Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cardboard Security: I'll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours

Do you ever worry about your collection?  I never really did as frankly it’s not really worth all that much and would be incredibly unwieldy to take let alone convert to cash.  And yet here we are trading addresses and showing off our collections online.

I would think someone who broke into my house would probably prefer my TV or my somewhat ancient laptop to a bunch of cardboard.  In fact there’s not much in the house that I couldn’t stand to lose or that could be sold very easily apart from a substantial jar of change in my office.  The house is pretty organized, though, so if someone was looking for something specific it wouldn't be too hard to find.

Anyhoo, here’s a little info about how I’ve kept my collection secure (as well as the reason I’m bringing it up in the first place):

All the good cards are locked in a safe deposit box in a bank vault along with a few irreplaceables and my ’89 Upper Deck pack pull.  I’ve taken scans of them in case I need to reference them on the blog, so they’re never at the house.  No worries there.

Obviously burglars prefer an empty house, but I’m lucky in that respect for two reasons: first, I have a wife that does shift work, so someone is pretty much always home.  Second, I have a dog.  She is scrappy and quick; and while she is very friendly I’ve seen her react to unknown people snooping near the house (most recently the meter-reader guy), and she was downright vicious.  It scared the bejeezus out of me at the time, but it also allayed my fears that she would run up to a burglar and lick his hand.

I also live on the same street as five cops and a massive population of old retired couples.  My next door neighbor is a retired gentleman who is also smoker, so he is usually outside keeping an eye on our ‘hood.  He is always filling us in on the goings-on in the area, and he recently spotted that my license plate sticker was expired.  Dude is observant.  Well done, neighborino.

So, why am I bringing up security anyway?  Well, last night I was at Office Depot buying an ink pad for a rubber stamp (you’ll see why soon enough), and I found a perfectly-sized locking steel cabinet on clearance.  I’ve wanted to consolidate things for a while, but here was a way to do just that and add a substantial level of security I never really considered needing.  It cost a little money, but as a storage tool and last line of defense I’m super happy with it.  Plus it makes my card room feel like a bank:

It feels great to have everything in one place and under lock and key.  And I'm also happy to report that since I got everything nice and centralized, I'm able to get tasks done a lot quicker.  I've even been able to trade more often as I'm not moving all around the house to finish one task.  I have a stack of PWE's going out tomorrow.  Cabinet!

There are a few other security-related elements at work that I won’t mention here (cough, lasers).  I was just curious about how others approach this aspect of having a big card collection, or if they do at all.

I hope I didn’t just make you paranoid.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mr. 3000 - A Milestone and a Giveaway

Today, April 28th of 2014, the latest incoming shipment from COMC put us over the mark.  We have finally reached 3000 unique Griffeys!

Here's the card of honor:

2008 SPx Ken Griffey, Jr. American Hero #KG43 #/725, we salute you.

This guy.  It's no surprise to me that it ended up being one of these 2008 SPx American Hero insert cards.  I've been powering through the checklist when I can find each card I need for a dollar or less.  I'm getting pretty far, too, as you can now see in The Beast.

This shipment brought us to 7,542 total Griffeys with a total of 3,025 unique cards.  That's a duplicate ratio of 2.493.  The stats of the shipment were 84 added, 76 new, and a dupe ratio of 1.105.  That's the lowest yet from a sort.  There were a few stragglers mixed in there with the COMC purchases, so it wasn't a perfect 1.00, but it's still a massive step in the right direction.

You may have noticed that I blacked out the number of this particular card.  That's because in honor of this milestone I figure it's time to have a giveaway.  Winner gets a prize package of cool stuff assembled by yours truly.  Here's the poop:

Guess the serial number of this card.  Closest without going over (yeah, it's one of those) wins.  Hint: the answer is less than 726.

Comment below with your guess.  I'm going to let this one roll until Friday at midnight CST.  If you are venturing a guess and we haven't traded or communicated via e-mail or anything, go ahead and e-mail me at tjv504 at gmail dot com with your deets.  Good luck!

Don't look for an imprint of the serial number here - I checked.  It's clean.

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Opened Two Packs of 1990 Donruss

I was trying to find my 1990 Donruss Marquis Grissom Rated Rookie when I realized I don't have it.  What I did have, though, was two unopened packs of '90 Donruss sitting around, collecting dust.  So, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Right off the bat (so to speak), these packs Bipped me.

Some strong rookies here, but no Marquis!  Where is the Marquis?

Something about Mike LaValliere - I've kalways kind of wanted to start a PC for him.  He just seems like a regular dude, you know?  Regardless, George Bell's giant cap steals the show on this page.

Randy really does look ready here.  Was that on purpose?

I'll always have a soft spot for Rex Hudler.

Oh, well.  No Marquis Grissom Rated Rookie.  Does anybody have one they can spare?  I'm totally serious.

All these cards smelled amazing, by the way.

The Dutch Card Guy Lives Up to His Name by Being Dutch and also a Card Guy

I had my first international trade this month with everybody’s favorite Euro-blogger Jeroen of the great blog The Dutch Card Guy.  Jeroen has clearly been setting aside Griffeys for some time because there was a nice stack as well as a fun mix of other goodies, treats, novelties, and what-have-yous.

First, my favorite card in the package, possibly the world:

Terry here was just in New Orleans for Wrestle-mania.  Gotta love that flaxen doll hair of his.

These little guys are soccer cards, I think.  They’re small and thin like early Panini stickers, but I haven’t tried peeling the backs off of any.  Cool little cards – very unique.  How that one guy plays in a suit I'll never know.

I’d love to know where Dutch got all these things.  I’ve never seen them in the U.S. let alone anywhere in Europe.  Then again, I’ve never been to Europe.  Are there American sports cards for sale on every corner?

Anyway, Jerry knows I'm crazy about Olympic figure skating and gymnastics.  It's not my proudest trait, but it's time to stop hiding.  I know who all these people are.  There, I said it.

This is a fun mystery card because I have no idea who this person is.  I thought ODB was a rapper, but apparently that is this woman's name.  She used to be a little girl, but now she's a grown woman with a white tongue and bad hair?  I don't even want to know, really.  I'd rather let this one stay a mystery.  The size of her neck leads me to believe she's involved with wrestling.  Don't tell me anything more.

Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Caitlin MacDonald.  Is this not the most adorable hockey player you've ever seen?  She's Canadian, too, so you know she's super into poutine and the films of John Candy.  Swoon.

As you can see it was Jeroen’s hope that I end up needing at least one of the Griffeys he sent.  Well, turns out I didn’t need one.  I needed two.  Nice!  Amazing how far these cards probably travelled to end up in a binder in Louisiana.

These are the two I needed.  How that promo card from the National ended up in The Netherlands I'll never guess.  I'd never even seen it before.  Great cards!

Here are the rest with limited commentary:

'96 Topps Chrome Star Power!  One of my favorites.  This card has popped up a lot lately...

Thanks, Jeroen!  In case you haven’t received it yet, I sent you a bunch of cards from your PC’s (lots of pitchers), some Yankees, and a massive stack of parallels and inserts from your Topps want lists.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tim Wallach: Always Packs a Wallop

I don’t ask for much – just all your Griffeys.  Yet I can certainly appreciate when folks don’t have Griffeys to send.  It’s no biggie.  When I send out cards to folks it’s not always to get something in return.  I just recognize that some cards belong with other collectors - especially when I can get a bunch of cardboard to that collector for the price of one stamp.

Take Corey, for example, of the now-famous blog Tim Wallach.  I save my Tim Wallach cards for weeks, and when I feel I have enough I shoot them over to him in a PWE.  I don’t sit around waiting for Corey to go out and buy me Griffeys or anything.

But being the stand-up guy he is, Co-Co Puffs still makes makes it a point to send me something.  The amazing thing is that every time he does, it’s something I absolutely love.

The other day I got a PWE from The Stack with two cards in it.  The first was a 2014 Topps Series 1 Griffey All-Rookie Cup Team insert – a lovely card I don’t have many of.

In that same envelope was this:

I pulled this card out and was all like, “Whaaaaaaa?”  I have been wanting this card for SO LONG.  I even tried finding one on COMC several times with no luck.  Now here it is: the granddaddy of bubble cards.

I’m fascinated by that bubble measuring tool, but I find it a bit dependent on what side of the bubble you use it on.  I’d like to see the complete rules for this contest.

The back is just as great:

Look at the names: Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, young George Brett?  All these guys participated in a bubble-blowing contest?  Not only that, 22 teams team had their own contests?  And these contests culminated in “team championships?”  Then they sent the winners of those to a neutral location where they competed with each other in uniform?  At blowing gum bubbles?  I can’t even.  I just can’t.

The only non-surprise here is that Bert Blyleven did so well:

Until that envelope came, this was my favorite gum bubble card.  Now it’s garbage (not really).

Thank you, Corey.  You killed it again.  You’ve set the standard pretty high for envelopes from Stackhouse Law Offices.  What are you going to send next time, a ’52 Mantle?  How are you so good at this?!?  Geez.

Supercollecting Science: Let's Crunch Some Numbers

Since I started keeping a running count of all my Griffeys, I now have a great source of historical data to play around with and extrapolate information from.  This post is a six-month progress report on the acquisition of Griffeys and the general growth of the collection based on the numerical data gleaned from changes in the Griffey count.  It’s all very exciting in a math-y sorta way.

First, let’s talk about where this thing is meant to go.  As you can see (at the time of this post), the total Griffey count is at 7,458 total cards with a unique Griffey count of 2,949.  This gives us a current duplicate ratio of 2.529, a 6-month decrease of 0.061.  This number is an indicator of collecting efficiency whether it is purchases or trades, so I try to keep it low.  A dupe ratio of 1 would mean zero duplicates and perfect collecting efficiency.  My goal is to have a ratio that is always shrinking, but I feel like it’s probably just going to hover around the 2.5 mark unless I do something drastic.

Now I could, if all I wanted was a lower dupe ratio, sell 823 duplicates and instantly achieve an overall dupe ratio of 2.25, but where’s the fun in that?  I could also acquire 641 new unique Griffeys with zero duplicates (dupe ratio at an even 1.00).  That would get my “slash line” to 8099/3600/2.250.  Doesn’t that sound better?

The Beast has changed the game

Let’s talk about these numbers in the context of the newest, biggest, baddest addition to this blog: a canonical list of every unique Griffey card in my collection that I call The Beast.  I put The Beast together for a few reasons, but the one most applicable here is that it keeps me from buying duplicates.  I’m guilty many times over of perusing COMC or card shows and picking out a load of cheap cards I don’t recognize only to find those same cards staring back at me when I go to file them in the binders.  How embarrassing.  The plan is that implementation of the Beast as a reference will lead to a lower dupe ratio.

When we look at just the Griffeys added over the last six months, the current trends become clear.  The total Griffey growth from 10/24/2013 to 4/24/2014 is 1,140 total cards, 506 of which were new unique Griffeys.  While my overall dupe ratio is hovering right around 2.529, the dupe ratio for new acquisitions in the last six months was a wonderfully low 2.253.  This means I'm collecting at a higher efficiency.  I’m also averaging a daily increase of 6.33 Griffeys, 2.81 of which are new, unique additions.  You read that right - just under three new Griffeys a day.

Going forward I expect to see the overall growth level off as the number of unique cards continues to grow.  The result of these trends in concert will be a smaller dupe ratio.  This is thanks in part to The Beast being fully operational.

So yeah. I really just wanted to get all this down in black and white before the true effects of The Beast are felt. Hopefully this post doesn't scare folks away from sending me duplicates in trade.  I still love me some dupes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Not All That is Gold Glitters: 1997 Pinnacle

Is this a good Griffey card?  Yes.  In a set full of gaudy base cards, Junior got away with a reasonably attractive subset appearance.

The set: There is no regular base card for Junior in ’97 Pinnacle.  This is probably for the best as it’s not a very good-looking set despite some pretty cool parallels and great inserts.

For three years in a row Pinnacle went with a prominent gold foil nameplate.  These nameplates evolved from the curvy baseball stitches of 1995, to the textured triangles of 1996, and finally to this angular job.  I realized while writing this post that it’s supposed to be a baseball diamond, but that doesn’t make the overall effect any less garish.  And if you’re thinking it’s not so bad, you should see the horizontal version.


The backs are warm and with that cool engraved bat on every card.  The stat box is a little less stat-boxy than I'd like, but the overall look is solid and cohesive.  You can't really complain about the photography in this set, either.

One of the design elements I’m on the fence about is the inclusion of tiny text in the nameplate.  There you can find a field of buzzwords that correspond to the player’s team.  For example, Jeff Bagwell’s card includes words like Astrodome, Colt 45’s, Galveston, and Astroturf.  Reading this text can be hard on the eyes on the regular card, but they become a lot more legible in the Dufex printing of the Museum Collection parallel.

Fun fact about the Mariners cards: a few of the choice words in that field of text include Junior and The Big Unit.  Hence, every Mariners base card in 1997 Pinnacle references our guy.  And Randy Johnson.

These cards are notorious for a buildup of white film on the flat areas.  These same areas are also susceptible to fingerprints.  Luckily this film tends to wipe away pretty easily without damage to the card, but the fingerprints are another story.  Be careful with your '97 Pinnacles, guys.

In lieu of a second series, Pinnacle rebooted with the brand New Pinnacle.  Because of that we only have the Clout subset to sustain our Griffey base card lust.  For what it’s worth:

1997 Pinnacle #197 Clout

I really like the photo they used.  You can really see the potential energy that’s about to be unleashed on that hapless baseball.  It’s also impeccably even and centered, giving an air of stability and balance.  Apart from that there’s not much to say about the design itself.  It doesn’t stray far from the aesthetic of the regular base design with the bottom-mounted gold foil nameplate and centering.  If I didn’t know better I would guess that this was a prototype for the next year’s base set.

1997 Pinnacle #197 Clout Museum Collection

I can’t say anything bad about this Museum Collection version.  They went with a horizontal stripe pattern that mirrors the horizontal line theme of the card.  I probably would have gone in a different direction when it comes to the Dufex pattern, but the effect is great.

What Pinnacle missed in the base set it more than made up for with some very unique, personal inserts.

1997 Pinnacle Passport to the Majors #2 (front)


When this insert came out the Beckett used to include a photo example of every kind of card with the listings, and I used to look at this one and drool.  What a cool idea and a solid execution - definitely one of my favorite inserts of the 90's.  I believe these were listed at $40-$80 at one point just for the awesome factor.  I just bought this card this year, and I spent way more on it than I do most Griffeys – around $3.00.

1997 Pinnacle Shades #1

The die-cut shades insert was also very highly valued in its day.  Luckily I waited to buy and was able to snag this one fairly recently for a couple of bucks.  It's an incredibly shiny card, so it doesn't scan well.  In person, however, it's a real gem.  It might seem strange that he’s looking at himself in this image, but that just adds to the fun.  Maybe he’s watching himself on TV?  Sweet mustache close-up.

Here are all the Griffeys from 1997 Pinnacle that I need:

#193 Clout Gold Artist Proof /300
#193 Press Plate /8 (four of card front, four of card back)
Cardfrontations #14 (w/ Mariano Rivera)
Shades #1 Press Plate /8 (four of card front, four of card back)
Team Pinnacle #7 (w/ Ellis Burks)
Away (Jersey Die-Cut) #3
Home (Jersey Die-Cut) #4

I am ashamed about how few of the inserts I have from this set as I used to buy it all the time, waiting for a Griffey pull that would never come.  I mean I probably got one of the Clout subset card or something, but I was too young and stupid to figure out back then that there was no Griffey base card. I was also too young to understand what tacky means.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nothing But the Griffeys: a Night Owl Trade Post

'Nuff said?  Good.

Greg sent an amazing package, and while there were only nine cards, all of them were Griffeys; and I needed more than half of them.  For example, I needed both of these from '98 Ultra.

And here is the Gold Medallion parallel of the Pizzazz subset from that same set.  Looks pretty good in gold.

I’m used to getting vintage cards from Night Owl for a few of my lesser-known player collections like Rusty Staub and Vida Blue which has been great as I hardly ever buy such items for myself, but this package was different.  Check out this great Leaf insert.

And this vintagey insert from Fleer Tradition.  Sure the head is a little creepy, but it's fun and colorful.


A solid Upper Deck insert from the heyday of holograms.

These last few got crazy cropped by the scanner, so I just went with it.  I have very few copies of these early-to-mid-2000's Upper Deck base cards, so they are always welcome.


These 2012 retail refractors are incredibly cool.  It's amazing to me that these were not made on a larger scale and with more players.  Sacrilege.

Finally, Greg sent one from the Victory Junior Circuit subset, fifty cards that were more or less tailor-made for a Griffey nerd like me.  Well played, Mr. Owl.

Thanks for the really solid selection of Griffeys, Greg!  I'll continue to keep my eyes peeled for Dodgers oddballs and such to send your way.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

First Annual Card Blogger Convention - June 2017

This is the fantasy itinerary for a card blogger convention to be held over a weekend in June, 2017.  I figure we get a convention room in a hotel complete with sponsors and name tags and festive t-shirts and such.  Here's what I envision:

Friday Night

Meet and Greet – Everybody meets up in the hotel conference room and introduces themselves. Everyone will wear name tags depicting their name and blog.  Faces are finally put with names and blog personalities.  Instant camaraderie ensues.


Introductions – Attendees introduce themselves and give a quick run-down of their blog, what they collect, and what they hope to get out of the weekend.

Topps Talk and Q&A Session – The VP of marketing for Topps comes in and thanks us for our business.  He/She talks for a while about the company and their plans for the future.  Ends with a joke about Panini not having a license.  Dime Box Nick is granted a Summer internship following the Q&A.

Panini Talk and Q&A Session – The President of Panini America comes in and thanks us for our business.  He/She talks for a while about the company and their plans for the future.  Ends with a joke about Upper Deck not being allowed to use current player images.  The Prez takes a grilling for not having logos on their cards but leaves everyone satisfied as Panini brings better giveaways than Topps.

COMC Talk and Q&A Session - The President of COMC comes in and thanks us for our business.  He/She talks for a while about the company and their complete dominance of the sports card valuation industry.  Ends with a joke about Beckett.
Card Blogger Workshops

- Organization Workshop – Everybody share their best practices for organizing their collections. People could provide photos of their methods as well as the overall look of their collections, maybe even a flow chart or two.

- How to Ship Cards – Best practices for shipping PWE’s, cost-effective use of boxes vs. bubble mailers and when to go Priority Mail, proper tape usage.

- One-stamp Contest – To take place after the How to Ship Cards workshop.  A few weeks before the convention everyone mail a sealed PWE to one non-interested blogger using only one forever stamp.  We bust open the envelopes and see who could successfully ship the most standard-size cards in a single PWE with one stamp without the USPS returning it for additional postage.  Blogger with the most cards in their successfully-delivered PWE keeps all sent cards and whatever donated prizes we can muster.

Card Blogging Live! – A new take on the delivery of a blog post.  Bloggers give a live presentation in lieu of a written post and talk about whatever they would have otherwise talked about in the written post.  Visual cues on a large projection screen with musical accompaniment encouraged. Dramatic readings of existing blog posts welcome.

- Night Owl – Greg does a dramatic reading of a trade post where he received ’72 minis.  All are very excited to hear him give a hearty “miiiiiinnnnnnniiiiiiiiiiis!!!” live in person.

- gcrl – Jim explains his distrust of the SHIFT key and shows off some of his favorite double-play cards.

- The Junior Junkie – T.J. spouts off about how amazing Griffey is or whatever.  The Topps rep offers T.J. a position as an outside consultant, T.J. accepts and runs off to spend the money he hasn’t even made yet on Griffeys.

- Tim Wallach – Corey gives a prepared talk the transcript of which gets published in Sports Illustrated under the title “The Art and Science of the Single-Player Supercollector.”  The movie deal that eventually comes from this pays for the entire next year’s convention (and a crap load of Tim Wallach cards).

Blogger Box Social – Everybody gets loose and drinks martinis (or whatever they like), and we talk about balancing blogging with everyday life.  Trades discouraged at this event.

Blogger Bar Hopping – Boom.  Chris of Nachos Grande and Matt of Red Cardboard get into an argument about who’s the bigger Barry Larkin fan, decide to settle it by going shot-for-shot with Jaegermeister.


Brunch – Chris and Matt do not make it to this.

Box Break – One massive box break!  We get a dozen boxes of cards and everyone picks teams like normal (there should be a big fight for the Dodgers).  Perhaps we can get Topps and Panini to donate a case or two to this.  Can you imagine?

Trade Extravaganza – Everyone trades their extra pulls from the break as well as anything else they brought with them.  A huge chunk of this event would probably be bloggers having the rare opportunity to give other bloggers trade stacks in person instead of having to mail them.  Everyone’s carry-on is way too heavy with cardboard for their flights home.

See you at CBC 2017!