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Monday, December 26, 2011

Trade With Juuust a Bit Outside

Not thinking that the mail would be delivered Dec. 24, I received quite a surprise when I opened up my mailbox to find a padded envelope from Kyle at Juuust a Bit Outside. In exchange for a couple of relic cards, Kyle agreed to knock out a significant chunk off my want list.

The biggest portion of the trade was 2011 Allen & Ginter. The great thing about going after this set, is that so is everyone else, so it's easy to fill your set needs via trade. Kyle killed off about 2/3 of my remaining needs, plus 11 SPs which were a BIG help. I got a couple of cards from the seemingly-impossibe-to-complete Heritage set and the it's-only-a-matter-of-time-before-it's-done 2011 Topps.

Thanks for a great trade Kyle! Getting ready for Christmas with a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old has delayed me a bit in getting your cards out, but I hope to have them in the mail within the next couple of days.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trade With The Cardboard Don, Or How Marian Hossa is the Biff Tannen to Pittsburgh's George McFly

I just completed my first trade with WickedOrtega from the newly-renamed Cardboard Don. After posting some new cards on my trade bait page, he sent me an e-mail, I found some stuff I liked, and the rest, as they say, is history. Here's the best of what I got.

Now, in the year that I have been actively blogging about the hobby, one (of many) complaints I keep hearing about Upper Deck products (a complaint that I share, BTW) is how in the case of free agent signings or trades, the pictures don't always match up with the team logo on the card. This Marian Hossa, however, takes it one step further, in that THREE teams are represented. Detroit Red Wings logo, Pittsburgh Penguins photo, and Atlanta Thrashers jersey swatches. A pretty cool anomally if you ask me.

As a Penguins fan, here's my take on the whole Marian Hossa thing. If this was in any sport but hockey, this would have been the biggest sports story of the year. Imagine Josh Hamilton's contract being up, and instead of staying with the Rangers, who he just went to the World Series with, he signs a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, because, as he puts it, the Cardinals give him the best chance to win the World Series. Of course, the season goes by, and in the next years World Series the Rangers and Cardinals meet AGAIN, this time with Hamilton on the opposition.

Now, a lot of Penguin fans had a great deal of animosity toward Hossa, and understandably so. This wasn't just a case of the player leaving for more money, in fact, I believe he took a pay cut. To bolt for the very team that defeated you in the finals was a slap in the face. So, the Penguins and Red Wings meet again for the Stanley Cup, and as fate would have it, Pittsburgh won, giving Marian Hossa two Stanley Cup Losses with two different teams. The funny thing was, when Hossa signed the following year with the Chicago Blackhawks, Penguin fans still booed him with the same resentment that they had the year before, which I didn't quite get.

Once Pittsburgh beat Detroit, game over. The story ends. Hossa bolt, thereby insulting the Penguins and their fans, but in the end, Pittsburgh embarasses him, by showing him that he made the WRONG decision. That's it. Continuing to boo him after that was just mean. Take, for example, Back to the Future. Biff Tannen spends most of the movie insulting, berating and humiliating George McFly. Now when McFly gets his revenge at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance and kisses Lorraine Baines, he doesn't continue victimizing Biff. He moves on with his life, because he won. He got the girl. In fact, he even patronizes Biff's auto shop when they are older.

I guess, in the same way, I was actually happy for Hossa when he won the cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. We won the battle. He lost. Let's move on.

Wicked also sent me a Jim Thome bat relic from 2011 Topps Heritage. For one, the heritage relic cards in 2011 look AWESOME. When you are using an old design with a relativel new concept, sometimes they don't always match up, but this year, they worked out perfectly. As somewhat of a Twins fan, it is great that this card features him in a Minnesota uniform. Also, since he just hit homerun number 600, isn't a bat card the type of relic you'd want from this guy?

If anyone isn't reading the Cardboard Don, go check it out. A great blogger and a great trader.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some MAJOR Ebay Wins

Well, I had a pretty good week on ebay. Most of the time, I try pick up some trade bait along with my keepers, but these are all mine. Two orders were placed, and for a RIDICULOUSLY low price, I was able to get my hands on TEN autographed Chicago Cubs cards.

The first order was for an autographed card from 1999 Hillshire Farms Home Run Heroes. There were three cards in the set, all of them autographed. Banks was joined by Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew. The interesting thing behind this, was that I didn't even win the auction. I placed the opening bid of $5 with one day left. I wasn't able to get online as the auction was closing, and I lost, with it ending at somewhere around $12. One day later, I received a second-chance offer to purchase the item for my $5 bid, plus $2 for shipping. SEVEN DOLLARS!!! ERNIE BANKS!!! ON-CARD AUTO!!!


The next auction was for a 9-card lot of autographed Cubs cards. Most of these kinds of auctions are just for scrubs that can't be sold on their own, but there were quite a few good ones in here. Like the Banks, I placed the opening bid. It was set at $9.99 plus $4 shipping, so I place an $11 max, to even the total at $15. After the auction ended, that proved to be a wise decidion, as it closed right at $11 + $4. Here's what I got:

2008 Triple Threads Auto/Triple Jersey Carlos Marmol 65/75
2007 Exquisite Rookie Signatures Auto Carlos Zambrano 12/15
2005 Cracker Jack Auto Angel Guzman

2011 Topps Finest Auto Andrew Cashner
2011 Gypsy Queen Auto Andrew Cashner
2011 Topps Auto Carlos Pena
2010 Bowman Auto D.J. LeMahieu
2009 O-Pee-Chee Auto Sean Marshall
2011Topps Auto Marlon Byrd

The two big ones, obviously, are the triple relic of their closer, Carlos Marmol, and an incredibly low serial-numbered (/15) card of their talented, albeit insane, pitcher, Carlos Zambrano. Just those two would be worth that 15 bucks. Everything else, I see as a bonus. Also, I think I'm the LAST person to acquire that Andrew Cashner Gypsy Queen auto. Not sure what took me so long.

So, 10 autos, including one hall-of-famer, acquired for a grand total of.......

22 DOLLARS!!!!!

Not bad at all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trade With Nomo's Sushi Platter

After inquiring about a Shawn Green dual relic that I had, Spiegel, who runs the Nomo's Sushi Platter blog, and I worked out a trade. Here's the best of what I got.

I will always welcome a good Kerry Wood relic, such as this one from 2004 Fleer Tradition. What I really like about it is that not only is the pinstripe vertical, like any pinstriped swatch should be, but it is placed directly in the center of the circle.

He also sent a few set needs from 2011's Allen & Ginter, Gypsy Queen, and Heritage. The one thing this made me realize is, how did I not already have a Starlin Castro card from Allen & Ginter?

And then, of course, the team stack, full of Cicago Cubs cards from various years.

Thanks for a great trade, Spiegel. Your package will ship out over the next couple of days.

Blogger of the Year Nominations at Jaybarkerfan's Junk

The Jaybarkerfan's Junk blog is taking nominations for blogger of the year. Not only will he be recognizing the winning bloger, but the person who nominates the winner will also be eligible for prizes. Go check out his blog, and voice your opinion on who you have really enjoyed reading in 2011.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Trip to the LCS

With my mom in town visiting, that meant the wife and I had a night out on the town with free babysitting. Still needing to get a little Christmas shopping done, we headed to the mall, which meant that my wife was going store-to-store, while I spent an hour and a half, at my local card shop, Big Nick's Sports Cards. I usually hit up their "5-for-$15" auto/relic box, and this day was no exception. As an added bonus, the guy who runs the store let me get an extra card for my 15 bucks. Here's what I got:

2010 ITG Decades: 1980s - Brad Park autograph

2010-2011 SP Authentic Eric Tangradi Autograph 52/999

2002-2003 UD Authentics Eddie Griffin Autograph

2001-2002 Fleer Force Steve Francis Jersey 39/200

2009-2010 SP Game Used Yao Ming/Andrea Bargnani Dual Jersey 73/499

2008 Donruss Sports Legends Bela Karolyi Memorabilia 163/250

I usually get a satisfactory pull out of these, but the fact that three out of six were autographs, all on-card, was extra cool. The memorabilia cards were all cool in their own right. The Stevie Franchise appears to be a swatch of the elastic material from either the neckline or armholes, the dual relic is of a potential future hall-of-famer, and how could you turn away a Karolyi relic? Back when I was writing for a newspaper down in Huntsville, Texas, I interviewed him at the opening of his new training center, and he is EVERY bit the character you would expect him to be.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Card Draft Goods From Tomahawk Chopping

Derek over at Tomahawk Chopping held a card draft a few weeks back, which gave me a great chance to get some pretty cool cards to add to my collection. I got a couple of hits, a couple of Rynos and all sorts of assorted Cubs.

The two Sandbergs is actually what convinced me to sign up for this draft. I got the Joe Benson from the auto round and the Hank Greenberg from the relic round, and that framed Josh Hamilton is just a sweet looking card.

Topps Finest is a great looking set, but man, these cards are just as warped as 2010 Topps Chrome ever was.

Speaking of Topps Chrome, I picked up quite a few refractors, and a Josh Hamilton card that pays tribute to a Topps set from WAAAAAAAAAY back when.

Some Bowman, which is good, because this way I don't have to waste spend any money on packs.

Bowman Platinum is a nice looking set, but this shows why I actually like serial numbers on parallels. Three different colors and I have no idea which is more rare than the others. In fact, I don't even know what the BASE cards are. Oh well.

Some cool-looking Topps parallels and a few Topps 60 inserts. I still like the diamond parallel set, too.

I absolutely love these Masterpieces framed parallels. Not only do they look great, but a lot of the vintage players are depicted in their milestone moments.

If anyone hasn't participated in a card draft like this, go ahead and give it a shot. It's a fantastic way to get some interesting cards at a pretty low price.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(Contest) Pimpin' Ain't Easy - Diamond King

Hey everyone, go check out a seven-part contest over at the Diamond King. Seven prizes will be given out, and each one of them is pretty sick. Each person can only choose one to enter in, so choose wisely.

Trade with The Daily Dimwit

After deliberating on whether or not to part with a really cool-looking Craig Biggio patch card, I went ahead and shipped it over to Sam at the Daily Dimwit along with a few other Astros and set needs. In return, I got a card that is not one of the coolest in my entire collection, a 2011 Bowman Platinum auto/jersey of Starlin Castro.

In addition to a considerable chunk of my set needs, Sam also sent some cool-looking Chrome Cubs, plus a Marlon Byrd relic.

In addition to the cards Sam traded me, I also picked up a couple of Castros off of ebay. The Tier One card is the /199 parallel and the Chrome came from, I think, a 2010 Topps Chrome Value Pack.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

(Card Draft) Pimpin Ain't Easy - Cardboard Heaven

Hey, everyone. Cameron, over at Cardboard Heaven is a big Ryan Braun fan. With today's PED revelations, he is no doubt, a very sad collector. One way we can make him a happier guy is by participating in his card draft. For $15, there will be 26 rounds of relics, autos, inserts, and whatever else he feels like including. All proceeds will be put towards the purchase of a ticket to the Rose Bowl to root on his Oregon Ducks. So go visit his website, sign up, and at least give him SOMETHING to smile at, at this dark day for all Braun fans.

Monday, December 5, 2011

JaybarkerFan's Draft Party Goods

To celebrate his 100th blog post, Jaybarkerfan, who runs the blog Jaybarkerfan's Junk, held a really cool draft. Ten fellow bloggers were chosen from a number of entries, and 12 (I think) round took place, with themes ranging from things like baseball or football, to wacky or non-sports rounds. In addition to the cards, I received an unopened copy of Ocean's 12 on DVD and a well-used Tampa Bay Lightning hockey pucks. Here's the cards I got:

I was pleasantly suprised at how many wrestling cards there were in the draft, which, of course, I snatched right up. There was also a tough-to-find 2006 Allen & Ginter shortprint. Nothing wrong with a Jim Thome minor league card either.

There were also a few hits, too. My favorite HAS to be that gigantic swatch of Kurt Angle. Not only does the swatch have some of the print on it, but the picture depicted shows Angle wearing that very shirt. Also, that Jessica Alba card has to be the SMALLEST piece of memorabilia I've ever seen on a card. The Karl "Snow Goose" Mecklenburg auto is pretty sweet, too.

A pretty cool haul, if I say so. Go check out Jaybarkerfan's blog.

Group Break Haul From My Cardboard Mistress

Spankee, who runs My Cardboard Mistress, recently held a different kind of group break. From what I understood, there were a whole lot of packs and blasters he opened, hoping to find a few set needs, but had little to no use for the rest. He ran the break similar to the way most go, but based the pricing of the teams on that team's salary. So, naturally, the Yankees were the priciest, and teams like the Royals were cheapest. I picked up the Cubs, and while I didn't receive any hits out of the break, I was VERY happy with the manilla envelope I found in my mailbox.

The Bowman Chrome card is a really cool-looking die-cut and the rest are all serial numbered. The Finest Mickey Morandini is numbered 43/100, the top Soriano 575/699 and the one beneath it 13/149, the Derrek Lee/Prince Fielder is 7/149, and the Soriano beneath that one is 28/699.

I also liked these. Two really cool Kerry Wood Topps Finest cards and a Bowman Chrome Darwin Barney rookie. The Rogers Hornsby shows what I liked about Gypsy Queen. It took a lot of older players and put them in uniforms we never really seen them in, since it may have just been a year or two at the ends of their careers. I hadn't seen the Propaganda cards from 2009 Topps before getting that Soriano, but I really like that concept.

There were TONS of other cards included along with these, but the ones pictured here are my favorites. It was quite a good haul with this break.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Topps Diamond Die Cut Experiment Part 2

Okay, everybody, after being successful in my quest to turn a common (in this instance, D-Backs 2B Kelly Johnson) from the 2011 Topps Diamond Die Cut set into a Josh Hamilton from the same set, I decided to see exactly how far I could take it. While the Great Ham-bino was the ultimate goal of round 1, I feel as though I could have gone further.

So begins round two. I'll be pushing my bartering and haggling skills to their fullest extent, as I try to turn a common die cut into a rare black diamond die cut card. I don't have a particular player in mind, although in a perfect world, it would be Hamilton, Ernie Banks, or Starlin Castro.

To start things off, I needed to get me my die cut. I had a 1968 common and a 1969 common that I was more than willing to part with, so I put out a bunch of offers (160, to be exact) of each of those cards for any die cut that I figured someone actually might part with. After five days of no responses, I put the '68 and '69 together and offered the pair up. I hadn't even gotten through the Arizona Diamondbacks, when an offer was accepted for, you guessed it...

The great thing about this, is that I get to start from the EXACT same point as I did in the first round. The last one took me just a week. This one, I'm sure, will take me MUCH longer.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Trade Bait Updated, Plus A Few Items on Ebay

Real quick everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I have updated my trade bait page, which can be found here. If you see anything you like, just let me know and we'll see what we can work out.

Also, I have a few cards posted on my ebay page. There are a few cards that I don't really want to get rid of, but bottom line, with the move we just went through, combined with the fact that I don't have a job yet, I need the money. So if anyone has a few bucks set aside or some spare Paypal, go check it out.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Maybe I Shouldn't Have Sold This Card

A couple of months ago, I decided to clean out my useless autos and relics, hoping to earn some Paypal, with which to purchase some cards that I actually want. One of those cards was a David DeJesus autograph from Gypsy Queen. Got me a whole $1.04 for the card, and though nothing more of it.

Sure enough, DeJesus just signed a two-year deal with the Cubs. He is projected to be the starting rightfielder, taking over for Kosuke Fukudome, who departed the team at the 2011 trade deadline. 

New Cubs president Theo Epstein, who pursued DeJesus at the 2010 trade deadline said in a article that while DeJesus might not have the statistical numbers that make him stand out, what he does have is a completely well-rounded style of play.

"You can't necessarily point to anything with David and say, 'Hey this guy is going to hit you 30 home runs,' because he's not. You can't say he's going to hit .320, because outside of one year, he's not going to do that either. He's not going to steal you 40 bags. But I like players whose contribution is consistent across the board. They help you defensively, they can swing the bat, they have good consistent at-bats, they run the bases well. The totality of their contribution can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well. If we have a club full of well-rounded players, we'll far exceed the expectations, because those subtle contributions really add up."

While this signing won't blow anything out of the water, and might be passed on by everybody, I see it as the first step in the Theo Epstein regime. I'm not sure what other Cub fans feel about Theo, but the bottom line is, he has a record of winning. He took a team that hadn't won the World Series in, I think, 86 years, and turned them into two-time champs and perennial contenders.

While the DeJesus signing doesn't mean we get considerably better as a team, it is the first step in what I hope to be the right direction.

Now we just have to get Pujols.

Topps Diamond Die Cut Experiment: How to Trade Kelly Johnson for Josh Hamilton

A week ago, I set out to see if I could get a 2011 Topps Diamond Die Cut card of my favorite player, Josh Hamilton, using nothing more than the commonest of commons, Kelly Johnson, from that same set. I had a few other cards in my online collection, but just to see if I could do it, I was limiting myself to one-on one trades. Here's how I did it.

Kelly Johnson for Aaron Hill
Aaron Hill for Martin Prado
Martin Prado for Fransisco Liriano
Fransisco Liriano for Brandon Morrow
Brandon Morrow for Colby Rasmus
Colby Rasmus for Aramis Ramirez
Aramis Ramirez for Alexei Ramirez
Alexei Ramirez for Tyler Colvin
Tyler Colvin for Grady Sizemore
Grady Sizemore for Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday for Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes for Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano for Josh Hamilton

I knew, once I got the Matt Holliday, that it was just a matter of time. If I could just keep it withing stars on big-market teams, I knew there would be enough demand for guys like him, that I could quickly move my way up.

With the success that experiment brought, I think my next one will be to try and transform a die cut common into a black diamond die cut. The die cuts I have are all keepers. I finally have the full Cubs set, plus Hamilton, plus 53 other cards beginning in 1961. I'm sure I can pool a couple together for a Brett Anderson or a Danny Valencia. I'll let you all know as soon as round 2 begins.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Michael Jordan TTM: Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

I haven't really sent any through the mail (TTM) autograph requests since the early '90s, when, as a 13-year-old kid, I did on a somewhat regular basis. Most of mine were failures, mostly because I'd send cards that were a couple years old to the players c/o that teams that they were depicted playing for on the cards, not knowing that they were long gone from their former ballclub. I did get a couple of good ones, though. I sent a Topps Black Gold card to Dave Winfield when he was playing for the Twins. I received the card back, unsigned, but along with it, an autographed postcard, which I have, since then, misplaced. I think my dad agreed to hold onto it for safekeeping, but I have no idea where it is at the moment.

My biggest success, however, was this one:

That's right. The greatest basketball player of all time, through the mail, for nothing more than the cost of a couple of stamps and a couple of envelopes. At the time, I didn't realize how big of a deal it was. I just figured I got a pretty good autograph of a really good player. Looking back on it, I realize how lucky I was.

For one, the timing was good. I sent it out, I think, the year before the Bulls won their first championship, so while he may have been receiving plenty of requests, I'm sure they were nowhere near the amount that he would receive. Second, I was 11 or 12 at the time, so I'm sure a handwritten letter from a young kid went a little bit further than a type-written letter from an adult.

Still, no matter what the circumstances, while I am not that much of a basketball guy, I would say it's the cornerstone of my card collection. If I could show off one card out of the thousands that I have, this would be it, plus there's a little bit of a story behind it.

With my card-collecting budget getting ever-increasingly tight, I need to find new ways, and inexpensive ways, to keep the passion alive, and one of those ways could be TTM autographs.

I guess my questions for my readers are, does anyone else out there get autographs through the mail? If so, do you go the route I did as a kid and send request c/o their team, or do you send to home addresses, and if so, do the players mind getting mail at home? In a self-conscious way, I always thought that home addresses had some kind of weird stalker-vibe to it, but maybe they don't mind. Just curious to see what everyone else thinks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Just Curious

As I was going through my Cubs cards and player collections earlier, I was noticing, especially with my overproduction-era cards, that I have a ridiculous amount of duplicates. What I was wondering, is for those of you with team or player collections, do you keep EVERY card you get for those, or do you just keep one copy and move the rest?

Trip the the LCS On My Anniversary

The Wife and I just celebrated our five year anniversary last Friday, and like any married couple with kids, we had to wait until we got a sitter before we went out to celebrate. Luckily, since we just relocated to Fargo, I have a few family members in the area, and my aunt is more than happy co come by and look after the girls for a bit.

We went out to dinner at a Mongolian restaurant (because she let me pick) and then headed over to the mall to look for Christmas presents for ourselves. At 31, I'm beyond the need for surprises. Just let me pick something out and wrap it up, and I'll still be very appreciative Christmas morning. After going to Express and finding nothing to us my $20 off of $40 coupons on, we split up. I'm one of the few guys lucky enough to be married to a woman who is willing to not make me go shopping with her at the mall. She goes her way. I go mine. Then we just meet up at the end and hope the other person didn't spend too much money.

Anyway, my LCS, Big Nick's Sports Cards, is located in the mall, so I decided to drop by and check out some singles. They have a GU/Auto box that I usually rifle through, with some decent cards at 5 for $15. After finding my five, here's what I came home with:

2010 Topps Chrome Tyler Colvin Autograph: I actually saw this card a week ago, and it's's actually the card I came in to get. Not only is he one of Chicago's hot young stars, but this is a really cool looking signature.

2009Upper Deck NFL Draft Edition Brian Cushing RC Auto: The nice thing about moving out of Houston being a Texans fan is you can get stuff on the cheap. I basically got this card for 3 buck, but down in Houston, this would cost me $20, easy.

2011-2012 Upper Deck Jordan Staal Jersey: One of my favorite Penguins right now. Plus, I really like the jersey card design Upper Deck put out this year. The last couple have been pretty boring, but they stepped it up for their most recent release.

2009 Donruss Threads Rhett Bomar Dual Jersey 3/250: I like Bomar, because he's one of the few players from my alma mater, Sam Houston State University to make it far enough in the pros to have a decent amount of cardboard. I already have an aout of his on a NY Giants card, but no jerseys. This one was double-sweet, because the picture depicts him in Breakat orange and white. I find VERY few SHSU cards, as can be expected with any 1-AA school, so I try to get whatever I can. Plus, according to the card back, the jersey was worn in a college game. No "event-worn" here!

2011 Topps Lineage Clayton Kershaw Jersey: I'm not the biggest Kershaw guy. I don't hate him, I just don't have much interest in him. I got this card purely as trade bait, since I know there are a couple of Dodgers collectors out there that might be interested in it.

Well there you have it. Not bad for 15 bucks on an anniversary night.

(Contest) Pimpin' Ain't Easy - Royals and Randoms

In celebration of hitting 25 followers of the blog, Royals and Randoms is holding a contest for piles of cards. The best pat is, there will be TWELVE winners. Go check him out for a contest which gives you a GREAT chance of finding a manilla envelope in your mailbox soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Topps Diamond Die Cut Experiment

After trying to flip a Ryne Sandberg die cut and work my way into something extra, and failing miserably, I got my hands back on the ellusive Ryno die cut. However, I didn't get out of it completely unscathed, as I am now short one Josh Hamilton.

I did, however, find myself with a completely useless die cut card of Diamondbackssecond baseman Kelly Johnson. Who? Exactly. Still, I decided to make the most out of it and try an experiment. Could I, through nothing but one-on-one trades, turn this card into a Josh Hamilton?

By trading for players just slightly better, I'm hoping to transform this useless card into something I really want. So far, I'm up to Fransisco Liriano. This should be fun.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sid's Back, and Better Than Ever

I know I'm a day late, but what a game last night in Pittsburgh.

One thing (among many) that I love about the NHL is that when something is a big deal, they treat it like a big deal. Versus was originally scheduled to broadcast the Bruins/Canadiens game, but it got switched over after Crosby's return was announced. I'm not sure if it was the NHL or the network making that call, but good job to whoever did.

Anyways, the big concern with Crosby, who had missed the past 10 months with symptoms stemming from the two concussions he got last January, was whether he would be just slightly more timid on the ice. With so much riding on the line, would he be scared to take a hit, for fear of a recurrence. From the looks of things, Crosby got right in the mix of things, and even scored a goal. And one more. And got two assists. After not playing so much as a second on the ice in 10 months, Crosby scores 4 points in his very first game back.

This is what I've always loved about Crosby. The difference between the great players and the really good players is that the great ones find a way to make these moments. A good player would return, mix it up a bit, get and assist, maybe a goal, and call it a successful return. Crosby gets his four points and skates CIRCLES around his Long Island opponents. It was the same thing when Canada won the gold medal. It could have been anybody being the National Hero, but it was Crosby's overtime goal that won it. The great ones just find a way to make it happen.

Now, there's no way that this will become the norm for him. He'll have his good days, of course, but he'll have his off days too. His conditioning isn't what it used to be, and it will take some time for him to truly get to 100 percent. But seeing him come back in THAT fashion makes me feel pretty good as a Penguins fan.

In think this is going to be a good year.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Well, THAT Was A Mistake

I've really been enjoying the Topps Diamond Giveaway promotion this year. I know it has its detractors, but it's been cool playing the site, with a goal other than just grabbing up some common 1973 Cubs. My main goal this year was a team set of the Chicago Cubs from the Diamond Die Cut Series.

There were only six card in all for the Cubbies, and after accumulating an insane amount of singles from throughout the Topps years, I managed to turn my collection into all six Cubs die cuts, and just for fun, I grabbed up a few others, just to see what I could get in return. Before I knew it, my Cubs set was also accompanied by Josh Hamilton, Jackie Robinson, and Andre Ethier, which I soon traded for a 1984 Ryne Sandberg, the only regular issue Topps card of his that I do not own.

My collection was set, and I was ready to place my order, when Topps announced via Facebook that it would let collectors vote on three new die cut cards. Sure enough, Ryne Sandberg was one of eight in the Legends category, and he won. After what seemed like forever, the new cards went live and I was able to trade the Jackie Robinson straight up for my all-time favorite player, Ryne Sandberg.

I finally had my collection complete. Now I just had to place my order and call it a year for Topps. I soon saw somewhere that the new die-cut cards wouldn't be available until the end of November, so I decided to hold on to what I had until then.

Soon afterward, I had an offer for my Ryno for a 1953 card of Red Sox Catcher Gus Niarhos. I know it is no 1952, but '53s are few and far between on the Diamond Giveaway site. My thinking was, make the trade now, and wait for the offers to roll in for it. After all, I can flip that card for a large sum, trade some of it back for a Ryno, and have a few cards left over.

Well, three weeks went by, and nothing. No offers of any kind, no big trade proposals, nothing. I decided to put an end to this experiment, but I was sad to see that no other Sandberg Die Cut owners were as gullible as I was, so I began to panic. Trade offers of all kind were thrown out there, but no takers.

It was time to get creative.

The first thing I needed was another die-cut at the very least. Knowing that I needed a die cut of a hobby-friendly player, I threw out offers for any die cut of a hall of famer, as well as any current player who's name is pretty hot at he moment. One of those offers was accepted for a Clayton Kershaw.

Nobody took a straight up Sandberg-for-Kershaw deal, so I knew I had to sweeten the pot. I begrudgingly added my Josh Hamilton and within a 24-hour period, the deal was accepted. I was a feeling a little down about basically losing the Hamilton just to get a card I had a month ago, but I felt better when I looked on ebay and saw a few Hamiltons going for less than $10.

Sandbergs have been selling for $50.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Inconsistent Blogger

It's been a while since I've posted. But there's been a lot going on. After living in Texas, primarily in the Houston area, since 1993, I, along with my wife and two little girls, moved all the way up to Fargo, ND. What the move came down to, essentially, was me with a low-paying job in Houston, and my wife basically unable to find a job of her own.

Just a little over a year ago, my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was a pretty surprising blow to us. Being just 30 years old, when something is off, cancer isn't the first thing you suspect with someone at a young age. That being said, the silver lining is that thyroid cancer is an extremely beatable form of the disease, just as long as it isn't ignored. The way that more than one person worded it to us, if you have to get cancer, this is the one to get. Upon giving us the diagnosis, her endochrinologist suggested that we get a good start on treatment, which would entail a thyroidectomey, followed a few weeks later by radioactive iodine. The one thing she advised us of, was not to get pregnant. Well, guess what happened literally two days before the diagnosis.

In addition to battling thyroid cancer, my wife was now pregnant. Due to thyroid cancer being an incredibly slow-moving form of the disease, and it being unlikely to spread out any further, we were able to delay the treatment until after we had the baby. She did get her thyroidectomy last December, since once you are halfway through the pregnancy, it is safe to receive anesthesia without harming the fetus. That way, the main source of the disease, at the very least, is removed.

We did get a good bit of news during the pregnancy. With our first child (now 3), my wife had gestational diabetes. She did a great job of regulating her diet, and therefore, never needed any oral medication or insulin shots. Due to a likelyhood of this recurring, she dieted during the entire pregnancy, and as a result, her gestational diabetes test came back negative. Great news. I found this out on my way to work. That SAME day, I found out that I was being laid off from the job I had for the past 3 1/2 years.

So there I was. Wife has cancer. And is pregnant. And I am out of work. It dealt quite a blow to me, and I soon found out that finding a job, even with a college degree, is more than just sending out a few resumes and letting them call you. We had our second child, another girl, on May 8 (Mother's Day) which brought us a great deal of happiness. In fact, her middle name is Joy, in reference to the fact that she was a joy to us in a very dark time.

I finally found a job in mid-July. I was hired on as an assistant service manager at a grocery store (HEB, for those familiar with the Texas grocery chain) and finally, I felt as though I could breathe a little bit. I was able to get off of COBRA, and I was able to finally bring some money home. Unfortunately, I would soon find out that it would not be enough. Before having our second baby, my wife worked at a pre-school/day care, where she was able to takre our then-two-year-old free of charge. Upon being able to return to work, she was informed that while they are able to cut breaks for older kids, they simply were unable to give any kind of discount for the infant. And with what it costs to have an infant in day care, literally her entire paycheck would go to child care. She might as well stay home if that's the case.

Needless to say, my 10 bucks an hour didn't go far at all. We were running out of money quicker than we could get it in. We received a bunch of help financially from our families, and tapped out all resources from local churches and assistance organizations, and weren't sure how we were going to make it, but somehow we were able to.

About two months ago, my parents gave us a proposal. My dad, who himself was laid off from his job a few months previous, was offered a position on a project in Florida. My parents had just recently built a house in Fargo, ND, where my dad grew up, and they didn't want to sell it, plus if he maintained an out-of-state residence, he would receive a housing allowance, per diem, and all sorts of other benefits. They offered to allow us to live in their house, rent-free, to allow us to get back on our feet, catch up on bills, and get ahead financially, hopefully to save up money for a place of our own.

So here we are. I'm still looking for a job up here, but a lot of the stresses and worries that I had leading up to this just aren't there. We still have to get my wife's treatment taken care of, which she is planning on taking care of in late Dec/early Jan, but I am able to focus a lot more on the job search. It's SO much easier to focus on one thing, when that one thing is really the only thing for you to worry about.

Throughout all this, I've noticed that the hobby that I am so involved in has a direct correlation with what uis going on in my life. when things are good and I'm doing well, this are organized, they're in place, and I'm able to find ways to grab myself some great "show off" cards. When things aren't so great, like they have been, there is a lack of organization, a lack of focus, and I go from one set to the next without even coming close to finishing my individual collecting goals.

I wonder if it works the other way. If my card collection is directly related to my situation in life, maybe my situation in life can be affected by my card collection. What I mean is, maybe if I become super-focused on my collection and my blog, maybe, I will become super-focused in life. Maybe if I become ambitious in the hobby, maybe it will make me ambitious elsewhere.

If I am truly honest with myself, I am where I am, because I haven't exactly been super focused or ambitious. I have some ideas of what I want to do, hobby-wise. Nothing original or ground-breaking, but something epic. Something that at the end of it, people will be able to look at and see something truly amazing. because, really, we want people to look at our lives the same way. Maybe this will be a start.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

(Group Break) Pimpin' Ain't Easy - The Daily Dimwit: 2010 Bowman Platinum

Hey everyone, Sam at The Daily Dimwit is hosting another multi-box group break for six boxws of 2010 Bowman Platinum. The set includes rookie cards and "first cards" of players such as Starlin Castro, Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward, Aroldis Chapman, Jeremy Hellickson, and a whole lot more. Slots are only 20 bucks a pop, and there are some multi-team slots available. With 6 boxes busted, 24 hits will be available, so check him out and jump on in to a VERY promising break of cards.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Group Break from Cardboard Collections

Despite not writing for a LONG while, I can assure you, I am still here. I have also been pretty active in the hobby, picking up some retail, bidding on some ebay, and partaking in some cool group breaks, like a couple put on by Colbey at Cardboard Collections. The first break was for boxes of 1996 and 1997 Fleer baseball. Natually, I picked the Cubs. Got me a couple Rynos that I didn't have already, plussome cards of Sosa and Grace.

And as usual, Colbey threw in a couple of random cards from the team, which included a 2011 Bowman Platinum Starlin Castro that I was VERY excited about.

Colbey also did a break of 2011 Topps Marquee. He opened a half case (12 boxes) and I picked my Cubbies. After the person who picked the Yankees dropped out, I decided to grab them up, too, since there would be plenty of base cards, and possibly, hits, from the boys in pinstripes. Luckily, I did, bcause the two best cards, value-wise, were yanks: a Mickey Mantle gold parallel numbered to 99 and a SWEET looking Paul O'Neill on-card auto numbered to 75. To be quite honest, my intentions were to try an flip any Yankees hits on ebay to make back some money spent on the break, but as good-looking of a card as this O'Neill is, I might just have to keep it.

Here's a look at the rest of the Yankees cards I got from the base set.

I'll probably keep the Jeter, but the rest are up for trade if anyone has something cool to send my way.

The other three teams I had ownership of were my Cubs, the Twins and the Mariners, which netted me a total of one card each. Still, looking at the three I got, I could have done much worse.

Thanks for a great couple of breaks!

Be sure to check out Cardboard Collections and keep your eyes peeled for the next group break he puts together.