Friday, March 30, 2018

A Call to Revolution!!! (or How I'll be spending my Summer Vacation)

I tell ya, everybody, I have been PERCOLATING these past few days. And it's not just because of the start of the baseball season. I've come up with a fairly awesome idea that - if it works - could create this year's greatest set of baseball cards.

First off, Topps Live and Topps Now are pretty good ideas... good IDEAS. The execution leaves a lot to be desired, especially for small market fans. But I really dig the idea that a set could be a living, active thing, being a document of a season. This was attempted, in a way, in 2009 Upper Deck Documentary. That set, however, was neither really a good idea or an example of good execution. When sorting my Brewers Fs this past week, I found the card for Game 162 of the Brewers 2008 season - when they beat the Cubs on a Ryan Braun homer to break a 26-year playoff drought. It was one of the most exciting and memorable games in franchise history. And the UD Doc card features the same picture of Prince Fielder at Wrigley Field (the game was in Milwaukee) that 30 other cards in the set use. Barf city.

What I wanted was a living documentary set that features only the Brewers and isn't overly expensive and features ALL the Brewers and has fun pictures and cool backside copy. Since no one is going to do this for me, I guess I need to do it my damn self.

There is a custom card app called "Rookies." I've used it once before, to order a set of cards featuring our pet rats for my wife for last Christmas. I had a "eureka" moment a few days ago when I realized that, using this app, my dream set could become a reality. 

So I started playing around with it. The app does have limitations. You must use one of their pre-designed templates and color selection is limited. The backside designs are.. not great... and leave a kind of limited space for text. The cards themselves are pretty nice... sorta of like early 90s O Pee Chee, if you can remember those. They're not Stadium Club stock, but that's not what I want for this set anyway.

This is the look I've chosen for my base cards. It's actually a pretty great design, in my opinion. It would fit right in with anything Topps made 1971-1982. I added some of my own touches, like the lower case team name. I would have liked a blue/gold color scheme, but had to settle for this orange/blue instead, but the more I see it, the more I really like it. And here we have what probably no Topps issue will have this year, a dual-position card for new part-time first-sacker Ryan Braun. And a pretty cool pic, too. 

So yeah, the backs are not as great. But not awful. I can fit about 50 words in the middle, with another 20 or so in the "fact box." Still, far more text than anything you'll find in 2018. Plus, I really have fun writing these. 

Rookies sells cards in multiples of 20 ($13 plus shipping). So, I envision this set being probably 5-6 series of 20 cards each. The Brewers used about 50 different players last season, so I am thinking the set will be a pretty even split between players and these season highlight cards. These are the Topps Now part of the thing, and what I'm really looking forward to when I flip through these cards again in years to come. Did you know the Brewers won the Cactus League this spring? It's not a big deal, but it'll be a nice thing to remember. 

I went with a different backside for these. The can take more text, but it comes out in tiny, tiny print. Anyway, I get to have fun with that, too. 

Did you see the Brewers' Sandlot video? It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I think this team is going to be a lot of this year as well. And I think it needs a card to commemorate it. Another limitation of the app is that you can't alternate between vertical and horizontal lay-outs. They have vertical templates, but they're all kind of lousy and wouldn't match the rest of the set. This picture (i had to trim out poor Hernan Perez) would have been much better sideways. 

And how about coaches' cards? Hell yeah! My set will have them. Here, I borrow the old 70s "as player/ as coach" thing from Topps. 

And if you happened to catch the Brewers yesterday, you know they won in exciting fashion, aided by Ji-Man Choi, the last man to make the team and the the guy who probably won't be with the team in a few days (they'll be adding another pitcher or two after the coming off-day). Ji-Man's heroics get the honors of the first regular-season highlight card... with a picture from actual event!

This format also gives me the freedom to use photos from this season as I put the regular player cards together. I hadn't planned on doing a Chase Anderson card in this first series, but then he face-planted "sliding" into home plate yesterday afternoon, which resulted in this great photo. How can I not use this totally unflattering image on his card? 

My goodness! I haven't been this excited about a set in maybe forever. 

Of course, there are some possible snags. First, the quality on these images might not translate real well to the printed product. I'm trying to use pics of as high resolution as I can find, but I am kind of anxious to see how they look IRL. Also, Rookies might not print cards using MLB images and real players. The app is marketed as something to make personal cards using images and likenesses of which you have ownership over. But I've known some other collectors who use the app to make cards of real players (mostly older guys for All-Time Team sets) and have had no issues. But I think if I'm just ordering one card of each (so it's obvious I'm not reselling them) they'll probably let this slide. After all, they're really just a printing service. (UPDATE - Browsing the Rookies Twitter feed, it seems that they have no issue printing cards of real ballplayers. WHEW) But still, I'll be a lot more excited about this project when I get those first cards in my hands. 

There was some chatter on twitter about other collectors doing the same treatment for their favorite teams.... anyone else wanna join me? If we could get 30 people doing this, we could create a massive, 5,000 card all 1 of 1 master set of the entire season! Middle relievers would be recognized! Aaron Judge would get as much attention as Whit Merrifield! Variations would be eliminated! The RC bug would be a thing of the past! We shall write our own sell sheets! We shall insert, not be inserted upon! We shall boom while others break!


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Down on E-Street: A Crew-neverse Update

This is going to take a lot longer than I first thought. I guessed about a month, but that's probably a pipe dream. Anyway, there is still time to get in on the contest to guess how many different Brewers cards I have in my collection. 

Visit THIS POST to get an idea of what I have and enter your guess. And since it has been slower going than I anticipated in doing these updates, I will give everyone an extra week to enter... so make your guess by 11:59 central time on April 3. 

And I promised prizes for this great guess-off, to be reveled as we go merrily along. Here is the first item from the bundle the winner will take home:

That's a TTM autograph of Tom Selleck on the (sorta) famous 1992 UD SP4 card promoting the film "Mr. Baseball." That movie was ok, nothing fantastic. But not awful.

As for the update on the count, I am now through the "E" pile in my sort. My scoreboard tally is 1,719 different Brewers. The Mayor of E-Street is pitcher Cal Eldred, who runs away with the title with 82 different cards. It really wasn't even close, second place was Johnny Estrada with 13. Overall, Eldred's card tally is as impressive as his workload as a starter - he ranks #2 so far behind Ryan Braun, who continues to lead the pack with 178 cards.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

How Large is My Crew-neverse? A Contest!

I've been a bit off the blog grid recently, for various reasons. So, I wanted to take a moment to reengage by working my latest project into a GRAND AWESOME and STUPENDOUS contest... I call it the "How Large is my Crew-neverse?" contest!

At the moment, I am in the midst of my Big Brewers Sort - organizing ALL of my Brewers cards by player and entering the results into the Trading Card Database. I have made it through my A and B players so far, which has yielded 932 different Brewers cards. 

UPDATE - I should say that this number also includes those stupid 2009 UD Documentary cards, which I entered all at once. 

The contest is simple... guess how many different Brewers cards I will end up with once I am all done with the big sort. To give you a general idea of what I am working with...

Here is monster box number 1. You can see the remnants of my previous Brewers sort in here.

And monster box number 2. This one has the start of my new sort.

And this box...

...which contains C and D players I am in the midst of sorting. 

And my All-Time Brewers binder...

...can't forget these! (I should also mentioned that this does include Pilots cards)

Now, some of these cards will undoubtedly be duplicates. Those I set aside and do not count. I also posted recently about my confusion over whether or not to count certain cards as Brewers. I am still working on that, but there are so few instances of these cards I don't think it would really affect anyone's guess. I am ONLY counting what is seen in these images towards the final tally, however (for purposes of this contest, anyway). So if someone sends me a pair of 500 ct boxes next week, those will be set aside for right now. 

So make your guess! The nearest to the final total wins. The prize package is yet to be determined, but I have some ideas of what I am going to include and will be dropping some previews of the final haul as I complete the sort. I am also thinking of holding off on a "centerpiece" item for the package until we have a winner and try to tailor the big prize to whomever happens to guess closest. But this will be a pretty sweet package overall.

I am going to get crazy and give people til the end the day (central time) on March 27, the last day before the regular season starts April 3rd, to enter a guess. I will be posting updates as I make my way through the letters on twitter (@mjpmke) if you want to follow along. I imagine the sort will take me probably another month to complete and once I get all the entries I'll do some kind of leaderboard post so everyone can follow along.

Comment on THIS post to enter your guess! And good luck!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Brewer by Any Other Name: How do You Define a Card's Team Designation?

I’ve seeing someone else, blogosphere.

Yes, it’s time I told you.

I’ve joined up with a team collectors group and have been making pretty all of my recent trades with that gang. It wasn’t something I planned on doing… it just kind of, well, happened.

Ok, that was my dumb little joke to start things out. I’ll drop it now. But it does set up what I’ve been up to lately. I have embarked on the BIG BREWERS SORT… a massive effort to get my 9,000ish Brewers cards into some kind of order. I’ve broken everything into letter piles and have started breaking those into player stacks. Then those stacks get sorted and everything goes into a monster box. This will eliminate all my doubles and permit me to enter EVERYTHING I’ve got into the Trading Card Database. I started last week and can tell already it’s going to take A LOT longer than I anticipated. I’ve slogged through the A and B piles so far and found 932 different Brewers cards therein. I am doing this in anticipation of all the Brewers cards I will be getting from this trade group. The basic idea with the group is that each team has a collector and people sent team packages to each other whenever they have something worth sending. The group has apparently been without a “Brewers Guy” for some time, so everyone’s Brewers reserves are well-stocked. When I joined up, the other members sent me messages that sounded vaguely threatening. “You have no idea what you’re in for!” etc. So, I want to be ready for the onslaught.

But, as I do with most things, this project has me a little twisted up about things. I am sticking to Major League sets for the sort, but including players who never made the Bigs (which I guess makes me a Khalid Ballouli collector now). But what makes a card a Brewers card?

I had this in my Brewers box…

That’s Nori Aoki from 2009. It was made for the World Baseball Classic when Aoki was still playing in Japan. Three years later, he signed with the Brewers and I picked this up because it was his only American issue at the time. But this isn’t a Brewers card.

But what about this one?

That’s a Ryan Braun WBC card, also from 2009. It was made when he was a Brewer, but make no mention on the team on the card. It’s closer to a Brewers card, but I don’t think it really counts, as Braun is repping Team USA.

So, the uniform counts, right? Sure. So how about this…

…this is some weird-ass Donruss issue that originally came encased. You’re darn right I cracked that SOB open and pawed at those swatches. It’s what the good lord intended. Anyway, another example of a card made when a guy played for the Brewers, but who is not in uniform and with no mention of the team. And what team is Sexson repping here? The MLBPA? Hmmmm. This one, I’m a bit torn on.

Speaking of laundry, here is Paul Molitor, dressed in the classic Brewers blue and gold…

…under (ugh) a Blue Jays wordmark. It even has a transaction bubble, which reads “chased out of Milwaukee by a GM who had no clue what he was doing and an owner too damn invested in orchestrating his take-over of the sport to give a shit about retaining a franchise icon at a reasonable price.” (squints) Or something along those lines. Heartbreaking as this is, it’s ain’t a Brewers card. It’s a Jays card with an out-of-date photo.

So, the team indicated outweighs a jersey? Ok. How about this…

…Obviously, Jackie Robinson did not suit up for the 1997 Brewers, but this is a Brewers-branded card in a Brewers team set. Even the Trading Card Database classifies this as a Brewers card. I might consider this part of the Brewers collection just for fun.

But what of this?

Here is Chris Bosio with a transaction bubble (stripe?) indicating his shift to the Mariners. BUT, it’s undeniable a Brewers card aside from that stripe. Is this more a Brewers card or a Mariners card? Can it be both? Can a card be partially a Brewers card? Does this look forward or backwards? Hmmmmmm.

Now THIS is obviously a Brewers card.

Looky there… it’s Ricky Bones in a Brewers uni, with a Brewers logo. Slam dunk, eh?

Hold the phone…

…Ah-ha! The stats on the back correctly state that he finished the 1996 season with the Yankees. The Brewers traded him at the end of August (remember when base sets came out really, REALLY early?) and Upper Deck did not have time to fix his card aside from those three letters on the stat line. Oddly enough, Bones only appeared in one other 1997 set – Fleer Ultra – which depicted him with the Reds, the team he played for in ’97. This is essentially the same thing as one of those Topps “NOW WITH XXX” cards, only without the note on the front.

So which of these would YOU consider to be Brewers cards? They all have at least a partial claim (except for Aoki), but a case can also be made against each. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Listing Badly: Big Scores on eBay and the start of a 1971 Project

Even though my posts do not reflect it, I have been a pretty busy collector as of late. I’m in the midst of a pretty significant re-org of my stuff and, having joined a team collectors trading group, I am shipping much of the “dead” parts of my collection to those who will enjoy it more. I’m getting streamlined and more focused. It’s a hell of a nice feeling.

My Topps sets, for example, have received a significant boost lately, thanks to a go-to seller of mine on the blowout forums. I recently purchased over 3,000 1998-2009 Topps flagship cards for the incredibly reasonable price of 1.5 cents per. He turned a few mediocre piles of mine into nearly-completed sets. Just take a look at my wantlists… look how damn neat and tidy those last entries are! Sometimes I just look at my wantlists, just to see how far they’ve come.

But I’ve also had an inkling lately to start a BIG project. A challenge I can really focus on. And, thanks to Gavin’s recent trade, I’ve finally found one: the iconic 1971 Topps baseball set.

Hot damn, those are gorgeous cards! Gavin’s package contained about 200, which got a good ways into starting the set. But I felt like I need another big bundle before I could really start into this thing. I had been watching a few lots on eBay and managed to scoop up a 380-some card lot for just under a hundred bucks. Like most lots, they had a picture of the stack and of a few key cards, with no complete list of what was included. Even with most of the cards coming blind, I felt like it was a pretty good deal. Here is what was showing:

Reggie! A beautiful card and one of the key early cards in the set… just two years removed from his 1969 RC.

Hit king! Always a pricey guy to find for these vintage sets.

Pops! The Pirates in this set look great with that black border.

Johnny Bench. Another top name in 1970s cardboard.

Joe Morgan’s final card as a ‘Stro. I already had this one in my collection, but it’s such a pretty damn thing, I’ll find use for another.

And Hammerin’ Henry! This came in an unfortunate run of less-than-stellar cards of the homer king. Remember his 1970 Topps card? What a woofer. And that came after two years in a row using the same picture. There’s nothing wrong with it, I guess, it’s just kind of bland.

Anyway, this is what I had bid on. A big chunk of the set, with a few key players included. But when I actually got the cards in the mail, I realized that the seller had left a number of really great cards in the stack when listing this lot.

McCovey and Maz! I definitely would have mentioned these if I had listed this item. HOFers are always a draw.

And as it would have been with these two. What a great-looking card of Lefty, too.

And another pair of mystery HOFers! And man, dig Santo’s arms. No wonder dude could mash the ball in a pitcher’s era.

And more Hall of Famers! The odd thing is, the listing came with lots of photos of the more mediocre cards. Why not snap a pic of these guys?

Or these guys?

OR OF THE ONLY HOF ROOKIE CARD IN THE SET??? This card has more value than anything included in the images but for Reggie and Aaron. Why keep it a secret?

Or this guy? The other big RC in the set.

Man, I hate to knock someone’s eBay technique when it works out in my favor, but damn, dude, get it together.

And if this wasn’t enough, check out what I picked up just a few days ago for the price of blaster at Target…

Not a bad deal at all for the priciest single card in the set. And it’s in passable condition, too. But this was also a weird listing, definitely from someone who didn’t really know cards. It was listed as “1971 Topps Nolan Ryan plus another 70s Nolan.” Hmmmm. What I paid overall was about what I wanted to spend for the ’71, so what is this other “70s Nolan?”


Yeah, that’ll do.

So I’m on my way with 1971. If anyone else is doing this, please let me know. I’ve got a stack of 150 or so dupes that I’d gladly deal for my needs. Head back to my wantlist tab to check them out.