The Ten Hobby Commandments…but probably not.

I’m one of those brave souls…or maybe just foolish physical manifestations of a current human being?  I went to a card show this past Saturday. 

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

It was a card show with other collector’s, other humans.  People that have different priorities than me.  People that may think facts and science are negotiable.  In the time of a major pandemic.  In an area where the numbers are not going down.  It was risky.  I grant you that.  Of course I wore my mask and sanitized the hell out of my hands before i left the car and once I got back into the car.  I did my best to not touch every single thing I see, but then again I’m not four years old…that part was easy.  Sports card collectors have not traditionally been the healthiest of crews.  We all know what I’m talking about without saying it…but I’ma say it anyways. 

We’re all some version of the stereotypical cardboard hoarder; the fried food eating, soda drinking, epic hit oversharing, hunched over a box of cards looking to score a big hit kinda person.  That person, we all know them and we own some of those characteristics.  I know I do…the fried food, love it.  Sodas, love ‘em.  Hunched over a box, my neck is sore after every show I go to.  Ironically though,  well, maybe not ironic…maybe it’s just a timing thing with this post.  For the month of January, the bride and I are doing a thirty day cleanse after a much needed year of eating and drinking our feelings.  Drowning our sorrows in whiskey and wine all year while chasing it with some burgers and fries hasn’t done our bodies well.  We’re one full week and I’m feeling significantly better…but enough about me. 

Let’s talk about some commandments in the hobby that I abide by and how some of them relate to card shows and collecting.  I know some folks around here have noted some type of community agreement for card shows and collecting in general, so these are from my perspective.  Oh yeah, I’ve based them on the Notorious BIG’s “Ten Crack Commandments”.  Very possibly inappropriate and most likely have very little to do with the actual hobby in itself, but I’ve always wanted to mix this song into a blog post.  So, I may be going all over the place here and relate absolutely nothing back to the hobby…but you should read because I think it’s fun and I’ve got 1960 Topps cards in between…Let’s go…sorry, as one of my favorite colleagues says…one more thing. The cards and the stories have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You’ve been warned. Ok. NOW. Let’s go.

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Number ONE! Biggie Says: Never let no one know.

My hobby isn’t really a secret, but I do like to stay somewhat anonymous.  I’ve tried to scrub my name from the blog and rarely…if ever posted a photo of myself.  The bride has suggested that this is not a good way to drum up business and attract readers or buyers.  Her thought is that people want to know who they’re dealing with.  My thought is that I don’t want that.  I like anonymity and I like blending in.  I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd and don’t really feel the need to stand out in the hobby.  Who knows though, maybe she’s correct.  I often find myself googling other blog authors or collectors to see who they are (does that make me a stalker…?)  I’m not on the facebooks, so it’s a challenge to find faces and match them up with their blogs.  So, I fully embrace the notion of letting no one know.  A fun future blogger game would be to match the face with the blog.  That would be a fantastic year end game to play…?

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Number TWO! Biggie Says: Never let ‘em know your next move.

This one relies heavily on secrecy and finding a “honey hole” of sorts…no, scratch that.  That’s a horrible term.  Maybe it’s really just a favorite spot.  I have those.  But I share them.  I know some folks have a Target or Walmart that they hit up during a certain time of day during a specific day to grab those retail commodity boxes…guess those folks play to the never let ‘em know your next move.  I’m not big on that, I think that sucks.  Share and share alike I say.  So maybe this one applies to some, but not me.

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Number THREE! Biggie Says: Never trust nooobody.

So, this one may be ABOUT me and I’m still feeling a little guilt about it.  When I was at the show Saturday I stopped by Bill’s table (Gavin knows this guy).  Bill is an older gentlemen that lives in Salem, about an hour south of Portland.  He buys card lots from people and has about 4 tables of 10cent, 50cent and Dollar cards.  The dollar cards though, if you buy seven of them it only costs you $5!  It’s been that way forever…or at least like 10years forever, that’s how long I’ve been hitting up these shows…I mean, I’ve been going to these shows for over a decade and it’s always been like that…well, at least that’s what I remember.  I went through the $1 cards and separated my stack into sevens and tallied up the total.  I like organization, remember?  As I was counting, i had an overwhelming sense he was peering over me…I believe he was…I KNOW he was.  When I told him my total, he said “you sure…ok…I trust you…”.  Bill can be an odd duck, but that stuck with me.  I wandered around the other tables and dealers for a bit but couldn’t get it out of my head.  My guilty conscience brought me back to his table to clarify if the $1 box was still 7 for 5?  “Nope” was the response and the shame rained down instantly.  I did a quick recount and gave him the difference in cash and explained to him my “why”.  He seemed to be ok with it.  I guess.  I hope.  I should have asked or clarified when I felt odd about his response, but I didn’t.  That’s a whole nother blog post to explain those issues about me.  I did square it away and I feel good about that…but f’real Never trust nobody…including yourself.

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Number FOUR! Biggie Says: Never get high on your own supply.

I think this is a great one as we all do this.  Opening boxes is great, right?  Who doesn’t love opening things.  My kid loves it.  My bride loves it…hell, my dog loves it.  She opens every single stuffed animal we buy her.  Therefore, I too love opening boxes.  I have a stash though.  I love the stash…but mostly open them when I’m bored or in need of a fix.  The people that hold on to boxes can really see a jump in value if they wait the right amount of time.  That’s a hard thing to do, sit on something and just wait for a rainy day or come across some ebay listing that says it’s going for twice what you’ve paid for it.  How does one NOT get high on their own supply at this point.  Apparently 1989-90 Hoops are going for close to $100/box.  That’s ridiculous…but it also proves that if you don’t get high on your own supply, you can make a buck or two plus in the future…you know, to buy more cards.

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Number FIVE! Biggie Says: Never sell no crack where you rest at.

I am a collector first and foremost.  This is an expensive hobby though…like really expensive, especially the last couple of years.  I’ve been listing my cards on ebay now, quite a bit.  I’ve also done well, so much so that I’ve opened a shop on ebay and have been dealing with the crazies all across the country buying my unwanted cards.  Essentially running a small card shop from my home.  I do mostly PWE’s and have been adding my return address just in case something gets lost or ends up bouncing back and forth between Miami and Minneapolis.  I don’t mind fellow bloggers having my addy, but not some coocoo man from Florida type that could receive a card they don’t like and decide to take a road trip to the PNW.  I’m thinking of getting a PO Box to help with this issue so I’m not selling no crack…cards where I rest at forever.

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Number SIX! Biggie Says: That got damn credit? Dead it!

Cards are expensive, remember when I mentioned that in item 5?  Yeah…really expensive.  How many collector’s run up a debt in their collecting process?  Hopefully not many, but I’m certain some do.  Living on credit is tough during these Soylent Green sorts of days and almost necessary for some of us.  But man, that got damn credit?  Dead it.  If I can’t pay cash for a card, I don’t need said card…that’s mostly the impetus for selling so much on ebay.  Ultimately, my goal would be to not spend any of my day job money on cards and just get to a point where I can spend card sales money on cards!

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Number SEVEN! Biggie Says: Keep your family and business completely separated.

I love my family.  They love me…even my 8 year old.  The dog loves me.  At least one of our cats loves me…not sure about the other one.  He’s definitely more of a momma’s boy.  They all have some kind of idea what I do with my hobby, not explicitly, but generally.  My always asks why I collect cards and in return I ask why he always plays video games…it’s because we enjoy it.  Also, we’re both incredibly anxious and these things help our emotions stay in control.  Part of the hobby can be dense…too much for a spouse to deal with…or maybe just not want to deal with.  I let the bride on to some things that we deal with in our hobby, but mostly don’t.  Not because I’m hiding anything (don’t tell her about my stash!!!), but because I don’t believe it will generate a lot of interest for her.  Keeping this part of my life separated from her is ok…she knows how much it means to me…she just has some concerns about the time I spend with the hobby.  Maybe the hobby does its own part in keeping family and business separated…?

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Number EIGHT! Biggie Says: Never keep no weight on you.

So, as I mentioned in item 3, I was at Bill’s table this past Saturday.  Lots of new faces in the crowd.  Sneaker head faces behind their Supreme and Nike facemasks, just straight ballin’ out…sorry, that wasn’t really necessary.  But seriously, the landscape of these card shows and the hobby have changed.  The hobby has been influenced by influencers.  I’m sure I’ve been sucked into some of it as well…I’m a sucker most of the time.  Well, anyways.  While at Bill’s table there was a group of twenty somethings buying graded basketball cards.  Not just some basic cards, LeBron and Kobe rookies.  These youngsters has some loot too.  The tallest one, I’ll call him Chad for the sake of conversation.  Chad pulled out a ziplock back…the kind with the plastic slider, not the integrated slider…he had the baller ziplocks.  That bag was way too aggressively slammed down on the glass display case and in it was a four inch stack of cash…at least.  All twenties, at least from what I could tell.  Chad was not messing around.  He wanted those slabs and got those slabs.  The Chad gang left right after the purchase and went to their cars…I guess to unload the weight.

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Number NINE! Biggie Says: Stay the F*** from police.

Well, maybe the police don’t have anything to do with this one.  Other than possibly the moral collector police or the “back in my day” police.  I totally get the frustration we all have with the hobby at times and the influx of new faces, but things change.  I like to see this change as good for the hobby.  It increases accessibility, awareness, attendance and other words starting with A’s.  It also increases interest.  Our hobby has had, in my mind, a negative perception for those that don’t know.  We’re seen as overgrown children doing children things…collecting WHAT??!!  I had those when I was a kid…why do you still collect cards…now you know why number one was so important to me.  I like to see how others collect and I honestly don’t care if someone objects to my collection process or methods.  This hobby is huge and has many lanes for all of us to participate in…let enjoy and not overly police others that are new to the hobby.  So, not only stay the f*** from police, don’t be one!

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Number TEN! Biggie Says: Consignment, if you ain’t got no clientele, say hell no!

Consignment, yeah…no thanks…well, maybe.  Selling cards is tough, you really need a lot of stock to make some money in doing it.  Collecting cards is also tough, you really need some good collector friends and online searches to find what you want.  Do we really need consignment in our hobby?  Many times I’ve been sent a link on twitter for a great Washington card and pursued it.  Some times the favor was returned when I posted a card…sort of a communal sharing.  Ebay is a bit of a consignment…they take a huge chunk of your change so you can sell your items to a significantly larger audience.  Helpful yes.  Paying for them to such a thing, not so much.  But, honestly would I have sold that card without them and their reach…?  I don’t know…may say hell maybe to consignment.

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Hope you enjoyed the read.

Hope it was slightly entertaining and engaging.

My apologies for the ramblings, but hey…isn’t a blog supposed to be about ramblings? 

Have a great evening and see you next time!

-Cardboard Hogs

And now…the inspiration for today’s post…as well as the inspiration for the song for the post…so metta.

Clemson Tigers!

I was born in South Carolina.  Conway Country, South Carolina, Myrtle Beach…Myrtle Beach Air Force Base to be exact.  My parents were both in the Air Force when i was born and they were born in South Carolina as well.  Both of my parents were born in South Carolina.  My mom was born in Charleston and My dad’s family was from Spartanburg, SC.  He was the son of a cotton factory worker that loved football, Clemson football.  Football is huge in Texas and really all throughout the south.  Every summer we would visit the Palmetto state, and when we went to Spartanburg we would go to the Beacon drive in.  It’s a bit of a divey drive in greasy spoon kinda place, but damn that food is good!  And the walls were always covered in Clemson newspaper clippings, Frank Howard and Danny Ford photos along Tiger memorabilia everywhere…not so much with the other school in the state, the Cocks, just mostly Clemson Tigers.  So, as a young’n my college football team was chosen.  The Clemson Tigers.  A Tigers fan in the state of Texas, where i could have chosen the Longhorns or Aggies or Red Raiders or whatever…I stuck with my family on this one.  Football hasn’t been too nice to me over the past few years.  The ebbs and flow of a football season are quite emotional, far more than baseball, which i think is why i’m more drawn to the diamond than the gridiron.  But tonight, my team won and it feels great!…and yes, i did order some Panini Clemson Tigers cards tonight.

Now to some baseball cards.

Wrapping up my box of Topps update with the hits.  Like i said, nothing too major, but some cool decent stuff from the jumbo box.

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Christian Vazquez – Boston Red Sox Scouting Report Certified Autograph

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Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals All Star Game 2016 Event Worn Workout Jersey

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Willie McCovey – San Francisco Giants 500 Home Run Club Capt. James Cook Stamp

My mind is a little distracted right now and i’m having a little difficulty writing and listening to ESPN, so i’m just going to let the images be.  That Captain James Cook stamp got me doing some serious research though on global sailing, exploration and cartography.  Maybe i can save some of my research for another (re)post.

Hope you guys have a great night!  Here’s a cool song my wife introduced me to a couple of days ago…probably late on these guys, but love the song!  Enjoy.

We’re all snowflakes…

I grew up in Texas and snow is not a normal thing for me.  When i was 9 we had a huge blizzard in San Antonio, 14″ to be exact.  It was absolutely nuts…as a kid though, fantastic!    It was a freakish event that i will never forget.  Rafik and I missed a couple days of school and had the greatest time ever.  We watched Chris Marrou tell us about the school closures and hoped it would never end!  Our days were filled with bags of sugar to fuel the moments in between epic snowball fights and a rudimentary snow man construction site.  It was the greatest of times for every kid in town.

When we were able (forced) to go back to school, our classrooms had so many leaks that we were huddled en masse in the schools gym.  A very large, crowded and noisy gym.  A gym on the edge of child anarchy.  It was one conch away from being a snowy version of Lord of the Flies.  The teachers were on edge trying to keep us all in line for the couple of days.  We were being taught in a prefabricated building not suited for long division or lessons on social studies.  But they did it and they were the real MVP’s that week.

But now…

I’m a tall adult that likes collecting things like cards and books and also likes rap music.  I also like familiarity and something i can depend on…surprises don’t work well for me.  For the last month or so, my part of Portland has had 3 different weekends of snow…g’darn freakin’ snow!!!  Now, don’t get me wrong, snow is cool when you go to it and are able to look at it and touch it.  But when it comes to you as an unwanted guest, it’s a bit of an annoyance.  We haven’t have had a ruler lengths of snow, but enough to shut the city down a couple of days and keep me from work.  It’s also made my snow driving (sliding) skills ratchet up a tick or two.

All the snow that i was surrounded by made me cave and pick up a box of cards with snow flakes on them.  Subliminal marketing.  Well done Topps, you got me.  Now, let’s see what you gave me Topps.

One of the first things i noticed about these cards is the streaking on the card fronts.  Half of the cards in the blaster box contained the streaking.  Maybe the other bloggers have already touched on this and as usual, i’m late to the party, but it seems that the quality of these cards may have been left to be what they are.  Not super upset about it, but a little disappointed with these…especially the Kershaw card.

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Another thing that was very noticeable is the large amount of white space, most notably on the landscape cards.  Guess that’s the Topps blizzard parallel…?  Seems like a little gradient or transparency could have been a savior for Nick’s card.

These cards were awesome in their original issue and Ricky Bones seems to be dressed appropriately for this card, while Mike Trout is attempting to catch a tiny little snowflake.  Is snow flake one or two words?  snowflake snow flake…

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Dickey Flakes should be a cereal, f’real.

Please let me digress a bit here.  Not sure if you have heard of Krampus, I hadn’t until about two weeks ago.  He’s an incredibly evil Germanic character created to scare the shit out of bad kids…to be honest, i saw a video of him and was a tad scared.  We used the Krampus tactic over the holidays to keep our little snowflake/snow flake in line.  For the most part it worked…but i feel guilty about it in hindsight.  I would point out the window, similar to what Carlos Correa is doing and say “I SEE KRAMPUS!!” and my child of 51 months would run off terrified, similar to what Jed Lowrie is doing.  The things parents do to get done what they want to get done the way they want it to get done.  Not my best parenting story…but sadly, it yielded the result i was looking for.

We now begin the bumpy snowflake portion of the blog post with a couple winners.  Dexter and Kris.  It’s a shame Ernie Banks didn’t get to see these guys win the title.  RIP #14.

If the card on the right was Steve rather than Nori Aoki, the hair on this pair would be most epic.  But it’s just Jacob and Nori.

My game used memorabilia card was Adam Jones which is pretty cool.  I really like Adam and often wonder what his career would have been like if the Mariners kept him..also wonder what the Mariners could have done with his dependability over the incredibly fragile and unreliable Erik Bedard…hindsight is 50/50 man..

So that’s my highlights from a Wal-Mart box of snowflake cards.  Rumor has it we may get some more snow in the next few days up here, climate change ain’t no joke…remember that we are all snowflakes/snow flakes and nobody is like us…even though those Adam Jones cards are pretty much the same thing.

Heritage autograph issue

One of my favorite sets each year is Topps Heritage…actually it is my favorite set.  I buy a few boxes…actually i buy quite a few boxes each spring and slowly and painfully build a set including all of those damn high numbers.  What can i do, i’m a collector that must complete things.

One of the things that i love about Heritage is that it’s not a set based on “MoJo” or “Sick” hits, it’s just about set building…painful set building…but occasionally you get a nice autograph.  Only one though, remember it’s not a gamblers box of cards.  When you get that one auto it always seems to be pretty cool you know?  Most of my autos through the years have been veterans that played during the season of the Heritage re-up which is super cool.  Veteran guys that most of the time i know nothing about so it gives me a chance to learn a thing or two about a guy from the 50’s or 60’s.  It’s great for the history of the game and for educating the younger or maybe less informed fan of baseball.

Here are a couple autos i received from my 2015 Heritage purchases a couple years ago (don’t think these have been posted yet…if so, i apologize!)

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When i first saw this autograph Red Sox card of a guy named Schilling, all i could think of was a stupid bloody sock and…nevermind…not a fan of Curt Schilling, so i’ll leave it at that.  Now Chuck didn’t have a stellar career or a long career, only lasting 5 seasons with the BoSox.  But hey, i’d take 5 years as a big leaguer over non years.  As you can tell this card is red ink and numbered to 66…because it represents the 1966 Topps set…but also notice the 1.  I always like to get the lower number cards thinking that the penmanship is better for these cards.  Mr. Schilling has some pretty nice ink…right over the cup region to boot.

Next up is a younger, modern era player…maybe even a future superstar.  I think it’s safe to say that the way he’s pitched the past couple of years he’s at the star level for a star filled Blue Jays organization.  Mr. Aaron Sanchez

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When i look at this photo, i feel incredibly old.  He looks like he could be my son, my incredibly talented son with some additional flair to his signature.  Wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the exact same way Amy Schumer signs her autographs…just look at it.  I do appreciate how Aaron tucked his signature on his left shoulder over the white uniform.  Nice backdrop for a pretty decent autograph.

Step into 2016 with me.  Bought some more boxes of Heritage and pulled two autographs.

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Jake Wood.  I love this card.  Almost as much as the next one.  The smile on Jakes face looks like a smile of content and pride…like a guy that is genuinely happy to be where he is at that point in his life.  Now, i could be completely wrong as i don’t know Jake personally, but he just looks like nothing is ever too difficult for him.  Jake along with ol’ Chuck from up the page didn’t have a stellar career although it lasted a couple years longer.  Jakes is still pretty active and is doing some great things in the world according to wikipedia.  He continues to play softball at the ripe old age of 79…i can only hope i can still bend over when i’m 79.  Jake also mentors Inmates at a Jail in Florida for the “A Will and a Way” ministry.  Good for him.

Next guy up, Mr. George Altman.

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George to this point of my post has had the best professional baseball career (i see you Aaron Sanchez…).  George played with the legends of Chicago Cubs baseball; Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo and did more than keep his own among that great group of ball players.  As i mentioned above, this is one of my favorite cards from the bunch.  George looks idk an intimidating guy, he is 6’4″.  He’s also one of those odd guys that bats left and throws right…sorry batted/threw.  He also became the first player in the history of baseball to hit two home runs of the legendary Sandy Koufax in one game…not sure how many guys ever did that, context is everything, but to be the first to do anything like that is a good thing.

Got a few more autograph posts lined up for the next few days.  Nothing overly spectacular, but i’m hoping to learn a little about some of these guys.  Hope you enjoyed reading!

This is what we were listening to at the office today.  Childish Gambino aka Don Glover.  Check it out!