Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ebay Loot for Under $20 (Part 1)

Total Cost of Cards: $19.69 (Free shipping)
Total Number of Cards:  59
Date Purchased: 01/26/10
Date Received: 01/30/10

Every once in awhile my favorite Ebay seller puts up a bunch of lots priced at around a buck each.  Even better, they are usually either serial numbered or shiny and from around the years 1994-2002.  Those are almost exactly the years I had stopped collecting, so the seller kinda feels like a pal who fills in the basic gaps in my collection.

Cost: $1.00
Details:  1998 Topps Finest Refractors.

I know very little about most of the sets from this era (which is part of the fun).

This set has four different versions of the same cards:  Finest, Finest No-Protectors, Finest Refractors, and Finest No-Protectors Refractors.

Honestly all the variations look identical to me on Ebay except for the protector thingy.  I read they look different in person though. 

My cards do have a very small letter R on the back (next to the card number) which, from what I could learn, indicates they are indeed refractors.  That's good because otherwise I'd just have to assume they're refractors.

Cost:  $1.00
Details:  1998 Topps Finest Refractors.

This lot isn't nearly as good player wise.  Am I collecting commons?  NO!  I'm collecting less common commons!

Chan Ho Park wins the prize for being the only active player out of the twelve total '98 Finest cards.

I'd like to open a box of this stuff just to get an up close look at the variations.  It's about $30-40 bucks now.  Looks like you get about 3-4 of these refractors (with protectors) per box.

(Digital Camera Pic)

(Scanner Pic - Click pics to enlarge)

Cost: $1.00
Details:  1999 Topps Gold Label Class 2.

There's Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3.  Class 2 was inserted one in every two HTA packs.  Hmmm, that seems pretty common.  Nice looking cards though.  They look great even on the scanner.  Thick too.  In person they don't shine much unless you turn them at a very particular angle (which I do, over  and over).

Cost:  $1.10
Details:  2002 Topps Super Teams Retrofractors.  These cards are serial numbered based on the year the team won the featured World Series (Furillo: 1955, Mueller: 1954, Law: 1960).

The serial numbered version of these seem a nice thing for team collectors to chase.  You basically get the World Series roster.  Cool idea. 

Ten teams are represented in the 146 card set: Giants, Dodgers, Braves, Pirates, Yankees, Cardinals, Mets, A's, Orioles, and Mets.  That's right.  The Mets are in this set twice.  Once for the 1969 World Series and once for 1986.

Cost:  $1.18
Details:  2000 Topps Finest

The giant shiny baseball that looks like a planet sucked me in.

Cost:  $1.20
Details:  1999 Fleer Mystique (SN to 2999)

I'm finally starting to appreciate Torri Hunter's career.  Nine straight gold gloves and 20 or more home runs eight times is pretty dang impressive.  

Cost:  $1.20
Details:  1996 SPx

The left card is the gold version.  I don't see it priced so nice very often.  The gold version cards from this set were inserted one in every seven hobby packs.  There's only 60 cards in the set though.

When these were released the packs went for $3.49 each.  You only get one card per pack too.  I guess people were chasing the chance of a Griffey or Piazza auto (1 in 2000 packs).

These days you can buy a box for around $35 on Ebay.

Well, I am only about halfway done but this post is long enough so I'll put up part two later.  One thing about this seller is I always feel like I get a lot for my money.  He even gives out cool free cards, which I'll show next post.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Trade with 'A Cardboard Problem'!

I sent Sooz (A Cardboard Problem) some Yankees cards/jerseys she needed and she sent me back some Orioles cards and cool jerseys I needed (want is need).

Warren Spahn game used!  Look at that gray jersey.  Is that wool?  Looks warm.  This is my first Spahn jersey.  You don't see many different Spahn jersey cards around.  Hard to get and I love it.

Ah, Hanley.  One of my favorite current players.  A pinstripe and numbered to 50.  Very cool looking card.  

It is nice that Hanley is able to produce in the heart of the order.  I was worried he was going to be like Soriano who whined and failed whenever he didn't lead off.

In 2009, Hanley finished second in the MVP voting and won his first batting title.  He is going to have a difficult time winning an MVP award until Pujols hits age 35 or so.

The 2005 trade that sent Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez from the Red Sox to the Marlins in exchange for Beckett, Lowell, and Mota is one of the biggest trades of the decade, in retrospect.

I have always liked these Bazooka game used cards.  I have a Canseco and Teixeira of these too, I think.

Miggy is back on the Orioles!  I am happy.  Incidentally, Miggy spells his nickname Miggi.  Here's a pic of his batting gloves (no I don't own them):

But the vast majority of Orioles' fans spell it Miggy.  Some have even complained spelling it Miggi looks too feminine.  So we have the strange case of fans spelling a nickname differently than the player spells it.  I wonder if that has ever happened before.  There is even a three page debate on this over at the Orioles Hangout.

Sooz also sent along a nice batch of Markakis cards I needed.  My Markakis collection is embarrassingly light.  These certainly help.

Adam Jones is another favorite player I have woefully underrepresented in my collection.  That Topps 206 card is in fact the first 206 card I've ever seen in person.  I gotta get out more, or sit by my mailbox.

Thanks, Sooz.  A wonderful trade!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Trade with Carl Crawford Cards (My First Trade)

I received some super jersey cards from CCC (Carl Crawford Cards) a few days ago.  I sent over some Carl Crawfords he needed and he sent me some Orioles cards.

I got quite a bit compared to what I gave, so part of the deal is CCC is also due some CTBNL (Crawfords To Be Named Later).

This is my first quad jersey card and it's a beauty!  Old guard Mora and new era Markakis.  Two Orioles plus another player I have collected for years (Cabrera).

Now that Cabrera is pursuing ongoing treatment for his drinking problem, it will be a big story watching a sober (hopefully) Cabrera in 2010.  This guy has been one of the best hitters in baseball.  What can he do with a clear head?  In an era that was all about performance enhancing drugs, we have Cabrera drinking and eating like a madman.  I'll be cheering even louder for Cabrera in 2010.


I've wanted this card from the first day I saw it online.  Markakis is Mr. Cool in this pic.

Markakis had a disappointing 2009.  He still managed a .293 ba, with 18 hr, 45 doubles and 101 rbi.  The major dip came from getting less walks (2008:  99 bb, 2009:  56 bb).  He will be back.  He's a fantastic player.

I really like the old-school feel of the picture in the background.

Gotta love Roberts.  Any team would be lucky to have him at second base (56 doubles, 16 hr, 30 sb).  I sometimes feel sorry for Roberts.  He has been a loyal Bird.  He has waited and waited for things to turn around.  We are now on the cusp of flipping the switch.  I just hope the good days start while Roberts is still a strong player.  He deserves it.

I have very few Reimold cards and no jerseys until now.

Reimold will be exciting to watch in 2010.  A full season.  MLB Network was doing over/under predictions for 2010.  They predicted both Reimold and Weiters would hit over 20 home runs.  I think that's a safe bet (especially Reimold).  Throw in Markakis and Adam Jones and we are looking at four 20 home run players.  Adrian Gonzalez would have been a perfect bat in the middle of that power.

CCC included this wonderful quad swatch even though it wasn't part of the deal!

So it was a banner day for my Orioles collection.  Thank you CCC for making my first trade so enjoyable.  The hunt for CTBNL has already begun!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

1995 Pacific Prism Box Break (A Strange Ebay Experience)

1995 Pacific Prism Series 1 Box
36 packs, 1 card per pack
Cost:  $17.00 (includes shipping, purchased through Ebay)

I only have a few Prism cards from 1995.  I have no idea how I came to own them.  Player lots probably.  Every time I see one of them in my binders I wish I had more.  Inevitably I search Ebay only to be reminded  the singles sell for 1-8 dollars.  I have been hesitant to purchase any at those prices.

So when I finally saw a reasonably priced box of Prism on Ebay ($17.00), I thought "Ah ha!  I'll go right to the source!"

But this story has twists and turns.

After I paid I patiently stared at my front door, waiting.  One week.  Two weeks.  I decided I better politely contact the seller to make sure the box had shipped.  My email was ignored.

After three weeks passed I was pretty frustrated.  I wrote the seller again and explained I was going to file a claim and leave negative feedback.

The seller immediately replied this time around.  He said there had been an accident in the family.  Due to the stress he had forgotten to ship the boxes.  I accepted his reason.  I even offered to just take a refund and forget the transaction happened.  Oddly, he declined, saying instead he would ship my box plus a free one for my troubles.

I waited another week.  The seller lives on the same coast as I do so it isn't a haul.

Finally, after more than a month in total had passed, I wrote again saying I couldn't continue to deal with this forever.  I asked for a refund, this time more forcefully.  I gave a deadline, stating I would be leaving negative feedback.

The seller apologized and said he did mail the boxes.  I quietly doubted it.

He asked me to give him one more chance.  Now he was offering not one, not two, but three free boxes along with the one I had purchased.

A big part of me felt I was being strung along.  He assured me he would send them quickly and that they'd be at my home within 2-3 days.  I reluctantly agreed, assuming I was being a fool for trusting him again.

Much to my surprise, the boxes arrived soon thereafter.  Tada!  My trust and patience paid off (for once).  Four boxes for the price of one.  Sure, I had to wait over a month, but my cost was reduced from $17 a box to $4.25.  It was a bizarre interaction that ended happily, I think (more on that later).

144 total cards.  Holy colorful!  As much as I like these cards, one card per pack is downright silly.  Not quite as silly as a grown man lining up 144 cards on a living room floor, but silly nonetheless.

The set has 144 cards as well.  I got numerous doubles though, so I didn't come all that close to completing it.

I love the way these cards reflect light.  I get hypnotized.

Frankly, after opening all these packs I find I have more questions than answers.  The set puzzles me.  It came out during a time frame that I had stopped collecting, so I have no memories of it at all.  Looking into its history, I found hardly any information.  I couldn't even track down one review or article. 

For example, the box reads 'Series 1' but there is no 'Series 2' as far as I can tell.  Plus, my cards range from 1-144, pretty much.  Beckett does not indicate a Series 1 or 2.  I have never seen a second series box on Ebay.

I wonder if Pacific had intended to release a second series but for whatever reason it never came to pass.  Or was 'Series 2' football?

What happened?  Was the product too expensive?  Was it unpopular?  Did the one card per pack concept anger collectors?  It's a mystery to me.

I'll ponder while we look at more cards.

Rickey looks like he is just about to do one of his famous snatch catches that drove so many crazy (scanner shot).

Each pack also has a team logo card.  Presumably this was included to help protect the Prism card.  It's too bad the background of each is the same generic stadium.

Cal is one of the most valuable cards in the set.  There are no notable rookies.

The backs look almost like a second front.  

Ah, Trammell and Whitaker.  By 1990 or so these guys were pretty much known as the best SS/2nd Base combo ever (offense/defense).  It was taken as common knowledge that they were Hall of Fame locks.  How time forgets.

Back to the set:  Pacific produced 2999 cases of this product.  At 20 boxes per case that comes to just 720 cards in an entire case.  So if my math is correct, there should be about 14,995 of each card out there.  That assumes these were sold only in box form (not as complete sets).

Yet there are very few of these cards on Ebay.  Only about 30-40 at a time.

As far as boxes go, there's usually just one or two sellers offering them.

I've never seen a full set for sale.

So where is this product being hidden?

We know stuff considered junk is all over Ebay.  If these cards aren't being collected shouldn't there be a lot of them for sale at cheap prices?  If they are being collected, shouldn't the giant-Ebay-monster have hundreds of singles up for sale in the $1-8 range?


I hope the answer is that collectors appreciate these cards and have them safely tucked away in their homes.

I like the looks of them so much that I am even going to put the semi-stars (not shown) in my star books.  That's right!

15 years after their release, are these cards loved or forgotten?

How do you feel about them?

Oh and there's one more thing that has me confused.

Was I supposed to get Gold Prism cards in these boxes too or were they included in a different Pacific product (Pacific Crown boxes maybe)? 

Beckett doesn't specifically mention these are to be included in my packs.  It simply states they will appear in 1:12 packs on average; doesn't say which boxes they come from.

But they are the only other Prism cards listed besides the ones from my boxes (for 1995).

I didn't get any of these gold cards.  Were my boxes searched?  If so, that would add another strange layer to the peculiar Ebay experience involving a curious set.

One thing we do know, I am not the Sherlock Holmes of collecting, but I do likes me some cards!

Monday, January 18, 2010

2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition Hobby Box Break

2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition Hobby Box
14 packs per box, 8 cards per pack
2 Autos per box on average
Cost:  $19.95 (Blowout Cards)

There are a handful of $20 boxes that feel well worth the cost.  I've busted a few of the 2007 SP Rookie Edition boxes over the past year or so and it definitely falls into this category.

The set has 284 cards.  100 of which are regular base like these.

A very clean, straightforward look that works quite well.

I received 54 of these type of cards.  34 are stars.  15 are semi-stars.  Five are commons. 

So you get four of the regular cards per pack.

The remaining four cards in each pack will be rookie card variations based on the 1993, 1995 and 1996 designs (and a 2007 design to round it out).

With four total variations, every pack literally has the feel of multiple sets.  Here's Gordon, Lind, and Braun.

Pie and Butler.  Pie is still a work in progress.  Billy Butler has arrived.  His 51 doubles, 21 hr, and .301 batting average are just a sign of what will come very soon, I believe.

This pic was taken using a scanner.  The cards look a bit blah.

But this pic was taken with a camera.  Same style cards, different angle.  It shows the true shine nicely.  Reynolds and Pence.

These different rookie versions come from the same pool of players, so you can expect to get a couple Lincecums usually.

Which is about as good as collecting can get.

The set has four different Lincecum cards.  Four different Adam Lind cards.  Four different Ryan Braun cards.  And on and on.  Once in awhile you will get two different versions of the same player in the same pack.

Braun looking wide awake (how unusual).

Pence, Hughes, Butler, Gordon (scanner shot).

How long does Brandon Wood have to prove himself in the minors before he is given 550 at bats with the big club?  Perhaps 2010 will be his chance.

Wood is a streaky hitter and needs to be put somewhere and left alone.  He's an infielder who has averaged 29 home runs a season in the minors (over the last five years).

I wanted him on the Orioles but nothing came of the rumor.

Dice-K.  This guy actually pitched while keeping his shoulder strain a secret from everyone because he didn't want to draw attention.  His 5.76 era was no secret.  Let's hope he rebounds.

A couple different Delmon Young cards.

Young was supposed to be a superstar.  He hit 26 home runs in the minors at age 19 (AA-AAA).

His lifetime .290 ba in the majors is deceptive.  The .738 ops tells the real story.  Young can't get on base.  He had just twelve walks in 416 plate appearances in 2009.  The only thing that marginally saved his season was a wonderful final week with the Twins when it was most needed.

He will only be age 24 throughout the 2010 season, however he is falling into the 4th outfielder role, a far cry from the player many thought would hit .320 with 25 hr and 25 sb for years on end.

Ryan Sweeney auto.  Oh well.  Hey at least it's a guy who is young and playing regularly (.293 ba, 534 plate appearances, .755 ops for the A's).  Good enough for me.

Adam Lind auto.  Sweet.

This card has some damage to it on the top center.  I was able to smooth it down pretty much, but it's definitely not mint.  Bad luck there.

Overall I don't know that there are many better ways to spend 20 bucks.  It will always be a win at this price as far as I'm concerned.