Sunday, November 11, 2018

Bipoffs and Ripoffs

Fuji recently scored a trio of Bip Roberts autographed index cards and challenged me to a Bipoff (asked if I could spice them up). It was his idea to have one each for me, him, and Rod.. basically the only active card-bloggers these days who are Padres fans. Very generous of him! Fuji has shown off the version I made for him. Rod still hasn't gotten around to posting his, but maybe one of these days. And now here's mine.

The effect didn't really work, but it was supposed to sort of have a superfractor background. This is just an overlay; I couldn't bring myself to cut up the index cards since they've got a PSA/DNA sticker on the back, and plus the signatures were so big that it'd be hard to squeeze them down to standard card size. According to baseball-reference, the only time Bip wore #6 in his MLB career was his time in Cleveland.. a stint that lasted only 23 regular season games plus 16 in the postseason, as the Indians won the pennant but fell to the Marlins in the World Series. But I think the autograph might actually be from his minor league days in the mid 80s. (Fuji's index card has a similar signature, and we were able to date that one from 1986.) I'm pretty sure by the 90s, he had simplified his autograph and abandoned this style of signature with the B and R combining. Too bad Bip deleted his Twitter account because I'd love to ask him about this.

Certified! For what it's worth.

Great guy, that Fuji! And then, when in a recent post when I was mentioning I was after a few Sandlot coins from 2018 Archives, he let me know he had some available.

I don't typically go after non-card items, but I'm going for a "master set" of Sandlot cards (not including parallels) and wanted to complete this 5-coin subset. I already had the Squints coin, and I currently have the Ham coin sitting in my COMC inventory waiting for my next shipment, so this part of the goal has now been checked off. Thanks again, Fuji!

Coins can be a pain to store. Here's my go-to way to do it.. stacking them up in a thick top-loader.

I had planned to shoot Fuji over some cards to return the favor, but he said not to worry about it and that these were just a thank-you for the Bip custom. Wow. Again, what a great guy! Thanks, Fuji!

I can't compete with the him and the other most generous folks on the cardsphere, though I try to put together solid trade packages and run a couple contests every once in a while. (I didn't sign up for Secret Santa, though, as stuff like that stresses me out.)

But one thing I've never done in all my years is ever rip anybody off. And this has been on my mind lately because I got an email out of the blue yesterday from a guy accusing me of screwing him over a deal way back in 2008. Yes, a freaking decade ago! His email just said, "Asshole. You never sent it." with a forwarded message he sent me back then asking about a DVD I sold him. I searched my old email and found a Paypal receipt for a $3 payment he made me. I know I've never pulled a "take the money and run" so I have no doubt I mailed out the DVD. His address was listed as Alaska, so I can only assume the DVD got lost in the mail going up north thru the tundra.

While there should be some unwritten statute of limitations after a decade, I pride myself on being an honest man and so I refunded that prick the $3 thru Paypal. No surprise that the garbage person he is (who sends an email to somebody after 10 years with, "Asshole. You never sent it."), he didn't even bother to say "thanks" or "sorry for the way I handled the situation"... nope, no reply from him yet. (The guy's name is Peter Jackson, so maybe he's an asshole because he's sick of people making Lord of the Rings jokes at his expense.) Whatever. I could have just deleted his email and forgotten about it. But it would have nagged at me. Burning three bucks to keep my conscious clear works for me.

As I like to say at least once a year, PLEASE let me know if you think I owe you cards or anything. My worst fear is that I'm on someone's shitlist because they sent me cards and I either didn't receive them or maybe I forgot to send them a return.. I would feel terrible if someone out there is stewing over me. So again, please let me know if I owe you cards.

Here are the people I know I currently owe cards: Billy, John Miller, GCA, mr. haverkamp

I will try to even the score with these guys soon.

As for my personal shitlist (yes, I hold grudges): View From The Skybox never hit me back for a few Gypsy Queen minis I sent him circa 2013. Play At The Plate never hit me back for a PWE with a couple decent Rangers cards circa 2014. Pat at Hot Corner Cards never returned anything for a nice box of Heritage needs I sent him circa 2015. A guy named Brett Honeycutt had me do some Hoyt Wilhelm photoshop work for him, with the promise of sending me back some Hoyt autos and copies of the custom set he was making (what the 'shopped images I made him were for), but he has been unresponsive to my emails for over a year now. Breaks my heart that a Hoyt head would rip off a fellow Hoyt head.

And most recently, James Rosenthal (dominicfdny) promised me a stack of 1974 Topps needs in exchange for a few customs of mine. He got them and said "hay Gavin the cards got here 2day and there as awesome as the guys on your blog say thanks again and I want to let u know I'm putting your cards in the mail Saturday cuz I had a situation at home come up sorry for the delay thanks again"

That was way back on October 25th and I haven't received the cards nor gotten a response to my emails checking in since. Hopefully he eventually comes through, but I'm not feeling good about my chances at this point.

But over all, I've had 99% great experiences trading cards online.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!
And always remember:

Friday, November 9, 2018

A half-priced blaster of 2018 Update

I had another one of those grocery store coupons for "$10 off when you spend $40." This past weekend I bought about $25 of groceries and grabbed a blaster to take me into the savings threshold, effectively giving me half off the blaster. I debated over which box to get for a few minutes. I was hoping to find the new Stranger Things cards, but no dice. On the shelf were a couple Archives, one Heritage High Number, three Ginter, a couple Fire, four Big League Baseball, and three Update blasters. I ultimately decided to grab the only product of the bunch I haven't ripped any of yet this year: ol' "Series Three", also known as Topps Update.

Let's see what it's got for me.

These were probably my best pulls: Mookie Betts gold parallel (/2018) and a Hank Aaron SP. Nice.

A couple Padres and rookies.

Some inserts. Looks like the Xander is a black parallel, and a tough pull despite not being numbered. The Don't Blink Tim Raines is kinda cool.. but makes me wish it was a "3D" lenticular card. The Postseason Preeminence cards are neat enough, though probably more plentiful than anyone needs.

Some more cards. Sorry the photos in this post are a little blurry. I took them at work (it's been a slow work week) and I guess the lighting wasn't great.

A few more PC guys for me.

The cards in the above photo are available for trade.

And finally, my promised hit-like-thing, a manufactured "patch" mentioning Jackie Robinson and featuring Cody Bellinger. Hey, he's a dude I kinda collect, so I'm happy with it. And it works well with the concept since he's a Dodger and plus you can see his 42 jersey number in the photo.

So that was a decent box, especially if you consider it was half price.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

That 70s Trade Post

After posting about my intentions of working on a run of 70s Topps flagship a few weeks ago, I got a few friendly folks getting in touch with me about helping out.

I recently completed a trade with generous reader Gmixo Greg, who helped make strides in my efforts with mid/late 70s Topps.

1975 Topps needs! Reggie sighting!

1976 Topps needs! What a great smile on that Griffey!

Many 1977 Topps needs!

Nice starter lot of 1979 Topps! Probably about time for me to sort out what I've got and make a wantlist soon.

Some bonus hockey PC guys, too! Gretzky and Messier.

Big thanks for the trade, Greg! Much appreciated!

-  -  - --o

Here's a quick PWE trade, just my second-ever trade done thru TCDB.. but funny enough, I didn't give up any cards on my For Trade/Sale list there, as user BucCollector was interested in a few of the surplus customs I posted about a little while back. I was happy to swap them for a few '77 needs highlighted by a pair of HOFers. (Looks like I've got an extra Niekro for the PC, as I got that card from Greg too.)

Thanks, David!


Last for today is my second Twitter trade with Heavy J. I found some set needs for him in exchange for a lot of '78s.

Solid bunch of cards here!

Contest win! I also happened to win a little Twitter giveaway he ran around the same time, and the prize was several off-condition vintage star cards. Between PCs and setbuilds in the works, I'll be able to put the vast majority of these to good use.

Some nice non-baseball cards too! That's my first Wonder Bread card. Heck, my first 90210 card, too.

But the trade really got legit when he told me he had a card on my "Desperate Double Dozen - Wishful Thinking" wantlist that was available...

Warren Spahn! To seal the deal, he commissioned me to whip up a custom to go with one of his display pieces.

Great to check off another HOFer from my '57 Topps needs. A minor crease, but overall in very nice shape.

Big thanks, Jason! Great stuff.

And thanks again to Greg and David.

Played hooky today and got in a nice little hike with the pooch on a cold but sunny autumn day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 Topps Archives hobby boxes

In the past, I've gone all-out with my posts of Topps Archives hobby boxes, putting on little plays with my old childhood toys (2014 part 1, 2, 3, 4). But these days, I just can't get as excited about it. Topps Archives is the product that I give the credit for getting me back into the hobby. The past few years, I've pre-ordered a hobby box or two each year. Aside from hitting the jackpot with a 1/1 Griffey auto a couple years back, I haven't pulled much of note from the product, but it's still a fun rip.

So let's get to it: A pair of 2018 Archives hobby boxes.

The autos I pulled were fine, but sadly nothing "big" or even any PC hits for me. Ouch. The Mike Timlin is one of the few hobby-only autos, though, so that's something. (Felix Millan was supposedly retail-only per Beckett, but that's obviously not the case, as I pulled him from a hobby box.) And the Merced is a grey parallel numbered /99. All four of these are up for trade, so give me a shout if you're interested in working out a deal for any of them.

Three base card parallels here. Goose is a nice PC hit for me. Newcomb is a handy trade chip for my bud Bubba who collects him. As for the Salvador, I can't even remember the last time I traded with a Royals collector, so sadly this nice-looking /25 blue parallel-- the lowest numbered card I pulled from either box-- doesn't do me much good. But it's available if anyone wants to trade for it.


Some Rookie History reprints. I pulled a Kaline from each box and figured they were dupes at first. Then I realized one had blue foil.. turned it over and saw it's #'d /50.. so that's kinda cool. Any of my Tigers-collecting trader buddies want to call dibs on it? No offence to Mr. Tiger, but I wish it had been the Trout reprint that was numbered instead. Oh well.

Looks like the Sandlot inserts are 3 per box. Seeing as I've previously completed this set thanks to trades and blasters, these six are all available. Feels like that Bertram Weeks card was double printed or something.. I think this is my 3rd or 4th friggin' copy of it.

Seems these Turn Back The Clock cards are 3 per hobby box, too. Nice selection here.. all dudes I've got PCs going for.

I was pleasantly surprised to find all these Coming Attraction inserts in my hobby boxes. They apparently aren't in blasters, so I was thinking maybe they were exclusive to value packs. But nope, I pulled a bunch of them.

Some horizontal highlights.

I pulled an Ernie Banks card from each box, then eventually realized they had different photos. Turns out the in-game shot is a photo variation. From looking at eBay sales, it's not all that scare/valuable, but still a neat pull.

To make sure I didn't miss any other variations, I strained my eyes reading all the tiny code numbers on the backs of all the base cards. But nope, came up empty. About 15 minutes of my life wasted. #ThanksTopps

Here are a few highlights from my tall stack of "keeper" base cards. Last year and/or the year before, my two hobby boxes basically had the same base cards in each box, with only the inserts being different. Thankfully there were much less dupes between my two boxes this year. But if you gotta pull dupes, hard to be upset with Trout, Soto, and Ohtani.

New additions to my Willie McCovey PC! How great is it that Topps included tribute cards with him on the A's! Haha-- no, I'm only joking-- those cards on the sides are customs I recently whipped up.

As my "free bonus item" with the order of the boxes, I went with this 2017 Leaf National Sports Collectors Convention VIP 2 Card Set. Happy to add another card to my Vin Scully collection. I don't have much interest in the Mayweather/McGregor card, so that's available for trade.

Also got tons of other 2018 Archives cards not pictured that're available for trade. Anybody working on the set, or a team set, or what-have-you.. please get in touch and help me thin out my stack.

In summary, I'm not thrilled with how Archives went down this year. I pre-ordered my boxes way back in April when they were scheduled for August. Then the release date got bumped to September, then way back to late October, even though the retail version of the product came out earlier. Topps gave no explanation for the delay, per their usual poor customer relations. There were no cool surprises in the hobby version to make it up to collectors or anything (besides maybe the Karen Allen Sandlot auto, which is a pretty tough card to pull [the shitty-looking grey #/99 parallels are more plentiful than the base!]). After all that wait, the estimated value of cards I pulled came nowhere near the price I paid. Not that that's a surprise, but a solid hit would have taken the sting out of the delay. The whole experience left a sour taste in my mouth and at this point I'm leaning toward not buying any Archives hobby boxes in 2019, just calling it good with a blaster or two. But we'll see how I'm feeling in a few months. Really though, I think I'm losing interest with modern cards, and have been enjoying vintage set building more these days.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Gavins in pro ball - 2018 recap

I always look forward to doing these annual posts, even if their appeal is limited and typically don't get many views. But I like an excuse to look up how guys who share my first name performed over the past season.

My most active Gavin PC is Gavin LaValley. I was excited to see him have an autograph on the 2018 Bowman Chrome checklist, though it ended up souring for me. His superfractor auto popped up on eBay recently at a low opening bid. I was prepared to put up a very strong bid. But then with 2 days left to go, the auction jumped all the way up to $255. WTF?! Just this past June I paid $33 for his 2014 Bowman Chrome Draft superfractor (not an autograph, but still, that's his 1st Bowman). And the kicker? LaValley had a shitty 2018 season and at this point is probably a longshot to ever make the major leagues. Not sure who these guys are wanting to spend hundreds of dollars on one of his cards. Part of me is sad that I can no longer say I own every Gavin LaValley superfractor in existence, as I had been able to for a few months there (2014 Bowman Draft, 2014 Bowman Mini, 2018 Bowman Regular). The superfractor auto ended up selling for $300 at auction. A week or two later it popped up again at a buy-it-now of $399 or best offer. After a few days, the listing was pulled by the seller, perhaps due to a backdoor sale worked out away from eBay, or maybe the seller decided to hang onto it after not getting much interest in the card.

LaValley spent 2018 in AA, batting .209 with 13 dingers and 14 doubles. Quite a step back from his promising 2017 (.269, 18 dingers, 30 doubles). He's a first baseman (where big offensive numbers are expected) who will be 24 next season. Not "top prospect" territory. Don't get me wrong, I'm still rooting for him, and I hate to sound like I'm talking shit, but my point is it's ridiculous to be paying hundreds of dollars for one of his cards at this point.

Who knows.. I'll keep an eye out and perhaps one day in a few years if LaValley doesn't pan out, the guy who bought it will relist it and take a massive bath on it and I'll snag it for a fraction of the price.

After the superfractor debacle, I pumped the brakes on my Gavin LaValley PC. But before that, I did pick up a handful of his other 2018 Bowman Chrome autos. Here we've got: base, refractor (/499), purple (/250), blue (/150), and green shimmer (/99).

Ok, now let's get into other Gavins.

Sadly, 2018 was the first year since before Gavin Floyd debuted back in 2004 that there were zero Gavins in MLB. Floyd and Gavin Cecchini overlapped in 2016, with the former going out and the latter coming up. Cecchini then got into 32 games with the Mets in 2017, but he didn't make it out of the minors in 2018. He was playing well in Triple A and in line for a promotion up top, but unfortunately he broke a bone in his foot that derailed his season and limited him to 31 games for the year. Bummer. Hopefully he comes back strong in 2019.

And there are a bunch of other Gavins in the minors, so I wouldn't expect this Gavinless streak to last long.

Collins split his time between playing 3B and catcher down in the Indians chain. His offensive numbers were down this year after a solid 2017, but hopefully he gets back on track in 2019.

Garay was a 26th round pick by the Mets in 2017. He hit a robust .329 with 5 ding-dongs in just 18 Rookie League games this year. Hopefully he builds on that in '19.

Not a typo! It's hilarious that there are two different baseball players: Gavin LaValley and Gavin Lavallee. Confusing! I already talked about LaValley above, but Lavallee went undrafted from Eastern Connecticut State University and plays indie ball. He had a solid 2018, hitting .329 in 41 games, playing 3B and RF. Oh man-- I think my dream Gavin card/custom would be a dual auto signed by both Gavin Lavallee and Gavin LaValley.

The Dodgers' #1 pick in 2016, Lux bounced back from a lackluster 2017 to put up a strong 2018 season. Drawing comparisons to Corey Seager, the 20-year old shortstop got promoted to AA this year. Overall, he hit .324 with 15 tatters. I hear his Fortnite game is strong too.

A 2nd round pick by the White Sox last year, Sheets performed adequately in his first full pro season, hitting .293 with 6 homers and 61 RBI in A ball.

Here's a guy I was really rooting for-- a cousin of a cardblogger!-- but unfortunately Stupienski's baseball career hasn't been going well. Despite solid defense behind the plate and batting .307 in the minors, Arizona cut him loose after 2017, and he spent 2018 on an independent team in Winnipeg.

A 15th round pick by the Pirates in 2017, Wallace went 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA in 24 games (all starts) in A ball this past season.

Last Name Gavins - Maybe not "true" Gavins, but they get some love too.

The 23-year old made it up to AA and pitched well out of the pen this year. Grant has also looked good in the Arizona Fall League so far, allowing just 1 earned run over 9 innings. I'd expect him to make it to AAA next year and hopefully get called up to Kansas City before too long.

An 8th round pick by the Giants in 2017, John had a solid 2018, highlighted by a complete game shutout in A ball. Overall, he had 139 strikeouts and 47 walks in 122.1 innings to go with a 2.87 ERA.

Happy Trails - Saying farewell to Gavins who've left pro ball since the last update.

A 16th round pick by the Marlins in 2017, Fritz didn't pitch in 2018 after a rough 2017 debut in Rookie League, so I gotta assume he hung up his spikes. "There goes Fritz," as they say.

Gavin Pittore was released back in July 2017 and didn't play at all in 2018, which surprises me because his numbers in the minors looked good (2.52 career ERA). Perhaps he had injury issues? I got a nice TTM return from him a couple years back where he included a friendly note, so I was definitely a fan and hoped he'd make it to the bigs. Bummer. All the best to Mr. Pittore in the next chapter of his life.

Lastly, squeezing in the one football Gavin, Escobar briefly suited up with the Browns and then Dolphins in 2018, but didn't get into a game with either of them. I don't think he's officially retired yet, but at this point I'd be surprised to see him play another NFL down, unfortunately. But hey, best of luck to him and all the other Gavins out there!

And that wraps up the 2018 update of pro baseball (and football) players named Gavin. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Custom Simpsons TTM success: "Fat Tony" Joe Mantegna!

Added a new addition to my little group of Simpsons custom autos. I heard Joe Mantegna was a reliable signer, so I whipped up a Fat Tony card to ask him to sign.

Looks great! Came back in about 3 weeks. Joe took an extra moment to personalize it, which I appreciate.

I decided to "get cute" with my choice of 1981 Topps Football for the design.

It's the set that contains the rookie card for the similarly named Joe Montana (a card which I do not own, but maybe someday). I'm a dork and thought it'd be kinda funny to give a sly nod to Montana on the custom.

Thank you very much, Mr. Mantegna!