Monday, September 5, 2016

Breaking Down Some Cards from Gavin

Happy Labor Day (I wrote most of this post on Friday tho)! Time for another overdue trade post with lotsa scans, this time from frequent trading partner Gavin over at probably one of the top two or three most prominent card blogs going today: Baseball Card Breakdown.  We've traded a few times now (with another currently in progress!), and the packages he sends seem to get better every time.  Let's check out what he sent this time, starting with that groovy Bruce at the top.
The back. You know how we do 'round here..
Any trade that nets you an autograph of a Hall of Famer is a very, very good trade.  I felt the need to break him out of his uncirculated cocoon though.  I love getting uncirculated cards still uncirculated, but I don't like leaving them in there anymore.  I would very much like to learn how to bust out the card without destroying the case though.  I feel like there should be a way, but I can't figure it out.  I digress...
I tend to like the idea of Topps Archives more than the execution, so I'm always happy getting them in trades, but almost never plunk my own money down for them, outside of maybe the very occasional parallel on COMC.  I did buy a discount blaster from whatever year had the early-'70s basketball design insets once, but it left me unimpressed.  That's pretty much it.  Whatever the damage, everything in this batch looks pretty good, and the Heyward is darn near epic.
OG Archives..
Now these are some Archives I can get behind.  Alas, I was far more into football cards back when the original Archives sets were coming out, and was also near my lowest point mental/emotional health-wise, so I never had a chance to buy any myself.
Actual Vintage!
Here's some real vintage. The floating Hubbs head is where the design for that Stanton from the Pack War trade post came from.  Nice.
Madlock Mania!
I actually have all of these, but there's always that certain giddiness that comes with having vintage dupes, especially of star players like Madlock, and I definitely have a place in my collection for an extra RC or two of the man.
'80s aces..
Moving out of the true vintage era, but still just just before the junkwax era really kicked into gear, here's a trio of cards featuring a couple of the Cubs pitching stars from a bygone decade when the team was actually pretty good and made it to the playoffs a couple times.
Stars of the leaner years..
Back in the present, but featuring more classic styles sandwiching a classy, arty Castro.  Dunno why, but I always had an odd dislike of Ryan Dempster when he was playing.  He's considerably more tolerable as a suit in the organization and sometimes-MLB Network guest/analyst though.
Jake and some Golden Age legends..
This is all flowing pretty nicely (famous last words).  Continuing the old school and art themes with Classics, which don't do much for me, and Diamond Kings, which do everything for me.  Good gravy those are some pretty cards.
Jake inserts..
Here's a couple more Arrietas in insert form, one featuring yet another classic design.  I think most companies like to tout their history, but there might not be anyone in any business as deeply in love with themselves as Topps.  The cards are usually fine, but it's kinda obnoxious, tbh.
More Diamond Kings, rookies this time, plus a chromey Baez Prizm RC.  All three players have made solid strides this year.  Edwards has ramped up into higher leverage situations with success and just notched his first career save the other day.  Szczur is becoming an excellent fourth outfielder, and he could probably be a strong platoon partner, or even start, on several less insanely stacked teams (same for the recently recalled Tommy La Stella, who has as even higher ceiling at a much less offensively impactful position).

Baez is a spectacular defender all over the field and he's hitting for much better average this year.  I fear the strikeouts and low OBP are always gonna be issues, but he's got legit 30 home run power on top of that versatile and elite D.  Even if all he can do is just maintain the solid .270/.309/.434 slashline he came into the day with (again, wrote this Friday), he's going to be an exceptionally valuable player for years to come.
Starting to get serious..
Decent Rizzos can be tough to come by now that he's a bonafide superstar, and Rondon just doesn't have that much stuff available, so I'm very pleased to land an insert and a parallel, respectively, of the duo.
Tayler Scott Refractor /500, Aramis Spectrum red /250, and Starlin is here too..
We're coming down the stretch and things are starting to get shiny and #'ed.  Haven't added a new Aramis in awhile (well, I haven't had any I've picked up recently shipped yet anyway), and it's been even longer since I added one from when he was with the Cubs.  His numbers compare well with Ron Santo's, and while I'm doubtful he'll get the love he deserves, I'll hold out hope for him to get to Cooperstown someday until the bitter end (same for Delgado, Nomah, Baines, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Andres Galarraga, Paul Konerko, and Dick Allen too!  Get off your asses, BBWA and/or veteran's committee members!). *insert string of creative profanity here*
Archives Cubbie blue parallel...
Well, I guess not all the numbered stuff is shiny.  The shade of blue of the Archives parallels is pretty much perfect for the Cubs players featured in the set though.
...#'ed 64/199!
There were a lot of twists & turns, but that Texas trade ended up turning out alright I think (Garza is another guy I really never liked much anyway).  As I feared/somewhat expected (one big breakout year surrounded by relative mediocrity always makes me leery, even without the vision problems), Olt ended up busting badly (a shame, because he played pretty good defense and had easy 30+ home run power, if only he could hit better than like .140).  Neil Ramirez had his moments though.  He just couldn't stay healthy.  Grimm has contributed an overall solid body of middle relief work since coming over.  Edwards looks like the late inning threat I thought Ramirez was gonna be  It'll definitely go down as a solid win if he ends up coming close to maxing out his potential.  Where it compares with what they gave up to get Garza in the first place is another matter, but it still probably hinges on how Carl pans out.
Failed prospect autos..
Max Ramirez made a top-100 prospects list at #84 in 2009, but while he put up consistently solid minor league numbers, he never got a serious look in the bigs.  It looks like he's still to posting a similarly decent offensive output into his early-30s playing professionally in Mexico.  Despite hitting for little average, Chirinos has put up 32 home runs and a competent .711 OPS in a part-time role in the big leagues with the Rangers in recent years.

After looking them up, even though they didn't pan out, I hate to call these guys failures.  Neither one really "made it", but they weren't utter disasters that bombed out miserably or anything.  Failure implies something shameful or embarrassing, but there's nothing wrong with taking your talent elsewhere if you never get a real shot at the bigtime or becoming a fairly reliable, late-blooming role player when you finally do.  Your cards might not be worth anything, but you've contributed to the magnificent tapestry of this grand game, and that's something worth being proud of.
We have reached the end of this post, and as as often the case with Gavin's trades, that means there's a custom.  This one makes me wistful though.  The Vogelmonster had become something a cult hero to many fans who follow the Cubs minor league system.  While everyone understood there was no real place for him here, being hopelessly blocked at 1B and a DH in waiting, his MiLB numbers call to mind a skillset reminiscent of the recently retired Prince Fielder.  Folks were holding out hope that he'd at least hang around long enough to get a cup of coffee with the big club before being shipped out for reinforcements that better fit the roster.
Gavin does some phenomenal, complete work!
Alas, it wasn't meant to be.  He was shipped off to the Mariners (right around when this package initially showed up), where he nearly perfectly fits their roster and the offensive skillset their current (and any sane one really) GM loves, for lefty swingman Mike Montgomery, thus filling the void after Adam Warren bombed out rather spectacularly.  It was a sad, and somewhat underwhelming, conclusion, even for a casual Vogelbacker like myself.

Oh well, if he pans out, and we all still hope he does, then the Mariners are gonna have a real star on their hands.  Occasionally, you just gotta bite the bullet and make a deal to improve your chances in the short term though, knowing that you will ultimately probably lose somewhere down the line (of course, it will all be moot if Montgomery helps bring a championship to the north side, even if that just entails giving the starters an extra day of rest down the stretch).

There were a few other things of note in there, but that's another post for another time... Enjoy the holiday if it applies to you (go find some good sales at least! :P), and thanks for stopping by!
Until our next...

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sketch Card Saturdays: I'll Form the Head!

Activate interlock!
I'm a few minutes late, but here is today's edition of Sketch Card Saturdays, featuring an awesome sketch of the mighty Voltron by David Namisato!
You never know what's gonna get licensed..
This sketch card set was produced by 5finity and released in 2010.  According to Jeff Allender's wonderful House of Checklists, Namisato contributed 50 cards to the set.  It's the only card by him I own, I think, which is is a shame.  But it's also an excellent card from something I'm a fan of, so I'm not sure I could really top it, and I definitely couldn't for the mere $5 I paid for this one many moons ago.

That's all for now.  Thanks for stopping by!
Until our next...

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sketch Card Mania Volume 2: Comic Book Heroes

Well, not all heroes, I guess.  Karai is a villain and Sleepwalker and Swamp Thing are more antiheroic in nature.  Whatever, enjoy the art!
Sleepwalker was an early-'90s Marvel creation that never really caught on, but was interesting (and maybe good) enough that the series and character have a small cult following in the here & now.
Squirrel Girl..
Speaking of Marvel cult classics from the early-'90s, Squirrel Girl was a bizarre one-off character from the era that's grown into a hugely beloved icon.  She's known for being the anthropomorphic personification of fun in the Marvel universe and having a knack for taking down villains seemingly far beyond her (or ANY individual, and most teams') weight class.
Swamp Thing..
This Swamp Thing might still be my favorite card I did in the entire bunch.  I feel like it was pretty strong through every stage of the process.  I never really struggled with it at any point, which is still a fairly rare feat, even with simple headshots.
Add caption
Karai could have fit in the cartoons & anime post as well, being a fairly prominent, though usually easily dispatched, recurring antagonist in the awesome (it could've been all-time great if not for the BS executive meddling) 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.  There are a couple in the third post that could've gone into this comic post as well, but also fit in with that bunch just as well, which makes every post even in number of cards.
Kitty Pryde..
Finally we have Kitty Pryde.  It's fine, I love how most of the colors turned out.  But no, I don't know why I tried to go sexy with it either.  I suppose it stands a better chance at eBay success that way though.  Whatever, I'm done for today.  We'll see if my computer's slowdown issues are sorted out (they seem to be!) in time for me to keep me personal record posting streak alive tomorrow and at least into the weekend with Sketch Card Saturdays, which will happen regardless, because they don't require that much effort to put together and post.

That's all for now.  Dell computers suck!  Thanks for stopping by.
Until our next...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

COMC Miscellany Vol. 2

Jorge Soler has Crystal Balls.. 
As noted in yesterday's literal last minute post, I pretty badly botched my schedule, so the next couple days in my quest for at least two weeks straight with a post will be filler posts, relatively speaking.  The cards will still be excellent, but the words aren't coming from clever angles or deep thoughts and none of it is attached to trades.  I do have another big trade post in the works, but I'm having a hard time focusing on the scan editing, and the weird slowdown my new computer is experiencing is not helping.  So, for today, just another five spot of COMC additions, and maybe some more art tomorrow.  We'll see.

That all tediously said, let's get on with today's post.  Look at that amazeballs card at the top of the page.  That is a 2015 Topps Stadium Club Crystal Ball case hit, and it is as majestic in person as I ever could have hoped.  This beauty probably qualifies as a low-key white whale, because I desperately wanted to get one from the moment I saw them.  I didn't know who I'd end up with if I ever landed one, but this sweet eBay 1/1 (lol) of Soler makes for a great co-topper to his player collection.
I am oddly obsessed with posting card backs of major hits..
I have a Soler auto, but it might be the most basic, easily attainable one he has, so I knew another big addition or three (or five, or...) would eventually be in order.  And I do mean big, in this case.  This is easily the thickest card in my entire collection, and I have a couple Sweet Spot Helmet Autos and several Shadowboxes and a weird, needlessly thick Benchwarmer swatch to compare it to.  They can't touch this.  Protecting it might be a constant pain, but the cost didn't hurt my wallet too badly.  It only set me back somewhere between $5 and $6 during the COMC Spring Cleaning megasale.  I never thought I'd find one under $10, to be honest.
1995 was a very good year..
Next up is an interesting card I never really even knew about until the moment I saw it and instantly had to have it.  Donruss Elite Series inserts are super iconic and historically significant for being the first #'ed cards ever made.  Because apparently none of the cardmakers of the day bothered to turn off the printers on any base set created from 1987-1993 until late-1997, a print run of 10000 was a huuuuge deal in those heady, wildly overproduced, junkwaxy days...
It looks funny now, but /10000 used to mean something..
Nobody ever talks about anything but the first two or three sets though, so I don't think I'd ever seen a 1995 before I stumbled onto the ol' Crime Dog here.  That's a shame, because this card looks absolutely fantastic.  It's shiny and die-cut and blingy, but also has a sort of classy feel to it.  Love it.
2004 EX Essential Credentials Now...
Here's a cool looking low-numbered addition from late era EX for my nearly complete Alfonso Soriano page.  Insert obligatory "scans don't do this card justice" comment here.
...#'ed 5/36!
I found an awesome patch card for like $2 and a printing plate under $7 as highlights for his page as well, and all his teams and many years are represented, so I feel like Fonsie is one of the strongest Single Page Sensations I've put together so far.  As such, if I ever get my hands on an auto (always a goal for any collection), it can probably live its life in a top loader or magnetic case with my more elite, too good (and/or too thick) for a binder hits.
Not the best penmanship, but FAR from the worst..
The luster has really come off the Carlos Rodon hype train, but I'm still a believer.  Of course, I also wasn't as crazy high on him as most to begin with.  Actually, it's because he reminded me a lot of the very good, but never quite a true ace, Mark Beuhrle that I decided to put a page together for him.  I never saw ace, but I think Carlos, like Beurhle, is gonna be a really solid, consistently good workhorse, and maybe team leader, over the next 10-15 years.
2015 Topps High Tek Gold Diffractor Auto #'ed 48/50
We'll end this post with another blingy auto, a nice topper to my Single Page Sensations Carlos Delgado collection.  I'd already bought the regular version (yo Sports Cards from the Dollar Store, I'll send you the regular and my Paul Pierce auto if you still got that Billy Williams!), but I decided to grab the low numbered gold parallel when a copy eventually dropped to around the same price as the first one.  Dude belongs in the Hall of Fame, by the way.  Absolute travesty he fell off the ballet on his try.

Looks like we're finishing just in time again.  As ever, thanks for stopping by!
Until our next...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Art of Wrestling: Deep Connections

Homocidal, suicidal, genocidal, etc..
Just a short post today.  I've botched my schedule something fierce and will just barely be getting this in under the gun, if at all.  This year's Topps WWE Heritage set came out fairly recently and I bought pack not long after.  The cards mimic the 1986 Topps baseball set.  Unfortunately, I feel they look pretty terrible.  So I decided to pretty 'em up a bit.  Above you see ECW (and to a much lesser extent, WCW and WWE) legend Sabu, drawn on the back of his long time tag team partner and rival Rob Van Dam's base card.
One of the better looking cards in the pack, actually..
I prefer to have connections when I draw on the back of cards, be it just team for sports cards, or friends/partners/rivals for individual disciplines like this.  As such, my first attempt, shown below, features perhaps the ultimate personal rivalry in the history of the business in freshly minted WWE Universal Champion Kevin Steen/Owens and El Generico/Sami Zayn.
I like Sami Zayn!
Rather than read my words inexact, babbly, gushy about it, I highly suggest a trip down the memory hole of Youtube or Dailymotion or whatever to get a handle on their legendary Batman/Joker-esque "I think we're destined to do this forever" rivalry.  I think I will do the same in the near future.  Maybe I'll be able to form more coherent words about their rivalry then myself.
KO side..
Quick edit: I thought I forgot to scan the front of the Kevin Owens card, but it was just in a different folder than I thought it was.  I still don't like the design, especially with the red lettering.  Bleh.

That's all for tonight.  Thanks for stopping by!
Until our next...

Monday, August 29, 2016

More from the Cubs/Cards Connection

I sent more Cards cards to Cards on Cards cuz he pulled some Cubs cards I liked that my night owl tendencies allowed me to get to before the other Cubs collectors were awake to notice them.  We are an unintentionally competitive bunch.  There's just so many of us, and none of us are even bandwagoners.  We've been through the lean years, yo.  And so it goes...

Mercifully, today will be a MUCH shorter post than yesterday.  It's just a PWE, and I'm only showing the blingier half of it.  Long posts that take forever to put together are one of the prime culprits that have knocked me out of the blogging game for months on end in the past, but not this time.  Not yet anyway.

So, without further ado, here's the gems of the PWE Kerry sent my way.
KB Chrome Perspectives..
Up first, quite possibly this year's NL MVP, Kris Bryant!  I never really got the hate for these nifty Perspectives inserts the first place, but the chrome versions really bring them to life.  Outstanding.
Pink Refractors..
They're more magenta really, but they look nice too.  This year's set was really made for chrome, and much like 2008's set, I feel the chrome version will eventually partially vindicate this year's largely disliked design (I was never bothered by it in the first place).

You just never know from season-to-season, but if everyone else keeps playing at a high level, how unstoppable could this lineup be with Schwarber in it next year?  I guess will depend on who is leading the charge at the top of the lineup, since Dex is finally gonna get PAID this year, but yeah.  The Cubs window for success hasn't been this wide open since the 1930s.  Hopefully they can make it all the way through it this time.

If you complained about Addison Russell starting the All-Star game, you've been feasting on crow the whole second half of the season.  Kid has found his next gear.  He might yet steal the Gold Glove from Crawford at short (not that egregious, Addi's easily the next best in the NL, metrically speaking), and will almost certainly win the Silver Slugger for the position.  A good September could put him at 25+ homers and 100 RBIs on the year.  He may not be Barry Larkin yet (Lindor looks the most like Larkin to me, while Correa looks like the love child of Ripken & ARod), but he's already calling to mind Jimmy Rollins, and he might be a significantly better defender than either, and they were both great defenders (both 13+ career dWAR).  Crawford's got the metrics this year, but I haven't seen anyone play the position so silky smooth since Ozzie Smith.  Addi is just that fun to watch.

Whew, rant mode off.  That's all for today.  I'll try to do better tomorrow.  Thanks for stopping by!

Until our next...

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I got Destroyed in a Pack War

I've traded with Shawn over at Pack War once before and it was a good time.  Sometime later, I inquired about a couple new cards that he'd pulled and made available for trade.  It completely slipped my mind for awhile, but eventually I made it back to it (it probably had something to do with noticing my Seattle-based cardstuffs starting to get really out of hand, lol) and offered to dramatically widen the scope of the deal if he wanted.  Eventually it came to pass.  This is the scan heavy result.  You may wanna pack a lunch, or at least an energy bar.
I've developed a habit of leading with the big bopper of any given post, but dude... Duuuude.  It will hard to ever top this one.  How about an OG T206?!  That is insane!  I could geek out about this forever, about how epic it is finding something like this in what is an almost entirely blind trade package, about how this package came in the same week as Melike and Cano, but there's a lot more to get to.  Still though... *several minutes of loud, obnoxious squeeing noises*
Sweetness + a cameo by the most overrated running back of all-time..
Alright... *muffled squeeing continues* Get it together me!  We've got a lot more cards to show.  Shawn hit me all over the wantlist, including places that don't get enough attention, like the Walter Paytons above, and the Matt Fortes below.
Lots of fancypants base and an insert..
Acetate '90s promo front...
...and back.
The reason my football don't get enough love anymore is that the sport itself just doesn't really do it for me anymore.  After discovering the Red Zone channel, I stopped being able to sit through the horrendous slog of a single game (I can still watch a full baseball game despite the existence of MLB Tonight though).  Then the Bears started sucking the past couple years, shockingly because of the defense.  There's been a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and the offense has been truly dynamic at times, perhaps for the only time in franchise history.  But yeah, I like the new GM's moves this off-season, but my team still probably doesn't figure to seriously contend for awhile yet.  Strike two.  Strike three is that... it's just uncomfortable to watch, now that I know CTE is a thing and a decent amount of these guys are gonna have extremely serious health problems somewhere down the line because of their chosen profession.
More handegg..
The urge to keep up with things and continue collecting my favorites remains though.  There just won't be near as many new faces I'll be invested in enough to want to collect as time marches on.
Pennant die-cuts are always awesome though..
The above Forsett and Winston/Mariota dual insert are two of the three cards that originally stoked the fires of this trade.  The third you will see amongst the hits towards the end of the post.
A lil bit of everything..
Some basketball and MMA.  I'd like to get into both a little more, or back into, in basketball's case, but I haven't had a TV in awhile, can't afford the kind of financial commitment required for league-issued streaming services, and I've never been a big user of the shadier streaming sites out there, so I don't get to see near as much of anything as I'd like.  Oh well...
At last, back to the baseball!
Moving on, we've arrived at the meat of the post: Baseball.  The thinking man's sport.  Maddux was the thinking man's pitcher, who, for most of his career, thrived on command and control rather than overwhelmingly dominant stuff.  Jackie Robinson makes you think about history, about where we've come from, where we are now, and where we want to go.  Starlin just makes me think about what could have been.  He's still a competent, capable everyday player, but he looked like a legend in the making when he first arrived on the scene.

Rizzo, as the on-field leader of the most dynamic team in baseball, doesn't so much make me think as he does dream, of a day when I can stop saying "Wait 'til next year" and instead say "This is our year."  He makes me dream of World Series trophies and the way he carries himself reminds me of some of the greats to ever play this wonderful, heartbreaking game.
Some nice additions to my (eventual) mini binders.  I'm almost certain I have the Kimballs, but I dunno where.  I might have traded them, so they are still useful to me.  Floating heads never go out of style, not even the faux vintage ones.
Young Nomah bling..
Young Vladdy bling..
On the non-Cub, full player collection front, we have a Topps Tek DramaTEK Performers insert and shiny base card each for should-be Hall of Famer Nomar Garciaparra and 1000% lock Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero.
Base versions of the above minis..
There is just something so serene about these two cards when they're sitting next to each other like this.
More past Cubs greats..
The Legendary Cuts are just spectacular looking.  And a Kerry Wood RC!  Always nice to check another key rookie off my list. :)
Spring Fever Cubbies..
Closing out the Cubs portion of the post with a couple shiny Spring Fever cards from 2013.  Down the stretch we come with the rest of the hits from the package!
1972 Topps Gale Sayers..
Visit Chicago..
I actually already have this card, but I gotta say, there's a certain sense of wonder and/or giddy joy in having duplicates of vintage Hall of Famers.
2015 Topps Chrome Rookie Relics Purple Refractor #'ed 66/75
This right here is the third card that prompted the original trade talks, and it looks much nicer in person.  Don't they all though?
2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York Bat Card..
I could do without the audible shudder-inducing fuzzy BS on the Legends of NY base cards, but the bat cards are, as the kids used to say, hella tight.
2013 Topps UFC Finest Fighter Autographs..
I liked the Girl-Rilla right from the start, but even more as time went on, because that first fight remained the only halfway decent challenge Rousey got all the way up until Holly Holm finally out-gameplanned and outworked her and knocked her the eff out.
A little art by the good Corky hisself!
We've reached the end of this trade post, but we're going out in style, with a Teen Titans Go-esque Raven sketch card drawn by Shawn!
Fancy back too!
Thanks again to Shawn for this outstanding trade package!  I got blindsided by all my technology breaking on my all at once, and I've been struggling to dig my way out of an even worse financial state than usual while I pay off the new computer, but I will definitely start sending cards your way once September rolls 'round.

Thanks for stopping by!
Until our next...