Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Box Number One - 2014 Topps Heritage - The Results

This box was waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday. I tore into it like no body's business! It has a twin - which I badly wanted to rip, but I promised myself I would post the first box before I ripped the second...

So here goes, my commitment to myself and some of the notable things that came in this fancy box o'cards.

I should note that I had vowed to finish my 1965 Topps set BEFORE I started the '65 version of Heritage. This might be an anti climatic way to announce this - I had a little fan fare planned - but we will take the no frills approach. The 1965 set - cards 1 - 598 are all safe in my binder. I found the final 3 cards I needed online just a few weeks ago. A trio of Hall of Famers. I had been held up on these 3 cards for nearly a year, but I kept on having the feeling like I had one of them already.

Turns out I was correct. I had found a Phil Niekro rookie YEARS ago - long before I even put the cards in the binder. As I was cleaning up the extra bedroom at Christmas time to prepare for some amazing visitors - I found the Niekro/Clay Carroll card I had long forgotten about.

I guess I can start this post off by offering this little slab as trade bait. Card #461.

Anyway, back to cards I actually needed... card#526 featuring Catfish Hunter brought me close and card#250 Willie Mays finished off the journey.

So, what could have been a very long story is over for now and so is my quest for '65 Topps. (Arguably) the GREATEST player to ever play this game, Willie Mays drove home the winning run and provided the final card for my set. With it done, I can start on it's great-great-grandchild - 2014 Topps Heritage, so here we go.

After opening the shrink wrap I was greeted by this wrapper. I had no idea there would be a 50th Anniversary stamped real '65 in here. Nice touch, Topps. I wasn't thrilled with Charlie Smith, but the idea of pulling a Mays or a Mantle (1 in 598 odds?) was pretty darn cool.

After I ripped open the very first pack and saw the back of the first card I wondered if I had a "hot pack" filled with vintage cards. I saw this League Leader card and the blue back was dead-on. Once again, well done Topps.

It took a few minutes before I got much more excited. The first 6 packs yielded no inserts or SPs, but did provide me with cards of four of my favorite players - a really sharp looking Desmond Jennings which came in my second pack and stands as my favorite card in the set so far.

He was followed by one of my favorite non-Rays. Former O's second baseman Brian Roberts.

As a fan of his I am glad he has a job and a chance to be a starter AND to have a big role in Derek Jeter's farewell tour, but man it burns me to see B.R. in pinstripes (or NY road greys)...

Speaking of teams I hate and players I like - my third pack contained card #135 commemorating game 4 of the World Series. Ken Boyer's grand slam was on the original and my man Jonny Gomes' 3 run homer gets the modern one.

My 4th pack had my favorite pitcher in it, Alex Cobb on a fairly blah looking head shot.

It also had my first Rookie Cup card featuring an ultra close of up of Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

Pack number five contained my first look at the World's Largest Vegetarian (I think Robert Parrish is the tallest, but Prince is far larger) in a Rangers uni. I hated to see Ian Kinsler leave TX, but preseason prediction - I think Prince knocks out 40 plus this year.

Another cool card for me was this Rays dual rookie featuring Enny Romero and Tim Beckham.

Both will be at Durham this year, but I think both of them will be playing in St. Pete this fall...

Pack number six had my first SP and my first chrome card as well. The SP was Prince's former teammate, Mr. MVP Miguel Cabrera on the prestigious card #500, formerly occupied by HOF slugger Eddie Mathews. The chrome featured Mr. Met David Wright.

As I finished the box off, I pulled the appropriate number of SP (1:3) high numbers (8) and I pulled 2 chromes (1:14) and 1 refractor (1:27) of Jon Lester.

The box promised a Real One Autograph OR a relic card - I got neither. That was a HUGE bummer. If I pull 2 in my next box I will be happy, but otherwise I feel kinda scammed...

I did get one "hit", a logo variation SP card of Mets inactive phenom pitcher Matt Harvey, these are 1 in 135. Unless someone wants this, it will likely end up on eBay. I will wait a week or so in case somebody needs it, but please get in touch soon with an offer if you do want it. Same goes with everything - I am not chasing any of the insert sets or saving chromes. I am determined to finish this set sooner than later. There are 75 high number SPs and I have 8 thus far, so I will need to do some serious trading.

Back to my ripping... It was Mike Trout who got the honor of Willie Mays card #250.

The standard insert series' all returned this year as well. I got a few of each - New Age Performers, Then and Now and Flashbacks.

I didn't rip any Heritage last year so i don't know for sure if this is new or not, but this year's set included a MLB Draft First Rounders set (1:12) and I pulled 2 of them.

Aside from the short prints the last few packs were highlighted by a pair of former Rays and a trio of current ones.

I ripped pretty quickly, stopping only to put a few cards in penny sleeves. After waiting for what seemed like forever, about 10 minutes after meeting Charlie Smith i had a stack of wrappers and an empty box.
The good news is that now that I have posted this box - I am free to tear into the next one!!!

Thanks for reading! Go Rays!
troll out.
PS. The Rays won again last night, Wil Myers led-off and had 3 doubles. They are down the street in Sarasota today against the Orioles.
PSS. Every insert is available, so hit me up if ya need anything. I will have a wantlist up soon...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Guess What Came in the Mail Today???

It has been pouring rain all day... My guard dog - who is scared of EVERYTHING, especially the sound of thunder, rain, wind, everything... has been flipping out all day. She has been so tense she didn't alert me when the Mail Man dropped by. A few minutes ago I took out the trash and peeked into the mailbox. Three wet letters, all bills. I picked 'em up and started walking back upstairs when I realized that on the back of one of the bills someone has written "package" with an arrow. All jokes ignored - I followed the error and searched for the "package"... Found the package soaking wet, behind the recycle bin. I picked it up like I was rescuing a baby and ran upstairs - very concerned about water damage to whatever I had received...
Let's make this long story shorter...
The box was well packed, the contents were bagged, nothing was damaged.
Inside the box I found not one, BUT 2 BOXES OF 2014 TOPPS HERITAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, I am pretty psyched... Tune in tomorrow for some details...
Go Rays!
troll out.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Have the Best Tan of Any Third Shift Machinist in the World!!!

It was a great weekend of spring baseball in Port Charlotte, Florida. Hung out with my lovely Wife, saw back to back Rays wins over AL East rivals, got a ton of sun and feel really good about MY team being ready for games when it counts in two weeks...
On Saturday it was a split squad game with the Blue Jays. They didn't Joey Bats or Edwin E, so the Rays weren't facing a formidable offense by any means. The Rays had Zobrist, Myers, Jennings, DeJesus and Joyce elsewhere as well.
That said, Erik Bedard didn't do too bad... He still has strikeout stuff, he can still hit 90-91 on the gun, he still can throw a knee buckling curveball on occasion and he can get a ground ball when he needs it. Not great and I don't still don't feel confident about him being our 5th starter (I would prefer Jake Odorizzzi) but it could be worse.
This game was more about the guys rounding out the roster than the regulars and those guys made the most of their chances... With a ton of SEC baseball fans in the crowd, former LSU Tiger star and Rays minor leaguer Mikey Mahtook's first at bat came with the bases loaded and the crowd was screaming "Mikey Mikey, Let's Go Tiger"!. He drilled a pitch over the left field wall. GRAND SLAM. I had good seats, but his smile was so big when he was rounding the bases you could have seen it from the parking lot. The kid was psyched and the fans went nuts.
Mahtook had been sent back to minor league camp a while back, but with a split squad game he dressed as JIC-guy. Actually more than that cuz he got the start, but he really made the most of things. I've watched him play A-ball in Port Charlotte and really like his game - he's still pretty far from being a big leaguer, but he showed that he could tear up bad pitching and make a guy pay for a mistake. Well done Tiger.
Today was more about David Price. My favorite part was his pick-off of Jackie Bradley Jr. There's always something special about beating the Red Sox, too, whether the games count or not. Seeing Price pitch into the 7th, give up a few hits and fan 7 was pretty nice. Watching James Loney at the plate was a show in itself. He's batting over 400 this spring and had 5 rib eyes today. NICE.
Thats all for now. Much more to come... The Price card at the top came from an awesome surprise package from Jeff of 2x3 Heroes. My scanner is non functional right now - when I solve that problem, I will give him a proper post cuz he made my week with all the 2x3 gems he sent my way. Oh - the Longo throwback patch came from him as well. Freaking awesome! Thanks Jeff!!
Go Rays!
troll out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Heading to Port Charlotte with the Wife... It's our first game together since the Playoffs last year... Woot woot. Go Rays!
troll out.

On a card note - there was some sort of delay in the shipping of 2014 Heritage - my boxes were shipped to me yesterday and I should have them on Tuesday. Can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hot Plans for Thursday Afternoon!

I must say I have a number of posts that are ALMOST ready to share...
Right now all I have is an awesome announcement about my plans for Tomorrow... Last minute, but worked out perfect...

Just scored a pair of second row tickets at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida tomorrow. The spring home of the Baltimore Orioles...

The O's will be hosting the Tampa Bay Rays and my Father and I will be attending! I am amped for ANY game, but SO excited  to go to an outdoor, afternoon game with my Dad!!!!

I have no idea what the line-up will be and it really doesn't matter, but it would be neat if David Price spent an inning on the hill...
Go Rays!
troll out
post script / una cosa mas... Dad has agreed to wear a Rays cap - our Father and son outfit is ready to go!

and another thing... on the trading front - I am READY to go! My 1963 Topps, 1964 Giants and 2008 Upper Deck Documentary want lists are updated. I will get to the others soon. My 2014 Heritage boxes should be arriving any day now, so there should be some spare cardboard to trade in there. Also, if anyone is still working on 2013 Allen and Ginter - I have a TON of dupes to trade mail me yer needs list and I will hook you up!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

GGGGGrrrreetings Trollites!!!!!

My goodness! The positive feedback I received for posting a paragraph after 5 month or so of silence was AMAZING!!!!!!!!

I really love my friends and fellow collectors all over the net, y'all rock!!!
Anyhoo, there is so much I wanna get into... I really wanna sit here and type and type, but I am not going to because I am going to be responsible... I need to be at work in less than 4 hours and I haven't slept yet. Of course I would rather blog than sleep, BUT I really should get some sleep (as boring as that is).

I will tease 3 things.

First, this Saturday afternoon the Tampa Bay Rays will be in Bradenton (my home town) playing the Pirates! My favorite National League team hosting my favorite team - all within 2 miles of my house!!!! How flipping perfect is that? Don't forget both teams completely over-achieved last year and made the playoffs, too. AND the AL East will be playing the NL Central in inter-league this year, so this will be a regular season match up preview. I bought a new lens for my camera (a Sigma 75-300 F4-5.6) - actually I ordered one online. It won't be here by then, but it will be joining me for a few spring games this year. Anyway, this Saturday I will be watching, not photographing, but I am SUPER psyched!!!!! I am stoked because I have a hot date (my lovely wife) AND I am thinking this could be a World Series preview... Had I said that one year ago y'all would assume that I had been smoking crack, but right now it's not that far fetched...

Oh, I got carried away with that, but I promised 3 things. The next two will be quicker.
First (actually second) this year's Topps Heritage comes out early next month. In more exciting news (for me) I have pre-ordered 2, yes TWO! Hobby boxes of 2014 Topps Heritage!!!! WOOT!!!!
This is super uncharted territory for me - ordering hobby boxes, pre-ordering, getting more than one... The last hobby box of Heritage I bought was 2009. Incidentally, I am still working on that set. The 2014 set is not going to be incomplete 5 years later. Even though I haven't finished a Heritage set since 2008 - I can GUARANTEE that I will be finishing 2014 off as a priority.

You see, sometime around 2008 I figured how Heritage worked and I did the math and determined that in 2014 Topps would use the design of the GREATEST SET EVER, the 1965 BANNER set. The '65 design is my favorite set of all time. Those who have read this blog before know that the '65 set is one I have been chasing since long before I discovered card blogging (which was in 2007). I LOVE that set and I have tried to work on it with every extra collecting dollar I've had since I was a kid going to card shows. In 2007 I had about 50 cards (out of 598) and I have grown that number somewhat rapidly over the past 7 years.
In fact, years ago, on this very blog I made a pledge. I swore that I would finish the 1965 set before I ripped my first pack of 2014 Heritage.

That brings up my third thing... Am I keeping my promise? Well, I have at least a week before my hobby BOXES will be shipped so I am going to decline to answer that question that I just asked myself. I will say that 5 months ago when I last posted I need 21 cards to finish the set. Now, I haven't updated my want list YET, but I will show y'all photographic proof that although I may not be done with the set yet, I am AT LEAST ELEVEN CARDS CLOSER TO COMPLETION!!!!!!! Oh, and 2 of the cards feature Hall of Famers and one features the star (or at least 1 of the co-stars) of Mr. Belvedere.

And with that I will say adios Trollites! Hit me up as you wish... Thanks for reading!
Go Rays!
Go Vintage!
troll out.
PS. Punchline is my roller derby identity and the Hitmen are my team. 789 is my number and also the reason why 6 is afraid of 7. A back injury is preventing me from skating at this moment.
Emma is my dog. She says "Rello Bloggers".
Joey Ramone is cool.
The ALDS banner and mini bat were both on mega clearance at the Rays Fan Shop at the Trop. Each one was a mere $2.50 each. In retrospect I really wish I bought more than 1 of each.        

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hello!!!!! Is there anybody out there????
It is your long lost pal the Troll...
Where have I been? My goodness, that is a LONG story. It is one that I would like to tell, though...
Am I back? I can't make any promises, but I LOVE the game of baseball, I LOVE my team, the Rays, I LOVE the hobby of card collecting and I truly LOVE this community - the card collecting Blog-O-Sphere...
I sure want to be back. I intend to be back. I know I have said this before only to disappear for months and months and years and more months. I REALLY don't wanna let that happen again. I am alive and kicking and intend to be kicking it at Tropicana Field all summer long... I intend to trade my dupes and build my sets and I intend to rip the heck of 2014 Topps Heritage - I have been WAITING for this design!
I will say that I spent this past Saturday at Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field... I met many fellow Rays fans and I am PSYCHED for everything baseball.
My local card shop has closed, so my card purchases have entailed road trips and eBaying... Eh, card collecting is card collecting no matter where you get em, right?
I am babbling, but that is because there are SO MANY things I wanna talk/write about... I don't have any local/in-person pals who collect, so I have had a lot bottled up for a long time and I am ready to spill over talking about my cards, my goals, my autographs and my growing bat collection... Oh yeah my fingers are tingling at the thought of a monster rambling, run on post...
I don't know where to begin, but I hope to figure it out soon. I might start by updating my haves/needs pages and go from there...
Deep breath. Aaahh... I know it ain't much,  but it just felt right clicking on "new post". Gonna feel even better hitting "publish". I hope y'all will see me soon... Oh, I should warn you that I am proclaiming myself a Desmond Jennings Super Collector and I am doing my best to be his number one stalker/fan... Oh, by the way, that IS the turf at the Trop in the background of the header photo - centerfield!
GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come on Opening Day 2014!!!!!
troll out.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Congrats to the Tampa Bay Rays For Another Amazing Season of Excitement and (Over) Achievement!!!!!

Thanks to a super understanding employer and an amazing spouse I have practically lived at Tropicana Field over the last 6 weeks... During that time span I was lucky enough to see them win 18 games while losing just 2. Last night was the second loss and unfortunately it was the loss that ended their season... This photo was snapped yesterday while the game was still knotted up at 1 and we were all full of hope. I think everyone knows how it all ended. The game, the season and my delightful distraction from real life. I know its just a game and when its all said and done there is one winner and a whole bunch of losers, but I can't help but feel sad, melancholy and a little empty... Congrats to the Red Sox. They played a super tight series. Jacoby Ellsbury was an amazing catalyst, as was Shane Victorino. There is no shame in getting beat by those two.

It does however sting that it was Xander Jan Bogaerts drawing 2 key walks and scoring the game winning and insurance runs last night. Yeah, that stung, but either way the Rays are done, the Red Sox are rolling and now I will be shifting all of my rooting and attention to the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight. I would LOVE to see them face off (and beat) the Red Sox in the Series.
So that is all. My cowbell is gonna sit on the shelf for the next few months, my Rays jerseys are hung up in the closet and Stub Hub will no longer be my most frequently visited website.

It was a great run and I loved be a part of it as a fan. Things worked out so magically for me. I paid my bills before I bought tickets and so many times they just fell into my lap. That happened last night when our friend Lora (pictured above on the end, wife in middle, Troll on other end) offered us 2 of her season tickets and joined us in the last row in right field under the Jumbotron scoreboard. Out of 20 games in 6 weeks we only paid for about half of the games we saw - we relied and benefited from the kindness of strangers (and friends) and to all of them I saw thank you!

To the Rays I say the same thing - THANK YOU! For an exciting season full of hope with a little despair thrown in for good measure... Of course I will be watching the rest of the playoffs and I will be talking over the theoretical hot stove all (Florida) winter long.

 I will be hoping that David Price returns in 2014 and signs a nice long term deal. I will be hoping that James Loney, Yunel Escobar (3 for 3 last night!), David DeJesus, Jose Lobaton and Jamey Wright all elect to remain Rays in 2014 and beyond and I will be hoping that Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Desmond Jennings, Alex Torres, Jake McGee, Wil Myers, Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann and company all get plenty of rest, maintain their health and continue to improve on their games through the off season. I will also be hoping that my awesome online friends and fellow bloggers continue to share their unwanted Rays cards with me,too!

Yes, this was a magical year for the Rays and their fans, but its over. I am bummed, I am gonna have a whole bunch of free time and I have less chances to scream my head off and give strangers high fives, but spring training is right around the corner and I eagerly await seeing my team on the field again. Thank you, thank you, thank you! To the Rays, their fans, my friends and game day buddies and all of the generous ticket gifters out there. THANK YOU!!!
Go Pirates!
Troll out.

P.S. A HUGE thank you to my lovely (and tired) wife who cheered for every pitch till the end and didn't get home till 3:00 AM and turned around and went to work at 6 this morning. What a trooper!

P.S.S. This does mean I will be posting more often. I have completed many trades and received several surprise gifts in the mail and those awesome folks need thanks too!

P.S.S.S. I still have many Allen and Ginter dupes and minis available for the taking and for trading... I need only 2 more base cards to finish the set, 1-350, and I need just a few more inserts to finish the master set. Get in touch if you can help me out with that OR if you I can help you... Happy collecting kids!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's Enny Romero Time!!!

After a great season in AA and 1 single start in AAA, 22 year old lefty Enny Romero is big league ready!!! Playing 18 innings on Friday after a 12 inning contest on Wednesday has a whole lot to do with it, but this is still pretty darn exciting for a Rays fan... There are only 2 regular season home games left for the Rays - both are MUST WINS and this Troll will be in attendance for both... Best of luck to Enny Romero in his Major League debut!
Go Rays! MUST WIN!!!!
troll out.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rays Win - I'm a Zombie!

Goodness! What a long, exhausting, emotionally draining game to go to BEFORE work!!! Had an AMAZING time with my co-workers and the other fans. Watched what was at times horrible baseball from both sides, neither team really played well. They def did not look like teams battling for the postseason, but a win is a win and my Rays finally pulled it out and didn't lose...
I was responsible and avoided the ball park beers that were calling my name, and I did stay till the end. I screamed and clapped and had lots of fun as fan, but by 5 AM I was a total zombie...
Even though it wasn't pretty, I am hoping that was one of those momentum changing, difference making, rally starting type of wins... Matt Moore vs. Yu Darvish tonight. I will be watching on TV...
Go Rays!
troll out

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rays Game Tonight - I Will Be There!!!!

Getting ready to head to Tropicana Field to watch the Rays versus Rangers tonight... For those who don't know, I work third shift in a machine shop that isn't too far from the Trop. Its a HUGE company, but the building I work in has just 22 guys working there on my shift. Nearly everyone is a big baseball fan and most love the Rays...

I typically hit games with the wife and don't get out with the boys too often, so I am pretty amped about this... I do have to work tonight, but not till eleven pm. Me and five co-workers are checking out the game before work. That idea seems a little odd, but it will be awesome as long as the Rays win...

We picked out this date and got the tickets back in July. At the time the Rays were neck and neck at the top of the AL East with Boston and Texas was out in front of the West. It seemed it could be a preview of the ALCS... Since then both teams have struggled. The guys have joked that they hope the game will actually matter by the time they play. Well, tonight, it really, really matters. The Rays and Rangers are neck and neck, tied up for the Wild Card with the Indians (amongst others) hot on their heels... Its time to go, so I must sign off...

Gonna be decked out in Rays blue. Our seats are on the field behind the Rangers on-deck circle. We really lucked out and got a bargain. Not too surprising because the Rays have barely drawn 10,000 fans the last two games. Hoping for a sell out (yeah right) tonight...Excited. Very excited. I think the game is on ESPN tonight, so check us out. Just ignore all the blue seats, he he. Chris Archer is on the hill tonight for the home team, so I am decorating this post with all 3 Archer cards I own right now... I would love to grow this collection and I have 2 copies of the Turkey auto, so get in touch if you wanna trade...

This will be my first time seeing Archer pitch in person - hoping for a complete game shut out, come on Arch!!! Bragging rights are on the line for this one Brian, ha!

One last thing... Got a giant padded mailer from Sam at the Daily Dimwit today... He beat up my Ginter want list pretty bad! Lists are up to date, so check 'em out... Thanks SO much Sam!!!
troll out.