Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Catching Up

Hey, readers. It's been a month, and I've yet to post in that period of time. With 20youksox being away at college, I'm on my own for a while. That has presented a challenge, considering the need to balance school in addition to my new job. The plus side of the time taken up by my job, however, is that I get paid. I'm finally able to have some spending money for various things, among which include cards. 

Around Christmas time, I got some pretty sweet cards. Some of which need to be scanned, which I'll gladly do tomorrow. One I did scan, however, is a really sweet cards that 20youksox got me for Christmas...

This is Bradley Jr.'s 2010 Topps Platinum Collegiate National Team Jersey-Auto. I love this card. I loved watching Bradley Jr. play with the Red Sox AAA team in Pawtucket, and I'm eager to see what he'll do this year as the replacement for Jacoby Ellsbury. I think he brings a lot of the same qualities as Ellsbury did, including speed and defensive ability. The way he hits is slightly different than Ellsbury. He has more pop than Jacoby, something that Fenway should serve well for.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 Days Until Christmas!

It's been a month since I done so much as looked at the blog, let alone posted. To be honest, my life independent of the blog has been so hectic that I've had virtually no time to post. That, and I've lacked relevant inspiration for posting. Mix those two issues together and you have a month-long layoff from blogging. Between celebrating Advent and Christmas time with my family, school, and a lot of other things, I've been so preoccupied.

But hey, it's 5 days until Christmas. Time to spread some Holiday Cheer, right? I love Christmas. Not only am I celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, whom I follow as a practicing Catholic, but I love the aspect of family gatherings and the simple things like the sipping of hot chocolate around a fire. Something I really enjoy is receiving cards for Christmas. I went Black Friday shopping, and picked out some packs for my Mom to get me for Christmas. Even then, she still gets me some cards that I didn't pick out or see her buy, and they are an always-welcome surprise.

I've actually pulled some very interesting cards on Christmas. In fact, some of my favorite pulls of all time have been from packs I've received for Christmas. I actually pulled a Pedro Martinez game used BAT card out of Topps Turkey Red in 2006. It's funny how I always pull something good on Christmas. I'll share some of those pulls within the next few days!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cards In Unexpected Places

Hey, everyone. Sorry for decisive lack of posts lately. School has been really time-consuming, so needless to say my time to post has been limited. I went to my LCS on Saturday, which I'll post about hopefully tomorrow or Thursday.

I was reading a post from Dime Box Nick over at Baseball Dime Box about finding baseball cards in the most obscure or unexpected places. This got me thinking about my personal experiences in finding cards in unexpected locations. I've been thinking of doing a post like this for a while, but for some reasons I just never got around to it

Just thinking about places I've found cards unexpectedly, a few jump out at me. Every summer, for example, my family and I would go up to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire for a week. At the boardwalk inside an arcade-esque area, there were quarter-pull machines that would give you a few cards for $0.50. Obviously, you never anticipate to find anything good, but it's still an overall cool experience.

image for listing #192445249
c/o http://atmlb.com/HLlag6
Another instance of this is at Fenway Park. Although not exactly an "unlikely" location, some of my first memories of purchasing cards came from 2/$5 grab bags of cards in the team store. I remember one year I came home and tried to eat the gum from one of the packs circa-1986. If I were to describe that experience, words wouldn't suffice to relay the pain that experience entailed. Regardless, the cards themselves weren't always the best. One of my favorite surprises out of those cards was a 1992 Topps Top Prospects Shortstops card. Among the featured prospects was a future HOFer by the name of Chipper Jones. Pretty sweet pull for a junk-wax grab bag if I do say so myself.

Generally speaking, finding cards anywhere is always a treat. It's finding them when you don't expect to that makes collecting such a rewarding experience.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It Had To Happen (Thank You, Red Sox...Thank you, God)

What team does God root for?
I don't know how I feel about the role of God in the outcome of sporting events. That's not to say that He doesn't have a legitimate place in the lives of athletes; but, rather, does He play a deliberate role in the final score? That's something that could be debated endlessly. To be honest, that's not a question that I nor anyone on this God-given earth has a concrete answer to.  If there's one thing I'm sure of in life, however, it's that God rewards those who are faithful- those who are STRONG in will and faith. If those aren't characteristics of the city of Boston, then I don't know what are.
Boston has been a city in constant healing since that fateful Marathon Monday back in April. One way people tend to cope with tragedy is to turn to temporary distractions- little things that can take ones mind off of the sadness that can be so consuming and emotionally exhausting. In some cases those outlets of emotional release can be unhealthy, as with those who abuse drugs and alcohol. On the other side of the spectrum, you have people who develop a relationship with their God out of extenuating circumstances that they face in their lives. And then you have sports.
A lot of times, sports are like a bandage that stops the bleeding on the wound that something as horrific as the Boston Marathon Bombings can cause. But a bandage is just meant to stop the bleeding. A wound needs to cauterize, to heal on its own terms. Obviously, measures of protection and cleansing are taken to expedite and ensure the success of the healing process, but the body ultimately heals the wound on its own terms. Prayer, God's Love, and the love of friends and family are ultimately what do that for us in terms of emotional wounds.
This year was different. This year was special. This year, sports and God worked in tandem to heal a city in mourning. God clearly takes precedence, but  its apparent, at least to me, that He knew this city needed this. People turned to prayer, and the very same contingency of people turned to their local teams. Last night, the Red Sox new they were playing to a Higher Call: to God and their city.
"Not just a championship season, this has turned into a lifestyle after  "Boston Strong" came about...and you know The Man Upstairs is celebrating with us" -Jonny Gomes, last night after the Sox won their third World Series title in the last 10 years.
That quote by Jonny Gomes does a profound job in summing up this season. No one had given this team any chance of achieving anything remotely close to success this year. Many of your prototypical baseball pundits said that the Sox would be lucky to finish .500 on the season; for the Sox that would be a victory. Clearly, the 25 men in that clubhouse were not listening. You keep hearing the players talk about how from day one, they knew they had a special group of guys who had the chance to accomplish something incredible.
Every good team needs an identity, and it certainly didn't take the Sox long to find theirs: "Boston Strong".

Boston Strong
Photo c/o http://foxs.pt/12kHuDQ

Monday, October 14, 2013

Showing Off Some Cards: Sell High (?) Edition

Hey, everyone. As we are in the heart of the MLB postseason, I figured it's a good time to showcase some of my better cards of some current or all-too-recent postseason heroes. Whether they're pulls or pickups, they're all cards that I have in my possession. I'll include a little description of the card and how I got it below the image. Enjoy!  

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Max Scherzer Autograph
I pulled this little gem out of an overpriced rack pack at a local Bob's Store. This statement may be relative, but if you consider 7 dollars overpriced, then we have some common ground. Interestingly enough, Bob's Store is a department store that specializes in clothing and shoes. While back to school shopping a few years back, I convinced my dad to buy me a certain rack pack because I had such a good feeling about it containing an autograph. I had shaken the pack pretty unknowingly and heard a noise that gave me the aforementioned hunch. I purchased it and ripped in and, lo and behold, the shaking noise came from the framed mini auto shaking around the frame.

At the time, Scherzer was a flamethrower with huge upside that also came with HUGE control problems. He was not the surefire Cy Young winner that we've seen him develop into this year. To be honest, I hadn't even heard of him at the time of me pulling this. I've always held onto this card though. Sure enough, this year he went 13-0 before being dealt his first loss. He'd finish the year 21-3, 2.90 ERA, 240 SO (stats c/o http://bit.ly/1hRLgJE). At this point, I'm not sure what I'll do with the card. I may hang on to it, I may very well sell it on ebay after he wins the Cy Young. However, I'd also be open to trading it for the right offer. If anyone's interested, comment below!

2005 Leaf Certified Materials David Ortiz GUJ #68/250
I think it's safe to say we all say Big Papi's game-tying grand slam last night, whether live or as a highlight. Our reactions might have all varied; my personal  reaction was jumping up and down screaming in pure excitement over how the most clutch hitter in postseason history had struck again, and at the biggest possible moment. David Ortiz's postseason resume speaks for itself. If you need further convincing, go and read Bleacher Report's piece on why he is worthy of consideration as the best postseason player ever. And watch the video of his grand slam while you read it. I saw it live on TV, and I still get the same reaction each time: goosebumps.

2008 Topps Heritage Pablo Sandoval RC
Now, I realize the Giants are not in the postseason this year. But as the defending World Series champions, they do deserve some recognition. He put together one of the more memorable postseason performances last season when in Game One of the 2012 World Series he launched THREE Home Runs. Unbelieveable.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Because of the Beards...Because of Boston Strong

c/o http://bit.ly/11vRN56

As a devout Red Sox fan, I've recently wondered why on the blog I've neglected to address their miraculous season. I've talked about it plenty with my friends and family, and I can happily say I've seen the majority of their games this year. It was a bit of a mystery to me.

I didn't really think of a definitive answer as to why this happened until recently. I've experienced something this season that I haven't experienced while watching the Sox since likely their last Championship season in 2007: Excitement. Every game served as a new adventure into the depths of my fandom. Different heroes were made on what was seemingly a nightly basis. Every game tugged at the nerves throughout your body with every ounce of force. The intense feeling that each game gave was not just a "take". It was also a "give". In fact, the Sox wound up "giving" 97 of those moment to me this season. Eleven of these came in the form of a pulse-pounding, exhilarating walk-off win. 

I found myself constantly rooting for the game to go into the bottom of the 9th, or even extra frames. I wanted to experience more magic at Feway from the comfort of my own living room. I found myself wanting to see that half-hacked swing of Jonny "Ironsides" Gomes at the plate with the game on the line. I wanted to see Mike Napoli and his power-stroke up in a key spot. Every time something seemed like it could go right for the Sox, it just did. 

Guys like Daniel Nava, who many thought wouldn't even find the bench of the Sox 25-man roster, had the second highest OBP(.385) for an AL outfielder. The only player ahead of him? Mike Trout. He's just one player out of the many who contributed in so many ways for this team, ways that extend beyond the starting nine men on the field on a nightly basis. 

Jonny Gomes had two walkoff homeruns this year that are almost definitive of the season itself.

Koji Uehara is either a wizard or an extraterrestrial on the mound. Either way, he's been outright incredible this year. 

The list could go on forever.

c/o http://bo.st/10fUOLT
The statistics and wins, however, are not the basis of this team and it's magical run: The Red Sox have been rallying around the "Boston Strong" motto since that tragic Marathon Monday attack back in April. The team itself has been representative of the strength of the city of Boston. The identity this team has grown to have is one of a group of charismatic, loose, yet rock-strong willed men who have one goal: to bring a World Championship to a city that has been brought together in a common identity.
They wear it on their sleeves in the form of a patch, but they also wear it on their hearts.

Another identifying mark of this team is the beards that the majority of the players are sporting. Mike Napoli looks like a freakin lumberjack, and Jonny Gomes looks like someone straight out of a warzone. It started with them, and it's been infectious. Now you have guys like Dustin Pedroia and Salty rockin some intense beards. It's incredible, and for me at least it hearkens back to the Idiots of 2004 that brought the Sox their first title in 86 years. 

The love for each other and the game they play is so evident. When a teammate with some scruff returns to the dugout after hitting a bomb, they tug on his beard. That's as dedicated as you can be.

When they get on base, throughout the year, they've been flexing their arms and pointing to the back of their jersey, something that's another physical identity of this team. It's been a part of the Boston Strong identity all season. So, essentially, not only do their uniform patches reflect their identity, but their facial hair and arm flexes do the same. That's pretty remarkable.

What I've experienced this season as a fan is something that is tough to put into words. After enduring a horrendous postseason collapse in 2011 and a 69-93 record last year (their worst season in my lifetime), I've become so enveloped within this team. I've found it so hard to leave the realm of joy the Sox provide that I guess I haven't felt inclined to post about it. Here and now, I feel obligated to share my experience this season. The four-day stretch from the end of the regular season to their first playoff game on friday at home has allowed me some reprieve from that. So, I figured, what better time than now? Oh, and about that card at the top? That is something I'll most definitely be picking up. It captures an incredible moment. 

I feel like it's fate that the Red Sox are in this position. They have all the right reasons and every tool at their side to make a deep run into October. If they can pull it off, it'll be in no small part because of their chemistry and identity as a team. It'll be because of the beards. It'll be because of Boston Strong.

For in the words of David Ortiz, "This is our f*****g city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong!". Stay strong, indeed Boston...Stay Boston Strong.

My Recent eBay Pickups

Yeah...It's been a while since I've posted. Regardless, I still wanted to share a few of my recent eBay pickups! They're all pretty sweet.

The scanner cut a few short. I snagged that Middlebrooks Tribute auto, /99, for 12.50 in an auction. The rest I all paid fairly little for. They all fill various wants in my PCs, which is nice.

 I especially like the Pedroia Mini, as it's not only a MINI of my favorite player, but it features him in the ever-snazzy throwback duds. The Middlebrooks sparkle RC is always a welcome Middlebrooks PC pickup. The Babe Ruth is a SP from Gypsy Queen which features him in a Sox uniform, as opposed to pinstripes in the standard print version. 

The Pedroia Ultimate Collection base card is a truly beautiful card. It's numbers 278/599, and the scanner just doesn't do the card justice.

 Check out the next scan, too. I snagged a 2013 Bowman Platinum Gold Parallel JBJ Rookie Card.
I'll have some more scans soon!