'd be
Driving you to school
You would tell all your friends
That you thought I was cool
You would be out in the sun
Until it was gone
You would be watching Star Wars
With your PJ's on
And you would have
All the love in my heart

I have a ten year-old.  He loves Star Wars.  I have an eight-year old.  I’ve done my best to teach them to play ball.  We’ve laughed and worked together.  There’s a three-year old girl in the house, too.  She’s the light of her daddy’s life.  But I have a five year-old, too.  That one is not with me, but they all have “all the love in my heart.”

Now we have a perfect storm of emotional fallout from the miscarriage.  Today is his fifth birthday.  And we have another boy on the way.  We’re 17 weeks along.  In fact, his due date is almost the same as Benjamin’s.  The similarities and the anniversary are a potent emotional force in combination.  Pregnancy is an amazing, fragile miracle.  Somewhere between 10% and 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, mostly in the first trimester.  So many expectant parents hold their breath for 12 weeks and exhale in relief when the most perilous time has passed.  The thing is, once you have experienced a late-term miscarriage, that apprehension never passes.  I will be nervous until the new little one joins us.

While I’m looking forward, hoping and praying for the safe arrival of another little boy, I’m taking today to commemorate the one who came and left.  Sometimes I pull out those ridiculously small plaster casts.  The hands remind me of the hands on my kids’ Lego people.  The feet are barely the size of the nail on my pinkie finger.  They’re so delicate that I fear the trembling of my hands will rattle them to pieces.  But I take them out.  I remember the past.  I imagine a present and a future.  Five years ago, he entered my life, only to leave it directly.  But he impacted it forever.  He took a little piece of it.  Somewhere out there, I have one more son who is waiting to make things complete.  My faith tells me I will meet him one day, and he will give back that part that is missing.  In the meantime, I'll hold on to the little of him that I have in return.  Across a veil of mortality, we'll be holding each other.