Friday, December 7, 2018

Bustin' a Box of 2013 USA Baseball

Blowout Cards was selling some Panini USA Baseball sets for $14.95 during their black Friday sale. I'm a sucker for anything dealing with USA Baseball and after reading the description I was loading up my cart with sets from 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Cards from the Collegiate, 18 & Under and 15 & Under National Teams were included in the box. Not to mention a trio of blue parallels and NINE hits!
When opening up the package and I can't help but notice the "brick" of cards and all the wasted space. You'd think it would be cheaper to pack if less material was used.  But, what do I know?

Personally, I really think the blue parallels are slick looking and I would love a chrome version of this set. 
 The first two names didn't ring a bell, but I know the third guy, Justus Sheffield. 
Sheffield is a decent prospect and was part of the return that sent James Paxton to the Yankees from the Mariners.

Bring on the hits! 

Preston Morrison was drafted by the Cubs in the 8th round back in 2015. He found his way to AAA last year as a reliever. This one would look good with an in-person auto!

Lane Thomas was a 5th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2014, but the center fielder was traded to the Cardinals for international draft cap space in 2017. Thomas smacked 27 homers between AA and AAA this past season. The card is numbered out of 25 and I really like the red ink!

Alex Destino, an outfielder in the White Sox system, was drafted in 2017 in the 14th round. He played most of last season in rookie ball. This auto patch combo is numbered out of 35.

Sam Travis drafted by the Red Sox in 2014. The 2nd round draft pick made his MLB debut in 2017 and has found some time in the outfield and at first base for Boston. 

I can't find anything on Ben Ramirez on baseballreference.com, but a quick Google search reveals a freshman by the same name playing shortstop for USC in 2018. This might be a decent card to sit on for a few years. 

Isaak Gutierrez is a pitcher at Bethune-Cookman University. Another red auto coming means another card numbered to 25.

I'm a little baffled why a Japanese All-Star is included in the product, but it's pretty cool looking nonetheless. From a quick search I couldn't find any mention of Gen Mizumoto playing competitive baseball since 2012. We can't all be Shohei Ohtani I guess.

Bradley Zimmer is the biggest name out of all the hits. He has a fair chance of earning some serious playing time in the Indians' outfield in 2019.

Adam Haseley, and outfielder, is another name to watch out for. He was the 8th overall pick by the Phillies in the 2017 draft and hit above 0.300 in limited time at AA last season.

The box included fifteen total insert cards titled Curtain Call and In Action. I didn't hit a Trea Turner or Alex Bregman auto or relic, so it's nice to get a couple extra cards sporting them.

Here's a look at the base cards and first up is a card from the 15U National Team. Mickey Moniak gets top billing here, because I believe he was the overall #1 pick in the 2016 drat.

 Jack Flaherty was the biggest name from the 18U roster, but  many of those guys are also still fighting their way up the ladder in the minor leagues.

 The Collegiate team had the most names I recognized. Here's a couple of Athletics!

And we'll finish off the show-and-tell with my favorite card from the box, Kyle Schwarber!  That was a nice surprise!

I still have the 2014 and 2015 boxes to crack open. Stay tuned for more USA Baseball!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Contest - Favorite Card of 2018

I've held this contest the past two years and it seemed to go over pretty well both times. The inaugural contest had 35 participants and last year we saw it grow to 42. Here's some quick stats:
It was no surprise Topps NOW led the way in 2016, as it made its debut that summer, but it fell two #2 in 2017. Has the luster of Topps NOW worn off? Will it make the top three again in 2018?

With the Cubs finally winning a World Series in 2016, and being represented well in 2017 sets, it wasn't a shock to see them as the most popular team from last year. Does that mean good things for the Astros in this year's edition? Only time will tell.

I'm going to put the Cubs and Topps Flagship out to an early lead with my favorite card of the year. I really wanted to choose a Vogelbach card this year, but there weren't many options this card collecting year and none of them spoke to me.

 So, I'll take some smiling Cubs instead:
This one comes from 2018 Topps Series 2, is #529, and is a checklist, so I won't bother showing the reverse side. I actually purchased this card through Sportlots.com, because every card show vendor and LCS in my area loves to mark up their Cubs. Eighteen cents for this beauty was an easy decision.

It's my favorite card this year, because it displays what I enjoy most about baseball: it's a fun game built around relationships and camaraderie with your teammates. This photo selection reminds me of why I coach high school baseball.


Here's the details for the contest:
1. Must be one card produced in 2018.
2. It does not have to be baseball related and may even be from a non-sport set. (Ahem... Stranger Things *cough-cough* Zippy Zappy *cough-cough*)
3. It should be a card you have in your collection, but I'm a softie and will count your entry even if it isn't.
4. Make a quick blog post about your favorite card. (I appreciate other social media platforms as much as the next guy, but I'm a blog guy at heart and only blog posts will be entered. My contest, my rules. Sorry, not sorry.)
5. Reply in the comments section of this post with a link to your blog post before January 7th, 2019. (Some of you may find a new favorite during the holiday season!)

That's it! It's a pretty simple contest, but it makes for an easy blog post and some interesting reading material for the rest of us. 

Heads up!
6. I will summarize all the entries in one blog post. (I will also pilfer pictures from your post and use them here.)

The Prize!
7. I will place all entrants into random.org and perform three randomizations. As per tradition, the winner (#1 slot) will receive a blaster of 2019 Topps Series 1 when it is released AND the person who winds up in the last place slot will also receive a prize, which is yet to be determined. Yes, two winners!

Now, get to posting!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Blogger Cards

I have a short but growing stack of cards featuring bloggers. The latest addition comes from Condition Sensitive and Rosenort.
I love the signature at the bottom almost as much as the caricature of Rosenort. Some bloggers send their business card with a trade package, which is cool, but I appreciate the extra time and effort it takes to make these customs. If I had a color printer and the other necessary tools I would definitely go this route.

Rosenort recently ripped a couple of blasters of Topps Update, which prompted our latest trade.
I couldn't pass up on the Jim Thome "Hall of Famer" insert and Rosenort was happy to oblige. The "Legends" insert was a nice surprise I wasn't expecting.

On to the Cubs! I actually have long completed the 1990 Fleer and 1991 Topps Cubs team sets.
 But, if you noticed the O-Pee-Chee designation on the Rafael Palmeiro card, then you might have guessed Topps are in fact O-Pee-Chee cards and the Fleer were printed in Canada. Most excellent!

1997 Fleer Ultra is hard to come buy in these parts. Terry Adams was a very useful 7th/8th inning guy back in the day.

Hey, another addition to my Turk Wendell player collection!

It's been quite some time since I was able to add a new Starlin Castro Cubs card to my collection. For a good while he was the only Cub card in a majority of those high end sets back at the start of the decade. Those sure were some lean years.

Woo-Hoo! Some more update! Watching Schwarber in the Home Run Derby with Baez last July was one of my favorite things about the 2018 season.
 I'm not quite sure, but it almost looks as though Pedro Strop has his hat on straight. Almost.

It was an Anthony Rizzo hot trade package! 

I started the trade package with an auto and we'll end it with a serial numbered, dual relic autograph card of Matt Szczur.
That's a sharp looking card of one of the easier guys to cheer for in recent Cubs history. This card makes me smile.  And, isn't that what collecting is all about anyways?

Thanks for the trade package, Rosenort!

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Review: The Sportlots Box

Since January of 2009 I've placed twenty-five orders through Sportlots.com to help fill my collecting needs. Recently Sportlots has stepped up its game by offering the Sportlots Box option to help reduce shipping costs.

When placing orders in the past I was always super concerned about trying to maximize shipping costs from each dealer. I didn't want to pay three bucks in shipping for 12 cards when I could purchase up to 25 cards for the same shipping price. So, I would peruse the dealer's inventory until I could maximize the most cardboard for my buck.

The Sportlots Box option in many cases awards you more freedom than in the past. For instance, check out the postage rates from one of the dealers I like to purchase cards from:
Did you see that final column? Yep, by choosing to use the Sportlots Box option this dealer will ship your cards to Sportlots for FREE. Once there, the cards will sit in your box until you're ready to ship.

When shipping is free, the stress of trying to maximize a purchase centered around shipping costs is tossed out the window!

Not all dealers are using the Sportlots Box option, but those who are have been given one of three discount designations.  For example, six different dealers are offering discounted shipping to the Sportlots Box for this 2018 Topps Fire Ryne Sandberg card. Now it's just a matter of clicking on the dealer info to see what they charge for shipping to find the best deal.
Dealers with a blue check mark offer the best bargain (sometimes free), while red is the next best deal and that is followed by green.

Here's another screen shot of the postage rates from a dealer with a blue check mark.
Again, I can get behind these postage rates. They aren't free, but they aren't going to break the bank either.

So, I decided to test the process. I needed some cards for my Topps Big League master set build.
And I decided to finally chase down those Bull Durham cards from Topps Archives.
And I needed some random Cubs cards to fill some holes.
And, most importantly, I needed some cards to send out in trade packages for other bloggers.

I guess I went a bit overboard, because before I knew it I had cards from TWENTY-ONE different dealers in my shopping cart.
In every instance I found the cards I wanted were significantly cheaper, with shipping including, than what I could find on Ebay or COMC.com.

So, I placed my order after handing out candy on Halloween.
Two-and-half weeks later, on November 17th, the cards from the last dealer arrived in my Sportlots Box. Not the best turn around time in the world, but I think two to three weeks should probably be expected when purchasing from so many different dealers. For what it's worth, all but three orders where in my Sportslots Box within twelve days.
Before leaving for work on the 17th I paid $8.90 in shipping to have the cards shipped to my house from my Sportlots Box. Not bad.

Upon my return home later that evening I found I had another message waiting for me.
Timely and saving me money! Now that's customer service!

A few days later I had a good sized yellow mailer sitting in my mailbox.
Here's the contents all spread out for you to take in. That's a fun mail day right there!

Here's the timeline of the purchase:
* Placed the order after business hours on October 31st
* The final cards arrived in my Sportlots Box on November 17th
* Paid to have the cards shipped on November 17th
* Was given a shipping discount ($1.50) and the cards were sent out on November 17th
* Cards arrived on November 21st

Here are the shipping figures:
* I paid a total of $5.85 to have the twenty-one dealers ship to my Sportlots Box
* I then paid $8.90, but was reimbursed $1.50, to have the cards shipped to me from Sportlots
* The grand total I paid in shipping was $13.25 (54 cards from 21 total dealers)
* If I chose to have the cards shipped directly to me it would have cost $32.05.
* By using the Sportlots Box I saved $18.80 in shipping. Nice! 

Overall: As a set builder I have patience to spare. I don't pick up singles to complete my sets until the market has settled on a new release. So, waiting three weeks from the date of purchase to get my cards isn't a big deal whatsoever. Honestly, it's just about finishing my set or adding cards to a player collection at the right price. Sportlots.com often times offers that "right price" and it is perfect for a set builder or anyone looking for those random cards time has forgotten. Obviously, the savings in shipping is the big bonus, but I also enjoyed no longer feeling like I have to maximize the shipping with each dealer. I really enjoyed my Sportlots Box purchase and will definitely be using this option for my next purchase.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the Sportslots Box. I'm not an expert by any means, but I do have some experience and will help if I can.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Generous Sister

Before heading out of town we sometimes ask my sister to look in on our cats. Nothing too crazy... food, water and maybe tend to the litter box.
This time of year, when the heated bathroom floor is on, they are pretty low maintenance. 

When Laura and I returned from Thanksgiving at her parents' place up north I found some some candy on the dining room table.
I pass out packaged of Smarties in class to my students when they answer a tough question or make a mathematical connection which allows us to push forward within the day's lesson. You know, because their smart! These candy packages are way larger than the typical Smarties though! Whoa!
Accompanying the candy was a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. 
Larry Fitzgerald seems like a pretty fun dude. Did you notice the thickness of this magazine though? It looks like the pages are spilling out to the right. 

That's because there was some extra SI for Kids cards included. Ready for a photo dump?





















I think I uploaded all twenty-two pages. At nine cards a page there are just under 200 cards here. Sadly, no Cubs though!

If you haven't been over to Area 40 yet, then you better get over there soon to claim your teams. Rumor has it these cards will be carefully split apart and disbursed through Wes' last hurrah!

Thanks for the cards, Jane! You're going to make a lot of bloggers happy with your generosity!