Mailday #2 – Rookie Autos and Random Pettittes

I’ve rolled the last three maildays into one for ease of publishing. This has been a very exciting few days for my collection, with several absolute beauties making their way through my letterbox.

1) 2013 Topps Triple Threads – Wil Myers Gold Auto Relic 16/18

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First up, we have a Wil Myers auto relic card, from 2013 Topps Triple Threads and numbered 16/18. I got this from a fellow UK collector Ash (@uk_mets_fan on Twitter) on a nice deal, so thanks again to him for my first ever Wil Myers autographed card.

And what a card it is. Even with his awful squiggle of a signature, this card will take its place as one of the coolest in my possession.

2) Various Matt Moore Cards

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Second, from another UK source (@Paulnyr) is a set of Matt Moore cards to add to my PC. Clearly, the jewel of this package is the autographed Topps Chrome rookie card, but I love the design of the 2013 Topps Heritage card best. It’s so simple and understated, using only the two colours of light blue and white to give a nice vintage feel. Honestly, I think I just really like last year’s Heritage cards in general! I have a few of the Heritage Minor Leagues cards from last year which look just as great, in my opinion much better than the sets featuring chrome cards or ridiculously colourful inserts.

Although, he could have had a shave before they took the photo. That’s some ugly stubble.

3) 2008 Bowman Sterling – Evan Longoria RC Auto

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Numero tres is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and can’t believe I now actually have my hands on it. It is an Evan Longoria autographed rookie card from 2008 Bowman Sterling, and I absolutely love it. The pose is especially fantastic: the extended front arm as he winds up to get into his effortlessly elegant stance, *swoons*.

Yeah, I love everything about Evan Longoria. So what?

As an added bonus, when I opened up the Longoria package I noticed another card fall out as well.

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I wasn’t expecting this! I hope the seller didn’t put this in by mistake, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that he’s just a lovely guy and wanted to send along something extra. But what a ‘something extra’ this is! An Andy Pettitte relic card from 2014 Topps Series 1. I don’t know if I have any Pettitte cards, let alone a game-used jersey card so I was absolutely stoked to find this.

Also in the mail were 9 hobby packs of Topps 2013 Series 2 baseball from Andy over at The Wax Fantastic (http://thewaxfantastic.wordpress.com/). Despite previous claims on this blog to the contrary, I will in fact be cracking open some wax and delivering some sort of analysis on the cards I get from those packs in the days to come.

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2013 Panini Prizm Baseball – A Lack of Licenses & A Prevalence of Ass

If there’s one thing I want to make clear while my blog is still in its infancy, it’s that I don’t want to be posting the same things that most other baseball bloggers are talking about.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with people who do that, as a matter of fact I very much enjoy reading reviews and pack/box openings of the latest baseball card products. Hell, if I had a bit more money I’d love to be doing regular box openings on here!

But I don’t, and I won’t. Sometimes I just want to talk about whatever happens to be on my mind at the time. So I’m introducing a new segment of mine: ‘Spotlight On’. This cunning new category (which will probably soon be renamed to something snazzier) is vague enough to be used for whatever nonsense I want to write about, which brings me to today’s topic:

2013 Panini Prizm Baseball.

Yes, I’m talking about a product from last year. To divulge further, a product from last year that I didn’t even like at the time.

Too shiny. A design concept too industrial/alien/futuristic/90s for my poor brain to handle.

That was until I realised what Panini had managed to smuggle into the design of the cards. It’s actually not that subtle, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen it being talked about much on the online collecting world. I should preface this by saying that I didn’t seek out this… finding. That’s not my thing. But, it was inevitably unavoidable.

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Anyway, take a look at that card. I mean, it’s not a bad card (I’ve since come around to not minding the design). And quite frankly, I’d quite like to own it. Puig rookie cards are hot property on the collecting market.

Now take a look at this card.

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And this one.

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This is the worst.

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See a trend?

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Yes, that’s correct. I didn’t notice it at first, but now it’s unavoidable:

A substantial number of Panini Prizm cards prominently feature a player’s ass.

Now, of course we all know why this is. Topps’ monopoly on the MLB license has resulted in Panini having to take drastic measures to remove all traces of team logos from their card designs. Thus why the caps are photoshopped, and why the team only reads as ‘Philadelphia’ or ‘Kansas City’ (the New York cards are the most annoying).

I understand that. I do. But surely there must be other ways of doing it rather than just have the player face the other way?

To save you all the hassle, I will reference my claims with a purely scientific study I have conducted.

Ahem.

I have searched on COMC (Check Out My Cards, great website for buying and selling cards of any description) for Panini Prizm 2013 cards, sorting by lowest price and viewing the first 100 cards to give me a nice sample size. I then (again, scientifically) inspected every card and gave it a rating: assless, partial ass or full-on ass shot. I then repeated the experiment with the Topps 2013 Series 1 flagship product as a control. Both included their relevant inserts. Below are my findings:

Topps Series 1 2013

Partial ass: 5%

Full-blown player ass: 1%

Total ass percentage: 6%

Panini Prizm 2013

Partial ass: 20%

Full-on ass shot: 15%

Total ass percentage: 35%

Now I’m going to have to do some repeats, follow-up experiments and data analysis before I can get this published in Nature, but I’d say those are some pretty conclusive findings. 35 out of 100 Panini cards featured butt shots, and that was without me including side-ons!

Now, after years of writing lab reports I know that is the point where I analyse the data I’ve collected and discuss them. However, I’m not sure what my conclusion here should be. That Panini should focus instead on more frontal shots, but increased photoshopping? That although the cards are odd, they’re not actually designed that badly and I should cut the company some slack for doing the best with what they’ve been given? That it’s bizarre that I’m spending my Valentine’s Day evening studying men’s rear-ends on the internet?

Possibly. Well, a definite yes to the last one.

Or maybe I should conclude that I’ve just found my new PC. Baseball cards – hell, any cards – which feature a full-moon, James Shields style booty showcase will soon have a home in my collecting stash.

I’ll need to buy a new folder.

And hope my Mum doesn’t find it.

Mailday: Printing Plates, All-Stars and Busts

Four delightful baseball cards arrived today courtesy of Her Majesty’s Royal Mail service. Three of these I intentionally sought out, knocking some names off of my seemingly gargantuan want list:

Carl Crawford – 2007 Upper Deck MLB Artifacts Jersey Auto 49/55

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I was surprised that I managed to get this for the price I did. I get that Carl Crawford’s stock has dropped since he left Tampa and got injured at every stop along his journey, but the fact that I managed to pick up a relic/auto numbered to 55 for about $5 is a bit ridiculous.

The 4-time All-Star was one of the big cards on my want list, and although the Upper Deck card design isn’t great (too much going on colour-wise, font-wise and logo-wise for me) I jumped at the chance to get a big name for a low price. And the card’s not that bad, really.

Still a terrible signature, though.

Scott Kazmir – 2007 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection America’s Pastime Signatures

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Ah, Scott Kazmir. It’s a little while ago now, but back in the day (05-08) Kazmir was a pretty damn great pitcher for the Rays, pitching to a 3.49 ERA and winning 45 games over that 4-year stretch. Back in high school, he once pitched 4 consecutive no-hitters. That’s insane.

Unfortunately, (as seems to be the running theme in this list of players) he fell apart after leaving the Rays, breaking down due to injuries and seemingly just forgetting how to pitch. He’s since been doing better for himself (to the tune of an $18M contract with the A’s) though, so that’s nice for him.

I can’t say I’m in love with this card either, as Upper Deck seem to have taken a rather awful photo of him just looking to his left with no sort of expression or anything going on at all, really. At first I thought it might be just his upper body in the middle of his pitching motion, but then I realised that Kazmir is left-handed. Hmm.

B.J. Upton – 2005 Fleer Authentix Ticket Auto 193/250

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The struggles of B.J. in Atlanta have been well documented, but if anyone watched him in his years in Tampa you would know how frustrating he could be to watch. The strikeouts. Oh God, the strikeouts. In a 162 game season, he averages 174 K’s. He just could never catch up with fastballs, but he always seemed to punish curveballs and changeups. Why any pitcher would throw him anything other than straight heat always baffled me.

The swings and misses still haunt me to this day.

Now I don’t know if I can justify this, but I really like this card. Sure, maybe the photo they used could be better but I dig the whole ‘Ticket to the Majors’ thing and the simple yet effective design. The signature is indented in the card, which you might not be able to see in the photo but (in my opinion) gives the card a nicer look than the omnipresent sticker auto. I wish this would have caught on more.

Also a rare shout-out to a Fleer card. I can’t imagine I’ll be featuring many more Fleer autos in this blog, but who knows.

Matt Garza – 2009 Bowman Baseball Magenta Printing Plate 1/1

The final card that arrived was very much an impulse buy. It is of a player on my want list, but it isn’t an auto. However, as a general rule of thumb I find printing plates to be really cool, even if I don’t have the dollar to build a full-on collection of them I have occasionally splashed out if I think I’m getting a solid deal.

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Unlike all the others on this list, Matt has actually done quite well for himself since departing the Trop. Well, all of the above have done very well for themselves monetarily-speaking, but Garza has actually provided something of relevance on a baseball field.

Garza’s no-hitter in 2010 holds a special place in the hearts of many Rays fans, as it finally gave us a change from the constant stream of no-no’s being thrown by opposing pitchers. I believe the ratio is now 5:1. Still sucks, though.

Not really sure what to add regarding this Matt Garza printing plate, other than if anyone is truly interested in it, I’ve added it to my trade bait list so it is potentially available!

My Playoff Rays Collection Idea

Hello! Welcome to my baseball/baseball card blog.

I’m fully aware that the internet is oversaturated with baseball bloggers talking about a whole range of things, and I would be aiming way too high if I were to suggest straight off the bat (heh) that I believed that I could contribute something new and exciting to the baseball blogosphere.

However, I have had an idea of a new baseball card personal collection which I thought I’d share because, well, I think it’s a pretty cool idea. Also, this is a nice way of keeping track of my collection.

About a year on from starting my fledgling collection of baseball cards, I’ve bounced around from looking to collect team sets, rookies, prospects, the list goes on for a while. The overriding point is: my interest hasn’t yet been fully piqued by a collecting idea. My internet-generation attention span can’t focus on anything not involving Jackie Chan or Gillian Anderson for more than 2 minutes, it seems.

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Well, Rush Hour and The X Files sadly don’t lend themselves well to creating a baseball card collection.

Anyways, I realised a while ago that I found the autographs of players, particularly Tampa Bay Rays players (the team I support) as the cards I was most interested in. Coming from the UK, the idea that autographs of famous sportspeople are so readily available and don’t require hanging around outside stadiums with a parka, notepad and pen really surprised me. Since then I’ve just sort of picked up a few here and there, some prospects, some current players. But no structured collecting criteria.

For fans of older teams, collectors can aim to get autographed cards of all players of their team who have made it to the Hall of Fame. The Rays only have Wade Boggs, and he sure as hell doesn’t count as a Rays HoFer.

Red Sox collectors can aim for Jimmie Foxx, Carlton Fisk, Ted Williams. Yankees fans have Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, etc etc.

There are no Rays legends to collect. Since coming into existence in 1998, they have finished last in the AL East 9 out of 16 times. That’s a 56% absolute futility rating.

But this futility could be of use when it comes to collecting. Why? After considerable dicking about, I will now tell you.

A personal collection of:

Autographed baseball cards of every Tampa Bay Rays player who has appeared on a playoff roster for the team.

I’ve compiled the list of players who made the playoff roster for the team in the seasons 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. It is a total of 64 different players, the names of which I will post below:

Catchers (7): Dioner Navarro, Michel Hernandez, John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach, Jose Lobaton, Jose Molina, Chris Gimenez

Infielders (14): Akinori Iwamura, Evan Longoria, Jason Bartlett, Willy Aybar, Carlos Pena, Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Ben Zobrist, Elliot Johnson, Casey Kotchman, Yunel Escobar, James Loney, Dan Johnson, Kelly Johnson

Outfielders (15): B.J. Upton, Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd, Eric Hinske, Fernando Perez, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, Johnny Damon, Sam Fuld, David DeJesus, Wil Myers, Delmon Young, Kevin Kiermaier, Gabe Gross

Starting Pitchers (11): David Price, Scott Kazmir, Andy Sonnanstine, Matt Garza, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Alex Cobb

Relief Pitchers (17): Dan Wheeler, JP Howell, Grant Balfour, Chad Bradford, Trever Miller, Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate, Chad Qualls, Rafael Soriano, Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth, Brandon Gomes, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Fernando Rodney, Alex Torres, Jamey Wright, Wesley Wright.

(I may have missed some, but hopefully I haven’t) — Edited to include a couple more names!!! (Gimenez and Kiermaier were on the 2013 playoff roster, but only for the one Wild Card game against Cleveland!) — Gabe Gross also added.

Now, I thought this was a pretty cool and unique idea. Very few teams have been to the playoffs as little as the Rays, with the exceptions being the other ’98 expansion team the Arizona Diamondbacks; the ’93 expansion teams (Rockies and Marlins), and, of course, the lowly Mariners.

However, the times when these teams did make the playoffs make it especially hard to get autographed cards. Good luck getting signatures of all of the 1985 Blue Jays, or all of the relief pitchers of the ’95 Rockies. The more recent development of the Rays into a winning team make this collection much more feasible and potentially achievable. And also unique.

Sure, I can’t imagine that there are many Dan Wheeler or Randy Choate autos making the rounds on eBay. But surely there must be some hand-signed cards out there somewhere? I’m sure they exist, and I will hunt them down if they do.

Also, I haven’t even touched on one of the best parts of this collecting idea. It has the potential to develop and grow every single year, depending on if the Rays make the playoffs or not. Unlike other collections which involve hunting down a bent piece of cardboard with a picture of some guy you’ve never heard of from 50 years ago (not that there’s anything particularly wrong with that type of collecting), my collection involves me sitting on my fat ass, watching some baseball and cheering on my team. And if they do well, then that’s another few names to add to the checklist and the collecting continues!

So, if you have any autos of guys in the above list and are willing to help me in my playoff Rays hunt, send me a message and we’ll see if we can do business. I already have a few names ticked off, and I’ve uploaded a basic checklist to my want list. Soon I hope to add up a list of trade bait as well.

Thanks for reading!