Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Immaculate Collection

Those that occasionally peruse my blog probably recognize that I don't shy away from the unlicensed stuff. Of course I would love Panini to have a license to include hats and uniforms with team names and logos but I have learned to accept it.  Panini does a great job with the design of their cards and an even better job on including some great players from the past in their releases, whether former HOFers or other greats that might be left off due to an asterisk. 

I was able to score this great looking card of The Greatest Hitter of all time, Barry Bonds:

You don't agree that he is the Greatest, just look at the right side of the card.  See there is proof, Panini wouldn't make that up.  I really like that Barry is back in some recent releases.  I have quite a few of his relic cards, including a couple more that are on the way, but it is always nice to add another.  I still need to pick up an autograph of his as that is a glaring gap in my collection.

I try to collect any and all base cards so I also tracked down the 3 Giants base cards.  There is a 100 card base set and I would have thought the Giants would have been a little better represented but if you are going to limit it to 3 current players, they got it right.  These are all numbered to 99.

There are also 59 more cards numbered as if they are base cards but they are relic cards numbered to 49.  Former Giant Gary Brown is featured in this portion as a Giant so I may pick that up.  Otherwise my Immaculate Collection is probably complete for the year unless a nice patch or relic drops into my lap at a good price.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Box Break - 2015 Panini Cooperstown

I haven't done a ton of higher end box breaking during my collecting career.  Back about 4-5 years ago my LCS had a bunch of 2007 Sweet Spot Classic priced at about $60-70 a box, not sure if that is considered higher end but to me it was for just a few cards.  I did break a box of Museum Collection the year it came out.  Otherwise my breaks have usually been of the Topps and Upperdeck flagship variety with some Bowman and Panini products mixed in.

Right before Labor Day, Dave and Adam's Card World had a sale and I decided to get a few boxes.  I picked up two low priced 2013 Panini Pinnacle boxes, a box of 2015 Diamond Kings and a box of 2015 Panini Cooperstown.

I consider this product as a higher end one as it is only 1 pack of 12 cards for about $80-90.  I have watched a ton of box breaks of this on youtube and realized that I have autos of most of the people in this product but when I saw it on sale I was feeling kind of lucky so I figured what the heck. My hope was that I would secure an auto or two of some guys I don't already have as part of my HOF Auto Collection.

As I mentioned and the top of the box clearly indicates this is a 12 card box.  Since it is such a low number, I figured I would share the front of each card.  First up is an Armed Forces insert:

This is a nice patriotic design of former Yankee great Bill Dickey.  I like that Panini is celebrating the service of baseball players and this is a cool photo of Dickey holding a model of a ship. 

Next is this shiny Induction insert of Bert Blyleven.  This insert is not numbered and didn't scan quite as well as it looks in person.  My favorite aspect of this card is the wearing of the HOF jersey by Bert.

Now we are getting into some numbered stuff.  This Etched in Cooperstown insert of Mr. Tiger Al Kaline is numbered 12/25.  They scan quite well, in person the texture doesn't show quite as well.  I believe there are a couple other colored varieties.

Next up is a Crown Royale insert of Tommy Lasorda, I probably couldn't ask for a worse subject to pull.  This silver version is numbered 61/75 and probably won't last long in the ARPSmith household.

Next I pulled a Doug Harvey purple version of the Crown Royale insert.  This card is numbered 40/50.  Harvey is already part of my HOF Auto collection but this card wasn't super exciting, in all honesty at this point of the break I was quite disappointed.

Each year there is a golf tournament in Cooperstown around induction week and this insert set celebrates some of the players who participate in the tournament.  As you can see it is numbered 14/25 and while the subject of the card isn't baseball, I kind of like this insert set.

Now onto the two Autographs...

Boom!  My Nolan Ryan luck continues.  Regular readers may remember this pull from 2015 Topps Series 1 and The Ryan Express strikes again, this time paired with the Baby Bull, Orlando Cepeda.  Numbered out of only 5 and featuring Ryan, this is one of the better non-cut autos out of the product I have to believe.  In part due to a comment by cynicalbudda, I kept the one out of 2015 as a second Ryan auto.  I am kind of torn right now on what I am going to do with this one.  On one hand, it is a pretty cool and very rare card and it does feature Cepeda who is in the Hall as a Giant.  On the other hand, there is nothing that signifies the Giants on the card and I could way more than recoup the cost of the box (and maybe the entire order) if I sell it.  I will give it a few more days and see.

Here is my second auto of the break with a nice on-card auto of Jim Bunning. I have a Bunning in my collection but I also like this card so it is going to stick around for a while, pretty decent pull.

Next up we get to a couple base parallels followed by a couple base cards.  This card is the blue parallel of Cubs great Hack Wilson.  I always remember him as the guy with a ridiculous RBI season, 190 wasn't it?  Decent card and I like the base design.

Next up is a super cool card, George Herman Babe Ruth green parallel numbered to only 10. I didn't think I would ever have a Ruth numbered this low and it will take a pretty overwhelming offer to pry this from my collection.  Super cool card.

A Giant base card!  Wait a minute, Gaylord never pitched for the NY Giants. He did have a short stint towards the end of his career for a half season with the Yankees but this has to be an error.  This is an early career picture of him with the Giants. It is going into the Giants binder.

And my final card of the break, none other than a guy I player collect - Rickey Henderson! Strong finish to the box with the base and parallels.  Pretty cool that both base cards fit into my collection perfectly.

Overall I was very happy with the box, a very nice design on most cards, can't beat Hall of Famers as subject matters and I got some really good cards in the break.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My First Completed Nameplate

I have seen some bloggers go after nameplates of their favorite players or guys on their favorite teams.  I have seen some plans to build their blog name in letters from different products and players.  I had thought about it off and on but no player ever seemed excited me enough to chase all the letters as these cards usually carry a premium on the secondary market.

Well, a few months back the stars aligned and I found the perfect target for my first nameplate project.  So why was this the perfect target you might ask...

1. It is a nameplate of a player I collect
2. This player happens to be my favorite college basketball player of all time
3. I went to college with him
4. He was my neighbor during our sophomore years and we were friendly with each other
5. The cards are reasonably priced
6. There are 100 copies of each letter
7. There are only 3 letters in the nameplate
8. The letters happen to spell out my alma mater

Enough reasons?

I was able to pick up 2 of the cards pretty quickly and for about $6-7 each.  The final letter was the U and it was a challenge to track down at a good price.  I was outbid on a couple on eBay that went for close to $20 but just recently was able to score one for $13.51 delivered.  In reality I probably overpaid a bit and went over what my target was but I was too excited to get this project completed.

Here are the letters by themselves.  I like that he seemed to take some care in getting the cards autographed well on the letters and also included his #23 uniform number.

And finally, here are the cards all together.  Don't they look pretty.

My Trojans are off to a strong start in football but their first test comes this week versus Stanford.

Fight On!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Just For The "F" Of It #3

I have decided to start a series of posts featuring some of the cards that hold a special place in my collection despite not fitting into a specific collecting category and I call them cards I have Just For The "F" Of It (as in fun).

Today's card goes way back to 1994 when serial numbered cards were just finding a niche in the market and a card numbered 4295/7750 was considered rare:

This is a card of former star Fullback for the Florida State Seminoles, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers, William Floyd.  Floyd had a 7 year career and barely rushed for over 1000 yards for his entire career but he was a fan favorite and one of my favorite all time 49ers.  His brash attitude and toughness is what attracted fans to him.  During an interview he indicated he was the best fullback in football "Bar None".  Bar None quickly became his nickname, how cool is that.

Adding an autograph of a player I recall so fondly was a no brainer at a dollar or two.  I think he has an auto card or two in a 49er uniform that may be worth tracking down.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Where Are They Now?

I had a sizable stack of autograph cards from former Giants Prospects on my desk and was trying to decide what/if to post about them.  Despite the Giants continuous low rating for their farm system, they have done a good job of pumping out prospects of the past several years - do names like Posey, Bumgarner, Belt, Panik, Sandoval, Duffy, Crawford, Heston ring a bell?  This doesn't include the prospects to attract players like Beltran, Pence and Leake is mid season trades.

This post isn't about those great prospects however, here are 7 that haven't hit it big along with their autographed card and some information about where they are now.

Brian Bocock

How acquired - Drafted in the 9th round of the 2006 Draft
Where is he now? - He signed a minor league contract with the KC Royals organization in early 2015 but hasn't played during the 2015 season.  He is a bench coach for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Single A team in the Carolina League and are affiliated with the Royals.
Giants Career - In 2008 he played 32 games for the Giants including an Opening Day start at SS.  He hit .143 in 93 plate appearances with 1 double and 2 RBI.  He also played 6 hitless games for the Phillies in 2010.

Conor Gillaspie
How acquired - Drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 Draft
Where is he now? - He was purchased by the LA Angels on 7/24/15 from the White Sox.  He played in 17 games after joining the Angels and is now in the minors with the AAA Salt Lake City Bees in the Pacific Coast League.
Giants Career - He debuted with the Giants for 8 games in 2008 and returned to the majors for 21 more games in 2010-11.  He batted .205 in 48 plate appearances over those 3 seasons with 1 double, 1 homer and 4 RBI.  He had some success with the White Sox playing in 322 games over 3 seasons after leaving the Giants.

Ehire Adrianza

How acquired - Signed as an amateur free agent in 2008
Where is he now? - Unfortunately still with the Giants.  He is one of my lease favorite players and doesn't deserve a spot on a major league roster but with the Giants infielder injuries he keeps popping up on the major league roster.  
Giants Career - He has been up and down between the major and minor leagues from 2013-15 playing in a total of 105 games.  He has hit .200 in 228 plate appearances with 12 doubles, 1 homer and 13 RBI.  His combined WAR over his 3 seasons is -1.0 which supports my theory that he doesn't belong on the major league roster.

Joan Gregorio
How acquired - Signed as an international free agent in 2010
Where is he now? - He is playing with the Giants AA affiliate Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Giants Career - He has yet to make it to the majors but is trending downward on the Giants prospect rankings going from 12th in 2013 to 18th in 2014 and dropping off the list in 2015.  It appears he is shifting from a starter to reliever as only 9 of his 37 appearance this year have been starts after only 3 relief appearances during his first 5 years.

John Bowker
How acquired - Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2004 Draft
Where is he now? - After returning to the Giants organization at the beginning of 2015, he was sold to the Pirates on 6/9/15 and now is on the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates AAA affiliate.  He hasn't played in the majors since 2011 and has spent time in Japan and Mexico in addition to some minor league teams in the Pirates and Giants organization.
Giants Career - He played in 183 games over 3 seasons for the Giants hitting .238 in 513 plate appearances with 15 homers and 58 RBI.  After leaving the Giants in mid-2010 he played in 57 games with the Pirates and Phillies during the 2010-11 seasons.

Merkin Valdez
How acquired - After being signed as an amateur free agent by the Braves in 1999, he was traded to the Giants with Damian Moss for Russ Ortiz in 2002.
Where is he now? - It appears he is retired, he last played in the A's organization in 2012.  I couldn't find any record of a post baseball career.
Giants Career - He made a brief appears in 2004 with the Giants giving up 5 runs in 1.2 innings and didn't come up again until 2008.  During 2008-09 he pitched in 65 games.  His career Giants totals include 67 innings pitched, a 5.24 ERA and a SO/BB of 53/38.

Wendell Fairley
How acquired - Drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 Draft
Where is he now? - He signed on with the Southern Illinois Miners for the 2015 season after what appears to be a 3-year absence from baseball.  The Miners are an Independent League team and he played in 21 games for them this year.
Giants Career - Despite being a 1st round pick and being touted as a 5-tool player, Fairly never made it to the major leagues, never rising about AA.  He was a career .257 hitter for the Giants in their minor league system with just 8 homers in 427 games and 1601 plate appearances.

It was fun tracking down some info on these players and putting some info behind these cheaply picked up autographed cards.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Half Way There - 1970 Topps Set

I bought a new car a few weeks back and it came with 6 months free of satellite radio.  At first I thought talk radio would draw me in but I have been gravitating to some of the music of my youth - Hair Nation the The 80s on 8 seem to be getting the most air time.  A couple days back I was rockin out to some Bon Jovi and when I decided to share these cards, this song came to mind:

This had to be one of the most popular songs of the 80s and you can't help to belt along to "Oh, we're half way there, oh oh living on a prayer".  Well, after my exchange with Mr. Haverkamp, I was down to needing 6 cards to complete my 1970 Topps set and I can now officially say I am half way there.

Five of the 6 were big players and I knocked off 3 of those 5 including the biggest acquisition, here they are:

 First up is Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline.  When Kaline is 3rd in a trio of cards as the biggest star you know this is a star studded grouping.  I am a huge fan of Kaline's and have been ever since inheriting a 1960 card of his from my dad's collection.  I have read a ton of articles on Kaline and it seems like he was a great guy, I need to track down a good biography on the man.  Due to the indention above the Tigers on the top of this card I virtually stole it for about $7.50.  For a high number card that books for $50, I was quite happy with the price.

Next up is the Hit King, Pete Rose.  Of all of Rose's cards, this one was the most foreign to me.  Until picking it up, I would have a hard time picturing it.  There is obviously no action in the photo but I have become a big fan of this card.   The condition of this card is pretty nice and I picked it up for just under $26 delivered.  It books for $60 so it wouldn't appear to be as great of deal as the Kaline but after doing some shopping, I think I got a pretty solid deal.

 Finally the beast of the set, none other than HOF pitcher Nolan Ryan.  This is a high number just 8 cards away from the last card in the set.  It books for $200 and if I was a betting man, I would have wagered a ton on this being the last card I picked up.  My 1973 set finished with the Schmidt rookie and my 1975 set finished with Brett.  There is only 1 other card that books even for $100 and Mr. Haverkamp set me up with the nice Munson RC card.  I have saved a search for this card for a couple months now and right after I secured the cards from Mr. Haverkamp, this beauty popped up for under $50 delivered and I had to jump.  I really, really like this card.

So, I am half way to the finish line but I still have a couple tough cards to secure.  I need both Johnny Bench and Willie Mays, both higher numbers and both book for $80.  The final card I need is a high number common of Sam McDowell.  It would be great if I could put this set to rest before the end of the year.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

So Long Timmy

I am an optimist by nature but even this optimist clearly sees that the Giants season is over.  I feel they did a noble job this year with all the injuries even in an odd year.  With some higher salaried players at the end of their contracts and their solid core of Posey, Bumgarner, Pence, Panik, Crawford, Belt and Duffy their future continues to look good but they do need to pick up a couple of starting pitchers.  One player I doubt we will see in Orange and Black is Tim Lincecum.

Lincecum has been injured for the last few weeks and just underwent surgery on his hip.  He is out for the season and the recovery time for his injury is about 4 months.  The Giants gave him a gift contract in my opinion a couple years back paying him way above market price, his skills had obviously eroded.  The 2-time Cy Young winner is not the same dominating pitcher he was during his 3-4 year streak as perhaps the best pitcher in baseball.

This card is indicative of how far his star has fallen.  I didn't have this card in my collection yet and this Mint Graded version popped up on Sportlots auctions.  I put in a minimum bid of 25 cents and received no competition.  For the price of a piece of bubblegum plus some shipping I brought home this Bowman Chrome rookie card.  Glad to have it in my collection even thought I am not a big fan of graded cards.  Maybe some day I will free it from its plastic prison.

Thanks for a great effort this year Giants and thanks for the memories Timmy.  I am a firm believer the drafting of you was the start of what has been a great run by the Giants.