Off topic: Learning the Joys of the Troll Part 1

I have read many blog articles naming the Troll of the blog-o-sphere. After reading the Troll's blog, and corresponding in e-mails I see where the love comes from. Well it also doesn't hurt that the Troll sent me a package of Diamondback cards. Here are a few of the gems.

Justin Upton 2007 Topps 52 Rookies

I love this set, I am not really sure if I can explain why, but I am probably the demographic they released this set for. Growing up there was a certain 1952 rookie card that was iconic to baseball cards. It was unreachable, it was legendary, and it was almost priceless. Now the young stars of today, er of 2007, are available in the same design. I think this is my favorite card the Troll sent.

Adam Dunn 2009 Topps Heritage (Chrome)

Troll said that there would be Shiny Diamondback cards. This is a shiny card, and numbered 430/560. I can't help but to be a fan of the shiny numbered cards.

Conor Jackson 2009 Topps Heritage

I think my collections will be changing soon. Right now I am so overwhelmed with work and family that I don't really have time to sit down and plan it out, but this package from Troll really opened my eyes to what really makes me happy in cardboard. I have always leaned toward set collecting in this hobby, but after getting Diamondback, and Will Clark themed packages in the mail I am taking a second look on what I want to focus on.

Stephen Drew 2007 Bowman Heritage

I was also meaning to ask others in the blog-o-sphere, what happens to TTM attempts after the season ends. I imagine that sending to the team address is just asking for a lengthy wait time. Do most of you wait until spring training to attempt again?

Conor Jackson 2007 Bowman Heritage (Rainbow)

More shiny goodness. Thanks Troll, I really enjoyed this package. I will post another group of cards from this package in a bit. I also love the fact that Troll sent a note with the cards, written on the back of a Tampa Bay Rays desk calendar page. How can you not like a guy that sends fantastic cards, and even uses such cool stationary.


Off topic: Cluster of unrelated thoughts

My blog as slowed considerably for one reason or another. No incoming cards to the 2008 Ginter set due to low funds and a certain deal completing the base (which I still haven't picked yet). No incoming TTM as most teams are in off season mode, and the ones that are still playing have bigger things to occupy their time. Lastly, I have been busy at work and at home lately not allowing for any new TTM attempts. These combination do not lend themselves well to blog posts.

A while back I posted about opening a handful of Retail 2008 Allen & Ginter packs from target and they all contained no mini's and the card counts were all lower than what was promised. Yesterday I came across the scenario again. The target close to work had 2009 Ginter packs in so I had to consider the possibility of picking up a pack. While perusing, I spotted a pack that was thin, when I say thin I mean if it had 4 cards let alone a mini I would be shocked.

I took the pack to customer service and mentioned to the lady that the pack should be taken off the shelve and sent back to Topps or at least classified as a loss. I told her my original story and said that this pack was also missing cards. She had a skeptical look, (I am probably one of the customers they complain about in the break area at this point) she took a pair of scissors and opened the pack. It contained three base cards and an advertisement for the Ginter code. At this point I am probably still annoying but not a nut, she thanked me and had someone go and check the other packs for "visibly thin" packs.

Both instances happened at different targets, and two different years of the same brand. I also could not see any visible evidence of tampering. Is this problem with Target or with Topps? in other words, are customers or employees tampering with these packs, or is Topps distribution on these retail packs less than perfect? Now, I know that retail packs are not the best packs to pick up, but they are the most accessible to me and I don't think I will every swear them off. I guess I just have to be much more careful.

Lastly, I wanted to give some kudos to "My 2008 Topps Set Blog". I have already raved about this blog here before but I wanted to come clean about the impossible feat this blog has accomplished. I hated the 2007 and 2008 Topps set, I think I have even mentioned this while commenting on other blogs before. I thought the design was hideous. The 2008 set to me look like a circus event with those colored circles around every letter of the team's name. Well, I bought a pack for my son and I to go through the other night and as we opened the pack were rummaging through it I realized that I REALLY liked it. I don't know if it was constantly seeing this set while following this blog, or if it is an acquired taste but now I want to collect this set. Seeing how it is a large set, and I have virtually no cards this will take a while. The cards I want to get first are the Presidential Campaign cards, the two cards I have are the 1900, and, 1796 presidential campaigns cards. So I don't know really want to say to my blogging buddy, but perhaps thanks for nothing. Now I have more cards I need to spend money on. Can't you just let me despise sets in peace? Is the sarcasm come through in this medium?


Off topic: Special Augie Mail Call

Coming off of that last post comes a more positive one. A friend of mine sent me a package that has brightened my month (at least). I met Mrs. Addington on facebook through her Augie Ojeda Facebook fan page. After chatting during many Diamondback games, and seeing her on many televised games with her friends and their signs, we set up a trade. I would send her a hat from the company I work for and she was going to buy me a D-Back batting practice cap, get it signed by Mr. Ojeda.

You see, this past season I have been living vicariously through Mrs. Addington and her friends on Facebook. Every home stand they post pictures of themselves at the pre-game BP with people like, Augie Ojeda, Matt Williams, Clay Zavada, David Eckstein, Mark Grace, oh the envious list goes on. The major point of envy comes from the fact that Augie knows she is his biggest fan and makes a point to see her if he is able. Then on the final home stand of the season, Mr. Ojeda gave Mrs. Addington one of his undamaged game used bat, signed. This woman has connections, or is just a really cool personable lady.

Today I got the package in the mail. Not only did Mrs. Addington send me the hat, she went WAY beyond that. The package included a signed ball, an Augie Ojeda bobblehead (which I had been wanting since he won the honor) also signed, and lastly a stadium giveaway t-shirt from the Luis Gonzales appreciation day at Chase field.

The Ball I think was the first thing that really got my attention from the box. I was surprised to see the wear. I really didn't know what to expect actually, but upon seeing the wear and the "Practice" stamp I put two and two together. Not only did he sign the sweet spot, which is a special ball in and of itself, but he signed the sweet spot right next to the "practice" stamp of a ball he had been batting around. As a Ojeda fan, all I can say is "Priceless".

The next thing that I pulled from the box was the hat. After all it was what I was expecting. When I knew it was coming I started to ponder, "would I wear this hat as a rally cap, or display it." Well the question was soon answered as I put that cap on. It was too big. Having never met, and not knowing my own size this was not a surprise. This will be beautifully displayed in my office at work.

I set the cap down to return to my treasure chest, er box, and my son captured my attention. He had picked the cap up and put it on his three year old head. The sight brought back memories of the O-dawg in the batters box. This hat was too big on daddy and now my smiling little boy was admiring himself in the mirror with it on.

He looked at me and said, "Daddy! It fits, can I have it?"

"One day, but not right now love." I said (ok ok, I am mushy Daddy. I confess)

The next item I pulled from the box was the Bobblehead. I had been looking forward to this release for a while. I actually expected to pay way to much on Ebay for it, but Mr. Addington had take care of that for me. She had REALLY taken care of it, because on the base of the figure was another signature. Actually, after talking to her, she told me that she didn't even get hers signed yet.

The last item I pulled from the box was the T-Shirt. As many of you know, and can see on the right, that Gonzo is one of my all time favorites. Having a small family, and living in Los Angeles it is not possible to get to many... ok any games at chase field. One of the games I missed but would have love to been at was the "Gonzo Appreciation Day" game. Once again, I was in good hands.

April, I know you subscribe to this blog. Even though I told you how freeking awesome you are, Thanks again. You have fit into one box, Memorabilia that overshadows almost all I had before. But I am still jealous of that bat! (please allow me the use of your image below)

Complaining Question

I want to know what others will think of this situation. About a month ago I was in my "local" card shop (pretty long drive, but I have been going there because the card shop by me is more of a shack), I asked the owner's son, who handles the baseball part of the store, if he had any of the Allen & Ginter's from my want list and how much it would be. He told me that he would look but to just e-mail him the list. He said would look later as he was busy trying to reorganize after an event the store had just hosted. I eventually got an e-mail that said they had all the cards on my list in stock and gave me a quote.

By this time my financial situation had changed. I still wanted the cards, but was pondering telling him, "not to worry about it," or just buying them over time. After discussion with my wife I decided to just say, "Thank you very much for checking, but no thank you". The response was shocking and disappointing. I was told that they had actually purchased all of the card on my behalf and I need to complete the transaction. I told the owner that I never agreed to this, that my intention was to only see what they had, get a quote and consider it. They got real defensive, they stated the number of years they have been in business, and that they never ever had a situation like this, yadda yadda.

I try to be a very non-confrontational person, it doesn't always work out that way, so initially I chalked it up to miscommunication and set up a tiny payment plan which I am completing this Friday. Looking back on the situation I feel I got strong-armed (for lack of a better word) into this deal. I will not mention the name of the shop as my intention is not to discredit them in any way, but just to get another opinion and perhaps advice on how to avoid this.


TTM Ginter success

After a week or two of nothing, three TTM successes in 2 days. I am crossing my fingers that today's mail call continues the hot streak.

I was really looking forward to this return from Mr. Neshek. Before this blog and this collecting adventure, I didn't really know of him. Yeah, I have been saying that a lot, which is just another aspect of this project that is so enjoyable. Mr. Neshek as it turns out is one of us. He too is a autograph collector and runs his own blog. I had mentioned this when sending the card out, but if you bare with me I will just mention it again. I really enjoyed reading through his blog, my view about the site was that he seemed really down to earth. He really comes off as one of us that just got the blessing to be able to play in the bigs. He gives accounts of what is going on at certain times, like spring training, and what it is like from the players perspective. He even has little bits of information about his signature.

When I got the envelope I notice I had sent two cards and I got three back. I started to wonder if Mr. Neshek had done what Scherzer had done, but when I got to looking I was surprised and instantly confused. He had signed both cards I had sent and then sent me a 1999 Victory Hockey Wayne Gretzky card. Does anyone know why this would be? I first though that he had just mistakenly sent someone's card to me instead of them on accident. This doesn't seem to be the case for two reasons. one, he sent back my correct cards so if he got those correct he probably wouldn't mess up on a third random one. two, who would send Mr. Neshek a Gretzky card to sign. My last assumption is that, in my letter I talk about my son getting interested in sports, so far baseball and football, may he is sending my son an intro into hockey. OK it is a stretch I know. Anyone have a clue or an idea I would love to hear it.

Thanks Pat!


Second TTM Ginter Success from yesturday

The other response from yesturday was Les Miles. LSU Tigers College Football head coach. When I sent out to Mr. Miles, I sent a batch of cards that had a really good chance of success in a quick amount of time. Mr. Miles and the others are holding true to form. Three of them, I got another today, have responded with in 2 weeks. Mr Miles, responded in 12 days.

Thanks Les!


More TTM Ginter Success

The mailbox came back alive today. I got two more Ginter Cards back. It has been pretty quiet lately, not even bills so I guess I can't complain. One of the two that came back was Nicky Hayden. I had heard he was good about responding TTM and he lived up. He responded in 12 days.

Judging from other scans I have seen, this looks pretty close to everyone else's. Although he used a very thick pen this time.

Thanks Nicky!


Off topic: More Will in the Mail

My mail box has been lonely, TTM seems to have dried up lately. I did however receive another package of Will-Goodness from WickedOrtega from My Past Time....... I Love It!! I have to apologize up front, but I will not be able to scan and post every card he sent. Mainly because he sent and amazing amount. I believe that I now have more Will Clark cards than I ever had as a kid, so much so that I believe I will now try to actively collect him (instead of just keep the memories). My second apology is that I am at work currently and do not have the cards in front of me, so I will not be able to accurately name each card by set, year, and card number.

I will be posting cards that I like either by content or cards that I remember as a kid. This is one of them. I started collecting in 1988 but my majority of collecting was between 89-90.

I never had any cards from this Score set, but I LOVED the cartoon style of them and as a kid envied the guy that had the complete set.

Most of my collection (that is still in my parents garage) as a kid was 1990 Topps and Donruss, more Topps that Donruss. This card brings back the most memories.

My first pack of baseball cards, my mom picked up a pack of 1988 Donruss from a Thriftys drug store when I was hope sick from school. I don't remember if clark was in the first pack but he was the card I remember most.

Here is another thought when looking at this set. I got home from school one day to find a wall in my room wallpapered with my baseball cards. My older brother who is oblivious to card collecting thought I would be happy if he taped all my cards to my walls in my room. Fortunately I didn't take any disappointment out on him, even at that age I could see that he really was trying to do something nice. Deep down I was like "what where you thinking?"

I just like this card. Not sure why, but I think it is just one of those "different" cards that is unique.

I really like this card. I have to admit when I first saw this card I was instantly thought of a certain Bo Jackson image.


Off topic: Contest spoils

My mailbox has been relatively inactive, save for the bills pouring in. Two Philly returns that were not returns, and a return to sender, and beyond that we got nothing. Today I found a package not from a TTM return but a fellow blogger who sent me some cards for getting relatively close to answering his contest question correctly. The package contained 11 cards full of Will Clark goodness, and since my blog has been really slow lately and because I really like the cards, I am going to post all of them.

1990 Topps "NL Leaders" Will Clark #397

This Brings me back to my early days for collecting. Did anyone else remember when you could by a retail box of the 1990 Topps and Donruss at Costco. It was one of the coolest things I can remember, my Mom and Dad buying me at least 4 boxes that year, two of each set.

1995 Pinnacle "Pinnacle Performers" Will Clark #PP11

I was not collecting at this time, so I don't know this set. I apologize for my scanner, it hasn't been scanning well lately. The card has shiny foil look to it, all except the player, the team logo, and the players name.

1997 Upper Deck #229

Will Clark's 12 year statistics cover almost half of the back side of this card. Maybe I am a little old school, but I lean toward a stat filled backs. More information the better.

1999 Fleer Will Clark #198

The scan doesn't quite tell the story with this card. The white outline around Will's name is actually foil, and if the last card had a back full of stats this one trumps it with almost 80% of the cards back filled with 14 years of numbers.

1996 Pinnacle Will Clark "The Naturals" #156

I knew that Will didn't stay a Giant his entire career, but by the time I left collecting and following the sport he was still in San Francisco. It's feels weird seeing him in a Ranger Jersey, but that's just me.

1998 Fleer Traditions Will Clark #241

This is one of the two cards that really jumped out at me in the bunch. I am not sure if I like it or not, but what I do like is that it is different. I like the fact that its not a run of the mill shot. The gold foil for the name makes it hard to read, but I do like photo. It is different and different is good.

1995 Score "Hitters Inc" Will Clark #570

This card definitely journeys into the "Different". The eyes. Again, I like it for breaking out of the box, but the more I look at it, it gets a little creepy.

1990 Fleer "Super Star Specials" Will Clark & Kevin Mitchell #637

I love this card. One, it comes from the years that I was begging my mom and dad for packs of cards. Two, it has the two players I was trying to collect back then. Will Clark was my favorite but Keven Mitchell and Matt Williams followed closely in second. Nice having a card with both of them on it. Hmm, maybe a TTM candidate?

1993 Upper Deck Will Clark #576

This is the classic image of Will Clark I remember, not this card in particular but the crisp white jersy and black hat. I love this card, really brings back great memories.

1990 Upper Deck "National League All Star" Will Clark #50

One of my favorite Clark cards so far. I already received one of these cards from a fellow blogger, but will gladly accept another.

1996 Score "Pitcher Perfect" Will Clark #11 of 15

Absolute favorite of the bunch. How can you not love this card. OK, better question; How can I not love this card. The photo is awesome, as you have noticed in this post I like different, but I especially like this where you get to see more than just baseball, I am not sure I am even adequately expressing myself. Lets just leave it at, I love this card. Plus it has Randy Johnson on a Will Clark card, whats not to love?

Thanks Daniel!


Sending cards (week 8)

My last batch that I sent out was filled with players that I never really expect to get back any time soon if ever. They may not be that bad but lets just say hopes are low. This week I am sending to a group of people with really good success rate and turn around times. Bonnie Blair, Nicky Hayden, Les Miles, and Pat Neshek.

Bonnie Blair

I have already bored you with my childhood memories of watching the Lillehammer Winter Olympics with my family, but Mrs Blair was my favorite athlete that olympiad. As a kid she even returned a TTM to me, one of my first.

Nicky Hayden

Not even going to attempt to fake that I really know anything about him other than what is on the back of the card. 2006 National Champion, not to shabby to be on the top of your respective sport.

Les Miles

LSU head coach. One a National Championship. Very good return rate for TTM.

Pat Neshek

Mr. Neshek is a fellow autograph collector and runs his own website. If you haven't seen it, you really should check it out. He is really down to earth apparently and reading about baseball from a players point of view is really cool. I love hearing about him getting to the ballpark to hear that Mark Spitz was going to throw out the first pitch. Pat actually had cards with him and found Spitz's Ginter card and got him to sign it.

Just to wrap up, I wanted to mention a couple TTM returns that where not exactly successes. I wasn't going to mention them, but I think some of you may find it interesting in case you were to consider sending to them. I got returns back from Chase Utley, and Cole Hamels. I am not sure if its all Phillies players but both of these individuals sent both cards back unsigned, included a form letter very similar to each others and included a postcard with a pre-printed autograph. If anyone is interested in the scan of the letters shoot me an e-mail, for some reason I felt uncomfortable posting them even though they where form letters.