30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cheap Cool Cards #21: Double Pudge

When I was six years old... I started playing little league baseball and for nearly a decade it was one of my biggest passions. It was the one sport where my size didn't matter as much... and in some cases it helped (I walked a lot, because I had a tiny strike zone). Like most kids, I loved hitting... but my strength was unquestionably fielding. I primarily played first base in my Japanese league and second base in my local league (yep... a lefty playing second base)... but I dabbled here and there on the mound and third base.

Sometime around the fifth or sixth grade, when I was finally developing into a decent ball player, one of my coaches wanted to convert me into a catcher. He tried to explain the importance of the position, but I wasn't the least bit interested. Honestly... the position wasn't "sexy" enough. Well... at least that's how I felt as a kid. Plus it was taking away my greatest strength as a ball player: fielding ground balls.

These days, I recognize the significance of the man behind home plate. Catchers are often the captains on the team... who usually determine which pitches are thrown and help set up their teammates defensively. They have one of the most physically demanding jobs on the diamond... blocking the plate against runners and wild pitches, accidentally getting hit by foul balls and the occasional bat, and of course the everyday wear & tear of putting on all of the gear and assuming the squatting position.

So today... in honor of Ivan Rodriguez's 40th birthday (which is either November 27th or November 30th, depending where you look)... I decided to show off one of my recent cardboard pickups.

It's a 1996 Emotion-XL "D-Fense" insert of Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez. Awesome right? It's amazing these cards don't get the credit they deserve... probably because they were part of the junk wax era... but damn it sure is pretty. It features a portrait shot of Pudge in sort of a sepia tone background and has a matted border that includes a colored action shot.

Best of all.. I just built the 10 card set, which features players like Ripken, Maddux, Griffey, and Bonds over at COMC for under $4. That's the beauty of overproduction.

Of course it almost an act of sacrilege to have a Pudge post without featuring the original, himself... Carlton Fisk. Here's the pair of Pudges and their "Captured on Canvas" jersey cards. Ivan is part of the 2008 set and can be purchased for around $2 (I have no idea what I paid for mine). Last week, I picked up the 2007 UD Masterpieces "Captured on Canvas" of Mr. Fisk for $1.50 (free shipping). Both swatches are guaranteed to have been used in an official MLB game, but whether or not they were worn by Rodriguez or Fisk is another question.

Speaking of questions... here's your question of of the day:

What's your favorite nickname in baseball?

There are literally hundreds to choose from... but the one that currently stands out for me is The Mad Hungarian: Al Hrabosky. Of course... I learned this little tidbit of trivia from a piece of cardboard (pulled from COMC).

I hope everyone is enjoying their week... it seems to be flying by. Happy Hump day & sayonara!

NaBlo WriMo Daily Total: 548 Words
November Total: 8,116 Words

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blog Trade #15: $30 A Week Habit

I'm so excited... my 15th successful blog trade. Actually... it won't truly be successful until Robert over at $30 A Week Habit receives his card... which is a 2003 Bowman Chrome "Gold Refractor" of Dustin Moseley (#'d 048/170).

If you follow Robert's blog, then you probably already know about his ingenius and creative cardboard project. His goal is to build a set of 1,500 serial numbered Topps cards that consist of 50 cards from each of the 30 MLB teams. Here... check it out for yourself.

The Moseley will be serial card #48 in the set and as of right now, it'll be the 5th Cincinnati Reds card.

As for me... I received this sweet 2011 Topps Lineage "1952 Autograph" of David DeJesus:

DeJesus was acquired by the Athletics a year ago in a trade with the Kansas City Royals, which excited many A's fans... because we could always use another bat in our lineup.

In his eight seasons with the Royals, he had a .289 batting average. However, in 2011 he hit a measly .240 for the A's. Last week, the Athletics offered him salary arbitration... but as of right now, he hasn't made a decision. So we'll just have to wait and see whether or not he'll be back.

Either way... I'm glad I was able to pick up his autograph and help out a fellow blogger at the same time.

By the way... Robert, if you're reading this... your Moseley was shipped out this afternoon... along with a few other cards for your project. Thanks for the amazing trade!

Have a good evening everyone... and sayonara!

NaBlo WriMo Daily Total: 257 Words
November Total: 7,568 Words

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mr. Luck, My Nephew, & Making History

Yesterday, I received two tickets to the Stanford/Notre Dame game from my sister-in-law, so I dropped my original plans... and took my nephew to the game. Little did we know... we'd be watching history in the making.

It was Stanford's Senior Day, which meant that each of their seniors were introduced before the sellout crowd of 50,360 fans. Included in the group was Heisman Trophy candidate, Andrew Luck... who happens to be a junior, but has made it well known that he intends to enter the NFL Draft after this season. In other words... last night's game was most likely his Stanford Stadium finale.

The game itself was closer than my nephew and I had hoped... a persevering Notre Dame squad & "unique" officiating kept the game interesting. But in the end... the Cardinals won the game 28 to 14... and Mr. Luck threw himself into Stanford's history books.

Luck's 3 yard touchdown toss to tight end Levine Toilolo in the first quarter tied John Elway as Stanford's all-time TD passing leader. The next quarter, he broke the record. He ended up with four passing touchdowns against the Fighting Irish... giving him 80 in his three years at Stanford. Elway threw 77 in four years.

One of Notre Dame's players broke a school record himself. Wide receiver, Michael Floyd finished the game with 8 receptions... giving him 95 catches on the year... which passed up Golden Tate's record for most receptions in a season (Tate caught 93 passes for the Fighting Irish in 2009).

Last night was definitely one of the more memorable sporting events I've attended in recent years... and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to share it with my nephew.

Sunday's question...

Who's taking home the Heisman Trophy this season?

I honestly have no clue... since I don't really follow college football. But... my vote would go to Andrew Luck, solely based on the fact that he plays for a Bay Area university.

Okay... it's time to get ready for NFL Sunday. The Seahawks actually have a chance to win three in a row... if they can eek out a win against the Redskins, who have lost six in a row. Go Hawks!

Happy Sunday everyone... and sayonara!

Nablo WriMo Daily Total: 361 Words
November Total: 7,311 Words

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hidden Treasures #6: Al Leader HOF Statue

Are you ever embarrassed to tell people you're a sports memorabilia collector?

The fact is... it's a huge part of my life and most of my loved ones know about my hobby. However, I don't tell everyone... mainly because I don't want to be labeled the Japanese version of the:

Anyways... I recently hung out with a friend, who is completely out of the loop when it comes to sports collectibles. And he asked me about my interest in the hobby... which eventually led him to showing me the sweet trophy at the top of the post.

It's a Hockey Hall of Fame statue given to George Al Leader when he was inducted in 1969. The average hockey fan has probably never heard of Mr. Leader, because he was inducted as a "builder" instead of a "player".

He organized the Defense Hockey League in 1940 and a few years later, he was elected secretary-manager of the Pacific Coast League (PCHL). In the early 50's, Leader was the president of the PCHL, which is now called the Western Hockey League (WHL). His contributions helped the expansion of hockey into Western North America. If interested, you can read more HERE.

In addition to the trophy, my buddy also has this framed patch:

And this silver plate:

Some may be wondering... how do you acquire such unique hockey memorabilia? Well... my buddy was really good friends with Mr. Leader's son, who left it to him when he passed away a few years ago.

He didn't seem interested in selling any of the items, but he asked me what I thought they'd be worth (sort of reminded me of one of those Antique Roadshow episodes). Of course, I had no idea. But I'm assuming their one of a kind pieces, so I'm sure they're worth something to someone.

Happy Black Friday everyone! Sayonara.

Nablo WriMo Daily Total: 307 Words
November Total: 6,950 Words

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving... especially you (Mr. Suh)!

It's that time of the year... when we sit back and give thanks to our family, friends, and of course all of you who have taken a few minutes out of your busy life to check out my blog.

Usually... my blog posts tend to be long and wordy, due to my ADD and inability to keep things short and simple. But tonight is your lucky day... because this is it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Especially you Ndamukong Suh! Your lack of self control cost your team and definitely helped out the Green Bay Packers... which happens to be my favorite team. And if that didn't make me the happiest camper on the planet... your postgame press conference sure was the icing on the cake.

I respect your skills Mr. Suh, as do most football fans, but if I'm a Lions fans... you're no doubt on my "naughty" list.


Nablo WriMo Daily Total: 149 Words
November Total: 6,643 Words

Blog Trade #14: The Hopeful Chase

I can't believe it's been over six months since I've last traded with another blogger.

But thanks to Justin over at The Hopeful Chase, the drought has ended. Two weeks ago, he inquired about a 1981 Topps Orioles Future Stars card that featured Floyd Rayford, Mark Corey, & Mike Boddicker that I had pulled from a rack pack back in September.

After a couple of emails, here's what we agreed upon the following trade...

He received:

1981 Topps #399 Orioles Future Stars
1996-97 BAP Autograph #134 Fredrik Modin
+ a few extras to help even things out (some Eddie Murray cards & a Lecavalier mini jersey)

In return... I received:

2010-11 Donruss "Line of the Times" #7 Thornton/Heatley/Marleau

Some memorabilia cards have lost it's luster over the years... especially with generic COA's like: The enclosed game-worn swatches are guaranteed by Panini America, Inc.

But when I saw this card... I knew I wanted it. The design is simple, clean, and crisp. It the namesake of one of the greatest hockey inserts from the 90's... and it features one of the best lines in San Jose Sharks franchise history.

Plus he added this bonus for my Japanese athlete PC:

1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball #84 Katsuhiro Nakamura

I've never heard of the guy... but that doesn't mean I don't like the card. This is the first time I've ever seen this set... and now I want one. According to this card, Nakamura's professional career started in 1973. In the 90's he managed the Hanshin Tigers from 1990 to 1995.

Last... but not least... he threw in this:

2010-11 Donruss "Fans of the Game" #3 Justin Bieber

No... I'm not a Bieber fan. But some of my female students are. And one of them is about to become a very happy camper.

Thanks Justin for the great trade. Hopefully there'll be many more to come. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Nablo WriMo Daily Total: 316 Words
November Total: 6,494 Words

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Say It Isn't So... Joe (Thornton)

Yesterday, I went Shark hunting for the third time this season. There were a bunch of autograph seekers out there... probably 30 to 40... half of which were students on Thanksgiving break.

It was pretty cool to see how excited the kids were to meet these famous athletes... and most of the players were generous enough to hang around and snap photos with them.

I myself... didn't have a lot of things to get signed, so I helped my buddy (who sells autographs for a living) pick up some 'graphs for the upcoming Christmas season.

In the end, I managed to add eight signatures to my Sharks IP autograph collection. Here's a recap of my haul:

Marc-Edouard Vlasic & Dan Boyle



Logan Couture

Antti Niemi

Douglas Murray

Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau

Typically, I don't bother to ask players to sign multiple items... because I don't want to be greedy. But I noticed that Marleau was signing multiples for everyone, so I threw a puck on the photo at the last moment.

Graciously... he signed both items, including this sweet photo of him with Jumbo Joe...

I was pretty stoked... and I immediately told my buddy, "I don't care if nobody else signs... as long as Thornton does".

And he did... but (unfortunately) not for me. He signed for a few people, then hopped in his car and took off. I can't blame the guy... I'm sure he gets mobbed all the time... the price you pay for being a super-star athlete.

At least it gives me something to work on. I'm also going to purchase one of those white "This Is Sharks Territory" signs and have the team autograph that, since my collage is starting to get overcrowded with silver ink.

Well... my Harry Potter DVD collection just arrived from Amazon, so I'm off to watch the first movie while I track the Sharks vs. Blackhawks game online.

Happy Wednesday everyone... and sayonara!

Nablo WriMo Daily Total: 322 Words
November Total: 6,178 Words

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sports + Photography = One Helluva Hobby

Collecting sports memorabilia isn't my only interest. I'm a huge admirer of photography. When I was a child, I used to love going into the local poster store at the mall and flipping through Ansel Adam's prints... especially his Yosemite collection.

In college, I took a photography class... but learning about aperture, shutter speed, and developing photos didn't hold my attention.

Nope... I'm one of those people who just enjoy admiring other peoples' art... but from time to time, I'll snap a few pictures of my own... without any regards to light metering or ISO speed.

In fact here are a couple of photos I shot yesterday on my phone...

One of the things about living in California is... it's hard to screw up a photo of its beautiful coast and sunset.

So what's better than collecting sports memorabilia and admiring beautiful photography? The answer is... combining the two.

Last week, I came across this gorgeous photograph of Ernie Banks and knew instantly that I had to own it. I love how it captures Banks at the tail end of his swing... probably watching one of his 512 round trippers sailing over the wall. But it's the subtle things like the positioning of the catcher, the dust hovering over home plate, and the blue tint of the fans that make this photo special. Plus... the beautiful signature done in blue paint pen on the dark background is nothing short of perfection.

Honestly, this photo could have been of a minor league player... and I would have considered adding it to my collection. But the fact that it was Ernie Banks... arguably one of the greatest players in the history of the Chicago Cubs franchise... definitely sealed the deal.

Here's a look at Bank's career accomplishments:

14x MLB All-Star
2x NL MVP (1958 & 1959)
Gold Glove Award Winner (1960)
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award Winner (1967)
Baseball HOF (1977)
Cubs Jersey #14 Retired (1982)
512 Career Home Runs
1,636 Career RBI's

All of this was accomplished during his nineteen years in Chicago, which is why he's nicknamed "Mr. Cub".

By the way... if you haven't checked out Insider Sports Deals, I encourage you to head over there. Every day, they have a new deal, which tend to be hit or miss... but every now and then, they hit a home run. The Banks photo was one of them.

I picked up this autographed 8x10 for $29.88.

The only downside to the whole purchase was the cost of shipping: $10.81. I picked up several other autographs (including an extra Banks for a friend) to make the shipping charge worthwhile. But... I'll save those for another day.

Here is today's question of the day...

What are some of your favorite photographs?

In terms of sports, there are two that stand out: Willie May's over the shoulder catch at the Polo Grounds and Jackie Robinson stealing home at Ebbets Field.

Outside of sports, here are a few of my personal favorites:

I just noticed that all of my favorite photos were taken before I was even born. But I guess that's why I enjoy them so much... they capture a piece of the past.

Okay... time to share yours.

Happy Tuesday everyone... only two more days until Turkey Day. Sayonara.

Nablo WriMo Daily Total: 533 Words
November Total: 5,856 Words

Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking Down the Pro's & Con's of Group Breaks

Wow... thank you to everyone who left me feedback on the... What's your take on Group Breaks? question. I already had an opinion on the issue, but all of you helped me reflect on the issue... and even revise my personal stance.

Here's a look at the breakdown as of 5:30 this morning:

I probably should have created a poll to begin with, but I honestly was surprised at the amount of feedback all of you gave. I took it upon myself to decipher your feedback and put you into one of three categories. It looks like nearly 60% (11 out of 19) of you enjoy to some extent participating in "group breaks". A little over 30% (6 out of 19), are like me and felt that they're not quite worth it. And just over 10% (2 out of 19) of the people who left feedback are caught in the middle.

After digesting all of your responses, I tried to organize & summarize the information, so that people can see what collector's thoughts (plus added my own thoughts in red) are:

The Advantages of Group Breaks:
- there's the rush you get from gambling
- the thrill of pulling the BIG hit
- they're great for team collectors
- save money, compared to buying a whole box
- affordable way to see new product
- certain teams are better in certain products
- add to the treasure hunt mystique
- opportunity to get cards from sets you normally wouldn't buy
- it's great for overseas collectors (see Tony's comments)
- great way for collectors to interact & bond

The Disadvantages of Group Breaks:
- it's not worth the gamble
- I'd rather buy the cards I want instead
- you only get a fraction of the box, some want it all
- they're not good, if you have very specific "wants"
- there's plenty of "unwanted" extra cards
- not cool when the "breaker" tries to make money
- certain teams are worse in certain products
- sometimes you only receive the "hits" and not the "base"

Other thoughts on Group Breaks:
- it's hit or miss... you can pull a huge hit or nothing at all
- the attractiveness of group breaks can depend on who's running it

I was also intrigued by Offy's (Mr. Traver) comments. He made a few valid points when it comes to running "group breaks". If you're going to let people choose their teams, then certain teams should be priced higher/lower depending on the product.

The fact is... card companies typically do not create an equal amount of cards for each team. Hiflew supported this theory when he wrote, "as a Rockies collector, usually I end up regretting my purchase because of not enough cards."

Here's my updated take on group breaks...

I typically stay away from "group breaks", because I'm not a big gambler and I'd rather spend my money on purchasing specific singles for my collection. However, I definitely can see the benefits for "team collectors" and the fact that it's a way for collectors to "bond".

Thanks again to everyone who left a comment on my previous post.

One of the best things about authoring a blog is the feedback you receive. It's the whole reason I try to include a question in each of my posts. Ironically, I'm not inserting a question today, but I truly appreciate everyone and anyone who has ever taken the time to read and/or respond to one of my blog posts.

My motto is... I'll keep writing them... if you keep reading them.

Have a great week everyone... and sayonara!

Nablo WriMo Daily Total: 595 Words
November Total: 5,324 Words

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What's your take on "group breaks"?

We all know that busting wax similar to playing the lottery. Every now and then you pull something decent... or maybe something for your PC... or worse case scenario... something you can give to your students.

These days, I'm not much of a gambler... and I don't play the lottery... which means that I don't open wax on a regular basis.

The last packs I opened were over two months ago... and they were 80's rack packs of all things.

But last month, I had the opportunity to get in on a group break of 2007 & 2008 Bowman Chrome football, and a box of 2011 Topps Inception football for $13.

I typically don't jump at these offers, but I wanted a shot at some AP or Megatron rookie cards.

Well... I ended up with the 49ers and the Chiefs. Here are the three cards worth mentioning:

2007 Bowman Chrome #BC93 Patrick Willis RC

2008 Bowman Chrome "Refractor" #BC78 Jamaal Charles RC

2008 Bowman Chrome "Bronze" #BC78 Jamaal Charles RC (304/329)

It wasn't a complete wash... but I didn't make my money back either. But... how often do collectors truly make their money back?

I'll probably sell the Willis rookie card at the flea market along with the other 49er singles I received... and end up keeping the two Jamaal Charles parallels.

If anything... it's a nice reminder of why I typically don't bust packs... and why I should stay away from group breaks too. Instead... I'll stick to picking up singles I want off of COMC.

I'm interested in hearing your opinion on "group breaks"...

Do you join them?

Why or why not?

Happy Saturday everyone... and sayonara!

P.S. Thanks Schwang17 for putting this group break together and allowing me to join.

NaBlo WriMo Daily Total: 283 Words
November Total: 4,729 Words