Saturday 19 October 2013

Buy me some peanuts....

It is about 20 weeks ago that building work on our house started and it looks as if it will continue for a few more weeks. Although the house will be lovely when it is finished, there have been some drawbacks. Besides living in less space with four children, my baseball card collection is stored away in boxes which are inaccessible. They were to  remain there until the work is completed and for the foreseeable future. That was until I have found myself with a little study.
To gain access to the loft conversion, we lost a small bedroom to accommodate the stairs.
On the original plans we were losing the whole room, but the builders were able to move the stairs a little and only use half the bedroom. Hence a study was created. Some discussion took place about what to do with unexpected space, create a sewing room or a study for my daughters, surprisingly the conversation took a direction I wasn't expecting. A place to store my card collection and so that is what it is to become.
I haven't uploaded a blog post for the past five months for a number of reasons. In the building process, we lost telephone and internet connection,  digital television, electricity and hot water for a short while. I have completed some one sided trades but besides this I haven't purchased any baseball related items, so things have gone quiet. Although I can assure you card collecting is still very much on my mind.
Today I took my boys to the local shopping centre to buy a game and wandered around while they made their selection. Just outside the shop there was a market selling paintings, wood carvings, rugs and such like. I paid little attention until I reached a small booth that was selling sweets. To my surprise they had a number of unusual chocolate bars with names like Hershey's, Butterfingers, Charleston Chew, Reece's Peanut Butter cups, Baby Ruth and Milk Duds. These may be all to familiar with our friends 'Across the Pond' but not in Kent.
The selection peaked my interest and I started chatting to the fellow running the store, who imported these products to his bigger store locally. I told him of my baseball interest and card collecting. I have found that I can get this into conversation with a few minutes. Lo and Behold he said he might have something that would interest me. There was a swell of excitement, when I imagined that  he might retrieve a box of 2013 Topps or Panini from behind his counter, however this was not the case. What he did give me was a box of Cracker Jacks.
I have seen these before, but none that I could actually eat.
We chatted some more while I devoured the box of caramel coated popcorn and nuts. Very nice. It hadn't occurred to him to import American sports cards, his shop was primarily foods, drinks, sweets from the US and Canada. He said he would keep an eye out, so I agreed to visit his shop in Margate. I thanked him for the Cracker Jacks and bid him farewell, still feeling the aftermath of the surge of adrenalin bought on by the possibility of obtaining baseball cards or it could have been the Cracker Jacks!
The prize within my Cracker Jacks was a baseball sticker. Which was as close as I would be getting to baseball cards today.
I will keep you posted about the baseball study when it is finished.

Friday 9 August 2013

Trade with Cardboard Catastophes

Trade is only half correct. I have yet to send my end of the trade.
Jeff from Cardboard Catastrophes was in the process of 'downsizing' his baseball card collection. We all know what that is like. He contacted me saying he had some 1969 Deckle Edge would I be interested?
Yes please... Not only did 10 1969 Deckle Edge cards arrive, but a large stack of 2013 Heritage, apparently he only bought one blaster and it was tailor made for me! Plus a few more Kimball Champions, which helped to finally complete this insert set.
This is the special thing I have encountered through blogging - people are always generous. These are people, fellow collectors, who you have never met and are never likely to meet. Just happy that the cards are going to a good home.
'Hey I found these and thought I would include them.'
Thank you Jeff.
Nothing beats receiving yellow packages in the post.

Saturday 6 July 2013

High Five

I was watching some baseball highlights on the IPad, while my daughter looked, with mild fascination, over my shoulder. She then commented:
"Why do they do that so much?"
She was referring to art of the 'High Five'. While it may be growing in popularity on this side of The Pond, it doesn't appear to be a regular occurrence in sport, or not that I noticed.
"These are only highlights," I wisely informed her. "It is a way of celebration in baseball. I'm not sure it happens that much."






I stand corrected - I think she might be on to something...

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Pursuit of 70's(ness)

No it isn't a change in name of this blog, more a change of direction.
We started some building work on our house and for this to take pace we needed to condense our living space, which meant moving some unnecessary items into storage. A long argument ensured as baseball cards fell into the unnecessary category. I didn't really have a leg to stand on, but I argued none the less. My baseball card collection takes up a cupboard (or two), there were piles of baseball cards on various surfaces and packaging materials scattered about. So I did what any loving husband would do and purchased some large plastic boxes and packed away the majority of my collections. In doing so I realised that I have accumulated a large'ish' collection of Red Sox relic cards and a hefty portion of cards from the 1970's.
At first I thought about ignoring them, but like many collectors having a semi completed set is difficult to ignore, it's untidy and unsettling. I have already added a lifelong pursuit of 1964 Topps, so adding 10 more sets to the lifelong pursuit category, on paper, didn't appear to be too much of a stretch.
In the next few weeks I will add some checklists and although I may not attack them as aggressively as I did the 1980 Topps set, they will slowly tick away in the background and will one day become  completed sets.
As of today, June 5th 2013,  I will try to complete all of the Topps sets from the 1970's.
Where to start? 1970 or 1979?

Sunday 26 May 2013

UK Games Expo board game convention Birmingham 2013

Carcassonne just after breakfast
While I might not be the biggest board game aficionado, I enjoy playing Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne and the occasional game of Ticket to Ride, my preference is always collecting baseball cards. However I was tempted along to this Expo by my friend Dion and my two sons, who are Yugioh collectors (players?).
The Hilton Metropol Hotel in Birmingham had pretty much dedicated the hotel to board game players, every possible table, chair and vacant space was occupied by people playing board games. Entire rooms absorbed in some of the more popular 'roleplay' games.
My sons were pleased that Komani had a stand wholehearted committed to Yugioh and although missing out on a tournament, they were the recipients of so many free packs of cards they almost filled the hotel room. They were pretty happy.
After spending the morning walking around watching an excited Dion purchase game after game and participating in some demonstrations of games that were a little too difficult for me to understand, I started lamenting about the fact that this would never happen in regard to sports cards, not in the UK anyway.
Topps have Attax Expos, which are predominantly attended by children and possibly an unhappy parent, who may be forcibly dragged along, unfortunately while I may enjoy collecting them, I do not fit into the Attax demographic. I do, however, fit into the board game mould easily- middle aged, carrying a little extra weight and male. There were people of the female variety, dutiful girlfriends or wives and there were some male and females in costume, which my son helpfully explained was 'Cosplay' or LARPing, which of course I knew. I do watch 'The Big Bang Theory' after all.
But an Expo for sports cards collectors, football or American sports, I'm not sure would ever take place. It is a nice thought (or dream)though-strolling around a hall filled with various boxes, packs and loose cards/stickers of sports cards, instead of board games, role play figures and game books.
Truth be told, I actually enjoyed myself. It's not often that you get to sit around drinking Boddingtons, while trying to work out whether to build a road or another settlement. We met some interesting fellow gamers, had a chat to Larry Roznai the CEO of Mayfair games, the publishers of Settlers of Catan. and played so many different games in two days, it is unlikely I will ever remember how to play them again. Plus we met one of our favourite characters.
Although I will continue to imagine a UK sports card expo.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Baseball packs from the Alley family

In the early days of this blog, back in 2008, I was contacted by a reader whose boys were mad football (soccer) fans. They supported Everton and had difficulty purchasing football related items and since I was in the United Kingdom would I mind sending some soccer 'stuff' their way. In exchange they would send me some baseball 'stuff'.
This seemed like a nice arrangement, so I duly obliged and send football magazines, stickers, packs and a badge or two.
Little did I expect to receive a large assortment of baseball packs in return.
Packages go back and forth between us about two or three times a year, when new football cards or stickers are released a package works it way to North Carolina and then a baseball package will find its way to Westgate-on-Sea. I look forward to these surprise packages immensely, always jam packed full of baseball pack loveliness.
This Saturday another Alley pack arrived on my doorstep.
The contents:
5 packs 2013 Topps Heritage
3 Jumbo packs of 2013 Opening Day
6 packs of 2013 Opening Day
2 rack packs of 2013 Topps Series 1
2 packs of Topps Series 1
1 block(60 cards)  of 2013 Topps Series 1
1 pack of 2012 Triple Play
1 pack of 2012 Opening day
1 pack of 2011 Opening day
1 rack pack 2011 Bowman
2 packs 2011 Topps Chrome
1 pack of 2008 UD First Edition
1 pack of 2008 Topps
1 pack of 2007 Fleer Ultra
2 packs of 1989 Donruss

So there is some junk wax, who cares, these are packs of baseball cards.

You just have to love the internet and how it connects people from all over the world.

Monday 6 May 2013

2013 Topps Heritage baseball

I have been a little negligent of this blog in the past 6 months or so. There are just so many other superior blogs popping up across the interwebs that it is difficult to keep up. One thing is still certain- I still collect baseball cards and still enjoy trading.
The set I  looked forward to most in 2013, was Topps Heritage. The majority of the posts in 2013 have been about Heritage and the Pursuit to collect the 425 base set. With another blaster under the belt and a chunk of cards from e-bay there are only a 146 cards left to collect.
Despite not being as squashed as the last blaster, here are the 8 packs of 2013 Heritage goodness. There is meant to be either an insert or short printed card in each 9 card pack

Pack 1:
#25 Andrew Cashner Padres
#92 Chris Young Athletics
#93 Christian Friedrich Rockies 
#193 Garrett Jones Pirates
#208 Huston Street Padres
#303 Grant Balfour Athletics
#322 Scott Baker Cubs
#393 Pat Neshek Athletics
#BF-WM Willie Mays Giants
Pack 2:
#38 J.D. Martinez Astros
#42 Tommy Milone Athletics
#106 Mike Leake Reds
#138 2012 World Series game 3
#194 Mike Moustakas Royals
#262 2013 Cardinal Rookie Stars
#276 Nick Swisher Indians
#314 Shane Victorino Red Sox
#343 Daniel Nava Red Sox
Pack 3:
#13 Adam LaRoche Nationals
#22 Andrelton Simmons Braves
#60 Will Middlebrooks Red Sox
#78 Mike Napoli Rangers
#214 Jean Segura Brewers
#216 Brandon Beachy Braves
#239 Joel Hanrahan Red Sox
#319 Jason Isringhausen Angels
#450 Matt Kemp Dodgers 
Pack 4:
#91 Chris Nelson Rockies
#201 Orioles Rookie Stars
#330 Johnny Cueto Reds
#340 Paul Konerko White Sox
#355 Chris Tillman Orioles
#401 Alex Presley Pirates
#419 Joe Saunders Orioles
#423 Giants Tops in NL
#MM-FH Felix Hernandez Mariners
Pack 5:
#94 Reds Rookie Stars
#100 Robinson Cano Yankees
#204 Gregor Blanco Giants
#244 Jon Jay Cardinals
#249 Josh Thole Blue Jays
#359 Wilton Lopez Rockies
#402 Will Venable Padres
#406 Jaime Garcia Cardinals
#482 Nelson Cruz Rangers 
Pack 6:
#87 Bruce Bochy Giants Mng
#95 B.J.Upton Giants
#176 Ervin Santana Royals
#203 Alcides Escobar Royals
#216 Jason Kipnis Indians
#298 Buck Showalter Orioles Mng
#366 Ryan Dempster Red Sox
#391 Andy Pettitte Yankees
#NAP-FH Felix Hernandez Mariners
Pack 7:
#3 NL Pitching Leaders
#187 Tyler Clippard Nationals
#223 James Loney Bay Rays
#266 Lucas Duda Mets
#273 Matt Moore Bay Rays
#362 Ezequiel Carrera Indians
#364 Russell Martin Pirates
#383 Mike Scioscia Angles Mng
#HC66 Roy Halladay Phillies 964/999 
Pack 8:
#56 Ross Detwiler Nationals
#160 David Freese Cardinals
#252 Yonder Alonso Padres
#264 Vernon Wells Angels
#272 Matt Joyce Bay Rays
#347 Carlos Marmol Cubs
#392 Mike Baxter Mets
#397 Clint Barmes Pirates
#440 Jered Weaver Angles
Not as impressive as the last blaster, although the Heritage Chrome is a lovely card. Maybe I was incorrect about an insert or short print per pack. I swear I heard it somewhere.
No variations, errors or Venezuelan backs present in this blaster.   

Monday 29 April 2013

Topps Attax Doctor Who

Yes you heard correctly. Topps has finally produced a Doctor Who set of collectable cards. It may be in 'Attax' form but it is still The Doctor. Pity Topps couldn't produce some dalek relic or Rose Tyler DNA cards, those might be interesting to collect. The Topps Alien Attax coincides with the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who television show.
If your a fan of The Doctor, you would have already realised that this year is a special year in the Doctor Who calendar. On the 23rd of November 1963  the first Doctor Who episode 'The Unearthly Child' was broadcast, although eclipsed by other historic events, the show pulled in a decent audience.
In 1973, on the tenth anniversary of the show, a series of episodes called 'The Three Doctors' was made.
In 1983, on the twentieth anniversary, a special called 'The Five Doctors' was made.
In 1993, although Doctor Who series had been on temporary leave since 1989, a Children in Need special called 'Dimensions in Time' was broadcast.
Unfortunately in 2003, the Doctor was still off the air, so to speak, but roll on 2013 The Doctor has never been more popular, which means there is a flood of Doctor Who celebratory merchandise available - Royal Mail stamps (which are pretty cool even for a non stamp collector), cups, mugs T-shirts, miniature TARDISes, (is there a plural for TARDIS?), hats, figures, you name it.

The Alien Attax set contains 240 cards to collect which includes 16 rainbow foil cards and 32 mirror foil cards.
The collector pack comes with the collection folder, checklist, battle mat and a 'special' 3D Matt Smith card. 

The rest of the 240 cards are divided into groups of Aliens, Humans, Humanoids, Doctors, Companions, Robots, etc. Thankfully the set includes the very lovely new assistant Clara/Oswin Oswald played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.
There has never been a shortage of Aliens in the Doctors past, whether they were the creepy sort to keep you up in the night such as; Snowman, Weeping Angels or gas-masked children,
 Or just downright weird like the Face of Boe, The Ood or Sulirians

 Although there were some that would barely past the Alien screening process. Really- an alien made from Liquorice Allsorts.

I am pretty close to completing this set, so if you want to fill any empty spaces, just contact me. 

Monday 1 April 2013

Finally some 2013 Topps Heritage.

But by the looks of things it only just made it. This package arrived squashed and soaked through. We have had some heavy rain (and snow) recently, however this package was not treated with tender loving care you might expect from the UK and/or US postal systems.
The inside of the package actually felt wet and the plastic wrapping damp. The blaster of 2013 Topps Heritage, although a little dented, looked fine. The cards within the blaster - undamaged and bloody brilliant.

I may have mentioned once or twice that 2013 Topps Heritage was hot on my list for set collection. In preparation for this monumental 425 card base set,  I tried to slim the other wants lists down a tad, (in particular completing a few sets), with a modicum of success-thanks largely to COMC.
But in doing so I realised that there a number of inserts that have used stealth to worm their way into my collecting habits, so rather than reducing the complete set wants list, I probably doubled it. Card collecting tends to do that to you.
This blaster was all that I could get my hands on, at the present time. A little demoralising when I saw that a fellow UK collector purchased a box of 2012 Panini National Treasures.
The blaster itself was opened quickly and the move to a complete set has now started in earnest,(or Westgate).
There are eight packs of cards within the blaster. There are nine cards per pack.

Pack 1:
#18 Cliff Lee Phillies
#38 J.D.Martinez Astros
#187 Tyler Clippard Nationals
#238 Joe Nathan Rangers
#246 Josh Hamilton Angels
#297 Jordan Lyles Astros
#314 Shane Victorino Red Sox
#359 Wilton Lopez Rockies
#445 Lucas Harrell Astros
Pack 2:
#45 Brandon Phillips Reds
#91 Chris Nelson Rockies
#185 Ian Kennedy D-backs
#241 Geovany Soto Rangers
#354 Sean Marshall Reds
#406 Jaime Garcia Cardinals
#419 Joe Saunders Orioles
#CCR-SC Stralin Castro Cubs
Pack 3:
#5 Strikeout Leaders
#102 Kirk Gibson Mng D-backs
#196 Chris Carter Athletics
#219 Young Aces
#274 Justin Morneau Twins
#360 Mark Teixeira Yankees
#402 Will Venable Padres
#416 Paul Maholm Braves
#449 Jered Weaver Angels
Pack 4:
#24 Anibal Sanchez Tigers
#32 C.J.Wilson Angels
#72 Chase Utley Phillies
#92 Chris Young Athletics Venezuelan
#194 Mike Moustakas Royals
#266 Lucas Duda Mets
#327 Heath Bell D-backs
#362 Ezequiel Carrera Indians
#384 Ryan Doumit Twins
Pack 5:
#22 Andrelton Simmons Braves
#197 Mark Buehrle Blue Jays
#222 J.P Arencibia Blue Jays
#239 Joel Hanrahan Red Sox
#386 Jared Burton Twins
#396 Jeff Karstens Pirates
#401 Alex Presley Pirates
#423 Tops in National League
#NF-TB The Beatles  
Pack 6:
#103 Gordon Beckham White Sox
#166 Dustin Ackley Mariners
#229 Jed Lowrie Astros
#265 Lorenzo Cain Royals
#353 Chris Heisey Reds
#378 Nyjer Morgan Brewers
#394 Brandon Inge Athletics
#425 Joey Votto Reds
#NAP-YC Yoenis Cespedes Athletics 

Pack 7:
#82 Pablo Sandoval Giants
#94 2013 Rookie Stars
#180 Carl Crawford Dodgers
#182 Felix Doubront Red Sox
#198 Gavin Floyd White Sox
#204 Gregor Blanco Giants
#275 Kevin Youkilis Yankees
#367 Jeremy Guthrie Royals
#MMBH Bryce Harper Nationals

Pack 8:
 #40 Carlos Beltran Cardinals
#56 Ross Detwiler Nationals
#78 Mike Napoli Rangers
#106 Mike Leake Reds
#193 Garrett Jones Pirates
#223 James Loney Bay Rays
#393 Pat Neshek Athletics
#410 John Lackey Red Sox
#488 Wilin Rosario Rockies

Another Cubbies relic, the last time I pulled a relic it was Cubs as well.
So the journey to complete the base set has started, fortunately I was able to bite a large chunk of 2013 Heritage off with a recent purchase from e-bayUK. Follow my progress here.

Thursday 7 March 2013

2013 baseball World Classic Update Pool B

In Taichung, Taiwan the pool was much closer. there was not overall convincing winner as there was in Pool A.The only disappointment was Australia's failure to win any match.
The three other clubs hypothetically tied for first- each winning 2 games and losing 1.The eventual winner and pool team to go through was Chinese Taipei, who won the Asian qualifying round in style, back in November 2012. During the qualifying campaign they didn't allow a run, winning all games: 10-0, 16-0 and 9-0.
Chinese Taipei's wins over Australia and the highly favoured Dutch put them on course for another three straight wins.
The second team through to the second round was the impressive 'Kingdom of the Netherlands' or Holland as we say in Europe. Possibly the best of the European teams in the competition. Although they beat South Korea convincingly in the first game, they let a 3-1 lead slip to Chinese Taipei. Their final game against Australia, they didn't look back after securing a 4-0 lead. They should do well in the rest of the competition.
The South Koreans must feel unlucky. Winning as many games as Holland and Chinese Taipei but still not getting through to the next round. Losing without scoring against Holland (5-0) was eventually their downfall.
The biggest disappointment, for me, was the Australian team, who only scored 2 runs in their three tournament matches. This is the same nation who set the record for most hits (22) in a past Classic, when they beat Mexico 17-7 in  2009. Despite have a professional league and many players in the MLB, they didn't deliver at all this year and will need to go through qualification for the next Classic. Three games, 3 losses.