29 January 2013

Thinking about 2013 Topps

Hey, did you guys hear that Topps is releasing a new set this week?

I'm as surprised as you all are.

While the base set design is refreshing from the swoop rut Topps has been in the past few years, the inserts leave nothing to imagination.

The patches are redundant and the windows that hold them are undersized.

The insert designs are awful retreads of 2010-2012 and some less-than-desirable late 90s early 00s pack-filler.

Hits, as always with Topps, will be reserved for the deep-pocketed case breakers and dealers. Abandon all hope for printing plates, low-number parallels, relics and autographs all ye who enter the Target card isle.

Oh yeah, all the autographs are on those beloved stickers, too.

Spend $150, ship the empty packs back to Topps and receive five (5!) special parallels from a 330 card set. I'll extrapolate that for you: a complete set should run you $9900, assuming you don't pull any doubles.

I will admit. The pink and camo parallels, test-run through 2012 or 2013 Topps Football, are pretty damn cool.

And the photography is fxing amazing.

Oh yeah, all those great photos are super short prints.


23 January 2013

Incoming & Outgoing: Patchin' Heat


Things have been slow around here lately. While everyone else seems to be comfortably housed in their snug little abodes, I've been making my rounds through the local waste water treatment plants and pumping stations and so on, doing what I do.

In the driving snow (yesterday.)

And the high temperature of 6 American degrees.

I'm not asking for sympathy. Just laying a baseline for understanding as to my lack of posts of late.

I'm just tired, man.

A little too tired to write so many words, or post anything to ebay, or visit the postal office (yesterday) and deal with the maniacs who wanted to go to the post office on Monday but could not, and the poor souls behind the counter that wish they'd chose a different life path.

They were, however, happier with their choice today. Including my worker, who I had a brief chat with about baseball cards - enough to inspire a future post. But not right now.

Like I said, I'm tired.

I did manage to send some packages out today though. To the dwellers of the following regions -  you're on notice.

The borough of Brooklyn, NY.

Somewhere in I have no idea, Pennsylvania.

The bitterly frosted plains of North Dakota.

...and the bitterly windswept, lake-affected land that is Jefferson County, Nueva York.

My Spanish teacher always made us say Nueva York. No one really says Nueva York, right?

Right. Baseball cards.

Bask in the refractors warm glowing warming glow.
Ahh, Sterling. I like you. Francisco is bathed in a nice warm glow of refractory goodness in this limited to 199 card from this year's Bowman Sterling. This came a while ago, but I didn't want to post just one card. With no other new Lindors coming anytime soon, I decided to go ahead and post it.

You're not a refractor...
A plain white envelope from everyone's favourite Orioles cardboard blogger, Ryan. The book on Anthony Gose has one chapter: offspeed. Hopefully he'll get it together in the International League this summer, and I can watch him run around the bases insanely here in the lesser Syracuse area. Thanks, Ryan. I dig it.

Kactus Kelly
Maybe you were wondering where the "Patchin' Heat" subtitle came from. Well, the suspense is over. Night Owl, you might as well close this post right now. It's just going to get patchier. Some blowhards on Blowout Cards forums were ranting about how overrated Kelly is as a prospect.


Sure. I saw Zach Wheeler pitch this summer. He didn't look good, but hell, it doesn't make him overrated.

Another said he was boring. So was Mike Mussina.

Schoop, day it is.
I have a passionate love affair with minor league logos. They cause me to do wild things, like bid on used Montgomery Biscuits hats off ebay - and makedamnsure I win them.

One logo which I cannot get enough of is the Bowie BaySox logo, AA affiliate of the Orioles. Schoop will be representing the sneaky good Netherlands baseball squad in this late winter/spring's World Baseball Classic. Watch. They may surprise you. But they still cannot pitch.

Flying Awesomeness
There's nto a whole lot to say about this patcher. It's a Flying Squirrel. On a baseball card. And some SF Giants prospect - but that's not the point.

A Flying Squirrel. From Richmond, Virginia.

I love minor league baseball.

20 January 2013


One of the best things about blogging is that sometimes, you don't have to write a thing.

2008 Bowman

2001 Stadium Club
1999 Stadium Club

2002 Ultra

1999 Topps

1999 Stadium Club

2008 Upper Deck First Edition

2007 Topps

1996 Upper Deck Collectors Choice

18 January 2013

JP America! - Thoughts on the 2013 World Baseball Classic

As you may have read a few posts previous to this one, I will be temporarily laid off for the months of February and March. I am, however, a young, able-bodied lad and somehow still optimistic about my future. I mean, it could be worse.

I could be an Astros fan.

A few years ago, I'd be in panic mode. However, 2013 is a special year.

It's a World Baseball Classic year.

When I was younger, I always wondered why there wasn't a big international tournament for baseball pros - like there was for hockey (The Olympics), soccer (The World Cup) and basketball (whatever the hell that is.)

Around 1994 and the age of eight I was beginning to realize that baseball was ruled by the almighty dollar, and that as Americans with our professional sports unions, there was no reason to hope for international play.

However, there remains on force in my universe that remains for powerful than money.

The baseball gods. They exist, dammit. And fortunately, the powers that be have succeeded - and a great success it has been - to form the World Baseball Classic tournament.

The Baseball Gods. They exist, dammit.

While there are some strange kinks in the system (country eligibility, scheduling, time-of-year), the Classic has been a savior for me and the dearth of daily baseball from October-April with qualifiers in November and the tourney beginning in February-March. Essentially, it reduces the baseball season from five months to about two and a half.

Which is all we really want, right?

I'll answer that for you. It is. And with last night's announcements of the tentative 2013 rosters, the Classic is coming up very quickly.

While I won't go too deep into it right now - I'll save that for later posts (lucky you guys), I can at least talk a bit about the Blue Jays - all seven of them - that are on International rosters this year.

I'll start with the four Dominicans - Esmil Rogers, Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes.

Esmil has a long torso.

As Jays fans, we may not know too much about Esmil Rogers at this point. He likely won't have a huge role with the Dominicans in this tournament - he's still young, not extremely polished and occasionally wild, but his numbers in the MLB recovered greatly after being traded from the Coors Field Rockies to the Cleveland Indians last summer.

I imagine him mostly as a matchup guy versus right-handed batters with slower bats in order to be most effective.

After a brief but thorough search, I was unable to find a card featuring Esmil as a Dominican player. The same goes for the next guyer, coincidentally, I picked a card from the same set and parallel of: Melky Cabrera.

Thank you fans.
I don't want to talk about Melky. Still very torn on him.

Worldly Edwin.
Edwin was the Blue Jays offence last season. He somehow hit .280/.815 last season, consistently hitting home runs (42?!) and driving in 110 runs. Watching about 80% of Jays games last season, I had no idea he was that much of a contribution.

While Edwin is yet to play an International game for the Dominican Republic, I did manage to come across this blue beauty on COMC, picturing Edwin playing for the World team in the 2005 Futures Game.

Lastly, Jose Reyes, who is seemingly the happiest baseball player on Earth right now, will also be playing shortstop for the Dominicans in the coming months.

Jose Reyes' presser with the Blue Jays was yesterday at 4:00. Generally, I work until then, but left 15' early to catch it. If the boss doesn't understand that - I'll have to find a new workplace.

The excitement Jose brings to the game is unparalleled. Sure. Argue for Mike Trout, but you won't be seeing him in any meaningful games until April at the earliest, and if I can read MLB rosters like I think I can, probably not until 2014.

Ideally, Jose will be batting leadoff for the Dominicans, hitting a plethora of triples, stealing bases and making slick fielding plays - hopefully picking up where he left off for the Blue Jays at the start of the MLB season.

I've pictured him here in a World Baseball Classic get-up, smiling that Jose Reyes smile an on a blue refractor. How can one be blue on a refractor?

On a side, the girlfriend and I have a long-standing (playful) argument going on over the most adorable MLB player. Last night, I raised her Gio Gonzalez with Jose Reyes. It's a tie, right now.

Future Canadian Prime Minister.
  KID CANADA. Analysis not necessary.

And if it was, it would be incoherent rambling and audible hashtags.


And now for my fellow countrymen, the knuckleballin' abbreviatin' Nashville duo: Robert Allen Dickey and John-Paul Arencibia.

R-A-D! U-S-A!
I don't need to get into the saga that is the life of RA Dickey. Chances are, if you've been alive and paying attention to baseball in the past three years, you've heard, watched, and possibly even written about him in some way. But strictly in a USA baseball fan point, RA gives Team America! a distinct advantage, as the reigning Cy Young is one of the few grown men alive who can make a baseball dance like a bottlecap in a hurricane. We're glad to have you, Dickey.

With the addition of RA Dickey to the USA roster, another hole was opened - a catcher who can receive it. No offense to Mike Nickeas or Josh Thole, but their pedigree doesn't quite spell out National representation. While Joe Mauer, who is on Team America! caught the knuckleball for a brief period as RA Dickey was still searching deep in his locker to find it, a fresh glove and teammate doesn't hurt.

Enter JP Arencibia.

JP is no stranger to International play. In 2006, he played for the USA Collegiate team, along with other hot shots such as Pedro Alvarez, Jake Arrieta, Darwin Barney, Zach Cozart, Ross Detwiler, Todd Frazier, Jemile Weeks and David Price.

I will soon own the black signature version of this.

Hell of a team, no?

Now, I am sure a lot of you are thinking: "JP Arencibia on the national team? What the hell? He hit .220 last year"

And you're right. But someone has gotta catch the knuckleball - and JP will probably only play when Joe Mauer is hanging out on first base and RA Dickey is pitching. But also, shut the hell up.

JP is awesome:

15 January 2013

COMC #2: Prospectin' Francisco Lindor

I like to think that on this here blog, I don't keep secrets. If I find a market inefficiency, I will share it. My COMC deals and methods? Shared. Prospecting? Shared. Mostly. Some of my prospecting should pan out quickly.

See: Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker.

Some other will take time.

See: Strkyer Trahan, AJ Jimenez and the starring role in the post you're reading: Francisco Lindor.

Much of my prospecting comes from the bang-on analysis of prospects I originally heard in the now defunct Up and In podcast from Baseball Prospectus featuring Jason Parks and Kevin Goldstein. Goldstein is now a higher-up in the Houston Astros (long overdue congratulations), and Professor Parks will be returning this spring with a new podcast. This inspires elation in me.

The guys on the podcast were big on Francisco Lindor. Until recently I didn't know much about him. What caught my eye to him was his gorgeous signature featured on baseball cards. It's always something simple like that, isn't it?

Unfortunately, this post does not feature a signature of Frankie Lindor. However, it does show off some goodies I picked up of him earlier this month from COMC.

Let's move through time:

2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects & guys you've never heard of that will be selling oranges on the Freeway by January.
Two-thousand and eleven featured Francisco Lindor in a Cleveland Indians get-up for the first time, as you may have noticed from the iconic 1st Bowman Card stamp in the upper left. The first/RC logo/XRC clutter plaguing out collecting universe needs to end. Rookie Card logo, All-Star Rookie logo, nothing else.

For some reason, 2011 Bowman had prospects shrouded in black borders. As a fan of cards in black, this is actually not one of my favourites. So it goes.

2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects but chrome this time instead of paper.
Hey, look! It's Lindor's 1st Bowman CHROME card! That's different, somehow! 

Possibly. I guess chromes, though usually around 2-3:1 packs, are a parallel to the Bowman paper cards. I'd rather have a paper rookie card. You cannot beat that authenticity. 

So I'll admit, at this point, that Lindor cards are kinda repetitive at this point. It won't get much better, save for a new photo and borders on the following:

One of the selling points on Lindor is his ability to switch-hit, while being rangey middle infielder who hits line drives and is apparently a hard worker. Sign me up.

The Bowman International parallels, exhumed for 2012 are my favourites of the year. Even more, brace yourself, than purple refractors. Happily, I was able to obtain this one of Lindor, featuring a Puerto Rican flag. Lindor was born in Puerto Rico but moved to Florida for boarding school at the ago of 13. I think his folks knew they had something in their young middle infielder at an early age.

Ohhhkayyy so maybe these beat the International parallels in a taste test. Blue Wave Refractors are simply fantastic. If you're having trouble picturing the light-exploiting effects of this card, go through a search on ebay or imagine an XFractor Laser Show if it happened in 1994. Sure, they're loud and gaudy and colourful, but is that really that much of a bad thing?

I don't think so.

14 January 2013

COMC #1 - JPA and the Miscellaneous

I managed to raid the COMC silos filled with cardboard goodies again recently.

I enjoy COMC orders every time. While the first or second was probably the best, it's not ad if they're getting worse or anything. Every time there is something new. My player collections are quite fluid, so the previous statement becomes more true every time.

And while I will get into some newer player collections in future posts, this one will stick with my number one - JP Arencibia.

As you can see from the photo above, JPA is currently being awesome on the Jays Winter Tour, which, sadly, does not come through Syracuse.

Might have to call up Paul Beeston and have a discussion on that.

Anyways. On to some new John-Pauls:
Diamonds and white trash parallels.

Black and white J-Ps from 2011 Topps. The white devil is from the factory set, which were stamped with a special logo in the top left, in case you forgot last (two years ago) was Topps' 60th Anniversary,

Fred Lewis is making a ton of cameos on this blog. Might as well give him a mention.

Nice card, poor analysis.
Not totally sure what set this is from*, but I really enjoy it. I don't always agree with Baseball America. And their podcasts are about as interesting as cud drying in the Wisconsin sun. I'm more of a Baseball Prospectus guyer.

Tristar Stylee
Another new Arencibia, and another Arencibia making a rediculous "who ripped one?!" face. This is some sort of rainbow foil.

Doble Gypsy
A Gypsy Queen Gypsy Queen from 2012. What the hell does that mean? There's a picture of some Hungarian woman, likely my GEOL 451: Remote Sensing professor printed on the back.

Also, my favourite back-type from '12 Gypsy Queen.

That's it for JPAs in this post, but it wouldn't be a tear-assing party without this guy:
Lawrie cards are expensive. This one, actually wasn't. But it's still awesome.

And of course, the lonely, single card from the iciest of sports, hockey:

Downtown Koivu
These cards are just great. This is number two in my collection, and is headed straight to the Puma Box to hang out with new teammate Zach Parise.

More COMC posts coming soon. There may be up to seven, you've been warned.

13 January 2013

Obligatory Sunday Post (1)

First, with a state-of-the blog:

As with most of the blogospheroid, I work Monday-Friday. My occupation, at least in the winter, is semi-labourious, and as a result of that and beating myself to death behind home plate for a decade plus, I tire myself out pretty easily. Needless to say, my posting has been sparse of late, but I have some good news in relation to that.

My current work contract send on January 31st. I was hired in June for some intern-type duties and to spearhead a forestry project in Onondaga County. I was only supposed to be there for six months, but if you check the math, January 31st is about seven and a half months. I also received a raise in this period, which is almost unheard of in this county within a a six-month duration.

Anyays, I was pulled aside by the bossman on Friday afternoon once I returned from the field. He told me I was done on 1/31 (which everyone already knew) but that the county and the higher-up project leaders wanted to bring me back for next season, with another "salary enhancement" and potential of creating a more permanent position - the project is on a 20-year timeline.

Sounds good, eh? It is.

However, I'll be off in February and March. Language and rewriting the grants and bureaucratic red tape will keep me out of work and glued to MLBNetwork coverage of the World Baseball Classic (U-S-A! U-S-A!).

Oh deary me, what a way to waste two months.

So, although I won't be purchasing as much cardage due to two months without income* (don't worry too much, I've saved a good deal of my poorly-earned grad student $), I will be able to put a huge effort, in comparison  to writing here, and possibly on my other blogs - which once they are revamped, will be pimped out to no avail right here.

My collecting foci have not changed so much.

I've added Marcus Stroman and Matthew Smoral to my list of Puma Box participants. Been working on acquiring some Hutchisons while he's hurt and cheap, as well as Drabek. As for Nue Jays acquired in The Trade, I'm only collecting Jose Reyes retroactively and will go after Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio pictured as Jays. Hopefully in 2013 Flagship Topps will take a more serious approach to photoshopping on new logos. No way they'll be able to take photographs and print up Nue Jays in Spring Training digs.

I'll know, Topps.

Topps has been airbrushing/photoshopping/paying Chinese tweens $.10/day to change logos. I cannot change this.

For those of you that have made it this far without pictures, I applaud and appreciate your effort. You're a tribute to plaingrayswatch.

So here's your shiny award, and believe me, it is quite, quite shiny.

2011 Topps Finest
Red Refractor 09/25
The rainbow of 2011 Finest JPAs was never a big issue to me until I saw this card. Via scan, it's not so outstanding, but in the morning Sunday light of my man cave/rabbit den, it's absolutely gorgeous. This was acquired for less than $10, which to me, is great for a red refractor #ed to 25. The serial is 09/25, which is, you guessed it, JP's number. ONE OF ONE!!!!1/1

2012 Bowman Chrome DP&P
Red Ice Refractor 16/25
Let's stick with the red. This is a red-ice refractor from 2012 Bowman Chrome of Jays #2 (still a 1st rounder) of Marcus Stroman. Another steal at under $10, Stroman's cardboard is selling quite well right now. He'll start 2013 under a drug suspension, but if you look at lil' Marcus you can tell he's probably not a juicer and he just took something over-the-counter that, as a draft pick, he didn't know was illegal. So it goes. Live, learn, close games.

2012 Bowman Sterling
Autograph - Base
Okay, I'll admit that I am hoarding 2012 Bowman Sterling autos. This is my second Marcus Stroman. I have five Francisco Lindors and two base Stryker Trahans, plus a refractor. I really love the design of these, and they're easy pickin' right now after sellers flooded the ebay market at the turn of the year. Hoping for some decent resale once Stro' is called up in September. Trahan and Lindor, however, are a few years off still.

2012 Bowman Chrome
Franchise All-Stars
Asdrubdbdbbaball Cabrera & Francisco Lindor
Speaking of Francisco Lindor, our friend Dennis at Pictures of Men (easily one of my favourite blogs, both from cards and a Blue Jays perspective) sent me this Lindor/Cabrera in exchange for a purple refractor of Roy Halladay. Done deal.**

2012 Finest
Rookie Autograph Refractor something/198
Aaaaand the obligatory Drew Hutchison refractauto. I don't have an explicit affinity for 2012 Finest, but this one came in on the cheap. Silly me, this card is absolutely gorgeous in-hand, in natural light. Plus, it's numbered to /198.

2011 and 2012 Topps Chrome Refractors
XFractor, Black (/100), Red (/25)

Like I said, I am going after Jose Reyes retroactively. Why? Because I enjoy the uniforms of both the Mets and Marlins, and they tend to make great cards. The 2011 XFractor I pulled from a $1.59 Target pack. I buy them out all the time. Which reminds me, I have to assault one of the other OC Targets to see if they've restocked...

I really like Jose Reyes refractors. Maybe its because they're flashy as all hell and so is he. The black (/100) and red (/25 again) came from a lot off ebay where the seller accepted a lowball of $18, which may seem like a lot, but I don't mess around with red refractors - it has taken me five plus months to track down a 2011 JP Arencibia, so I jumped on this. The black refractor, with the orange and black of the fake Marlins jersey, is stunning. Black refractors look good with every team, except the Yankees, in which every card looks like a pile of puke.***

Well, this has been a long post. I do not have many singles coming in the mai--

Oh wait, I have a sixty-card COMC order arriving this week.

Never mind.

Be on the lookout for a huge series of posts on that order. Could be at least six posts. You've been warned.

*Which is not a huge problem. There won't be anything new coming out anyways - I'll be tracking down some Jays from the 2012 Donruss Elite EE set, likely, but just singles. Once returning to work in April, the good stuff will start coming. Bowman, A&G Civilizations insert, NUE JAYS on 2013 cards.

**If you have Roy Halladay cards to trade, send them to Dennis. He's a big fan and will appreciate them more than I. I love Halladay and always will, but the red pinstripes just leave me feeling empty. At least, until I see Jose Reyes in blue this Spring.

**Send me your Jose Reyes refractors, jerks.

10 January 2013

In which I rip two rack packs of 2012 Bowman Chrome...on camera.

I'll likely embarrass myself here, but this is something I've been wishing to do for quite a while.

Lately, something happened in the card blogosphere (which I will not detail) that ignited a fire in my little blogger self. Consider posts from here on as writing with a grudge.

I want to improve this blog. I want people to come here, comment, complain, so on. And I wanted to that without making a list of resolutions just to revisit in December as a sobbing, even more embarrassed blogger.

One improvement, along the lines of reader participation and interaction, was to run some group breaks. However, since there are about seventeen going on right now, that will have to wait. I'm hoping for a nice break once some more 2013 products are out.

In these breaks, I want to make some videos. Since there are no new (affordable) or exciting products, I ripped a really, really shitty one from 2012.

Bowman Chrome.


Aside from the top-shelf stuff, BowChrow is just the worst in terms of value, but there was only one hockey alternative at Target tonight, and it was the also overpriced 2012-2013 Panini Certified.

So I bit the proverbial bullet, grabbed two rackerz of BowChrow, and drove home.

And then I recorded it.

So here.

Watch me embarrass myself. I swear my voice sound like that.

07 January 2013

Hey, hockey is back.

So let's celebrate with a re-pack!

$5.99 slipped into my grocery cart tonight. Let's see what we have.

Could be much, much worse. I guess.

I'll start with the repack-in-a-repack, a product with no name.

Yep. That's a checklist. Awesome start, eh?

1997-1998 Leaf. I love Leaf!

Some legitimate star power on a truly excellent base-set design. I dig.

2005-2006 Parkhurst. Back to the Future! Err, recent past. Or something.

In case you were wondering what every pack of 2005-2006 Parkhurst looked like, well, that's it. Every one. Just like that.

2006-2007 MVP

I think I've seen every one of these cards about 76 times. But they're colourful. Might be a nice binder set. For a six-year-old.

2006-2007 Ultra

Ultra was very, very unimaginative in the mid-to-late 00's. This is that same set as 07-08, but this one has a horizontal foil line. In 08-09, they tilted the player's names. Mind you, this all came after the Upper Deck takeover of Fleer. Before that, Ultra was great. UD neutered it.

2010-2011 Upper Deck

So colourful. Upper Deck hockey in 2012 beat the hell out of UD baseball. What a dreadful set that was. Clutterbuck saves this repack.

Well, it was full of mustly trash, but fun. I'll have to shred some modern hockey before too long in celebration.