Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Custom TTM Success!: Art LaFleur as Babe Ruth in The Sandlot

Here's a fun through-the-mail success story.

The origins of this one go back to January 2016. Among the flurry of TTM requests I sent out at the time were 3 regarding the beloved 90s film The Sandlot. Sadly for me, I didn't have much luck with them. As I documented in a post a few months later, Mike Vitar (Benny) and Marley Shelton (Wendy) came back as undeliverable, while Art LaFleur (The Babe) just never came back, but I held out hope it might surprise me in my mailbox someday down the line.

It didn't. But fast forward to earlier this month, I got an email from Art LaFleur's wife. She told me they stumbled upon that old blog post of mine, and that my request was never received. I guess the address I used wasn't reliable. But she told me they both got a kick out of the cards.

She offered to give me a better address to use, though asked me not to share it. She also said they'd like to buy a few copies of each card I made so Art could share them with his fans. (Sometimes fans ask Art to sign real Babe Ruth cards, which he is understandably against for moral reasons, as that's not him pictured.. but cards featuring him in character as the Babe wouldn't have that problem.)

As you can imagine, this email totally made my day! I told her I'd be happy to send a bunch of extras free of charge, just hoping to get one each signed and returned. In addition to the two designs had whipped up back in early 2016 (one Babe, and one of Art's character in Field of Dreams), I also set out to make a 3rd card for the occasion. I went with a Goudey design reminiscent of cards from Ruth's playing days. It just came back signed yesterday and I couldn't be happier with it!..

Super cool, right?!

He also kindly signed the older cards I made.

I've had some great returns in my limited TTM activity over the years, but this one might be hard to top.

I love The Sandlot and am excited for 2018 Topps Archives due out in mid August, featuring Sandlot inserts and autos. I'll likely go hard adding those to my small collection of cards from the movie.

Big thanks to the generous Mr. LaFleur and his very kind wife for turning what was a TTM failure into an incredible success!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Blue Tape and Pull-Tab Awareness Week 2018

Shark Week was last week, so you know what that means... It's time once again for Blue Tape and Pull-Tab Awareness Week! It's the week when we collectors rally together to bring awareness to best practices for proper sportscard shipping.

I'm working on some fresh related content for this week, but for now, here's a copy & paste of last year's post.

It's one of the biggest plights for the sportscard collecting enthusiast of today:

Scotch tape.

Specifically, irresponsible usage of scotch tape to protect cards.

Don't get me wrong, tape is a must-have item for anyone who ever ships cards. A piece of tape over the opening of a top loader prevents the card from slipping out and potentially being damaged in shipment. At some point we've all been the victim of a negligent newb card seller who just throws a top-loader into a bubble mailer willy-nilly (or worse yet, a PWE) and you open to the horrific sight of the card poking out, with a dinged corner or two. A few cards secured between a couple pieces of protective cardboard by some tape is also a good way to keep them safe from the rigors of interstate travel.

But too often, the person mailing the cards doesn't take a moment to think about the recipient. I'm sure you've been in the frustrating situation many times: spending what seems like several minutes chipping away at a piece of tape with your fingernail, trying to free your newly obtained card(s). Such a pain! You could also use a knife or scissor blade to cut the tape, but you run the risk of slipping and cutting in too far, potentially damaging the card. And either way, if it's a top loader, now you've got a trashy-looking top loader with a cut-up piece of tape on it.. time to get your fingernails involved again. Depending on the tape, it could take just a moment, or it could be on there so badly (chipping off in tiny brittle bits, or not coming off at all) that the card holder is essentially ruined. Even in the best-case scenario, some Goo Gone is usually needed to remove the sticky tape residue.

This disheartening scene could easily be avoided!

All the sender needs to do is spend two seconds to fold over a tiny piece of tape, creating a handy pull-tab. This pull-tab makes it super easy for the recipient to grab hold of the tape and peel it off in one efficient motion. No dangerous blades or fingernail frustration needed!

And Blue painter's tape is the best tape to use! It costs a little more than regular clear scotch tape, but it comes off so easily and residue-free that your recipient will love you for it! For you thrifty types out there, know that blue tape can be reused several times! If somebody sends you a card with some blue tape, put it aside to use again later with someone else. In fact, here's a look at the desk in my card room in the height of blue tape bloom:

I'm well-stocked on second-hand blue tape! I should probably develop a less tacky-looking solution one of these days. But yeah, I use plenty of blue tape and have never had to actually buy a roll of it.

Now let's do a quick "how to" on pull-tabs.


Step 1: Apply tape to one side.

Step 2: At the end of the remaining tape, fold over a piece about a centimeter long, with the sticky part being stuck against itself, creating a non-sticky pull-tab roughly the shape of a square.

Step 3: Apply the remaining tape to the other side.

  • You can also double up on the pull-tabs to make opening cards later even easier. Just follow the above process for each side of the tape you apply.
  • It's also nice to write "pull" on either the tab itself or on the protective cardboard with an arrow pointing to the tab. This is helpful for individuals who might not immediately recognize the tab you've thoughtfully created for them.

Advanced Pro Tips:
  • To go that extra mile, consider putting a little piece of paper over the top-loader opening, and tape it on (with pull-tabs, of course!) This will help prevent the rare but tragic occurrence of the card sticking to the tape. This is especially a good idea with old vintage cardboard (more prone to sticking and being damaged than today's cards) or when using extra thick top-loaders, such as with relics or other fat cards.
  • Tape can be avoided all together with the use of a team bag secured over a top-loader. Some people, like fellow blogger RAZ (check out his method here), go all out and use blue tape, a paper buffer, and a team bag. Bless these heroes!

A+++++ transaction!!! Would deal with again!

  • Don't make the tab so big that there's not enough sticky part of the tape left to get a secure seal. You want at least a half-inch of sticky part remaining to ensure that the tape holds during transit. If you've got limited tape length to work with, it's better to have a "too small" pull-tab, than "too big". Even if it's too small, at least the recipient can have a good start for his or her fingernails.
  • If you write "pull" to identify the tab, be sure to write gently. Writing too hard could damage the card.


Step 1: Pull tab.

Step 2: There is no step 2; you're done, bro! Throw away the tape that easily came off (or if it's blue tape, consider sticking it somewhere to reuse later), and enjoy your new card(s) and pristine top-loader!

It's just that easy! How has this not caught on? It's so easy to do and so handy for the person getting the cards!
I've heard the argument "When you buy a card, you're not buying a toploader or other supplies, only the card." By that logic, you have dinner at a restaurant and expect them to dish out the food directly into your hands. No, of course it's expected that they'll provide a clean plate and any necessary utensils for your food. Buying a card online similarly should imply that the seller will provide adequate service when packaging and shipping the card.

Thanks for reading and thank you for your commitment to excellence in packaging sports cards!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

blasters of 2018 Ginter and Big League

My usual monthly rip schedule got a little moved around thanks to August's planned break, a couple boxes of 2018 Archives, not coming out till the middle of the month. So to tide me over, I treated myself to a couple blasters at the grocery store this afternoon.

I'm not crazy about Big League Baseball, but it looks ok from what I've seen on the blogs so far. As far as cards with a cheaper price point, I think it's a step up from Bunt and way more interesting than Opening Day. Worth the $9.99 to check it out.

And Allen and Ginter looks kinda cool this year, with some neat insert sets. So I grabbed one of those as well.

Let's start with Ginter. Pulled a bunch of PC additions.

I believe these are SPs, as their number is each over 300. Available for trade.

Mini inserts. Kinda cool, but I could be talked out of any of these if you're working on these sets.

And base minis. I collect the 2 Astros, but the rest are available for trade.

I would have liked to pull a Hottest Peppers mini (I'm a spicy food junkie), or a glow-in-the-dark mini (I'll have more about these in an upcoming post), but those might be hobby only.

Horizontal inserts.

Vertical inserts. Available for trade.

So there are the highlights from the A&G cards. Not great, but not horrible. Picked up several needs of guys I collect plus some trade bait, so it's all good.

Onto Big League. Here are some keeps for me of inserts and parallels. Not bad looking cards.

More PC hits for me here, with some old-timers and league leaders.

A few more keepers. I didn't seem to pull an SP or any hit, but oh well, I wasn't expecting to.

My one numbered pull was a shiny Brett Gardner /100, which is kinda cool but sadly not a guy I collect. These in the above pic are all up for trade.

I got Ohtani as my green "box bottom" card. I was looking for Trout, but all they had on the shelf was Shohei and Harper. It was a toss up between him and Bryce, but I ultimately went with the RC.

That's it. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A haul of cards celebrating 10 years of Cards on Cards

Cards on Cards recently reached the milestone of a decade of cardblogging. Kerry generously celebrated with free group break for his readers. I jumped in and and snaked the Red Sox. Yeah, they're not my #1 team (sorry, Padres), but well, I collect a lot of their players, plus I've probably traded with more Red Sox collectors than any other team over the past year or two, so it's always nice to add some trade fodder. Seeing as he's a fellow Portland resident, we met up the other day to save shipping. I scrounged up a handful of Cardinals for him, and he gave me my haul from the break with plenty of bonus cards.

Nice Wade Boggs auto! I was pretty stoked to land one of the highlights of the big group break. Kerry tempered expectations by saying this card came damaged out of the pack, and yeah the upper right corner was dinged a little, but not as bad as I was expecting.

Some great additions to my Mookie Betts collection, highlighted by a 2014 Donruss The Rookies RC. There's only one of these on COMC right now and it's priced at a ridiculous $49.95.. Geez! He's making a strong case for 2018 AL MVP.

Some more nice cards of current Sox standouts.

A couple all-time pitching greats here, with Clemens and Pedro.

More retired legends.

Hitting some non-Boston cards now. Didi rookie! Good stuff here.

A numbered Brian Giles (making a consecutive appearance on my blog after a starring role last post) and fan favorite Rod Beck.

The Cecchini Brothers haven't done much this year; Gavin hanging out in AAA, Garin playing in Mexico. But best of luck to them.

Oh, some more Sox, with a nice trio of Devers. Love that shimmer mini.

Fine Young Bowmans.

Bryce and Stan and Correa. Good stuff!

And Kerry hooked me up with a bunch of basketball cards too.

My Dirk PC got a big boost here. Happy to hear he's coming back for another season.

Hometown hero of mine, TJ Leaf! I only had 2 or 3 cards of his cards prior to this.

B-ball greats Wilt and Dr. J!

And a bunch of other Red Sox that didn't fit my collection to add to my tradeables box. Plantier minor league, Nomar SC insert, #'d Schilling. All up for trade.

Unopened pack of '89 Score to add to my rainy day stockpile. I like this set despite being horribly overproduced and would likely pick up a set if I found it for ~$5 at a card show sometime. So yeah, should be a fun rip.

Finally, a little cloth. Love the Hosmer relic. He's been solid for the Padres this year, though the team has had a lousy 2nd half. (I'm deeply troubled about reports they're looking to give up some of their top prospects in exchange for a starter like Chris Archer or Syndergaard.. NO!! Trust the process. Just have patience for another year or two. Don't do anything stupid and screw up the future.) And Kerry must've remembered my post talking about my love for Rilo Kiley / Jenny Lewis, hooking me up with this cool little patch.

Thanks so much for your generosity, Kerry! Lots of great stuff here. Congrats again on a decade of blogging!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I bought game-used pants! And made relic cards with them!

I read a Raz post a while back where he mentioned buying game-used pants of a guy he collects and I half-jokingly made a comment suggesting he should cut them up and make custom relic cards. And that planted the seed that I should do just that! I looked around eBay for game-worn pants of somebody I collect (gotta assume pants are cheaper than jersey tops since they don't display as well; It's not like something you'd frame on your wall). I found a listing for Brian Giles pants that wasn't too outrageously priced, made an offer I was comfortable with, and it was accepted. As a guy who went to my high school (and worked there when I attended), plus later played several years for my hometown Padres, Giles was a great choice for me to feature in a bunch of customs.

While the pants didn't come with any fancy authentication hologram sticker or anything, I gotta think someone would be crazy to go through the trouble of making fake Brian Giles pants with this much care and detail. A player like Jeter or Trout, maybe. But other than an all-time great like that, just doesn't seem like it'd be worth it to a would-be bootlegging seamstress to make. So I'm convinced they're legit.

The listing said they were used in a game while Brian was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000, but that was the extent of the information provided; no exact date or anything. They don't seem to have any stains, so it's safe to say he didn't steal a base (only 6 on the year) or make any sliding catches in the outfield this day. But the pants have pinstripes, so that's definitely a big plus as far as making interesting memorabilia cards.

The 2000 season was a good one for Brian, though. He made the All-Star team for the first time, set what would stand as his career-high in RBI, and even got some MVP consideration.

Readers with good memories might recall my post several weeks back where I mentioned I was writing the post while wearing Brian Giles' pants. Yeah, I just wanted to get the feel of them, plus then I could truthfully make the claim that they were "blog-used" at any point down the line if I felt like getting silly with it. Yep, I wore the pants for an hour or so and loved it. I could definitely see considering them regular lounge pants for lazy weekends and whatnot. Almost hated having to cut them up for cards.

But cut them I did. I even worked out a deal with noted Pirates collector and fellow physical customs maker Mark at Battlin' Bucs where I sold him one of the legs to recoup some of my purchase price. That allowed plenty of material for us both to play with.

And now I'm going to show off some of the cards I've made so far. With the exception of rough, tongue-in-cheek "blog-used button" cards I made for some of my trading buddies a couple years ago with an old shirt of mine, I had never attempted to make my own custom relic cards. I'm still in the learning curve, figuring out the best way to go about it all with some trial and error. So while I may feel good about most of the customs I crank out these days, custom relic cards are a whole new ballgame and you'll have to be forgiving if these aren't quite up to the standards you'd expect from real memorabilia cards from Topps, Panini, or Upper Deck. Also, while I'd like to think I'm pretty good at making customs using classic designs, I admit coming up with original card designs of my own has never been my strong suit. So I usually just keep it simple.

Here's the first card I came up with. Good run-of-the-mill relic card, I'd say. The uniform he's wearing in the photo matches the swatch.. Always a plus. The photo is from 2000, so who knows, there's a chance they might actually be the same pants from the photo.

Now, I didn't want to just make a ton of Pirates relic cards, so I took the liberty of stretching the pants into other settings. Hey, real card companies are known to use a photo from one team with memorabilia that player used while with another team.. so if they can do it, I figure so can I!

This card goes back to Brian's early days making a name for himself in Cleveland. I gave one of these to TSHenson the other day, the only Indians collector I've traded with lately. I should note the back clarifies the material is from his Pirates days.

And of course I couldn't leave out my Padres. Cool shot of Brian returning to the dugout after some run-production.

When I found this double play photo from '97, I thought it'd be fun to psych out my Yankees-collecting trade buddies with what would at first seem to be a Jeter relic. But the back of the card makes it clear it's from Giles' trousers, not Jeets' jeans, and mentions the 1997 season when Brian's Indians bested Derek's Yanks for the AL pennant. (Brian had a robust OPS of 1.500 in a losing cause to the Marlins in the World Series that year, BTW.)

Here's another team-up card. As I mentioned in my last post, Khalil Greene is one of my favorite somewhat obscure guys to collect, so I was happy for the chance to manufacture a new hit to squeeze into that PC, even if it's essentially just a cameo appearance.

Ok, here's a fun one. This "zero year" card commemorates the brief time Brian spent in the Dodgers organization at the end of his career. He signed with LA in 2010, but ended up retiring early in spring training due to a bum knee. I found this cool posed photo that was perfect for a relic card. I tried something new by making the window a circle instead of a box, but I don't have a big hole punch so I had to do it by hand with a blade tracing a jigger and couldn't get a perfect circle. Whatever; good enough. You're probably saying, "Hey DefGav, that's clearly a plain white swatch, not matching the pants! What the heck?!" Well, first of all, it's "defgav" (no capitalization), and secondly, yeah, I thought the grey with a black stripe would look too jarring on a Dodgers card. But I assure you the material is indeed from the pants in question. Take a guess.

Give up? If you guessed it's from a pocket, you got it. Yes, game-used pocket! I'm glad I could work up a custom relic to give to my Dodger-collecting buddies. And it's nice to have a copy in my collection too, since as far as I know, Brian never got a real card from his brief tenure bleeding Dodger blue.

Coincidentally, Brian's younger brother Marcus Giles also was technically in the Dodgers organization for a hot minute but never played an official game with them.

And you know I've got to work Marcus into one of my custom relic cards, since he's another guy I collect, went to school with him, etc. Spiced things up with a horizontal stripe here in this prototype. This "memorBRObilia" card features a nice photo that commemorates the glorious homecoming reunion of the brothers in 2007. Marcus had a down year and was out of MLB after that, which is too bad, but still a sweet story of brothers playing together for their hometown team.

That's all I've whipped up at the moment. The plan is to make a few copies of each design: one for me, and probably like 3 or 4 more to throw in with trades. I've still got about half of the pants left-- a ton of material left to play with-- so I'll likely come up with more designs in the future. And once I feel comfortable making relic cards that I'm happy with, quality-wise, I'll tackle making fancy cards, like with the buttons and tags. But no rush there.

Any feedback on my attempts at making custom relics? Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Trades, wins, and gifs

Like a zombie's hand reaching out of the grave, Bob Walk The Plank may be dead, but Matthew Scott is still making his presence felt in the cardsphere.

Khalil Greene is one of my favorite under-the-radar PCs, and this shiny die-cut 2004 Donruss Elite card #'d 3/10 is a sweet addition.

And cool to add a 1/1 Padres card in the form of this 2003 Hawaii Trade Conference stamped Ramón Vázquez. Gotta admit I don't have much recollection of the guy, but he did stick around for 9 years playing for 6 different teams, seeing his most action in San Diego during '02 and '03.

Joe Ross is a guy I kinda/sorta collect, so that's a nice one, too. It's a 1st Day Proof parallel #'d 8/10 on the back. Joe went to the Nationals in the big Wil Myers/Trea Turner 3-way trade, and is out all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery. Hopefully he can bounce back next season and get his career back on track.

Wow, a couple new one-touch cases.. that's something I can't recall receiving in trade before (though Billy has sent me used one-touches in the past). I'll definitely put these to good use.

Big thanks, Matt! A return from me should be showing up any day now.

-  - - --o

Next up is a win from Wes. He's been running a string of contests at his Area 40 blog, and I was lucky enough to come up on the randomizer recently for a graded basketball card that was in the pot.

I think this is my first-ever 1986 Fleer Basketball card, which is pretty cool. Of course the Michael Jordan card is the one everybody wants from that set. Drew played in the NBA for a decade and then went into coaching. He was part of the Cav's organization when they won it all in 2016.

Thanks for the generosity, Wes!

-  - - ---o

Among other incoming cards over the past week was a little one-card trade with a reader named James H. who knocked Matt Williams off my 1987 Fleer Update needs (now down to just Burks, Steve Carlton, Cecil Fielder, and Minton).

Also got a nice box of cards from an in-person swap with Kerry featuring my haul from his big 10th Anniversary Free Group Break plus more, but I think that's gonna have to get its own post at a later date because there's a ton of good stuff in there I still need to sort through.

-  - - ---o

If you follow me on Twitter [ @breakdowncards ], you know I've been going strong cranking out more gif cards, typically tied in with some "this day in baseball" history. If you're not on Twitter, well, allow me to round up these recent animated tweets for you now. (I also like posting them to my blog as like a backup and so I can easily find them later.)

7/16: Hey, we all embarrass ourselves at work from time to time. On this day in 1990, Steve "Psycho" Lyons absentmindedly dropped trou in front of 14,770 fans at Tiger Stadium to brush away dirt after diving into first to beat out a bunt.

7/21: Remembering Dave Henderson on what would have been his 60th birthday. Likely would've been '86 WS MVP if not for Buckner's blunder. Got redemption in '89 with A's. Always had a big smile and loved playing the game. R.I.P. Hendu.

7/22: On this day in 1989, Carl Yastrzemski is inducted into the Hall of Fame at ceremonies in Cooperstown, NY. An 18-time All-Star, Yaz was the last man to win a Triple Crown in the 20th Century, and the only AL batter to hit .300 in the "year of the pitcher" 1968.

[This tweet was the most popular of the ones in this post, racking up many likes and retweets. It also has a typo, as I bungled Yaz's last name on the card, making me feel quite the fool. Luckily, I think the majority of folks never noticed. But I'll have to redo it someday, taking out that extra E in the middle.]

7/23: On this day in 2009, Mark Buehrle of the White Sox pitches the 18th perfect game in major league history, shutting down the Rays, 5-0.

7/23: And if you're talking about Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009, you gotta give credit to Dewayne Wise for keeping it alive with an incredible catch for the 1st out of the 9th inning, robbing Gabe Kapler of a home run.

[Coincidentally a lot of Red/White Sox among this batch.]

7/24: George Brett's infamous "Pine Tar Game" at Yankee Stadium happened on this day back in 1983. After a go-ahead home run off Goose with 2 outs in the 9th, the umps call Brett out for too much pine tar on his bat, giving NY the win. The AL prez overrules and Royals eventually win.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading.