Saturday, January 28, 2017

Rise and Shout: My 2017 Collecting Focus

2016 was the year of trading for me.  I discovered Zistle, started this blog, and spent a lot of time trying to find some trading partners.  These were my first card trades since I took my binder to school and traded at lunch in 8th grade.  I find it more fun now.  I think that's because I have a bigger pool of possible trading partners with more varied interests.  Back in junior high, all my friends wanted my Emmitt Smiths, Jerry Rices, and Michael Jordans.  I was the most serious card collector among them, and I took about anything.  Looking back, I probably gave up a lot of value by trading off the superstars for cards that I found interesting.

My point about trading here is that most of the Internet gang collects mainly baseball.  As a result, I was able to add hundreds of cards to my All-Star MVP and Rookie of the Year collections without even making it a focus.  That's just what people had to send me, and I welcomed it all.  I still will.  But I've decided to focus on building one aspect of my collection this year.  It's not a goal; I don't have any numbers or anything that I need to hit.  It's just a focus, which is something that I've found I need in my hobby or I spend money indiscriminately and wonder where my budget went.  My 2017 focus is my ex-BYU collection.

This has come about because of heightened interest from my boys.  They hear Dad and Grandpa talk about all their memories of attending BYU games, players they've seen, memorable games, etc. and they want to know more about these players.  I learned a lot of football history from collecting cards, so I would really like to use cards help tell the story.  However, as I've looked at the former Cougars who have played in the NFL, I've realized that I don't have many cards.  I've just never focused on acquiring players from BYU.  I keep them when I come across them, but I've never really sought them out.  My BYU collection totals 105 cards.  In 2017, I plan to remedy that.  My only collecting goal is to spend less money than I have the past two years.  My focus when I buy cards will be to seek out former Cougars.

With that goal in mind, I hit ebay this month for cheap BYU cards.  Here are the results, from several different purchases, setting me back less than $10 total.

Steve Young went on to have the most NFL success by far of any BYU alum.  As a result, my BYU collection is very Steve Young-heavy, and I expect to add quite a few more.  I got all of these cards for pennies apiece with free shipping.  I've never really seen cards up with auctions starting at $.01 and free shipping.  These cards all came from different sellers.  I had to snatch them up.

I'm not going to lie; I know next to nothing about Leon White.  He played for the undefeated '84 team, but was not even one of the top 3 defenders on the team.  He is not mentioned much by all those who remember that season--I was too young--but he did make the NFL and spent a few years with the Bengals.  I know of only 9 Leon White cards in existence, all between 1989 and 1991.  I'm a third of the way there.

Austin Collie one of my favorite former Cougs.  His pro career looked bright for a couple of years, until injuries hit.  Suddenly a guy who never missed a game in college became the hard-luck poster boy for concussion protocol.  Some of the hits he took were vicious, and they ended his career after 49 games in 5 years.  Today, he's working with scientists studying brain injuries.

This ebay lot is a hodge-podge of guys who played in Provo.
A few random notes:
  • Bart Oates started 3 Super Bowls at center: twice with New York and once with San Francisco.  He came away as a winner in all three.  I don't think any other BYU player owns 3 Super Bowl rings.
  • I am lifelong Packers fan because of Ty Detmer.  The Pack drafted Detmer in the 1992 draft, so I started paying attention to Green Bay.  1992 was the first year Brett Favre started for the Packers.  I was hooked.
  • The hideous uniform modeled by linebacker Rob Morris was universally disliked.  The particular incarnation shown on the card is the home uniform.  Opposing teams complained that the white "bib" was too confusing on the field.  Thankfully, those jerseys only lasted two years.  Morris was a first-round draft pick in 2000 who also won a ring, with the Colts.  This is my first Morris card.
  • Wide receiver Todd Watkins attended high school and played on the same team with quarterback Alex Smith and running back Reggie Bush.  Must have been quite an offense.  
  • Speaking of Super Bowl rings, Kyle Van Noy has a chance to collect his first ring next week, as he currently plays for New England.
 I know most people don't collect these guys.  So you have any BYU cards lying around, send them my way in 2017!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Favorite Cards of 2016

As usual, I'm a little late to the party.  This time, it's P-Town Tom's party and he invited us to show off our favorite card of 2016.  I know that there has been a lot of apathy toward 2016's baseball card options.  The general feeling is that this year provided us with a lot of  "meh-ness."  However, I've generally been more satisfied with my baseball purchases this year than my football.  I didn't hate flagship as much as most.  Bunt was a breath of fresh air.  Archives was beautiful all around.  And while many have bemoaned getting sucked into Topps' Holiday Blizzard, I unabashedly bought the product after having seen it and loved it.  In football, the products I liked best turned out to be the ones that I didn't buy as much of.  That was just bad luck when I spent my money on products, sight unseen.  D'oh.  I completed the Donruss set, which I didn't care for much because it appeared to be modeled after 1990 Donruss, one of my least favorite designs.  I bought 4 blasters of Panini without seeing the product first--and absolutely hated it.  Absolute, Classics, and Playoff were good-lucking cards, though.  It was just too bad that I didn't have much left in the budget for them.

That said, any year when I can add a bunch of new cardboard to my collection is a good collecting year.  I still had plenty of options for card of the year.  There were some great cards that just didn't make the cut.  I considered these cards for various reasons: visual attractiveness, player, card concept, or subject matter.  Let me share the honorable mentions first.

Prestige Extra Points Green #123 Drew Brees

This card is visually stunning.  When I first pulled it, I thought that I had pulled some kind of sunburst refractor or something.  It turns out that the visual effect is the serendipitous combination of the shiny Extra Points parallel and the sing in the background behind Brees.  It's a beautiful card.

Topps Perspectives #P-17 Evan Longoria

I really dig the Perspectives insert set.  My biggest issue with the set is it seems like Topps is trying to hide the player's name and the word "Perspectives."  Not in this card.  The text is very clear, but it doesn't get in the way of a perfectly timed shot of the ball leaving Longoria's bat.

Topps Back to Back #B2B-2 Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant

Let's just say that I will look forward to Bryant and Rizzo hitting back to back for a long time to come.  I don't have any numbers, but I doubt any duo went deep consecutively more often this year.

 Gypsy Queen Blue Framed #90 Carlos Correa

I always love GQ's framed cards, and I was very happy to pull one of one of my favorite up-and-comers to collect.

Panini Classics Classic Moments #18 Tony Dorsett

I still believe that Dorsett's place among the all-time great backs is underrated.  But this card celebrates his 99-yard TD run.  People, that's the entire football field!  And the Cowboys only had 10 men on the field.  This record is literally unbreakable.


And now, we have our Top 5.  After examining many cards, I went with one simple criterion: which cards were the most exciting?  I based my best cards of 2016 off of the level of giddiness/psyched-ness I had when I received the card.

#5: Topps Update #US194 Eric Hosmer

Big thanks to Tony Burbs for this card.  The All-Star Game has nostalgic value for me.  It was a mid-summer tradition for me, my dad, and my friends.  I represent this nostalgia in my collection by collecting All-Star MVPs.  Here we see most recent MVP Eric Hosmer accepting his trophy.  The black pickup on second base is a nice touch to the photo.

#4: Topps Now Jake Arrieta's No-Hitter

I am adamantly opposed to Topps' cash grab known as Topps Now.  But when I saw this card up for trade, I knew I had to have it.  Jake's two no-hitters in 10 starts got me really riled up for the rest of the season.  It was definitely one of my favorite baseball moments ever.

#3: Absolute Unsung Heroes #11 Brett Keisel

First of all, what a great set!  Nice design commemorating guys who are great players but don't get a lot of cardboard love.  When you add in a player who is BYU grad and, frankly, an unsung hero since his college day, I love it.  This card also came to me in a trade, this one from Tyler at Rekindling the Cardboard Flame.

#2: Panini Signatures Prime Signatures #58 LaDainian Tomlinson

 LaDainian Tomlinson was always one of my favorite players when he was playing.  I was stoked to pull a nice auto of him this year.  You can't see in this picture, but the card is numbered 3/10.  Nice-looking signature, too.

#1: Topps Archives Black Border #25 Kyle Schwarber

My 2016 Card of the Year goes to one of the greatest thrills I've ever had while collecting.  I bought a blaster of Archives and came across this beauty.  I thought it was great--until I flipped it over.  That's when I found that this was a 1/1!  Only the second time I've ever held a 1/1, and it was of a fan favorite, star rookie of my team!  I still feel a bit of that high every time I look at this card.  Now, I may have other cards that are much more visually appealing, but I judged my favorites of 2016 by excitement level, and nothing I have beats this one.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Too Many New Cards (A Trade Post)

I recently completed a trade with Dennis at Too Many Marios/Verlanders.  It was a record long trade for me, as we often passed weeks between our communications before we actually got down to business.  In the midst of the trade, Dennis also posted his freebie lots on his blog and I claimed a couple.  The end result was shocking to me when I received it:

This was so much more than I expected.  I'll walk you through the spoils of the transaction, starting with the actual trade.  It was a blind trade, with both of us just saying we had a pile of cards set aside for each other.

This is the stack of Cubs that came my way.

I'll start with Moises Alou because I don't think he gets enough recognition.  He is one of my favorite Cubs ever, but I didn't collect during his stint with the team, so my collection has very little Moises.  All of these cards are welcome additions.

Dennis included cool cards of a variety of pitchers.  I didn't realize until now that many of the guys featured here were pretty good closers.  I should have grouped them in starters and closers.

Mad Dog needs his own picture, though.  I sure wish he could have spent more of his prime in Chicago.  I still believe that Greg Maddux and Peyton Manning are the two most cerebral athletes I've ever seen.

Kerry Wood is another favorite Cubbie pitcher, and Dennis sent a large stack to me.  Here are just a few of the highlights.  EX cards were always a nice design, but that Stadium Club on the bottom left is a thing of beauty.  Wood on the mound with Piazza swinging in the foreground.  Stadium Club at its finest.

Mark Grace was another player that Dennis sent a nice stack of.  Here we see some late 90s goodness with EX and Gold Label.  Once again the Stadium Club is an awesome photo.  You don't see too many cards of Gracie on the basepath.

Here are a couple of nice oddballs.  I don't have too many Starting Lineup figures or cards, so this is the first time I've ever seen this Berryhill.

Speaking of Mr. Cub, here are a couple more new additions, along with another baseball legend and former Cub, Rogers Hornsby. 

I was never a big fan of the Alfonso Soriano signing.  But truth be told, he was probably a better player than I give him credit.  I just never liked the price tag.  These two cards side-by-side are a pretty solid addition to my collection, though.  I love the green sparkle here.

We have some football here to wrap up the trade.  Dennis and I both like to collect players from our colleges.  I think I sent him every former Michigan Wolverine I had in my collection.  In return, I got a few former BYU Cougars here. 

Now for the freebies.  I claimed a few of his free stacks based off of the top card that I liked/wanted.  It turned out the stacks were bigger than I anticipated (see the 600-count box at the top of the post).  There were a lot of cards.  Here are the highlights.

I claimed the Colts stack to get the Luck Brilliance card for my set completion.  I got Luck-y with a few other cards of the young gunslinger, included a Strata rookie in the top middle.

I saw the rookie of future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald on top of the Cardinals stack, and I took it.  Also included was a rookie of Anquan Boldin, who is no slouch himself.  In fact, he probably would be getting more Hall of Fame talk for his own impressive career had he not spent most of it in the shadow of an all-time great.  The Patrick Peterson is a refractor, and I love me some refractors.

I needed the Harper Perspectives for my set, so I snagged the Nationals/Expos stack.  This was an interesting bunch of cards.

A Henry Rodriguez Pinnacle Mint with the coin.  Honestly, this is the first time I've seen a Mint card with the coin.  Pretty cool, except for the fact that the coin is WAAAAYYYY thicker than the card, so it looks kind of weird.

We'll end with a couple of IP autos.  I'm assuming that these were included with the Nats/Expos, as they both feature players in Expo uniforms.  However, both of these guys spent time with the Cubs--actually as teammates in 2007--so they may be part of the trade.  I'm not sure.  Either way, both of these former Cubs have a spot in my collection.  And how cool is it that Cliff Floyd is signing autographs on the card that I now have autographed?

Thanks for the great trade/freebies, Dennis.  I wasn't expecting so much to come in that package.  I can only hope that I was able to hold up my end satisfactorily.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Complete Sets

 My #1 collecting goal in 2016 was to knock the complete sets off my list.  I chose this goal because a) I wanted to try the whole set collecting thing and b) it was driving me crazy to have sets sitting incomplete for years.  I did all right, but there were a few sets that didn't end up completed, and it is driving me crazy.  These "almost" sets should be complete, but for one reason or another didn't quite get there.

2014 Panini Contenders

I'm missing 10 cards from the base set.  I thought I had them.  They were in my Sportslot cart.  And then when I ordered, they weren't.  So I'm sitting here at 90% when it should be done.  This wrong will be righted, as they are sitting in my cart once again and will come with my next order.

2015 Prestige

I bought every card for the base set.  Then my COMC order came, and there was no Clive Walford.  He's not on the invoice they sent.  He wasn't in the box.  But he is there in my purchase history on my computer screen.  I don't know where the card is.  I have 299/300 cards and waiting.

2013 Panini Prizm

This is my own boneheaded mistake.  I thought I had completed the set.  I had made the final purchases and was placing my new acquisitions in the binder.  But, wait!  What is that I see?  The two side-by-side New Orleans Saints running backs are not Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles; they are two copies of Mark Ingram!  So I had no idea that I needed Darren Sproles.  299/300 cards here.

Those are my oh-so-close set completions.  I also came very close to closing out 1995 Collector's Choice.  Given the number of cards I needed, I decided against buying the cards individually.  I found a box on ebay that was cheaper than buying individual cards.  So, even though I was only about 60 cards away, I bought a box with 36 packs of 12 cards each.  I guess it's a little overkill, but why would I pass on the fun of busting a box for cheap?

Here are the results of my 1995 Collector's Choice break.

Here are some of the bigger names of players that I needed for the base set.  I really like this set.  I like the player names are in team colors, the lower case and upper case is legible and unique, and the backs have a secondary photo that is large and clear.  For a cheap set, this is pretty good quality.  My biggest beef is the number of cards that are really off-centered.  But overall, this set is one of my favorites, which is why I was still wanting to finish it 21 years later.

There are two subsets, rookies and "Did You Know" trivia cards.  Here are some of the needs this box fulfilled.

Player's Club parallels fall one per pack.  The cards shown here will all stay in my collection.

Platinum parallels fall one per box, on average.  Not a bad player for my one parallel.

1995 Upper Deck spokesman Joe Montana had his own insert set in this product.  Only the first one is unique for me.  The second two are dupes and could be trade bait if anybody wants them.

Collation is a bit of an issue with this product.  You can expect 383 base cards from a 348 card set, but chances are, you won't complete the set.  This box produced four copies each of Trev Alberts, Warren Moon, and Daryl Johnston.  So who gets the "You Again?!" award?

Warren Moon!  He also made a Player's Club appearance.

Upper Deck ran a "You Crash the Game" promotion in Collector's Choice.  It worked this way: you were given a player and a date.  If said player scored a touchdown on said date, you could redeem the card for a special set of Crash the Game cards.  At 1:4 odds for Silver crash cards and 1:35 for gold, I stayed with the odds in this box.  Let's see who won here, just for fun.

Warren Moon, Oct. 8: WIN.  The Vikings beat the Oilers 23-17 as Warren Moon tossed 2 TDs to Cris Carter.
Jerry Rice, Oct. 1: WIN.  The Niners beat the Giants 20-6 and Rice caught a 16 yard TD.
Andre Reed, Oct. 29: NO.  No Bills found the end zone as Buffalo lost to Miami 23-6.
Steve McNair, Oct. 29: NO.  The Oilers beat the Buccaneers 19-7, but rookie McNair didn't see the field.
Tim Brown, Oct. 16: NO.  The Raiders were shutout 27-0 on Monday Night Football by division rival Broncos.
Cris Carter, Oct. 30: NO.  The Vikings could only muster two field goals against the Bears, losing 14-6 in another Monday Night matchup.
Troy Aikman, Oct. 1: NO.  Aikman left the game with an injury after only 3 pass attempts, and the Cowboys went on to lose to the 27-23.  He returned the next week and led them to a Super Bowl victory, so it worked out.  Just not for my gold Crash the Game card.

 So of these 10 cards, only two were winners.  Do you think there is any chance that Upper Deck would give me my redemption set?

But wait, there's more!  According to the odds, special "Crash Packs" fell 1:144 packs.  I got lucky enough to pull one in this box.  How did these players do?

Jerome Bettis, Sep. 10: NO.  The Rams beat the Saints 17-10, but Bettis was not in on the scoring.
Brett Favre, Sept. 17: WIN.  Favre only threw 25 passes for 141 yards, but he made them count with two touchdowns in 14-6 victory over the Giants.  Here's hoping for another Packers win over the Giants this week.
Warren Moon, Nov. 23: WIN.  Moon threw three TDs on the losing end of a 44-38 shootout with Detroit.  If you're counting, Moon has now appeared on 4 base cards, 1 parallel, and 2 Crash inserts.  But he won both of the Crash challenges.

The rest of the Crash Pack was filled with parallels and a Joe Montana insert.

When the dust settled, I was 5 cards short of this set.  This time, I'm not upset.  Sure, I could have hand-picked the cards and completed it, but it's always more fun to break a box.