Sunday, June 30, 2013

So, how do you get people to read your blog?

Now that I've got a couple weeks and a few posts under my belt, I feel like I should let people know this blog exists. Sure, Baseball Card Breakdown won't turn the world of sportscard blogging on its head or anything, but I gotta figure there are a handful of guys out there who would enjoy it.

I know so far I've mainly been hung up on 2004 Topps Retired, but in the future I plan to branch out more with what I write about. I've got a few post ideas kicking around in my head. While I doubt I'll ever be a daily blogger, my realistic goal will be posting once or twice a week.

So, how do I go about cramming one more page into the already populous baseball card blogosphere? Again, I'm somewhat of a newb to Blogspot. Is it like Twitter where you follow/connect to people and then if they're feeling magnanimous they follow you back? Do you just comment on other blogs and maybe people will check out your blog through there?

I need to learn how to add a list of blogs on the rightside column. And I see a lot of blogs with a little "Followers" section over there, and a "Join This Site" button, but I'm not sure how that works. I guess I'll try messing around and see what happens.

Feedback is welcomed!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Last Pack of Baseball Cards I Will Ever Open

..well, I'll probably open another pack of baseball cards someday, but I think I'm through with expensive ultra-deluxe packs that burn your wallet to ash and break your heart.

In my recent posts, I've chronicled the bleak saga of unwisely spending over $500 on 9 premium packs of baseball cards. 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition got a tight grip on me. The draw is that each pack includes an uncirculated--meaning "it comes in its own hard plastic case"-- certified autograph card of a player from yesteryear. It could be a minor star like Tony Armas or Ron Kittle. Or if you luck out and beat lottery-winning odds, you could theoretically pull someone like Hank Aaron or Stan Musial.

I've opened 8 out of my 9 packs so far. Sadly, I've pulled only "commons", most of which I had already bought for $5-10 each on eBay over the past couple months.

So it's fair to say this little investment of mine was akin to giving a homeless drifter $511.95 and in return he gave me a dead pigeon he'd been saving for a few days.

But here's my one last shot at redemption: The Final Pack. Will I save a modicum of face my pulling a good card? Maybe I'll even get a fairytale ending by pulling a great card. I'd settle for anything I don't already have, honestly. I originally planned to spread these packs out over a few weeks, but since my feelings turned from excited optimism to angst-ridden disappointment. Now I'd rather just put this whole mess behind me.

So enough talk, let's rip 'er open.

[To add insult to injury, most of the hard cases fresh from packs already had a scuff mark on the front right. Thanks a lot, Topps, for treating your cards so poorly.]

Ferguson Jenkins. Blah, already got him. And it's a Group G common (EEV [estimated eBay value] around $5-15). But at least he's a HOF'er. Not a great pull, but could have been worse.

The expensive haul of inexpensive cards
So this wraps up my tragic comedy of errors spending $500+ on cards that have an EEV around $75 total. I already owned 6 of the 9 autos. Yep, there were just three I needed, which I likely could have bought for around $30 total. I gambled and lost. Oh well, it was kinda fun for a while there. The odds were against me and I couldn't pull off a win. Lesson learned. Money drained.

Here's the checklist of 2004 Topps Retired autos, personalized for my current needs (as of 6/29/13). Red = Need it. Green = Got it. Orange = I got 2 of it (orange-for-red trade offers welcomed!)

Group A: Cal Ripken; Nolan Ryan; Carl Yastrzemski; Robin Yount;
Group B: Henry Aaron; Ernie Banks; Stan Musial; Duke Snider
Group C: Johnny Bench; Yogi Berra; Whitey Ford; Bob Gibson; Dwight Gooden; Tony Gwynn; Don Mattingly; Brooks Robinson; Mike Schmidt; Tom Seaver; Ozzie Smith
Group D: Wade Boggs; John Candelaria; Jose Canseco; Gary Carter; Carlton Fisk; Ralph Kiner; Paul Molitor; Paul O'Neill; Frank Robinson; Ryne Sandberg; Darryl Strawberry; Don Zimmer;
Group E: Buddy Bell; Rod Carew; Bucky Dent; Rob Dibble; Dennis Eckersley; Tony Fernandez; Rollie Fingers; George Foster; Ceasar Geronimo; Kirk Gibson; Goose Gossage; Orel Hershiser; Al Hrabosky; Greg Luzinski; Tony Oliva; Dave Parker; Jimmy Piersall; Alan Trammell;
Group F: Davey Lopes;
Group G: Tony Armas; Vida Blue; Tom Brunansky; Bill Buckner; Orlando Cepeda; Darren Daulton; Darrell Evans; Bobby Grich; Ferguson Jenkins; Wally Joyner; Jimmy Key; Ron Kittle; Bill Madlock; Jack McDowell; Dale Murphy; Graig Nettles; Al Oliver; Bobby Richardson; Ron Santo; Dave Stieb; Bruce Sutter; Ron Swoboda; Luis Tiant; Earl Weaver; Maury Wills;
Group H: Elroy Face

Friday, June 28, 2013

How to turn $260 into $20 worth of baseball cards just like that!

In my last post I talked about how I spent a lot of money on 4 unopened packs of that darn 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition.

Well, they arrived today. I was very happy about that. I had kinda planned to spread them out over a while. But after a disappointing rip, I can't help but to rip another, hopeful for something decent.

Each pack includes an uncirculated auto. Sadly, all 4 of these packs were crap.
In order, the autos were:
Tony Armas
Bobby Richardson
Luis Tiant
Ron Swoboda

All 4 I already had. All 4 are "Group G" (commons) and worth about $5 each. Zero guys in the hall. Zero guys I needed. Zero refractors.
In addition, out of the 4 packs, I got just one black parallel, and it was Bill Buckner (#57/99), so it might as well have been a mustard-stained piece of gutter napkin.
So yep, there's a quick way to turn $260 into $20 worth of baseball cards. Huge bummer. But whatever, the brief excitement was cool.

The lesson? Don't waste your time & money chasing hit cards. Distributors/sellers on eBay always seem to know which packs are "hot" and so any "regular" pack they sell you seems to be "cold." Maybe it's sour grapes on my part.. I'm sure there are success stories out there where somebody bought a few packs of something on eBay and pulled a 1/1 mega-rare auto relic refractor test-press prototype. But not me. [Boo-ƒucking-hoo.]

I've gotten the shaft every freaking time, so I think I need to retire from high-end unopened packs that have their prices inflated thanks to super scare "hit" cards included in every millionth pack. Next time I want the thrill of ripping open a pack of baseball cards, I should get a couple 1991 Donruss packs for a quarter and cross my fingers for a 30¢ Griffey.

Sorry for the bitchy blog post, but again, this blog is called Baseball Card Breakdown, so I feel entitled to breakdown on here from time to time.

Anyways, here's what the back of the blister packs look like:
God, I hate Group G. That's ALL I EVER GET. DUPLICATES OF NOBODIES. YAY. I would have been 100% content with just one ƒucking guy from group E out of those 4 packs. Even Luzinski. Goddamn. I hate life right now.

*deep breath* Oh well. If nothing else, these might be "upgrades" for me, as the four I already had of these might have had light scuffs on the cases.

I still have 3 unopened packs from the earlier hobby box I bought (earmarked for special occasions over the next month or so). The first two I opened from the box yielded-- you guessed it-- guys from Group G (more commons). MAYBE one of those 3 remaining packs has a Yogi or Musial or someone who actually got a couple HOF votes in his ƒucking life (no offence to El Tiante). But chances are I'll be posting more heartbroken rantings about how I threw away $500 chasing a hit from this set and got squat out of it. Stay tuned! Sorry for the whiney post. But I'm sure many of you guys reading this know exactly how I feel.

Actually, screw it. I don't want to hold on to this negativity longer than I need to. I'm just gonna go ahead and rip the last 3 packs right now.


Ok, Darren Daulton. Yep, Group G common, but at least it was one I didn't have already! I count that as a victory. A very expensive victory, but something to feel good about. That cooled my rage enough to where I think I can hold off on opening the last 2 packs for a while.

Nah, check that. I just ripped another one.
Bucky Dent! Finally, somebody above lowly Group G. (Bucky is Group E.. oooh.. ahhhh) Obtaining this card has caused me frustration in the past. Not an expensive card by any means (~$10), so again, I've essentially thrown away hundreds of dollars on these 8 packs of baseball cards (1 left to go). The title of this post should be updated to "How to turn $450 into $35 worth of baseball cards just like that!" But at least I actually needed these last couple guys in my goal of completing the auto set. (I've got most of the cheap/easy-to-find ones now.. just the expensive/hard-to-find ones left to go.. LO f'n L)

On a somber note, Darren Daulton is in the news lately for announcing he has 2 brain tumors he needs surgery for. My thoughts go out to the man and his family, and hope he makes a full recovery.
Stuff like that helps put things in perspective and makes me think I shouldn't freak out so much about blowing a paycheck-and-a-half (--yeah, I'm just temp-to-hire at the moment--) on a few packs of baseball cards to give me a small thrill. Enjoy every sandwich, etc.
Bucky Bleeping Dent, indeed

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another 2004 Topps Retired breakdown (The addiction worsens)

I did it again. Broke down and spent stupid-money on unopened packs of 2004 Topps Retired. You might recall not long ago, I bought a hobby box (5 packs). And now just the other day I bought 4 blister packs. I tried 3 "best offers" but settled for a counteroffer. Ended up a bit more than the hobby box cost me, but oh well. It's a thrill to open these packs, and it doesn't seem like there are many unopened left out there. There's one more on eBay from a different seller right now for $75... don't tempt me! Hopefully someone else buys that before I break down and snatch that one too. I'm sick; I need help.

I should mention I don't have a lot of money. I mean, I'm not hurting; but I'm also not at the point where I should be dropping $500+ in a month on 9 packs on baseball cards.

But I don't splurge like this very often. Pretty rarely, actually. Usually I save my paychecks, just paying rent, buying groceries, and a good beer or two down at Green Dragon. I don't buy fancy clothes or whatever. I don't even have a car at the moment. Thankfully, I live bike-riding distance to work. I do kinda actually share a car with my fiancée, so I could often drive if I wanted to, but lately I've only been driving once or twice a month. That's a lot of savings on gas and insurance.

Also, I rarely drink coffee (or even soda), so there's a big annual savings for me there. And I haven't paid for a haircut for several years.. It was kinda rough at first, but I'm now pretty proficient at the self haircut. Yeah, I'm a dork, but it looks passable and saves me time and money, so whatever.

What I'm getting at is I'm a pretty frugal guy for the most part, so I feel ok with blowing more than I should from time to time on something that makes me happy.

Back to these cards.. man, the chance of scoring a hit card to justify even half of what I paid.. pretty slim. I'm sure I will end up kicking myself. If I wanted to spend a lot of money on cards, I could have picked up a '57 Mantle, a Gaylord Perry rookie, and/or any other number of cards in my mind's wantlist (yeah, I need to type up a list one of these days to put it on the blog and see if I can work out any trades or something). But yeah, as I say, it's fun and exciting opening a fancy pack of baseball cards.

It's gotten so bad that I actually dreamt about opening these packs last night.. not once, but twice! The first dream, I pulled a Willie Mays/Ernie Banks co-signers card. I was stoked since that's a very good "hit", though honestly I would probably sell that card if I pulled it. I already have an Ernie Banks auto card (one of those Nabisco cards I sent away for in the early 90s), and if Willie's signature is as strange as on the other co-signer I've seen a scan of, I can't really get excited over it. So yeah, I'd probably rather eBay the card off for a few hundred bucks. But, *sigh*, it would be a great problem to have.

In the second dream, I pulled a John Candelaria auto. Not as sexy of a pull, but I need that one, so I was happy with it, and was bummed when I woke up and realized it was just a dream.

But yeah, I need to rip open some more of these and hopefully move on with my life once I'm through these 7 I've got left.

At least I'll get fodder for future blog posts out of ripping the packs. These 4 should arrive soon, and I'll likely crack them open quickly (rather than saving them for special occasions like the packs I bought earlier). Check back soon and join in on the exciting ride and see if I taste the joys triumph, or more likely, become crestfallen at getting more cheap Bobby Grich autos.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ripping 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition (Parts 1 & 2 [of 5])

Last time I talked about 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition, I mentioned I dropped a chunk of change on a hobby box (5 packs) of this ultra-super-deluxe set. Well, it arrived the other day and I opened a couple packs.

Pack 1.. drum roll..
..And the uncirculated autograph is...
[swing and a miss]
Bobby Grich
Dang, already have this one. And it's probably the easiest/cheapest one to find (about $5-10). Oh well, trading fodder, I guess. I gotta admit I wasn't familiar with Mr. Grich before getting into this set. He just somehow eluded my awareness. But learning about him, he was a damn fine ballplayer. Four-time Gold Glove winner, and home run champ in 1981. Guy's got my respect. That said, still a disappointment to pull this double.
I couldn't resist opening another pack to ease the pain...

Pack 2...
Dale Murphy
Ok, here's a good (not great) card to pull. I didn't have this one yet. It's somewhat common to find on eBay, but usually with a higher asking price than you'd expect (You'd expect it around $10-20. For over $20, the player should be in the Hall of Fame or deceased; Dale is neither of these things.)
Mr. Murphy was one of the best hitters of the '80s, winning back-to-back MVP awards (1982 & 1983). Unfortunately for him, he was stuck on the Braves, who sucked back then. He was traded to the Phillies in the early 90s, and his numbers went south, leaving him on the cusp of HOF-caliber numbers, but ultimately falling short.
Since I needed this card, I'm happy to get it, though it's not much of a "hit".

As far as the non-auto cards in these 2 packs:
Tony Fernandez (black parallel #25/99).. sweet!
Bob Gibson
Al Hrabosky
George Foster
Carl Yastrzemski
Jim Rice
Fernando Valenzuela
Ron Swoboda
...Not a bad lot of guys. Gibson and Yaz, especially.

So yep, 2 packs down, 3 left to go. Hopefully there's somebody in the remaining 3 packs who'll justify what I spent on that box. But even if not, oh well, it's fun and exciting to open an expensive pack of baseball cards. Like a smaller scale version of blowing money in Vegas.. sure, you end up in the red most of the time, but it was fun, right? I'm planning to save the remaining packs for "special occasions" over the next month or so. I'll be sure to post about them when I open them, so stick around to find out what they've got hidden within their shiny wrappers.

The hobby box also included a handy checklist in it, with the base cards on one side and the autos on the other. Also, interesting to see the "groups" of the autos. The bottom of the box lists who's in each group, and the wrapper gives the odds of each group, from 1:675 for Group A, to 1:33 for Group H. I read online somewhere that the production count for the top 3 groups are 25 printed for Group A, 50 for Group B, and 75 for Group C.. though I couldn't say for sure if that's accurate.

It's funny how some of these "scarcity numbers" don't always match up with what I've seen them going for. And kinda funny to see poor Roy Face listed all by himself as the most common. Much love to the man and his still-standing single-season record of 18 relief wins.
I've got most of the lower 3 groups, and a few scattered in the rarer groups, with my "best" ones being Mike Schmidt and Frank Robinson. I'll try to post my "wantlist" soon.

So yeah, there's my lastest post regarding 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition.. stay tuned for more.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bo Jackson shirt from the 90s (that I still wear!)

While my new blog here is called Baseball Card Breakdown, I plan to occasionally drift a bit from the topic of baseball cards and ramble about other stuff.. if that's cool with you all. Yeah? Great!

This divergence is at least baseball related. One of the oldest pieces of clothing I own (and still wear) is a Bo Jackson "Hit & Run" shirt that I got way back in middle school.. so we're talking dawn of the 90s. Probably 1991. Back when Bo was on the Royals and Raiders, respectively, and plays up the 2-sport deal. It's got a Nike logo on it, but no team identification other than uniform colors. Amazingly, I still wear it, and have been for over 20 years.

Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson In Action
It's now very ripped up, so it's mostly a night shirt/pajama top. But living in a "hip" (weird) part of Portland, OR, I can occasionally wear it out while walking the dog or whatever and not get a second look. (You've seen that Portlandia show, right? It really is pretty much like that.)

It was originally a long-sleeve shirt, but somewhere over the past couple decades, I cut the sleeves off at the elbows. And it's this alteration that really made the shirt such a invaluable item in my wardrobe. You see, I'm a guy who often gets cold arms at night.. specifically the area on the back of my arms between the shoulders and elbow. And when the temperature starts slipping down, a regular t-shirt just doesn't do the trick. It can be really annoying. So this shirt is great for the Fall or Spring when it's too warm for long-sleeves, but not hot enough for a regular t-shirt. Great middle-ground option. You'd think I could just buy a similar shirt (or cut-off another long-sleeve shirt), but nothing else seems to get it just right. Either the sleeves are too loose or not the exact correct length or something.

I also feel good that I can still fit into my clothes from middle school. While a lot of my old friends from back in the day have packed on a few extra pounds-- as humans often do as they age-- I have remained bizarrely consistent in my size regardless of my fluctuating eating/exercising habits at any given period over the past 25 years or so. Here's hoping I don't hit that point where my metabolism changes anytime soon and I have to deal with strict diets and exercising. Yesterday at work I ate three Krispy Kreme donuts. Three!! Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking, either. They were tasty at the time, though (and free, too-- thanks, Debi, for bringing those in!) But yeah, today I went on a nice hike, so hopefully that was able to combat yesterday's gluttony a bit. The trail was to a place called Punchbowl Falls. Gorgeous views and a lovely waterfall at the end. I love hikes where there's a goal/end. Just looping around is kinda boring to me. But give me a destination to make it to, and you've got my interest, whether it be a waterfall, stream, peak, dead body, or whatever.
Very tired now. Just want to post this blog then head to bed. Here's a couple pics and a video from the hike.

Don't look down, Annie!

With a little luck, I'll remain in decent shape, as will my old Bo Jackson shirt, for a few more good years.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 Topps Archives blaster breakdown

Before I started reading baseball card blogs, I had no idea what a "blaster" was. Hell, I'm still not exactly sure. But I think I recently bought one on eBay for $20. I don't really mess with new cards much at all. I haven't bought a pack of any current Topps flagship set since 1993 (not counting a single 2008 pack I bought at the dollar store).

But I'm drawn to Topps Archives, what with the classic designs from yesteryear and the old school retired players mixed in with guys from today. I've never heard of half of the current guys (I don't really follow baseball much these days), but the old guys are cool. Man, I flushed damn near $100 last year on 2012 Topps Archives packs. I was really hoping to pull a certified autograph. Even a "common" auto like Wally Backman would have been ok, but preferably a badass like Bob Gibson. But I got shut out. The best I got out of, what, 20-something packs was a jersey Andy Peditte. Also a jersey of some Braves dude (Jason Heyward, I think? Oh, and I should mention I don't really care about jersey cards and fully expect them to be "fake" but whatever, still cool to pull) and a gold parallel of Josh Hamilton. ("Parallel", there's another baseball card term I wasn't familiar with until I recently got back into the hobby a few years ago.) So, yeah, my 2012 Archives "chase" was not, in fact, caught. It's ok, though. I like the cards, especially the old guys, like I said. And I was going through some tough times around the time I was ripping packs (somewhat of a "breakdown", if you will-- See tying in the blog name! lol), so they were a nice little distraction. I remember the day my super amazing dog Lucy died (no fooling, she was such a great dog-- I know everybody loves their own dog n' all, but damn, I can't overstate how much she enriched our lives, and everyone she met, really; imagine Winnie The Pooh as a dog; like a sweet, cuddly living teddy bear; so sad to lose her so soon), but anyways, that night, in the lowest depths of my sadness, I pulled a Roberto Clemente rookie reprint from an Archives pack. Of course I couldn't help but see a parallel (I need to learn how to spell that word without spellcheck's help) but yeah, the parallel between one of the greatest humans of all time and one of the greatest pooches of all time, both taken from us too soon. Now I always think of Lucy and smile when I see that card. I think it's currently visible on display in the header pic of this blog.
man, we still miss her everyday.

some of my 2012 Archives bounty
So anyways, I think Topps Archives is kinda cool. The 2 or 3 reviews by other bloggers I've seen are not crazy about the 2013 set. I'm definitely not planning on buying a bunch this year like I did last year, though; just this one blaster will likely do me fine.

So what did I get brag-worthy this year? Not much. A jersey card of Hanley Ramirez is my only real "hit" so far (I've currently got 1 more pack to rip). Also got a couple mini tall boys which don't do much for me to begin with, but especially not Braun and Strasburg. Other short prints include All-Star cards of Fisk and Schmidt (I like those guys, but not these cards-- blah) and a '68-style Denny McLain. So yeah, nothing to really get excited over. As far as base cards I'm happy to have pulled: non-actives Griffey Jr, Eddie Mathews, Yogi, Jackie, Ryne, and Stargell. For current guys, there's Adrian Gonzales (my Padres allegiances cause me to still like the guy, even in a Dodger uni) and Dylan Bundy, who I must admit I'm not really familiar with, but is supposed to be a semi-hot prospect.. maybe?

could be worse
Ok, for some blog excitement, let's open my last pack here "live"! whee!! HEeeer Weee GOOOOOOO!!!!

Card back on the back of the pack.. Babe Ruth! Hey, the game's all-time greatest player! I'll take it. Topps gave him #1 placement. Nice. Turning the pack around..
Kyle Seager.. never heard of him
Doug Fister.. never heard of him, but cracked a smile at his vaguely obscene name
oh, a 4-player sticker peeked out at me from later in the pack.. joy! can't wait!
Todd Frazier.. never heard of him
ok, here's the 4-shot.. Cobb, Mays, Griffey, Trout. not bad.
next up, Carlos Gonzalez.. never heard of him
Dustin Pedroia.. yep, I've heard of this guy
Giancalo Stanton.. never heard of him.. wow, this guy puts up decent power numbers, I must be really out of the loop.
and finally, here's the front of the Babe card whose back greeted me when I opened the pack. Love the tiny full stats on the back, even the crappy last year with the Boston Braves!

So anyways, looks like I'm shut out once again for any Archives fan favorite autos. Bummer. Maybe next year.
I'll pick out some of these cards to add to my collection and the rest will go into the "for Listia" stack. Maybe if this here blog ever gains traction, someday I'll start trading with other guys from the blog community. I don't think I've ever traded cards over the internet with anyone. I've gotten some card in exchange for music bootlegs (I've got a pretty big selection of live/rare music from a select few bands I like, and make it known that I'll trade copies for cards). But yeah, I haven't done much trading. I guess Listia is basically trading, since I auction off cards for credits, then use those credits to bid on other cards, but that's not quite the same. Oh man, this would be the perfect time to post my referral link in case anyone reading this hasn't signed up for Listia yet! If you're not familiar, it's like a "free eBay" marketplace where you buy and sell stuff for credits (instead of money). Sorry for the spam-ish end to this long, rambling post, but yeah, if you want to sign up for Listia, pretty please use this link because that'll get me some bonus credits and potentially pull me back from the brink of another breakdown (see, tied it all back into the blog title! score!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bucky Bleeping Dent

Was watching this guy on eBay for a week.. low opening bid.. looked good. Set an alarm for it and everything. Walking the pup to a dog-friendly pub for an after-work beer and some free wi-fi for tv show downloadin'. Right when we get there, the alarm goes off. I hustle to a table, whip out my laptop, and refresh the page, but FUUUUUU.... just seconds too late: "this auction has ended." And so cheap, too! I would have bid 2 or 3 times more than the winning bid. I felt so bad I just wanted to stab myself in the throat and bleed out in front of all the patrons at the establishment; a shocking scene that would be sure to horrify the entire nation. To be honest, I kinda regret not doing just that.

Ok, maybe I'm over-reacting, but I feel like I need to be sure the "breakdown" aspect of Baseball Card Breakdown is represented to some degree. Sorry.

To make matters worse, I got mixed up and grabbed the wrong tupperware container.. meant to grab the bone and chicken scraps for the pup, but accidentally grabbed the container of pork juice the bone had been marinating in. DAMN! That was another big kick in the crotch when I was already down. I could barely enjoy my Humboldt Hemp Brown. We then swung by the dog park, so I think my dog has forgiven me, but will I ever forgive myself?

Oh well, I'll get that Bucky one of these days. It went pretty cheap, like I said. But funny enough, I think that's the first one I've seen available. That's in contrast to the Darren Daulton and Dale Murphy from that set, which always seem to have several copies up on eBay or COMC.

Monday, June 17, 2013

2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition breakdown

OK, I'll admit I've had a breakdown over a particular super high-end set. 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition. Goddamn, I'm putty in its hands! I was never really into autographed cards, but a few months ago I won a Bill Madlock from this set on Listia and just loved it. I've been stricken with the crazy idea of collecting ALL the certified autos from this set (or at least attempting this feat). The press from Topps says there are 74 different autos (not counting 4 Willie Mays co-signers), but I think there are actually 76 by my count (though I could be off).
Why do I love it so very much? Let's break it down:


  • Black is cool
    . Those bad-ass black boarders are attractive!
  • The "uncirculated" encased cards are sweet. I'm not necessarily a grade-happy "slab them all!" collector by any means. But it's nice that these cards essentially come with their own hardcase. We all know how vulnerable black cards are to edge wear, so this is a good solution. Nobody's touched these cards besides the dude who signed it and maybe a middleman dude or two from Topps. Sure, you can find these cards out of their cases, but for me, I'm really only interested in them if they've got their original factory-sealed case with nifty hologram sticker.

Look at all those batting titles! Mad Dog for HOF!

  • Full stats!!! Here's where the cards really win me over. I'm big on card backs. What really turns me off from most certified autos is the back. You get a cool card with a neat autograph across it and turn it over and it's all "Congratulations! You've received a card personally signed by Mr. Homerun Guy. We here at this baseball card company pinky-swear that it's legit. Signed, the CEO of this baseball card company." LAME. Don't waste half of a card congratulating me on pulling-- or more realistically, buying-- a neat card. At least give me a little write up about how cool this player was/is, or preferably FULL STATS and a sentence or two about how cool this player was/is. And that's what 2004 Topps Retired gives you. I love that. There's a great story there among the numbers. Since all these guys are retired, you get their complete career stats, from their triumphant prime years (league-leading stats conveniently highlighted in red text), through the twists and turns to that last year or two where their numbers slid into the toilet, leading to their retirement. Fascinating stuff!
  • Blue Sharpie. Autographs look great in blue sharpie. It seems 99% of this set features blue sharpie, in all its vibrant and bold glory. I've also seen some in black sharpie, but those seem to be faded. Boo! Should have stuck to only blue, guys. All the blue autos I've seen from 2004 Topps Retired still look as great as the day they were signed about a decade ago.

  • Player selection. There're 110 base (white, non-auto) cards. And then 75 of those also have the auto versions, plus 1 (Bucky Dent) who has an auto, but not a base card version. Yeah, that's weird. It breaks my heart thinking about some of the guys who have base cards but not autos (personal favs Dick Allen and Dave Winfield not having autos in this set pain me most of all). But oh well. Anyways, the base cards are white. There are also black non-auto parallels which are numbered to 99. Oh, and the autos also have refractor parallels numbered to 25. As far as super-rare pulls, there are also printing plates for all autos, plus "co-signer" Willie Mays cards, with the Say Hey Kid scribbling cardboard with Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Duke Snider, and Stan Musial, respectively. But for my "collecting goal" (obsession), I'm just concerned with the regular unnumbered autos.

So yeah, I'm bent on collecting this set. Packs had a list price of $29.99 when they came out. A pack contained 4 base cards plus 1 uncirculated auto. The current going rate for a pack here in 2013 is about $50-75 a pop. Some of the "common" autos sell for around $5-10. These cheaper guys include the likes of Bobby Grich, Ron Swoboda, and Ron Kittle. I don't know exactly what the top-tier guys go for, honestly, since I've only been after this set for a few months now. A Duke Snider is (as of now) on eBay for around $150. And, oh, looks like a Hank Aaron just went up on eBay for $350. I've seen faded black sharpie versions of Yaz and Yogi asking for around $100. Refractor versions seem to be going for 2 or 3 times as much.

Maybe someday I'll do a "set blog" with a post for each card. But for now, I'll keep this to an occasional post. I very recently shelled out $251.95 for a hobby box (5 packs). Dumb, I know, but I'm counting it as a gift from some birthday money I received months ago. What are the chances I'll pull cards valuing even half that much, total? Probably not very good. But who knows; fingers crossed for Hank Aaron or Nolan Ryan or somebody cool as that. It's some excitement for me, if nothing else. I'll probably check in with updates on what I pull (at $50+ a pop, I'll try to spread them out a bit, perhaps use them as life rewards.. for example, after I finally go in for my dental exam, I get to rip a pack).

Anyways, enough talk. Let's check out some more pics! Most of these I don't own, just found pix online, FYI.

Here's the Bucky-- the oddity that apparently only exists as an auto, not in the base set.

Here's a black parallel. Similar to the auto versions, but without the white, signed part near the bottom. Again, these are numbered to 99.

Example of a refractor version. Doesn't look much different, but is a tiny bit more shiny/colorful/refractory and numbered to 25 on the back.


Here's a Yogi Berra refractor and a Carl Yastremski, both sadly in faded black sharpie.

Each guy with a signed variation in the set also has 4 different printing plates (one for each prime color, I guess?), each numbered 1/1 with an autographed sticker put on it by Topps. Pictured is Wade Boggs, specifically the yellow printing plate for his card. Kinda neat, but at ~$200+ a pop, I don't need to own any of them. (Though I would be happy if any fell into my lap.)

Here's an example of a dual signed Willie Mays card. There are cards with Willie signing with 4 different classic HOF guys, each numbered to 25. --But hey, what's with his signature? That doesn't look like it says "Willie Mays" at all! More like "Fame Tui (and a doodle of a ribbon or a fish)". Honestly, no way I'm ponying up upwards of a grand for one of these cards, which seem to be the going price (Though, again, I'd be stoked to pull one from a pack, or randomly find one in a stinky cardboard box on the side of the road or something).

Let's wrap this post up with the checklist for the set, including the base set and also noting which guys have certified autographed cards in the set, too.

1 Willie Mays 
2 Tony Gwynn (has auto insert)
3 Dale Murphy (has auto insert)
4 Lenny Dykstra 
5 Johnny Bench  (has auto insert)
6 Bill Buckner  (has auto insert)
7 Ferguson Jenkins  (has auto insert)
8 George Brett 
9 Ralph Kiner  (has auto insert)
10 Ernie Banks  (has auto insert)
11 Hal McRae 
12 Lou Brock 
13 Keith Hernandez 
14 Jose Canseco  (has auto insert)
15 Whitey Ford  (has auto insert)
16 Dave Kingman 
17 Tim Raines 
18 Paul O'Neill  (has auto insert)
19 Lou Whitaker 
20 Mike Schmidt  (has auto insert)
21 Wally Joyner  (has auto insert)
22 Kirk Gibson  (has auto insert)
23 Ryne Sandberg  (has auto insert)
24 Luis Tiant  (has auto insert)
25 Al Kaline 
26 Brooks Robinson  (has auto insert)
27 Don Zimmer  (has auto insert)
28 Nolan Ryan  (has auto insert)
29 Maury Wills  (has auto insert)
30 Stan Musial  (has auto insert)
31 Garry Maddox 
32 Tom Brunansky  (has auto insert)
33 Don Mattingly  (has auto insert)
34 Earl Weaver  (has auto insert)
35 Bobby Grich  (has auto insert)
36 Orlando Cepeda  (has auto insert)
37 Alan Trammell  (has auto insert)
38 Al Hrabosky  (has auto insert)
39 Dave Lopes  (has auto insert)
40 Rod Carew  (has auto insert)
41 Robin Yount  (has auto insert)
42 Dwight Gooden  (has auto insert)
43 Andre Dawson 
44 Hank Aaron  (has auto insert)
45 Norm Cash 
46 Reggie Jackson 
47 Jim Rice 
48 Carlton Fisk  (has auto insert)
49 Dave Parker  (has auto insert)
50 Cal Ripken  (has auto insert)
51 Roy Face  (has auto insert)
52 Bob Gibson  (has auto insert)
53 Jimmy Key  (has auto insert)
54 Al Oliver  (has auto insert)
55 Don Larsen 
56 Tom Seaver  (has auto insert)
57 Tony Armas  (has auto insert)
58 Dave Stieb  (has auto insert)
59 Will Clark 
60 Duke Snider  (has auto insert)
61 Cesar Geronimo  (has auto insert)
62 Ron Kittle  (has auto insert)
63 Ron Santo  (has auto insert)
64 Mickey Rivers 
65 Jim Piersall  (has auto insert)
66 Ron Swoboda  (has auto insert)
67 Kent Hrbek 
68 Dennis Eckersley  (has auto insert)
69 Greg Luzinski  (has auto insert)
70 Harmon Killebrew 
71 Ron Guidry 
72 Steve Garvey 
73 Andy Van Slyke 
74 Goose Gossage  (has auto insert)
75 Ozzie Smith  (has auto insert)
76 Richie Allen 
77 Vida Blue  (has auto insert)
78 Tony Oliva  (has auto insert)
79 Darryl Strawberry  (has auto insert)
80 Frank Robinson  (has auto insert)
81 Bruce Sutter  (has auto insert)
82 Dave Concepcion 
83 Darrell Evans  (has auto insert)
84 Jack Morris 
85 Bo Jackson 
86 Orel Hershiser  (has auto insert)
87 Rob Dibble  (has auto insert)
88 Wade Boggs  (has auto insert)
89 Fernando Valenzuela 
90 Jim Palmer 
91 George Foster  (has auto insert)
92 Mike Scott 
93 Paul Molitor  (has auto insert)
94 Gary Carter  (has auto insert)
95 Bobby Richardson  (has auto insert)
96 Rollie Fingers (has auto insert)
97 Tim McCarver 
98 John Candelaria (has auto insert)
99 Dave Winfield 
100 Yogi Berra  (has auto insert)
101 Bill Madlock  (has auto insert)
102 Jack McDowell  (has auto insert)
103 Luis Aparicio 
104 Graig Nettles  (has auto insert)
105 Dave Stewart 
106 Darren Daulton  (has auto insert)
107 Gary Gaetti 
108 Tony Fernandez  (has auto insert)
109 Buddy Bell  (has auto insert)
110 Carl Yastrzemski  (has auto insert)

N/A Bucky Dent (auto insert only)

Oh, Topps 2004 Retired Signature Edition, you got me! Nice work. 

I guess I should mention that Topps returned to do another Retired set in 2005. But honestly, those don't grab me nearly as much. It's got an interesting player selection of fan favorites (and "this guy? really?!" lesser favorites), but the auto cards are white (not black? boring). And I've never been a fan of the the last name in big letters on the top. So, never-say-never, but I don't plan on collecting that one. But who are we kidding, if the day comes that I complete the 2004 Retired autos and have few bucks laying around, it'll be tempting to give it a shot. Sigh. But yeah, that's a couple decades down the road.

Break me off a piece of that Kaat! 

Similarly, the first Retired Signature Edition was in 2003. While I like that design ok, still doesn't grab me as much as the 2004 set. Again, maybe I'll break down and go after that someday in the future, but let's hope not.

Well, that's it for this blog's initial baseball card post. It'll probably be the longest I ever write, coincidentally. --rambled a bit there-- But yeah, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more on my quest of collecting this set.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Grand Blog Opening

Hi everybody. Welcome to my entry into the world of baseball card blogging. I'll tell you right now I won't post everyday-- probably weeks between posts, even-- but I hope to have some enjoyable posts in the time to come.

Some background on me. My name's Gavin. I live in Portland, Oregon but I'm originally from San Diego-- so yes, the hapless Padres are "my team". I won't make this blog too homer-centric, however, as I consider myself more of a general "baseball fan", especially when it comes to cards. I only really discovered baseball card blogs within the past couple years or so, starting with the seminal "1988 Topps" blog, then working through Andy's subsequent blogs, then moving on to Night Owl's "1975 Topps" blog, and currently working through Kevin's 1965 Topps Project, Wobs' 1974 Topps Pennant Fever blog, and Brandon's 1983 Topps blog. Oh, and I also am a somewhat loyal reader of Night Own Cards.. I don't always agree with him, but he's a good writer, so his blog is usually a good read, even when he's getting hung up on the Dodgers. I've never really done much blogging before, but have been creating/running websites of my own since the 90s (usually music related, e.g. fansites for bands I like). This'll be my first baseball-themed web project. A while back I considered doing a blog covering 1990 Topps, but that got derailed when I realized someone had beat me to it. I started collecting baseball cards in 1990, hence my sentimental appreciation of the infamously ugly set. It was the first set I remember collecting (1990 Donruss was pretty much right there with it). I was a pretty heavy collector from then until around 1993, when my interest turned to music and girls. Then I stopped collecting, but kept interested in baseball, especially getting excited during the Padres' playoff runs of 1996 and 1998. In the later 2000's, I stopped caring much about baseball. The Pads just broke my heart too many times, plus I stopped getting TV service. In the recent couple years, my interest in the sport has returned a little, but mostly to the past, such as by collecting old cards and reading old set blogs. Honestly, I don't think I watched a full baseball game in several years, and I'm not very familiar with today's players outside of the big-name stars.

Anyways, I hope to have a nice interesting & amusing blog here which hopefully a couple people find and enjoy. Baseball Card Breakdown will be my main, general topic blog (baseball cards), but if it goes well I plan on eventually starting blogs to cover a couple of my favorite sets that haven't been exhaustedly-featured on any blogs yet. So yep, if you wanna, please follow, read, comment, share, and enjoy.

First post ッ

Test? Test! I've never really blogged before. So just checking it out. Hope to post some real content soon.