Monday, March 31, 2014

We Kindly Interrupt the Next 7 Months of Your Life...

To let you know that beginning today you can expect a wide range of emotions from joy to pain to hope to fear to anger to sadness to happiness to frustration to depression to ecstasy to empathy to apathy.

Today's Emotional Forecast: Peaceful with gusts of optimism.

Courtesy @Swanee54

This has been your Opening Day View from the Skybox.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Don't Want to Know Bo Any Mo'

The abomination you see below sparked a Twitter rant in me yesterday. I enjoy ranting on Twitter, but 140 characters aren't enough. I'm a diehard Royals fans as you know. The problem is, nobody at Topps cares about Royals fans. If they did, they'd quit shoving Bo Jackson cards down my throat.

Durrrrr Hai gais me BO!

You know the story of Bo Jackson already. He was an icon in the 80's, you could argue that he paved the way for MJ by becoming Nike's first commercial megastar. He was the best all-around athlete ever, excelling at football and baseball at the same time, something not done since Wa-Tho-Huk aka Jim Thorpe in 20's. He was on top of the world until a 1990 hip injury that he incurred in the NFL Playoffs, which he never fully returned from.

Now listen to the story from the eyes of a Royals fan.

The year is 1986. We're coming off our first World Series win and are known as one of the top five elite American League franchises. The core of our lineup is aging with Willie Wilson, Hal McRae, Frank White and George Brett all on the wrong side of 30. We're an elite destination for a young superstar, so we took a gamble on drafting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers #1 Overall Pick in the 4th Round of the MLB Draft.

It was a forgone conclusion that he'd sign with the miserable Bucs... but damn it we were the Royals. The ROYALS! Who wouldn't want to play for our elite team? Bo Jackson shocked the world and agreed.

We were set. We had the cornerstone of our franchise for the rest of the 20th Century. Bo displayed power and speed like we had never seen! Better yet, Bo Jackson let it be known that he was a baseball player through and through. No more football. That held true for a few short months until Bo received a phone call saying that Al Davis and the Raiders had selected him in the 7th Round. 


If you have followed sports for more than 10 years, you know that Kansas City hates Oakland. Davis and Lamar Hunt founded two successful AFL teams that beat the living hell out of each other for decades. In 1968, Charlie O. Finley took our baseball team and moved them to Oakland. Kansas City hates Oakland and Oakland hates Kansas City. The Sport Gods decided it'd be funny if these two cities had to share their chosen son.

Whatever though. We dealt with it. Bo's progress in baseball was pretty awesome to watch. He flew around the OF, smacked balls over the fence, ran up walls and fired baseballs like bullets. In 1989 America's collective jaw dropped when Bo Jackson made the National League look like punks in the All Star Game. Things were a little less sunny in KC, but with Bo at the helm it was reasonable to think the 90's would be as good as the 80's had been. 

No, your hips aren't supposed to move like that.
Our world came crashing down in January of 1991. While playing football for the city we despised, Al Davis let Bo Jackson get hurt... bad. His hip was destroyed. He'd probably never play football or baseball again. So there we were, the man we had hitched our wagon to had a broken axle and we're 200 miles from the next trading post. Dysentery claimed 80% of our fan base. Our beloved owner, Ewing Kauffman passed away in 1993 and the franchise was left without leadership. We were no longer a proud club, we were losers. 

Somewhere Freddie Patek slowly wept. 
Flash forward to 2014. Guess what? We're still stuck in that rut. It can all be traced back to January of 1990 when the man they called Bo went down. Of course it's not Jackson's fault, we know that. He's still quietly admired around here, but his name is never spoken in the confines of Kauffman Stadium. Not out of anger, but out of sadness.

When you think of Bo Jackson, you think of a likable guy with amazing athleticism who unfortunately lost his career from a freak injury. When we Royals fans think of Bo Jackson, we think of the man who was our everything. With Bo we had a future, a bright future. Now when we think about Bo, we can only think about what could have been for us and what actually happened for us. The less we can be reminded of Bo Jackson, the better, and the Royals organization seems to understand that. 


Good Lord! You'd think he was still an active player! These are just a fraction of the cards that Topps has produced over the last 12 months with Bo Jackson in his Royals uniform. What's worse is that's all we get! If we're lucky there will be a George Brett card in the set as well, but otherwise it's BO BO BO!!! 

I respect the guy, but please Topps, enough is enough! I understand that he's collectible for 29 of the 30 teams and even some Royals fans who don't know any better, but for most of us this is just painful. I'm not asking you to not include Bo Jackson. The problem is that without Bo, there are often no noteworthy Royals cards included. Give us somebody else too. I can't buy into group breaks because the prices are jacked up because of Bo. I can't buy team sets because the prices are jacked up due to Bo. I don't want to chase Royals parallels because half of them are of Bo. 

Leaving Bo out of products is bad business, I get it! But if you're going to put him in our uniform, don't do it as a gift to us. Torture us, that's fine, but please give us something to make up for it. Whether that's more George Brett or one of our other great but not HOF-worthy players such as Amos Otis, Paul Splittorff, Hal McRae, Dennis Leonard, Dan Quisenberry (so collectable), John Mayberry, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, or even Mike Sweeney. Just give us something so it's not Bo or nothing. Please? I don't want to know Bo any mo' than I have to.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Plans this Weekend? COMC Wants to Pay You $$$ to Look at Cards

Since it's 2014 and you collect cards, I'm pretty sure you know what COMC is. It's pretty much the #1 place to buy singles online. For the last 7 years, they've run it off the Beckett database. Now that Beckett has noticed that COMC is becoming a bigger company than Beckett, Beckett decided to pull the plug on COMC expecting it to hurt the site. Instead, COMC has decided to create their own database which will include a real-time suggested price guide... free.

Everyone at Beckett... since the dawn of the internet
COMC was given three months to build this system from scratch. The deadline for COMC to go live with their new system is this Tuesday, April 1st. To speed things up, COMC has created an awesome gamified platform that allows you to look at cards and enter data such as the team or abbreviated player name on the card. You get to look at a mind-numbing amount of cards AND help COMC at the same time.

Since COMC is running out of time before launch, they've upped the ante. Through Monday, COMC is paying you $1 for every 500 cards you analyze. After a bit of practice, that can equate to $3-$4 an hour. I know what you're saying... "What, am I some kind of illegal immigrant?"

No way Josè! You're getting money to sit on your ass and buy cards, which you can then use to buy said cards!  It's easy. Create a COMC account if you haven't already then go to and play along. Boom. You're racking up money and you're helping out COMC and thousands of collectors by filling up the database. Does it get any better than that? No, no it doesn't unless you're this guy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Blue Border Binder Beauties #5 The Opening Day Blues

I've been on Twitter for almost two weeks, so if you're not following @VFTSB, then get with the program!

Wherever you are right now, you're probably about 12 hours ahead of me. It's 4:11 AM CST on April 26th, 2014 for me, and I've got the insomnia. Every Tuesday night I drive home from Wichita on an old pre-interstate highway for about 30 miles before I pull into the driveway of my little house on the edge of town. This old highway doesn't get much traffic. It runs through a couple small towns, but otherwise it holds a steady 55 MPH, which is much more of my pace compared to the 75 MPH interstate that runs adjacent to it a few miles to the east. This gorgeous piece of road is the last bit of Americana in my life. I get to see quaint little homes, gorgeous sunsets, wheat fields farther than the eye can see, and abandoned gas stations from a time long gone. I love that little highway... or at least I did until last night.

While approaching one of the little towns on the highway, you have to make sure to drop it from 55 MPH to 30 MPH really quickly. This is no problem for me as I've done it hundreds of times. Shortly after I passed the 30 MPH sign last night (going 34-35 MPH) a cop pulled out of a dirt drive and started following me. After a couple blocks we came to a STOP sign where the limit drops to 20 MPH as we pass the town baseball diamond and park. The cop continued tailing me for another few blocks before... BLUE-RED-BLUE-RED-BLUE-RED-BLUE-RED!!!!!

I pulled over immediately, handed the officer my license and insurance and waited. He came back, shined the flashlight in my eyes and asked me why I was so nervous. Gee, I dunno officer, maybe because I'm being pulled over for no reason? Obviously he was hoping I was a drunk country boy that could nab him a fat DUI fine to fill out the monthly quota. He went back to his car and returned with a ticket stating that I had passed that 30 MPH sign SEVEN BLOCKS BEFORE going 43 MPH. Fine? $136.

I'm a big boy, I can handle a ticket. What I can't handle is a crooked small-town cop slapping me with a fine an infraction I didn't commit. He better hope he brings his "A" game to court on April 9th, because you can bet I'll be pleading Not Guilty. I can live with that $136 fine, the crappy part is that it's back to the 75 MPH interstate for me. I'll lose my last bit of Americana and that little town will have one less passerby every Tuesday night.

Nothing cures the blues like some Opening Day Blues! 

Card #177

2014 Topps Opening Day 177 Nick Franklin
Did it Make the BBB?: Yes
Opposition in the Collection: 2013 Bowman #177 Anthony Rizzo, 2013 Topps Update US177 David Ortiz
Can it be Upgraded?: That'd be tough
What's to Love?: My scanner does this adorable thing where it refuses to fairly represent the cards I scan. 2014 Topps Opening Day Blue Parallels are a perfect example. Looking at this scan you'd say, "Hey, it's a Nick Franklin card with a dark blue border!" You'd be right and you'd be stoked, but if you could hold the card in your hand you'd say, "HEY! It's a Nick Franklin card printed on an awesome holofoil background with a super shiny blue border that refracts light!" You'd be right and you'd be super stoked. The only thing on this card that isn't shiny is Franklin's eye black. Seriously, that stuff's like a black hole that just sucks the light in.

Card #180

2014 Topps Opening Day 180 Alex Gordon
Did it Make the BBB?: Yes
Opposition in the Collection: 2014 Topps #180 Ben Revere
Can it be Upgraded?: No chance in hell
What's to Love?: You are looking at the early candidate for 2014 BBB of the Year. I recently opened 4 hobby boxes of Heritage and pulled all but about five base cards. Guess whose base card was excluded? Yep, Alex Gordon, aka the best baseball player ever. I never pull PC cards, so when this stunning gem appeared, my heart melted. Scroll up and look at Alex's face. You see that? That was also my face when I saw this card. Nothing more needs to be said.

Card #213

2014 Topps Opening Day 214 Hyun-Jin Ryu
Did it Make the BBB?: Yes
Opposition: None
Can it be Upgraded?:  Doubtful
What's to Love?: When I pull a cool Dodgers card, my mind immediately starts to lottery it off to one of the dozen or so Dodgers collectors I know. I'm sorry fellas, not this time. You'll have to find one of the other 2013 copies. I really like Ryu, mostly because he looks happy and adorable, but also because his name is fun. Oh, and he's on my fantasy team. Plus his Dodger uni looks great on this blue border beauty. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

These are the Breaks

If you keep up with the buzz about card collecting comedy shows, you'd know there's never been any buzz, until two months ago. The Breaks Episode 1 hit Youtube in January like a prospector hits themselves when they think about their stash of Jesus Montero autographed Chromes... hard. The card media immediately picked up on the show and card collectors like myself went nuts. The show follows Ivan, a card collector just like you and I, and his attempt at balancing "real life" with the hobby. Hilarity ensues. I honestly can't remember a comedy that hit home like The Breaks does, it offers me a chance to laugh at myself while also sympathizing with Ivan.

Tell me you haven't had the same look on your face when confronted with an unopened box
As you can imagine, producing a show like this for Youtube isn't cheap, so The Breaks launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to continue the show. In just a week, they raised over 75% of their goal! If that doesn't show you how passionate the folks in this hobby are, I don't know what will.

Through the magic of Twitter (follow me @VFTSB) I've gotten to know the actor who plays Ivan, conveniently also named Ivan. In real life he's a card collector (like us) and also an actor (not like us). Ivan agreed to do an interview with me to give us an inside look at The Breaks.

VFTSB: Ivan, which came first, acting or card collecting?

Ivan: Card Collecting DEFINITELY came first - I got my first pack of cards at a Woolworths when I was three!  I didn't seriously pursue acting until college.

VFTSB: Which players would you consider your PC guys?

Ivan: My best PC's are Andrew Luck and Anthony Davis.  I just got my first Kris Bryant auto (hoping for more, but already too expensive!), and I like Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Los Angeles Kings for teams.  Oh, and I'm pretty sure I have the world's largest Darnay Scott collection back home in my parents' basement.  He was my first PC...

"Ivan, how could you stick me in your parent's basement for so long?"
VFTSB: Is there anything else you collect?

Ivan: I don't collect anything else specifically, but I do enjoy memorabilia from time to time.  I've got a few Starting Lineup toys, a Dustin Brown autographed Kings hat, and I like Star Wars, Batman, and M & M's stuff.

VFTSB: What inspired The Breaks?

Ivan: The Breaks was very much inspired by my real life!!!  I have a history of always learning by making each mistake once, and when I started collecting in earnest again 2 1/2 years ago I fell into every trap possible.  As an actor & producer I'm always looking for opportunities to showcase myself, and it got to the point where card collecting was taking away from my other daily work so I figured, maybe I should do a series about this!

VFTSB: Tell me about the team who helps you produce the show.

Ivan: The team behind The Breaks consists mainly of myself and Dave Denholm.  Dave is a radio host in Los Angeles who I first became a fan of 7 years ago when he was doing the Clippers Post-Game and I was living in my car having just moved to LA.  I called in to his show a few times and he was always very encouraging.  Fast forward 5 years later, when I discover Twitter, and begin following Dave.  He actually followed back, and a few months later when I first tweeted my idea for "The Breaks" the ONLY PERSON who responded was Dave saying "hey Ivan, I like that idea, wanna meet?"  Dave is a great writer (his favorite show all-time is Frasier) and his years of experience in radio make him a fantastic director on set as well.  We are also blessed to have a DP (Colton Davie) who is one of the most technically proficient young men I've ever known, and our editor (Eddie Lucitt) usually only needs 2 rounds of notes to come up with a fantastic finished product.  His "rough cuts" are usually his fourth or fifth pass at an episode, so by the time Dave and I review the "rough cut" we see it as nearly finished! Sorry to ramble on, I am so blessed by the team of people I work with I could go on and on and on about working with them and what they bring to the table.

VFTSB: What are your visions for the future of "The Breaks" and how can our donations help?

Ivan: Our ultimate goal would be to turn The Breaks into a half-hour comedy for a network like FXX or even Spike.  I've always admired how Mark Wahlberg spoofed himself with his cameo in the first episode of Entourage, which then initially led audiences to tune in each week to see who would "show up" as themselves on the show.  I would love to employ this same thing on The Breaks, having different athletes guest star each episode.  Right now our budget to complete Season 1 is $7,000.  That covers costs of equipment rentals, editing equipment, lights, locations, snacks, and of course the cards!  We are hoping to raise $4,000 via Kickstarter, and we just got an offer from Ultra Pro to match up to $3,500.  Of course if we can exceed our $4,000 Kickstarter goal, then we can begin to reach out to some recognizable faces for guest star roles, make the show a bit more exciting, have more explosions, etc.  Just kidding about the explosions!  But seriously, this is not so that we can make money (notice we don't do google-ads during the episodes), anything above and beyond our Kickstarter goal will go back into making the rest of Season 1 of The Breaks UNFORGETTABLE.

Also, we do have a plan for where Season 1 takes us specifically, as well as a clear outline of Season 2, 3, AND 4 of the show.  But that is for a later blog...

A big thank you to Ivan for taking the time to chat with me! Check out The Breaks Kickstarter and follow @watchthebreaks on Twitter to keep up with the campaign and donate! 

If you haven't seen the first three episodes of the Breaks, then you're in for a treat:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

2014 Heritage Needs - The REAL Fun Begins

Nori Aoki knows a good time - do you?
I've opened so much 2014 Heritage that I'm fine with not opening another pack until 2015. 8 rack packs and 4 hobby boxes, and I didn't even complete the base set. That's okay though, because you probably have the cards I need, right? I've got dupes and trips of most base cards, plus a few duplicated SP's and a lot of inserts that are all up for trade. Let me know what you need and let's make a trade! Here's what I need:

59 Adam Lind
103 Alex Gordon
246 Jeremy Guthrie
421 Kevin Pillar & Ryan Goins RC

426 Yasiel Puig
427 Jurickson Profar
428 Madison Bumgarner
429 Sonny Gray
430 Justin Verlander
434 Pedro Alvarez
436 Nelson Cruz
439 Jose Fernandez
440 Tim Lincecum
441 David Ortiz
442 Mark Trumbo
443 Rafael Soriano
447 Dustin Pedroia
448 Jason Kipnis
450 David Freese
451 Matt Moore
454 Jacoby Ellsbury
456 Brandon Phillips
458 Anthony Rizzo
459 Ian Kinsler
461 Evan Longoria
462 Jarrod Parker
463 Paul Goldschmidt
464 Joe Mauer
465 Anthony Rendon
466 Chris Archer
467 Ryan Braun
468 Carlos Santana
470 Stephen Strasburg
473 Adrian Gonzalez
474 Billy Butler
475 Chris Davis
478 Nolan Arenado
479 Hunter Pence
480 Craig Kimbrel
485 Derek Holland
487 Troy Tulowitzki
489 Jean Segura
490 Matt Harvey
491 Yadier Molina
494 Carlos Gonzalez
495 Hisashi Iwakuma
497 Curtis Granderson
498 Greg Holland
500 Miguel Cabrera

Monday, March 17, 2014

Topps Tek is Coming Back!

The big news this morning out of the Industry Summit according to Susan Lulgjuraj of Beckett Media is the return of Topp Tek. Few details have been announced so far, so I'm trying to hold off on reacting. Word is that autograph cards will be included, but that sums up everything we know. I don't own a single Topps Tek card, so thank you to Nachos Grande for the best Topps Tek scans on Google Images. 

Equally as big, Topps talked about 2014 Stadium Club. Now I'm no pessimist, but my instinct says Topps is going to do their best to make 2014 Stadium Club more like 2008 Stadium Club and nothing like 1990's Stadium Club. That was semi-confirmed when they announced that 2014 SC will come in a box of three mini-boxes with an autograph in each, just like Topps Finest. 

I don't know whether to be excited, scared or indifferent to this news. I want to be excited, but in reality I'm scared and all-in-all I should be indifferent because it sounds like Topps is once again aiming at high-end collectors and saying screw you to the little guys like myself. Thoughts?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Blue Border Binder Beauties #4 TWITTER CONTEST

I'm running a little contest over @VFTSB for the gorgeous Jose Bautista card below. All you have to do is RT this tweet and follow me on Twitter to be entered to win!

Now onto the blue border beauties from the binder.

Card #67

2011 Topps Update US67 Miguel Olivo
Did it Make the BBB?: Yes
Opposition in the Collection: 2014 Topps #67 Yasmani Grandal
Can it be Upgraded?: Yes
What's to Love?: I honestly can't tell if Miguel is threatening a runner back or if this is part of his setup to fire down to second. Neither would surprise me because he isn't a very good catcher, trust me, I watched way too much of him in '08 and '09. During his stint with the Royals, he exemplified the Royals' love for hacking at everything. If I remember correctly, at the all-star break in 2009 he had reached 1st base more on dropped third strikes than he had on walks. The plus side is that he brought some pop to a very flat lineup. 23 homeruns is a crap-ton in KC. The Mariners colors work well on blue border beauties, so Miggy has a nice hold on spot #67 for now.

Card #84


2011 Topps Update US84 Pablo Sandoval
Did it Make the BBB?: Yes
Opposition in the Collection: 2014 Topps #84 Todd Redmond, 2013 Topps Update #US84 Stephen Drew
Can it be Upgraded?: Sure
What's to Love?: This card had a tough time making the Blue Border Binder. Both of the opposition cards are decent shots with a good BBB color scheme, but Kung-Fu Panda came out on top. Pablo is only 27 and he's been damn good for the last five years, but I have a feeling he'll always be remembered as that one guy who came alive in the 2012 Fall Classic. In the post-steroid era, it'll be tough for a singles bashing 3B with a poor glove and no wheels to have a long lasting career. Either way, this card represents all that is the lovable, cuddable, kung-fuable essence of Pablo Sandoval. 

Card #142

2013 Bowman #142 Matt Kemp
Did it Make the BBB?: Yes
Opposition: 2012 Topps 142 Travis Wood
Can it be Upgraded?: It'd be tough
What's to Love?: I've said before that I love the 2013 Bowman design for the major leaguers, so they'll always have a leg-up in the BBB. Have you guys seen how cheap these parallels are? You'd think there were 5,000 made, not 500. All the better for me. Especially since after card #110 or so, these are the only opposition to base blue border Topps from the blue border retail giant. I really like Matt Kemp because he's a helluva good guy. I hope he can kick the injury bug and produce back to the level of 2011. I'm sure a few of my Dodger friends would agree. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 Heritage Hobby Box - So HOT Aye Aye Aye!

I gave in and visited the closest card shop this afternoon. The owner was opening his cases of 2014 Topps Heritage. I asked what he wanted for them, and he said $72. Honestly, I was expecting closer to $100 which I was prepared to walk away from, but $72 is less than you can find them for online right now. I've got three boxes pre-ordered, so there was no reason for me to buy another, except because I wanted to. I'm glad I did. Here are the extra special cards. I'll have a better write-up on the base and SP's after I open the rest of my boxes next week.

Carlos Gonzalez Chrome Refractor /565 1:27 Hobby Packs

David Wright Chrome /999 1:14 Hobby Packs

Andrew McCutchen Chrome /999 1:14 Hobby Packs

Matt Harvey Logo Variation Error 1:135 Hobby Packs

Wilin Rosario Clubhouse Collection Gold Relic 1:365 Packs

Matt Adams Real One Autograph 1:141

Add all of that to the fat stack of base, SP's and a couple NAP's, and I have zero regrets on buying this box. I'm not the kind of guy who needs sweet hits to enjoy a box, but it feels good to knee the odds in the face once in a while.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2x3 Heroes to the Rescue

I'm on Twitter now with a new account dedicated just to cards. Give me a follow and RT some crap so I have more people to holla at! @VFTSB
I don't know about you guys, but I'm jonesin' hard for some Heritage. These delays by Topps are worse than the hot flirty girl in high school who led me on but who I never had a real shot with. Tomorrow is the release date, but I preordered boxes online with basic UPS Ground shipping, so while everyone else is having a great time busting boxes, I'll be sitting at my own table in the lunchroom. 

I've started saving trade packages for times like this. When my urge is at its strongest, I rip open the bubble envelope and go to town. Jeff at 2 x 3 Heroes came to my rescue with a package that'll more than get me through my Heritage wait!

Definitely one of the best looking Royals cards of all-time.

A few cards from my second favorite AL team were tossed in, highlighted by this Christmasy red border.

So glad the black border was dropped by WM in favor of the blue borders.