So Brock It Hurts

What does that even mean? I have no idea. All I know is that the collection has gone from “pretty complete” to “holy crap, you’ve got issues”. There is so much Brock, including some ultra-rare goodies.



I’ve had this tidbit floating around in the back of my head for a while now, and I don’t think I ever actually stated it publicly. Here goes.

If you’re using Sharpies, you’re doing it wrong.

Phew, there, that feels better. I came to this realization a while back and actually bothered to do a little research on it. Turns out that nearly the entire card industry DOES NOT use Sharpie brand pens for autographs. I know for a fact, and it’s confirmed by mutliple photos on their twitter account, that Panini uses these:


Staedtler Lumocolor

The size depends on the card. I’m assuming minis and small signing areas use the #313 (or Small/Fine) while the normal cards use the #317 (Medium). Usually in blue.

Don’t believe me?

Check out Panini’s twitter feed. Here’s a couple examples.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.03.52 AM

That’s Chris Paul, signing last week.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.05.22 AM

Here’s Michael Young of the Rangers.

See those black pens with blue caps? Yeah, those are Staedtlers. I also believe Topps uses them as well. Here’s an example, not directly from Topps, but from Bowman’s twitter feed, of a prospect signing his Bowman Chrome cards…


I added the image of the pen next to it for comparison.

I’ve always used Staedtler products for art projects, mainly their pencils and Mars erasers, but when I started noticing a trend with the pens I went out and picked some up. They are awesome.

They dry instantly, there’s zero worry about them smudging. They write on just about anything, including Chrome and super glossy cards! They’re also certified by the ACMI which means they’re most likely acid free and fairly archival.

So, just as a PSA for all you autograph chasers, go hit up your local art supply store and pick a few of these up. Even if you’re not chasing players for their John Hancock, they’re just nice pens to use on a daily basis.


So, I’m a bit late with the Jon Lester pity party. Actually, there’s not that much pity to throw around. If the Red Sox were truly serious they would have offered him an appropriate contract last spring. They were looking to be cheap, thought he might take a discount, and misread the free agent market. It happens. I really liked Lester. He’s a solid pitcher, a top of the rotation guy, and he’ll be missed. There’s no ill will against the Cubs either. Theo threw “crazy money” at him and it worked. The Cubs needed someone. They desperately needed a face for the franchise and now they have it. I wish Lester and the Cubs all the luck in the world.

That said, we need to move on. Pitching needs to be acquired. As much as I want to believe in each and every prospect, you certainly can’t start the season with Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and 3 guys from AAA. There were also the other problems that needed addressing. Will Middlebrooks’ performance, too many outfielders, etc.

So far, Cherrington seems to be maintaining the trust of the Fenway Faithful. He’s made moves that, for the most part, have made sense. He’s bolstered the infield, added a few key bats, and started the rebuilding process with the rotation. Let’s take a look at the players who’ll be changing zip codes.


Team Sets Ahoy!

The checklist gods have been exceptionally merciful this year. Red Sox cards are actually down to somewhat normal levels. A short print here, a hard to find auto there, but for the most part team sets were absolutely the way to go. Since that’s the bulk of my collecting, I suppose I should get around to talking about them at some point. It’s also nearly the end of the year, which means just about everything has already been released, so it’s a good time to go back a month or so and look at some team set picks ups from the Fall and Winter.


Fall Malaise

I fully realized I hadn’t posted in about 3 weeks, and I really wasn’t that concerned. Late fall and early winter are kind of down seasons for me, at least historically. I’ve trimmed back my video game binging to merely a game or two, baseball cards have ended most production runs for the year, the holidays happen whether we want them to or not, and work generally grinds to a halt. That would be the perfect time for reflection and insight into the year thus far, but the lack of motivation usually takes it’s toll.

I’m also unsatisfied with my own web projects in general (don’t worry, it happens every year). About now I start noticing how dated my designs looks, I contemplate redesigning it, and it’s pretty much a 50/50 that I actually get around to it. This year in particular my general design is bothering me. It’s bland. It’s lacking any visual interest, probably because it was intended to emphasize text and fontography, which I then ignored. It’s also minimalistic, which of course was the trend at the time I rolled it out. That’s the problem with trends, they die. Currently, “massive fonts” and “full screen images” are in. Don’t worry, not going in that direction.

Oh, and I also smoked a turkey for Thanksgiving. How’s that for a random segueway?

I think I had mentioned my love for the barbeque arts in passing on previous posts. It’s gotten slightly out of hand. I’m smoking whole briskets and pork shoulders now. My pulled pork is actually quite good. I’m catering a small party next weekend. Go figure.

The turkey was actually pretty easy. Quick Simon & Garfunkel rub (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, get it?) inside and out, and some butter injected into the breasts. Smoked at 325° for 2 ½ hours with apple wood. Easy as pie. Nice and golden and crispy on the skin, smoked and juicy on the inside. Completely blew our previous fried turkeys out of the water.




While the turkey was awesome, the highlight of the day was my kiddo finding snails in the backyard. She’s completely fearless, and just all around awesome. Not that a snail would hurt anyone, but most girls would run away screaming. I’m a proud daddy.


After dinner I settled in for some traditional Call of Duty. I’m actually pleased with this years offering. It’s clear what the extra year of production time did for it’s development. I don’t think you’d get anyone is disagree that Advantaced Warfare is far more polished that the previous few years. It’s good to get that fix of “twitch” shooter back. I had been missing it for quite a while. It’s like wearing that old comfortable hoodie, the one you just dug out of the closet because the weather is finally cold enough to wear it. Turkey, apple pie, and headshots, what could be better?

There have been some baseball cards purchased over the past few weeks. Most of them are going towards a rainbow that I’m nearly finished with. I’ll tease it with the best of the bunch, and you can clearly see why. Puns!


Yeah, that’s pretty sweet.

There’s not really that much else going on. I’d post more cards if I actually cared about any of the sets released in the last couple weeks. What I should do is round everything up and make some end of the year checklists for things I’m missing. There we go, I just gave myself a to-do list. That might actually get done. The website redesign, meh, 50/50.

Bowman Chrome

I previously mentioned my dislike of Topps Chrome, and that buying the misfortune of others in large lots was pretty much my bag. The same could be said for Bowman Chrome, although I have less of an issue with Bowman Chrome due to it’s slight differences. While Topps Chrome simply reuses the checklist and the photos from Flagship, Bowman at least changes it up a little. Sometimes different photos, a different group of prospects, etc. I had seen basic team sets on ebay for anywhere between $6 and $15, but I felt like I could do better. I wanted that “master set” but didn’t want to break the bank. Luckily, I found two sellers looking to offload a case’s worth for next to nothing. The first lot was 30 cards for $5 and the second was 26 cards for $4. I now have the basic team set twice over (or one for the team binder, one for the player binder) and (I think) all but one of the inserts, including a good handful of parallels. Let’s see what $9 can buy…


August Pickups

I have such a weird pile of stuff from this summer that I never bothered to post about. It’s sort of all over the place. There wasn’t any rhym or reason to it. It was mostly “I’m bored with current sets, what can I pick up for cheap?” Great motivation right?


The Brockets Red Glare

The insanity that is the Brock Holt collection continues on. There’s just four additions, but they are considerable ones. Let’s start out with a little trip back in time, to the Minor Leagues.


These two (base card and insert All-Star card) are from 2010 Pro Debut. There are only a few Holt cards from the minors are they are surprisingly hard to find. There are a couple parallels from 2009 Donruss EE still to find and a “2009 State College Spikes” card, but these are the two major cards to check off my list.


Next up, something I had only seen on ebay twice (and missed it both times), an Orange Diecut parallel from Panini Prism. This beauty is 12/60 and a big missing piece from my Panini page. That’s not all. It gets better…


Boom. Six out of ten. A rare Gold Parallel from the same set. This was the first and only I had ever seen, and I couldn’t throw money at it fast enough. It actually didn’t end up being that much in the end, and I was greatful my bid stuck. That is the 9th card for Mr. Holt that I had that’s numbered to 10 or less. I think it’s safe to say I have a fairly extensive collection at this point. I know I own 3/10 of the worlds copies from Tier 1, and 2/5 of the world’s supply of Bowman cracked ice. Does that make me a super collector?


I decided to go ahead and clear a spot in my player binders for Xander Bogaerts. He’s not going anywhere, the Sox are clearly invested in him and since moving back to SS he’s been more confident and it’s translated into his play. Xander_Lot

I think, with the exception of the 2013 Pro Debut and the Archives cards, that I actually had all these, but I like to maintain the team sets as they are and my player collections are strictly duplicates, which means I needed another copy of most of these. The whole collection came together and included multiples of each card. I think there were 20 or so cards all together. All together they make a nice group/binder page. The 2013 Pro Debut and the Ginter are probably my favorites, but the photo they used for the GQ card is equally awesome.

Chrome Issues

Chrome doesn’t have issues, well, actually that’s a lie (it has plenty), but it’s more of a “me problem”. I don’t actually like Chrome. I know, that’s nearly heresy. I keep buying them and I don’t really know why. It’s like buying a car, keeping it nice and shiny, and never driving it. There’s just no point. I don’t “get” Chrome. It’s the SAME SET as flagship, only smaller. It hardly has any exclusives except usually that one rookie card everyone wants and it over-printed anyway. The auto checklist is slightly different and the inserts are somehow more insane. The only real reason to like Chrome are the parallels. If you like chasing the rainbow, Chrome is your crack. I guess that’s part of the appeal and even a little bit why I buy some, but it’s a terrible affliction to have. There’s really no end once you start chasing parallels.

I start simple, with just a team set…



And this is where the anger starts to build. The Red Sox released Sizemore on June 18th. There are other people, on the roster, as active players, who had a card in Series 1 or Series 2, who could have been in Chrome instead. Isn’t Chrome’s shortened checklist supposed to be top/popular players anyway? You’re going to have Sizemore card instead of John Lackey, or Nava or Doubront, or Bradley? Believe it or not, this is slightly more forgivable than Series 2, which had so many released and traded players it was crazy. I fully expect (and will be furious if it doesn’t happen) that the Red Sox checklist in the Update series will be huge. PS: Where the heck are my 2014 Brock Holt cards? Topps, WTF? Moving on…

The other issue I have with Chrome is the hobby box set up. After buying a box of 2012 and a box of 2013, it’s become abundantly clear that “getting what you want” is not part of the deal. The refractors and colored parallels are far too few and far between, the autos are terrible and it’s generally just a mess. Unless you’re busting a case, or pull a super-fractor there’s no earthly way you’re going to walk away happy with Chrome. So, what’s the alternative?

You capitalize on the misfortune of others.

2014_TChrome_Ortiz_Buch_Naps 2014_TChrome_Sizemore

All of these, and the ones I’m about to post below, came from a single seller, as two lots, for under $5 combined. Some poor case buster was looking to make his money back on his terrible investment, and I walked away with pretty much what I wanted for pennies a card.

2014_TChrome_Middlebrooks 2014_TChrome_Koji 2014_TChrome_Victorino 2014_TChrome_Lester

Yup, those are Blue parallels (/199) and even the /99 Sepia Lester in the bottom corner. This is how I buy Chrome. No more 4 card packs, no more blasters of junk. “Lots” of cards no one else wants, so much so that the sellers hardly even list anything beyond “you get all the cards in the pic”. Love it. All together I’m one Mike Napoli refractor away from a complete set of those, a 3 X-fractors short on that set. I won’t bother chasing the blue and the sepia. I get my fill of Chrome pretty quickly and then give up. That’s ok, it’s not like anyone is hurting for parallels to chase these days.

That also fits with my philosophy on parallels anyway. It’s the “nice if you’ve got them” principle. I don’t need any parallels. I need, in the deep seeded, completionist, collector sort of way, I need the base team set. I must have it. The parallels, they’re nice, they’re shiny, but after a couple, I’m good. I don’t go nuts chasing down every single variation. I’ve tried to do that with my Holt collection and it usually only ends in pain. One parallels is nice, two is better, but I’m never going to lose sleep over not having that 16th and 17th copy.