Sunday, August 31, 2014

Will you be my friend ?

I know asking around the playground for you to be my friend is about as lame as it gets, but I pretty much forfeited the idea of pissibly being cool the minute I picked up my first card and decided to start collecting (and it's even worse when you collect a team like the Blue Jays (go Jays !)). I'm asking to find sand in my peanut butter jelly sandwich, but ah well (fun foreign fact of the day : a small jar of peanut butter costs 7$ here. When you find it).

Those things take time, we need to know each other, but I'd really love to get my hands dirty in that whole blogosphere game thingy circle or whatever you call it. So I need your help spreading the news (the Junior Junkie paved the way and plugged me in, as he puts it, and I hope he wasn't talking litteraly. Thanks again to him) and adding me to your blogrolls.

I tried the forums, but they scare me. They all have banners in their signatures the size of France (or Texas, or Canada, your pick), and they talk about Prizm all day. And even though there seem to be great guys out there (I posted on Beckett and got a few nice PMs), it all looks so cold and dry and way too clean. I love the idea of just sending out packages here and there, so don't hesitate to let me know what you collect and I'll do my best to look at my (growing) collection and see what I can do. I'm not a collector powerhouse, but I do have some trade bait, and if you see things you like when I scan them, don't hesitate to ask.

Ok, I feel that this speech went well. A mix between Luther King and Lou Gehrig.

And to illustrate this, here's my 3 000 th different Blue Jays card. Welcome home, Turkey Red card of Gustavo Chacin.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Busting some packs

Second straight day with cards in the mail, so I'm officially happy (I'm easy to please).
This time, a package from ebay that took a month to get there (the guy took 3 weeks to send it is more like it, even though he claims the first shipment got lost), that included 2 boxes of 1999 Upper Deck (series 1 and series 2) along with some 1996 SP. In place of a 'I'm sorry' note, the seller sent a few freebies : a pack of 2000 Ultimate Victory (there was a Blue Jay card in there and the Griffey base card, so yay), 1998 Bowman (Bonds and Mariano Rivera), 1996 Bowman's Best (maybe the most ugly cards in the universe) and 2001 UD (got an ecard. I have no idea what an ecard is).

Those were my first packs of the month. I feel much better now.

Here's the breakdown on the 12 packs of 96 Sp. Some nice inserts, a Griffey base card and...only one Blue Jays card. Go figure. I'll have to check the checklist, maybe no other teammate made the cut.

I really need to be less lazy and put the cards back straight when I see that I scanned them wrong. I'll procrastinate on that one.

I actually really like that Griffey and his signature smile.

I'll write a post about the 1999 UD boxes as soon as I sort them out

Friday, August 29, 2014

Smoke cards everyday

Well, all I had to do was summon the post office Gods yesterday, and tadah, today I got not one, but two packages !
One is the 800 Blue Jays card lot, and the other is the other end of a trade I made with The Dutch card guy. I saw that he had some needs for some mini A&G I had, so I asked him if he wanted to be friends and to solidify the European Union through some French-Netherlandish love. Of course, he agreed to my sweet talking (who wouldn’t?). I had no idea what he was sending me, other that it contained Blue Jays cards. There were 50 of them, and only about a dozen I already had.
The funny thing is that customs actually opened the package to check what was in it (there are no customs charges inside the EU, it’s the whole point of it). For those of you who have never traveled to Europe, let’s just say that The Netherlands is the equivalent of your state of Washington now, as far as pot is concerned (‘nuff said).

Here are cards from sets I had never seen before (still catching up). I really like the Fleer one, and he managed to find a Pacific card that's not ugly, so he gets points for that. I'm also glad to be able to add some Frank Thomas cards to my Blue Jays collection.

Next up, some 90s cards I was missing. I'm missing a ton of inserts from those days, but not that many from the base sets. So I'm happy to add those to the binders. You can't go wrong with Stadium Club and Ultra anyway.

Some nice, more modern cards. Does anyone actually try to put together the Documentary set (I saw a team set on ebay, I'll probably go for it). Looks like fun though. I don't know why, but I really like those UD Ovation. It's surprising because I usually like action shots, but I think the feel of the cards is amazing.

More cool cards from modern sets (I really like the Halladay A&G) and a subtle use of gold foil from Topps with the first 2.

I really love that card. Not just because it's a 07/50 relic, but just because it looks real nice. I'll have to look into that Tier One set, it looks promising. 

That's it for my first trade ! Thanks a lot, mister Dutch Card Guy, looking foward to the next trade, even though I do feel the balance was in my favor.

As for the 800 card lot, nothing much to say about it. Basically what I expected, with a lot of cardboard from the 80s and early 90s, but enough different brands and lack of duplicates for me not to complain too much about it. Plus, there were a few high end cards, for good measure. This will be the last lot of the sort that I'll buy though, as my 80s checklist is well filled. Always fun to sort 800 cards and to add them to my spreadsheet.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Townes Van Zandt

One thing you learn when collecting from overseas is patience. Ok, maybe not patience, but you learn how to wait (not quite the same thing). Mail needs to be sorted and processed and labeled and customs need to be cleared. When it’s sent airmail, it takes between 1 to 2 weeks to get here. Those packages have you checking eagerly the mailbox 3 times per day as the estimated date approaches. I’m mainly saying this because I haven’t received any cards in 10 days and am expecting several packages. I get my hopes real high, only to see them crushed by the harsh reality of the post office.

Compared to when I used to collect, during the 90s, a couple of weeks aren’t so bad.
It was before I got the Internet. During the mail-order heydays. I’d look at the ads in my Beckett magazine, see who welcomed international buyers (there weren’t too many of them), send them a letter asking for their catalog, wait a couple of weeks, browse through it, write them back asking for the shipping prices, wait a couple of weeks, look at the figure, gasp, write back asking if they offered surface mail as a service, wait a couple of weeks, look at the new figure, sigh in relief and send them my definite order.

And then the real waiting would really begin. Because at a time when we need to know everything right away and when an ebayer will get a negative review if he doesn’t ship out the item the same day and your girlfriend will start wondering why you’re not answering her text right now (those last two examples are not related), k now this : surface mail takes 6 to 8 weeks to get here. I was very eager to get the aforementioned order, as I hadn’t bought a pack of cards in a while and was tired of basketball cards. I don’t really remember what was in it, oddly enough. Some 96 Leaf, 95 Upper Deck, 94 Pinnacle, a whole bunch of Score and Topps traded box sets, 93 Studio and probably a few other things. It was a lot of money for me at the time. S&H was 12$ surface mail, as opposed to 50$ airmail.
And of course, my mind started counting 6 weeks from the day I posted my order. Which means I was basically 3 to 6 weeks early. But it was during my summer vacation. I had all the time in the world to wait. And to wait, I did. I was like a dog, actually, wagging my tail (figuratively) as I heard the mailman approach, dribbling a basketball in my driveway for hours just to be sure I wouldn’t miss him, checking the mailbox several times a day just in case he realized he’d forgotten that package in his truck and decided to make a second stop to my house. And the disappointment to see that there was nothing for me was pretty much heartbreaking. I lead a very difficult life growing up. It went on for about 4 weeks. And one day….one day I wasn’t home. So I saw the paper slip in my mailbox. And of course this was on a Saturday. And of course the post office is closed on Sundays. I had to wait another day. The post office God was mocking me.

So yeah, right now I’m 16 all over again. I wish I could play in my garden with my dog, waiting to see if the postman has a little surprise for me. Maybe I’ll just bark.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Beckett à la folie

When I was still young and unaware of all the trials and tribulations the world would throw at me, the one part of the month I was really looking forward to was the day I’d receive my copy of the new Beckett magazine. Well, new to me anyway, since they didn’t seem to believe in airmail for international subscribers , and I’d receive it at least a month after everyone else. Not that it really mattered, it’s not as if an American would come knocking on my door with his Beckett under the arm just to brag about it. Subscription was 30$ + 12$ for international (that would be me). Each issue cost 3.5$ for 130 pages, including 80 pages for the price guide and shows listing.
Beckett magazine was the bible for 1 million card collectors. We’d all wonder who’d make the cover and who’d have a down or an up arrow, actually giving us the impression that those pieces of cardboard were worth something. At the beginning  of the 90s, there’d even be complete checklists for every set. Very convenient to know what cards I was missing.

Here’s what the covers looked like

Just a photo and sometimes a card. Perfect for framing if that’s your thing, or for seeking autographs. Which is exactly what I did in 1993 when I went to see the Indians play the Blue Jays. It’s the back cover, but it was still a real cool experience to wait for the players outside the ballpark. Some were real nice (Carlos Baerga), some wondered if I was into autographs for the money (Sandy Alomar Jr) but decided I looked honest after all for a French guy, and some just passed by without a look in our direction (yes, you guessed it, that would be Albert Belle). I still have that cover, I still love it very much, even though it meant that I had to take it off the magazine. I apologize in advance for the crappy quality of the scan, but it’s still behind the original frame I put it under , and, well, yeah, the glass is a little dirty.

The letters to the editor would always annoy me, as it seemed like anything anyone was interested in was knowing whether they’d found a rare gem and how much it was worth (usually around 2-3$). But it was still, to me, like having a local card shop come right at my door. Granted, a card shop that wouldn’t sell me anything nor let me touch any product, but still, it would be proof that the card collecting world was alive and well overseas (yes, you’re overseas to me).
At some point in 96, they changed the layout. The covers weren’t blank anymore, the magazine cost 3.95$ for 120 pages and smaller printing in the price guide, that now had 6 columns per page. I wonder what the kids portrayed in the Supercollector pages did with their collections…People were rightfully wondering if it was really a good idea for the price of packs to skyrocket like that, they were going all crazy over refractors because of their 240 print runs (for once that there was a print run…), and they carried a 4 digit price tag for the most popular ones (I wonder how much they’re worth today), and they were scratching their heads over the notion of 1/1 cards.

That’s basically where I left off the hobby. I stopped subscribing in 98 and didn’t miss it that much. I picked up a copy during a trip to Seattle in 2001.

Back to 130 pages, 4.99$, 80 page price guide, 7 columns, a whole bunch of sets missing, a graded card price guide, along with minor leagues. I guess this means Bowman won. Just looking at the listings for 2000 and 2001 gave me a headache, so I really didn’t bother looking at it closely. I didn’t understand the hot list, I didn’t understand the letters to the editor, I didn’t understand why there was an advertising for Bowman on the back cover.
When I came back to the hobby this summer, I figured I’d get my hands on the latest Beckett issue. Thank God for the internet, I’d get it in no time.
Let’s see…ok…it is now 9.99$, but at least they offer free shipping. I got it one month later, and by the looks and feel of the envelope, I understood the sudden price change. It’s huge ! 240 pages. 180 just for the price guide. I’m not going to hate on Beckett, that has largely enough detractors , but pfff, it’s just a big book filled with advertising and printed on low grade paper. It’s what I needed because that way I can list sets by year and catch up with what sets stopped when (Fleer, Pinnacle, Ultra,  Stadium Club etc.). They now only list sets starting from 2001, so it’s a good thing I managed to find my 2001 copy at my parents’ place. I started taking notes 6 weeks ago, just listing sets year by year, and so far I stopped at 2004. But I’ll get back to it !
Subscription for international readers is now 100$ (50$ for the shipping charges), so it makes it even easier to live without it. And digital just isn’t for me.

But I still love my back issues. They were my own little window on your world.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Turning my back

Today I did two things really drastic.  Things I thought I’d never have to do. Ever. But life decided otherwise.

I’m still trembling a little, actually.
The first thing I did was…this is real hard (that’s what she said, I know, but come on, this is serious)…I threw away some cards. I didn’t even think I had it in me, as I never throw out anything. Several boxes full of utter junk resting in my parents’ basement  will attest of that. But I really didn’t know what to do with all those 80s and early 90s duplicates of Blue Jays cards I got the other day. Nobody to give them to and there’s really no point in keeping them in my duplicates shoeboxes. A stack of 100 cards that will now feed the seagulls.

The second thing was to take out some Blue Jays cards from my Blue Jays binders (it’s fastidious to write Blue Jays all the time, but I can’t bring myself to write BJs. I’m sure you’ll understand). Blue Jays players are meant to be in Blue Jays binders, no matter who they are. If they wore a Toronto jersey at some point, then they deserve to be in there. Except that I needed to make room for the more modern cards coming this way. So out with the 80s (except for a few players I like, ie Moseby, Fernandez, Bell, Gruber, Ward, Heinke), that I put in a couple of 400 count boxes. I won’t forget you, I’ll take you out of the darkness of the closet from time to time. I promise.

I’m ashamed. I feel like I’m breaking all the promises I made 20 years ago. What’s next ? Buying graded cards ? I shudder at the thought…

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sticking to autographed cards

You know how I said that I didn’t care much for relics, AU and GU (and the simple fact that I’m using those abbreviations shows that I’ve learned a lot in a couple of months ! I’m proud of myself) ? Well, ok, I lied.

I think they’re pretty cool. I remember that in the 90s, it wasn’t even conceivable to expect to find one of those Heroes of Baseball autographs. Or the Mantle/Griffey combo (I wonder what the odds actually were. Considering the production of the era, probably 1 : 1 000 000 000 000). Considering I have 16 years to catch up with and that there have been countless sets produced since 1998, all with their tons of memorabilia, I can’t wait to see real amazing cards. TJ at The Junior Junkie showed one with actual dirt from the batter’s box in it. It’s half dumb half incredible. Man I love that hobby (there was some dirt on some of those 80s cards I got the other day. Maybe they’re from a pitcher’s mound, I’ll have to look into it).

I think the most I’ve spent on a card is 8$ for a 95 Griffey promo Upper Deck card. And I’m pretty comfortable staying within that price range. I’d be willing to spend, say, 30$ for a beat up Willie Mays card (I don’t care about condition, it’s just that I like the idea of owning those vintage cards, even in real poor condition), but that’s about it.

I was browsing ebay the other day and found this seller who had a whole bunch of memorabilia within my price range (2 to 5 $ for Blue Jays players). And I decided to treat myself to a Ken Griffey GU card. I just checked, and according to Beckett, there are 2 000 cards of his that are GU or AU. I actually laughed out loud. It’s always very healthy to laugh, I’m glad I took a look. I think I paid 8$ for it. That must be my magic Griffey number.

And as you can see, when I received my package, I also learned a valuable lesson about autographed cards : there are such things as stickers. Not all autos are on card. Okay. Now I know.

It’s a long,  learning process…

ps : you'll notice that I put up a link for my want list. It's really generic, sorry about that, but let's hope my collection grows enough for it to become specific. I now need to figure out what kind of traid bait I have...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We're leaving together

Here’s the final breakdown (I hope you have that Europe song in your head now) on yesterday’s ugly lot.

Total cards : 660
Duplicates inside the lot : 260
Cards I already owned : 205
New Blue Jays added to the collection : 195

It’s not that bad, but it’s still .20 cts per card.
195 cards and not a single one I want to scan to brag about and show the world. That’s the really sad part.

And for that price, I could’ve picked 2 00 cards I actually wanted off the Beckett marketplace. I’ll probably stick to that for a little while. I’m waiting to see what I’ll get in that 800 card lot I’ll receive in a few days, but my new motto in life is : lower your expectations. It’s a good rule.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty bad so far. A package including two Upper Deck boxes apparently got lost (what kind of seller sends internationally without a tracking number ?), so I haven’t opened a single pack this month. But things are looking up. There appears to be a whole bunch of great people on the internet (who could've guessed?), but more about that later.

Anyway, the duplicates are in a shoebox. Under my bed. Behind my cardboard lifesize Michael Jordan that I never got myself to throw out (yes, I made one of those). I never want to see them again. Nor do I want to hear about 80s cardboard before a while.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes you win...

I really love getting team lots off ebay, and I was really excited about that package.
600 Blue Jays cards from 1980 to 2010.
The listing on ebay added that there were some stars and minor stars. Great way to discover new cards and new sets and spend an entire evening sorting them out !

Well, almost.

The package finally arrived (I was expecting it last Thursday), and as soon as I opened the boxes, I knew there was a problem. No gloss, no foil, just cardboard. Plain old cardboard. And when you spot some 1990 Bowmans, you know you’re in trouble. Now, I love those old sets just as much as the next guy, but let’s take a closer look.

See ?
Don't be shy, look closer.
Yes, you're right.
Nothing but crap.

86 Topps: 48 cards
87 Topps : 70 cards
88 Topps : 69 cards
89 Topps : 48 cards
90 Donruss : 101 cards ! I mean, come on, what does he think I do with these cards that I’d need over 100 of them ? The blank Word sheet I’m writing these lines on are worth more than the cardboard the cards are printed on.

There are about 80 Upper deck cards, all from 90 to 92 (and a couple from 96 that just got lost in there somehow), and a few Collector’s Choice, some Topps from 1998, 2008 and 2010, 5 Pinnacles and 12 Stadium Clubs (but 6 different cards). So yeah, they DO range from 1980 to 2010. That’s true. 90% from before 1992, but still, the ad was correct.

To show you the extent of the damage, here are the two best cards out of the 600 card lot

An insert ! the only one, actually.

And the nine worst

And well, at least I can find the best Iorg 87 Topps in mint condition….

I’m expecting another lot. 800 cards. From the 80s to now, as is written by the seller. All of a sudden, I’m not that excited.

I’m actually a little disgusted, since I paid…let’s see…20$ plus 20$ for S&H. Considering that there were over 200 duplicates, that's 10ct per card. Even without the s&h, it’s a total rip-off. With the s&h, I feel outrageously stupid for not asking the seller what was exactly in those two 300 count boxes. That’s the good news though, I have brand new boxes to put away my sets in. I was getting short on them. And once I stop fulminating and grumbling, I’ll actually look closer and see if there were some cards I was missing for my collection. Maybe 100 or so. Let’s be optimistic and not quit the hobby just now !

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting crazy

I forgot to mention that I also bought a jumbo box of 2010 Upper Deck (RIP) around the same time I got my first shipments. 650 cards and not one single duplicate. Now that's good collation ! How things have changed in 20 years...I'm still 17 cards shy from the complete set, but I can live with it. I like the fact that they decided to write on their cards that hey, ok, we're not licensed, but we'll still act as if we were and deal with it later. The one thing I liked a little less was this leaflet at the bottom of the box with a picture of Mickey Mantle on it. So far so good. Except it was to suggest that if I hadn't found Jesus yet, it wasn't too late, that the Christian church was here. I'm good, thanks. But what is THAT all about and how did they convince Upper Deck to go for it ? (money and religion can be very powerful, I suppose).

Anyway, back to the story of my collecting life.

As I said, I had a 25$ store credit at Dave & Adam's. Which basically pays for S&H on one box of cards. But come on. I can either have free shipping on a box I would've included in a bigger order to save on shipping (each extra box is around 10$ more for S&H, depending on its weight) OR save 25$ off an order I'd normally have placed. Let's go with that option. I tend to forget that there haven't been 36 packs and 15 cards per pack boxes for 15 years. I managed to fit 8 boxes plus a couple of random packs for under 50$ S&H. That's 20% of the order (since I only buy boxes that are 40$ or less, S&H is usually 50 to 200% the cost of the actual product). That's really sweet. Let's go for it. Good thing I have 25$ off !

The order arrived super fast. I tracked it on the UPS website, so I knew it was coming. Since they say that they deliver between 9 am and 8 pm, I, of course, was up at 9 (I don't trust my doorbell to wake me up, and when I get new cards, I like to look fresh and perky). The hours can go by really slow when all you're doing is wait. Let's make this short, though : the guy got here at 3:30 pm. With a very large package in his hands. I believe he saw the smile on my face (even though I was trying to stay dignified with my poker face) from the distance, but didn't mention it. What he did mention, though, was that I owed him 70$ for custom fees.

Custom fees are a real pain. They are completely random, you never know when your package will be intercepted, it's pretty much a gamble. But let's say that over 150$ worth of merchandise, the house almost always wins.

He actually wanted them cash only, so I had to ask my neighbours to help me out, but that's another story.

Here's what the package yielded

Notice the little cup of coffee that helped me stay awake and sane.
Here's the breakdown :

2013 Cooperstown : now those are really ugly cards

2012 Heritage blaster box : nothing fancy in it, just base cards. But I still like them.

2013 Allen & Ginter's jumbo : about 250 cards that are really fun to collect, and a couple of nice relics. Still don't know what to do with the minis (probably look at The dutch card guy's want list and send some out), but they look nice in the little box I found for them.

2011 Lineage : that was also really fun to open. The inserts are crazy. The base set looks nice, except that they didn't exactly spend a lot of time finding a design for the backs, nor bother putting stats, but still, I like them. Some minis, some cloth, some venezuelan, some relics, some 3D, some parallels that hurt your eyes etc.

Nothing much to say about the 2004 UD or 1998 UD.

I absolutely love the 1993 Stadium club set. There are amazing photos in there. I should actually just write a post about it one day and scan the ones I like the most. Let's put a pin on that. I'm actually excited that they are bringing stadium club back this year. I just hope they'll focus on action shots more than on memorabilia. It reminds me that the most precious card in my collection at the time was a Franck Thomas first day edition worth something like 60$. It's now worth 4$ (if that). Glad I traded it 15 years ago for 10ct commons that are still worth 10 cts.

2003 UD MVP was absolutely pointless. I like some of the designs from the MVP sets, but this one's really not a winner (sometimes I'm lazy and I just pick pictures off the internet, sorry)

2013 Topps Gipsy was my first encounter with the brand. Didn't exactly blow my mind. Looks too much like A&G. There was a Griffey card in the pack I ordered, so it still made it worth it.

As a gift, I received a few packs of 2013 Chipz. I suppose it's kids oriented, wich is always a good thing, but I have trouble finding a point to it. Then again, I collect pieces of cardboard...And of course, they managed to add GU chipz in there. And I actually got a Jay Bruce GU bat, numbered 17/50. Woohoo ! Something to show the grand kids one day.

So a whole bunch of new Blue Jays, never seen before designs and cards, some Griffeys, 3 hours of non stop pack busting and a very expensive summer christmas gift to me. After close to 20 boxes of cards to get me back into the hobby, maybe I'll calm down a little and focus on other things (team sets, singles, lots etc.). Maybe.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting serious

So after that first batch of random boxes, I decided to really get my hands dirty. I got my order from Dave & Adam's  pretty fast. S&H was 60$, so that always hurts but hey, it's summertime, I'm not planning on going anywhere for my holidays (yeah, we get 5 weeks off with pay, in France. You should try it), I might as well spend my money here instead of the beach. For a short moment, I knew how it felt to spend christmas in the southern hemisphere.

The box you can't really see is a 94 series 2 Upper deck. The packs include some Allen & Ginter's (2013), one Heritage, Archives, SP and some Triple Play put in there for free from the good folks at Dave& Adam's. I was a little disappointed to find that my retro box, that was supposed to include 99 UD baseball packs actually had some 98 Collector's choice in it (and I got a box of that right before). They quickly offered a refund or store credit. Always nice to deal with some great customer's service.

It took me over 2 hours to open all the packs. Two full hours of pack busting ! My life felt complete. Pathetic, of course, but hey, you need to choose your battles.

The Allen & Ginter's yielded a Kimbrel relic, so that was nice, and it was my first encounter with all the other silly (and amazing) cards from the set. I have no idea what to do with the mini cards, but I'm smart and ressourceful, I'll figure it out.

There was also an A-Rod GU in there. In the 90s, I'd have been jumping all around and doing cartwheels with such a pull, but nowadays, it's incredibly common. Plus, who cares about A-Rod in 2014 ?

Oh, and there also was an Omar Vizquel GU numbered to 100, so that was cool, especially since I really like that player (I love Gold Glovers, actually, hence Griffey Jr). I might as well warn you, you're about to see my first scanned card !! Hold your breath, here it comes

Now that was something...

So here I am, with some cards to sort, but also with a 25$ store credit to use...what to do with it..... ?


Well, today was eventful.

I posted my first message on the Beckett message board. I'm trying to get people to actually come and read this blog, since for the moment I'm basically only writing to myself (not even my mother reads it). It's like a diary, and since I already know everything I'm thinking, it's not exactly the most exciting aspect of having a blog. The responses out there have been real nice so far. I'm not a big fan of message boards for way too many reasons to mention here but still, they've given me a warm welcome. I feel so fuzzy inside.

Next; I placed my first order on comc. Yeah ! I guess you're not officially in the hobby if you don't go on comc. Their common cards are a little too pricey for me, but they offer great shipping quotes (3$ flate rate) and you can view the cards nicely. And I can tell by the robot who sent me an email informing me that my cards were being packaged, that they are really nice people. I'll scan the cards I bought once I receive them, but I'm already excited. They're mainly inserts from the 90s I've been wanting for a long time, and there was a cheap Blue Jay AU in there, so I added it.

I was expecting a 600 blue jays card lot in the mail yesterday, but looks like I'll only be getting it on monday. I have no idea what's in it, but I'm missing so many that odds are I won't get too many duplicates.

I lead such an exciting life, it's actually scary. Hold still, my beating heart, cards are coming.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Getting started

The one thing you really need to understand is that free shipping is a very abstract and elusive illusion when you live abroad. It simply does not exist. So when you find really cheap boxes off ebay, you very soon realize that a 10$ box really costs 30$. And 10$ boxes cost that little for a reason, and you don't really want to dish out 30$ for them. Forget also about combined shipping with their Global shipping program.

But since I'm overall very happy to be living in France (granted, we don't have Captain' Crunch or Cocoa pebbles, nor Dr Pepper and Root Beer, but the chocolate and the cheese are great, plus our mustard actually tastes like mustard), I figure I might as well play by the rules and convince myself that a cheap box is a 30$ box. There is, of course, no limit to an expensive box, that's the beauty of what the hobby has become.

To get back in the game, I treated myself to some old and some new, to see what Topps is up to. I also favored high count boxes. So I got a 2012 Topps jumbo packs box (650 cards) along with 1998 Collector's choice (430 cards), 91 Upper Deck (540 cards) and 94 Topps (430 cards). They got there pretty fast (5-6 days), and their tracking service is so nicely done that I could check everyday and dream of my packs of cards flying right to me and when to expect them on my doorstep.

I, of course, got in a pack-ripping frenzy. The first thing to hit me was that singular smell. And I had forgotten how cool and exciting it was to open an entire box. I knew I wouldn't get anything fancy (again, they are cheap for a reason), but those were sets that I enjoyed at the time of their releases and I was just happy to add cards to the sets I hadn't completed. I put all the cards in neat little packs, tried to understand just how many inserts there were in the 2012 Topps set and started sorting them all.

I don't know about you, but that's one part about collecting cards that I love : just sorting them. I build little stacks : #1-99 / 100 - 199 / 200 - 299...and then divide each one of them into other stacks : 1-9 / 10-19...I suppose you get it. It takes a highly mathematically trained mind to come up with that system, don't try it at home. Of course, I'll grumble if I get too many duplicates (the worst being of course a duplicate in one pack. I really feel like I'm being ripped off. Or when they put a send-in card in a pack and it counts as a full card, even though it's just for a survey of some sort. And in any case, since I live in France, I can't participate in any send-in whatsoever. Maybe that's changed over the years, I'll have to look into it). The 91 UD was ridiculous in terms of box colation. Since I bought a high numbered one, they included way more cards numbered 700-800 than of the others. And I'm still 10 cards shy of the hi-numbered set. Tssss

Of course, there would be more boxes to come...the sorting was over, I needed more. Much more. Much much more...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yawn....wait what ?

As I was saying, I woke up.

Vision still blurry, eyelids not quite open...ok, now I can focus.

Let's see, what's been going on with the hobby for the past 16 years ? What do Leaf, Donruss, Stadium Club, Upper Deck, Ultra, Pinnacle cards look like now ? Are they still into that whole crazy Refractors scene with only a few hundred made ? Did they stop putting inserts all over the place, with a master set having more inserts than base cards ? Did they put an end to that ridiculous trend tending to cater to the adults and high end collectors instead of kids ? Are we finally rid of parallel cards and one of a kinds ?

Let's see let's see....


Why on earth is that listing so huge ?
What do you mean, 20 sets just for Upper Deck at the beginning of the century ?
Memorabilia and autographs in every set, really ? Oh, one in every pack ? The Leaf Signature series was pretty fun, that's true, even though the players weren't always spectacular, but I was glad to add a few Blue Jays to my collection for cheap, but this has gotten out of hand. 250$ for a box of cards ?? With only one card in it ?? Cards with actual pieces of hair in them ??
Ok so Pinnacle disappeared pretty fast, which doesn't suprise me considering how ugly Score sets were (I mean, come on...). Then Fleer got Skybox...Donruss reappeared...ok...Fleer goes bankrupt, is bought by Upper Deck...Very well...then only Upper Deck and Topps have a licence...oooookayyyy..and then...huh ? Topps wins the bidding war against Upper Deck in 2010. But....Upper Deck cards were way better than Topps cards, don't the people at MLBPA know that ? Ah well, maybe they've changed (I'll soon find out that, well, not really, but at least their base sets stay cheap and somewhat fun to collect). And enter Panini, that does not have a licence but still decides to put out cards without logos and with cropped up shots so we won't see aforementioned logos. Not exactly a dream come true.

And apparently, since 2001, another nostalgia wave appeared and card manufacturers remembered that there were Hall of famers out there who could also sign cards and who deserved to be all pretty and glossy too.


The silver lining, though, is that it's a great time to buy boxes of cards from the 90s, as they're worth basically nothing. And that since 1998, the internet has gone full throttle and it's very easy to find great, reliable dealers who'll send said boxes right to my doorstep. Plus, I have a job and a little money to spend, so let's go crazy ! Well, not TOO crazy, we never know, I may hate cards now. I'm a grown man, with responsibilities and a real life and...ha ! who am I kidding ? of course I still love baseball cards. Matter of fact, I'll go get them all from my closet and start sorting them all over again. And start putting together a spreadsheet, because it's not 1993 anymore, putting little crosses beside the Beckett listings won't be enough. By the way, what's up with Beckett ?

Waking Up

Well, it feels like I've been hibernating and I just woke up.

Like a lot of kids who grew up in the 80s and early 90s, I used to collect sportscards (baseball and basketball). The thing that made it a tad difficult for me was that I lived in France (still do, actually). A country in which baseball is absolutely nonexistent, and sportscards unheard of. So while all american kids would rip open waxpacks wondering if they'd get that Mattingly RC or if a 91 Donruss case would put them through college (it wouldn't), we in France would be stuck with panini stickers of cartoons or soccer players. Which was also a lot of fun, but lacked any kind of info or statistics whatsoever. And yes, it's the same Panini as the company now selling cards with airbrushed logos.

I grew obsessed with those cards. The first ones I discovered were 90-91 skybox basketball cards, brought back from a friend who spent a few weeks in Arizona, and I instantly fell in love with them. We didn't have baseball, but we did have Michael Jordan and basketball courts appearing everywhere. It would still be a few years before Upper Deck brought basketball cards to Europe (more on that in a later post), but magazines would offer 91-92 Upper Deck cards for new subscriptions or for sale. I bought a box and soon started knowing each card by heart. I was 15, I should've been out partying and experiencing, but all I wanted was to play with those little pieces of cardboard. I'd arrange them by name, by number, by team etc. There was no way of buying 9 pocket pages, no online trading, no cardshops, no nothing. I was stuck with that box and the NBA Finals I'd follow religiously, even though it meant getting up at 2 in the morning.

One day, I went to an american bookstore in Paris (Brentano's, that actually shut down a few years ago) and saw that they carried sportscards. I started doing the Baloo dance, until I realized that they only had baseball. I knew nothing about baseball. But I knew I needed to have the cards. So I bought a few packs of 1993 Upper Deck and 1993 Topps.

It all went downhill after that.

I started looking at the stats at the back, trying to understand them (good luck with that, especially when you never saw a game in your life) and to figure out which players were good. In my first pack, I got a Jose Canseco. His name sounded familiar, seems like I'd read about him in an american sports magazine or something. I had undoubtedly struck gold ! My collecting career was a promising one. The Topps ones didn't really impress me, even though I liked the gold ones, but the pictures in that 93 Upper Deck set were amazing. And Jesus, how many players are there on a baseball team ?? I bought a few biographies (Aaron, Bo Jackson, the 1961 Yankees...) and started learning about the game of baseball and actually understanding the backs of the cards I' been accumulating.

1993 is the year I went to Cleveland (well, the Cleveland area, actually) to spend some time in a family who'd actually decided to participate in that programm and take in a french guy. From France, Cleveland is still the United States, a dream come true. I wound up in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere, but I'd play baseball all day with some great people and spend tons of money on baseball cards. And traded a lot too. Because yes, in 1993, everybody collected cards. And I suppose they thought it'd make a great story for their grand kids one day : how they traded cards with that french guy who just came and went and who probably payed for college thanks to those trades (not really). I bought my first Beckett magazine (and actually subscribed on the spot) and realized that hey, those things actually are worth something (ok, they WERE worth something), and what do you mean by 'insert odds' ?

I went back there for a couple of months the following summer. I had a ticket to go and see the A's play the Indians on August 17th. Except the baseball strike started a few days before. We now know that the hobby would never recover, but I stayed with it for a few more years. It was very frustrating to go back to France and having no way of buying packs of cards (a 93 UD was the equivalent of 3 $ a pack for me. And my allowance wasn't that important, plus I had some Calvin & Hobbes books to buy) or attending shows or going to a nearby card shop just to look at commons (I couldn't care less about the value of a card. I just like great photos and funny looking guys). Trading and buying basketball cards was actually easy, but I was more into baseball (I do collect Knicks cards though). THere were a few shops in Paris at that time, but prices were way too high and mainly it was all about basketball.

I bought a few boxes and complete sets in 95-96, completed a few trades off the internet around 98, got ripped off a couple of times (there's someone out there holding my Guerrero and Andrew Jones Bowman RCs and having a good laugh) and then just got tired of it. I had close to 12 000 cards, knew each and every one, but it was time to let them rest in my closet. My last Beckett issue was that of July 98.

So that's for the small intro about my life. Hi, my name is Kevin, I collect Blue Jays cards mainly, this hobby's been asleep for me for 16 years, but I'm ready to embrace it again. I also collect Griffey cards (ok, so they've always been too expensive for me, so I'd just trade for them from time to time or I'd just be happy to pull one from a pack and put it in my binder. I have 250 of them. 14 750 to go), and that's how I found the Junior junkie. I sent him an email just to say hi, I like your blog, and he wrote back, suggesting I get into that blog game myself. So here I am.
Fully awake.