Friday, October 30, 2015

From Michael to Giancarlo

Hey guys, Drew back here! There is now only 1 more day left for you to sign up for my Victory Fine Art giveaway! I am looking forward to giving away any print of your choice, and would love to see some more entries if at all possible.

If there's one thing I can be especially proud of myself for recently as far as the hobby is concerned; it's my new expansion onto eBay. I have been a constant buyer off the 'bay for as long as I've been collecting, but I had never used it to sell anything... until this fall. They recently had a promotion where you could list up to 1,000 items for free (which, of course, just started up again if you're interested), and I decided to take advantage of not paying listing fees, which has always been my biggest turn-off to the site.

I always preferred the system Check Out My Collectibles uses, where the fee is small and the items are held for as long as you would like, only with a small additional monthly fee for keeping your inventory on the site. I still like that system better, but I can't lie; it's been pretty stale lately. I've had trouble selling cards on there ever since my initial boom, and now I just have a collection of unwanted cards in my inventory.

So with eBay, I decided to flip some cards I wasn't interested in anymore and upgrading some of my favorite autographs. This was perhaps my biggest "hit", outside of some higher end Severino cards I've been showing off this month:

I've had a 2011 Topps Tribute "Mike" Stanton autograph sitting in my autograph box for some time, but I wasn't a huge fan of the card. First, there's that annoying nitpicky feeling that his name has since been formally changed to Giancarlo in that time, so it always bothered me to see the wrong name on the card. Second, the design and photo really didn't do much justice to just how powerful this man is.

So, I sold that card for about $30, and spent about $25 additionally to give Miami's mega millionaire the respect he deserves. Injuries have hampered his young career, yet he still has managed to crush 181 career home runs at the ripe age of 25. I picked him to win the 2015 NL MVP (with Harper as a Dark Horse), and he only played in 74 games. The Marlins were a disaster after I selected them as a surprise Wild Card team, which wound up being my most embarrassing preseason pick. However, going into 2016, Stanton should be healthy and one of my all time favorite players is now at the helm in Don Mattingly, rather than their former GM Dan Jennings. I'll learn my lesson and keep them from the playoffs next year, but I do think the team has some bright talent that could surprise some people down the line (especially if this guy can stay on the field).

The card I added was the gorgeous jumbo patch autograph numbered to just 35 copies out of 2014 Topps Five Star, one of my all time favorite Topps brands. It has a certain elegance to it, however at the same time Stanton looks like a Roman warrior carved in stone. I couldn't be happier with this pickup of one of my favorite players I've ever gotten to watch!

If you haven't tried selling on eBay before, I do recommend it, especially for smaller items like cards. It's an easier process than you would think, and as long as you stay on top of things and learn some basic selling strategies I'm sure you can easily make some great collection upgrades too!

Enter the contest!

See Ya!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Impulse Buy - Ray Lewis Signed Book

Hey everyone, Drew back here. Before I continue, I just want to friendly remind you that my contest for a free print from Victory Fine Art will be concluding on Halloween at 5 PM EST. It's a great value and they do a fantastic job, so check out this link if you want to try to win something special to display in your man cave.

I recently was perusing the web as I often do, until I was sent an email from Barnes & Noble. I've ordered a few signed books from their website over the past year, and they now send me updates when new signed books will be hitting the web. As soon as I saw this coming out on October 20th, I knew I had to make it mine.

Future Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Lewis just released his first tell-all autobiography entitled "I Feel Like Going On: Life, Game, and Glory". I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but the description sure does put it at the top of my reading list. Ray talks about his tough childhood and his incredible football career with the Baltimore Ravens mostly within the book, as well as discussing his faith and how it has gotten him to where he is today. 

Lewis' story has been the subject of debate for many years now. While I don't expect him to go into too much detail from the controversial Super Bowl party in Atlanta of 2000, I do hope he at least touches on it. If you didn't know before, he was on trial for murder in a very suspicious incident that has since left his reputation in jeopardy. However, since that case he has avoided trouble and focused on becoming perhaps the greatest linebacker of his generation.

I'll never forget Ray for his elaborate dance routine to pump up the crowd in Baltimore. He was one of my favorite players to watch, and it isn't the same without him on the field. He was the player on the cover of my first Madden I ever owned (Madden 2005), and was one of the few that didn't allow the Curse to get to him.

His autograph doesn't have much to show for it, but for $20 shipped, I'm beyond content with what I received. I haven't been reading as much as I used to, but I did review Jorge Posada's autobiography from earlier this year and hopefully eventually I can cover this one as well.

If you are interested in great signed book opportunities, look no further than Barnes & Noble's signed book collection. They offer a wide variety of autographed books that would look great in any collection.

See Ya!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Victory Fine Art Giveaway!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! Recently, I had the pleasure of becoming partners with the good folks at Victory Fine Art - an up and coming licensed provider of fantastic sports artwork.

Victory has emerged over the past year after quite the selection process to determine which artists would produce their works. After examining over 300 different artists, four award winning people were selected to represent the company. Their website currently features a Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, and Indy 500 page; as well as an exclusive Muhammad Ali gallery.

I took an extensive look through their website after initially being contacted by the company to see if we could form a partnership. I was captivated from the second I clicked their website link. Also, I was particularly impressed by their price points. While their original canvas' for each subject cost several thousand dollars, you can own a large 19" by 35" print for just $35.00. A majority of their pieces are meant to gather an emotional message about the player represented; far more than any routine photo commonly used throughout the industry.

Long story short, I was sent a few of their prints this past week to be able to show off for all of you. I chose my two personal favorites of theirs, and I could not be more happy with the results. The first print I chose was the gorgeous Derek Jeter "Farewell" work created by Armando Villarreal. It really captures the essence of Jeter and just how much he is adored by the Yankees fanbase. I can't wait to find a frame for this and display it somewhere in my mancave.

I also chose this gorgeous sepia toned piece also constructed by Villarreal, entitled "Thoughtful", of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Ali has always been one of my all time favorite sports figures, and I browsed their Ali art collection page to add something of his to my collection. I loved most of them, but ultimately sided with this emotional work. I think I made a good choice!

Both arrived in the mail in excellent condition, and I could not be more impressed with their customer service and overall quality.

So here's where the fun begins. Victory has told me I can give away any one of their prints to a lucky reader, and I'm going to do just that.

To enter for a chance to win your favorite piece from the Victory Art website, here is what you will need to do:

- Leave a comment below stating which print you would like to receive if you are chosen as the winner! The comment itself will give you one entry into the random name generator.

- Post a Tweet using the @VictoryFineArt hashtag, a link to this blog post, and my twitter (@drewmihans) for an extra entry.
- Post a Photo on Instagram and tag @VictoryFineArt, leave the link to my blog post, and tag my account (@drewscards) as well in the caption section to earn an additional entry.
- Post on your blog a link to the Victory Fine Art website ( as well as the link to this contest for two more entries.

The contest will close on Halloween (October 31st at 5:00 PM EST)!

In total, you can earn up to 5 chances to win any piece of artwork to proudly display in your man cave! Trust me, these people are worth your time and effort! Here are a few other examples of what you could win:

Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw

Aaron Rodgers
LeBron James
LeBron James

Good luck to everyone, and let's give these up and comers some hobby love!

See Ya!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ten for Tuesday - Best Individual Postseason Performances!

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The World Series is almost upon us. We have witnessed a fantastic postseason so far, between the Cubs putting their unlucky history to the test and the Miracle Mets pitching their way past Kershaw and the Dodgers. The Toronto Blue Jays, led by Jose Bautista and his "Bat Flip Heard Around the World", are making their GM Alex Anthopoulos look like a genius for his mid-season moves. And the Kansas City Royals are proving to the world that they are by no means a fluke.

Last season, the Royals ran into some bad luck against the Giants' red hot southpaw Madison Bumgarner, whose workload surpassed any other pitcher's in postseason history. They returned this spring with a vengeance, and finished the season with 95 wins led by center fielder Lorenzo Cain and an ensemble of emerging young stars. They pushed their way past an even younger, hungry Houston Astros team and currently are facing off against Canada's team. It has been safe to say this postseason has gone smoothly, however, it was last year too until Bumgarner came to town.

There have been several memorable postseason performers in recent years; players who have been capable of carrying their teams on their back and into the promised land. This week on Ten for Tuesday, I compiled a list of the top ten best modern postseason performances baseball has had to offer.

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Before I begin, let me make two things clear: this list will not delve into anything prior to World War II, as it is too difficult to compare a player from that era with someone today. Christy Mathewson was unhittable in the 1905 World Series, but who knows how he would have fared against professional hitters from today's game. By no means do I wish to take away from their legendary performances, so I decided to exclude them entirely. Also, it will take more than just a single game for someone to make this list. Don Larsen missed the cut, as well as Bobby Thomson, Aaron Boone, Carlton Fisk, Joe Carter, Kirk Gibson, Luis Gonzalez, and Bill Mazeroski.

Ten Best Individual Single-Season Postseason Performances

Honorable Mentions - 
Albert Pujols (2004), Sandy Koufax (1965), Nelson Cruz (2011), Jack Morris (1991), Johnny Bench (1976)

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As usual, it was difficult to leave any of these names off the Top 10. Sandy Koufax may have made the cut if he managed to win all three of his World Series starts, which was more because of a lack of offense than anything else. I hate to take anything away from Koufax, but the following pitchers had even better luck. Nelson Cruz did most of his damage in the 2011 ALCS against the Tigers, slugging 6 home runs throughout the 6 game series. He hit two more in the World Series, but also made a major defensive mistake that proved costly to his Texas Rangers.

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10 - Randy Johnson, 2001, Arizona Diamondbacks

One half of the dynamic duo that took down my Yankees, it was safe to say "The Big Unit" came up big when it mattered most. He wasn't always the consistent ace he needed to be in October, but in 2001, Johnson was at the top of his game. He lost his only start in the NLDS against the Cardinals, but he only allowed 4 runs over the 33.1 Innings he pitched the rest of the way. Let's not forget that he was the first ace southpaw to make an appearance out of the bullpen in Game 7 after pitching the night before. He did everything the Diamondbacks needed him to do, and then some, which resulted in his part-ownership of the World Series MVP Award.

9 - Curt Schilling, 2001, Arizona Diamondbacks

The other Co-MVP of the 2001 World Series, Curt Schilling was slightly more consistent than Johnson that fall. Schilling started 3 Games in the World Series (two of which on 3 days rest) after owning the Cardinals and Braves. In total, he dealt 48.1 innings, which was a postseason record until Madison Bumgarner came along, and won 4 games. He would go on to pitch in many other big games before calling it a career after winning his 3rd World Series with the Red Sox in 2007.

8 - David Freese, 2011, St. Louis Cardinals

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The 2011 Postseason was the best I've ever watched live, and much of it was thanks in part to David Freese's clutch hitting. Freese may never amount to the player he was that October, but his name and story will forever be entranced in every Cardinal fan's memory. His first two playoff series were explosive, as he drove in 14 runs combined against the Phillies and Brewers. He took home NLCS MVP honors, but was not satisfied.

In Game 6 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers, Freese crushed a game tying two run triple to save St. Louis' season. He wasn't content then, either, until he won that game in extra innings with a walkoff solo home run. Freese also knocked in his MLB record 20 and 21st RBI's in Game 7 en route to a Cardinals world title.

7 - Orel Hershiser, 1988, Los Angeles Dodgers

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Kirk Gibson may be the face you automatically think of when 1988 comes to mind, but Orel Hershiser owned the opposition every time he took the mound. Continuing one of the best pitched seasons of his generation, "Bulldog" truly earned his nickname after leading the Dodgers to their most recent World Series championship. Hershiser started 5 games for LA, winning three total and delivering an ERA just above 1.00 against both the Mets and the powerhouse Oakland A's offense. Any man who could shut down the Bash Brothers (Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco) like he did is worthy of a placement on this list.

6 - Reggie Jackson, 1977, New York Yankees

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"REGGIE, REGGIE, REGGIE!" Mr. October was one of the first shoo-ins that came to mind when I decided to look into this particular topic. You often hear about how certain players seek the limelight and perform well under pressure in comparison to others, and Jackson was one of those guys. He claimed to have been the "straw that stirred the drink" upon his arrival in New York, and frequently fought with manager Billy Martin about his playing style. His turbulent, quick-tempered mindset was not what the Yankees wanted, but was what they needed.

Reggie didn't end up as "Mr. October" overnight. He actually batted only .125 in 18 at bats in the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals. It wasn't until Game 3 of the World Series when his bat started to pick up the pace. But once he started, he could not be contained. Jackson homered in Games 4 and 5, and then delivered a mammoth three home run performance in Game 6 that captivated the hearts of New York for years to come. After his career defining game, Reggie Bars must have tasted a little better.

5 - Lew Burdette, 1957, Milwaukee Braves

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Lew who? Burdette is not a household name, but after his miraculous 1957 World Series performances, he really should be. He was an above average pitcher for 18 seasons; a majority of which came with the Braves. The Yankees were the best team in the league during the 1940's and 1950's, and had a team filled with superstars from the top of their roster to the very bottom. They were the reigning champions going into the '57 Series, but were not prepared for what Lew was about to do.

In Game 2, Burdette allowed 2 earned runs while throwing a complete game and ultimately being awarded the win. You would think you would be more prepared for a pitcher the second time around after seeing him for an entire game, but Lew would beg to differ. He shut out the Bronx Bombers in Game 5 in a 1-0 Braves victory, and then finished the job in Game 7, once again shutting out one of the best lineups ever recorded. Considering the series went a full seven games, it goes to show just dominant Burdette was to be able to prevent the Yankees from exploding three separate times.

4 - Carlos Beltran, 2004, Houston Astros

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So far, every player on this list has been part of a World Series winning team the year they dominated. Until now. Carlos Beltran became somewhat of a mythical figure in 2004 with the Houston Astros after being traded for at the Trade Deadline in a three team deal. Houston's stars Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, and Jeff Bagwell were integral to winning a Wild Card spot, but it was Beltran that took the weight off their shoulders and guided them into the Championship Series. In the Division Series, he hit four home runs; even winning Game 4 with a walkoff blast. He kept up his heroics the next round, smashing four more pitches into the seats, but it was not enough for the Astros to advance.

Regardless of the outcome, Beltran's performance should not be forgotten. His impact on the Astros lineup was unparalleled by just about any midseason acquisition any team has ever made. He was rewarded for his efforts months later to the tune of $119 million dollars from the Mets. His postseason legacy continued in future years, and he is now known as "SeƱor Octubre".

3 - Madison Bumgarner, 2014, San Francisco Giants

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One of the hardest things to do when creating a list is to make sure to avoid using a recency bias. But yeah, what we all saw a year ago was good enough for the third greatest single season postseason performance in modern history. "Mad-Bum" was nothing short of epic for the Giants last fall, delivering every single time he was called upon (even if his appearance wasn't planned). When all was said and done, Bumgarner won 4 games after pitching a record 52.2 innings and striking out 57 batters. He threw a complete game shutout against the Pirates in the Wild Card Game to start their magical run and closed out the final game of the World Series after being called upon on short rest.

And the scariest thing of all: he is only 26 years old. His past may be near impossible to match, but we haven't seen the last of Bumgarner in October. That, my friends; is a dangerous thing.

2 - David Ortiz, 2004, Boston Red Sox

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David Ortiz has been the most dangerous playoff hitter of our century, as far as I'm concerned. Albert Pujols has also been lethal, but Ortiz is a one man wrecking crew. "Big Papi" began to pick up the pace in 2004, when he hit 41 home runs and led the Red Sox to a Wild Card spot for the second consecutive year. In the playoffs, he was even better; batting .409 with 5 home runs and 23 RBI over the course of some of the greatest games ever played. In Game 3 of the ALDS against the Angels, Ortiz delivered a walk off home run. He hit 2 more walk offs in the famous ALCS series against the Yankees in Games 2 and 5. He was named MVP of the ALCS after the Sox completed a remarkable series comeback win. And he kicked off the World Series with a three run blast that the Red Sox never looked back from; winning their first World Series in 86 years and breaking the dreaded "Curse of the Bambino".

Ortiz ranks among the top 10 All Time in postseason plate appearances, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBI, and walks. As a Yankee fan, it's difficult to root for the guy, but I can't deny how talented he is. He's a Hall of Famer in my book.

1 - Bob Gibson, 1967, St. Louis Cardinals

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When the word "dominant" is mentioned, several names should come to mind in baseball. One of them better be Bob Gibson. This former Cardinals hurler was responsible for the pitcher's mound being lowered by 5 inches in 1969 just to make it more of a fair fight for opposing hitters! Gibson had made a name for himself by 1967, appearing in 3 All Star Games and winning two Gold Gloves. He was a gifted athlete who once starred for the Harlem Globetrotters before focusing in on baseball. He wasn't afraid to make a statement on the mound when he felt it was necessary to invoke fear in the opposition; even if it meant intentionally hitting batters.

In July of 1967, Gibson suffered a gruesome fractured fibula injury, and his outlook for the remainder of the season was in question. He returned on September 7th to help St. Louis win the NL Pennant, and his legacy was on the precipice. In his three games started against the Red Sox, Gibson completed all 3 and finished with a 1.00 ERA. He earned three victories and was the MVP of the World Series when the Cardinals finished off the Sox.

Gibson would go on to win the Cy Young in two of the next 3 years and pitched very well in the 1968 World Series. He would be elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1981.


It's too early to tell if anyone will make a lasting imprint on the playoffs the way these men have. Daniel Murphy and Kyle Schwarber have put their power on display so far, and Jacob deGrom has won two crucial games for the Mets. If their streaks continue, this list may need to be revised. But the beauty of the postseason is that you never really know what to expect.

Enjoy the last few games of what has been another spectacular year.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Chuck Nazty TTM Recap!

Hey guys, Drew back here. A few weeks ago, I was surprised with a through the mail success from Nationals pitcher Doug Fister. This week, I was greeted with yet another, this time courtesy of a certain Colorado Rockies up and coming star.

Charlie Blackmon: 1/1 (c/o Colorado Rockies)

Charlie Blackmon, otherwise known as "Chuck Nazty" on Twitter, enjoyed a breakout season in 2014; making the All Star team for the first time in his rather brief career. He recorded 6 hits in a game on April 4th of that year, and everyone seemed to question whether he was a fluke designed by the ballpark effects of Coors Field. His home/road splits clearly indicate that he benefits by playing at home, but he still is quite the player either way.

Perhaps the highlight of Mr. Blackmon's has more to do with his impressive facial hair than his abilities on the field. He may agree. His Twitter biography reads "long hair dont care, and ya... i have a mustache too! Don't act like you are not impressed." Between his charismatic personality, excellent long whiskers, and All Star talent, what's not to like about this guy?

I had my 2014 Topps Update Red Parallel signed over the course of a few month waiting period. Again, I lost my file containing the dates of when I sent everything out, so I couldn't tell you any additional details. But the card came out great, and I guess that's all that truly matters.

Thanks Chuck Nazty! See Ya!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Severino Sunday!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! Midterms are just about complete, and I finally have some time to show off what I've been doing between studying and writing papers. I've been falling in love with eBay all over again of late - and with their recent promotion allowing users to list just about as much as you want for free, I've been flipping cards like a mad man. 

Many of the cards I let go of were sacrificed to make room for my ever growing Luis Severino collection, which is now officially listed on my Wantlist page. However, there is one catch to collecting Severino: I'm only going for Topps and Bowman products. I enjoy his inclusions in other sets such as Panini Elite or Prizm, but keeping it to only licensed products will allow me to have more of a budget for higher end cards. I won't refuse anything of his from other sets, but my priority is to collect and complete as many parallel rainbows as I can.

Check out some of my recent acquisitions of the Yankee phenom rookie:

- (3) 2014 Bowman Chrome Base

- 2014 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor 201/250
- 2014 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor 60/150

- 2014 Bowman Chrome Bubble Refractor 95/99

- (2) 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Silver Ice

- 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Refractor
- 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Blue Wave Refractor

- 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Green Refractor 128/150

- 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospect Profile Gold Refractor 18/50
- 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospect Profile Orange Refractor 23/25

- 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects Autograph Refractor 295/499

You must all think I'm crazy. I'm just having fun! Of the bunch shown on this post, my personal favorites are obviously the Refractor autograph but also the Bubble Refractor from 2014 Bowman Chrome. Some of the Bowman parallels out there are pretty unique but that one has to take the cake. I don't have much familiarity with recent Bowman products, but this new goal should provide some insight on the various parallels Topps created. A few of them are particularly pricey, but I got some good deals on the cards listed above so hopefully the good fortune will continue.

With all of these included, I now own 22 unique Severino cards, and I have about 9 more on the way (including my best card of his yet) that you will all hopefully see next Sunday. If at all possible, I would love to reach 50 different cards by the end of the year. I don't think that will be too difficult of a task to handle, but we'll have to wait and see.

You can view my Severino collection here. If you have any of his Topps or Bowman cards I may be missing, please feel free to leave a comment and we may be able to work out a deal. Now that Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano are long gone in New York, it's about time I have a new Yankee to collect. I have a feeling this one could be worthwhile too.

See Ya!