Saturday, June 25, 2016

Full Circle

Last week, I made a pretty big trade on Instagram with user @ttmcollector25. At first, I had planned to accept a trade I wasn't too high on. But, just before I pulled the trigger, I found this card scattered on his page and quickly countered:

2000 Upper Deck Legends Reggie Jackson Auto Graded 8.5 w/ 10 Auto

It took a little extra on my end, but it wasn't too difficult to come to an agreement. I haven't added an autograph of Reggie's since he screwed over my Mickey Mantle 16x20 and signed in the darkest spot intentionally. I haven't been his biggest fan since then, but this was too nice a card to pass up. And the most ironic part of it all is that it originally belonged to a fellow blogger in our community, Frankie!

It's crazy how some things come full circle like this. I think Frankie may have moved the card because of the somewhat disappointing grade. However, I've never really been one to critique (or have much interest in) graded cards, so I'm comfortable with the score this received.

So, thanks Frankie for giving this up so it eventually would join my collection!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Instantly Hooked on Instagram

For a while, I didn't know how much I was into using Instagram for hobby related purposes. I didn't know how much I'd be able to trust users and besides, I hadn't done much trading in a considerably long time. I finally decided to give it a shot, and the longer I've had my new separate account (@drewshotcorner), I realized that a lot of my cards do indeed have a price tag and are not untouchable. Several trades later, I have to say I'm hooked. No offense to you guys, but the trading and selling is much more active there than it is on these sites from everything I've seen.

First, I made a trade with user @csgraphs a few weeks ago. I dealt a few autographs I didn't have any connection to for these two beauties:

2016 Topps Museum Collection Nolan Arenado Quad Patch Relic /75

2013 Topps Five Star Justin Upton Auto /333

Arenado is one of the top five all around position players in the game in my eyes, along with Trout, Harper, Machado, and Goldschmidt. He can do no wrong. This patch card I acquired more than likely will end up in Frankie's hands eventually, but for now I'm going to enjoy the dirt splattered relic chunks.

Meanwhile, it hasn't been the brightest start to Justin Upton's Tigers tenure. He is beginning to come on, which is encouraging and should have been expected. He is an example of an overhyped prospect that has come into his own over time. He was hyped to be much greater than he's been, but at least he's still an above average outfielder. I love Topps Five Star, and will struggle to unload this card because of how gorgeous his autograph looks.

Next, I worked out a trade with @cluelesscards that I didn't think I would end up doing, but lucked out with. He wanted one of my low end Troy Tulowitzki autographs, and I preferred to move the card only for a different autograph or relic. He then presented me with an alternative approach to the deal, as he had quite a few cards I needed of many of my PC guys.

Robinson Cano was the big winner once again, as I was able to add 10 new cards of his alone to my PC box. I'm starting to soften on his transition from New York to Seattle, and really have no issue with continuing to collect his stuff here and there. I think a lot of that has to do with the Yankees now having a major league caliber player at second base again in Starlin Castro; no longer having to deal with the black hole that was old Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew.

This trade also included my first Aroldis Chapman Yankees card. I've been pretty impressed with Chapman, but I must admit it's hard watching him pitch for such a non-competitive team. If he isn't moved by the trade deadline, I won't have much faith left in the organization. He has too much value to be left wasting away in this bullpen. Side note: how awful were those 2015 All Star Game hats?

Believe it or not, the Yankees boast a stronger young core than they've had in quite some time. Refsnyder has had some nice moments, Bird exceeded expectations last September, and Didi Gregorius may just be their second best hitter right now after the red hot Carlos Beltran. The Opening Day rookie card of Gary Sanchez is a total flop though. I don't think you can tell from the scan, but the photo is so pixelated. It looks like a custom card done horribly wrong. Sorry, Topps.

Because there is a Nick Swisher card included here, I guess this is the proper time to address that I have sold my 150+ card collection of his to Chris Olds, formerly of Beckett Baseball. He is a Swisher super collector, and as much as I enjoyed his stint in pinstripes it was all taking up too much space in my personal collection box. I might add a few of the cards back in time, because now I have just a few left, but I felt like it was the right thing to do and I did it.

I really like this Gypsy Queen framed parallel of Andrew McCutchen. Cutch is off to the worst start of his magnificent career, and may be considered the worst of the Pirates super talented outfield. I would never count him out though. He is no longer one of my major PC focuses, but I wouldn't pass up his cards if I were offered them. This one will be staying with me.

This was a good trade for me, despite losing an autograph from my autograph count (which is declining substantially since I first posted about it). 

The final trade I'll be showcasing in this post was with @cbbaseballcards. I gave up my Anthony Rizzo Tribute auto in exchange for these two Yankees autographs. Rizzo is one of my favorite players right now, but I want to find a card I like more than the one I had. 

Aaron Judge and Greg Bird could work out in several ways. One could pan out, one might not. Perhaps both will fly to superstardom and bat 3-4 in the Yankees order for years to come. Or both of these cards will one day be found in the dollar bin. Autograph collecting is such a gamble, and I think that is part of why it is so addicting for collectors like myself. Judge has been on a tear lately in AAA, and I hope the Yankees give him a fair chance in the majors this season after they trade Carlos Beltran for more quality prospects (which again, as much as I like Carlos; needs to happen for the good of the future).

This is just the beginning of my summer collection overhaul. I just got a new job that pays pretty well, and while most of the money I make will be allotted to recovering my abysmal bank account post-study abroad, I will have some money to put towards this hobby too. I already have a few ideas up my sleeve.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Didn't Ya Know I Still Love Cano?

While I was gallivanting throughout Europe, I really didn't put in the time or effort to keep up with the hobby. The best part about collecting is that you're not on a set schedule; you can come back to it whenever you feel like it! I think a majority of us collectors are too passionate to ever quit this hobby altogether as long as we are financially stable enough to carry on. 

Sure enough, when I landed home I quickly rushed back to my collection and have been more active with trading and selling than I have been in several years. And the first deal I made was with my good friend Andrew, of Everyday Holliday fame. Andrew ended up with something I really wanted, but couldn't commit to trading for until I got home. And now, after a little wheeling and dealing, it is in my possession.

But first, no trade with Andrew seems to come without some extras. The Stars & Stripes Peter O'Brien feels really appropriate with the Fourth of July right around the corner. The Bowman green parallel of Dermis Garcia is numbered to 99, which was a pleasant surprise too.

Here are two of the Yankees most heralded young stars, both of whom you know I am big fans of. Both Severino and Bird have been anointed as potential saviors of the team's youth movement, though if this is true, fans will likely have to wait until the end of the 2016 season at the earliest to see them become factors in their quest for a 28th World Series title.

I really didn't expect this as a bonus card. Legendary Cuts used to provide collectors with some of the best relics in the business, and this is no exception. Jorge Posada never quite was up to par with the Red Sox great Fisk, but he more than held his own. 

Behold, the card(s) at the center of the deal; a 2015 Topps Supreme Scope tri-fold patch autograph of Robinson Cano numbered 6 of 10! Andrew got a really good deal on this card, and we were able to negotiate something fair for both sides that I have zero regrets over. Cano has returned to MVP caliber form in 2016 for the first time in a Mariners uniform, leading the team in all three major offensive categories. Despite leaving New York, I am still collecting the future Hall of Famer, though to a lesser extent than I did when he wore pinstripes.

This is my first tri-fold style card, and I have to say it's an interesting way to design a card. Topps seems to really enjoy its new laser engraving technology, but I think this is a case where the experimentation pays off. I have no idea how I'm going to display the card, because I believe it would need some sort of custom framing job. One of these days, I'll find a way to make it happen.

Andrew, thank you so much as always. You're a heck of a good guy, and I look forward to our next deal! If you don't know of Everyday Holliday, please go give it a look. I promise you won't be disappointed if you're as passionate a collector as Andrew or myself!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Luis Severino PC Additions: Spring 2016

Hey everyone, Drew back here. I've been back in the US for almost a month now, and unless you keep tabs with my Twitter or Instagram accounts; you haven't seen any of my new Luis Severino PC additions. So with that, let's get you all up to date, shall we?

- 2014 Bowman Scout's Breakouts Insert
- 2014 Bowman Scout's Breakouts Die-Cut Insert

- 2014 Bowman Scout's Breakouts Die-Cut X-Fractor 61/99
- 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects Black Refractor 

I purchased these four cards off of Check Out My Collectibles just before I fly off to Italy, and arrived home to find them waiting on my desk for me. I'm going to try to fill as many holes in his early Topps/Bowman rainbow checklists as I can without breaking the bank, and I believe these all came to me for less than $10 shipped.

- 2016 Topps #265 Rookie Card (x17)

Not one, not two, but seventeen. It's safe to say I won't be needing any more copies of Severino's official Topps rookie card. They really put together a solid debut card of his, more than likely thanks in part to him being represented by them.

- 2016 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autograph Refractor 177/499

When I initially started collecting Severino, I told myself I would only focus on his prospect years and his rookie year, and only went after his Topps/Bowman releases. I didn't think it would be much. I was wrong. His autograph is featured multiple times in every single Topps release this year, which I can only imagine is part of why they hardly sell for over $10 a pop (though, in fairness to Topps; his performance in 2016 has left much to be desired). I want to at least have one autograph from each set he's been included in, but as for completing the rookie year rainbows.... we'll see.

- 2016 Topps Museum Collection Signature Series Triple Relic Auto 95/99

Museum Collection has produced some of Topps' finest quality since its birth in 2012. This year, I feel like it may have taken a bit of a step back. Don't get me wrong, I'll take a card like this any day; but it does feel a little busy. Regardless, there are a few other Severino inclusions in this year's release that I'll be trying to add sooner or later.

- 2016 Topps Archives 1969 Super Auto 70/75

When I first saw these cards appearing out of this year's Topps Archives, I was so pumped. I quickly made an offer on a Severino autographed version on eBay and it was accepted. The card came in yesterday, and it is undoubtedly one of my favorites in my growing collection of the future Yankees ace.

And yes, I said ace. Because I still believe in the kid, and so should you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Walk the Walk & Talk the Talk: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali

Arrogance has always been one of my least favorite qualities a person can have. In most cases, I feel that it's a tool used by weak personalities to hide insecurities. In this world we live in today, it is relatively easy to transform into someone you're not; especially after the birth and rise of the Internet. While we now have freedoms we're still working out the kinks to, it is tougher than ever before to remain genuine and honest with others in a world so deeply rooted in boastful lies.

But in the rare case, arrogance is permitted in my book of what is tolerable and what isn't. And no, if you're excited thinking I'm referring to Donald Trump, you probably have the wrong idea and should go consult Fox News. I'm talking about Muhammad Ali, the self-proclaimed "Greatest of All Time". Ali, of course; left us too soon on Friday night after battling Parkinson's Disease for over thirty years. His impact has been reflected upon every second of this past weekend by friends, family, athletes, and fans; as it rightfully should have. After all, no other modern athlete has left behind the global legacy he had.

Muhammad Ali once said that he called himself the greatest before he even knew he was. His ego was unprecedented and challenging to an American society that was still rampant with racial tension. The man even refused entry into the Vietnam War because he felt it wasn't fair for him to defend a country that wouldn't defend him. Whether you agree with his decision or not, the man made a hell of a point. He lost some of his fanbase by choosing punishment over war, but it was hard to root against him once he stepped back into the ring.

Image Source

For his career, Ali won 56 of his 61 fights; 37 by KO. He entertained my parents' generation by trash talking his opponents while transcending boxing with phantom punches and the rope a dope. At the same time, he pushed boundaries for African Americans and took pride in his Muslim faith. He used the platform he was given to spread love and make a difference in the world, while also being the most ferocious fighter we may ever see. If that doesn't make him the greatest, I don't know what else would.

Like the famous idiom says, if you can walk the walk, you can talk the talk. Ali was confident in his abilities and proved himself time and time again. In the end, he succumbed to the illness brought upon by what made him great. But we all know that he died a bigger winner than any one of us.

Ali being awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom 

Rest in Peace, Champ.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Autograph Counter

Hey everyone, Drew back here. So before I left for Italy, I organized more of my collection than I had in years. It was such a nice relief coming home to not too much of a disaster in my man-cave. While cleaning up, I decided to count every single signature I own. As long as I could identify the subject, it was added to my spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was designed to accommodate for all future autograph pickups, so I was able to add to it with the few TTM's and eBay pickups from when I was away.

As of today, I own 896 total autographs, and here is how it all breaks down:

Active Players - 296/896 (33%)
Deceased Players - 48/896 (5%)
Hall of Famers - 110/896 (13%)

Yankees - 287/896 (32%) of Total, 287/777 (37%) of Baseball
Jets - 54/896 (6%) of Total, 54/74 (73%) of Football
Knicks - 7/896 (0.8%) of Total, 7/14 (50%) of Basketball

I also have a spreadsheet that tracks how many autographs I have of individual players. Here's the current top 20 on that list:

1. Nick Swisher (12)
2. Luis Severino (11)
3. Joe Panik (10)
4. Robinson Cano (9)
5. Don Larsen (7)
6. Yogi Berra (6)
Wade Boggs (6)
Virgil Trucks (6)
Sparky Lyle (6)
Roy White (6)
Josh Hamilton (6)
Pat Neshek (6)
Goose Gossage (6)
Bobby Doerr (6)
Bob Feller (6)
16. Ty Hensley (5)
Lee Smith (5)
Don Mattingly (5)
C.C. Sabathia (5)
Bobby Shantz (5)

This was a grueling project, but I'm really glad I did it in retrospect. Now I can shoot for specific autograph goals in the beginning of the year, without changing my collecting habits of course. I'm going to add a counter on my sidebar indicating what my total is up to as my quest for 1,000 marches on.

I challenge you guys to see how many autographs you have in your collection! It might be more than you think!