Friday, December 15, 2017

Grading?

For the most part this corner of the collectosphere does not really care for grading cards. I mean chances are we'd take cards in if they were already graded, but grading them ourselves? Not so much.

Generally, I am the same way. My enjoyment in this hobby does not stem from grading a card and keeping it in the most pristine condition possible.

That said, there are times where I've thought about grading certain cards. Not exactly cards in my main collections, but other cards I still have around.


My 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout rookie card is a great example. This is one of the big puppies I'm thinking of getting graded. Namely because if I gamble and hope for a good enough grade (which I kind of doubt because the corners are kind of meh) it means $$$!!! Yes, I'm low key becoming an investor type because of my prospecting roots. You all should've seen this coming ;).






Same goes for all of these too (although I may want to give the Boeser some more thought since it's the newest and things can go wrong).

I've actually looked into how much it'd cost to grade something. Damn is it a lot more expensive than I thought it'd be. I mean I didn't think it'd be dirt cheap since those custom cases cost money, but woof. It makes me wonder exactly how much money people lost when they sold me their graded Torrens autos for single digits.

I suppose that (like a lot of things in this hobby), the more you submit for grading, the more of a discount you get (although the shipping fees to get them all back must be murder). I guess that's why there's a thing called group submission where you send cards you want graded to one person, then that person submits a large quantity of cards for grading on your (and others') behalf and then they return them to you after grading has completed. Sounds good, although I'd imagine that I'd only do that with people I'd really really trust. And TBH I only consider like seven collectors I know to be trustworthy on that level.

Anyway here's the real meat of this post. Have any of you ever submitted stuff for grading before? Would you ever? If you have, got any advice?

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Blast From The Past

Most of you are familiar with my origin story. If you aren't, I blogged about it in detail here.

Long story short, I officially started in 2011. However, it's not like prior to 2011 I never had any baseball cards. I did. I got a handful of NPB cards from my uncle who took me to Dragons games when I was younger. As for my MLB cards I'm not sure how I acquired them (probably as part of random gifts from birthday presents or something), but I did remember having some as a kid. The ones I remember the most are from the following four sets.

One was 2005 Topps Hot Button Baseball. Back in the mid-2000's card companies were still trying to market cards towards kids so there was this set of cards that allowed you to play a video game on some crappy piece of plastic. The first card I pulled from my only pack? Alex Rodriguez.

Another one was 2006 Upper Deck Baseball. Simply because this was the only baseball card commercial I ever saw as a kid. Also because a little Zippy Zappy pulled both a Hideki Matsui base card and Ichiro Suzuki base card from the same pack once. You bet I was excited as heck!

The third was 2005 Topps Series Two. I actually remember how I got this, one of my parents picked up a loose pack for me at CVS and I pulled three Yankees in the pack. The only player of note was Jorge Posada. This one must've been special to me because I think that's the moment where I decided to be an official Yankees fan. Good grief, imagine if I had pulled three Mets (shudders!).

And finally is the brand/product that was very likely the VERY FIRST pack of baseball cards I ever opened, 2004 Upper Deck Power Up. Another mid-2000's set geared towards kids that had a very distinct feature.


The players all had enlarged heads.

I'm still not sure what the reasoning behind this is (bobblehead motif?), but it's an interesting design choice nonetheless. It's the kind that just leaves an impression on you for being so weird. The Posada base above did not come from the few packs of this I remember opening. I'm not sure who I pulled (they've all disappeared) but I think one of them was a Red Sox era Pedro Martinez. Blarg.

In addition to the green base card above there were four parallels. Orange (rare), purple (ultra rare), red (super rare) and blue (mega rare), none of these parallels were numbered.


The backs looked like this. As a set geared towards kids they kept the stats simple (and VERY minimal) while focusing more on the fun facts and the disembodied head.


This is one of the Shining Through inserts. It's very glossy and it's a pink-ish purple-ish color. I remember calling it the medicine color because the hue reminded me of some gross tasting cold medicine I had to drink as a kid. Cherry flavor my ass. This insert was not the one I pulled, at the time I pulled a Scott Rolen and a very young Miguel Cabrera.


The back looked like this, this time with more stats, some actual personal info, and a little blurb on the player. All written in a font that wouldn't look out of place on the Rugrats. The portrait picture there is where the disembodied came head from.


This was my favorite insert though, these stickers. You had the Power Up! logo, a nameplate, a team logo (which was huge for young me for some reason), the disembodied head and the bobblehead. I pulled one of these back in the day of Ichiro Suzuki. Young me was thrilled! Also young me was stupid and immediately put the stickers on the little tupperware box he was using to store baseball cards at the time (all 30 of them lol). Older me wonders where it went.


The back of the sticker insert looked like this and now I can address the big elephant in the room that I've been avoiding. What's with those points?

Apparently all of these cards have an allotted amount of points. The base cards are worth 10 points each, the orange parallels are worth 100 points, the purple parallels are worth 250 points, the red parallels are worth 500 points, and the blue parallels are worth 1,000 points. The Shining Through inserts were worth 50 points. Chances are some of you have seem them on the cards themselves.


You may have also noticed the nine digit code on the right hand side of the cards (below the Upper Deck logo). You apparently went to a part of the Upper Deck website where you were able to input those codes and create a team. You can partially see what the page for Power Up! looked like on WayBack Machine here. The team with the most points in a given period of time were able to win prizes (I'm guessing it was either a free song on iTunes or a Ken Griffey Jr. autograph).

Basically all you really needed to do to win was to have nine of those blue parallels. Good luck with that though, Baseballcardpedia put their odds of being pulled at 1:240 packs, which in turn means that the blues were only inserted in one out of every 10 boxes (each box had 24 packs each). Damn. They're still rare as shit now because there are only like two or three of them up on eBay. Mostly going for way more than any sane person would offer.

In doing research for this post I discovered two interesting things about Power Up! That they made a Power Up! set for football, and that there was a "kit" released where you got a special binder to store the cards that came with one pack and two sticker cards. Don't get excited though, the binder doesn't look like your typical three ring-nine pocket binder, it looks like something specially made just for this in which you can only see one card in full and the rest are hidden in pockets. I am seriously debating whether to pick one up for myself TBH.

I never did the online challenge (I was just a bit too young to start wasting my time online back then), but if I had I imagine that I'd have a lot of fun and be really disappointed everytime my team lost because some rich kid (or a grown adult?) had their parents buy them entire boxes of this stuff.

Huh, funny how a lot of the products that meant something to me have been game oriented. Power Up!, Hot Button Baseball, Konami Powerful, Topps Attax, and of course...


Anyway, thanks for joining me on this post where I was actually able to dive back into my childhood for once. I thought that was just reserved for people who were actually collectors as kids but I guess not.

As always thanks for stopping by :).

Take care.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Another Large Adult Son

2017 was all about one large adult son in the Bronx, now there are going to be two of them.


Giancarlo Stanton reportedly joins the Yankees (pending physicals and MLB approvals yadda yadda), following a trade from the Marlins. Providing an embarrassment of riches in terms of power to a team that already had plenty of power to begin with.

In what's been a crazy week filled with all sorts of weird baseball related sweepstakes, the Yankees came out of nowhere to get Stanton for basically nothing but taking on salary.

Mike Axisa over at River Ave Blues, my good friends j_nyy on his blog and The Lost Collector wrote great pieces on the trade that articulate the good (and bad) about the deal better than I could.

But I do have my own takes though.

First off, initially I was very skeptical that this would ever happen. Okay scratch that, I was very disapproving of this happening. It's no secret that Stanton is signed to one of the biggest, longest and immovable contracts ever. On one hand, I think it's great that Stanton has earned lots of money and the right to pick where he chooses to work. On the other hand, what about the payroll?

Then it hit me. It's not my money so I don't care, I'm perfectly okay with spending Steinbrenner's money to get two large adult sons in the same lineup to entertain me for 3-4 hours next year.


And even if I did care about payroll, the Yankees moved Starlin Castro and his contract in this deal. Obviously that won't make Stanton's yearly impact on the luxury tax be that much less but it helps a lot more than than you'd think (certainly more than I figured). If nothing else, it's definitely cheaper than what future Dodger Bryce Harper would've cost on a yearly basis.


But now, all I can think about are Stanton and Aaron Judge hitting dingers in tiny Yankee Stadium. Just think of what they'll do to the Baltimore Orioles! It's exciting! Plus they have very reasonable supporting players who varying amounts of serviceable power like Gary freaking Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Chase Headley and Brett Gardner.

Of course the question becomes what to do about Jacoby Ellsbury. I don't blame Brian Cashman and the Yankees for creating a surplus of outfielders. When an NL MVP stumbles onto your team for virtually nothing you take it. I suspect that the yearly token outfield injury will consume several of the outfielders the Yankees have, so I'm fine with wondering if Clint Frazier is going to get enough at bats (he probably will). But Ellsbury? The Yankees didn't even bother having him hit in the postseason. I don't think he's going to be released but he could be moved to another team once Cashman can find someone who's A). actually in need of an outfielder and B). willing to pay some portion of that contract. Either way, I'd be kind of surprised if Ellsbury was still with the team by the end of the 2018 season.


As for the players who are going to Miami, it's no surprise that the Yankees didn't give up anything big from their system. Cashman had all of the leverage and he knew it. Plus, the Marlins' new/current Director of Player Development is Gary Denbo, the man who was Vice President of Player Development for the Yankees until like three months ago. This meant that it was pretty obvious that the Marlins were probably going to take some lower level lottery ticket types who Denbo was really fond of before he left the Yankees org.

And apparently two of those guys were Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers.


Jorge Guzman will forever be known to me as the only Staten Island Yankees pitcher I was allowed to see in 2017 :P. Even though that's not entirely accurate (I saw Trevor Stephan pitch once!), pretty much every time I made my way to SI this past summer, Guzman was pitching. No complaints though, he led the New York-Penn League in strikeouts with his high-90's fastball that did touch triple digits at times. His secondary offerings need a lot of work so he's still very raw, but the talent is there for him to be the next great Marlins pitcher who they sell off when he gets too expensive.

Jose Devers is the cousin of Rafael Devers (currently a Boston Red Sock). A lanky infielder who's only played in rookie ball so far.


The only big leaguer "going" to Miami is Starlin Castro. I wrote going in quotes because Castro is not staying in Miami. He's probably going to be moved to a club in need of a second baseman like the New York Mets, the Milwaukee Brewers or the Toronto Blue Jays. The poor beleaguered soul. Twice jettisoned from juggernaut teams about to enter their winning phase to a lackluster team that can only be described as "better than Miami :P".

I didn't have any particularly strong feelings about Castro. I figured that at best he was a potential Gregorius type where if he clicked he could force NYY's hand into making him their longterm second baseman, and at worst he would be their stopgap until Gleyber Torres was ready. Apparently the Yankees fanbase was really divided on him. One half thought he was okay and serviceable, the other half hated his inconsistency and fielding errors. Personally, I thought he was just fine as the diet version of Robinson Cano.



All told the moves Cashman has made in recent times have been incredible. It seems like with every new trade he makes he keeps one upping himself by continuing to add layers of talent to both the major league team and the farmsystem. The man deserves much much more than the $25 million extension he just got. Where's his movie where a bald Brad Pitt plays him?!

So what's left to do?

Well other than trying to get rid of Ellsbury, I'd imagine that some of the focus will be on pitching. Much like the pre-Stanton lineup, the starting rotation as it is right now is already fine. Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, potential starter Chad Green, along with top pitching prospects like Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield and Domingo Acevedo makes for a pretty loaded and very talented rotation capable of competing with the best of them. Of course you'd have to figure that CC Sabathia will be in the mix too after likely returning on a one year deal or something.

The bullpen is plenty scary even if Green's not a fulltime reliever anymore but if Cashman finds a clear upgrade at a price level he's comfortable at, he'll make it.

I guess second base is a question mark for now but I think Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade can handle it until either Torres shows that he ready to take the position in the second half, or it becomes clear that Torres' year to claim second will have to wait until next year and the Yankees get someone else to be their stopgap. Or maybe when Wade shows that he's really really good in his own right.


Oh wait, there's still the matter of catching depth... Outside of the injury prone Kyle Higashioka the farmsystem is noticeably barren when it comes to in-house catchers who are MLB ready. The closest is Donny Sands who figures to spend 2017 in either high-A or double-A. It doesn't help that it's becoming increasingly clear that Austin Romine is painfully mediocre, both with the bat and glove. This does not really give me confidence that the Yankees have suitable backstop options for when Gary Sanchez needs rest. Or really for any level above whichever one Sands happens to be on at the time.

Of course one key problem is that the free agent catching market is kind of shit. They'll all want to be starting catchers (duh), and most of them don't have the talent or results to be that much better than Romine anyway.

If Cashman wants to trade for a catcher, I do know of this one really really talented catcher in the San Diego Padres organization. He's blocked by Austin Hedges and could be a major force for a team that would actually care about his development. His name is...


Rocky Gale!

Thanks to Judson at My Cardboard Habit for the rainbow parallel!

Er, I mean Luis Torrens! I don't know about you but I think Torrens would be better suited in an org like the Yankees. Their connection makes it almost like Torrens was once a Yankee himself. Just my two cents...

Alright we're reaching the end of the post, I figure I might as well talk about Miami's side of this trade. The pressure is now on them to actually start building a farmsystem. They didn't with this deal (they couldn't have anyway). Even though they've been shit and have been able to draft high in the past few years, their picks since 2013 have amounted to Tommy John surgeries and disappointments. I think the last decent prospect they developed was Andrew Heaney and he's not even on the team anymore. If I had to guess their firesale continues and the deal where they move Marcel Ozuna is where they finally get back some prospects. Not any front liners but like some solid depth pieces. Maybe in a Christian Yelich too (although that's another situation where the contract will bite them). Then... I don't know. Maybe they trade Justin Bour for something? Martin Prado's likely on his way out. They might get a decent return on J.T. Realmuto but that'll literally leave the team with jack shit. Even the bad Astros had a young Jose Altuve. Look, at this point just fold the Marlins and move their sorry husk of a ball club to Montreal. The damage is done. The team is a sham. The taxpayers have suffered (scratch that, they'll continue to suffer regardless of how good/bad the team is).

So all in all, it will be very exciting to see Stanton and Judge hit dingers in Yankee Stadium next year. There will a lot of K's, but a lot of balls hit to the farthest parts of the stadium. Best of luck to Guzman, Castro and Devers in Miami wherever they end up too.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).