Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Trade with Cards from the Quarry

 I recently completed a trade with Johnny of Cards from the Quarry. We hammered out a trade involving some 2020 Donruss parallels and various inserts going his way and some nice Rays and Tigers parallels coming mine.
 There were so many nice cards. I've always admired Jeff Niemann, even though I don't officially collect him. I've seen him so many times (2006 or 2007 in AA ball, 2008 and Spring Training, and many times after that in the Trop), and each time, he was always nice enough to stop and sign autographs. Wish I would've had this 2007 Bowman Blue card to get signed back then. I always thought Matt Moore was going to be an ace, and I was sad to see the Rays trade him, but I guess they knew what they were doing. It's nice to grab a numbered parallel of him to add to my growing number of Rays cards of Matt. The next 2 are Gold paralells from more recent Topps sets, and the last Rays card is a Mike Zunino Green Gypsy Queen parallel. For the Tigers, we start off with a 2005 Donruss Team Heroes Showdown Bronze parallel #d to 100 of Jeremy Bonderman. I busted maybe 10 packs of that set in 2005, and always seemed to pull a blue Showdown parallel or autograph from it. I know for sure I pulled a Johan Santana and Jason Kubel autograph, as well as a Blue Doug Mientkiewicz Showdown. I was lucky enough to get 2 Black parallels in the trade, a 2013 Matt Tuiasosopo and a 2017 Ian Kinsler. I have only been lucky enough to pull one black parallel from a pack, a Joe Borowski from a box of 2005 Topps, which I immediately sent ttm to get signed. Fortunatly, Joe signed it and sent it back, but I ended up losing it when I sold a bunch of autographed cards in 2013 or so. Now I have not only 1 black parallel, but 2. The 2014 Gold parallel is of Andy Dirks. I saw Andy play a few times in low-A ball, and he was scrappy. The last 2 cards are refractors, a green one of Zac Reininger from 2015, and a regular one of Joe Jimenez from the 2017 set (somehow I correctly guessed the correct years and then confirmed it afterwards). Thanks, Johnny, for the nice additions for my 2 favorite teams.

I officially start vacation as soon as I get off work on Friday the 9th, and I'm already to leave now. The next 4 days at work are (probably) going to be hellish, with my evil manager back for all 4, a full moon trying to hang on, and all of the excessive volume of production and customers that come with working at a bakery during a major holiday. Someone get me a time machine. I do have a few pick-me-ups coming between now and the 9th. I ordered a hanging box of 2021 Donruss online, and that should get delivered before we leave. I can't remember, but wasn't the going rate on hanging boxes 9.99 before the flippers started their reign of terror? If so, then I overpayed, but who isn't these days?  I also ordered 2 cards of Clark, the Cubs mascot from the 2021 Topps Opening Day set. That seems kind of random, but the other day, my wife informed me that the Rays were opening the Trop starting in May, and that immediately got us thinking if Detroit would be open during our vacation. Of course, they were away the whole week, but then we thought of going to Chicago on the way home. The Cubs and Braves are playing at Wrigley the last Friday-Sunday that we would be away, so if we can get lucky enough to purchase tickets when they start selling them, I might be able to cross another iconic ballpark off of my list of ones that I've been to, and even though I probably won't get any players autographs, maybe one of the mascot. FYI, the MLB owners are thieves. I could normally get into a Rays game for about 20 bucks a pop, and the cheapest seats we could find were over 100 dollars. You can't tell me that these owners aren't still living a great life even with no fans attending games in 2020. They still had media contracts giving them money and still got money off of merchandising (and baseball card) deals. The players didn't get 100% of their paychecks in 2020, so they didn't loose as much money as they want you to think. Corporate greed exists, and the fact that MLB teams are upping ticket prices and Topps is doubling the volume of their Series 1 production are examples 1 and 1a.

I also plan on trying to go to a card shop in Grand Rapids when we are there. That leads me to a question. About a year ago, we were planning on going on vacation when the pandemic hit. We basically wanted to do the same trip we are doing now, and had already done a little research. I had found on some baseball card blog that there was a mom & pop store in either North or South Carolina that had a bunch of unopened baseball card boxes. I can't remember for the life of me the name of the store/blog/or what city it was in. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone? If I can find the name of the store, I might check it out if it's not too far and try to see what they have. I remember it had a good assortment of old/new and higher and lower end stuff.

Here's hoping the next 10 days fly by. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

2021 Donruss

 Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. The last 10 days or so have been tough, but it seems like with every day that passes, it gets a little easier, and I find myself getting through everything. 

With everything that has happened, as well as since we got our stimulus check, both me and my wife have splurged a tad. We went to a nearby outlet mall and spent an afternoon on Friday getting some larger clothes for Kyler, Karen got a new bag for work, and all of us ended up getting some stuff from Old Navy. I got a big puffer jacket that I look forward to wearing when it gets in the 40's here in Florida. As well as the outlets, I ended up making 2 trips to the card shop that is about 15 minutes from my house in hopes of finding 2021 Donruss. 

The first time, they had it, and I got a (8 dollar!!) pack. With the cards I got, it was almost worth it. I also picked up a few new Rays, some guys for my Favorite Player binders (including 3 Logan Gilberts), and picked up some guys for the rookie card binder as well. I had also been planning on going through the end of one .50 cent box that I dug through a few weeks ago, as it had some of those Leaf X Draft or whatever you call them cards in it, and I was hoping to get a few of the top guys from last years' draft. I totally forgot, so here is what I got on the first trip to the shop. 

The Donruss design is ok. Kind of reminds me of this M&M's set they had in the '80's. I pulled a few nice cards, the Sanchez rookie, Lowe Diamond King, Alvarez Independance Day?, and the Hendu '87.
I know Johnny and probably others have said it, but how freaking confusing is it to know if you got a parallel card from Donruss? They don't distinguish it anymore, and I'm not going to compare text spacing of 2 different cards to see if I got a parallel/variation/SP or whatever. I don't really count a variation as a different card unless it is something like a nickname that is on the front, like they did on the set a few years ago, or a different photo. If I get any more Donruss packs, I'll probably have like 50 variations that I just toss in my dupes box.  It's Donruss's fault and the flippers loss.

I went back a few days later, and totally forgot to take pictures, but I got a pack each of 2019 and 2020 Heritage Minors, pulling 3 Rays, and a jersey card out of them. Not too shabby. I also dug through that box I forgot about on the first trip, and got some rookies like Asa Lacy, Robert Hassell, and Yoelqui Cespedes. They had already sold out of 2021 Donruss, but I'm hoping to maybe get lucky at Target. 

Speaking of Target, I assume Heritage and Opening Day should be hitting their shelves for 2.1 seconds pretty soon, and I've noticed that the Heritage checklist is already out, and I have to say that I am disappointed with Topps. Randy Arozarena was good enough during the last month of the regular season to deserve a base card in Topps and Heritage, but somehow, he isn't in Series 1, and he is strangely in Heritage on a Playoff Highlights card and an insert, but nowhere in the regular set. With all of the postseason heroics, he surely deserved to be in Series 1, and get a base card in Heritage. How is he not in those sets? He somehow got into both 2020 Update and the Holiday set, so you can't tell me it's an issue of not being able to add him to the checklist in time. He is in the regular set of 2021 Donruss and 2021 Topps Opening Day, so unless it has something to do with the incident he had with his father-in-law and kid, I don't get it. I guess just Topps screwing Rays fans over again and moving on to the newest, hottest rookie. 

Yesterday I did some much needed yardwork outside and was able to (mostly) weed all of the flower beds around our house, plant some seeds, trim back a huge bush that has been growing into our back porch, and transplant some plants I started in this cool thing my wife got. I really wanted to take pictures, but might wait until I mow the lawn next time. 
The thing my wife got is pretty small, but it allows you to grow some seeds in the house, and it give 12 hours of UV light, and I got some marigolds started in it, and took them out and am now trying sunflowers. Last year, I had a few sunflowers started, and I think some darn squirrels got them. I'm thinking about buying some spray that gives them a bad taste to thwart the suirrels off and I hope that works. 
I did take some pictures of some stuff happening in the front yard. One of the aloes that my stepdad gave me a few years ago is blooming,and I think like last year it is still parched even though I have been pretty good about watering it. Next to it kind of cut out of the photo is one of my pineapple plants. I think that one has a good 2-3 years before it blossoms. 
Over to the left of the aloe, there is a mini rose bush that I got Karen a few years ago, and I recently pruned it, and it surprised me and gave me a flower even with all of this heat. Kind of gave me a little hope with all of the crap that's happened lately. 
One thing that has kind of just told me to keep going even though sometimes I don't want to was a memory from 2001. I had just graduated high school and had just started going to college at the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama in August of 2001. The photo below is an overhead view of part of the campus. Towards the top left, you can see houses. I lived in one of them, outside of the view of the picture. The big, gray building in the bottom middle is our cafeteria. Every day, I would walk from my dorm house after class and get dinner. Many times on those walks, I would just look to the sky and kind of think to myself  'anything can happen today', and it would kind of make me think that something good was going to happen and to keep my head up even though I was 8 hours away from home and didn't really know too many people. When we got the news last Friday, I kind of asked God if there was any hope and to give me something to keep me going, and He reminded me of those times in college walking to and from the Cafe when I would look to the sky and how far I've come since then. I'm not saying things don't suck and I haven't questioned a lot of things, but perhaps we will never get pregnant again, but I guess there will still be some good in my life, I just have to muddle through the crap from a while. Kind of like the way I think the Rays season is going to go for the next 5-10 years. 
A few lucky readers have some PWE's coming their way, and I have some bigger trades either on their way or kind of sitting in a box getting more and more cards the more binders I go through. I hope to do a big mailing in a few months after getting my loose cards put away, perhaps after going to a show. I expect my mailbox will be happy over the next month as well, as I've been making a ton of customs for Brainiac Baseball Breaks. He has been paying me in baseball cards, so I can't wait to see what Rays he ends up sending. I have a few trades that I'll be getting stuff back from as well, and I think one of the things I'm really excited to see is an envelope from Arizona. Something told me to look on SCN the other day just to see who's been signing autographs lately. Lo and behold, one of my favorite players, Leo Daigle, ended up signing some cards for someone. He only has mainstream cards in the 2007 Bowman, Bowman Chrome, and Bowman Heritage sets. I was looking him up on google to see how long he ended up playing, and he happened to have a Facebook page, as he has gone into real estate. I decided to message him and ask if it were ok to send him some cards to sign. Surprisingly, he messaged me back very quickly and said that was fine and hoped me and my family were doing well. I can't wait to get those cards back, and if you know anyone near Chandler Arizona who is looking for a house, send them Leo's way. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

2021 Topps Blaster

 I was hoping not to have to write a post like this, but unfortunately for us, we had the ultrasound yesterday, and they didn’t see growth or find a heartbeat. We are kind of down, upset, angry, and all sorts of things in between. I don't know if we will try again or not, but I think we'll at least look at the adoption route if we aren't able to have one naturally. 

It was kind of a sad trip home, but we went out to eat to try to take our minds off of it, and ended up running to Target as well. I was hoping to find some 2021 Donruss, but they didn't have any. They did have some packs of 2021 Topps, and I ended up getting a blaster. 

I got a few nice ones, but mainly a good representation of the set and the inserts. I still haven't pulled a Gold parallel or a HR Challenge card yet. 
I didn't know Night Owl was being serious when he said that there was another Cody Bellinger insert set, but I guess he was, as I pulled 2, as well as his '52 insert. This turned out to be a Bellinger hot blaster. 
That about rounds out the NL cards. Nothing too special here. 

I've never been a huge Trout guy. Always thought he got a ton of publicity when Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown and also got the MVP. Cabrera deserved that MVP, and although Trout is a good player, I get sick of hearing about him every 5 seconds on MLB Network. Even though I'm not a Trout guy, I usually end up upulling something of his every year. Not a jersey or autograph or anything, but usually I end up pulling him on the yearly Topps reprint insert or some kind of numbered parallel. I pulled his '52 insert this year. 
That's the rest of the AL. 
The highlights for me were the Rays and Tigers mainly. I don't know what I'll do with that Topps History card. Probably put it in my checklist/random card binder. I pulled another Casey Mize (War Eagle!), which will probably go into the Tigers binder. Among the rookies, were a Jo Adell '52 insert a Sixto Sanchez, and a Jesus Sanchez. Jesus was a Ray, and then was traded to the Marlins for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards. I am kind of torn with him. I want him to do well since I have some of his earlier cards, but I don't really want the Marlins to get the better end of the trade. The Bellinger is a rainbow parallel, and the 70th Anniversary medallion is of Ernie Banks. Any of these cards are up for trade if you want them, and Night Owl has first dibs on the Bellingers. 
Now that the future is a bit more open, I'll probably still be working on putting my loose cards in binders, but also allow for some other projects to creep in. One of these off days, I really want to finish weeding some of the plant beds around our house. I am also working on doing some 1981 Topps customs for Braniac Baseball's simulations. Customs are kind of on the back burner now as far as the 1998 set, but I'm sure I'll get to doing those at some point. 

Hopefully 2021 Donruss and 2021 Heritage will be on the shelves by the end of the month and everyone will be able to get their hands on some. I'm really wanting to get some of the World Series cards in Heritage featuring the Rays. It might be my only hope for some Randy Arozarena World Series/ALCS/ALDS cards. If you land any and don't want them, please send them my way.

Lastly, I put in my vacation request 3 days ago, and I think it will get approved. My wife still has 2 weeks from last year that she was unable to take, and she will get to use that and have more time later this year. I just have the 2 weeks, but I'm up for a vacation. No ballparks that we will be going by will be open, but I'm still looking forward to some days off where I don't have to be up at 3:45AM or have a schedule. Our plan is to drive to North Carolina and spend 1-2 days there and see some of my wife's family, then drive to Columbus, Ohio. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been watching a show that goes behind the scenes of the Columbus Zoo, and decided that we wanted to go check out the zoo and see some of the animals we've seen on the show. That will probably take another day. Lastly, we will drive back to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and see some of my family. We're hoping to see a zoo or two up there, maybe go to Lake Michigan, visit a card show, and maybe pick some peaches. It will be a nice to get some time away from everything and have a little bit of fun. 

Thanks again for all of the kind words over the past 3 weeks.

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

25 years of Topps Chrome

25 years ago in 1996, I was 13, and in the 7th grade. I was home-schooled, didn't subscribe to Beckett or have access to a hobby store, so my best way to really find out about new card sets coming out on the market was to see them after buying packs at Wal-Mart, Kay-Bee Toy store, or some other retail outlet. I had purchased packs of 1996 Topps, Collector's Choice, Score, and Upper Deck, but other than that, my taste of hobby-only or more premium products were limited. I think Fleer had some packs at Wal-Mart, but they weren't my thing, as I usually stuck with Topps or Upper Deck. At some point in 1996, I purchased a Beckett, and learned about one of the newest products out there, a premium product called Topps Chrome, which utilized the Topps Finest Technology, and applied it to some of the cards in the 1996 Topps set. I was intrigued, but I wasn't able to get a pack since I don't believe I ever saw any at Wal-Mart, and at probably 3 bucks a pack for a 4-card pack, my Mom would've flipped. Plus, I would've rather spent the 1 to 1.50 to buy a s 15 card packs of Topps or Upper Deck. 

The pictures I saw of the set were enough to make me wonder what the cards looked like in hand. I never dreamed of owning a base card, let alone a Refractor. It wouldn't be until 6 years later at Christmas in 2002 when I would own any cards from the set, as either my parents or one of my sisters found a few 500 count boxes of cards at a garage sale which had some nice star cards, including some from the 1996 Topps Chrome set. It would be probably be 13 years until I owned a Refractor, probably from one of my first purchases from COMC. 

What I have found appaling is that neither in 2020 Topps Chrome or 2021 Topps Chrome is there a mention of the sets 25 year anniversary. They sure did put enough 1985 and 1986 Topps cards in the '20 and '21 sets, though with their 35 year anniversaries. But why not pay homage to the set which started it all in 1996? They did so in the 2011 set. If not for 1996 Topps Chrome, noboby today would be able to pull an autographed Mojo Super Wave SSSP Mega Fractor of the newest Yankees middle infield prospect who made their debut last year. It would be a nice tribute to the original set, plus I think people would enjoy seeing some of the new guys on an older design. At least if Topps can't bring back the '96 Chrome design, maybe bring back the '96 Topps Laser set for its anniversary.

When the '96 Topps Chrome set debuted in 1996, it was a lot different than it is now. While Topps picks and chooses the cards to get Chromed up now, the old set only had 165 cards out of the 440 cards in the main Topps set. The majority of the cards weren't really rookies, but a handful of rookies (Draft Picks, Future Stars, and Now Appearing Subsets) and star players. They didn't even give the Top Prospects subset the Chrome treatment. Can you imagine how much the Andruw Jones/Vlad Guerrero card would've went for? The only parallel was the (one) Refractor set. 2021 has (gulp) TWENTY. There were 2 insert sets. No autographs. No game-used cards. No box toppers or redemption cards. But although the set wasn't well recieved in 1996 according to BaseballCardPedia, it did well enough to stick around and become what it is today. 

I figured I would show off some of my favorite Topps Chrome cards to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of this iconic set. 

Starting off is a Manny Ramirez base card. Probably the first one I owned. It, as well as the other base cards shown here, came from one of those boxes I got for Christmas. 
Next are 2 Star Power subset cards, a Cal Ripken, Jr., and an Albert Belle. 
The next 2 are both of Kenny Lofton, one a base, and one a Refractor. I owned 3 versions of this card (base Topps, the Indians team set version, the Chrome version), so I figured I would get the Refractor to finish it off. 
The Brooks Kieschnick is a newer card. I hadn't seen a 1996 Chrome card of the Now Appearing subset, and since Brooks is a favorite player, I figured I would get a Refractor.
The Karim Garcia Future Star card has a fun story to it. In 2004, I believe, I had went to Winter Haven during Spring Training to try to get autographs from the Indians. Karim was with the team, and I had always liked him, so I really wanted to get his autograph. I brought the Topps Chrome card along, dreaming of how lucky I would be to get a high end Chrome card of one of my favorite players signed. Sometime during batting practice, Karim came near the RF stands and started signing. I was lucky enough to hand the card to Karim and have him sign it for me. I mentioned to him how he should have a fan club, and he said he would be down for it. The fan club never happened, but I like to consider my self the un-official president. 
The last card is a Refractor that I sent to another favorite player, Todd Greene. Todd sent it back signed, and it is the only 1996 Topps Chrome Refractor that I have autographed.
I hope you enjoyed my favorite '96 Topps Chrome cards. 

Just one more day of working, and then the ultrasound on Friday. The week has went by quicker than I thought, and I'm just trying to stay positive and think happy thoughts and picturing the good happening and how happy we are going to be when the doctor gives us good news. Thanks to everyone who has sent kind words via comments or e-mail. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Long roller coaster

 This week for me has been kind of like a long roller coaster ride. I had mentioned in my last post that something really great might happen in my life and I would find out more on the 2nd, but yesterday kind of started on a high but ended on a cautious low. 
Jon of A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts commented on that post that he thought it might be a new baby, and well, he was right. Around a month ago, my wife Karen took a pregnancy test and it was positive. We already have a 4-year old son, and it has just been such a hard thing with all of my wife’s issues with the excess cerebral spinal fluid/shunts/blood clot issues that we honestly didn’t think we were going to be able to have another one. Kyler is truly an unexpected blessing, and we were so happy when we had him 4 years ago, that although we were trying like crazy to get him a sibling, that we were almost at the point of giving up hope. 
Well, we had an ultrasound yesterday, and it did confirm that there was a baby there. However, for the time frame that they calculated that she had been pregnant, the doctor thought that it was undersized and that the heartbeat was weak, and feared that we might miscarry. They also said that they could’ve just got the timing wrong, so they want us to come back for another ultrasound on Friday the 12th so they can measure it again and check the heartbeat again. This should give us a better clue as to if they just got the time of conception wrong and if everything is good or if we indeed have something to worry about. 
There have been a bunch of emotions since then. I will have that Friday off and I’m going to go to the appointment, but it is going to be a huge gamble. It could be one of the greatest days of my life and everything could be fine, but if the doctors worst fears are confirmed, it could turn out to be a really bad day. I know I need to be there for Karen no matter what, and that I wouldn’t be able to function 100% at work if I wasn’t off. 
This is going to be one of the longest weeks of my life. I do know that no matter what happens that we were truly blessed and lucky to have Kyler. We really didn’t think Karen would get pregnant the first time. I was nervous about being a dad the first time, but this time, it just feels right and I haven’t looked forward to something like this in a long, long time. I feel like being a dad is part of what I was made to do in my life. I think I’m ready for whatever happens. If it’s good news, I’m going to be so excited and start preparing for all of the fun baby stuff again. If not, I just know that something good is going to come of it, and although it is going to be sad and devastating, that I have been lucky. I know people who have lost a child at the age of 5, people who have lost it while giving birth, and if this child isn’t meant to be with us that at least we weren’t too attached to it. This may sound cold, and don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty attached. We have pictures from the ultrasound that will be a lasting memory no matter what. I guess I’m saying that it could be worse. If the worst does happen, I just want to use it to help others who are going to be in a similar situation. That is the only was that good will come out of it. 
I’ve been working on the binders through all of this, and besides the special ones (Rays, Tigers, Favorite Players, highlights, rookies/sunsets, game-used/shiny/numbered cards), I just have the White Sox, Indians, Royals, Angels, Twins, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, and Blue Jays left to organize. I’ve already cleared out 1 monster 5000 count box of cards, and am almost halfway through the other one. I’ll probably store all of my Yankees and doubles in them once they are cleared. Today I finished the Giants binders and watched some MLB Network. Was hoping to catch a spring training game, but nothing today or yesterday. Maybe the next off day I have or after work in the near future. Sorry no card photos in this post. I’ll probably post some next time, but I will leave you with this photo. 
Thanks for checking out my latest post.