The Legend

The Legend

Monday, June 29, 2015

White Whale #2 Secured

A couple months back I started a small list of cards on the right side of the homepage that have avoided me over the year(s). These are not necessarily high priced cards, but either rarity or bad luck have kept them from my collection. The Card Papoy helped me out with one right away by supplying the Heritage Bill Virdon auto. Finally I was able to knock one off this past week.

Of all the cards I had on my list I figured the easiest to locate would be the Pirates sliver framed team card /20. The difficult part with this card is that the prices for the silver frames have been strong on the secondary market. The first few that hit were selling for over $30 which was way more than I was willing to go. I even found the printing plate of the team card for just over $20. Thanks to stumbling on a buy it now auction I was able to find the card for $16. Not a great deal, but I was happy to get a card that I wanted since Series 1 was released.

2015 Topps Series 1 Pirates Team Card Silver Frame /20

I've made it known that I'm not a huge parallel fan. The only ones in recent years to really catch my eye are the acetate and silver frame cards from Topps. Usually the only players I chase are Pirates that don't get much love relic or auto wise. This card kind of falls in the middle somewhere as it was just so unique I had to have it. Since I have the printing plate and the silver frame it would be kind of cool to locate the acetate, but not a necessity. Just glad to put this one to bed. 

I have a pretty extensive list of cards that could go on the White Whale list, but for now I think I will try to keep the list at a manageable 10 cards. To keep with the 2015 theme I think the new venture will be the Starling Marte base photo variation from Gypsy Queen. Not a super expensive card, but I've tried to win it about 10 different times and failed. Time to hunt for a deal!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trade: Brad's Blog

Brad and I have a great blind trade going. He always keeps his eye on good Buccos for me, plus he has hooked me with great Topps Chrome cards from his annual case break. This time around he found some great cards of two of the Pirates biggest stars.

Nice cameo of a sad looking Tulo behind Cutch! I'm still not quite use to seeing Cutch dreadless. I'm hoping one more good week of voting and Cutch will be a starter for the NL this year.
 I've been the recipient of several Virdon autos in trades.
 That hair! Feathered and lethal.
 This is one of the best Pirate cards ever. Nice Field of Dreams action shot.
 I'm a sucker for All Star game cards so that is probably my favorite of this bunch.
I think these are the Toys R Us purple parallels. I've received several of these in trades which is nice since the closest Toys R Us from my house is about 45 minutes away.

I really hope Pedro can salvage his season with the Bucs. Either way I don't think he'll be with the team next year, but if he has any hope of playing down the stretch he will have to drastically improve his defense or start hitting bombs at a ridiculous pace. 

 Some nice flashback cards from my childhood. How can you not love that Jose "Chico" Lind!

Here is the showstopper. I'm a huge Marte fan so anytime I can add an auto it is a good day. Thanks a ton for this one Brad!

Thanks for the trade Brad. How about you tell Ruben Amaro to give the Pirates a nice discount on Cole Hamels! I'll be on the hunt for some more Phillies for you.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pirates Vs Braves (Father's Day Gift)

My wife surprised me with tickets for the Pirates game this afternoon. The game was plagued by bad weather, but managed to get it in with about a 25 minute late start and one rain delay. The highlight of the game was one that had most Pirate fans worried as Andrew McCutchen took a fastball off the elbow. Thankfully xrays were negative and it looks like he won't miss much more than a game. The Pirates would go on and win the game 8-4.
 I had great seats right behind home plate. As you can see the clouds were rather ominous.
 A more panoramic view.

It was Marte bobble head day so that was an extra bonus. The bad thing is the rain pretty much destroyed the box, so I'll probably just have to display the piece on my desk. 

I had been on a small losing streak at games so it was nice to break the streak. Nice to witness a convincing win. It would be nice if the Cardinals would lose a game every once in awhile, but at least the Pirates are pretty secure in the Wild Card Standings.

Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Trade: Angels, In Order

I was happy when Tom from The Angels, In Order contacted me about another trade. It had been a while since we had swapped. The trade was centered around a few oddballs that he had, but he was nice enough to throw in some extras.

I'm a sucker for the mini Bowman Heritage cards. Love this Kiner.

The whole trade was centered around these Toys R Us Stadium Club Pirates. I thought I had these, but I couldn't locate them in any binder so either I mistook them for another set or they are stored away at my parents house. Either way it is nice to have them. Nice card of a very young Tim Wakefield!
 Bowman Buccos! Nice early card of Aramis Ramirez and Mexico import Francisco Cordova.
 O Pee Chee!
 Ultra was always kind of underrated in my book, or maybe I just liked them more than most.
Some Misc Buccos to add to the collection. I'm digging the Hermansen card. I think I must like collecting failed prospects.

Thanks for the cards Tom. Let me know when you want to swap again. I'm stocked full of Angel cards.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Defense Matters (Rant Time)

I'm lucky enough to have a good friend that follows baseball just as much as I do, so we are constantly talking hot topics. This time of year is fun because this is where good teams add pieces while bad teams start thinking about next year.  As expected the Pirates are poised for another playoff push which makes them a buyer.

I don't really expect the Pirates to make many splashy moves as they seem pretty set at most of the premium positions (barring injuries). The emergence of Gerrit Cole has been huge. Premium starting pitching costs a crazy amount at the deadline. Look at what the A's had to give up last year. My biggest request for the Pirates is to cut ties with someone who was once considered a main piece of the "core."

My hope is the Pirates somehow cut ties with Pedro Alvarez. I never thought I would say that, but his regression into a below average player has been rough to watch. He went from being a franchise cornerstone to a marginal one dimensional player in about two years.

In 2013 he had a career year hitting 36 homeruns and playing about a league average third base. The wheels started to come off some last season when he began to have throwing issues. The Pirates finally had to pull the plug on him and use him as a pinch hitter as they couldn't afford to run him out there in the middle of a playoff push.

This season the Pirates came into spring with the idea that Pedro was going to play first. As a Pirate fan this seemed like a reasonable transition as Pedro has good hands and the power plays at any position. You can take a reasonable amount of bad defense when someone is capable of hitting 30 homeruns.

At this point it would be an understatement to say the transition has been a disappointment. You expect growing pains as 3+ months is not a huge sample size, but their are huge red flags. The throwing issues continue to plague him and his footwork has been terrible. So far this season he has been tagged for 9 errors which really doesn't even paint the picture of how bad he has actually been. By most advanced metrics Pedro has been the second worst defensive player in baseball behind Hanley Ramirez attempting to play outfield in Boston. The Pirates have to be disappointed because this spring they said the transition to first would ease his stress level which should help his hitting.

Most Pirate fans are rightfully a little gun shy on shipping players off without getting much in return. Letting go of Jose Bautista can do that to you. Personally I think it is apples and oranges. Pedro is so bad defensively I don't think he can ever regain any trade value. Even in his best season he was worth around 3 WAR and that was with him playing average defense. He is a one tool player. His best comparables are guys like Mark Trumbo and Mark Reynolds. Hard to see a future for Pedro that doesn't involve being a platoon DH in the AL.

As of now the long term solution is having Josh Bell be the first baseman, but that is not going to happen this year. The Pirates are in a rough spot, but I feel the bold move is needed. Pedro's bat is not good enough right now to warrant the terrible defense. We are too good of a team for him to workout his issues in a game.

The hard part is determining the trade market and to what extreme the Pirates explore it. In terms of rumors their hasn't been much with the Pirates. If history says anything the Pirates won't make a splashy move, so my money is they find a natural first baseman on a cheap or expiring contract to limit the prospect cost.

End of rant.

Love to hear other peoples thoughts on your chosen teams needs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Old School Ballin'

My WVU collection is not near as large as my Pirate collection as the player pool is much smaller to choose from, and I had a later start (early 2000's) accumulating the collection. 

Lately our football program has been producing quite a bit of high end talent with the likes of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Kevin White, but as of now no one has been consistent enough to become an actual star in the cardboard world. Only Marc Bulger has put together a nice career in recent memory. While this helps in terms of picking up cards cheaply, it would be nice to see some of these guys make waves professionally. 

Basketball has been even more barren when it comes to collecting the Mountaineers. Only Joe Alexander, Da'sean Butler and Devin Ebanks have been drafted in the last 10 years, but both flamed out rather quickly. The one big exception has been Jerry West. If a new release basketball set has a legends component, in all likelihood it will have West on the checklist. Since his catalog is so extensive I try to limit myself to cards featuring him in the Mountaineer uniform. I'll happily take any Lakers cards, but they tend to carry more of a premium price on the secondary market.

2014-15 SPX Jerry West Jersey

I picked this card up for $7 back in April. The pose on the card is very similar to the one in which he is depicted on his statue in front of the Mountaineer Coliseum. 

I've been having fun the last few months adding to my Mountaineer collection. With most of the new baseball sets rehashing the same autos, I've been attempting to find some rarer cards of some of my favorite past Mountaineers. At some point I'll showoff some of the cooler ones. Helps break up the monotony of showing off 30 different Gregory Polanco sticker autos. 

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trade: Fantastic Catch

A while back Weston from Fantastic Catch claimed a few Cardinals that I had pulled from one of my box breaks. In return he sent back a nice mix of Pirates. 

Clemente still gets quite a bit of love from the card companies. 

I'm still hoping that Polanco can get his bat going. He is always going to be a sabermetrics darling as his defense and base running rate high, but if his bat can come alive he could be a valuable asset for the Pirates. It wouldn't surprise if the Pirates try to find a good right handed outfielder as an insurance policy.
Tony Watson is a personal favorite of mine. He has picked up right where he left off from last years All Star season. He was a little bit of a late bloomer as he was a starter all the way up through AAA, but broke in with the Pirates as a reliever. He has been awesome since day 1.
Some random Bowman Pirates.
Topps Lineage is a set that I would like to see Topps take another stab at. It felt like it should have worked, but for whatever reason it fell flat.

Always nice to receive some Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson cards. I went through a phase picking up most of their auto releases a few years back so I'm going back trying to get some of the more rare pieces.
When the Pirates decided to trade Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to the Cubs, Kevin Hart was supposed to be the key return. He turned out to be horrible, but the throw in was a non prospect named Josh Harrison. That turned out very well.

Thanks for the cards Weston.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Vegas Pics

Happy Father's Day! Pretty low key at Bob Walk the Plank headquarters today as we are trying to get the house back in order. I spent most of the afternoon mowing and playing kitchen with my daughter. For Father's Day my wife and daughter picked me up some Pirates tickets for the game Saturday which happens to be Starling Marte bobblehead day!

Here are some Vegas pics.
We stayed at the Bellagio. The hotel is massive and would take you about two weeks to eat at all the restaurants and visit all the shops. The couple of meals we did have were very good, but came at a premium price.
 I looked for the Card Papoy, but didn't find him.
My wife and I jumped on the bus to make the fifteen minute ride to Freemont St. This is not for everybody as it is one big party at night, but we had a blast. Lots of live music, cheap drinks and affordable food. While the strip is one big party too, Freemont takes it to the next level.
 Hoover Dam.
 Nice panoramic picture of the Grand Canyon.
Another cool shot. Kudos to my wife who has some issues with heights. She braved her fears to get some nice pictures. She doesn't trust my shaky arms enough to let me take the pictures.
Here I am conquering the world. 

Overall it was a nice trip. I think the amount of time we stayed was perfect (Sunday-Thursday). We spent one full day at the Grand Canyon so that helped break the trip up. It is not a relaxing trip so you need a day or two to rest up once you are home. My wife and I were in agreement that if we go again it would be with friends. 

Back to card business tomorrow! 

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I'm Back and Black Bears

Las Vegas was a great trip, but I'm happy to be home. I think I was there just the right amount of time. A full week would be too much. That town isn't conducive to a healthy lifestyle. I'll post some pictures tomorrow, but my most Las Vegas moment of the trip was being asked if I thought two escorts for $1400 was a good deal. The guy told me they were in his room, but he might need to send one of them home......Vegas.

Last night I attended the very first Black Bears game. The best surprise was getting to see Tyler Glasnow. He is recovering from an ankle injury and was sent to Morgantown for a rehab assignment. Glasnow is the Pirates top prospect. He only threw about 35 pitches with most being fastballs. He hit 97 on the gun.

As for the game it was a rough night for the Black Bears. They got destroyed by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (minor league team names are the best).

The weather was very poor for the game as it rained the majority. Thankfully the new stadium is a sports turf so field conditions were actually pretty good.

 Pirates first round pick Kevin Newman!

Overall it was a great experience. I'm looking forward to getting to more games this year. It will be fun to keep track of all the players that come through. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Classic Cutch

2014 Panini Classics Andrew McCutchen Auto /149

I've mentioned a lot that Cutch hasn't signed much of anything since he evolved into one of the better players in the league.  Probably just the result of demand skyrocketing. Several years back I was relentless in my quest to find his auto releases. For the most part I consider my collection fairly complete as I have most of his non parallel releases. The only card I feel that I really need to have is the Bowman Aflac rookie, but it is very expensive. 

With all that being said a few newer Cutch autos have found their way into Panini sets thanks to sticker autos. I'm not as against sticker autos as some as it helps lower the cost. If this auto was a standard Topps on card auto the price would probably be in the 75-125 range. This Panini Classics ran me $43 shipped.  Still a pretty high price, but put into context of what a normal Cutch auto costs I'll take it. 

I'll be back to a more normal blogging schedule Saturday.  I'm flying back home tonight and will be attending the West Virginia Black Bears first game tomorrow. I'm very excited for that. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Connor Joe 1/1

2014 Bowman Draft Orange Paper Parallel 1/1

Back in the early Spring I went on a nice run of adding cards of the Pirates first two picks of 2014, Cole Tucker and Connor Joe. Both were considered safe picks and a little bit of a reach but the Pirates used to savings to get some harder to sign kids in the later rounds. For both I focused on Leaf Trinity and Bowman cards.

It is always nice to add a 1 of 1, even if it is one of the ridiculous parallels from Bowman. Either way I purchased this card for around $30 which seems like a pretty good deal for a 1/1 of a legitimate prospect. 

Vegas is kicking my butt a little, but my hope is to win a little bit on table games. We've been pretty busy the first couple nights, so this is my first day where I have most of the day to gamble. I'll probably try my luck at some blackjack and poker. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trade: Sportscards From the Dollar Store

I'm live from Las Vegas! It is a very comfortable 105 degrees outside as I write this. I landed around 9am so we've been doing a lot of exploring. I was able to watch most of the Pirates game from the Bellagio Sports Book room. Probably will try my luck at the casino tonight.

Blog business....

My good pal Doug always finds unique cards for me. He manages to always deliver a nice mix of Pirates and WVU in almost every package. Here is the latest installment in what has been about a year long blind trade.

WVU's most famous athlete. A West Virginia legend, you can find a huge statue of West in front of the WVU Coliseum.

Just shows you how nice Prizm cards are when they have a license.
A little bit of everything here. I'm really hoping Geno can show signs of improvement this year as I think this will be his last chance. The Jets are just so void of offensive talent.

Some nice bonus Pens too. Two days in a row showing Penguins cards!
Marc Bulger was the first WVU quarterback to have a successful pro career since Jeff Hostetler. He broke just about every school passing record during his four years. Eventually they would be broken by Geno Smith, but Bulger was great to watch.
One of the biggest busts in the lottery era Joe Alexander was never really even given much of a chance. Drafted by the hapless Bucks, it was well know Alexander would take some development time. For some reason the Bucks started playing him right away and his flaws were exposed. Geno Smith's status is much like Joe's.

With all that being said I'm still an active purchaser of Alexander cards. He was one of my favorite to watch during his 3 years in Morgantown.

Ian Snell showed flashes of being a good pitcher, but much like many of his teammates during this time command was a big issue. He would strike out 8 through 5 innings, but his pitching count would be well past 100. He was traded to the Mariners, but never really gained any traction after he left Pittsburgh.

I've been on a big kick lately trying to go back and pick up Snell cards. He actually had a fair amount of releases so I'm trying to find some parallels. This fits in nicely to my collection!

As always Doug I really appreciate the diverse packages you send my way. I'll start getting my next package for you together as soon as I'm back in town.

Thanks for reading.