Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Wax Box

A few weeks ago, I came across a blog post that presented a brilliant idea: Buy packs, and don’t open them. Yep, that’s right. It sounds difficult I know, but it’s actually been one of the best decisions of my collecting career.

(I can’t recall whose blog it was, but if this sounds like your idea: A. Thank you and B. Please drop a comment and take credit!)

So it works like this: If I’m at Target or Walmart shopping for items aside from cards, I hit the card aisle and grab some packs. I approach it with two simple guidelines: Look for bargains, and buy in bulk. If anything decent is discounted, I grab that. If I’m at Target, I usually grab a box of packs from the Fairfield Company, which is basically the only way to “buy in bulk” without using the internet. Here's an example:

When I get home, I take my packs and throw them in a designated box- my Wax Box! My goal is to build up a nice collection of packs, so when I get the urge to rip some retail, I have a variety of packs available to me. If I buy a bunch of packs, I may open one or two immediately and throw the rest in the box.

Above is my accumulation thus far and I hope it continues to grow. Not only is this type of collecting tons of fun, but it eliminates the impulse to run out and buy packs. If I want to open packs, I've got them. It takes a good deal of self control to avoid shredding them all at once, but it really does pay off! 

Now this isn't to say that I don't still run out and buy new products, because I absolutely do. It seems like yesterday that I was eagerly making my way out grab some 2014 Bowman.

I'd love to hear some feedback. Aside from the mystery blogger who prompted me- Anyone else do this? If not, would you consider trying it?

Thanks for reaading!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

He Was a Pirate? Part 1 - Doug Mientkiewicz

I’m excited to introduce a new segment to the blog!

The inspiration here is quite simple. As a Pirates fan growing up in New York it was rare that I would come across anyone who shared my love for the black and gold. The Pirates, like all MLB teams, experience a multitude of transactions throughout the year. Existing in a small market magnified this even more. The Pirates were constantly signing players to one year, minimum contract deals.

With that said, my Yankee-supporting counterparts were never aware of the frequent changes occurring a few hundred miles west. Oftentimes during friendly baseball-themed conversation, the question “He was a Pirate?” would arise. I’ve decided to honor this ever-occuring inquiry on my blog.

The posts, which will be titled just as this one is, will be sequentially numbered- each post featuring one former Pirate whom-in my opinion- had an “under the radar” stint in the Steel City. Some will be stars, some will be Joe-Schmo’s, and so on. I will, of course, have at least one card from my PC to represent each player.

In a perfect world I would post weekly, but my schedule simply doesn’t allow for such consistency.  I’ve got a ton of guys/cards in mind, so keep an eye out for them!

This week’s “He was a Pirate?"

 2009 Topps Series 1 #328

Doug Mientkiewicz! Come on, you remember Doug! Yes, the guy that finished 14th in MVP voting in 2001! Yeah, him!

Number of seasons with the Pirates: 1

Career stats with the Pirates:

His legacy: I'll always remember Doug as a contact hitting first baseman with a slick glove. I always enjoyed watching him get some playing time, which was limited behind the legendary Adam LaRoache (foreshadowing?). Even as a back-up, Doug managed to find himself well over 200 at bats. He did well as a back up- a role in which he had become familiar in the twilight of his career. 

Unlike the prototypical first baseman, Mientkiewicz was by no means a power hitter. His career high in homers was a meager 15, and he only made it to double digit homers four times. Even with absent power, he was able to make an impact by driving in runs and slapping singles. I remember him best as the first basemen for the Twins in the early 2000's, but also as a defensive replacement with other clubs- most notably the Boston Red Sox in 2004. That's when he received the final put out of the World Series and broke the Curse of the Bambino. The moment was captured in a series of images such as the one below.

The moments after this became incredibly controversial, when Mientkiewicz ended up hanging onto the game ball. The saga of the ball is catalogued nicely in this ESPN article.

In summary, I remember Doug Mientkiewicz just like everyone else: As a member of every team but the Pirates.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Retail Review: 2013-14 Panini Titanium Box

When I heard about this product, I must admit that it intrigued me. I love to collect basketball cards, but I rarely buy retail. My retail budget is usually allotted for baseball. However, the guarantee of two rookie relics is a very compelling sell. When I stumbled across this box at Target over the weekend, I couldn't resist.

One problem that I have with this product is the lack of cards. If I'm paying 20 bucks, I'd like some base cards- Even if it gets me two relics. Above is the wimpy 5-card pack. On to the cards:

Here are the first two base cards. I like the design, particularly the fact the player's name dominates the text-portion of the card. Panini has a habit of enlarging their own logos and diminishing the players name....

As such. I really dislike when Panini does this. Next card:

I know very little about this man. The back of the card says he's 7'0 and went to Kansas, which can be said for what seems like a dozen NBA players. He was a second rounder, so I've got to assume he's over in Lithuania or some other Euro league by now. This card happens to be numbered 001/149, which means its AN EBAY 1/1!!!! This should fetch me millions!

I was excited to see some orange and blue in the pack, knowing it probably THJ. As a New Yorker, I'm subjected to constant coverage and meaningless banter regarding the Knickerbockers. Couple that with the fact that Knicks fans are terribly obnoxious, and you've got a recipe for maximum annoyance. 

So yeah, I'm not a huge Knicks fan. With that said, Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of the very few Knicks I can tolerate. If there's a young player that can ignite some hustle and head the Knicks in a direction where it's not just all about Melo, it might be this guy. I wish him the best. I'll be stashing this away with my PC cards.

Lastly, my second memorabilia card. I remember when Antetokounmpo was drafted, and the Bucks took some serious criticism for the pick. The "Greek Freak" as he is sometimes called was considered to be incredibly raw but equally athletic.

He's beginning to quiet the critics. Giannis had a very impressive rookie year, putting up solid numbers for the NBA's worst team. He's young, talented, and from what I've heard, a fan favorite. For these reasons, his cards have become pretty desirable among NBA collectors. It's numbered to only 85 which gives it a very limited print run, so there's a good chance I'll try to use it to refund my purchase. 

My Review? I'd say that this a a fun product. You're only getting 5 cards which is a bummer, but at least two of them are relics. The relics are all numbered, which is a huge plus for me. It was also great to pull a base card that was numbered. 

The guarantee of two memorabilia cards is an exciting concept. especially for only $20. There is also a hobby version of Titanum, which I know stirred some controversy from collectors who fear that this type of retail product undermines LCS's and hobbyists. I can't argue with that.

Basketball card fans: If you've got an extra $20, there are worse ways to spend it.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hot Corner Sends a Killer Cole

Way back in September, I formed a nice trading relationship with Pat from Hot Corner Cards. Pat's a huge Tigers fan, and is definitely my go-to guy with my extra Tigers cardboard. I sent him a nice Justin Verlander Relic a few months ago as well as some set needs, if my memory serves me correctly. 

Not only did Pat send me some awesome cards, he also packaged them in the most clever way I've never seen. Pat cut out one horizontal row of a binder page and loaded each of the three slots with three cards. He wrapped the plastic in one piece of blank paper and slipped it in a PWE. It was a perfect fit. 
This a secure way to send cards, and it's also affordable- two stamps will cover it. I'm definitely stealing this method! 

Now for the cardboard:

The Wilson brothers! Not literally brothers, but it seemed like they could have been as they were both fixtures in the Pirates line-up for a five year period. Neither achieved any overwhelming success, aside from Jack who had a career year in 2004. That year, he hit .308 and had over 200 hits, earning him All-Star recognition and a Silver Slugger award. Craig, a supposed power guy, was more a less a bust. He only broke the 20 HR mark once in his short 6 year career.

Here's a nice reminder that Aramis Ramirez was in fact a Pirate at one time. He held down the left side of the infield with Jack Wilson in the early 2000's, having one of the best years of his career in 2001. He and Jose Bautista form a short list of 3B's that the Buccos wish they could have held onto. Pedro Alvarez will likely join that list soon to a large contract with a larger market team.

Next up are nice retail-only black parallels from this year's Heritage, which we're all familiar with at this point. I've written before about how much I love black Pirates parallels. These are no exception. And neither is this....

As the title alludes to, I personally feel that this Gerrit Cole card is killer. Not only do I love black borders, but I also love refractors. Mix in the fact that this card is short printed /65 and you've got the recipe for a perfect card. This is a (literal) shining example of what beautiful cardboard looks like!

Pat, thanks so much for the cards. They've found the perfect home!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Four 2014 Bowman Baseball Hobby Packs, With a Hit!

After seeing some blog posts about 2014 Bowman, I definitely needed to get my hands on some packs. I considered a blaster, but opted to hit my LCS. For $17 and change, I was able to secure myself 40 cards with a reasonable chance some at parallels or a hit. That's a way better deal than a blaster, plus I'm supporting my LCS. Hell yeah.

 The design is pretty sharp. I'm a big fan. I like the design much more than Topps Series 1- I'll never get over that weird border thingy hanging around on the right hand side of those cards.

Here are the highlights:

I'll start with two base cards that stood out to me, for different reasons. The Rendon card hit struck me immediately because I've seen that picture a thousand freaking times. I'm pretty sure it's the only picture of him that Topps owns. As for the Morales card, I found it funny because he's currently unemployed. It's not often that you open a brand new product and find a guy in an outdated jersey.

I was lucky enough hit a Tanaka rookie, one of the more sought after cards thus far in 2014. I was thinking about selling it, but I was able to get some good return from a different card (read on for more), so I think I'm going to hang onto this bad boy. The Lambo card is the only Pirate that I pulled. I've already been showered in Lambo RC's from Topps flagship, but I like this one better. Hopefully this guy can prove to be an effective major leaguer some day soon.

My two parallels, both from the "hometown flags" parallel line. The Castellanos RC was a nice little hit. From what I understand this guy is projected to have a solid career.

Lastly, I beat the odds and hit the one auto in the box. It's actually the first time I've ever hit an auto from an LCS hobby pack. This is a actually a bit of surprise considering how many dozens of packs I've bought- so it was nice to finally get a big hit!

I had never heard of Jesse Winker, so I did some quick research. He's a very young prospect in the Reds system, projected by most prospecting sites as the 4th or 5th best prospect in the Reds' system. This guy won't see be seeing the bigs for several years, if he pans out- the story of every prospect. Chances are, like 95% of prospects, this guy will never make a name for himself. 

Based on that, this card went straight to eBay and served as a perfect refund for my original purchase. It rarely works out like this, so I'm feeling pretty fortunate. If this guy ever hits it huge and becomes the next Mike Trout, please feel to come back to this post a berate me. I deserve it. 

Thanks for reading!