Say goodbye to Grady

My player collections, as anyone who has seen this blog will know, mostly center on Cleveland Indians from their powerful teams of the 1990's. Thome, Vizquel, Lofton, Belle, Alomar and Alomar. For a while, in the 2000's, when the Indians were once again a contender, I started collecting the cards of Victor Martinez, Fausto Carmona (or Roberto Hernandez), and CC Sabathia. But there was one who was especially significant. He could have been one of the all-time greats, not only on the Indians, but in baseball history. 

Grady Sizemore.

It is a shame that he couldn't stay healthy, because he was so exciting to watch, both at bat and in the field. He was young, good looking, soft-spoken, and amazingly talented. He was mixed-race, which endeared him to both African-American and Caucasian fans. The women all wanted to marry him, and the men all wanted to play ball like him. He was The Natural. 

He is no longer the superstar he was. Injuries robbed him of major portions of his last four or five seasons, and he was unceremoniously released this past winter by the only team he ever played for. His cards have come down in value, including his famous 2000 Bowman Draft autograph card which used to fetch $200 or more on the open market. Beckett book value on his card is now $15, so it can probably be had for only $5 or $10. 

So, now it is time to liquidate my Grady Sizemore card collection to free up the binder and 9-pocket card sheets. I had several hundred cards, including several certified and in-person autographs each, a dozen game-used cards, and 30 or so numbered cards. I recently traded two of the 2009 Finest numbered refractors away, so the purge has started. If you are interested in buying or trading for any of his cards, please email me, or find me on The Bench (userid: dkrill). 


Lucky Friday the . . . 15th?

Another beautiful day in Rochester (re: windy with chance of sun, rain, or snow), and I was running errands, including stopping at the local card store to pick up some cards for a trade. (I've been bad at trading cards I no longer have because I didn't remember trading them previously!) Someone walks in with a 800-card box of Heritage that he sells to the owner for $20. I look through it, realize that there is probably 25 short prints, a relic, inserts, some blue-borders, and hundred of base, and offer the owner $30 for it. A quick 50% profit for him, and he doesn't have to catalog it!

Flush with my success, I grab a few packs from the opened Heritage box on the shelf. I open the first one to find a purple refractor in it. 

"What the heck?" "Oh, Mike opened one last week, and there was a purple refractor in every pack." I open another pack and, yep, there is another one. A quick check on ebay confirms that these are selling well. Maybe I'll get a Trout, or a Harper of these. So I decide to open all the packs left just to get the purple refractors. I get through 17 or 18 of the 21 packs left, and this is what I find:

Holy Shitake mushrooms! A hit! A Big Hit! A BIG HIT! 

I'm so excited, I'm almost shaking. If I didn't love this year's Heritage set enough before now, I REALLY LOVE IT now! 

But now I have a dilemma: I can keep this for my PC, or I can sell it to recoup some of the cost of all the cards I've bought recently, which is too much. Complicating matters is the fact that I have a Gibson from my 1999 Fleer Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game autograph set, which I put together a few years ago. But I love this autograph. My son is trying to finagle me out of it, too! 

What to do? What to do?

I go home to catalog and organize all the new Heritage I have, and in the mail are the wrapper redemption packs from Topps for Series 1. Blue Sparkle. I wonder why they call it that?


Two packages. Three packs. I open the one that came by itself in the bubble mailer, and what do I find:

Yessirree Bob! Another hit! An R.A. Dickey wrapper redemption blue sparkle auto (which, by the way, is neither sparkly nor blue, unless you consider that he is a Blue Jay). 

"Hey, I better go play the lottery today," I think to myself.

That is where the luck runs out. I barely even got two numbers on the entire slip! Oh, well, as the song goes, "Two out of three ain't bad!"


My new obsession

No, it is not a redhead, or that sports car that one of my friends has while I drive a minivan. It is those great, well-designed, shiny (SHY-NEEEEE!) cards from the late '90's, Topps Gold Label and Flair Showcase. 

I have had a stack of them sitting amidst all my stacks of cards sitting on my desk. I've toyed with the idea of collecting them as a set, but didn't really give it serious thought until this weekend, when I came across about a dozen of them, all stars, in the 50¢ box. Jackpot!

I love the design of the 1999 TGL (left), not so much the 2000 design (right). The dual images, refractor technology, gold embossing, and thick stock make this a really desirable product.

Here is what Beckett has to say about 1999 TGL:

This 100-card set was distributed in four-card packs with a suggested retail price of $3.99. The set features color action player photos printed with spectral reflective rainbow technology on 35-point card stock. Three different versions of the cards were produced each having the same foreground player photo but a different background photo. 

The Class 1 set carried a Fielding background player photo or a Set Position photo for pitchers.

Randomly inserted in packs at the rate of one in four retail and 1:2 HTA, [the Class 2] 100-card set is parallel to the Class 1 set and features a Running background player photo or a Wind-Up photo for pitchers.

Randomly inserted in hobby packs at the rate of one in eight and HTA packs at a rate of one in four, [the Class 3] 100-card set is parallel to the Class 1 set and features a Hitting background player photo or a Throwing photo for pitchers.

So now, I open up a new checklist for my first two, 1999 Topps Gold Label and 1998 Flair Showcase. But do I really know what I am getting into. Not only does TGL have Class 1, 2, and 3, but each one of those has three variations: Black, Red, and One-to-One. Maybe I can come across some Blacks, or if I'm lucky a Red, since those are severely short-printed, to 100 for Class 1, 50 for Class 2, and 25 for Class 3. The One-to-One, well, that is out of 9, so there is almost no chance me ever - EVAH! - getting one, unless some poor soul takes pity on me and sends me the Thome One-to-One. (hint. hint.) The set also has an insert set with the same parallels, Race to Aaron highlighting the players who may break Aaron's HR record.

I don't think that Flair Showcase is any better. In fact it has more base cards, more "classes," more insert sets (Perfect 10, numbered to 10, and Wave of the Future) with parallels of each! Rows 3, 2, 1, and 0, in order from easiest to hardest, also boasted seeding in packs that varied with card number:

Each player was featured in four rows with Row 3 being the easiest to obtain from opening packs. This 120 card set features two photos of the player on the front. The Row 3 cards were inserted in different ratios depending on which numbers they are. The complete odds are listed below for each group of 30 cards. Cards numbered 1-30 were seeded one every 9/10th of a pack; cards numbered 31-60 were seeded one every 1.1 packs; cards numbered 61-90 were seeded one every 1.5 packs and cards 91-120 were seeded one every two packs.

Row 2 cards are parallel to regular base set. Similar to the other rows there is different pull ratios for each group of 30 cards as follows. Cards numbered 1 through 30 are seeded one every two packs; cards numbered from 31 through 60 are seeded one every 2.5 packs; cards numbered from 61 through 90 are seeded one every four packs and cards numbered from 91-120 are seeded one every 3.5 packs.

Row 1 cards are parallel to regular base set. Similar to the other rows there is different pull ratios for each group of 30 cards as follows. Cards numbered from 1 through 30 are inserted one every 16 packs; cards numbered from 31 through 60 are inserted one every 24 packs; cards numbered from 61 through 90 are inserted one every six packs and cards numbered from 91 through 120 are inserted one every 10 packs.

Row 0 cards are parallel to regular base set. These cards are serial numbered and get more plentiful as they are numbered higher in the set. Serial numbering is as follows: Cards numbered from 1 through 30 are serial numbered to 250, cards numbered from 31 through 60 are serial numbered to 500, cards numbered from 61 through 90 are serial numbered to 1000 and cards numbered 91 through 120 are serial numbered to 2000.

Not only that, but there was also a Legacy version, each row having each card with only 100 prints, and a Masterpiece version, with each card a 1 of 1.

I know I will never get any of the one-ifs, and I may never get all the Red versions or rarer parallels of each, but I hope to put together Class 1 and Class 2 of TGL, and Row 3 and Row 2 of Flair Showcase. I've got a good jump on it. Look in my wantlists for the cards I need.


2013 Topps for trade

Just opened my jumbo box of 2013 Topps. I love the fact that I get the entire series from the one box, plus a good amount of inserts, and three or four hits. Set - done!

My hits:

auto: Joel Hanrahan
relic: Tony Gwynn
Cy Young pin: Justin Verlander

Black (#/62): 221 (Bell)
Gold (#/2013): 35 (Verlander), 170 (Perez), 207 (Holliday), 311 (Davis)
Green Sparkle: 45, 99, 231, 232, 237, 247, 264 (Halladay CL), 268, 303 (Arod CL), 318

I have a stack of base to trade. Let me know what you want - I'm looking for inserts or hits to my want list.

base: 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 36, 41, 42, 43, 46, 53, 54, 56, 59, 70, 76, 92, 94, 97, 107, 108, 114, 116, 122, 124, 126, 130136, 139, 140, 142, 144, 145, 149, 151, 164, 166, 169, 171, 1752, 173, 175, 177, 181, 189, 192, 193, 195, 198, 205, 206, 219, 227, 228, 236, 239, 240, 248, 253, 273, 276, 280, 282, 286, 289, 291, 298, 300, 301, 303, 308
Chasing the Dream inset: CD-10 (Stanton)

I'm looking for inserts I don't have and Indians parallels (card numbers 63, 141, 267, 323)

Leave a comment if you want to make a trade.


Awesome Trade

I haven't been trading much because I have been student teaching, but I finally got back to it a bit. I've made a few trades and purchases for some sets, but the one trade I was able to make for my PC netted me this beauty:

I did have to give up a short-printed Freddie Freeman autograph, but I love the patches on this one. Low numbered, three colors, auto - and from probably the best player on the Indians. Well, at least they haven't been mathematically eliminated yet.



I can't bite my tongue any longer. The bitterness and divisiveness in this country is sickening. The local elections, state elections, and federal elections are so acrimonious that I am disgusted at any mention of politics. How do you choose between someone who has lined their pockets and hired cronies (I'm looking at you, Josh Mandel and Maggie Brooks!) and an entrenched, old-school, run-of-the-mill party-line voter who has served well but with whom you are finding yourself more at odds with?
The choices are meager and disheartening. However, there is one election in which there is only one real choice.
I am voting for Barack Obama.
I will lay out my reasons here. Some have to do with good things he has done. Some have to do with changes that his challenger would impose. Others are personal choices.
1. President Obama has, at the very least, tried to deliver on his promises. He has wound down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has tried to use the workings of the federal government to help the economy. He has sought concessions and regulatory acceptance from the financial industry, which was running amok. He brought transparency and change to a secretive, vindictive, antagonistic previous administration that spied on its own citizens, lied to them in order to support an invasion, and promoted their own (re: wealthy) at the expense of protection for the masses (re: the other 98% of us).
2. Obama pushed the Congress to approve a watered-down Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., Obamacare) that will provide preventative care to millions who could not afford it or decided to go without it, with potentially disastrous consequences. For those of you who think that it will raise costs for everyone, it actually will reduce costs because, currently, we are already paying for catastrophic care for individuals with no insurance. Ask a doctor.
3. He is not abandoning Israel. He may not agree with everything they do, nor should he blindly toe the line. However, when it comes to important issues, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian nuclear threats, Obama is steadfast in his support of Israel and has its back. Too much is made of perceived slights and disagreements with Netanyahu. As I have come to realize, though, being a leader or an advisor to a leader means listening to advisors whose job it is to make them aware of alternative theories and hard truths. After working in the defense industry for twenty years, I understand that for every issue we are aware of publicly, there are literally dozens of secondary factors that we never hear.
3. Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up? How can anyone be certain of what Romney stands for? He was for universal health care, then he was against it. He was against a woman's right to choose for herself, then softened his opposition to choice and gave caveats. He was for letting the auto industry go bankrupt, and forcefully stated so in an editorial, then denied it. He was ambiguous and strangely silent on financial industry regulation, and still is. He was not involved with Bain Capital after 1999, but was listed as an officer until 2002. If this were someone I worked with, I wouldn't trust him at all to support any project I worked on because I would not know if he would change his mind based on what a superior, friend, or coworker might suggest. His word is not a valuable commodity to him. Take this test: Would you want this man as a partner in business? Would you want him as a confidant? I wouldn't.
4. Romney would take this country back fifty years in morality. It would be a sort of social McCarthyism. Pro-choice supporters would be reduced to speaking in hushed tones while escorting those who need abortions into back alleys and third-world doctor's offices. Birthers and swift-boaters would be elevated over fact-checkers and respected reporters. The Tea Party would have a seat at the policy table, which is a scarier proposition that another Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Speaking of which, should one of the Supremes decide to step down, another conservative justice on the Court would swing the social scale so far to the right that the country may never recover some of the gains it has made over the last half century. Not only would Roe v. Wade be in danger, but anything that smacks of affirmative action, gun control, or social and economic equality would be subject to review via the multitude of challenges brought by reactionary right-wing zealots.
5. Personally, I am sick of hearing about how this country is going to hell, how there will not be any America in four years if President Obama is reelected, how the Republican party needs to "take back" or "save" this country, how Obama is a communist. These arguments sound ridiculous and are typical of most far-right wing rhetoric: short on facts and long on venom.
I may not agree with everything that our current President says or does, but I know that he is more moderate than Romney, and this country does not need a conservative wolf in a moderate sheep's clothing.


More 2012 Topps hits, including SSP!

I felt the burning itch (no, not that burning itch) to find another auto, so I began going pack by pack through my local hobby shop's jumbo hobby packs of 2012 Topps. Didn't get a great auto (Andrew Carignan of the A's), or even a dugout variation, but I did find this snuck into the inserts:

Not bad! The SP variation of #660, Yu Darvish throwing left-handed. (Did you know he was ambidextrous?) Goes for $40-60 on eBay, so that is where I've put it. I have no desire to keep it for a master set - there are too many SPs in Topps to make a true master set. If you want to make me a fabulous offer to trade for it, go ahead, but hurry up. You've got seven days! Or take a chance on the auction.