April 28, 2014

I spend beautiful, sunny weekends going to card shows


It was a beautiful weekend. Some people might spend these gorgeous days going for walks or having a picnic.

I go to card shows.

I learned about what I thought might be a card show on Saturday. I saw a listing that said it was supposed to have 200 tables. My eyes lit up. The show was about an hour from NYC, so I was little surprised I never heard of it. A quick Google search turned up what it really was – an autograph show.

Saturday’s show was filled with football guests: Terry Bradshaw, Cam Newton, Jack Lambert, Joe Greene, Jim Brown, Bo Jackson, Jamaal Charles, Matt Stafford, Eddie Lacy and more. Impressive.

And out of my price range.

A Bradshaw autograph was at least $175 for a flat or mini-helmet. A helmet, football or jersey autograph was $195.

Sunday’s show had a few different sports figures including basketball’s Trey Burke, football’s Ryan Tannehill and Eli Manning ($250 for a helmet!) and a couple of baseball players.

One of the baseball players caught my eye – Yangervis Solarte.

I know. I know. Solarte has been stuck in the minors for eight years and is 26 years old now. He’s starting for the Yankees right now, but has been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed watching him play and Solarte’s signing fee was right in my budget – $35.

I picked up an MLB baseball on Saturday and brought it to the show. Just one autograph for me, although there were people on line who were getting multiple signatures on bats, balls, and pictures. The short-term investment could work in their favor.

Since Solarte hasn’t had anything on the market – no cards or autographed items – the ones that have popped up on eBay recently have sold between $100 and $150. Of course, since he had what is probably his first public signing, more of these items have now showed up on eBay, likely to soften the market slightly.

But the only thing that will hurt Solarte’s market is if (and it will likely happen) he comes back down to earth. Solarte is batting .301 with .400 OBP and .852 OPS. However, Solarte is 2-for-19 over his last five games. He was a late scratch from Sunday’s game against Anaheim with a sore shoulder.

Whoops! I hope it wasn’t from signing too much.


April 25, 2014

Collecting hobby history


As a card collector, Jefferson Burdick’s name has likely showed up while doing research.

He’s credited with giving the names to many of the vintage sets we love today through his American Card Catalog. The T-206 Honus Wagner, yep, that was Burdick. As a way to catalog the cards, he gave letters to card sets to distinguish them such as 'T' for 20th century tobacco or 'F' for food cards or 'E' for caramel cards.

I have one of the later editions of The American Card Catalog, which I have used more than once when looking up information. It’s actually a great reference guide to have as it includes sports and non-sports cards.

There is a cool auction that popped up on eBay, a run of The Card Collectors Bulletin. The Card Collectors Bulletin started in 1938 and featured articles by collecting greats such as Burdick, Charles Bray and more. 

The auction, however, spans some of the later editions of The Card Collectors Bulletin. You can tell by the photos in the auction, especially one for the bulletin that has an ad for the Garbage Pail Kids movie. 

I love looking at these kinds of items. Collecting is so different, yet so similar to what it was all those years ago. People attempted to complete sets, found great trading partners and shared their knowledge with each other. The collecting internet (blogs, message boards, news sites) has become an interactive version of The Card Collectors Bulletin.

The American Card Catalog is available on Amazon, but it tends to get pricey. Every once in a while a used book will pop up for a decent price.

April 24, 2014

Picking up a Michael Sam autograph


Football is working its way back into the minds of collectors.

Press Pass, SaGe, Leaf and Upper Deck have released most of their pre-draft products, collecting on the hype of Johnny Football. Right before the first 2014 releases were to come out, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced he was gay.

So, card companies jumped on the national media attention surrounding him to get his autographs in products.

Press Pass came out too soon, but it did allow customers to send in a UPC from a hobby box to redeem a Sam autograph. Since I bought a box, I figured, why not?

I got the Sam autograph back in about a week – talk about a quick redemption time.


Sam’s base autographs are selling for about $10 to $20 oneBay. So there are easier ways to pick up one of his cards, if you are interested. 

April 18, 2014

Analyzing the odds


When hitting the retail card aisle, collectors are presented with a number of options: blasters, rack packs, loose packs (and some other configurations I can’t remember). You might think that because these cards are found in the same place, made by the same company, and are the same brand that they are the same, but not all retail products are made the same.

I was looking through the card aisle (with Marie) and we were talking about cards. We looked at the dozens and dozens of blasters sitting on the shelves and I made a remark that I wouldn’t go for a blaster and opted for rack packs instead.

That’s when I flipped the packs to their backs to show how the odds were different.

For a rack pack of Opening Day (which comes with 24 cards and three inserts), the odds were much easier to pull something – anything. Inserts were 1 in 2 packs with relics and autos being tougher pulls than that. On the blaster, the inserts were 1 in 4 packs.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Opening Day
Blaster
Total packs: 7
Total cards: 77
Price: $9.99
Inserts: 7

Rack packs
Total packs: 3
Total cards: 72
Price: $9 ($3 each)
Inserts: 9

Loose packs
Total packs: 10
Total cards: 70
Price: $9.90 (99 cents each)
Inserts: 10

Other odds include:
Rack packs
Opening Day Autograph: 1:80
Opening Day Relic: 1:80
Mascot Autograph: 1:162

Blaster
Opening Day Autograph: 1:278
Opening Day Relic: 1:273
Mascot Autograph: 1:555



Based on price, total cards, and odds, what do you think is the best option? 

April 16, 2014

Panini offers Japanese versions of Masahiro Tanaka Donruss card




How very 2001 of you, Panini?

Panini Donruss baseball cards had another wrinkle thrown into it this year. Panini offered a wrapper redemption program where collectors would get back a few cards, including Yankees rookie Masahiro Tanaka.

These cards have done well on the initial eBay wave – going for about $20. 

However, Panini snuck in Japanese versions of the card with everything on the front and back written in, well, Japanese. Panini didn’t reveal how many of these cards were made but called them “extremely rare” on its blog. The only Japanese Donruss card that has sold so far has gone for close to $100.

These are the first ‘Yankee’ cards of Tanaka on the market. I use Yankees in quotes because the Donruss cards are not licensed by Major League Baseball Properties and therefore cannot use team names or logos.


This is reminiscent of the 2001 Bowman Chrome Ichiro that featured and English and Japanese version of these cards. 


April 15, 2014

Using Sports Card Album to show off your collection


Have you checked out Sports Card Album yet?

If not, the app/website provides collectors with a place to upload pictures of their collection.

The app is only available for only for iTunes, but an Android app is in the process of being created.

I wrote about Sports Card Album for Beckett. You can check out the link here and read about Sergio Dubois’ work in getting the site and app into fruition.

I have only created one album so far of my DrazenPetrovic cards, but I am sure to put more up when I get some time. It would be interesting to see all of Derek Jeter collection in one place.

If you use the app, tell us your user name in the comments. You can find me on Sports Card Album as – what else? – ‘yanxchick.’

April 14, 2014

Steiner Sports lets you offer a price in its Amazon shop


Steiner Sports is letting collectors offer them a lower price on certain items through Amazon

I know … I know. A couple of thoughts popped into my mind when I saw this.

1.       Why do they need to sell on Amazon when they have their own store?

Amazon obviously reaches millions upon millions of people. The first place I tend to go to when looking for something is Amazon – although not usually collectibles. I think collectibles is still a market that Amazon is trying to build.

2.       Steiner prices are pretty high to begin with.

Sure enough, you can only offer on items that are more than $200. So, you’re still going to put out a few hundred dollars if you want to get something from its Amazon store.

Some of the cheapest items in the Steiner Amazon shop include Andy Pettitte Pants, a Cesar Cabral jersey, a Curtis Granderson windbreaker, and a David Robertson Hat .

On the other side of that, there is a Mariano Rivera uniform set from his 40th save of 2013 for the low, low price of $50,000.

And, I always have to look.

There are some Derek Jeter items. All the jerseys seem to cost about $25,000. I wonder if I offer the $4 in my wallet, they could take it. 

The most expensive item at Yankee Stadium (that is not a suite)



When you go to a game at Yankee Stadium, you don't have to leave empty-handed. The Yankees team store is huge and filled with anything you can imagine.

Hello Kitty as a Yankees fan. Check.


Masahiro Tanaka collectibles. Check.



Miniature Yankee corvettes. Check.



Amazingly overpriced cards that aren't worth the plastic they are in. Double check.



I saw pajamas, nightgowns and panties just in case women wanted to get a little cozy in their Yankees gear.

So, yeah, you can get anything - even on any budget. If you're looking for something a little pricier that has a better story, Steiner Sports has a shop at the stadium. It's not terribly big, but it does have the most expensive items in the stadium.

That Amex card could really come in handy in a place like this. Fans can find autographs, stadium dirt, game-used memorabilia in the Steiner Store. But there was one item that caught my eye -- a Thurman Munson signed baseball.




You don't see too many of his autographs around because he died in 1979 at 32 years old.

However, I wasn't walking out of the shop with that autograph ball. Did you see the price tag?

$10,000.

April 13, 2014

Retail break: 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen baseball cards


The newest baseball product on the market is 2014 Gypsy Queen. The first year, 2011, was great. Marie and I opened a case and had a great time with lots of relics of Hall of Fame players and stars.

Since then, however, Gypsy Queen hasn’t been as great, but I picked up two value packs anyway. Each value pack comes with three retail packs and a pack of exclusive white-framed border cards.

Here’s what I got:

Value pack 1



White Paper
CC Sabathia
Jon Lester
Ernie Banks



Pack 1
Glove Stories: Yasiel Puig
Martin Prado
Craig Kimbrel
Kyle Lohse
Chase Utley
Mini: Nick Markakis



Pack 2
Dealing Aces: Cliff Lee
Wil Myers
Michael Wacha
Wilmer Flores
Allen Craig
Mini: Nick Franklin





Pack 3
Wade Boggs
Andrelton Simmons
Cole Hamels
Ian Kennedy
Jonathan Villar
Mini Black (/199): Hiroki Kuroda

Value Pack 2



White Paper
Wil Myers
Whitey Ford
Stan Musial



Pack 1
Debut All-Stars: David Ortiz
Derek Jeter
Paul Konerko
Jake Peavy
Ted Williams
Mini: Kyle Gibson





Pack 2
Dealing Aces: Madison Bumgarner
Duke Snider
Christian Yellich
Randy Johnson
Gio Gonzalez
Mini Red (/99): James Loney






Pack 3
N174: Yogi Berra
Travis D’Arnaud
Brandon Phillips
Jason Grilli
Deion Sanders

Mini: Aaron Hill

April 11, 2014

Kouz is back in the majors



Happy Day!

Kouz is back in the majors.

On Wednesday, I headed for the Yankees game and listened to the Texas Rangers game while on my way to the ballpark. Yes, I have something of a baseball problem too, but that’s not the point. As I was listening, there was a name mentioned recalled from the depths of my collection – Kevin Kouzmanoff.

He did well in Spring Training with Texas, but they sent him to triple-A to start the season. However, Adrian Beltre tends to get a bit banged up during the year, so I wondered if Kouz would eventually get a shot.

It came sooner than expected.

Kouzmanoff pinch hit in the top of the seventh and singled off Boston’s Junichi Tazawa. I screamed in my car like a little girl on her birthday getting  shiny new bike – or something like that.

Kouzmanoff hasn’t played in a Major League game since 2011 with the Colorado Rockies. He spent the last two years in the minors in the Kansas City and Miami organizations. I wondered if he would ever make it back because he is 32 years old. He started his career the flashiest way possible – he hit a grand slam on the first Major League pitch he saw.

One of Kouz’s best years was in 2007 where he hit .275/.329/.457. In 2008, he had a career-high 23 home runs. However, his career regressed from there. He never hit higher than a .260 batting average and never hit more than 18 home runs.

He did have defense on his side though. In 2009, Kouz broke the National League single-season record with a .990 fielding percentage and his glove wound up in the Hall of Fame (FYI, Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman won the gold glove that year).

I got a chance to check it out when I visited the Hall of Fame this winter.

No matter what happens to him this season, I’m happy to see him back in the Majors. I think he could be a serviceable backup while Beltre deals with a quad issue. He may even prove a little useful off the bench.

Who knows? I may even see a few more cards in my Kouz collection. 

Here are a couple of past posts on Kouz and my collection:

July 27, 2011: Chasing a minor leaguer

April 9, 2014

Is Topps taking care of redemptions?


It seems as though Topps is taking care of redemptions. I noticed a few people on Twitter making a note that they received several redemptions, and, sure enough, I got a package at my door.

Literally. It didn’t actually fit in the mailbox, so it was left in front of my door.

I got two of three of the redemptions I’m waiting on, including the picture on top of the 2013 Topps Prime of  Demaryius Thomas autograph.

The final card I am waiting for,  however, is a Billy Hamilton autograph relic refractor from 2013 Bowman Platinum. Funny thing about this card … I’ve seen a bunch of these on eBay for MONTHS. I get those frustrations of collectors who wait on cards when they see newer autos of the guys they are waiting on.

It’s baseball season. It would be nice to get the Hamilton card.

In the meantime, Thanks Topps. J



April 8, 2014

Which Chuck Finley am I really collecting?


Have you ever watched Burn Notice?

Every time Sam Axe introduced himself as Chuck Finley, I chuckled. Younger fans may not get the reference, but my mind would always go back to the days of the California Angels. Finley pitched from 1986-2002 (and for the Angels until 1999), so maybe a few people have heard of him, but it’s still funny every single time.

Ever since the TV show, whenever I see a Chuck Finley card, I put it to the side and it goes in to my PC pile. Starting a mini-PC on Finley may not be the wisest move right now, but collecting cards was never meant to be smart.

Check out this video, if you have never seen Burn Notice. Start at the 30-second mark for a little Chuck Finley action.

April 7, 2014

The Core Four once again

I am not going to be sentimental all season as Derek Jeter's last everything is shoved down baseball's throat. But it was New York's home opener, so today I will accept it.

It's cool seeing The Core Four (why do we hate Bernie Williams so much?) at the stadium again. I'll enjoy this for now, but tomorrow it's back to baseball.

April 6, 2014

Spring Fever pack full of stars, just none I collect


Yes, spring is finally here.

That means plenty of baseball cards to start hitting the market. Along with that is Topps’ Spring Fever promotion. This year, collectors can get the cards by going to a card shop and purchasing 16 or so packs of Topps Series 1.

Or, you can go to an awesome card shop.

I managed to get some Spring Fever cards. While they look like last season’s cards, there is a holofoil type of sheen to them, which makes them much better looking in person than they are in the scans.

Of course, I didn’t pull a Derek Jeter card. Instead, I got some of these other guys. I am definitely not complaining about the players I pulled from the silver packs. 



I did manage to get a former Yankee. Seeing Robinson Cano in another uniform still stings. He's a great player and Brian Roberts just doesn't stack up. 



This wasn't the only photoshopped card in the batch. There is no way Topps managed to get the pictures of these players so quickly. Here's Prince as a Texas Ranger.



Along with the Trout, I did manage to get a player that didn't need any new uniforms. 



Those palm trees look good right about now.

April 4, 2014

Tanaka makes MLB debut, but no stranger to collectors



Masahiro Tanaka makes first Major League debut against the Toronto Blue Jays tonight.

The Yankees new starter doesn’t have any MLB cards, yet, but Tanaka does have cards available for collectors. Tanaka has at least 50 cards on the market, including three autographs. Of course, many of the cards are from Japan, but a handful are more readily available

Tanaka’s cards appeared in 2009 World Baseball Classic subsets such in Bowman Chrome, Topps Update, and Topps Chrome.



His cards appeared again in 2013 WBC sets such as ToppsTribute.

Even though he hasn’t pitched in the Majors yet, Tanaka’s cards aren’t cheap. Some of the Japanese cards can be had for a few dollars, but his Topps cards have commanded more money with base cards selling for at least $10.

Autographs and low-numbered parallels sell for hundreds.

Topps recently announced Tanaka’s first live cards would appear in Gypsy Queen, which comes out next week. It will also put Tanaka cards in 2014 Bowman with parallels, inserts and a Chrome mini. He will also have cards in Topps Archives and Topps Series 2.

Panini, which has an MLBPA license but not an MLB Properties license, announced Tanaka will be one of the subjects in the Donruss wrapper redemption program.  


Of course, I have none of these cards – that I know of. 


April 3, 2014

My newest Jeter additions, but not as nice as Jeter's new gifts

April 2, 2014

My first attempt at grading cards


I made my first attempt at grading cards several months ago.

I call it an attempt because I didn’t go as well as I hoped. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed though because I didn’t grade the card to sell. These cards are not leaving my collection, and I had them graded to put in protective cases.

However, I still wanted good grades!

I thought I looked over the cards well, checked centering, the corners and edges. I didn’t see any marks on the surface. I thought I had 9s or better.

Turns out, it takes better eyes than I have to find good grades.

The only one I knew wouldn't get a top notch grade is the card pictured above. The 1993 SP Rookie Card is a must-have for Derek Jeter collectors, but when I took this card out of the protective casing I bought it in, I noticed surface scratches. In this case, I just wanted the "authentic" label on it so it could protect the card. 

Here are some of my other grades. 










This one received the best grade of all the Jeter RCs I sent in. 





This one really hurt. I felt I definitely had a 9 on this one. But, I didn't notice a slight surface wrinkle on the back of the card, which pushed the grade way, way down 


Not all my graded cards were of Jeter. Here are two Rookie Cards, a 2001 Upper Deck MVP Ichiro and a 2001 Bowman Jose Reyes. 




I saved the best for last. 



I do have a second batch of graded cards. I did slightly better on those, but that's for another post.