Weigh-In #58: Mo Cardboard Mo Problems

It’s been 6 months since I’ve done one of these weigh-in posts, so I’ll quickly run everybody through what’s going on…

One of the long-term goals I’ve had through the 6+ years of this blog is to streamline my collection.  There are a tremendous number of cards which sit in boxes;  those boxes sit in stacks.  At one point, I could not even lay my hands on my 1987 Topps set, because I had no idea of where it was.

I find that posting updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection gives me a look at the big picture, keeps me honest and helps with motivation and – very appropriate this time around – guilt.

I know there are some people who are interested in other people’s state-of-the-collection posts.  For the rest of you, you can just look at the cards (which were obtained over the past year or so) and move on.

Here’s one of those cards right now!

A new bit of information I’m going to include going forward:  The amount of money I spent on cards in 2017.  I started to track this two years ago, but I don’t think I’d ever published my expenditures before.

…So here we go starting with….

Changes since the last weigh-in (7/5/17 to 1/13/18):
Net change in the collection: +993 (1072 added, 79 removed)
Net change to the # of cards in the house: +1663 (2298 in, 635 out)

I’ve been very bad over the past 6 months, and in 2017 in general. Plenty of acquisitions, not enough organizing (and organizing leads to letting go of cards I don’t really want or need). Part of my shame is that I never got around to getting rid of cards in two of my usual methods: Sending a box of cards to COMC, and donating a box to Goodwill. All of the cards going out of the house were either mailed out in trades or given to kids on Halloween.

Totals since I started tracking on 10/16/2011:
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 12,321
Net change to the collection, to date: +1,942
Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 49,690
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -23,619

The last two categories are what keeps me going. It astounds me that nearly 50,000 cards have been sent out of the house in one way or another, and I’m very happy that overall there are over 23,000 fewer cards in my house than there were six years ago. For the time being, I’m going to ignore the 25,000 difference in “outbound cards” and “net change”.

Size of the collection:
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 56,451
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 16,890
…which means I’ve got at least 73,341 cards in my collection

Money spent in 2017 – this does not count money spent on postage for trade packages

  • $5 at a “Local” Card Shop (“Local” is in quotes because said shop is not terribly local to me)
  • $161 spent at two shows (one of which was the “collectibles” show where the only thing I bought was a $25 Hobby box of 2004 Topps Total)
  • $358 in retail stores
  • Total for the year:  $524

I’m sure Target is happy that I spent several hundred dollars on retail card purchases, but I’m not.  This isn’t to say that the money was wasted, but rather that some of it really should’ve been directed towards buying (for example) a wax box rather than numerous blasters of 2017 products.  Part of the issue for me was that there wasn’t much in terms of 2017 product I had enough excitement for that I would buy a wax box.  Maybe 2017 Topps Bunt, as packs disappeared from store shelves before I was finished buying packs.

Size of the database:
This needs a little explaining… I used to track my collection through purchased PC software… The Card Collector (my first version was DOS-based!!!) and later WinCards. My copies of the software are old enough that when I got a laptop which ran on Windows 7, I couldn’t get either package to run.  As a result, I was forced to use other means, so I created a MS Access database and began importing data from those software packages (which currently are running on a fairly old netbook running Win95) as well as from information downloaded from Topps, Panini and tradingcardDB.com.

Mainly to satisfy my own curiosity, I decided to find out how much set and card information is currently in my database.

My database contains 756 set definitions and 189,268 card definitions.  It’s important to point out that this is merely the number of sets and cards which are represented within my database;  for example, although I have no cards from 1949 Bowman, it represents 1 set definition and 240 card definitions.

New Year’s Resolutions Which I Didn’t Intend To Make Until I Was Halfway Through Writing This Post:

    • Get more serious about keeping only those cards I love… A while ago I was flipping through a book on reducing household clutter, and one phrase which resonated with me was one about keeping only the things which you love.  I’ve been trying to embrace that more and more as I go along.  “Do I love this?  Will I miss it if it’s gone?”
    • Go on a low-parallel diet.  Lately I’ve been wondering how much “value” I’m adding to my collection through parallels.  Don’t get me wrong, some parallels are really cool… but if they’re that cool maybe I should keep the parallels and ditch the base versions.  More and more I get the feeling “I’ve got this card already, just with a different border”.
    • Be better about sending cards to COMC to replenish the stock in my “store”… and getting cards out of the house.
    • Give more thought about what I should and shouldn’t collect.  At one point I had a goal of collecting every card made of anyone who had played for the Mets.  I’d cut that goal back a few years ago, but I’ve discovered that, for example, I have a crap-ton of Nolan Ryan cards when I really wouldn’t collect him otherwise.  Ryan is HOFer and I have all kinds of respect for him and his accomplishments… but would I miss that 1990 Fleer tribute to Nolan Ryan’s many no-hitters?  Not likely.
    • Take efforts to “increase throughput”… Or “Fish or cut bait”… however you care to phrase it.  A lot of times, especially with packs and repacks, I’ll get cards (usually common inserts) that I’m not sure whether or not I want to collect them… and then they end up in my “in box” lost in the clutter with other cards which I’m also undecided about.  I need to be better about determining up front whether I’m going to keep the cards and dispatch them if I decide not to (and not feel any regret if I change my mind later).
    • Post these weigh-in posts quarterly, without fail.


If 2018 Heritage Were True To 1969 Topps, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I got into some of the weirdness which would have to be perpetrated by Topps if they really wanted 2018 Heritage to be 100% faithful to the quirks of 1969 Topps.

I’ve got a few more examples, including two suggested by readers of The Shlabotnik Report!

First off I have a suggestion made on Twitter by Lanny Ribes @DOCBZ17:

There are a couple of instances I know of where Topps reused a photo from 1968 or earlier, but by referencing Freddie Freeman I believe Lanny is specifically referring to Topps using the same photo of Hank Aaron in both 1968 and 1969 Topps.  Unfortunately I don’t have a Freddie Freeman card from last year’s Heritage set, so I hope Nick Markakis will do.

I had to tighten the crop on the custom card on the right, being that I needed to get rid of the puple “BRAVES” circle on the 2017 Heritage card… but it works out fine, because the two Aaron cards were cropped differently anyway (although the 1968 was cropped tighter than the 1969, but that’s the way things go.)

Next up was a suggestion from Night Owl, who suggested riffing on this card:

This is another instance of Topps repeating a photo from 1968 Topps, but the key thing with this card is that Topps flipped the negative for 1969, thus making Larry Haney a left-handed catcher.

The Seattle Pilots are, of course, now the Brewers.  I went looking for a photo of a Brewers catcher on which I could pull similar shenanigans.  Nobody poses for pictures like this anymore, but I did find an action shot of Jett Bandy which does the trick.

A little side note:  I just realized that I’ve made a mistake on all of these customs thus far in that I’ve been making the position all capitals (CATCHER) when it should be sentence case (Catcher).  I’ll fix this in future customs.

One last custom for this week… or to be precise, one last pair of customs.

On January 20, 1969, the Phillies traded catcher Clay Dalrymple to the Orioles for outfielder Ron Stone.  For whatever reason, Topps decided to update Dalrymple’s 2nd series card after printing a number of cards showing him with the Phillies.  The updated card showed a bare-headed Dalrymple on an Orioles card (and much to my chagrin, I don’t have either of these cards, but I intend to remedy that in 2018).

For the purposes of this post, I figured where the traded player was going wasn’t as important as where he came from, so I went with Freddy Galvis, who was traded from the Phillies to the Padres this past December 15th.

Here’s the Phillies version of the Galvis:

I suspect that the capless photo of Clay Dalrymple was an old photo (and honestly, the full uniform photo was likely pretty old as well), so when I went looking for a Freddy Galvis photo, I chose a pre-dreadlocks shot from 2016.  I think his expression also fits pretty well…

That wraps things up for now, but I intend to do at least one more post in this series.  Feel free to make a suggestion on what particular quirk of 1969 Topps could be replicated… Suggestions which are already in the works include having the Astros be just “HOUSTON” and having a traded player with a blacked-out cap.  I have a couple of other ideas in mind which I won’t mention just yet.

Before I go…

Some of you probably read an off-hand reference to Twitter above and said “Twitter?  Since when is he on Twitter?”

Well, dear readers, I had never made an official announcement about it here in this blog, but The Shlabotnik Report has been on Twitter since November.  The Twitter handle is @Shlabotnik_Rpt.  If you’re searching on it, keep in mind that there are no C’s in Shlabotnik and that there’s an underscore between “Shlabotnik” and “Rpt”.

After looking at my own Twitter feed for the past two months, I feel it necessary to point out that @Shlabotnik_Rpt is this blog’s Twitter account and is intended as another channel for the same kind of content and PG-rated nonsense you get here.  So far it’s largely been notifications of new posts, but I’m starting into some Twitter-specific content.  What you won’t find are political views, fat-shaming or other bits of shouting… unless I’m quoting Daleks or Vogons (“RESISTANCE IS USELESS!”).

Card Show In A Box, Part 3: Stu-Stu-Studio

There’s a set that’s been on my mind
All the time

I was going to start off this post by saying that I love the Studio sets put out by Leaf in the 1990’s, but once I started thinking about it I realized that it would be a lie. I love the concept of Studio, I love certain years of Studio, but there are certain years which leave me completely cold. Well, here’s an example. I’ve completed the 1991 Studio set, that’s this one:

(OK, well this particular card is actually from the small preview set of 1991 Studio, but you get the idea)

So anyway, I’ve got the complete 264-card set of 1991 Studio, plus a couple of cards from the 17-card preview set. Do you know how many cards I have from the 1995 set, the one that looks like credit cards?

(Hint: The the fact that I’m describing the cards rather than showing you is a major clue)

That’s right, not a damn one of ’em. The main reason is that I don’t care for cards where the photo takes up less than half of the card front, but I suspect the another factor is that in 1995 I was old enough to have real credit cards;  Baseball cards pretending to be credit cards didn’t impress me at all.

…Plus it was 1995 and I was pissed at MLB for the lost 1994 World Series…

…But I’m not here to pick on 1995 Studio.

What I am here for is to say that when Julie from A Cracked Bat set me the box full of cards known in this blog as the “Card Show In A Box”, she sent me Studio cards from the good years!

1992 Studio was OK, but 1993 was when the concept really began to hit its stride.

The theme of this set was having a portrait of the player with a detail of his team’s uniform as the background, and his signature in foil. Great stuff. By the way, these four cards feature Leo Gomez, Brady Anderson, Harold Baines and Mike Devereaux, all cards I needed.

For me, though, 1994 was the best Studio set.

So much going on here but all of it good – each player is posed in front of what is presumably their own locker (each one is different, at any rate) with their jersey hanging in it.  For the record, these four cards feature Dwight Gooden, Bobby Bonilla, Bobby Jones and Todd Hundley.

The Orioles cards have a different vibe coming from their different lockers.

Thumbing through a stack of these cards feels like like wandering around a clubhouse and looking at all the players before a game.  This group features Lee Smith, Rafael Palmeiro (who’s attempting a comeback at the age of 53), Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald.

The box contained all 8 cards which make up a Mets team set, and the O’s included allowed me to finish off that team set as well.

This last bunch of cards features Kevin McReynolds, Jeff Kent, Ryan Thompson and Bret Saberhagen.  Interesting bit of trivia:  The Mets had traded McReynolds to the Royals in the deal which brought Sabes to the Mets.  A little over two years later, McReynolds was traded back to the Mets for one final season in the Majors.

Once again, thanks to Julie for these cards from a very fun box!

If 2018 Heritage Were True To 1969 Topps, Part 1

1969 Topps, as a set, has plenty of quirks, and enough bad ones that that we wouldn’t really want 2018 Heritage to be 100% faithful to the source material… But if Topps were to make a full effort to duplicate 69T, warts and all, what would be involved?

This is the question I’d asked myself at some point where I really should’ve been doing something more productive, but if nothing else it got me to lay the groundwork for creating some 1969 Topps customs.

While we have a general idea of what kind of parallels and inserts will be used for 2018 Heritage, I don’t believe we fully know what kind of gimmicks Topps might foist upon us.  You’d think there would be white letter variations; A super-short-printed white letter Aaron Judge variation (replicating the pricey Mickey Mantle variation) seems so obvious that it’d be shocking if it doesn’t happen.

But if Heritage were completely true to 1969 Topps we’d have…

…Plenty of capless photos, especially of newly-relocated players like Giancarlo Stanton…

…and plenty of photos which were taken years before the release date, like this relatively-unshaggy Justin Turner…

There are many other ways in which Topps could be true to 1969 Topps.  Of course, one significant way is to include managers, but it seems like that ship has sailed.  I’ve got some others in mind, but I’ll play my cards close to the vest until I share those in another post or two (hint:  I’m looking for a photo of an MLB batboy, preferably from the Angels).

And now it’s feedback time… What other things can you think of which would make 2018 Heritage more like 1969 Topps?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a good thing, or one we’d want to see, but it still might be fun to replicate some of these in custom form.

Cards From Fairly Obscure Topps-Issued Team Sets

Last night I was struggling to come up with something to write about for today’s post… Well, to be fair, I have plenty I can write about, but nothing I had been particular driven to write about.


I was reading a post on Baseball Card Breakdown about his COMC acquisitions which included two cards from the 1990 Topps “TV” sets. I said “Hey, I just got one of those from COMC too! Maybe I should feature it in a post…”

…And this is that post!  How about that?

I’ll get to the “TV” sets in a little bit, but first I’m going to start off with a couple of other COMC acquisitions, all of which come from smaller Topps sets you may not be familiar with.

First off is a card from the 2010 Topps Emerald Nuts set, which I believe was part of a series of giveaways at San Francisco Giants games.  There were Emerald Nuts sets from 2005 to 2012.  The sets featured 32 different cards, so obviously there were players in the set which didn’t make it into the regular Topps set.

Mark DeRosa made it into the 2010 Topps Update set as a Giant, but with a different photo.  You might also notice that the Giants logo used is not the same logo used in Flagship Topps;  those cards featured just the Giants wordmark without the baseball part of the logo.

In 2013, a similar set was produced, this time sponsored by Chevron.

Nick Noonan, like Mark DeRosa, is a player I collect… In fact, everybody featured in this post is a player I collect to some degree.  Noonan was a Giants 1st round pick in 2017 and made his debut in 2013.  This was Noonan’s only 2013 Topps card of any kind… in fact, he didn’t appear in a regular Topps set until this past year’s flagship set.

After the 2013 Chevron set there was a 2014 Coca-Cola set, and as far as I can tell that ended the run of San Francisco Giants giveaway sets.

Next up is a card from one of sixteen “Team Stadium Club” sets put out by Topps in 1993.  These cards were issued in team sets which came in hard plastic clamshell cases.  These sets aren’t particularly rare and frankly aren’t very attractive – the design in the upper right is gold foil – but the sets often get overlooked.

John Habyan was a Major League pitcher who, like me, is from Long Island and about my age.  I used to have a friend who had played high school ball against Habyan, so my friend’s enthusiasm for Habyan’s MLB career carried over to me and even though I lost touch with that friend 20+ years ago, I still collect Habyan.

Here’s the back of the card.

At the time these came out, I bought Marlins and Rockies team sets, as I was fascinated in the first baseball expansion since 1977 and the second of my lifetime.  Those cards were notable in that all the players were pictured in their new uniforms.  I probably should do a post about those two sets.

…But anyway…

John Habyan is also featured in the next card, which is from the 1990 Topps “TV” Yankees team set I teased at the beginning of this post.

These cards are called “TV” sets because they were marketed on television, but I don’t believe there’s anything about the cards or the packaging which refers or alludes to TV… It’s just what the collecting community calls them.  Each of the six 66-card sets issued (an “All-Star” set plus the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Cardinals) came in a sealed cardboard box.

Here’s the back of Habyan’s card.  Because it mildly annoys me, I’ll point out that the card lists his town of birth as “Bayshore” but the town’s name is actually Bay Shore.  I realize nobody cares, but I don’t care that nobody cares.  So there.

Just for comparison purposes, I’ll share similar cards which I’d posted before – my Mets “team set” from the TV All-Star set, plus the back of the Doc Gooden card.

This Cheapskate’s Vintage Frank Howard Collection

6’7″, 255 lb. Frank Howard was the Aaron Judge of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Although he only got 1.4% of the Hall Of Fame voting in 1979, he makes a strong case for the “Hall Of The Very Good”.  Frank was the 1960 N.L. Rookie Of The Year, a four-time All-Star, had 382 homers and 1,116 RBI over his career.

Oh, before I should go any further… This is another in a series of posts to highlight the lovely vintage cards acquired over the years by a self-described cheapskate.

Although I had heard of Frank Howard when I was a kid, I don’t think I really grasped how big he is until he coached for and managed the Mets (The card below is from a 1995 Kahn’s set which was given away at Shea that year… One of these days I’ll do some posts on these sets).

Without even realizing it, I’ve accumuilated the foundation of a decent Frank Howard player collection.  His cards are largely affordable with only a couple of high #’s involved.

Holy 2017 Topps, Batman!  Frank Howard’s second card from 1961 card is missing the “All-Star Rookie” trophy which should be on it.

In preppinng this post, I almost forgot to include one of my favorite cards from 1964 Topps… Anything which involves “Sealing Yanks’ doom” is OK in my book.

In the photo, Hondo is hitting a solo home run off of Whitey Ford to put the Dodgers up 1-0;  they’d win the game 2-1 and sweep the Yankees.

This same photo is used on the back of the 1964 Topps Giants card, which discusses the same homer.

After the 1964 season, Frank Howard was traded to the Senators where he’d become that franchise’s biggest star player.  He would stay with the Senators for the rest of that team’s time in Washington.

Howard hit a career high 48 homers in 1969… Unfortunately Harmon Killebrew hit 49 that same year.

In 1970, Howard lead the league with 44 homers, 126 RBI and 132 walks… but Topps didn’t have League Leader cards for walks.

He moved with the Senators to Texas, but his numbers tailed off significantly.

He spent the end of 1972 and all of 1973 with the Tigers, and with that his MLB career was over.  Although he’s listed as a first baseman, the majority of his 85 games in 1973 came as a DH.

He signed to play in Japan for 1974, but he hurt his back in his first and only game there and retired after that.

Custom Sunday: I Love To Say BABIP

Four customs plus a rant today. Who could ask for anything more?

Continuing my series of 2017 MLB Leaders in some of the more obscure statistics, today we have BABIP – Batting Average on Balls In Play. The formula for this, according to MLB.com is (H – HR)/(AB – K – HR + SF).

I’m not sure how significant of an achievement it is for someone to lead the league in BABIP, but it’s a fun acronym to say so here it is.  Avisail Garcia lead the majors with a .393 BABIP and Charlie Blackmon and Jose Altuve both had a .373 BABIP.

I’m slowly working my way through all of the new managers and making 1963 Post-inspired customs out of them and I think that Red Sox manager Alex Cora is the last of the bunch.

I’m probably going to expand these ’63 Post customs to feature players from press conferences, but I hadn’t finally decided. Giancarlo Stanton, perhaps?

The offseason trade and free-agent market has been fairly slow, but I have to say that the move that has surprised me the most by far was the trade which sent Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants.

I hadn’t thought it likely that the Rays would trade someone who’s so closely associated with the team, but it seemed like he was about to reach a point where he’d acquire no-trade rights from having 10 years of experience and 5 with the same team, so it seems to have been a “now or never” moment in Tampa.

I’m going to wrap up with an unusual (for me) football custom, done in the style of the 1964 Philadelphia Gum set. The Steelers are drawing their regular season to a close against the 0-15 Browns, and coach Mike Tomlin will sit some of the regulars, so that’s good news for one of my favorite Steelers, backup QB Landry Jones.

It might seem odd to favor the backup on a team that’s clinched a first-round bye, but that’s the way it is for me and these Steelers. I’ve been a fan of The Black And Gold for 30+ years, and even though this is a winning team, this team over the past couple of years has tried my patience as much as some of those 10-loss teams I’ve seen. The reasons for my frustration are many, but can be summed up by saying that while this is winning football, it’s not what I consider Steelers football.

Public Enemy #1 is Ben Roethlisberger. I admit that I flat-out don’t like him or his style of play. It also drives me nuts that he stays in the game when he’s seriously injured and far less effective, but HEAVENS FORBID that you should have to put Landry Jones in there. Let’s just all jump in front of a bus and save ourselves the misery.

I’ve taken to calling Roethlisberger “The Black Knight”, which sounds good on the surface, but is actually a reference to the character from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”:

Anyway, the long and short of this is that I’ll be rooting hard for Landry Jones today.