Walk the Plank Mailday

A couple weeks ago, Matt over at Bob Walk the Plank pinged me to ask if the boys and I had any Series 2 or Bowman needs. Considering that we’d not ripped any product yet this year,* the answer was a definite yes. The nice thing with collecting with kids is that they enjoy the commons as long as they’re Giants. Which makes it very easy for people to unload extra base on us.

*We’ve since ripped some Series 2 as of National Baseball Card Day last weekend.

A few days later I received a bubble mailer of cards and sure enough there were plenty of Giants cards to go around. I distributed a bunch before I remembered to take photos so there was more than is pictured in this blog post.

Two decent stacks of Bowman and Series 2 were a lot of fun. Not much to say about the Series 2 except to note that the Tony Watson really confused the boys. He’s in the checklist because Topps doesn’t update its checklists when players are free agents. Even though Series 2 releases in mid-June, it wasn’t able to catch that Watson had signed with the Phillies in February let alone that he’d subsequently signed with the Angels in March AND made their Opening Day Roster.

To be clear, this isn’t why the boys were confused (Jeff Samardzija is also in the checklist despite having been released by the Giants last September). What got them was that Watson was traded back to the Giants at the Trade Deadline and they thought, for a moment, that somehow Topps had already produced a Giants card for him rather than Topps being three transactions behind.  I’m really curious if he’ll get a card in Update with the Angels now.

There were a decent number of Joey Bart Bowmans as well as a shiny Hunter Bishop which caught me by surprise since this was supposed to be excess base. Nice to spread the Bowmans around as well but it’s really the Series 2 that the boys enjoyed most.

They may change their mind on Bowman in the next couple of years. In addition to the Giants prospects I also asked for some excess Yankees prospects since Somerset is our local Minor League team and it’ll be nice to try for some autographs there once Covid restrictions are lifted a bit.

Matt was very generous here too with a couple guys who are biggish names already. These are going in the Yankees Prospect box which I’ll check against the Somerset roster next time we go to a game.

Very cool stuff. Thanks Matt!

A couple small maildays

The last week or so I received a couple small mail days which I need to catch up on. The first is from my committee co-chair Jason who’s been busy blinging out junk wax cards and turning them into artcard fundraising exercises.

He decided to send one of his creations to me so now I have this glittery 1980 Willie McCovey highlight. It’s very glittery but thankfully the glitter is attached to the paper well enough that nothing else is glittery. One card like this is fun. Having it infect the rest of my cards. Less fun.

Any moment now Jason’s going to discover holographic film and things are going to get well and truly wild.

The second mailing came from Matt over at Bob Walk the Plank.* Two years ago he withdrew from blogging and commenced on a grand reorganization** project. It seems like the past three months of lockdown have been good for his productivity as he’s found a number of cards that had no business being in his collection and started sending them out to better places.

*Who I just realized was missing from my endorsements page listing everyone in the hobby that I can vouch for. Sorry Matt, you’re on there now even though you don’t need it since half of Card Twitter has traded with you.

**My understanding is that Matt would contest the “re” part of this statement.

This means that I got a small envelope of shiny Giants parallels. Nothing fancy but all the kind of thing I refuse to seek since I refuse to play Topps’s artificial scarcity game. As a Giants fan though I do have to admit that I enjoy a good black parallel and this Scutaro mini certainly fits the bill. Do I care that it’s numbered out of 5? Not really. But I love being reminded of the rain game and seeing a card in the Giants team colors is always good.

The Bumgarner is also a mini. Apparently the gold mini parallels are numbered to 62 instead of 2013. No idea why. Don’t really care. But the gold is also a look that I have fond memories of due to 1992 provoking some nostalgia feels.

Two more gold parallels. OR at least I think that Schmidt Bowman is gold. I don’t know it’s also numbered to something under 100 and has a bit more sheen to it so maybe it’s a refractor? Anyway it’s the kind of shiny card that my youngest loves and which is vastly underrepresented in my sets

The Crawford meanwhile is the traditional numbered to 2015 gold parallel. I like 2015’s design a lot with all the color but I also like what Topps did with the Golds this year. That the cards look good in both versions says a lot about the strength of the design.

And finally, two base cards to fill out the package. Fence Busters is a callback to the 1967 Mays/McCovey card. I really wish that it showed Pence and Posey since a Pence Buster Fencer Busters card is the kind of stupid thing I enjoy. Marco Luciano is technically an insert since it’s a chrome prospect. Hopefully I’ll get to see him come through Richmond at some point.

Thanks guys!

Bob Walk the Plank

Last spring I entered a few budget breaks with Colby and Nachos Grande. They were both base-heavy breaks of the pick a team, get a team variety. I obviously picked the Giants. And I got the Pirates as my random 2nd team. Twice.

So then I had a stack of Pirates cards sitting on my desk. Thankfully I know a guy. And thankfully he was more than happy to take the stack. So I packaged everything up and sent them off to Bob Walk the Plank. Matt was a prolific blogger who was one of the first Card Twitter people I started interacting with when I got back into the hobby. He gave up blogging this summer but lives on at @walktheplank82 on Twitter.

Sometime while I was away in California a small bubble mailer arrived from him. I feel a little bad about not acknowledging it when it arrived but vacation is vacation and we all understand how that goes. Plus it’s always fun to find a gift waiting when you go through your giant stack of vacation menu. Matt’s mailer was worth the wait.

I’ll start off with a Rich Aurilia gold numbered-to-25 parallel from 2002. I still don’t understand the nature of the hobby in the late 90s and early 00s. This set is completely new to me (good lord how many sets were there?) but it’s nice enough. Not my kind of thing but I’m very happy to have a sample.

The numbering is an interesting phenomenon. There’s no logical reason why stamping 04/25 on a card should make it feel more special but it totally does. I rationally know it’s all bullshit. It’s not like these were printed in a small batch so special care could be taken. Instead it’s artificial scarcity all the way down. At the same time, realizing that there are only 25 of these out there* triggers something deep down in the collector/hoarder mentality.

*To be specific, that Upper Deck only released 25 of these to the public.

I’m risking going all old man here but numbered cards like this were a relatively new invention when I stopped collecting cards. And those were numbered to 10,000. 10,000! So to see something numbered to 25 kind of blows my mind as a collector.

The 2014 Buster Posey relic card is one of those generic relics like the Joe Panik one I got last year. Not from a specific game/event/season but it’s “real”—for whatever that means. This one at least has a nice blurb on the back about Buster Posey and yeah, it’s Buster Posey and all Giants fans like Buster.* And it comes from a World Series year and that’s always cool too.

*Though I have seen a bunch of ingrates complaining about him this year as he’s battled his hip problem. And I fear that he’ll no longer be our catcher and it’s going to be weird next year when he’s playing first and Belt’s in the outfield.

I remember back in 1994 when relics like this were the coolest things around. I wanted one so badly. I don’t even remember why. Just, there was something about the idea of game-used equipment. I don’t even remember if they were called relics then but the term does a perfect job at capturing the way kids—and many adults now—treat athletes.

And I suppose it also explains part of why I came to love autograph hunting. Yes I like the degree that memory plays in the hunt, but there’s also something to the idea that the player held and signed the item.

Still, in a general sense, relics aren’t really my thing. This is mainly because they aren’t binderable but I think I’m increasingly unimpressed by the aura given off by a 1-inch clipping from an object that a player may have handled at some point. I also find myself increasingly skeptical about whether or not the material is even the real deal—which is kind of the kiss of death for these kind of things.

This Mel Ott 2016 Diamond Kings framed relic though is very much my thing. Not because of the relic but because the card itself is kind of amazing. Yes Ott is Ott and getting a card of any Giants retired number is always going to be appreciated. And yes that’s a bit of bat which I actually hope was not a real Mel Ott bat because that would be an awful thing to destroy.

The card though. Holy crap. Silver ink on uncoated reddish-brown paper. A die-cut hole in the center showing coated cambric-finish* paper with additional printing. That printed piece also die-cut to reveal the bit of wood. The fact that the piece of wood must only be as thick as a couple baseball cards so it can fit in the card.

*Similar to but not quite as textured as this year’s Diamond Kings paper.

Where the Rich Aurilia card feels artificially scarce, I’m kind of amazed that this is numbered as high as 99. Yes I know that Panini has a lot of automated processes to make relic cards, but I also worked in printing long enough to recognize how many steps making something like this takes and how easy it would be to screw it up.

And the last card in the mailer was a Gary Brown Topps Finest autograph. Poor guy got a cup of coffee in 2014 (7 games, 7 ABs, 3 hits, 1 RBI, and even had an AB in the NLDS that year) but ended up being released in early 2015, picked up by another team, released again, picked up again, and then finally released for good in early 2016. He went from being one of the Giants top prospects to out of baseball in basically two years.

This is the kind of autograph only a Giants fan could love. And yes I love it. It’s great that it’s on-card. It’s great that it’s one of those garbage pulls that would’ve pushed anyone else to Twitter to bemoan how much they got ripped off on their box of 2015 Finest. It makes me wonder how many other “junk” Giants autographs are out there now.

I also like that this is from Finest—a product I don’t collect. Aside from the price I’m not a fan of the shiny over-designed bells and whistles look. But it works with the signature.

Yeah that’s four cards which represent things I don’t collect. At a different level, that I don’t collect them is what makes them wonderful, perfect mailday cards. I’d never seek these out—well, I might seek out cheap busted prospect autographs*—but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them. They fit in perfectly in my collection and they’re extremely fun to have.

*Also cheap bench player autographs.

Thanks Matt! I’m so glad the randomizer gods blessed me with a bunch of Pirates to trade instead of leaving me with the Marlins or Rays.