Wednesday, April 21, 2021

X's and O's


A little over 12 years ago, I bought my first house.  With that first came others.  It was also the first time since my re-entry into card collecting that all of my cards were in one place.  My money was usually budgeted for house stuff, so discounted blasters became a necessary "savings".  The discounted card products of 2008 happened to be the soup du jour, and I happened to be quite fond of all-you-can-eat soup.  The two lines that most became part of my purchase history were 2008 Upper Deck A Piece of History and 2008 Upper Deck X.  '08 APOH still remains my favorite non-Ginter set of all time.  Upper Deck X was merely a toss-in because the box looked cool.  The X base set is pretty terrible; clearly made for the sole purpose of facilitating die cut cards.  I'm okay with that, though, because the die cut cards are worth it.  Then, just to promote stress-induced hair-loss, UD included gold die cut parallels at a rate of 1-per-blaster.  I know, I know, the Xponential inserts are freaking amazing.  Slow down speedy. We'll get there.  

Many collectors try to complete rainbows of one player or complete a set of parallels (ie A&G Minis).  Being of the same nature, I was immediately fascinated with the idea of completing the master set of 2008 UD X.  The idea of a base+2 parallel set fitting nicely in pages intrigued me.  

The base set took no time at all.  I've completed it probably 5 times over at this point.  The die cut set was a little more difficult.  At the time I started collecting it, I think I had 60-70 of the 100.  Through trades and some purchasing, I completed that set about a year after I started trying.  Then came the golds. After some concentrated effort devoid of excess dollars, I managed to get to about 30% of the set.  At 1-per-blaster and only in retail, folks weren't exactly overflowing with them.  I put the set on the back burner, just as I did with this blog, for the better part of 5 years (it's probably longer than that but when you have a kid, time becomes incalculable).  




Before I knew it, along came 2020 and 2021, a flummoxing pair of years.  Suddenly I didn't have to go anywhere or do anything, so I could play with cards again.  I also wasn't spending money on eating out and other things, so the bank account was feeling antsy.  Yay, the hobby is back for me! Things are great! I can go to the store and buy retail again! (I'm not a smart man).  On a side note, is there a better first name for a last card than Lastings? 




One day in early 2021, I saw a house for sale.  I thought, "that's a pretty cool house, but we can't afford to move."  Then I looked up our house.  Over the next few hours, I realized we actually could afford to move.  Before we could really think about it, we were talking with a realtor and starting to organize our house.  I needed to quell the card situation.  The cards had what you would call a little bit of a weight problem.  I came across some cards to keep, some to sell, and some to recycle (1990 dupes/trips/quadrupes/quindrupes/sexdrupes I'm talking to you!)  I ended up selling about half of my physical volume of cards.  Ok, not MY physical volume. I didn't offload unfortunate fatrolls of cards.  I cut my occupied card storage in half.  Not literally cut. Fuck, writing is hard.

I decided that I shouldn't just dump the card money into to house stuff.  I should at least treat myself a little.  The lingering pain of an unfinished set called to me.  I could use the money to bring myself to completion.  The set. The set to completion.  Potato Putahtoh.  I sped off to sportlots.com to see if I could find everything.  Between there and ebay, I found them all.  And I bought them all.  I couldn't wait to page them up and look at my new set.  But I had to wait, because even after the cards arrived, I had to spend forever pulling the little cardboard triangles out of the shittily die cut cards.  Yes I pulled them out.  I don't care if the card tears slightly.  It's my set you PSA-loving piece of anyway I then put them into the pages.  The warm feeling of success rained over me as I'm like 90% sure I'm the only person to ever intentionally complete this set.  It looks so nice in the pages. It's as close to perfection as I ever intended.




Ok we'll talk about the Xponentials now.  They're fantastic. They're shiny and embossed and everything that makes gaudy inserts great.  Of course UD made them imperfect by organizing them by sort-of-initials instead of numbers.  I say "sort-of" because UD completely crapped their pants with this one.  You see, Josh Beckett and Jason Bay are both JBs.  So in the Xponential 1 set, Bay is card #JA and Beckett is card #JB.  So naturally that should follow if they both have cards in Xponential 2, right?.  NOPE-a-roni.  Becket is X2-BE and Bay is X2-JB.  Then, Bay doesn't have an X3, but Beckett does and guess what?  It's back to X3-JB.  


How does no one interrupt the dumbass trying to label by name and tell him just to count to 75?  "I don't know man, 75 seems like a lot of numbers and the alphabet only has 26 letters. Also I'm going to need you to wipe my ass later I had prunes with breakfast"


Imagine making a set as phenomenal as the Xponential 3 and not just using numbers.  Also imagine if Blogger didn't change the damn font every time I load a picture. 


The idea that in 2021 a Vlad Guerrero was the last card I needed to complete a master set and I didn't have to shell out ungodly amounts of money is pretty amazing. Glad it was the old fart.

And thusly henceforth wherefore, I have come full O on X.  Likewise, I've come full circle on this house.  This time next week, I'll still happily own my 2008 Upper Deck X set while not owning this house.  I've downsized my card collection just in time to move to a bigger house.  The Me who bought those discounted blasters twelve years ago wouldn't understand any of this.  I'd just tell him that none of it is supposed to make sense; it's just supposed to happen.

Monday, February 22, 2021

RIP the pack

Reconciling expenses at the end of the month, I'd put the $33 Wal-Mart entry in the "grocery" tab. I knew full well I'd spent the better half of that charge on baseball cards. That's the cost of sending me to the grocery store, I suppose.  Doing this in the winter was always the best.  It was cold enough outside that I didn't have to worry about perishables as I sat in the parking lot ripping into the more satisfying portion of the purchase. 

Inspect the pack.  Do I open it from the top? Maybe I'll just tear the flap on this one.  Yeah, that worked.  

These days, my Wal-Mart purchases lean further to milk-and-eggs than wax-and-cardboard.  I no longer have to catch up with my family in the Target housewares section after browsing the card shelves.  I don't have to invent justifications when my wife wonders why "a pack" turned into "a blaster".  Good thing she didn't catch my sleight of hand as I slid two rack packs beneath the most concealing wares in the cart.

Slide the wrapper off, trying not to peek at the back card.  Square the cardboard stack with my fingers.  Turn them to reveal the top card. Here we go.

There are no packs.  The shelves are emptier now than when they used to be empty.  They used to be empty with Topps Lineage or Panini Triple Play or Upper Deck Documentary.  Now, they're just empty.  The display boxes have been reversed, flipped upside down, or even discarded; each of those three configurations perhaps more fitting than the one before it.  I just want a pack.  

It's Joey Votto, the best player that no one cares about.  Second card is an Indian or a Cub, or a Cub who was traded to the Indians.  No one cares about that guy, he's probably card #236.  Three more cards until the insert.  No one cares about them.

The absence of packs may be the straw that broke the camel's back.  My humps are much more pronounced now than they were when I started this blog 10 years younger.  My back can only support so much.  I suppose the pack drought is just an inevitable step in the waning of my hobby existence.  Scott Sizemore, David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, and BJ Melvin BJ Upton are retired.  I sold my Justin Verlander collection.  I'm using the proceeds to eradicate my want lists.  I focus my time on other things.  I discovered Pokemon last year and have been sharing that with my daughter.  Of course, the buying fury has come for Pokemon as well.  

A no-name, a rookie no-name, and a Yankee.  The insert is David Wright.  I needed it.  Now, I have it. The last six cards are probably fine.  Who cares. I got the card I wanted. This pack was perfect.  The Wright goes in a binder and the I-don't-cares get carefully sorted into a box. Secretly, I care about them.  

Maybe I'm just aging.  Maybe it's just stress.  Maybe it's shifting priorities.  Maybe it's an unprecedented time in history.  Maybe it's definitely all of those.  For the first time in my life, I have all of my non-personal-collection baseball cards sorted.  I want them, but I don't want them.  I want to put them back on the shelf, but I want to hand them off to someone else's storage space.  I want to cherish them, but I don't even want to look at them.  I'm probably going to part with them.  I'll still have plenty of cards that I love and want to thumb through and share with others.  

I think it took writing this to be at peace with the decision to reduce my cardboard footprint.  

I also think I'll hang on to at least one empty box. You never know when you'll find some groceries.

Friday, July 10, 2020

I bought a pack of cards

Oh, hey guys.  I bought a pack of cards.  Doesn't happen that much these days.  A lot of the guys I collect have moved on to greener pastures, and it's hard to get into it for me now.  I have other hobbies, too, that I'm putting my time into. It's all so exhausting.  But, the itch never fully goes away.  My old scanner no longer works, which is probably the greatest cause for my never posting on here.


The Nats beat the Stros in the World Series last year.   I know that, because I googled it.  I was pretty sure, but couldn't remember if that was definitely last year or not.  I'm getting older and my brain confuses me. It's all so exhausting. And, of course, we've been in 2020 for what feels like a lifetime. I know who both of these guys are.


I didn't know Yu was a Cub.  And I think he is the only of the 9 above that I know anything about. Maybe Maikel Franco was on the Phillies? I vaguely remember from Allen & Ginter of years past.


These cards are horizontal. I knew that.


This is apparently the best card in the pack (Var SP Yeah You Know Me).  That would be cool if it wasn't ugly as shit. Wasn't there also a racism thing or something with Hader's tweets one time?  I can't keep track of it all; it's all so exhausting.



Then there's these two cards that make me grin ear-to-ear.  Votto Chrome Turkey Red is just an awesome looking card.  Doesn't hurt that he's one of the best players and arguably the most underrated players of the last 10-15 years.  Lastly, there's a new Zim for my collection. One pack, one PC card.  Gotta love it.  I don't feel like I deserved a good pack when I haven't posted anything in ages.  

I won't be buying my usual case of A&G this year.  I'll miss it but don't feel up to the time commitment that comes with it.  I'm also trying to get up the energy to cut my cardboard footprint in half, but they're all upstairs.

It's all so exhausting.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Friday, September 21, 2018

Gint-A-Cuffs X - Packs 17-24


Alright, this is it, the last hurrah.  We have one hit left.  My point total stands at 93.5.

Pack 17
Montgomery, Yankee
Harper, Nationals, FP (+1+4)
Contreras A&G Back Mini
World’s Greatest Beaches
Pack Score: 8
Box Score: 101.5
Pace: 132.176470588235

😀 Bryciepoo!

Pack 18
Riley Mini, -1
Ripken Fantasy Goldmine
Pack Score: 1
Box Score: 102.5
Pace: 127.666666666667

😦 Riley strikes again.  After Jackie Robinson, Ripken may have the best modern cards.

Pack 19
Indigenous Heroes
Baseball Equipment of the Ages
Pack Score: 4
Box Score: 106.5
Pace: 127.421052631579

😐

Pack 20
Larkin, FP list
Betts Framed Mini Relic
Carew World Talent
Pack Score: 10
Box Score: 116.5
Pace: 134.4

😁 Good, my last hit had a frame.  A&G frames are the best. I also love when folks pick the old school players for their favorite.

Pack 21
Magnificent Moons
Pack Score: 2
Box Score: 118.5
Pace: 131.571428571429

🌚 That's no moon. Ok, so it's a moon.  The Moon. And it's magnificent. but not that magnificent of a card. It's a not-so-magnificent Magnificent Moon Moon.

Pack 22
Torres, Yankee
Bruce Homerun Challenge
Moustakas A&G Back Mini
Gehrig Fantasy Goldmine, Yankee (+2-1)
Pack Score: 3
Box Score: 121.5
Pace: 130.090909090909

😐 Damn yankees.

Pack 23
Folio of Fears
World’s Greatest Beaches
Pack Score: 5
Box Score: 126.5
Pace: 130.826086956522

😏 Ok, ok, ok.

Pack 24
Sanchez World Talent, Yankee (+2-1)
Pack Score: 1
Box Score: 127.5
Pace: 127.5

💩



Welp, that ended with a thud. Or a turd.  Or a Yankee.  Potato Puhtahtoe.

The hot box bonus may be the only thing that saves me, but I'm not too hopeful.  Probably just enough to get me in the Top 5 but not the Top 1.


Anyway, final score:

127.5

Thanks for following along. Extra special thanks to the Commissioner!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Gint-A-Cuffs X - Packs 9-16


After the boxloader and first 8 packs, I'm sitting at 62 points.  Of course, that includes a +20 hot box bonus.  Here's what I got for the next 8 packs:

Pack 9
Baseball Equipment of the Ages
Pack Score: 2
Box Score: 64
Pace: 125.666666666667

😑 The Baseball Equipment of the Ages is a nice set, but it's not only-point-scorer-in-the-pack nice.

Pack 10
Turner, Nationals
Moncada Black Border Mini
Carew Fantasy Goldmine
Pack Score: 7
Box Score: 71
Pace: 132.6

😊 Pretty good with a Nat, a black border mini, and an insert

Pack 11
Smith, +1
Wiseau A&G Back Mini
Magnificent Moons
Pack Score: 5
Box Score: 76
Pace: 133.909090909091

😉 Cool Wiseau mini, cool Claire Smith, and cool Moon

Pack 12
Chapman Full-Size Relic, Yankee (+5÷2)
Turner Mini, Nationals
Schoop World Talent
Pack Score: 5.5
Box Score: 81.5
Pace: 136

😓 C'mon man.  I've always laughed at the guys who have to divide by 2. At least the Turner mini softens the blow.

Pack 13
James, +1
Indigenous Heroes
World’s Greatest Beaches
Pack Score: 5
Box Score: 86.5
Pace: 136.846153846154

😏 Okay.

Pack 14
Ohtani, FP List
Stugotz Mini, -1
Ruth Fantasy Goldmine, Yankee (+2-1)
Pack Score: 2
Box Score: 88.5
Pace: 132.428571428571

💰 Ok, so not a lot of points, but a hot box Ohtani is money in the bank.

Pack 15
Baseball Equipment of the Ages
Pack Score: 2
Box Score: 90.5
Pace: 128.6

😑 I repeat: The Baseball Equipment of the Ages is a nice set, but it's not only-point-scorer-in-the-pack nice.

Pack 16
Rivera, Yankee
Robinson A&G Back Mini
Quintana World Talent
Pack Score: 3
Box Score: 93.5
Pace: 126.75

🎨 Low points, but Jackie minis are flat out works of art.


Well, I'm a pack or two or three below 100 with 8 packs to go.  My pace has slown considerably.  Yes, slown.  With the first two hits being full-size relics, I'm at least hopeful for something different for the third.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Gint-A-Cuffs X - Packs 1-8


His Excellency, The Commissioner, hath mandated that a hot box shall be worth 20 bonus points. Therefore, I start this tally with +7 for the Boxloader and +20 for getting a hot box.



Pack 1
World’s Hottest Peppers Mini
Magnificent Moons
Pack Score: 5
Box Score: 32
Pace: 147

😃 5 points is a decent pack score.  The hottest peppers minis are pretty cool.

Pack 2
Strasburg, Nationals, FT
Bullpen Car, +1
Bryant Mini, FP List
Jackson Fantasy Goldmine, Yankee (+2-1)
Pack Score: 6
Box Score: 38
Pace: 159

😁 A Nat, a sweet bullpen car bonus, a Favorite Player List mini, and an insert.  Perfect non-hit pack if not for the damn Yankee.

Pack 3
World’s Greatest Beaches
Pack Score: 2
Box Score: 40
Pace: 131

😕 One insert...meh.

Pack 4
Ozuna Black Border Mini
Choo World Talent
Pack Score: 6
Box Score: 46
Pace: 141

😐 I know 6 is a good pack score, but it could have been better.

Pack 5
Evans, -1
Odor A&G Back Mini
Baseball Equipment of the Ages
Pack Score: 3
Box Score: 49
Pace: 132.6

😐 The Evans anti-bonus is a bummer, but the Baseball Equipment of the Ages is a great insert set.

Pack 6
Chapman, Yankee
Jeter, Yankee
Smoltz Fantasy Goldmine
Pack Score: 0
Box Score: 49
Pace: 115

😒 Seriously, one insert completely counteracted by a pair of Yanks

Pack 7
Murphy, Nationals
Zimmerman, Nationals
Rendon, Nationals
Indigenous Heroes Mini
Magnificent Moons
Pack Score: 7
Box Score: 56
Pace: 126.428571428571

😁 Triple Fave Team Points!

Pack 8
Riley, -1
Schoop Full-Size Relic
Perez World Talent
Pack Score: 6
Box Score: 62
Pace: 132

😐 Not good to have a neutral reaction to your first hit. The Riley didn't help.


So, after the first 1/3 of the box, I'm on a 132-point pace.  That's not bad, and the hot box bonus certainly makes things interesting.  Still a lot of cards to go.