December 16, 2014

Keith Olbermann on Sy Berger

December 15, 2014

Thank you, Sy Berger

As I headed to work this morning, my mind was on Sy Berger. He died this weekend at the age of 91.

My train ride zips through Manhattan headed to a place where magic happens -- a place with the ability to turn cynical adults into awe-struck kids as they look at pieces of cardboard that have pictures of their favorite baseball players on them. That place is Topps, the same place where Sy Berger worked and developed the 1952 Topps Baseball card set, which many consider the start of the modern trading card era.

From the time I was a child until now, so much of my life has been dedicated to collecting cards. My husband is a card collector. My best friend is a card collector. I have had a blog dedicated to cards since 2007. I work at Topps making baseball cards. All in part because of what Sy Berger started all those years ago.

It's surreal to think about how one person can shape your life, especially someone I had never met. If Sy didn't help mold that 1952 set and help change a hobby into what it is now, my life would be amazingly different.

Perhaps baseball cards don't become a central force in my life. My husband doesn't start talking to me about a card to break the ice. My best friend and I don't drive around New Jersey and Pennsylvania searching for card shops, strengthening a bond. We don't have A Cardboard Problem.

So, many lives were shaped by Sy Berger, from children wanting a piece of gum in their packs of cards to people who try to complete their sets every year.

I'm thankful for the contributions he made to the baseball card world because with out him I doubt I am the person I am today.

December 13, 2014

Black Friday Box Break: 2008 SPx Baseball

Many collectors sat in front of their computers or refrshed their phones and tablets looking to get a Black Friday deal from one of the online retailers. I peeked in occasionally on Twitter and followed Blowout's feed to see its offerings. I was only interested in baseball and missed out on a couple of early bargains (like case of 2009 UD Signatures). But I managed to grab a box of 2008 SPx Baseball.

SPx Baseball offers 10 packs with a hit in each pack, with a bonus 11th pack and another hit. Of course, being that the product is from 2008, there is a chance to pull an expired redemption. However, I felt good about the chances of NOT pulling one and grabbed a box. I also hoped to get a Derek Jeter hit, an autograph that wasn't a redemption. Spoiler Alert: I did not pull a Jeter auto.

The base memorabilia cards showcased some good to great players, and all the cards were numbered 150.

First up was Carlos Guillen, a three-time All-Star who retired in 2011. Guillen was a good shortstop for the Tigers.

Randy Johnson should be entering the Hall of Fame this year. I hate him on the Diamondbacks because he beat the Yankees in 2001, but he was a great player. I didn't much care for him on the Yankees either.

I used to hate Pedro Martinez (in the way you can only hate someone you never met simply because he played for a rival team). But then met Pedro and interacted with him while I was working as a sports reporter. Now, I like him. He was pleasantin his one year with the Phillies and always seemed to usually be in a good mood. He's also another guy who should be in the Hall this year.

The product also offered patch variations. The Dan Uggla card is great looking. I love the colors from the Florida Marlins patch. In 2008, when this product came out, this would have been a great hit. Uggla had made his second All-Star Game that season (though one we would like to forget) and looked to be a player on the rise. He hit more than 30 home runs for five straight seasons.

And then he broke. His 2014 season was remarkable in how bad it was.

My final memorabilia hit was a triple jersey card with Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman numbered to 75. A fun card for an Angels fan. 

Upper Deck offered a number of Rookie Autographs in 2008 SPx. Some of the guys didn't pan out.

Dave Davidson played three games in the Majors, two with the Pirates. In his three MLB innings, Davidson has a 30.00 ERA.

Rob Johnson was a serviceable backup catcher for several years. He played with Seattle, San Diego, New York Mets, and St. Louis. In 2009, he played in a season-high 80 games with .213 batting average.

Bill Murphy appeared in 18 games during his two-year MLB career. He last played in 2009 for the Toronto Blue Jays. I guess his signature looks like "Bill Murphy."

Then there were autographs of rookies who had slightly better careers.

Jerry Blevins played in Oakland from 2007-13. Last year, he competed for the Washington Nationals. While he hasn't had a spectacular career, getting an autograph card of a guy still in the league was on the plus side. He's actually had some really nice years coming out of the bullpen for Oakland.

The best card of the autographs was easily my next pull. While not a "Rookie" signature card, the Young Star Signatures of Troy Tulowitzki is the best of the list. If he could just stay healthy (and get traded to the Yankees), things would be great for Tulo.

Out of all that, I still had one hit to go. I'm the type of person who likes the "slow burn." When I know a card is a hit, I will slowly pull the card down in front of it as I like to try and guess who the player is. This time as I started peeking, I saw the Yankees cap edge over the top of the base card. 

"Please, be a Jeter," I said. "Please, be a Jeter."

WOOOOOOO! I pulled a Jeter jersey (where is the pinstripe?!) numbered to 75. 

December 7, 2014

Box Break: 2014 High Tek - Nostalgia at its finest

The urge to break is strong. If you are a card collector, you know what I mean.

Last week, I watched box breaks on Twitter, the forums and peeked at cards showing up on eBay from the many (MANY!) of new products that came out. While Dynasty is a bit out of my price range, Topps High Tek piqued my interest. Nostalgia is a heck of a buying force.

I hit the card shop (The Baseball Card Store in Midland Park, NJ) and picked up a box. Admittedly, I’m not always fan of one-pack products; I prefer breaks that take longer so I can check out the base cards and the inserts. Yes, I still take my time going through cards.

However, I made an exception for Tek because I really enjoyed the breaks I saw – although I know I didn’t really have to worry about chasing an entire Derek Jeter set because he wasn’t included in the base set.

Here are the cards I pulled: 

Chris Owings

Prince Fielder

Julio Teheran

Albert Pujols

Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt autograph

Even though Tek comes with one autograph pe box, the Goldy auto wasn't the best card that I pulled. I got a Magenta Printing Proof (1-of-1) of ... 

(I forgot to scan the front, so here's a pic)

December 4, 2014

Oh my Vizquel!

When I think of players who draw a lot of interest on the secondary market, I automatically think of Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Cal Ripken Jr. – surefire stars who will all be sitting in the Hall of Fame one day.

Omar Vizquel is not someone who frequently comes to mind.

Yet, when rare autographed cards of his eBay auctions end, the final price can sometimes be staggering.

Vizquel was a good player with sensational defensive skills. In his 24-year career, he was an average hitter who won 11 Gold Gloves (nine straight from 1993-2001), and was a three-time All-Star.

That’s not really the making of someone who gets a lot of attention on cardboard (or acetate), but there are a few die-hard Omar Vizquel player collectors that drive up his prices. I’ve heard there are about three or four of them with DEEP pockets who put up a lot of money to get his rare cards. So, imagine that when 2014 High Tek came out and Vizquel was on the autograph checklist, these collectors were either thrilled or groaning at the amount of money they were going to spend.

Of the completed listings of 2014 High Tek, the top three highest sold cards so far set all belong to Omar Vizquel.

Printing Proof 1/1 – $1,700
Charcoal Galactic Diffractor 1/1 - $1,500
Red Storm Diffractor - $1,000

So, imagine an autograph checklist that includes the likes of  Albert Pujols, Bryce Harper, Craig Biggio, Clayton Kershaw, Cal Ripken Jr., Frank Thomas, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Trout, Rickey Henderson, Randy Johnson, and Reggie Jackson that the best pull is Omar Vizquel.

November 30, 2014

Supernatural cards - Let the hunt begin

I enjoy non-sports cards.

I like non-sports cards of television shows I watch.

I love non-sports cards of my FAVORITE show.

Several years ago, Inkworks made a couple of Supernatural cards. I picked up some over the years, but at the time of their release, I wasn’t into non-sports cards so I didn’t get them as they came out. Then Inkworks went out of business. When Cryptozoic announced it was making Supernaturalcards, I was getting in on the ground floor.

At the time of the announcement, I wanted to buy a case. However, as the date got closer, a few names were taken off the autograph list – most notably the two main stars.

Well, my itch to buy a case diminished, but the hunt wasn’t going to end. While at the White Plains card show this weekend, I picked up a box for a good price for a new release. Supernatural Seasons 1-3 was a standard set from Cryptozoic. The base set features 72 cards highlighting the biggest moments from the first three seasons.

I enjoyed going through the cards, looking at all the moments that made me fall in love with the show.

It was also a reminder of all the characters that are no longer on the show for various reasons. Many of my favorite characters appeared on these cards.

Each box also comes with one autograph and one wardrobe card.

I let out an audible groan when I saw my autograph card. I was eventually going to own this card, but I didn’t want it to be my pull. I would have much rather have gotten this card on eBay and pulled a different person that had a greater impact. OK, let me re-phrase I wanted a Jeffrey Dean Morgan autograph and nothing else. So, I was probably going to be disappointed regardless.

However, my wardrobe card got a “yippee” from me. On the short list of wardrobe cards I wanted, this was definitely in the top three. A Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) wardrobe card – one of the two main stars. If I was not going to get an autograph of the brothers because they weren’t in the set, I am happy that I was able to at least get a wardrobe card.

The neat thing about the card is I’m pretty sure the relic is from the shirt Sam is wearing in the picture – crazy concept.

The inserts weren’t my favorite – or chase cards as they are called in the non-sports world. They used the same pictures from the base with just a different back. This may be because of image rights and Cryptozoic was given only certain images they could use (this is just me speculating), but I would have liked to have seen different pics on these cards.

My favorite card is probably the Shadowbox Character Bio card. I pulled Bela, which ain’t bad. I enjoyed her character as I thought she was nice foil for the boys.

The other chase cards included Winchester Brothers and Locations.

There were also foil board parallels of these cards. I haven’t figured out if I plan to chase the entire parallel set because I am not entirely sure what is available yet. The two foilboards cards above were noticeable and one was numbered to 25. They were of the chase cards and not the base set.

However, look at these cards – one is a parallel. Which one?

The one numbered on the back to /25 because that was the only way I noticed it. I thought it was a double and as I was looking at the backs, I saw the serial number on one. After holding it in the light eight different ways, I finally saw a bit of a rainbow sheen. It’s not a well-done parallel.

Having said all that – let the chase begin.

November 9, 2014

Join in the weekly #CardChat

Social media has changed the way many of us collect. Twitter and Facebook have become outlets for trading and talking about our hobby.

Every Monday on Twitter, I hold a chat called … #CardChat (it’s clever!)

Topics have ranged from pictures on cards, high-end cards, memorabilia, autographs, the National, and so much more. We have probably had about 20 or so Card Chats this year.

The chat takes place every Monday at 3 p.m. ET. It’s been a lot of fun and there are lively discussions.

One of the neat things about #CardChat is seeing the differences in opinions between the collectors. Not everyone collects or wants the same things. When I did the #CardChat on set collecting, some liked short-prints while others did not. Some wanted huge 700-card offerings and others wanted just the best of the best in the set.

So join in #CardChat every Monday on Twitter. It helps if you follow me on there to see the questions @yanxchick.

Below I included highlights from last week’s sessions where we talked about high-end cards.

November 5, 2014

A big, hearty THANK YOU

When I started this blog in 2007 (what?!), it was simply a place to talk about trading cards. Marie and I had each other to discuss cards and show each other our new goodies, but the writer in me wanted to do a bit more.

Since then, so many things have changed:
I’ve changed jobs three times.
- I have more gray hair.
- I moved back to New York.
- I gained three more nieces.
- I got married.

That is just the short list.

The crazy thing about A Cardboard Problem is that I would likely wouldn’t have the job now if this blog wasn’t created. I wrote about cards on this site for several years. Then, I got an opportunity to do freelance pieces for Beckett and eventually became an editor there. Four months ago, I landed at Topps, and having experience in the card industry certainly helped.

Through the blog I also have meant and traded with so many great collectors. It renewed my love for collecting because I didn’t feel as though Marie and I were in a collecting vacuum. There were still thousands of collectors and many of you came to visit our little blog about two women who love cardboard.

I was completely humbled after my wedding. Besides marrying someone who is a card collector (who’s luckier than me?), I received gifts in the mail that were arranged by Stale Gum (government names kept out to protect the innocent) where more than a dozen people gave to buy Dan and me a gift.

For those that didn’t know, we got a toaster oven and a blender. I have already made some frothy adult beverages with the blender and they were delicious.

I am deeply touched by the gift. In all my wildest imaginations, I never thought that a little card blog would turn into a place where I would meet great friends. Even if we have never met and simply chat on Twitter all day or simply comment on each other’s blogs, I know I have truly made great friends that go far beyond our hobby. I didn’t list the names, but you will be getting a special thank you card in the mail that may just include a real trading card of the newlyweds.

Thank you so very much.

October 20, 2014

A very special Derek Jeter card to me

I’ve had a few moments throughout my life where I’ve had to stop, take in everything around me and say, ‘Wow.’

Lately, that’s happened a bit often (getting married had something to do with it), but when it comes to cards, this may be a first. Of course, there are cards that I love and enjoy, and have thought ‘Wow’ when I saw them, but this was something entirely different.

In June, I started working for Topps creating baseball cards. Not going to lie, the moment I walked through the building for the first time, I had to take a pause, and then the next pause-inducing moment came this week.

One of the first products that I worked on at Topps was 2014 Update Series. I had a hand in picking the All-Star images for the base subset and the retail insert of All-Star Access. I tried to pick good images, fun ones because the ASG is an exhibition. I also didn’t want to screw up in any way.

On Thursday, I opened packs of 2014 Update, and while there were a number of cards in there that I helped create, one of them made me halt …

I have more than 2,000 Derek Jeter cards in my collection, but this is the first one that I had a hand in creating. I selected that image and cropped the photo. I had nothing to do with the design of the card, but the image was all mine. I immediately put it in a penny sleeve and top loader, and currently it’s sitting in my wallet. I know, it’s a bit dorky, but this is now my favorite Derek Jeter card.

Of course, I start working at Topps at a time when Derek Jeter had already announced his retired. But I can at least say I made his last flagship base card.

Wow, indeed.