Saturday, November 17, 2012

Some Off Topic Customs...

I had some pretty nice reviews/reactions on my latest custom design so I've decided to adapt them for some other teams. Here are a few I've put together, mostly on a whim.

Chicago Bears
Mike Ditka, Dan Hampton
Ditka was the first Bears card I made. While deciding on the background color, I thought the Bears blue did not go very well with Ditka's sweater. And the orange was waaayyy too orange. So I decided to do a gradient of the two team colors.

Washington Nationals
Tyler Clippard, Gio Gonzalez, Drew Storen

I don't know what to think of these Nats cards. I had the same problem with the red as I did with the Bears orange. Blue is the Nats 3rd or 4th color but it didn't quite look right by inself. I'm not sure I'm sold on this gradient either as it gives it a purplish/pink hue. 

  Los Angeles Dodgers
Andre Ethier, Dee Gordon, Matt Kemp

Colorado Rockies
Troy Tulowitzki
This Tulo came about as I wanted to see if the background worked in different colors. Not too shabby.

Chicago Cubs
(to keep this post semi-relevant)
Carlos Marmol, Tyler Colvin

Here we have a former Cub and one whose Cubs future is in question. I like how this card design looks with a celebratory pose and since I had these photos saved on my computer, I figured why not. Same goes for Gronk below

New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some scans...

One thing I forgot to mentioned that as a bonus box topper, an old issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly was thrown in. The condition wasn't too bad either considering it's almost 20 years old.

August 1994 Beckett, referring to Ryne Sandberg's first retirement

Another thing I forgot to mention yesterday of the statistical variety, was the distribution through the decades. I thought there were some anomolies in the card selection, but a closer look showed there really wasn't. The most glaring one was:

Four different Eddie Zambrano cards but only one Carlos Zambrano card! Out of 2000+ cards and parts of 11 season with the Cubs and only one Carlos Zambrano card?!? Well, the explanation turned out pretty simple. The package was about 15% cards from the '80s, 75% from the '90s (when Eddie played) and the remaining 10%-ish was from the '00s (when Carlos played).

This also accounted for the reason behind getting so many cards that were new to me. My time in the hobby as a kid was mid-'80s until the early '90s. Coincidentally (or not) right around the time of that Beckett featured above/Ryno retiring, I was in high school and suddenly had other interests. I made a brief hobby comeback in the early 2000s, had kids and just as quickly re-exited the hobby only to return again within the last 2 years or so. Hence, a good chunk of the cards from 1995ish until the end of the millenium were new to me.

And as promised, here are some more scans from my large purchase of Cubs cards. Nothing special, just cards that intrigued me in particular.

Thought Night Owl might appreciate these, but not a Ron Cey in the group.
2000 Fleer Tradition Bo Porter
Bo Porter only played 24 games with the Cubs. Now I probably only remember him for his dustup with bench coach Jamie Quirk towards the end of this past season. I can't say what Quirk did was right necessarily, but I still can't believe Porter wasn't suspended too. No hard feelings though. Maybe he can do some damage in the American League West as the new Houston Astros manager.
1993 Donruss Doug Strange
This card probably should have been posted the other day when I talked about photo selection. Why would a card company feature a picture like this? Or one where its obvious the player swung and missed or even the disappointed face after a strikeout? The close plays/in-action photos are pretty awesome but thats only when the featured player is making the play or the outcome could go either way. Not sure exactly what is going on in the picture (stealing third or maybe just a play at third?) but it seems pretty obvious Doug Strange did not get the out or even catch the ball here. Strange played in 52 games for the Cubs in 1992. Surely, Donruss could have done better.

Jokes aside, there haven't been many opportunities for Cubs "moment in time" cards in my lifetime so this one intrigued me. Plus, I remember watching this one live on TV so it holds another special meaning, despite the eventual outcome.

And last but not least, here we have the one Ryne Sandberg card in the lot that I did not have in my collection. Or is it a half card? Quarter of a card? After a little research, it seems that this is an insert from 1998 Pinnacle Inside called Stand-up Guys. There are two half players on the front and two half player son the backs. When paired with another card (this one is 14AB, so I'm looking for 14CD), the cards slide together to form 4 separate photos. The other guys featured on this card are Craig Biggio (Houston), Roberto Alomar (Baltimore) and Chuck Knoblauch (Twins). All were second basemen at the time but after looking at the checklist, that doesn't seem to be the common theme for the set. Some are team based, some are position based. Sammy Sosa looks to be the only other Cub on the checklist.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2000+ Cubs Card Purchase

Yesterday, I mentioned I had purchased a large lot of cards. There's been a bit of a lull in the card releases so I had to make up for it somehow, right?

As some of you may know, I collected primarily Topps cards as a kid, trying to hand collate sets. They made up probably 85-90% of my collection. The rest were Cubs cards, and more specifically, probably Ryne Sandberg from the other brands. Through some trades over the summer, I've made a small dent in those other brands.

I'm not sure how it happened (as most of my time on ebay goes, I've found) but I stumbled onto a listing for 2000+ Cubs cards with a decent Buy It Now price and reasonable shipping. The pictures were good, although the disclaimer of "cards pictured may or may not be representative of the lot" made me wary. I didn't want/need a ton of dupes or cards I already had (I'm looking at you, anything from 1989). I let it sit in my Watch List for a few days but as you can probably tell, I bit the bullet.

I was pleasantly surprised when the package arrived; it was well packed in a flat rate priority mail box. I saw many cards I remembered from my childhood along with a few I had never seen, brands (or I should say subsets) I was not familiar with at all. The condition was overall great. Some typical uncentered '80s and early '90s cards. A few early gold cards where the gold was missing some flecks. But overall, sharp corners and edges. Cards I'm happy to add to my collection.

I'm kind of an Excel/numbers geek so after my first run through, I logged every card. Yep, every card. Kind of like I did for my box breaks over the summer, but much harder because I didn't have a checklist loaded up to go by and just record quantities. I kept track of year, brand, set, card number, player name and quantity.

Final tallies include:

Total number of cards: 2262 (2000+ was accurate, yay!)

Total number of different cards: 1317 (not too shabby for a lot this size). Also, I counted things like a 1992 Topps, 1992 Topps Gold and 1992 Topps Gold Winner as 3 different cards.

Total number of cards I didn't already have (or felt were upgrades): 729 (told you I was lacking non-Topps!) About 15-20 of which were upgrades. So ~700 new cards!

Oldest card(s): 9 cards from 1980 Topps

Newest card(s): 2009 Upper Deck Piece of History Derrek Lee (only 2009 card)

Different sets represented: 112!! This differentiates brands/years/parallels etc. Again, like the different cards above, I counted 1992 Topps, Topps Gold and Topps Gold Winner as different sets.
Most copies of single card: 8 each of 1992 Fleer Ultra Jerome Walton and Chico Walker

Least amount of card: Obviously the thousands I did not get, but there was a 805-way tie with 1 copy. There 512 other cards of which I recieved at least 2 copies.

Ryne Sandberg cards: 53 total, 40 different, 1 I didn't already have

Do I feel like I got my money's worth? Definitely. Final breakdown was a little more than 1 penny per card and just over 3 cents per card I needed. To buy all those cards on Sportlots at $.18 per card + a gazillion dollars in shipping to get them from a slew of different sellers would be well over $100. Heck this even beat a dime box. Yep, I said it. Beats a dime box! The only disappointment is that I probably won't be able to repeat this performance because the more cards I accumulate, the harder it'll be to find large lots of new/needed cards.

Sorry for the nerdy post with no pictures today, but I will try to do one more post with a selection of my favorites and cards I had never seen before. Including the one Sandberg I didn't have!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Photo Selection

One thing I've learned from making my own cards is that photo selection can be crucial to whether I pursue one of my designs any further or not. On multiple occasions I have created a card design around one particular photo I really like, only to find that none of my other photos will work very well with it.

Even cards I've made large runs of (ATCRCS, 2012 team set) can sometimes be hard to work with on certain photos. But I consider those amateur problems! Not something the professional card companies with much more means than I have should worry about...right?

On a related note (don't worry it'll tie in), it's my birthday month so I went out and bought myself something pretty. I've been lurking on eBay a little lately, mostly trying to find the remaining Tony Campana printing plates. But every once in a while, I'll expand my searches looking for a deal. I picked up a lot featuring a couple thousand Cubs cards trying to make a dent into my non-Topps Cubs collection. I'll go into more details in later post(s) this week but for now, I just wanted to feature a couple of cards that caught my attention in the span of one short stack. And not necessarily in a good way. Which brings me back to photo selection...

1989 Fleer Andre Dawson
I'm not sure if the intent was for Andre Dawson to come off looking like a badass here or what. But to me, he just looks disgusted with something. Reminds me of the McKayla Maroney meme from the summer. Maybe the Hawk is not impressed.

On the other hand, Kevin Roberson here likes what he sees. This may not be the last you see of these two cards. I'm thinking Once a Cub memes...

1994 Upper Deck Kevin Roberson 
Back to the bad/questionable photo selections. I very clearly remember this Ed Lynch card from growing up. In fact, it's the only card I would picture if asked to think of an Ed Lynch card. (As if someone would do that!) Lynch went on to become the Cubs GM from 1994-2000 which funnily enough, is the time when I followed the Cubs the least since becoming a fan. I'm sure it is just a coincidence though because it was high school and college years for me. Other things on my mind and all that. But seriously, why pose like this? And then why as a card company select it. THIS was the best option???

1987 Topps Ed Lynch
This card of Dan Plesac is something that I think was a good idea but poorly executed. Or maybe just a poor idea? At first glance I was wondering why the bad crop job and why there was so much black space at the top. But a closer look showed me that there is another ghostly Plesac over his left shoulder, probably at the beginning of his pitching motion. I don't know the technical photography terminology but it looks like something to do with the exposure?

1994 Topps Stadium Club Dan Pesac
It just reminds me of those pictures all the kids had done that was recreated by Will Ferrell below:

Last, but not least, is this gem of Jeff Pico. I remember Upper Deck being heralded as a groundbreaking set in terms of photography. But after going through this stack of cards, 20+ years later, I'm not sure it holds up. Why oh why would you crop this photo in such a manner? Why cut off his head/hat? Why are we getting a Mark Grace cameo when Pico (you know, the subject of the card) could be front and center, not off to the side?
1989 Upper Deck Jeff Pico
 This is probably not something I would have noticed in more than a passing glance prior to making my own cards but they stick out like a sore thumb now. Luckily, all of these guys had multiple year careers and cards, but imagine if one of these was your only cardboard representation?!?!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Don Zimmer Desert Shield

I recently picked up this card in anticipation of a Don Zimmer private signing that fell through.

Don Zimmer, 1991 Topps Desert Shield

He doesn't make very many appearances that I've seen so I was planning on going all in on this signing. I have all of his regular Topps cards (with the Cubs, none of that Dodgers junk), a bunch of photos, separate player and manager ATCRCS cards, a Manager of the Year 8x10 I was going to start and also get signed by Jim Frey and Lou Piniella, plus a few other magazines and other pieces of memoribilia featuring Popeye.

Have I mentioned that I grew up with and am a big fan of the Boys of Zimmer??? Haha. I'm not exactly sure what happened with the signing, but I hope there will be another opportunity in the near future.

Anyway, I have about a dozen others from the team set and there are a bunch on eBay at any given time, but I am being very particular about this collection in terms of condition and centering. So this makes 5 officially in the collection.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Want List Update

For some reason I can't get my pictures to upload from my laptop so no earth shattering updates, just my Want List.

I finally got around to putting my 2012 Topps Series 2 and Traded into binder pages and realized I still needed some Series 2. I was able to complete the Traded set in my one jumbo box. I'm not completing any of the insert sets (just looking for Cubs) so I have exras of those if you're looking for some.

When I picked up my jumbo box of Traded, I also picked up a 2007 Topps factory set for $14.00. That was just enough to put me over the top for free shipping, so not a bad deal after all. After sorting that and putting them into binder pages I came across two that were dinged up. Easy to do with that black bordered set. So I'm putting a bounty out for #223 Jeff Franics & #447 Angel Berroa.

No fancy schmancy chrome or red backs, just the plain ol' regular versions if you got them. And maybe some of those pesky Cubs cards you don't want/need to make the postage worthwhile...just sayin'. Thanks!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lee Smith

Like the Aramis Ramirez autographs from the other day, these from Lee Smith were acquired during my short hiatus from the blog. A very trusted and highly recommended member, RIFON from over on often takes items to his local sports card shows to get autographed. And being he lives in the New York/New Jersey area, there are a bunch of shows in his area. I have used his help before and every time, my items come back perfect.

When I saw that RIFON was taking items for a mere $10 for this former Cubs great, I jumped at the chance. Hall of Famer? Maybe. He did retire as the all-time saves leader, although that record has since been broken by Trevor Hoffman and more recently, Mariano Rivera. I hate to see the way he bounced around at the end of his career and never really had much postseason action, let alone success. Maybe with all the PED era guys coming up for HOF election, Smith will see his numbers come up from  ~50%.

Lee Smith ATCRCS

And also like Ramirez, Smith was a two-time All-Star with the Cubs ('83 & '87), therefore earning his way into my signed Ice Cream Helmet collection as well.

Lee Smith Ice Cream Helmet
Not sure if I could have gotten a certified Lee Smith autographed card for cheaper but I really do enjoy my unique collection of custom card and cheesy ice cream helmets!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Header

I was caught the other day waiting for my car to have regularly scheduled maintenance. I had my laptop but unfortunately, no wireless. First world problems, I know. So I decided to clean up some files on my laptop.

Just for this hobby, I have multiple half started checklists, want lists and trade lists. For photos, there are scans for the blog, player photos for future custom use, finished custom cards, front with no backs, backs with no fronts, half started potential custom templates, etc. And among all the customs, I have .psd versions (so I can edit a layer if needed) and .jpg versions (the finals that I print out).

Not sure if it happens to anybody else, but when I start a massive cleanup project (more than just tidying up here and there) I tend to get easily distracted. This time was no different. As I made separate folders for all of the above categories, I tried to fight finishing a checklist or tweaking an unfinished template. Instead, the folder I got sucked into was the one where I moved the finished customs.

New Header with newer customs

I decided to take a few of my favorite customs I've done over this past year and update my header. Nothing fancy at all, as you can see. I just slapped a few of my favorite versions of my custom designs onto a Cub blue background. I had a favorite ATCRCS card picked out, but the color scheme didn't really match. Tony Campana is my favorite current Cubs player. Darwin Barney is my favorite everyday starter. And Anthony Rizzo seems to be a building block for future Cubs teams.

Along these same lines, I'd be curious to hear what everybody else's favorite design or custom I've done this year has been. I'm not necessarily fishing for compliments, but rather, looking for some inspiration for putting something together for my 2013 team set.

You can find other players' versions of the cards featured in the header throughout my posts but I'll provide some links to help you out. The Tony Campana is my newest design and others can be seen here. The Anthony Rizzo design was a season long process, especially during August and September when a lot of moves were made. You can see most of them here. I like the idea behind the newspaper one but the 2012 Cubs didn't provide a lot of headlines this year so it is the least represented of the group. Aside from the Barney in the header, I made one for Rizzo and Big Z. And of course, the ATCRCS cards have been sprinkled throughout the blog since its creation. The biggest chunk together are the signed ones which can be found here.

You don't have to limit your feedback to just my cards either. Is there a common element on professional cards that you like or dislike? Thanks for the input!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hope for Tony Campana

No, this doesn't have anything to do with Tony Campana's status for the 2013 season. Honestly, I have no idea. But the Cubs have been making a bunch of roster moves (which is normal after the World Series) so I'm keeping an eye out.

This post has to do with this new card for my Tony Campana collection, the Hope Diamond variation.

2011 Tony Campana, Hope Diamond

The scan doesn't do it justice as it really is all kinds of sparkly. This one is numbered out of 60 and actually cost me around the same as the last couple of Campana 1/1 printing plates I've purchased. I'm in too deep to turn back now in my quest to own all the Campana variations so I ponied the cash. Plus, this wraps up 2011 for my Campana collection with the exception of the 3 missing printing plates.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Aramis Ramirez

I think yesterday's post was the start of some regular contributions again. I've jotted down some post ideas and I'm hoping this will keep me busy while I wait for Spring Training. It's just around the corner, right?

I've been holding this one since mid-Septemberish. Aramis Ramirez was doing a signing up in the Milwaukee area towards the end of the regular season and a member over on was offering to help out by taking some items for others.
Aramis Ramirez ATCRCS
I tend not to make active players for this set, especially the backs, because of the off chance there will be somebody like Koyie Hill who will come back to the team and add to their Cubs stats. But I felt the price was reasonable for someone of his caliber and I have heard Ramirez can be a tough autograph to get so I figured I'd nab him while I could. 

As you can see above in the blurb, Ramirez was an award-winning Cub. One of my growing sub-collections is my selection of autographed ice cream helmets. As a 2x All-Star and 1x Silver Slugger, I thought I'd add him to this collection as well.

While some may think of these of some chintzy items to own, let alone get autographed, I have a sneaking suspicion this collection will eventually be one that is worth more as a whole than each one individually. Especially since they are mostly award winners and have a special place in Cubs history. Not that it'll be for sale in my lifetime. One of these days, I'll post some pictures of how I have these displayed. In the meantime, here is a link to a previous post I did about some in my collection.