Sunday, September 22, 2013

Morning Mail

After spending some time in the archives this weekend, time for a little more recent acquisition.

Wade Miller was one of those guys you just like watching play, even though he never plays for your team.  Well, actually he continually plays against your team.

Miller and Roy Oswalt joined the Astros rotation in 2001, and despite the latter having more success at the big league level, Wade was always my guy.  He was a smart pitcher who just seemed to consistently get outs.  Particularly against the Pirates.

I had been hoping to add an autograph of his for a while, but I never found a certified version in the bargain bin.  So I was thrilled when I saw he had started signing ttm.  I can't say anything bad about these beautiful blue signatures on some nice early season cards of his.  Definitely a nice addition to cross off my wants list.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Into the Archives, Pt 2

When you reach the point where you have more autographs than you can remember having, it probably means you have too many cards.  But on the bright side, it also allows for some great opportunities to enjoy and re-enjoy your collection. 

Matt Williams was one guy I really enjoyed watching in the late 90's.  His star had faded significantly from his time in San Francisco, but he managed to be an underappreciated piece on some really good teams.

I was really happy to get his auto TTM, and he signed a Dbacks and Giants card for me to cover the biggest stops on his journey.

 Sometimes you catch guys on their way up, other times on their way down.  Jeff Torborg had been recently fired as manager of the Marlins when I got this card signed.  It didn't seem like that much of a stretch that he would land himself another managing gig after that.  Instead the Marlins would go on to win the World Series in '03, while Torborg would stay out of the dugout for good.

Meanwhile, I got this auto of Terry Francona before he was a World Series manager.  He was a pretty good signer at the time, but I guess winning a World Series or two in Boston can change your signing habits.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Into the Archives

 TTM returns have slowed to a crawl since the move.  I think there has only been one return this month.  But while the new mail is slowing down, I came across scans from some of my earliest TTM returns, mostly from 2004-2005.  Some are truly exciting, while others...don't quite stack up so well 9 years later.

First up is this entrant from The Mad Hungarian.  Those powder blue Braves unis are painfully bad.  Adding in the secondary red color was definitely a good decision.
 This Carmona auto looked like an absolute gem for a couple years, even with the finger print at the end.  For a while he looked like an ace in the making.  Now...well, it's still an auto from a decent major league starter.
 Joe Niekro was an obscenely common autograph until his untimely passing.  Now I wish I had sent to him a couple more times, since he was one of the best TTM signers around, and played for a great variety of teams.
 Rich Amaral was one of my favorite Mariners of the 90's, and I absolutely love the '94 Pacific design.  He has a really neat, clean autograph that really looks fantastic on the card.

And finally Ron Gant was one of the underrated power hitters of the 90's.  While the rest of the league exploded in power, he seemed consistent (and perhaps non-roided?) in his clout, but it paled in comparison to the crazy home run totals being put up.  Definitely a cool auto to add to the collection from one of my favorite Topps sets.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Mayor and The Kid

I think we can largely agree that game used cards have lost their luster these days.

And with some of the higher end products offering 2-3 per pack, it's like the damn things are the new base card.  But once upon a time, they were a little tougher to hit and a lot more fun to pull.

I've never gone out of my way to add non-Pittsburgh gu cards to the collection, but when I hit one in a pack that interests me it's locked down in the PC.

This bad boy came out of a few loose packs at a now defunct card shop.  Right now the Bucs are locked in a tight race with the Reds.  But I liked watching the team in the early 2000's, when Griffey could actually stay on the field.  Sean Casey will be in Pittsburgh this weekend to sign autographs at the Pirate game, and I'm looking forward to getting some things signed that I've been holding onto since his time here in '06.  I think this is actually the second or third Griffey gu card I own, though sadly none are of the Mariners variety.  That might be one game used card I'd actually be willing to shell out for.

Into the Archives

I've been cleaning up my external hard drive, which largely consists of digging through a bunch of unsorted image folders.  That includes scans of some cards I haven't really given a second thought to in years.  So enjoy the trip as I take a stroll down memory lane.

I pulled this Troy Patton auto from a blaster around when the product released.  It seems like a long, long time ago - and obviously my collecting interests were completely different.

Patton never really lived up to the hype as a top prospect, moving to the pen after a rapid rise through the minors.  Still, he's turned in to a solid reliever for the Orioles.  But geeze, I really did hate the red/black color scheme the Astros had for the 00's.  I'm glad to see it gone.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shine Bright...Like a Diamond?

I've discussed it at length over at Battlin' Bucs, but I love 2000 Topps.

It's the set that got me back into collecting, and it has some really fun quirks to it.

A few years back I picked up a few boxes of 2000 Chrome.  The product was super high end to me at the time.  I think my mom bought me a few packs once, but it was strictly base Topps for me back then for the most part.

The break was great.  And while I probably didn't even recoup my $20 a box value wise, it was a great break.

But I did come away with some awesome cards (not to mention an unreasonably large stack of doubles).

I somehow managed to avoid the curse of the scrub refractors.  In my two boxes, I hit quite a bit of star (and future star) power.

But not just regular base stardom.  2000 Topps had some cool subsets within the base release.  The first cards in each series were the special achievement cards like the Ripken, each having 4 or 5 different versions that were identical except for the accomplishment listed on the front.  The 82 ROY is definitely a cool for Ripken.

And the 20th Century's Best cards look amaaaaazing.  In the base set they're a foil card.  But in Chrome?  Mmm mmm good.  And considering other players in the subset include Lance Johnson and John Franco, I think I did pretty well.

Maybe Beltran wasn't the biggest hit in 2000.  And even after a stint in NY he doesn't get the hobby love his skills deserve.  But anything with the Topps Rookie Cup is a winner in my book.

But the biggest hit of the bunch isn't even a refractor.

In 2000, there was still nothing hotter than Mark McGwire.
A chrome reprint of the red hot McGwire USA rookie?  It was every kid's dream.  Despite ripping a ton of base Topps (or what was a ton in the relative world of a 12 year old, which probably equated to about a box and a half's worth).   Obviously a lot has changed since 2000.  McGwire doesn't carry the star power he once did.  Refractors seem to come two per pack rather than two per box.  And boxes of 2000 Chrome cost you what a couple of packs used to. 

But you can't have much more fun with a break than I did with this one.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Oddest of Oddballs

With so many cards out there to chase as it is, I've never really been a fan of many of the off-brand oddball cards that came out in the 80's and 90's.  Sure some make interesting novelty pieces, but overall the cards just scream knockoff. 

Whether it's airbrushed logos, terrible designs, or paper thin card stock, they just don't do much for me.


I picked up a large lot a few years back.  Mixed in were a few large stacks of these RBI Prototypes, including all of the biggest starts of the early 90's (except of course Bonds, whose card I would have actually wanted). 

See all of the above commentary.  Paper stock that could pass as toilet paper.  Designs that any modern day photoshop amateur could surpass in minutes, and...wait.  A cool photo?

Most of the cards were lackluster at best.  But this Nolan Ryan card just screams awesome.  Clearly the photo comes from some kind of press conference.  Maybe his introductory presser after signing with the team?

Either way, it was a nice little gem in a otherwise unexciting stack.  If anybody wants one, I think I have a couple dozen of them.