Monday, May 30, 2011

Set Showcase #13: 1991 Pacific Operation Desert Shield

It's the last Monday in May, so today we honor and remember those who have given their lives for our country and our freedom. I've never served in the military, but several of my family members (including my father) and close friends have. I'm fortunate to say that none of them have been killed in combat.

However each year thousands of U.S. soldiers give up their lives to serve our country and it's important that we never forget that. I remind my students that the gift of life is special and it's important to make the most of it in honor of those who have made sacrifices to make our lives better. And most importantly to give back to future generations ourselves.

It's funny how people look at things from different perspectives. On Friday, several students didn't realize what today's holiday meant. They were just thankful that they got the day off from school. And in all honesty... there was a time in my life that I probably was in the same boat as them. But at some point in time I learned the importance of Memorial Day and have a deeper appreciate of those who serve in the military.

Which brings me to my newest set showcase. Today, I bring to you the 1991 Operation Desert Shield set which was produced by Pacific twenty years ago.

I have no idea how or when I picked up this set, but I was amazed at the information and pictures Pacific used to produce this set.


The first three cards in the set are of the 41st President of the United States - President George Bush, Vice-President Dan Quayle, and General Colin Powell. The card backs feature a brief paragraph describing their roles in the Gulf War.

The set also includes photos "in action" photos, along with shots of soldiers performing drills.



Each of these cards feature a detailed description on the back of the card. For example, on the "Home Away From Home" card, it explains how soldiers don't have many luxuries, but are able to enjoy some pleasantries such as hot meals, showers, small libraries, and post exchanges when they aren't in the field.


My favorite part of the set is definitely the vehicle cards. The photography alone is spectacular. But it's the information on the back of the cards that will keep you entertained.


You can learn about the size, speed, armament, and purpose of over 50 different military vehicles ranging from helicopters to aircraft carriers to stealth bombers.

And if you don't already own this set, then you're in luck... because these can be found on the internet for the price of a medium pizza at Domino's. They're unlikely to be worth anything in the future, but the information you find on these cards is well worth the price.

Set: 110 Cards
Non-Sport Update Value: $15
eBay Value: $5.95 (+ $4.00 shipping)

Oh... if you're interested in reading about athletes who served in the military, then I encourage you to read my Veteran's Day post from 2010.

Well I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Have a great week... and sayonara!



Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eight down... Nine to go! Anyone building a 1984 Topps baseball set, too?

I received an awesome package in the mail today from Mzentko (who I met over at Sports Card Radio). It's the second care package I've received from him in a little under two months. Click here to see what he sent me the first time.

Today's package contained the following goodies...


First up... eight cards... five PC's... and one "not quite sure". I'm pretty sure all of these cards are new to my collection... and I'm especially fond of the Collect-A-Books Tony Gwynn. I remember buying the basketball versions years ago and it's nice to finally add the Gwynn. I'm not quite sure what the Trivial Pursuit card represents... but I learned that Kentucky hosts an annual pipe smoking contest in Logan County.


He also included this 1983 Donruss HOF Heroes card of Jackie Robinson. I never completed this set, but I must of picked up a few packs as a child... because I remember having Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron as a kid. This is an excellent addition to my Jackie Robinson PC... plus an inspiration to pick up either a box of this stuff or a hand collated set on eBay.


Last... but not least... he sent these eight 1984 Topps baseball cards that I needed for my set. Which leaves me with these nine cards until my set is complete:

123, 271, 300 (Pete Rose), 450, 521, 632, 710, 725, 748
(just picked up all of these off of Sport Lots)

So today's question is...

Is anyone else out there building this set?

If so... I have a ton of singles from my rack pack box break. Maybe we can help each other out.

And if not...

What sets are you working on? Are there any that are proving to be more difficult than others?

I might as well kill two birds with one stone and list out the rest of my current set needs:

2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces "Captured on Canvas" Football Set:
8 Chad Johnson, 11 Brett Favre, 12 Tony Romo, 19 Devin Hester, 30 Greg Olson, 32 Jay Cutler, 49 Matt Forte, 51 Matt Ryan, 53 Jake Long, 58 Steve Slaton, and 59 Steven Jackson

2008 Score Select Football Set:
231, 264, 275, 307, 328 (just picked up all 5 off of Sport Lots)

2002 Fleer Fall Classic "HOF Plaque" Baseball Set:
1 Babe Ruth, 2 Christy Mathewson, 6 Cy Young, 7 Tris Speaker, 16 Luis Aparicio, 18 Willie McCovey, 19 Willie Stargell, 25 Steve Carlton, 26 George Brett, 27 Nolan Ryan, 28 Robin Yount, 29 Kirby Puckett, and 30 Ozzie Smith

2000 Fleer "Club 3000" Baseball Set:
DW Dave Winfield

1998 Playoff Momentum"Endzone X-Press Diecut" Football Set:
16 Drew Bledsoe & 20 Napoleon Kaufman

2008 Inkworks Family Guy: A New Hope "Spaceships & Transports" Set:
ST-2 Tie Fighter
ST-3 X-Wing Fighter

2008 Inkworks Family Guy: A New Hope "Scenes From Space" Set:
S-3 Scenes From Space Card #3

I know the sets I'm building are kind of random... but that's how I've been my whole life... a little random. Please let me know if you have anything from these lists, because I'd be more than willing to trade or possibly buy if the price is right.

Thanks again Mzentko for the nice care package... I be looking for some Cardinals & Redskins to send your way.

I hope everyone had a great Saturday... enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend. Sayonara!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Retail wax is not my thing...

The truth is... since I've gotten back into the hobby, I haven't been a big fan of busting wax in general... but I especially avoid retail wax or blaster boxes. It's pretty simple:

Reason #1
I don't want anymore unwanted base (that I end up giving away to my students anyways).

Reason #2
I'm not optimistic about pulling a great autograph or memorabilia card. Even when they're guaranteed, I know that odds are I'm going to pull an autograph of a 36 year old minor league prospect for the Angels.

Reason #3
If there's a card I really want, I'll usually do my research and pick it up off of COMC or eBay. And every once in awhile, I'll pull off some trades on one of the forums or in the blogworld.

Reason #4
And last, but certainly not least is the value you get from busting wax. You rarely ever get your money's worth... especially out of retail packs. And let's face it... I'm not a millionaire with tons of disposable income. Nope, I'm a teacher who teaches financial responsibility to my students.

But yesterday... while shopping at the local Target for shampoo, conditioner, and some treats for my students... I strolled by the cardboard collectibles aisle. It was the first time I actually saw the section stocked, so I was actually pretty excited.

I've been wanting to pick up a blaster box of 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen, since I've seen some pretty cool stuff being pulled from them. Plus... I'm a softie when it comes to retro-looking products.


Unfortunately, there were no blaster boxes of Gypsy Queen to be found, but I did discover a box of retail under some other boxes. So I grabbed 5 packs (@ $2.99 each) and continued with my shopping.

As soon as I got home, I threw the bags on the dining room table and headed to my office where I proceeded to rip through my purchased wax. Here's a breakdown of what I pulled:

Base Cards

I am now the proud owner of 17 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen base cards, which were highlighted by the three you see above. This set is pretty nice and as soon as they hype dies off, I'll probably try to pick up a completed one off of eBay. By the way... this is the first Stephen Strasburg card in my collection. One of these days, I'll man up and obtain a rookie card of him.

Short Prints

I pulled two short prints of two ball players I know very little about.

Rookie Card

Out of five packs, I pulled one rookie card. Like the short prints, I don't know much about Ben Revere other than what I saw in his stat sheet on baseball-reference.com.

Gypsy Minis

There was one mini in each of my packs. Four of them were regular versions, but none of them are really worth diving into.

Red Gypsy Queen Back Mini

My last pack contained this Nelson Cruz parallel mini. Remember when this guy hit a homerun in each of his first four games to start off this season? Well... he's cooled off quite considerably since then... and I'm assuming so have his cards.

Inserts

Each pack contained an insert, which I thought was pretty cool. And like the base cards, I think they're pretty nice looking and would be perfect for TTM autographs. I really liked the painting of Jason Heyward on his Wall Climbers insert, but my favorite card is the only Padres card I pulled from the five packs. It's a David Eckstein Sticky Fingers insert which honors the second baseman's great hands.

Well there you have it. That's what $16.33 will get you. Will I ever come close to getting my money back? Hmmm... no way... but that's okay... because I don't collect for investment reasons. I collect to have fun. And I enjoyed every minute it took me to rip open these five packs.

Plus... it was a great reminder of why I tend to avoid opening retail products... and wax in general. These days, I'll typically only bust wax if:

Reason #1
It's cheap and I think the product holds great value in it.

Reason #2
I really like the base card design and/or there's a particular insert set I want to chase.

Reason #3
I'm planning on building sets of this product.

Reason #4
I'm really "jonesing" for that fix.

Reason #5
If and when I find a product that fits the first four reasons... then I look at my finances. If I can afford to spend the extra cash, then I'll finally pull the trigger and buy a box/case.

If you were to look back at my last four major wax purchases... they all fell under the five requisites: 09/10 Panini HOF Basketball, 2008 UD Masterpieces Football, 09/10 Bowman 48 Basketball, and 08/09 Topps Signature Basketball.

So... what about you?

How do you acquire most of your cards? Busting wax? Purchasing singles/sets/card lots? Online trading?
Buying mystery packs? Other?

If I were to break it down by percentages, I'd say that 65% of my PC was obtained through purchases, whether they be singles, sets, card lots, or mystery packs. 25% of my collection was acquired through online trades on either Sports Card Forum, Card Collectors World, or in the blogworld. And 10% is obtained through busting boxes or cases of product.

Happy Thursday everyone... I'm definitely looking forward to the three day weekend. Sayonara!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Fat Lady Has Sung & I'm Not A Jedi After All

Another season... another playoff exit without the Stanley Cup in their grasps. Deep down inside, I felt that this was their year. All the stars were aligned. The rough start to the regular season and the fantastic finish. The dramatic, entertaining, and at times stressful victories over their division rivals... the Los Angeles Kings... and their longtime nemesis... the Detroit Red Wings.

Then along came the Vancouver Canucks... the winner of this year's President's Cup given to the team with the best record in the NHL. It was the perfect test... if they wanted to be the best... they would have to beat the best.


And last night was the moment of truth and both teams came to skate. And the stars were all aligned for one team. It just wasn't my team.
Seto & Patty were the only two able to slip the puck past Luongo during his amazing 54 save game. Congratulations Canucks fans... now that my team has been eliminated... I'll quietly root for you guys.

As for the my team... well... there's always next year. I told myself that I wouldn't get my hopes up... but I did. Mainly because it felt like it was your destiny to win it all. Nothing came easy... and in my mind it was a good thing... because you had to earn every win. It'll be interesting to see what management has in store for you all.

I personally hope they'll keep the heart of the team together... especially my favorite player...
Devin Setoguchi... who I believe is going to be a restricted free agent this off-season.

But when it comes down to it...
Setoguchi or no Setoguchi... my loyalty lies with the team, before any player. And with that... I'd like to thank the San Jose Sharks organization for another great season. There were a couple of tough games this year where it was almost painful to watch... but for the most part, the team played hard and competed. It just wasn't meant to be.

That's okay though... because we always have next year. So here's to the 2011-12 season. Go Sharks!
I promise to support you playoffs or no playoffs... and Stanley Cup or no Stanley Cup. And finally... I promise to never make anymore silly jedi predictions.

So what about you guys...


Who are you pulling for now that we're down to three teams? Who do you think will win?

If Luongo can continue to be lights out in net... then I think the Canucks will be hanging out with Lord Stanley. And... although I am not a fan of them in the slightest... I'll be pulling for the Canucks... because they were entertaining to watch in the playoffs.

Oh... and I've never watched the show before... but my friend told me that
Hines Ward walked away as the winner of Dancing With The Stars. Kudos to him. My friend had been pulling for him and at least one of us was happy with last night's results.


Plus it's an opportunity to show off one of my greatest flea market purchases ever... my 1999 SP Signature autograph of Ward... which I picked up for a mere $10. I love this card for a multitude of reasons:


a. It features a hard signed autograph.
b. The design epitomizes mid to late 90's products with it's wannabe hi-tech design.
c. Hines Ward is one of the handful of Asian players in the NFL.
d. He's one of greatest wide receivers in franchise history on one of the most history teams in NFL history.

Happy hump day... and until my next post... sayonara!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cheap Cool Cards #16: 1994 SR Tetrad Juwan Howard Autograph


You know that autographs have lost their luster when you can grab Juwan Howard's John Hancock for a buck. Yep... 100 pennies = a 1994 Signature Rookies Tetrad hard signed autograph of one of Michigan's famous Fab Five.

C'mon you remember the Fab Five... right? Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, and of course Juwan Howard. They were the Wolverine's freshman starting five from 1992 that reach the NCAA Championship game in back to back years. All of them eventually went on to play in the NBA, with the exception of Ray Jackson.

A former first round pick out of the 1994, Mr. Howard is the last man standing from the Fab Five. In his 17th season, he's still finding court time with the Miami Heat. I'm the last person pulling for the Heat to win the NBA title... but at least if they do... I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that Juwan Howard will finally get a ring.

So... what do you think...

Who's going to win the NBA Championship this year?
Who are you rooting for?

If you had asked me before the playoffs started... I would have said the Bulls would meet the Lakers in the NBA Finals and take home their first title since Michael left town. But a lot of things have changed since then. My gut says that King James will finally get the ring the Cavaliers never helped him get. However, I'm not cheering them on. Now that the Lakers are out of it... I'd like to see Rose step things up and carry the Bulls to a title... but honestly... I'll be cheering for anyone who's not wearing a Heat jersey.

Happy Tuesday... and sayonara!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm Declaring Cardboard Shenanigans!

Yesterday I found this eBay listing...


It's for two copies of the 2007 Bowman Chrome "Red Refractor" Albert Pujols that are serial numbered to 5. What's the problem, you say? Well both of the cards in this lot are serial numbered 1/5, which is why I'm declaring CARDBOARD SHENANIGANS!


How can there be two identical cards with the exact same serial numbering? Isn't the point of serial numbering to show collectors that there are a specific number of cards out there for collectors to pull?


I'm not sure if this has been discussed in the hobby before... I mean these cards are four years old... so I'm sure others have seen this problem. But it's the first time I've seen it and this definitely caught my attention. Between fake autographs, mislabeled relic cards, and missing hits from boxes... I thought I had plenty of fodder to grumble about already... but I guess I was wrong.




Giving Topps the benefit of the doubt... I'll assume this was an isolated incident. However... one has to wonder if there really are only 6,225 copies of my extremely rare Nick Young autograph.

Happy Monday everyone... Sayonara!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday's Card Show Adventures

What comes to mind when you hear the words "sports cards" and "early 90's"? Overproduction? Card shops? Parallels? Junk wax? Inserts?

All of these things popped into my head at first... but when I dug a little deeper... I also remembered the weekly card shows at one of the local high schools.

Well those boxes of 1991 Topps baseball, along with all of those inserts & parallels are still flooding the market in 2011. And although they're slowly disappearing, there are still two card shops in my area.

But the days of weekly card show are gone. Long gone. These days... all I have to look forward to are two card shows each year. The GTSM show comes to the South Bay every January/February and every spring the TriStar show arrives at the Cow Palace.


Well it's that time of the year... and thanks to Kerwin @ Card Collectors World, I was able to get some free passes to this year's show, which allowed me to spend an extra $8 on cards.

This was the first time (that I can remember) having a specific card in mind that I wanted to pick up entering the show. It was the 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson and you can read about it's importance to me, here.


The plan was simple... find every single 56 Robinson at the show and compare the prices. After my walkthrough, I discovered 8 different Robinsons ranging from $35 to $out of my price range. The $35 card was heavily damaged with bad corner wear and several creases, while a couple of the nicer ones were $200 plus. The rest fell into the $70 to $125 range. I initially planned on purchasing the $35 copy, but after talking to a couple of dealers, I decided to purchase the nicest one that I could afford, which was this one:

The guy originally wanted $85... then after talking for 10 minutes he lowered it to $70. Then after I offered him $60... he told me he'd meet me in the middle. At the time, this was only the fourth copy I'd seen and I wanted to see what else was out there, so I told him I'd think about it and moved on.

After checking out the rest of the show and learning a little more about the value & condition surrounding this card... I decided to pick up the card for $65. The card itself is in pretty nice condition, so I brought it to a couple of the dealers I had met and both were impressed by the purchase. One said it would easily grade a PSA 4, but could be a PSA 5... while the other was a little more generous with his grading and said it would be a PSA 5 or 6. One thing they agreed on is that I scored big time.

With my main purchase out of my way, I was free to go back and sift through some of the dealer's bargain bins. Here's what I found:


PSA 9 Rookie Cards of Torry Holt

I've been a fan of Holt since he entered the league in 1999. He was a top 5 receiver during the 2000's and ended his career 13th on the list for career receptions, 10th for career receiving yards, and 2nd for yards per game. Hopefully these stats will earn him a spot in Canton. I know graded cards aren't what they used to be (heck... the guy I bought these from had hundreds of graded cards on his table for $1 each)... but for a buck a piece... it was hard to pass these up.


2002 Sweet Spot #156 Maurice Morris (286/550)

I spent almost an half hour at this guy's table and walked away with handful of cards. One of them was this card. I'm a huge fan of Sweet Spot products and an even bigger fan of the Seattle Seahawks, so this killed two birds with one stone. Morris spent eight seasons with the Hawks during the 2000's was a solid running back for them. He'll never be worth much more than the $2 I spent on him... but I don't have any plans on trying to sell him anyways.


1993-94 Donruss Special Print Inserts of Mario Lemieux & Steve Yzerman

After I found the Morris in the dealer's binder... I shifted gears and started sifting through his 10 cent bins. He had five or six 5,000 count boxes full of commons, but hidden within those were these two gems. Like I mentioned earlier in the post... the 90's are often associated with the word "overproduction" and if you look closely at the top of these cards... Donruss produced 20,000 of each copy. These days collectors look the other way when they come across refractors #'d to 999... but back in the day... 20,000 was considered rare. Damn... gotta love Nifty 90's Nostalgia.


San Jose Sharks Autographed 8x10's


I wrapped up the show by picking up these two autographed photos from my buddy Mike. He's the same guy I hung out with at the De Anza Flea Market a few weeks ago... and the guy who I used to go autograph hunting with in the late 90's and early 2000's. He showed me where to stand outside of the San Jose Arena... and when to do it. In fact, the majority of the Sharks 8x10's in my collection I acquired with him.

I noticed that he had autographs of my favorite current Shark and my favorite former Shark at his booth, so I asked him what he wanted for the pair. He offered to give them to me, but I know he spent a ton on the table and refused to take them without paying for them. I ended up giving him $10, so he could grab some lunch.

We're planning on going out and picking up some more autographs in the next few weeks... since we all know the Sharks are headed for the Stanley Cup Finals. I have foreseen it... and it is their destiny. I'll keep you posted if we end up heading out to the Arena.

So what am I up to so far?

Parking $8
Show Admission $Free
Jackie Robinson base card $65
Torry Holt rookies $2
Maurice Morris rookie autograph $2
Overproduced Donruss inserts from the 90's $.20
Sharks autographs $10

I guess that brings me to $87.20... but I didn't stop there. There are a few items I can't show, because they're for a few of my online buddies and I want to keep it a surprise for them. But when the day was over, I spent close to $100 in all. Considering the fact that I pulled out $300 from the ATM, I was proud of myself for displaying some will power and controlling my spending. Actually... I owe it all to The Retro-Set Addict's post on hobby spending from last week. It made me reconsider how much money I'm throwing into my collection.

Well that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed my card show adventure as much as I did... it'll be awhile before I attend another big show (although I've been talking to my buddy about possibly heading out to the National this year in Chicago). Until then... let's hear from you...

What's your favorite "hobby related" thing from the 90's?

It can be a specific card... a set... a cardboard technology... or anything else related to the hobby.

Well... I have to prepare for the mental strain the Sharks game will have on me in a few hours.
Go Sharks!

Happy Sunday everyone... and sayonara!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Greatest Card in my Collection

I was informed by several students yesterday, that the world was coming to an end today at 6 p.m. this evening... so what did I do?

I rushed out to the San Francisco TriStar Collectors Show and bought the card of my dreams. It's not the most valuable card in my collection. Nor is it the most I've paid for a single. It's not even close to being the rarest. And although it's definitely vintage... it's not the oldest card I own.


At some point in my life I strolled across the 1956 Topps #30 Jackie Robinson and immediately knew I wanted it for my collection. It's truly the most beautiful card in the world... a piece of art. The 1956 card design is a classic as it features a portrait shot of the athlete, along with an action shot. But what makes this card even more special is the fact that it's Jackie Robinson.

As a huge sports fan, it's easy to admire Mr. Robinson for everything he did for the game of baseball. However, Jack Roosevelt Robinson is much more to me than the HOF second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers.


"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

As a teacher, I try to be positive role model for my students and encourage them to be a positive member of our society. And every year, I use Jackie Robinson as an example of someone who has done just that. When my students enter my classroom, they see this quote by Mr. Robinson hanging on my front wall.

I've been collecting Jackie Robinson cards for over a year now. Click here... if you want check out the rest of my collection. Unfortunately... no card will ever top the card I picked up today. But... I guess that's the price I paid when I finally added the greatest card in the world to my personal collection.

If we live through the night, I'll post the details on the rest of my purchases at the card show either tomorrow or Monday. In the meantime, let's hear from you:

What is your favorite trading card? Why is it special?

Happy Saturday everyone... and Sayonara!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly #4: Vin Mazzaro


The Good

Less than two years ago...
Vin Mazzaro was making his MLB debut with the Oakland A's on one of the youngest, most talented pitching staffs in baseball. He sat along side Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez, and Trevor Cahill.

Brett Anderson currently leads the league in starts. Last season, Dallas Braden became threw the 19th perfect game in MLB history.


Mr. Gonzalez is starting off the 2011 season on the right foot with a 4-2 record and a 2.68 ERA (10th in AL). And Trevor Cahill is having a career year. He's 6-1 with an unearthly 1.82 ERA (2nd in AL).


All four of his 2009 teammates are still with the A's, but sadly
Mazzaro was traded last November during the off-season to the Kansas City Royals. I say sadly... because Mazzaro was considered to very talented. He started his career with 2 amazing outings, going 2-0 while giving up 0 earned runs. The future definitely looked bright for Mr. Mazzaro.


The Bad

However... if you follow baseball, then you know the A's lack offensive firepower. And
Mazzaro received very little offensive support and ended his rookie season 4-9 with a 5.32 ERA. Things didn't get much better in his sophomore season and by the end of last year, he had lost his starting job and deemed expendable by the Athletics.

So when the A's had the opportunity to acquire David DeJesus from the Royals for
Mazzaro and minor league pitcher Justin Marks, they jumped all over it.


The Ugly

Then on Monday, Vin
Mazzaro did something that hasn't been done in more than a century. In the top of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians, the Royals made a pitching change and inserted Mazzaro into the game at the top of the 3rd inning.

He started off ... retiring the first three batters he faced. But in the fourth things got ugly. He gave up 10 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. Surprisingly, he was left in the game and ended up giving up 3 additional hits and 1 more walk, which led to 4 more runs.


Yep... if you did the math... that's 14 earned runs in 2.1 innings pitched. An accomplishment not achieved in over a century. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time since 1900 that a pitcher has given up 14 or more runs in less than 3 innings pitched. In short... an ugly outing.

To make matters worse...
Mazzaro was sent back down to the minors to play in AAA ball.

On the bright side...
Mazzaro is only 24 years old and hopefully has a brighter future ahead of him... if not, at least he's made his mark in MLB history.