The Legend

The Legend

Saturday, April 30, 2016

First Taste of Gypsy Queen

I didn't have much of a desire to pick up any new Gypsy Queen. The Pirates checklist really didn't offer much new. As usual my focus is always finding cards of guys that haven't got a lot of love being showcased as a Pirate. Enter Francisco Cervelli

2016 Gypsy Queen Francisco Cervelli Black Printing Plate

Cervelli has performed at a high level ever since taking the field for the Buccos. This has made him quite the fan favorite.  It took a little bit, but this is starting to show in card prices. This plate cost me just a shade below $20 shipped. Not a great price, but it allowed me to pick up another high end card of Cervelli so I'll take it. 

In years past I would be really excited about the release of GQ, but my set building days are pretty much over. The sp's proved to be way too expensive and I just didn't enjoy set completion as much as finding cool Pirate cards. At some point I would like to put together a vintage set, but for now I'm set retired building sets. 

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 29, 2016

White Men Can Jump

I love basketball, but only pay attention to the college game. It would help if Pittsburgh had a professional team, but that is likely never going to happen. My only hope is that WVU produces a player that can sustain a long career.  

The Mountaineers last first round pick was Joe Alexander in 2008.  Alexander was a freak of an athlete that blossomed under coach Bob Huggins during the last couple months of his Junior season. He would take that momentum into the draft where he was picked 8th overall by the Bucks. 

Since you likely have never heard of Alexander you can probably guess how this story goes. I believe he became the first lottery pick in which his third year option was not picked up. As of last year he was still playing overseas. 

Last year Alexander gave a scathing interview about the Bucks front office.  He said that when they drafted him they were going to ease him into a more active roll instead of throwing him out there to fail. This made sense as most draft experts liked Alexander, with the caveat that a team that drafts him let him develop slowly. Alexander also said that his numbers were not much different than other rookies given similar playing time. Whatever the reason the NBA is not like the MLB where prospects are given tons of opportunity to prove their worth.  If you fail early you are likely done. 

2008-09 Joe Alexander/D.J. Augustin Dual patch auto /10

I was so excited when Alexander got drafted 8th overall.  I knew I finally was going to have a chance to collect some modern basketball cards. Being that Alexander was a lottery pick he was in every set you could imagine. What I didn't realize was how expensive NBA rookie cards were. I basically avoided picking up any autos his first year. 

Once his career was over before it really got started I began picking up all his cards. Most base autos could be had for about the price of shipping while parallels and high end sets were in the $5-10 range. I had accumulated so much that it would be months in between cards I needed would show up on eBay. 

The majority of cards I'm still looking for are ones that Alexander is featured with a prominent star. The 2008 draft featured the likes of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. All three sell very well on the secondary market. 

The card featured above is out of UD Black.  It is a set in which about 3 million variations exist for every good rookie. Over the years I've accumulated most of the cards featuring Alexander alone, but these low numbered dual cards are super hard finds.  This one features Alexander and DJ Augustin who was drafted 9th overall in 2008 and is still active in the NBA.  At release these are the type of cards that sell for well over $100, but with Alexander flaming out I picked this card up for about $15 shipped. The only reason it sold that high is likely people who collect Texas players like Augustin. It easily becomes one of my favorite Alexander cards. 

Thanks for reading.  I hope you can now answer obscure NBA questions about Joe Alexander! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

We May Not Have to Wait 'til Next Year

My good pal Tom is probably loving life right now. The Cubs are off to their best start since the last time they won the World Series back in the dark ages. They are also the Vegas favorites to go all the way. While being the favorite doesn't mean a whole lot (just ask the Nationals last year) it does show just how well the rebuild went.

Tom did take a little time off basking in his teams success to send me some Buccos. In the note Tom apologized for sending junk wax, but have no fear Tom I give safe harbor to all Buccos. I just don't scan them as I think the ship has sailed on what you can say about that era.

Take a look at some of the other great cards Tom sent.

 I love getting cards like this of guys that had very short Pirate careers. Baumgarten only played in the 82 season for the Buccos and it didn't go well.  It proved to be his last season. Cool to have an auto of a short stay Bucco.
 This card serves two collections. J.R House is actually from West Virginia and was a two sport superstar. He actually beat my high school in the state championship and threw for what seemed like 8000 yards.  House had some scholarship offers for football but decided that baseball was his true passion. The Pirates drafted him and he would become one of their most highly thought of prospects in the early 2000's. Unfortunately injuries stalled his career and he would only get a cup of coffee in the major leagues. The neat thing was after his baseball career was done he would walk on with the WVU Mountaineer football team for a season.

 Another cool ip auto.
 I haven't been adding too many relics lately.  I still like them, but my usual vendors on eBay haven't been adding many Buccos the last few months. This is a really nice swatch of Marte.

 When the Pirates started to turn the corner in 2011, Derrek Lee was their big trade deadline acquisition. He ended up getting hurt shortly after and the Pirates collapsed down the stretch. The Pirates tried to resign him, but chose retirement instead.
 Still seems weird seeing Pedro as an Oriole this year.

 These always crack me up.
 Right before I started typing this post I was reading a pretty funny quote about Bonds. Long story short Don Mattingly basically called out Bonds for not doing the amount of work needed to be a mlb hitting coach. You don't often hear managers call out other managers.
 I'm still shocked that Cervelli has made Pirate fans forget all about Russell Martin.

Up and coming Buccos. Josh Bell has been killing it the first couple of weeks in AAA. It is looking like the bat is pretty close to ready. The Pirates AAA team is full of close to mlb ready talent. 

 I really liked the Stars and Stripes set. It was so affordable for the amount of cards you got.

Thanks for all the great cards Tom. The Pirates finally get their first crack at the Cubs next week.  I'm just glad that Chris Coghlan can't kill somebody with his slides.  Also, I hope Arrieta misses the plane.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Trade: Brad's Blog

The great trade package catch up continues on with a bubble mailer from my good pal Brad. It is always fun to receive cards from Brad as it is always a mixed bag. This time was no different. Three teams bags full of Pirate goodness.

 Let's start off with this beauty. In fact it is a refractor beauty.  Finest is a truly fine set.
 I'm borderline obsessed with all the obscure late 90's early 00's parallels. Brad hooked me up with this beauty from the easily forgettable Fleer Mystique. In came and went just like Chard Hermansen's career......zing!!!

I don't think their is a single pirate fan who can say one bad word about Jason Bay. The guy was productive from the first day he stepped foot in PNC park to the day he left. Also, Upper Deck is awesome.

Jung Ho Kang is on a rehab assignment after getting demolished by Chris Coghlan breaking up a double play. 

 More Finest!
 Flair is so fancy! It would probably cost $1000 a pack if they remade it today.

 I miss all the good budget sets. This would be a great chance for Panini to take some of Topps thunder if they could create a halfway decent looking cheap set. The abomination that was the most recent Triple Play does not count.
 Only Cutch and Marte remain from this group.

The mid 90's saw the Pirates transitioning from power house to perennial loser. I think you could classify the Fleer cards as "busy." 

 Work of art.
 Candelaria and Walk have to be related.
I've been the recipient of some really cool Van Slyke's lately. This Gold Rush is near the top.

This was just a small sample of the cards Brad sent.  He really hooked me up with a ton of cards. I'll be sure to hit you back soon Brad.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Worst Day is the First Day

It is always rough going back to work after a fun vacation. I have one of those jobs where it just piles up while you are gone instead of someone else picking up the slack. That is why I often take mid week vacations so I can at least work one day during the business week.

Enough of me complaining....

Kerry of Cards on Cards recently bombed me with a priority envelope of Pirate goodness.  I think it was something like 7 team bags full.  Check it out....

The most impressive of the stacks here was the Topps Heritage on the top middle area.  I think he gave me parts of several team sets in the past 5 years.

Here are some of my other favorites.

This was my favorite card of the bunch. Kuwata was a star in Japan in the late 80's through the mid 90's. For some reason the Pirates thought it was a good idea to bring him over in his late 30's. It didn't go well.  Either way this card is so unique. It brings back a lot of memories of the Pirates trying anything to get peoples attention.

 For whatever reason Cutch is terrible in April. While it hasn't quite been as bad as last year he is still struggling to catch up with fastballs. No reason to worry, because I have a feeling once the weather warms he will continue to same pattern of awesomeness.
 I love the Duracell oddballs. For whatever reason I didn't have these growing up.  I guess my family used Energizer.

Just a small sampling of the Heritage cards.  The win goes to the awkward high school photo of Josh Harrison.
 I have discussed on numerous occasions that it would be fun to collect old players on new cards. Both Wagner cards are fantastic.

 I love getting Giles cards in trade. It is so sporadic how I add cards of the former Bucco slugger. I'll go six months without nothing and then I'll several in trades and eBay purchases.

 I miss Upper Deck
 The Bowman Best cards remind me of 90's inserts. I like them.
These are oddballs that I'm very familiar with. The Toys 'R Us cards were frequent gifts to me and my brother growing up.
 I liked the Walk-Off Winners insert set.  This captures a nice shot of Neil Walker hitting a homerun opening day against the Cubs a few years back if my memory serves me correct.
Kerry through in a bunch of GQ cards with this Cole being my favorite. The white frames had a nice look that a scan doesn't capture well.

Thanks for all the great cards Kerry. You really hooked me up. I'll save some more Cards for you!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

San Diego is Just About Perfect

It really wasn't much of a surprise that I liked San Diego. The weather, beer and food are all top notch. While the locals said it was unseasonably warm, I thought it was perfect.

We took the first flight out of Pittsburgh so with the time change we landed in San Diego a little after 10am pacific time. Our hotel was in the Gaslamp District so we had plenty of things to do within walking distance.

Couple pics of the outside area of Petco Park.  We had a lot of time to kill before game 1

Hotel beer! Right before we checked into our hotel I checked out a local beer store. The beer was bottle 3 days before we opened. Fresh IPAs are the best.

A picture of  my first flight of beer from a gastropub called Hoppin Pig. Great tap list and some tasty food.  It came recommended from a good friend of mine who traveled to San Diego back in the late fall.
I think I had already ate half this meal before I took a picture.  Needless to say these were awesome tacos.  One was fish and the  other carnitas.

This was a Modern Times brewing company beer. More from them later. I think their beer might have been my favorite from the entire trip.

Here are some pics from my seats from game 1. The Pirates would lose the game 5-4 it what was probably the longest 9 inning game I've even been to. The game had no flow mainly because of replays and a prolonged argument about a balk call which caused Padres manager Andy Green to be thrown out. I thought only the Red Sox and Yankees played 4 hour 9 inning games.

The plan for Day 2 of the trip was to head to the North Park area of San Diego.  It is home to a ton of breweries and restaurants. Since we were on the clock everyday to make sure we were back for the game in time we really had to prioritize where we wanted to go.

First stop was Modern Times. This wasn't their main brewing area, but it was still one of my favorite stops on the entire trip. The beer was fantastic. I'm a big coffee stout fan so the nitro Black House beer was probably my favorite.

The good thing about the North Park area is that once you are there you can walk to everything.  Next stop was one of the more famous craft beer bars in the US. Bar Toronado.

My first beer at the bar is not pictured because I was too busy enjoying it. It was called Pliny the Elder from Russian River. It is a pretty famous beer and one that is very sought after by craft beer nerds. I had had it once before out of a bottle, but it was nice to get it on draft.

The dark beer pictured is called Old Rasputin. It is a pretty easy to get imperial stout, but what made it unique here is that it was on Nitro. Creamy Deliciousness!

The bottled beer is a peach sour from Almanac. It was fantastic. The only drawback to Almanac beers are the price, but usually no matter who makes the sour it is going to be pricey.

Yeah, Bar Toronado was really good.....The interesting thing about this place is that it gets a lot of beer snobs who are ultra annoying. The main bartender working must have seen me shake my head at one of the beer douches and it made him laugh.  He gave me a free beer!

The last stop in the North Park area was Mike Hess brewing. This came highly recommended from my friend and rightfully so.

 The beer was delicious and you get a free glass with every flight purchase!
Cool view of the big vats.

I don't have any pictures from game 2 because my phone was dead. The seats we had were right behind the Pirates dugout. The unfortunate part was the Pirates didn't show up. They were shelled 8-2.

Day 3 was split in two parts. First was the Little Italy area of San Diego.  It was about a 2 1/2 mile walk, but it was so nice outside we decided to enjoy the weather.. The main stop in this area was the Ballast Point taphouse.

Ballast Point has several locations in San Diego, but this one is unique because they do a lot of their research beers here. I tried beer with ingredients like pepper, fig and passion fruit. It was a really cool spot and the prices were better than any of the other places we stopped.

Since we hit Ballast Point I felt obligated to hit the other big craft brewery in San Diego, Stone Brewing.

This was another satellite brewing area, but the plus was it was right next to Petco Park.  I've had a lot of Stone beers over the years so I was interested more in the rarer releases in which they had plenty of. The only negative from this stop was the price. They priced their small pours at around $3.75 a piece. For a high abv stout that wouldn't be bad, but for the ipas and pale ales that is a little pricey. It still didn't stop me.....but just a warning if you go..

Our seats for the final game were in right field.  For the price you really can't beat them. Close to all the good beer, great view of the scoreboard and you can yell at Matt Kemp for being overpaid! The Pirates must have been pissed about the first two games because they won 11-1.

Overall it was a great trip. As with any trip you always wish you could have a little more time. My wife wants to go there at some point with me so I didn't hit any of the tourist activities like the zoo and naval area. I don't think she would have liked brewery hopping so I tried to get as much in as possible this time.

When it comes to beer I would probably put San Diego at the top of cities I've visited. The only other cities that I've been to that could compare is Portland and Chicago.

I got a lot of catching up to do this week card wise. I still have several cards to send out including Tony Burbs and Greg Zakwin. My wife also put a huge stack of incoming mail that I'll be working on all week. Yay cardboard!

Thanks for reading.  Go to San Diego!