Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Welcome back, Walmart

I don't like that I go to Walmart as often as I do. I'm not there every day, but I stop by probably every other week when you average it out.

It's just a necessary evil when you live where I do. It's a small city, and it's far removed from anywhere else. So it's just a fact that if you want certain things, you're going to have to do the dirty deed and walk through those electronic doors.

Besides, there are baseball cards there -- or at least there were baseball cards there until Aaron Judge mania hit.

Ever since May or June, the Walmart closest to me has been devoid of baseball cards. Lots of football cards. Plenty of basketball cards. A whole bunch of those magic/funko/other junk taking up valuable shelf space meant for baseball cards. But no baseball cards.

My trips to Walmart of late still always include a stop at the card aisle. But I don't really expect to see anything I want.

Today, I needed to go there to get some Christmas lights. I am way ahead of the game this year. I've actually started Christmas shopping before December hits (this never happens) and I have all the outside lights up, too (this also never happens). But I needed to add a few more strings because the people who sell Christmas lights are even more dastardly than those who make baseball cards, and still to this day, have not figured out how to make lights last longer than a year.

Walmart has the only kind of red lights that I need (yes, I realize that the reason my lights aren't lasting more than a year is because I'm buying them at Walmart, stop hassling me, all right?). So after grabbing a couple boxes, I detoured to the card aisle.

I was stunned by what I saw. Stuffed amid the sea of football and basketball was a bunch of Topps Update blasters and hanger boxes. And next to all of that Aaron Judge was a bunch of hanger packs and blasters of ... huh, Topps Gallery?

Not even a week ago, I had not a clue that Topps Gallery was a thing in 2017. I thought it was coming out next year. Then I saw it on the Waiting 'til Next Year blog and realized that the hobby was going too fast for me again.

I wasn't all that impressed with what P-Town Tom showed so I didn't bother with a blaster. I grabbed two hanger packs for $5.98 each (12 cards a pack) and got the hell out.

This reboot of Topps Gallery comes after reboots of Gold Label and Tek. I personally didn't care about these sets the first time they came out (heck I wasn't collecting then). But I guess the 10 people who were collecting in the late '90s have nostalgia, too, so, sure, I'll play along.

Pack 1

#114 - David Dahl, Rockies

The cards are of average Gallery card stock, maybe a bit skinnier, with a slight gloss to them. The look of the cards is fairly boring, but, like I said, I was never that thrilled with Gallery. (I did like the 2002 version).

#66 - Maikel Franco, Phillies

#105 - Daniel Norris, Tigers

#MP-13 - Albert Pujols, Angels, Masterpiece insert

Masterpiece inserts appear in every other pack on average. They're glossier than the average cards and they look pretty swell. These are my favorite cards of the ones I pulled.

#35 - Jose Altuve, Astros, Gallery Heritage insert

Topps seems to be pushing Bowman in every set this year. At least it's using an early '50s Bowman look. The Gallery Heritage inserts are 1 every 4 packs.

#HOF30 - Mike Piazza, Mets, Hall of Fame Gallery insert

This insert is also 1 every 2 packs. These do nothing for me.

Because this is a modern set, it's chock filled with retired guys and rookies. I found the rookie logo four times in each pack.

#127 - Rick Porcello, Red Sox

That's your back. Mayumi Seto does the sketch cards in this set and I guess she worked on the base cards, too. Many of the pictures shown in Gallery are actual photographs, so I'm not certain what she did (I have no graphic design knowledge).

#52 - Paul DeJong, Cardinals

#53 - Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, canvas parallel
#100 - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, canvas parallel

These are the two canvas parallels that are promised in each pack. Although they only look like canvas and don't feel like canvas (boo), I couldn't have picked a better pack.

#19 - Carson Fulmer, White Sox

#84 - Trey Mancini, Orioles

Rookies, rookies, rookies!!!

Pack 2

#91 - Dinelson Lamet, Padres

#MP-12 - Adam Jones, Orioles, Masterpiece insert

#24 - Yadier Molina, Cardinals, Gallery Heritage insert

#HOF-8 - George Brett, Royals, Hall of Fame Gallery insert

#94 - Jesse Winker, Reds

Look familiar?

There you go.

#47 - Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox

#81 - Magneuris Sierra, Cardinals

Look familiar?

Probably would make sense to collect just one set a year, that is if I collected current sets anymore.

#134 - Matt Duffy, Rays

#55 - Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, canvas parallel
#54 - Jose DeLeon, Rays, canvas parallel

Not as awesome as the previous pack. Only one former Dodger.

#76 - Stephen Piscotty, Cardinals

#63 - Kendall Graveman, Athletics

There you are.

I'm probably done buying any more of this, unless I find myself in Walmart between now and the end of the year, which would mean I am having a no-good-terrible-very-bad-time-during-this-festive-time-of-year and need cards for survival.

The cards shown today will go to usual trade partners (except the Dodgers, of course).

My card desk shows that there have been a lot of one-and-done sets this year (one purchase and that's it), so it's not like I neeeed to have Walmart's shelves stocked with baseball cards all the time.

It's just nice to know that they're there again.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fernando and friends

Fernando Valenzuela is currently part of Topps' stable of retired stars that it trots out for a variety of products each year. There is no shortage of new Fernando cards lately, because Topps and Valenzuela apparently patched up whatever rift they had several years ago that prompted him to do this.

Although seeing the same retired stars in my current sets has been annoying for so long that I would be annoying if I complained about it again, I'm happy in Fernando's case. Because it spurred me to go on a brief Fernando card-buying binge recently.

I am constantly amazed over how many cards I don't have of my favorite players from the 1980s. My brain thinks I should have all of these already. My brain doesn't know how wrong it is.

I discovered this on a brief tour through COMC:

I thought I owned this Fernando already. How can you miss him in all of '85 Donruss' black-bordered glory? But there are TWO Valenzuela cards in the Highlights set, because Valenzuela was Pitcher of the Month in both April and July in 1985.

A classic need from the '80s is Classic cards, this one from 1987.

You think you have all the Topps glossy goodness from the 1980s and then Fernando gives you that forlorn look. "What about me?"

Can you believe it? I needed a 1987 Fleer card and had no idea. I'm stunned that I haven't been sent this card 15 times in the last 10 years. Almost as stunned as how young everyone looks on this.

Box-bottom greatness. I didn't know there were 1991 Fleer box bottoms until very recently. I think this is the first card I put in the shopping cart.

I made one modern-day exception. This is the bronze version.

Late 1980s Drake cards are one of the peskiest kinds of oddballs. This is from 1987 and I'm so pleased I own this that I plan to go out and buy a stash of Devil Dogs to consume all at once.

Yup, this is a sticker. Normally I don't go out of my way to buy stickers. But I couldn't resist this 1984 Topps item because of all the inappropriate stretching.

Any star player from the late 1980s likely has his own Star set, meaning card after card after card of the player in various scenes and poses, many of which should have hit the cutting room floor. You can go broke chasing a complete set down. So I just nabbed two.

I wanted this one because Valenzuela was known for his hitting and there are so few cards of him doing so. The back mentions his best hitting came against the Giants and the Braves. Fernando was awesome.

And of course I had to get the family photo! This is fantastic. Valenzuela is here with his wife, Linda, and his two sons, Fernando Jr. and Ricky (he also has two daughters).

The Valenzuela cards came with some friends because I can never stay focused when buying cards. There's no way I could commit to FERNANDO VALENZUELA CARDS AND FERNANDO VALENZUELA CARDS ONLY!

So I grabbed a couple of randoms that caught my fancy.

Not sure how this popped on my screen, but the instant I saw it, I knew I needed it. Paul Konerko is being devoured by man-eating pennants.

This card is for the 1977 TCMA Galasso Glossy Greats set quest that will someday take over all of my card thoughts. You may see a want list sometime next year, although right now it would include just about every card in the set.

Recently, Commish Bob showed off his TCMA 1960s set, which is absolutely beautiful and another set I need to chase someday. For now, though, Ron Fairly needed to be mine.

Finally, this card finally reached my abode.

I've seen several collectors pick up this 2017 Archives autographed card of Wally Moon and I've been jealous every time. It's a wonderful card, as colorful as it should be (although the letter placement for a 1960-motif is all off) and correctly features Moon's unibrow most prominently. Also, it ain't no sticker.

This is my final online card purchase before the holidays hit. I always have to go on hiatus until January because other people I know want gifts at this time of year and, shockingly, they don't want baseball cards.

But that's OK. The feeling of knocking off all those Fernando Valenzuela cards will keep the card cravings down for awhile.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

C.A.: 1989 Topps Big Baseball Jim Poole

(Welcome. Today is "Have a Bad Day Day," brought to you by someone who was annoyed with store clerks constantly wishing them "have a good day" and encouraging people instead to "have a bad day." I would love to meet this person. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 265th in a series):

This is the most recent card off my Nebulous 9 list. It arrived from a recent newcomer to the blog, Jack, who said he's started reading my blog from the beginning (I apologize about those early posts, Jack).

This card is a Dodger card, although you can't tell unless you turn it over to the back where it says "Los Angeles Dodgers" directly under James Richard Poole's name.

It completes the Dodgers team set for me for 1989 Topps Big Baseball and also completes all of the Dodger needs from the Big sets from 1988 through 1990. That's a great Big relief. So never mind what I said on this post. Now, I'm done.

Poole is part of the U.S. national team subset, which I believe is part of the more-difficult-to-obtain third series from '89 Topps Big. I think there's an assumption that all the players featured in this subset made it to the 1988 Olympics. But Poole wasn't part of the Olympic roster.

Poole didn't last long with the Dodgers, although he went through the requisite rookie obsession in 1991.

1991 is where you can find all the card companies clamoring to add a card of Jim Poole to their sets after his 16 games pitched for L.A. in 1990. These are all of the cards in which you can find Poole featuring a genuine Dodger uniform. For whatever reason, Upper Deck didn't get in on the Jim Poole rookie craze (apparently too obsessed with Kiki Jones).

Poole was traded to the Rangers after 1990 and then hooked on to the Orioles. He's probably most well-known for pitching in the postseason for the Indians in 1995 and 1998. He now helps coach high school pitchers.

It's always a great day when I can complete a team set. It's even better when the last player in that team set isn't a superstar.

I find I learn a little more about people when that happens.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Send them to me

It's been a banner year for autographed Ron Cey cards in 2017. Topps' Archives line has made Cey one of the recurring figures in its never-ending run of products.

A Cey autograph is in the main Archives set and I landed the peach parallel a few months ago. A couple of weeks ago I discovered that a Cey signature is also in the Archives Snapshot series (as well as the base card, which I need to get).

Then I discovered he was in something called "Topps Archives Signature Series Postseason Edition," which was released just last week. I didn't like how I discovered it, though.

This Archives Signature Series Postseason set is the type of product that I avoid like the plague, and therefore know very little about. From what I gather it is released as a box of just one, encased card. You plop down 30 or 40 or 70 bucks (I'm just going by what I see on ebay) and you get one signed card.

It's a straight gamble. The checklist is all over the place. You could pull Hank Aaron or Sandy Koufax. You could pull Jeff Conine or David Eckstein.

I knew nothing about these until I saw a few references to people opening them online. There wasn't much pleasant said about them, and a few helpful types advised collectors to stay away.

Then there were a couple snide, snickering references to the checklist.

Stuff like "Enjoy all the Ron Ceys!"

My ears perked up.

"There are Ron Ceys, plural, in this set????????"

Then a pause.

"Hey ....

"What's wrong with Ron Cey????"

Obviously, if there are Ron Ceys, plural, this could be the greatest set of all-time.

These critical dudes clearly have no idea of the greatness of what they're pulling out of their one-card box. But then they're buying a one-card box, so ...

I saw on Dodgers Blue Heaven all of the signed Ron Cey cards available in the Archives Signature Series Postseason set (these long set names have got to go). He found 10 of them.

I decided to investigate on ebay myself. Here are the signed Cey Dodger cards that I found:

That's six and there were also three other kinds that had been sold, an American Pie Cey from 2001, a 1975 mini Cey and a 1983 Cey that's actually an O-Pee-Chee card that shows him in his '83 Topps pose but with a Cubs listing.

Dodgers Blue Heaven also showed two others that I couldn't find, the 1978 Topps Cey and another OPC card, Cey's 1982 base card.

So that's 11 different signed Ron Cey cards that are in the Topps Archives Signature Series Postseason Can We Add A Few More Describers To This.

This is a Cey Bonanza!

However, even though Cey is my favorite player of all-time, there is no way I'm buying a box of this. I have never been about the autograph. I make a bit of an exception for Cey, but I won't buy a product just because I'm guaranteed an autograph.

I do want all of these though, even the cards that Cey has already signed for me through the mail, which means I would be collecting just the silly stamp Topps places on the Archives cards.

So, please, all of you disgusted collectors who pulled Cey cards, send them to me. I will gladly take them over pulling a number of the stars on this checklist. I would rather pull the Cey card than a signed Ripken or Sandberg or Thome or Chipper Jones.

And, I would like to say, things could be much, much, much worse. Instead of pulling a fine card of an upstanding MLB veteran of well-known, long-running success like Cey, you could fork over 60 dollars and pull Tony Womack. Yikes.

Or, heavens, you could pull this:

There are lots of signed Cubs Cey cards in this set, too. They're all terribly pedestrian, lacking Cey's trademark "10" that he places inside the R on each of his signed Dodger cards. (And, yes, Fuji, there's that one dopey '87 Topps card of him in an A's uniform, too).

So, yeah, I can see how this set would disappoint immensely.

But not if you're pulling a Dodger Cey autographed card.

Just think of the grateful owl who would gladly accept it.