Grand Cards: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Great Customer Service: The Sandlot Comes Through

For those of you who view this blog through an RSS feed (as I do with most blogs), over the last few months I have taken to using Lightbox to blow the thumbnails in my galleries. This does not come through in RSS. So, if you'd like to see my small pictures in a clean, large format, click on over and scroll through the gallery. I will issue some version of this disclaimer on applicable posts for the next few weeks, fyi.

A few weeks ago I thought that I had struck gold. A google search revealed that the elusive, nay, literally impossible to find, Andrew Miller 15b card was for sale on a site called Sandlot Cards for a pittance. So I ordered it.

About five hours later, I found this in my inbox:
Thank you for your recent order with Sandlot Cards. In searching our inventory I found that we did not have the Andrew Miller 'Posed' version of the 2007 Topps card in stock, we only had the version with him pitching.


But wait, there's more. In an exemplary show of customer service, Sandlot offered to refund my money in full, and give me a $5 credit on anything in their store plus free shipping. Bargain shopping spree ho!

It turns out that their is an odd assortment of cards on their site, but the site itself is very well organized and eminently searchable. Let me search by "Tigers" and I will be a happy, happy man. What I found was a variety of vintage cards, some stuff from the 80s, and then cards from the last couple years. In an odd way, it was like searching the inventory of just about every card blogger I know. Did 1995-2005 just not exist?

Anyway, I maxed out my $5 credit on 5 cards which came shipped in a bubble mailer, each with in their own sleeves and top loaders and immaculate condition. This is not a huge deal when you've ordered something like this:

Even thought that is THE LAST CARD I NEEDED to finish my '83 Topps set. It's a much bigger deal when you're dealing with things like this:

That's four '69 Topps cards, all in absolutely perfect shape.

What can I say other than I am very impressed with Sandlot's customer service and will peruse their site from time to time to see if they can help me out with some other cards I need. Next time on great stories in customer service: An ebay seller who gave me a refund on shipping. Yes, I'm serious.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's The Story with Topps 60?

I thought that I was going to avoid this.

I like 2011 Topps, really I do. It's just that sometimes certain things that are supposed to be cool or are supposed to resonate or are supposed to mean something just, well, don't.

Take Topps 60 for example. What a concept! 60 years of Topps baseball, league leaders in major categories, a true chronicling of the greats of the game during Topps' existence.


LEAGUE LEADER baby. In HOME RUNS. That's some good stuff. And even the design, which I've heard some griping about, is neat. The 60 gives a window into the context of the picture and makes the player stand out, all while being neither obnoxious or boring. Oh and it gets better, look at what Tigers are featured in this series!

Al Kaline! Mr. Tiger Himself!

"The Bird," Mark Fidrych! (may he rest in peace)

Max Scherzer, the up and coming Ace in #2 starter's clothes!

Johnny Damon! Sure, he was only a Tiger for one year, but he was good, and nice, and my wife likes how he looks, and he's been a darn good player for a long time.

This, my friends, is a Killer Series 1 checklist for the Tigers. It gets my seal of approval many times over.

But, oh and there is always a but, it's not all rainbows and lollipops. The checklist is good, and I guess that is what matters, but just because you can slap a sticker autograph on something doesn't mean you're allowed to get lazy. AN AUTOGRAPH DOES NOT MAKE THE CARD, THE CARD MAKES THE AUTOGRAPH. If you think I'm wrong, then tell me why some autographed cards sell for many times more than other ones of the same player. It's about the card. If it wasn't, you'd spend your money on an 8x10 or a mini helmet or on some other memorabilia.

Why then, on these "hits," are we subjected to such elite records as:

"Most Consecutive 80 Run Seasons in the AL"
"Most MLB Strikeouts Per 9 Innings 2009-2010"
"Most Times Played in MLB All Star Game for AL"
"Most Single Season Complete Games, Last 35 Years"

Actually, now that I look at these a little more, I don't hate the category selection. All Star Games? Complete Games? Somewhat obscure records? With the exception of the (stupid) K/9 2009-2010 "record," I can deal with these. It actually makes them kind of fun, and more interesting then AL HR Leader (sorry Miggy).

Oh, but it gets worse:

3(t) :-/

4(t) :(

4(t) :'(

9 >:(

Weak. I'm so glad that I have an autographed card of the person with the 9th best K/9 ratio in 2009-2010. Or that the person tied for the 3rd-most complete games in the last 35 years has been recognized. I get it. You want a strong checklist and need to figure out some way to do that, but if you're going to just opt for the everybody's got a record route, at least make sure they have a record, right?

I guess I won't punch a gift horse in the mouth (Edit: Apparently I have the intelligence of some boob on Yahoo Answers but I wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth either. Thanks to my Johnny Damon-loving wife for pointing this out to me.), but I just have to ask. Why?

To make matters worse, I'm 99% sure that they don't fill out each category. In other words, each of the Top 10 in each category isn't featured on a card, making things seem even more arbitrary and random.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Redemption Thoughts

I feel like Topps has been pretty good about redemptions recently. I've never had to deal with them before this year, but I dealt with three redemptions in 2010, all of which are now in my hands and in good shape.

I'd imagine if I were purchasing a high end product like Triple Threads that these redemptions would get on my nerves a bit. At the original release, pretty much anything with a Miguel Cabrera autograph was a redemption, which boo. Well, no more, as the real cards have now started to hit eBay:
#TTARC-6 Longoria/Beckham/Cabrera; 2010 Topps Triple Threads

#TTARC-8 Porcello/Damon/Cabrera; 2010 Topps Triple Threads

#RRARP-5 Porcello/Scherzer; 2010 Topps Triple Threads

#TTAR-121 Miguel Cabrera 2010 Topps Triple Threads

#TTAR-122 Miguel Cabrera; 2010 Topps Triple Threads

#TTAR-123 Miguel Cabrera; 2010 Topps Triple Threads

Also, there's a fancy jumbo I hadn't seen before:

#TTJPAR-1 Miguel Cabrera; 2010 Topps Triple Threads

So there you go. 2010 Triple Thread redemptions are now real cards with autographs and jersey bits and everything. Get them while they're hot.

No, I don't have any of these cards. When I get some more time, I will swap out the old redemption pictures in the gallery for these fancy new cards, but I figured since nobody ever goes through the old galleries to browse, that I'd feature these cards as part of a new post so that you can see that they actually do exist and that they came into existence about three or four months after the product's release. /public service.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happier Times

Today has been a bad day for Tigers fans. I think a trip to Happier Times Blvd. is necessary. I give you the 1984 World Champions, in a "World Champions" commemorative set put out by Wendy's in 1985. Everything is happy. The people that don't look happy are happy on the inside (I'm looking at you Chet Lemon). Even Zombie Jack Morris is happy.

Someday we will be happy again.

#1 Sparky Anderson

#2 Doug Bair

#3 Doug Berenguer

#4 Dave Bergman

#5 Tom Brookens

#6 Marty Castillo

#7 Darrell Evans

#8 Barbaro Garbey

#9 Kirk Gibson

#10 Johnny Grubb

#11 Willie Hernandez

#12 Larry Herndon

#13 Rusty Kuntz

#14 Chet Lemon

#15 Aurelio Lopez

#16 Jack Morris

#17 Lance Parrish

#18 Dan Petry

#19 Bill Scherrer

#20 Alan Trammell

#21 Lou Whitaker

#22 Milt Wilcox

Checklist Card

No Comment.

Well, this is just about the worse news that Tigers fans could have gotten this morning. Hint: it features a smiling mugshot of a plastered Miguel Cabrera

Let me just say this: Alcoholism is a disease, and it needs to be treated consistently and vigilantly. On the plus side, this just happened at the very start of spring training, with plenty of time for a program to be put in place. On the minus site, this is now a chronic problem, and is likely much worse than any of us thought when it reared its ugly head at the end of 2009 (and was seemingly eviscerated in 2010).

My advice is to call the Texas Rangers and find out what they do with Josh Hamilton. Get Miguel Cabrera a handler. He has clearly shown that he has a problem that is too large to deal with on his own.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Now What Are These?

Note: 2011 Topps moratorium over

Some of my favorite cards every year are retail exclusive inserts. To me, they present a true collector's challenge that can't be solved by buying case after case. Hell, half the time, we don't even know these cards exist. They are never officially released by Topps, they seldom make their way to Beckett, even Baseballcardpedia, which is fast becoming the go-to resource for checklists and product information, misses some of these.

Sure, we know about the Red Diamonds (Target), and the Blue Diamonds (Walmart). But did you know that there are Purple Diamonds (Toys R Us)? Does anybody have a clue as to what that checklist looks like? No.

But that's not all. Now, there are these:

Those are "Blue Sapphire" inserts that are allegedly exclusive to Wal Mart. I have no idea what product option they come from, no idea if there is a Target equivalent, and no idea of the checklist. There are at least two (and probably only two) Tigers though. WHM-3 (Cobb) and WHM-15 (Cabrera).

Other than the fact that they really, really look like they belong in 2010, I like them.

Let the chase begin!

Update--the appear to come from WalMart "Hanger Packs," whatever those are. Rack packs, maybe?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

So Groggy

I say that because as you're reading this, the following has happened to me: Took a 12am (PST) red eye flight from California that gets into Houston at 5:53am, then I sat around in the airport for another hour before boarding a flight to get back to Baltimore by 11:15am.

Alternative scenario: one of those two things screwed up, meaning that I am definitely not in Baltimore, which you know will make me groggy.

In case you couldn't tell, I have pre-scheduled this post. Why? Because of the above, and the fact that prior to embarking on the above, I have some time to kill and no hotel room and the cumulative effect of two days of coffee in me.

Fortunately, I get to come home to this*

Why do I care about Jack Billingham? He just happens to be the last card that I needed for my '79 Topps set. He came to me courtesy of Greg, formerly of Lake Effect Cards, and now of Nearly Mint and who has a habit of sending me cards out of the goodness of his heart.

Clearly, this is man who has a lot of goodness in his heart, because he also sent me a load of vintage goodness (and early 80's cards that come this close to closing out sets for me);

Most (or all? I need to check my checklist again) of the 1999 Topps Opening Day cards I needed;

and this:

Wow. I don't even know what to say. There were also assorted other cards that I needed and some more cards that I probably needed at the time he bought them, but that I bought before they got into my hands...Sorry about that!

So a BIG BIG BIG Thank you to Greg (@grogg on twitter) for the phenomenal cards. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your generosity!

*If I had my druthers, I would show multiple pictures of my lovely wife. But, I'm guessing that she wouldn't be pleased with me slathering pictures of her all over the internet. However, I felt it appropriate to include the "*" so that if and when she reads this post, she will know that I was not only thinking about coming home to baseball cards and was, in fact, mostly thinking about coming home to her. It is almost Valentines Day, after all.