Apr 5, 2014

Behold the Set Quest Completed: 2011 Gypsy Queen, 1-350!

One of the more elusive sets to try and collect of the past half-decade, 2011 Gypsy Queen.  It entered the scene with an altered checklist, name derision, and a style derived from the vintage appeal of the Ginters and Turkey Reds of the world.   It was the replacement for 2010 National Chicle, an artistic endeavor that did not connect with collectors.  Anyone remember the uproar of the Babe Ruth/Chipper Jones card?  Anyone still here from 2010? Bueller?

In any case, I first encountered Gypsy Queen at a card show in 2010, it was $10 per pack.....I did not buy any.  I first bought some at a Best Buy.  They were selling rack packs at the retail price; there's some green in there, I like green things....like green borders and 4 leaf clovers and ecto cooler....and that might not be the point.  I bought some rack packs and was pleasantly surprised by the cards within.  Thus, began the tracking obsession in the area for 2011 Gypsy Queen.

I went to more Targets than I could count over the next few months to get card fixes, but they were always out of it.  Once the hype had died down a little, and hobby boxes were still $189 per box at the leading online retailers, packs had appeared again at my local Target.  This is when I discovered they're always 2-3 months behind the release date for non-base Topps products.  I bought 10 packs, thinking that would satisfy me.

But I have always been a set collector at heart; this foray into team collecting and strange and novel and disconcerting....I wanted all of the Queen, every single last beige card in all their ordered, numbered glory.
I searched ebay daily for boxes....and finally found a retail box, 24 packs of treasure for a less than retail price.  Who wants a retail box anyway?  It came, I devoured and reveled in the wrappers as their contents spilled onto my table, self-sorting into decade piles.  The details will probably be revealed later.....if I ever find the scans.  Suffice to say, best box ever? It just may have been.....

The quest was now in sight.  Target graced me with another box, this time I bought the remaining 18 packs from the box and started jumping up and down with glee as I opened a pack, scanned the cards.....got it, got it, need it, got it, mini, need it.....and threw them with conviction into the gestating 800 count white cardboard box.

Then, the want list was created....each number was a blight upon my consciousness.  I would not be satisfied until the strikethrough function was used with gumption upon each number in the spreadsheet.  The internet would now be scoured. Sportslots and COMC became my wingmen, laying aside the distractions of other card collecting pursuits to hone in the 301-350 card range for a reasonable price.  Those other cards would have to wait, they were commons easily found (except for the David Wright for some reason).

One card show visit was all it took to laid waste to nearly all the checklist, 1-300 was complete, all the insert sets (of the non Gypsy Queen variety) were complete, all the Phillies minis were complete....all that stubbornly remained behind were 6 cards, 6 cards until immortality could be achieved.  Like Thor trying to find a way back to his realm, I was sensing the presence of Valhalla.....the end of a journey in which we could part ways being satisfied that everyone had benefited and all the warriors would be properly rewarded.

Shown below are the final 6 and what I did to obtain them.  There were no unnatural acts, but there was much rending of limbs as my metaphorical collecting hands reached further than they ever dreamed.
Hank Aaron #318: was obtained from a 50 cent box at a card show.  I pounced on that more quickly than a lion cub on a dragonfly.
Hisanori Takahashi #311: was obtained from COMC.
Babe Ruth #338 was obtained from COMC.
Freddie Freeman #335 was obtained from ebay.  This one was the most difficult to find.  I swear that I almost a hired a PI to track this one down.
Tommy Hanson #306 was obtained from ebay as well.  There's something about Braves cards, apparently.
Lastly, Miguel Cabrera #327 was obtained from COMC and I only had to sacrifice 1/6 of my lifespan to be able to hold it (that's how it is with shortprinted cards of triple crown winners).

And so ended the journey, the set quest is complete, the cards sit as a trophy to the concepts of noblility, honor, and righteousness.  All hail.....

Feb 15, 2014

A Series of Disconnected Thoughts: On Baseball, Blogging, and Baseball Cards- Part 2

Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott were the 2nd and 3rd members (after Babe Ruth) to join the 500 HR club, the only ones besides Babe Ruth to reach that mark before 1960.  They played in major markets throughout their career for historic teams: Ott for the McGraw/Terry-led incarnations of the New York Giants and Foxx for the Mack-led Athletics and Cronin-led Red Sox.  Mel Ott, so far, is the only player to hit 40 home runs in a season prior to his age 21 season.  Jimmie Foxx had 5 40+ home runs seasons.

Here's a link to the only Mel Ott auto on ebay.:  Mel Ott auto  Here's a link to a Jimmie Foxx auto on ebay: Jimmie Foxx auto.

In general, these guys don't get many cards. How many other 500 HR club members are harder to find on modern cards?


Jaime Moyer's back, joining the Phillies booth as an announcer.  This Collector's Choice card pictures him in his first year as a Mariner. Was there any indication from this card that Moyer would pitch another 16 years?
Also, whatever happened to trivia mascots on the back of cards?  I think that we'd all be better served by having little trivia mascots pop up from time to time in our lives.  Imagine walking along and having a fuzzy creature come up to you and ask a question with promises of cash.  What would you do?


If my blogging life were like Roy Halladay's career, then I never would have left behind the 2000 season.  There are only so many pitches in an arm before it goes dead and apparently, there aren't infinite amount of thoughts about baseball cards.   If only I had a pensieve to withdraw memories of all the posts I had an idea for....then, I might have contended for the blogging pennant of 2046.  (Note: this paragraph was written by a future doppelganger)

Feb 9, 2014

A Series of Disconnected Thoughts: On Baseball, Blogging, and Baseball Cards-Part 1

This was written in the days when I had aspirations to be a storyteller, but sometimes stories fall through and take up a life of their own.  We are our own stories, putting them to paper or virtual space doesn't mean it's not expressed in many voices.  Blogging may slack, but the collecting lives on.  With interest, comes a bank account in an another country besides the US......wait, that's not what I meant to say....

With interest, a fury is kindled that waxes and wanes like the phases of the moon....we may not write and express, but we are there, lurking in the shadows....(ominous turn not intentional).

You know what?  I still love to collect sports cards....so there.

"This much is certain. Dave is a baseball fan. As an effervescent 11 year old, he not only followed the tumultuous ups and downs of the baseball season, he lived for them. The majestic home run arcs, the crackling excitement of the humid summer nights, the pop of the catcher's mitt, they all filled and completed his senses.

He is more than just a fan of the game. He is an accumulator of memorabilia and of memories. He has every ticket stub of every game he's ever been to arranged in chronological order in his top desk drawer. He has a pennant of every MLB team hanging around the perimeter of his bedroom. He has a card collection that expands with every passing month, displacing other childhood oddments from his desk and closet."

These are 2006 SP Legendary Cuts base cards.  The Catfish Hunter isn't technically a base card though since it has that stamping on it signifying there's only 550 of them in existence.  Why would a base set only have 550 possibilities of existing?  What really distinguishing these two cards other than distribution?  Are there any similarities we can discern between Monte Irvin and Catfish Hunter?

1.  They both played for New York teams in their careers.
2. They are both MLB HOF members.
3.  They both have nicknames that have nothing to do with their first name.  (anyone have a story about why Irvin's nickname is Mr. Murder?)

It's funny being a baseball card collector.  Traditionalists among us lament the steady erosion of the inclusion of the total roster.  How many of us claim to collect relief pitchers (beyond complete set or team set collation).  If there is one collector, who's primary collection is relief pitchers, I would be surprised.

On the other hand, real major league teams collect relief pitchers like they're going out of style. When did carrying 12 pitchers become the vogue roster construction?  Building a bullpen feels like taking spaghetti throwing it at a wall and seeing what sticks.  The Phillies had 15 relief pitchers last year with 15 or more relief appearances.   Only 7 had a better than average ERA (>100 ERA+); that is not good.  The worst was Chad Durbin with a hard to duplicate 9.00 ERA in 18 games.

Of course, that can all change in an instant, and the next Willie Hernandez, circa 1984, can be on the team.....until traded away.

Dec 30, 2013

Carrion Call or How Would You Like Some Cheap Cards?

I keep my cards in cabinets.  The cabinets, they get full.  These full cabinets, they start screaming at night from indigestion.  As a collector and general furniture-narian, this concerns me.  I can't have cards living inside a tortured cabinet.  Where is the lacquered wood-anity?

I know what your next question is:  How can I help? Well, you can deem to put yourself ahead of their suffering.....have some card-passion.  I've spent the last three days freeing these cards from these ostensible prisons and began sorting.  They swam into their piles and made friends again with their teammates.  For too long, they have been separated by year, distance, and strangely dust-free boxes.  They can also peer ahead and see older versions of themselves or glance behind and wistfully dream of days that once were.

Of course, no one would dream of being caught inside a 2008 Topps card; it's so constricting.

Make your claim in the comments for your team (s) below; I've listed the estimated number of cards for each team.  Most are base cards from 2007-2011 with some 2012/2013 cards and 1994 Flair for some reason.  There may be some inserts; there are definitely Bowman prospects. There will be some duplicates.

If you're feeling charitable, please send $3.00 by Paypal to drauer at wustl dot edu to help cover shipping. This is strictly optional however.

You can send your address to the same email, put the subject of "Claim!" in the subject line so I can see it.

Make a claim before the end of January 2, I'll add some bonus cards which I haven't sorted through yet.

The count.

Red Sox-21
Blue Jays-50
White Sox-39

Thank you for allowing me to continue my quest to not give cabinets pain.

Oct 18, 2013

Hockey's Back in Season, Not that the Flyers Noticed....Signed, a Disgruntled Philadelphia Sports Fan (Who Has Hockey Cards)

Even though I'm deeply involved in the baseball playoffs, I'm also an avidly involved hockey fan. As the second round of the league championship series come to an end, there is less and less baseball every day.

What is a baseball fan to do that tries to watch three games at once every day in order to fill his time? Well, turn to the next best thing that happens on weekday nights....and in this case, for me, it would be turn to the sport that bleeds winter.

Where I live though has no true winter, so when December comes around, I stand in front of the cold room at work to get into the hockey mood.

But it;s only October now, so it feels like they should be skating on leaves instead of ice.

Baseball card season is a different story.  It's never not baseball card season. There seems to be so many sets released at the end of the year.....does it never end?  I will never finish the Phillies collector checklist!  The shame...the horrrrrrrrrror!

Oh well, to cope I decided to get some hockey cards to remind me of simpler times....when strapping on goalie pads on an ice covered driveway and purposefully sliding on them into people's knees was considered good defense.

Check out these rookies from five years ago.  This was a box set of 2007-2008 Upper Deck Rookie Class....I have a weakness for box sets, they're all boxed up and ready to sort, and there's never a missing number.  I like when the numbers go in order; it makes me feel all happy inside, like the time when I realized how rally caps actually work had nothing to do with the hat.

Ok, for real....here's the cards.
Nicklas Backstrom, Caps: Considered one of the most underrated players in the league because he's a defensive center that plays with that Ovechkin guy (reigning MVP and all that).
Erik Johnson, Blues: Originally noteworthy because he's an American who was chosen 1st overall in the NHL entry draft.  It's a tough sign to carry, and even tougher as a defenseman.
Ryan Parent, Flyers: I don't remember seeing him play, but it's a Flyers rookie, weeeee.
Sam Gagner, Oilers: One of the elder statesman of the Oilers at 24 years old, he's best known for scoring 8 points in a game in 2012, only the 13th player to ever do that in the NHL.
Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks: He's the youngest member of the Triple Gold Club (Olympic Gold Medal, World Championship Gold Medal, Stanley Cup)...very disappointing career so far.
Carey Price, Les Canadiens: He started an all-star game in Montreal, but has had bad luck with injuries.  Surprisingly anonymous for a Canadian/Canadien goalie.
David Krejci, Bruins: Was sidelined with the swine flu in 2009, but won the Golden Stick award (best Czech player) in 2013.....also won a Stanley Cup.
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks: This card was a set topper and is about 4x6 or so.   I was lucky enough to get the rookie of this dual Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe trophy award winner.

I still feel warm.

Oct 16, 2013

Roy Halladay: The (2012 National Treasures) Book is Unwritten

.....the 2012 National Treasures card only has a pinstripe swatch and very few words (see what I did there?)

There's nothing more frustrating to see a player who was dominant fall off a proverbial performance cliff whether because of injury, age, or both.  Roy Halladay's starts were an experience that I signed up for and put aside time for when he first joined the Phillies in 2010.

And now, as he walked off the mound for the last time during the 2013 season after barely gutting out 15 pitches, it is uncertain about both where he stands as a pitcher and as a future member of the Phillies.

The images of Halladay look the same on the surface, but the performance differences are stark, when comparing his stats from his time of greatness to the present day.

Regardless, this card is great, and it would make a nice storytime book.

No one knows what the future holds because the back page is blank.

Sep 25, 2013

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Packs 21-24, in which the rug is pulled out from under me

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." 
-Bart Giamatti, speaking about Gint-A-Cuffs

Pack 21
Ken Griffey Jr
Carlos Beltran
Cliff Lee +1 (FT)
Darryl Strawberry
Joe Mauer +2 (FP)
Civilization of Ages Past Olmecs +3
Bob Lemon SP +2
Mini Black Border Jose Bautista +3
Pack Total: 11
Box Total: 175

Pack 22
David Ortiz
Matt Garza
Johnny Bench
Joe Morgan
Carlos Santana
Cecil Fielder
Across the Years Ryne Sandberg +2
Mini No Number Mini Ben Revere +11, +1 (FT)
Pack Total: 14
Box Total: 189

Pack 23
Albert Pujols
Jackie Robinson
Dexter Fowler
Joey Votto +2 (FP)
Frank Thomas
Civilization of Ages Past Shang Dynasty +3
Josh Rutledge SP +2
Mini Paul Molitor SP +3
Pack Total: 10
Box Total: 199

Pack 24
Juan Marichal
Raul Ibanez
Mariano Rivera -1
Don Mattingly -1
Gary Carter
Yovani Gallardo
Across the Years Babe Ruth +2, -1
Mini Early Wynn
Pack Total: -1
Box Total: 198

Worst last pack ever.....keeps my 5 year streak alive of not breaking 200.  This reminds of the time when I played Rummy 500, got to 495 and the managed to be stuck there for 4 straight wins as I was overtaken.

Gint-A-Cuffs, you win again.....curse you.

Sep 24, 2013

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Packs 17-20, in which somebody is not impressed

Pink ribbon scars I never forget....I fear that I am ordinary just like everyone.

Pack 17
Chrissy Teigen
Ryan Zimmerman
Colby Rasmus
Matt Harrison
Enos Slaughter
Palaces and Stronghold Mysore Palace +3
Andrew McCutchen SP +2
Mini The First Americans +3
Pack Total: 8
Box Total: 131

Pack 18
Reggie Jackson
Carlos Ruiz +1 (FT)
Starling Marte
Tim Lincecum +2 (FP)
Across the Years Manny Machado +2
Framed Relic McKayla Maroney +10
Mini Justin Morneau SP +3
Pack Total: 18
Box Total: 149

Pack 19
Ian Kennedy
Howie Kendrick
Jason Heyward +2 (FP)
Phil Niekro
Cal Ripken Jr
Martial Mastery Amazons +3
Carlton Fisk SP +2
Mini A&G Back Tommy Lee +2
Pack Total: 9
Box Total: 158

Pack 20
Bryce Harper +2 (FP)
Mike Joy
Barry Melrose
Monty Hall
Jason Dufner
Freddie Roach
Through the Years Jason Heyward +2, +2 (FP)
Mini Jim Rice
Pack Total: 6
Box Total: 164

Sep 23, 2013

Gint-A-Cuffs V Packs 13-16, in which a corked bat was found

To paraphrase: Did you see the jabberwock, my son?  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch?

Pack 13
Bill Walton
Abe Vigoda +1
Ziggy Marley
Phil Heath
Framed Relic Albert Belle +10
Through the Years Sandy Koufax +2
Mini James Shields
Pack Total: 13
Box Total: 106

Pack 14
AJ Burnett
Yasmani Grandal
Willie Mays
Felix Hernandez
Babe Ruth -1
Derek Jeter -1
Through the Years Jesus Montero +2
Mini A&G Back Ian Kinsler +2, +3 (FP)
Pack Total: 5
Box Total: 111

Pack 15
Matthew Berry
Nana Meriwether
Shelby Miller
Evan Longoria
Jurickson Profar
Civilization of Ages Past Mayans +3
Robin Yount SP +2
Mini Fergie Jenkins
Pack Total: 5
Box Total: 116

Pack 16
Allen Craig
Elvis Andrus
Ian Kinsler  +2 (FP)
Brandon Morrow
Denard Span
Penny Marshall +1
Through the Years Troy Tulowitzki +2
Mini A&G Back Matt Moore +2
Pack Total: 7
Box Total: 123

Sep 22, 2013

Gint-A-Cuffs V, Packs 9-12, there is no spoon

The quest continues to paper the world with art-deco borders.

Pack 9
Bonnie Bernstein
Bud Selig -1
Code Breakers Trio
Anthony Rendon
Death Valley (the one time I was in Death Valley, it was 114 degrees)
Gio Gonzalez
Through the Years Ken Griffey Jr +2
Mini Inquiring Minds Hannah Arendt +3
Pack Total: 4
Box Total: 73

Pack 10
Dylan Bundy
Jon Lester
Anthony Rizzo
Bronson Arroyo
Tony Perez
Palaces and Strongholds Forbidden City (I've been here, it's enormous) +3
Alex Rodriuez SP +2 -1
Mini Black Bordered John Smoltz +3
Pack Total: 7
Box Total: 80

Pack 11
Vance Worley
Rickie Weeks
Hanley Ramirez
Salvador Perez
Jose Altuve
One Little Corner Makemake +3
Avisail Garcia SP +2
Mini Duke Snider
Pack Total: 5
Box Total: 85

Pack 12
Clayton Kershaw
Alex Gordon
Robinson Cano -1
Vida Blue
Ben Revere (FT)+1
Martial Mastery Apache +3
Marco Scutaro SP +2
Inquiring Minds Author of The Prince +3
Pack Total: 8
Box Total: 93

Sep 21, 2013

Gint-a-cuffs V: Packs 5-8, in which PEDs make relics grow

The box continues to spill out its contents as the heat lamp reveals the truth.

Pack 5
Jon Niese
Ryan Braun
Chad Billingsley
Anibal Sanchez
Paco Rodriguez
Corey Hart
Through the Years Salvador Perez +2
Mini Bronson Arroyo
Pack Total: 2
Box Total: 41

Pack 6
Bobby Doerr
Eddie Murray
John Smoltz
Paul Goldschmidt
Full-sized Relic Ryan Braun +10
Through the Years Yu Darvish +2
Mini A&G Back BJ Upton +2
Pack Total: 14
Box Total: 56

Pack 7
Daniel Murphy
Curtis Granderson -1
Yoenis Cespedes
Michael Young +1 (FT)
Neil Walker
Palaces and Strongholds Taj Mahal +3
Wily Peralta SP +2
Mini Tony Perez
Pack Total: 5
Box Total: 61

Pack 8
Roy Jones Jr
Lou Brock
Adrian Beltre
Mark Buehrle
Michael Morse
Martial Mastery Aztecs +3
Rickey Henderson SP +2
Mini Black Border Paul Goldschmidt +3
Pack Total: 8
Box Total: 69

Sep 15, 2013

Gint-A-Cuffs V: BoxTopper and Packs 1-4

I know this is the moment everyone who's ever read this site has waited for......the 5th edition of Gint-A-Cuffs here on this blog.  When I was a young lad, I once dreamed of a world where Yankees were hated properly and devalued, where red ink and blood were worth more than the written word, and when destruction and tearing was the desired outcome of any endeavor.  Gint-A-Cuffs is a culmination of those wishes.

This year, the Ginter universe is slightly changed.  There are more retired players in the set since its first incarnation in '06. And there are more standard size inserts, and no more sketches to to look for.

Onto the ripping....

First, I ripped into the box itself.....I did not have a card inside. (0 points)

Next, up is the boxtopper.

Josh Hamilton Sepia Oversized Box Loader +8, +10=18

Box Total: 18

Then, onto smaller and better things.

Pack 1
Early Wynn
Ferguson Jenkins
Duke Snider
Jim Rice
Brooks Robinson
Kris Medlen
Across the Years Gio Gonzalez +2
Mini Peacemaker Mother Teresa +3
Pack 1 Total: 5
Box Total: 23

Pack 2
Anthony Gose
David Murphy
Stan Musial
David Freese
Chanel Iman
One Little Corner-Uranus +3
Wei-Yin Chen SP +2
Mini A&G Back Brian McCann +2
Pack 2 Total: 7
Box Total: 30

Pack 3
Starlin Castro
Jay Bruce
Bob Feller
Doug Fister
Carlos Gonzalez
One Little Corner-Ceres +3
Kyle Seager SP +2
Mini The First Americans Cherokee +3
Pack 3 Total: 8
Box Total: 38

Pack 4
Alfonso Soriano
Ernie Banks
Michael Brantley
Prince Fielder
CJ Wilson
Tyler Skaggs
Across the Years Lou Gehrig +2, -1=+1
Mini Jose Altuve
Pack 4 Total: 1
Box Total: 39