Monday, March 30, 2015

Battle of the Blasters


How addicted am I to cardboard?  I'm so addicted that sometimes I'll throw my very own cardboard rules out the window and purchase not one, but two blaster boxes.  However... for the sake of blog tradition, I bring you the 2nd Annual Battle of the Blasters featuring 2015 Heritage purchased at Target and Walmart.

Last year, Walmart walked away the victor in a very close battle.  If you're interested you can see it here.  But that was 359 days ago and it's time to see if Target can even up the series.

The battle will be broken down into the following categories:  Oakland A's base cards, San Diego Padres base cards, Japanese players base cards, high number SP's, parallels, New Age Performers, Baseball and News Flashbacks, and Ryan/Koufax exclusive inserts.

If I happen to pull any relic or autographed cards, they'll be factored into the final scoring.  So let's get ready to rumble...

Oakland A's Base Cards
Advantage: Walmart

It's a little hard to call this a battle when Target doesn't even bother to show up.  Things would be different if I had scored it based on players who are currently active on their rosters.  Doolittle and Reddick are out with injuries and Norris is down in San Diego.


San Diego Padres Base Cards
Advantage: Target

Another "no contest".  I'm excited to see how things pan out for the Padres this year.  Benoit is having a decent spring, while Padres fans are hoping Gyorko can bounce back from his sophomore slump.


Japanese Players Base Cards
Advantage: Target

Wow.  One new addition to my Japanese PC and he's playing across the Pacific this season.


High Numbered SP's
Advantage: Walmart

I have zero allegiance to any of these players, so it boils down to numbers.  Three beats two.  Walmart ties things up.


Parallels
Advantage: Target

I was disappointed that there aren't exclusive parallels this year.  In fact that's the main reason I decided to purchase both of these blasters.  Each box had a Chrome refractor, but the Target blaster tipped the scales with the Scherzer Chrome parallel.


New Age Performers
Advantage: Trout... I mean Target

Let's see... Trout is the reigning American League MVP and Harper is a jerk.  No contest.


Baseball and News Flashbacks
Advantage: Target

Okay... so I screwed up.  Didn't realize these were two different insert sets until after the scans.  No matter, I would have picked Koufax over Marichal and the NYC Opera House didn't have any competition.  Sorry Target fans... due to my error you only get one point, instead of two.


A Legend Begins/A Legend Retires
Advantage: Walmart

This probably should have been a draw since both of these guys are legends.  But I actually like the Koufax insert design better than the Ryan... and Walmart needed a little help.


Manager Base Cards
Advantage: Target

Since there were two less categories this year due to the lack of exclusive parallels and my "Flashbacks" mixup, I decided to add this category to see if I could help Walmart save face.  Unfortunately even though I'd never cheer for the Dodgers over the Mariners, it's hard to pick Legendary Lloyd over Donnie Baseball.  Speaking of Mattingly... is it just me or does he look really old?  I think it's time for him to grow his mustache back.

Okay, it's time to tally things up.

Final score:

Target 6
Walmart 3

And it looks like we have a new blaster box champion.  Although I must say that neither box was worth the price I paid.  If anything this is just another reminder for me to never buy blaster boxes unless they're on sale.  Then again... I'm sure next March, you'll see me battling a pair of 2016 Topps Heritage blasters.

Happy Monday and sayonara!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is he your dad?

Being the only Japanese kid in my class during elementary school kinda sucked sometimes.  No... it wasn't because I was bullied or picked on.  It's because people always assumed that I ate fish and was good at math.  Well... they weren't wrong, but that's besides the point.

And having Fujimoto as my last name only made it worse.  Kids who didn't know me asked the same questions over and over.  Do you own that mountain in Japan?  Where can I get some of your apples?  Can you get me some free film?  

I could handle those questions.  Most of the time I'd roll with it and tell people that my parents sold the mountain to buy the film company, so I didn't have anymore apples that happened to only grow on Mt. Fuji.

But one question was asked more frequently than any other.  Is Mr. Fuji your father?  And well... the answer is and will always be... of course he is.

He's just not the famous wrestler who threw salt in people's eyes.  As a kid... and even as an adult... my father always taught us the importance of an individual's character and to represent the family name in a positive way.  

Cheating wasn't part of his teachings.

So even though I was a huge fan of Mr. Fuji and his antics, it kinda annoyed me that kids envisioned my father to be like him.

eBay Purchase: $11.96 (+ $4 shipping)

Thirty years later, my students still get ask me about the mountain and apples.  And every now and then, I'll hear a question related to the film company.  But thankfully... nobody has asked me if Mr. Fuji is my father in years.

My guess is the majority of my students aren't fans of wrestling and the ones that are have never heard of the famous wrestler.  But that makes total sense, since none of my students were even born the last time Mr. Fuji made an appearance in the WWE at WrestleMania XII nearly nineteen years ago.

I wonder if he'll show up tonight at Levi's Stadium at WrestleMania 31.  If any of my students asks me if Mr. Fuji is my dad tomorrow, I'll know the answer.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Baseball Cards and Bubblegum

When I was growing up... baseball cards and bubblegum went together like bacon and eggs.  That's probably why I'm such a huge fan of Bazooka baseball memorabilia cards from 2003 to 2006.

The bright colors and cartoonish designs compliment each other and are very attractive in a "7 year old baseball collector" sort of way.


That's why I was excited to see that Tony Gwynn was part of the 2003 Bazooka Blasts bat relic set.  A seller had a seven card lot that included the Gwynn for $13.99 (+ $2.50 shipping), so I grabbed it.  


The lot also included my 2nd favorite player of all-time, The Man of Steal.  It's a shame he's not in an A's uniform... but that's kind of the trend with this particular group of cards.


I'll always picture certain players with certain teams... and in my mind neither of these players will be remembered for their time in the Big Apple.


Nope.  When I think of New York, I think of Derek Jeter, Darryl Strawberry, Mariano Rivera, David Wright, and Jorge Posada.

And although he played for my beloved Oakland Athletics...


I'll always remember Johnny as a member of the 2004 World Series Champions.


The final card in my purchase is Mr. Rodriguez who spent twenty-one seasons in the MLB with six different teams.  However the only team I care to remember him with is the Texas Rangers.  By the way, Pudge's bat card was one of the more difficult relics to be pulled from this product.  This card was inserted at a rate of 1:326 packs.

Personally... the only thing I don't like about these cards are the generic COA on the back.  But in this day and age, can we truly trust any COA regardless of the words card manufactures print on a card?  Did the wood come from bats used by the player depicted on the front of the card?  Were the bats used by the children of Topps' executives?  Are the pieces of wood actually from baseball bats?

For the price I paid... I don't care too much.  I just look at it as I'm paying a few dollars for some really cool looking cards that take me back in time to a memorable period of my life... my childhood.

Happy Friday and sayonara!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Holy Hologram Hump Day!

When it comes to collecting sports cards... the 80's and early 90's were my formative years.  That's why I'm a huge fan of the Donruss Dick Perez puzzles and Fleer team stickers.  I even love the smell of bubble gum embedded into Topps cards.

In fact if you asked me, "what's the first word that pops into your head when you hear the words Donruss, Fleer, and Topps?"... there's a good chance I'd say puzzles, stickers, and gum.  As for Upper Deck?  It would have to be their cutting edge holograms.

When Upper Deck first hit the scene back in 1989, one of their trademarks was the anti-counterfeiting hologram stamped on the back of each trading card.  Not sure about you, but I thought that was one of the most innovative things to hit the hobby.  And just like that... holograms became their specialty.


Today I want to share one of my favorite hologram insert sets... the 1993 Upper Deck Then and Now set:


The eighteen card set was split into two series with the first nine cards being inserted into the first series...


and the final nine cards placed into second series packs.  Collectors could pull either series at a rate of one per twenty-seven packs.


The design featured a standard portrait photo on one side and a holographic action shot on the other.  I know I'm stretching things a little... but it's reminiscent of my favorite set of all-time: 1956 Topps baseball.


If you're like me, then you can appreciate seeing your favorite stars wearing uniforms from the 70's and early 80's.


And although the card backs don't have your standard statistics, there are some interesting write-ups.  The Ozzie Smith card talks about the play that inspired his nickname, "Wizard of Oz":


And the checklist is loaded with hall of famers.


Out of the eighteen cards... only Hojo and Straw are plaque-less in Cooperstown.

Obviously the Gwynn is one of my personal favorites, but seeing Sandberg in his Phillies uniform is pretty cool too.


The best thing about this set is that it's from the "Junk Wax Era", which means that you can find complete sets for under $20.  I picked up my set for $10 (free shipping) off of eBay earlier in the month.  Not bad for a set that once commanded over $50.  Back then... Mantle alone would sell in the $15 to $20 range.

Okay... it's your turn.

What's the first word that pops into your head when you hear the name, Topps?  How about Fleer?  Donruss?  Upper Deck?

Happy Wednesday and sayonara!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Flea Market Flipping = Discounted Koufax Auto

Back in February, I purchased two boxes worth of 2015 Topps jumbo baseball at the Branham Flea Market for $25.  I was able to build a complete base set and add thirty-nine cards to my insert & parallels binders.

In the process of sorting and sifting through the cards, I discovered some of the ar•che•types inserts were missing the silver foil on the front.  After scouring eBay, I noticed that there were only a few listings and some of them were commanding a decent dime.


Now usually, I'm the type of collector who holds onto these kinds of oddballs.  But after discussing it with a few friends, I decided to pull the Tony Gwynn, Jackie Robinson, and Rickey Henderson error cards... and list the rest for $100 or best offer.


I received a total of three offers and ended up accepting $75 for my seven card lot.  After paying $7.80 in eBay fees and $2.59 to ship the cards, I ended up walking away with $64.61.

So what did I purchase?  Check it out...


I've recently decided to build the 1998 Donruss Signatures "Significant Signatures" set and this is one of the Koufax autographs I needed.  A guy on eBay has a bunch with a BIN price of $125 (free shipping).  The autograph is bleeding a little and isn't exactly mint.  However I can't complain too much since I only paid $60.39 for it.

This card goes great with my refractor version:


Notice that his non-refractor version has him pictured during his Brooklyn days... and the refractor version pictures him in his Los Angeles uniform.

I'm still looking for the non-autographed version of the Koufax for my set, along with the serial numbered copy of the autographed refractor version.

Plus I need a handful of other cards from this set:


If anyone has any of these available for trade or sale, please let me know.  I didn't really create any collecting goals this year, but I think I'm going to try to finish this set by the end of the year.  That's assuming these cards are available on eBay for reasonable prices... so I guess we'll have to sit back and see.

Happy Monday and sayonara!