Category Archives: trades

Mailday from @mjpmke!

Another mailday from Matt Prigge (@mjpmke). Where last time was a bunch of Stanford and Giants cards, this time involved an exchange of 2017 set needs since we each had a bunch of Update dupes.

Update is a weird set. I’m kind of trying to complete it and I kind of don’t care and a lot of my ambivalence is because I can’t figure out what it is. If it were like the old Topps Traded sets I’d want all of it. I’ve always liked the idea of filling in the holes in the Flagship base set with a small update of traded players and rookies who hadn’t made it into the base set.

But it also feels like a bloated All Star set where, rather than being a small subset like what used to be in Flagship, we have a whole bunch of stars with photos from both the All Star Game and Home Run Derby so we can get two cards of all the big-name sluggers. As someone who finds the special All Star uniforms and merchandise to feel like too obvious of a cash grab by MLB, seeing that gear on cards makes the cards also feel like an obvious cash grab.

Anyway laying all the cards out like this shows how monotonous the photo selections are. Each card looks good. The set though is kind of a snore. I am pleased however that none of these cards show the extreme purple hues that many of the Update cards show.*

*For whatever reason it looks like Topps screwed up their color profiling in Update and many of the blue tones skewed purple in that classic screwed-up sRGB conversion way. I’ve considered posting about this but it’s difficult to create the images for this without making things seem even worse.

Matt also included a bunch of Stadium Club cards which I didn’t have. comparing the photos from Stadium Club with the photos from Update is night and day. There are still a few of the standard action shots but more than half of these use images that are distinct and interesting on their own AND provide a lot of visual interest and variety to the set as a whole.

I’d love to complete this set (I’m not even halfway done) but after the last pack I purchased turned out to be 100% duplicates I’ve given up on buying any more of these. There’s a weird thing going on where it seems like Topps’s collation creates packs with either no overlap or massive overlap.

I suspect that part of this is because cards are being sold by-the-box more—whether a hobby box or a blaster—and at prices where getting 30%–50% duplicates from a box is no longer acceptable. So Topps has optimized its collation so that it can accurately stuff a box with packs that don’t overlap but if you buy packs (or blasters) by themselves you risk getting all duplicates instead.

Anyway, as much as people seem to complain about the old days when you could expect tons of duplicates in a box, I like the idea that the percentage of duplicates to expect in a pack roughly matches the percentage of the set I have.

And I’m including this Joe Borchard card which Matt sent me a few weeks ago. He found it in a Target repack and tweeted about how this counted as his “hit.” I mentioned that Borchard is a Stanford guy and a bit later it showed up in my mailbox.

Thanks for both maildays Matt!

Advertisements

Mailday from Peter

A semi-surprise mailday from Peter at Baseball Every Night. This is fun. Each mailday from him has worked further back into the past, first it was current cards, then it was junk wax from my collecting years, now it’s a bunch of cards predating my collecting years.

There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news* is that I’ve been doing very well at covering my mid-70s to mid-80s Topps Giants needs. What few holes I have now are all rookie cards where the Giant is sharing the card with someone else who commands a premium. Which means that the only truly new card for me here is the 1981 Fleer Vida Blue.

*Well for this mailday. It’s good news for my collecting goals.

Filling in non-Topps team sets is an activity which I haven’t officially embarked on—there’s no wantlist nor do I have plans at this time to make one. Yet I’m passively accumulating cards in the unused pockets of the past page of each Giants team set* and am enjoying adding the other brands and oddballs to the timeline of Giants Topps history.

*28 or 29-card team sets are the worst.

The good news about this stack though is that many of my cards aren’t in the best condition—especially regarding print quality. I don’t care much about dinged corners and usage wear but having spent over a decade in the print industry, if the actual card itself is badly printed I’m increasingly disappointed.

For some reason many of my early-80s cards are noticeably out of register. It’s like the designs got a little more intricate but the print quality wasn’t reliably there yet. So where in the 50s and 60s designs we just have big blocks of color—most of which are one of the seven colors you can get without screening the ink* and registration issues aren’t as obvious unless you really peep the photos—in the 80s the details are finer, traps are smaller, and additional colors come into the mix.

*Light Blue = 100% Cyan
Pink = 100% Magenta
Yellow = 100% Yellow
Black = 100% Black
Red = 100% Magenta + 100% Yellow
Green = 100% Cyan + 100% Yellow
Purple = 100% Cyan + 100% Magenta

As a result if a color is out of register it really shows up in the designs. In my cards this often means that the trapping isn’t large enough so there’s a white edge to some of the linework elements. Not something most people would notice but it really bothers me.

Kind of wonderfully, many of the cards in Peter’s mailday are better registered than the samples I had in my binder. So switching those out makes this print snob very happy. And since I’m increasingly being tempted by the siren song of TTM, having duplicates from these years is also very cool. Thanks Peter!

Thanksgiving Surprise

Well this was a pleasant surprise. I was away for Thanksgiving weekend and returned home to find a plain white envelope from Marc Brubaker. Inside were a handful of cards and a mysterious object wrapped with blue painters tape. We’ll get to the cards later.

I dutifully started unwrapping. Maildays are always a fun surprise and since my Giants fandom is pretty well known now they usually consist of random giants cards—sometimes from my wantlist but more-usually from all the sets that have released in the past couple decades. Anyway I was primed to expect something featuring the Giants and was not at all expecting to find what was in there.

Holy shit. Marc had read my Old Timers post and he both had a duplicate of Bob Veale and was determined to send it to me. I’ve been slowly adding to that project but had yet to find the Veale card at a price I was willing to pay. It’s not expensive like the Danny Cater rookie but I like my card purchases to be maybe a couple bucks max for now.

Anyway this card looks great and it’s much more fun to be surprised by like this.

Only two cards left now on this project (Joe Christopher and Bill Fahey are also new additions since the previous post). The Danny Cater rookie is expensive so I’ll keep looking to see if anything cheap pops up. And the Charlie Wagner will likely be the most difficult addition since I don’t like the one mid-1970s TCMA card I’ve been able to find of his.

Anyway the rest of the envelope had six more Giants cards. I kind of dig the one of Bonds climbing the wall even though I suspect he’s watching a home run sail out of the park. Also the scan doesn’t show the way that the card is embossed with baseball stitches. The mid 1990s were a weird age for trying all kinds of funky stuff with printing as a way of trying to prove “quality.”

The pair of 1995 Donruss cards is also noteworthy since while Topps and Fleer’s 1995 designs are both so awful—Marc sent me some 1995 Fleer last time—the Donruss design is actually pretty nice and is one of the better picture-in-picture designs I’ve seen.

And these three 1983 Fleer stickers finished out the envelope. I don’t actively search for these stickers but they’re fun. I enjoy that these ones have a semblance of card information on the backs. Many stickers I’ve seen don’t waste their time on that stuff since the backs are disposable waste. Also as someone who’s probably* working on an Atlee Hammaker personal collection it’s nice to add some weird stuff to the checklist.

*It’s not official but yeah I should admit as much to myself and just put the want/checklist together.

So thanks Marc! This was unexpected on multiple levels and I’ve got to get something put together to send back. The good news is that since he’s a big through-the-mail (TTM) autograph collector that I don’t have to worry too much about sending him Astros cards that he may already have. TTM is one of those things that I’d love to try again but it works best if you assume the card is never coming back.

Mailday from @mjpmke

A great mailday from Matt Prigge (@mjpmke) which manages to hit a bunch of different projects I’m working on. Matt’s a Brewers fan whose All-time Brewers project seemed daunting until I found out about his Brewers Autograph Project. He also has some cool history writing about Milwaukee.

This is one of those rare cards which satisfies two projects at once. This fills a hole in my 1974 Giants but it’s also a record of the Padres aborted move to Washington DC. I’ve been sort of working on a moves/expansion project for a while now and the 1974 Washington cards are a key part of that.

I’m also working on a project of Stanford Alumni. I’ve not gone after any of the cards from after I stopped collecting in 1994 so this stack is fantastic. It’s a good mix of players like Sprague and Hinch who I collected (and chased autographs) when I was still a kid and players like Lowrie and Storen who I’m older than and would’ve felt really weird about trying to get their signatures.

Some Junk Wax Giants, most of which I’m pretty sure I don’t have. 1988 Donruss is one of those sets which, as nostalgia-inducing as it is, looks worse and worse each year. 1990 Donruss and 1990 Fleer though are growing on me. I love the Topps Gold Righetti card and that Upper Deck Triple Crown subset is also brand new to me.

And a half dozen holiday cards. I have to admit that these confuse me greatly. Googling suggests this was a Walmart exclusive set released around Christmastime. The idea of replacing the smoke effect in 2016 Topps with snowflakes is mighty weird. Baseball is, after all, a summer game so the resulting look was never going to make sense.

For some reason though I find myself kind of liking these. I don’t know, maybe the holiday tackarama hits a different sort of feel for me. Yes I think they’re stupid but they’re kind of gloriously self-aware and embracing of the stupidity. The only thing that could have made things better was replacing all the caps with Santa hats. Maybe that’s what we’ll get this winter.

Anyway thanks Matt! I’ve got a handful of 1975s I need to send your way in return.

#2KJWT

One of the baseball card tweeps who I talk with a lot is @junkwaxtwins. He’s a Minnesota fan living in Texas who’s especially interested in miscuts and printing errors. I sent him a small package of miscuts and Minnesota oddballs a while ago and I just received a small package from him as part of his celebration about hitting the 2000 followers mark on Twitter.

This package consisted of two parts. Part one was for me.

Highlights here are the wonderful combination of a Donruss Elite card with a Sportflics card. And also Bo Jackson as an Angel. My brain can’t grok that at all.

Donruss Elite was one of the first major chase cards in the hobby. Yes we had things like the Griffey Jr Upper Deck Rookie or the Billy Ripken error, but the idea of inserting a special, super-hard-to-find card was somewhat novel. We’d had the 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson signatures the previous year but that was in packs that most of us kids couldn’t really afford. 1991 Donruss though? Totally affordable.

Still, I’ve never seen an Elite card before. Given what the hobby would turn into this is a wonderfully plain and simple card. No fancy card stock, just foil stamping and number out of 10,000.* It’s a very fun reminder of a simpler time.

*With the focus on 1:1 to 1:250 on chase cards to day this is a laughably huge run.

The Giants cards are all fun too. Always enjoyable to get a Lincecum. The Brandon Crawford rookie is great. The Jonathan Sanchez confuses me immensely since it’s so thick. As someone who puts cards into binders I still don’t know what to do with these thick cards.

Part two however was for my sons.

They were excited to see the pack and couldn’t wait for me to open it. I dutifully explained to them that it was a wax pack made of paper that had been stuck together and opened it slowly so they could see how it all worked.

The first thing we had to do was carefully unstick the gum from one of the cards. No damage. They were intrigued by the gum but did not try. I did. It turns to dust and never becomes chewable. I had to rinse my mouth out.

The cards though are pretty cool. Both boys love the Christopher Reeve Superman films and while they prefer the first one, they appreciate that I prefer the second. Of the twelve in the pack I like the one of the villains escaping the Phantom Zone and the one of Clark Kent getting his revenge on the asshole in the diner.

In a bit of a minor miracle the boys managed to split these into two piles of six without fighting. More predictably they promptly badgered me for binder pages so they could properly sort them.

It’s funny. Once I started collecting baseball cards I never considered any other sports—let alone non-sport cards like these. I never saw the point. I get it more now although I daresay that it only works when the movie cards are of something from pop culture which has achieved staying power. In the same way that it’s been fun to introduce my kids to Superman the Motion Picture, seeing and having these cards is another aspect of pop culture we can bond over.

Now I need to figure out what to do with the blank card the I’m supposed to “decorate” and sign and return. It’s a little small for my kids to draw on* but we’ll figure something out.

*My eldest did make a special 1:1 custom for Peter as a result of being on the receiving end of a large mailing of Giants cards.

Chain letter

A cautionary tale about what can happen if you start trading cards with unsavory characters you’ve met on the internet…

One week later…

Serves me right for making the suggestion. Although it is appropriate to send him to Princeton. I’ll have to find someone in Texas to mail this to next.

Oh, and Mark also sent me a bunch of 1979 Topps Giants cards. I didn’t photograph those since I suspect they were mainly an excuse to send me this ghastly piece of cardboard. But old Giants cards are always welcome!

Mailday from Night Owl

I kept pulling Corey Seager inserts out of Stadium Club. Since my interest in Stadium Club was the photography, I figured I should send the inserts off to someone who’d appreciate them. Greg at Night Owl Cards has one of the better baseball card blogs around (seriously, most of the time when I notice something neat he’s already blogged about it years ago) and he happens to be a Dodger fan. So I sent my Seager inserts off to him and he was more than happy to rid himself of Giants cards in return.

I’ll start with the handful of old/odd cards in the package. While I’m not explicitly looking for non-Topps Giants since the 1981–1994 Donruss/Fleer/Score/Upper Deck sets remind me so much of my youth, I’m not only always happy to receive them but I’ll probably end up trying to complete those team sets as well.

The 1992 Conlon card is a nice addition to the 1991 Conlon cards that I got from SABR as part of their Conlon Project. In addition to my contribution to that project I already know that I have other things to say about the Conlon cards.

The majority of the cards though are new ones including many from 2017. My kids will fight over the Topps Bunt. I’m not a huge fan of that set but at least it looks different from Flagship. Different design. Different photos. I’m glad I chose that instead of Opening Day as the set for my kids to play with. Because good lord, between Flagship, Opening Day, Chrome, and the team sets it looks like Topps has packaged the same design four different times and managed to convince people that it’s four different products to buy.

I’m relieved to have a couple samples of each of these (and my son has a team set) because there’s no way I’m buying packs from all these different sets. Four different sets plus all the different parallels for the same design and same photo? Hard pass.

All those all-look-same Topps Flagship family releases has me feeling somewhat more charitable toward all the faux-retro stuff. I can see the appeal even though Heritage and Archives are still weird in how they falls into an uncanny valley between homage and copy. But they are indeed a nice change of pace both photography-wise and design-wise.

I miss posed portraits on card fronts. And I miss the simple understated designs and typography. Now that Flagship has gone full-bleed it’s become infested with undisciplined TV-style digital graphics. Bunt’s simplicity is a breath of fresh air (shame about the photo processing) and Stadium Club’s design is all class all the way. Heritage meanwhile is a reminder of what worked in the past. I just wish Topps would try and learn from that instead of recycling it.

Also I wish Topps would typeset the 1960 design with fully-justified names like the 1960 design was meant to be typeset.

Allen & Ginter meanwhile is seriously growing on me. It’s still not a set I like but this year’s design in particular has a certain something to it. The photo treatment isn’t too over the top and the retro styling of the oval portrait works a lot better than their designs in previous years.

Speaking of previous years of Ginter, I also got a handful of minis. Mini format is indeed fun. Trying to look like tobacco cards is a mixed bag. A lot of the problem is that Topps’s approach to photo retouching approaches HDR contrast porn rather than the low-contrast non-process-ink tobacco look. That all of these show the shiny black synthetic spring training shirts doesn’t help the look at all. The best thing I can say about these is that each year Topps gets a little better at figuring out how to make these look good and it’s fun to see the progression.


And a few random Bowmans. I’m increasingly confused by what this set is and looking at checklists isn’t helping. This year so far it feels like Bowman is four distinct sets (Bowman, Bowman Prospects, Bowman Chrome Prospects, Bowman Chrome) being released in two different packages (Bowman and Bowman Chrome). I’m too confused to buy anything.

Also, multiple small sets of under 200 cards make me sad. Too small to feel like a set. Too large to feel like an oddball. Unless the product concept is super clear (*cough* 1987 Donruss OPening Day *cough*) it just feels like filler for chase cards and a checklist meant to satisfy some legal obligation as to what a set is. Anyway, since I’m not buying Bowman it’s nice to receive some copies for the binder.

Finally, Sportflics! Apparently I’m one of those weirdos who likes these. I thought they were great when I was little even though Beckett insisted otherwise.  My kids love them as well. Though that Estes card is one of the lamest Sportflics designs ever. Sportflics is at its best when the lenticular graphics depict action. All of these have only two frames so it’s a bit difficult but the Lance Johnson comes close. If it’s not going to depict action, providing multiple different card photos like in the Biggio card is acceptable. Having a static photo and swapping the background? That’s giving up on Sportflics’s core competency.

Thanks Greg! It’s good to know who to send my unwanted Dodgers cards to now.