2019 COMC Baseball Card Fantasy Pack Team Update

Members of the COMC Team are always looking to find new and unique ways to enjoy opening packs of trading cards. Sure, we could just rip through hobby boxes and packs looking for our big hits, but where is the fun in that? Earlier this year we introduced you to our fantasy baseball meets trading cards concept , which consisted of opening packs of 2019 Topps Opening Day Baseball Cards and creating a team based on the players found within.

To make it fun, we’re playing using a salary cap and the player’s real-life salaries, and the scoring system is based on how many wins your team is worth, rather than the individual stats found in traditional fantasy baseball. We’re now two months into the 2019 MLB season, which has been full of twists and surprises. With 1/3rd of the season under our belt, we felt this was a good time to check in and see how our picks are doing.

If you didn’t catch our first blog at the start of the season, we recommend that you check it out to get caught up all of the rules of the game. That being said, let’s recap the scoring format that we outlined in the original rules of the game:

Hitting Scoring 
Every 40 runs = +1 win
Every 15 Home Runs = +1 win
Every 15 Stolen Bases = +1 win
Every 30 RBI’s = +1 win
Every 50 walks = +1 win

Pitching Scoring:
 Every 5 Wins = +3 Wins
Every 5 losses = -1 Win
Every 5 Saves = +1 Win
Every 75 Strikeouts = +1 Win

The 2019 COMC Fantasy Baseball Team

No Surprise Here: Mike Trout Leads our team in offense!

DH: Mark Trumbo (0 points)
C: J.T. Realmuto (1 Point)
1B: Anthony Rizzo (2 points)
2B: Gleyber Torres (1 point)
SS: Francisco Lindor (0 points)
3B: Rafael Devers (2 points)
OF: Ronald Acuna (1 point)
OF: Mike Trout (4 points)
OF: Mitch Haniger (3 points)

SP: Justin Verlander (4 points)
SP: Gerrit Cole (3 points)
SP: Trevor Bauer (0 points)
SP: Blake Snell (0 points)
SP: Jacob Degrom (0 points)
Closer: Edwin Diaz (2 points)

23 Total Team Points

Bench Reserves:
Hitter: Juan Soto (1 point)
Hitter: Max Muncy (1 points)
Hitter: Whit Merrifield (1 point)
Pitcher: Dereck Rodriguez (-1 points)
Pitcher: German Marquez (2 points)

Analysis: We’re on pace to finish the season in the 70-80 point range, which is well under the 100-point threshold we predicted our team would finish at.

Designated Hitter Mark Trumbo isn’t expected to play until late June at best, which likely means that we’ll be replacing him with Juan Soto or Max Muncy off the bench due to not appearing in at least 108 games this season. Rafael Devers has been a pleasant surprise all over the stat sheet, and despite having what appears to be a slump season for him, Mitch Haniger has filled the right statistical categories (runs, HR, RBi’s) to notch three points.

Texas Heat: The career revival of Justin Verlander continues in 2019!

On the pitching side, our Astros one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have accumulated the wealth of our pitching points. Justin Verlander has nine wins and counting as of this writing. Trevor Bauer and reigning American League Cy Young Winner Blake Snell have regressed in 2019.

We know that some readers of the COMC Blog are also playing along at home. How is your team doing so far? We want to hear from you! Have you found a way to turn your trading card collecting experience into a game? We want to hear about it! Drop a comment below and let us know!

Rich Reminisces: “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton

2019 is the 50th anniversary of what may be the most important book ever written about baseball. The tome which changed the world was “Ball Four” written by Jim Bouton and edited by Len Shecter.

Jim Bouton, who should have had Topps cards in 1969 and 1970 so we could have even better memories of that era, was as the author the key person of the book. After all, Bouton did pitch in 73 games during the 1969 season, which included two major league teams and a short minor-league stint.

Before going to the Seattle Pilots, Bouton had been a New York Yankee and was a remnant from the final days of the Yankees dynasty. While it was obvious from all his writings that he truly loved the game, the fact he looked at things differently was a cause of consternation for baseball officials. One of the things to remember is if all he had written about was how baseball players were human (young, loved to chase girls on the road, used coarse language, etc.) that would not have been so bad. Or as the story at the time goes: “If you see a word you don’t know, don’t ask your mother about those” to deal with the four letter words. This book took the inside stories which were evolving, beginning with Jerry Kramer’s book “Instant Replay” about the 1967 Green Bay Packers and Frank Beard’s book “Pro” about the golf tour.  

Bouton took these books a step further and was not nearly as family friendly as some of the other books in that process. Bill Freehan’s “Behind the Mask”, which actually pre-dated Ball Four’s release was also an inside look at a team, but without most of the non-baseball material covered in Ball Four. Of course there was a difference in Freehan playing almost every day as a position player and Bouton spending a lot of time in the bullpen, having more time to hear all those stories. Both Freehan and Bouton’s books are based on the 1969 season, so when the Seattle Pilots played the Detroit Tigers there are two different ways those games are dealt with.

The most amazing thing about these books was perhaps the self-examination needed for these diaries, as all of these athletes had seasons at or near their career peak during around that time. And in the case of Jerry Kramer, there is this memorable block of Jethro Pugh to give Bart Starr the room needed to score the winning touchdown in the 1967 Ice Bowl game  

But what really upset major league baseball was two fold:

1.) How he was able to show that the legendary Mickey Mantle was not perfect but just another person with typical male urges.
2.) He also showed how players were not properly paid, and some of the monetary troubles players had were because management had so much control.

Those issues as much as anything was what organized baseball got freaked out about after the book was published in 1970. Remember similar to today, there was a growing divide between the young athletes and those establishment types that were in charge. Today, much gets into the public because of social media use, which never used to be part of the discussion.

The other thing to remember was because of this book we were able to get a first person look at the 1969 Seattle Pilots, which were a one and done team. Since they were only in existence for that one year, the idea that we have this much information about the team is a gold mine.

Although the Pilots were an expansion team, they had several people important in baseball history. One of those players, who got traded before Spring Training even concluded was Lou Piniella. “Sweet Lou” may have had a sweet bat, but he was not always the mellowest player on the field. Piniella had what is called a “Red ***”, and more than 20 years later his temper was still well remembered.  He is the last Cincinnati Reds manager to take the team to the World Series and the only Seattle Mariners manager to lead them to the post-season.  And here is a brief part of a Sassoon ad which showed on television.

And there are plenty of other people who are remembered fondly because of their places in the day to day life of the Seattle Pilots. After all, Joe Schultz, a long-time baseball man, was the manager of the team and understood they were not going to be winning many games. Thus, one of his great pieces of advice was to “Pound the Old Bud (Weiser)” after every game.

We also have people who were almost “counter-culture heroes” at the time such as Steve Hovley and Mike Marshall:

And there is also Gary “Ding Dong” Bell:

Fred Talbot, is probably still waiting for his part of the 25,000 dollar prize since he, somehow as a pitcher, hit a grand slam in the designated inning of a fan contest. No, the money never came, but the story still lingers. There is no Topps card of him as a Pilot, so instead here’s his 1969 card of him as a Yankee.

And while I could talk about all the players and their roles in the book such as Marty Pattin‘s Donald Duck impression, the final couple of players I’ll talk about in this article is Greg Goossen. Goossen came up as a young man with the Mets and is responsible for one of the most memorable Casey Stengel lines: “This is Greg Goossen, he’s 19 years old and in 10 years he’s got a chance to be 29.

As a boxing fan, I’ve always been fascinated since Goossen is part of the boxing Goossen family, and before his passing actually was one of the corner-men in several important fights. He also became a stand-in for Gene Hackman in films, and did very well financially doing that seemingly thankless role.

And how else could I finish but by showing a card of Dooley Womack aka THAT Dooley Womack, who Bouton was traded for during the middle of the 1969 season. They had been Yankees teammates in 1966-68 before both of them began their last few seasons. This is Dooley pictured as an Houston Astro.

On a personal thought, I wonder if you could argue the eventual acceptance of Ball Four was one of the precursors to the work Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did to uncover the Watergate Scandal. By that time we had started getting used to the concept that people who had previously been protected by media members were not being treated as normal human beings. Scandals were far fewer before 1970 and Ball Four than afterwards.

  Was this book and the honest appraisal of baseball players a tipping point in journalistic history?

Guest Blog: Collecting What you Love – A Few Quick Tips

(Editor’s Note: Please welcome Tanner Jones to the COMC Blog. Tanner Jones is author of Confessions of a Baseball Card Addict and has been in love with cardboard since he was a child.  For the past 30 years, he has gone from being a casual collector to…scratch that…he has never been casual about collecting baseball cards.  He is an addict!  You can visit his website at www.TanManBaseballFan.com)

Let me ask you a question.  Have you ever purchased a baseball card you have fallen in love with?  If you are like me, you have – many times.  Now, let me ask you another.  Have you purchased a card that you didn’t love?  If you are like me, the same answer is true:  many times.  Perhaps it was a card that you thought you wanted, but turned out that it was just due to the hoopla around it created by others.  In other words, you bought it because other people loved it.

Perhaps you have indulged in one too many boxes, case breaks or razzes, only to find your collection is littered with cards you simply don’t care about.

What to do about it

It appears as though our hobby is far above average when it comes to being made “liquid” in the sense that we have many options to sell the cards that no longer appeal to us.  Websites like COMC make it easy!  All you have to do is sit down with your collection, and determine what you want to keep.  The rest can be put in the for sale/trade pile.  From there, you can use the proceeds of your sales to put into cards that will put a smile on your face.

Only buy what you love

Isn’t our hobby great?  There are so many collecting niches to choose from!  We may find the refractor shine more mesmerizing than anything else we lay our eyes on.  Holograms that jump off the card can captivate us as we tilt them back and forth.  Patch cards allow us to feel like we have a piece of the game as we rub our fingers over them.  Vintage cards are like mementos that have survived numerous wars and depict players that the childhood version of our grandfathers marveled at.

Before diving in head first, sit down and really think about what you love about this hobby.  Do you want to collect a certain type of card?  A player?  Team?  Even if you narrow it down to a certain player or team, more specificity is still likely warranted.  With the sheer amount of cards being produced each year, it can be easy to get in over your head – and quickly. Instead, perhaps consider only focusing on a certain date range for a team or perhaps only the career years for your favorite player(s).

Those are just a few ideas – don’t be afraid to really put pen to paper and jot down all of your ideas, while window shopping for cards on COMC.  With each card that passes by your eyes, ask yourself if it is something you truly want.  If it is, then the odds are it is likely a good candidate to add into your collection.  Don’t forget to set a budget, either!

Remember:  Collecting only cards you love that are within your budget is key to having a fulfilling and meaningful collection.

Rich Reminisces: The 1973 Mets

By Rich Klein
Recently I heard the sad news of George Thomas Seaver (we know him better as Tom) beginning his long goodbye as his great mind is slowly becoming less active and he is suffering from Alzheimer’s. This news comes just as the New York Mets begin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their “Miracle Mets” season. Let me assure you, if you were in the NY Area in 1969, that was truly a miracle season. So many things occurred that year which were a confluence of events never to be repeated or duplicated.  When this 1969 Topps card was released the Mets were just starting to roll a bit towards their successful conclusion.  Thankfully for collectors without deep pocketbooks there is no “White” last name version of this card. If there were, the 1969 Master Set collection cost would have grown by a decent chunk of change.

Because baseball was so important in ’69 and the Mets were such a great story,  with them located in New York and having had such a short history at the time, there were countless books written about the team during the next few months. I believe I read every single one of them. Yes, there was actually a time where reading print in all forms was how we garnered information, and in my cas,e put the information into my muscle memory, which when my turn comes to forget everything but the past, will be remembered much easier than what I had for lunch yesterday! (Grilled chicken sandwich with sautéed mushrooms, grilled jalapenos and grilled onions and a side salad).

But the real point is that those books were able to talk both about the days when the Mets were lovable loser. In fact, the Mets had books written about their beginning when the great newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin penned a tome about the 1962 team. Since New York was a major media capital back then, and the team was so bad they were good (yes Marv E. Throneberry we’re thinking of you), a detailed tome about their debut season was a first as far as I know.

Image result for jimmy breslin can't

So 7 years later was the year we first walked on the moon, and since all things seemed possible, why not have a baseball team do something we thought was impossible?  We have tons of material about the 1969 Mets, but what we don’t have very much about is a Mets team which four short years later almost completed an even greater miracle.

The 1973 Mets had many of the same key players of the 1969 team, but the team was carried by their pitching staff led by Tom Seaver. They also featured Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw as their key pitchers, and some of the same position players including Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Ken Boswell, Wayne Garrett, Bud Harrelson, and Jerry Grote.

If you look carefully enough you can see Yogi Berra 5th from the left on the second row and Tom Seaver two people to his left and Cleon Jones directly to Seaver’s left.  We’ll let other sleuths identify the rest of the team, but remember this is a photo of the 1972 team. And based on not seeing Willie Howard Mays, I’d say this was produced in 1972 spring training.

The reason this team was such as miracle was because as late as August 30th, 1973 the Mets were mired in last place, but the NL East race was so bunched up that every team could have a hot streak and become competitive. Although the Mets were in last place in the six-team National League East Division, they were only  6 1/2 games out of 1st place.Now remember, in 1973 there were no wild card spots, so you won the division or you went home.

The team that went on the run was the Mets. The story goes that General Manager M. Donald Grant went to give the team a pep talk and Tug McGraw was reacting sarcastically and stated, “You gotta believe!” Well, those three words became the mantra for the team in September, and they went on to win their division with an 82-79 record.

The “Tugger” would run with the publicity he garnered from this run and became quite the media darling. He helped to co-author a daily comic strip which you can still find a compilation of in book form:

Image result for tug mcgraw comic

September was when the school year begin in New York, but all kids big and small were too entranced by the events going on. There was a play against the Pirates in which the baseball had about a one percent chance of ricocheting off the wall in a way which would it would go back to the fielder. The miracle bounce occurred and lives on forever thanks to youtube.

A few days after that, Willie Mays, who had returned to New York the previous season to finish out his career, finally announced he would be retiring from baseball. As he said he knew it was time for Willie to say goodbye to America. The Mays Tribute Night part of this video begins at approximately the 12:45 mark.  Today, the Mets would have figured out a way to do that on a sunny Sunday afternoon with tons of publicity. Believe it or not, there was not much advance notice for the Mays ceremony.

Finally, on a rainy day in Chicago, the Mets clinched the division and the weather was so bad that the second game was never played. The game might have been played if it mattered to the pennant race, but since it did not, why risk injury to any of the players? Here is restrained way the Mets clinched the National League East.

The Mets would then go to the playoffs and defeat the Cincinnati Reds, who were just beginning to evolve into the Big Red Machine. The highlight was a brawl instigated by a fight between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose. Many fans then already did not like Pete Rose because of the 1970 All-Star game collision with Ray Fosse, so this just added to the hatred of Rose in New York.

That is a video of their kerfuffle. Big Bad Pete Rose versus Bud Harrelson. who by that point in a season might not have even weighed 150 pounds.

The Mets would then go deep into the World Series against the Oakland Athletics and force the series into a 7th game to be on the precipice of winning a second World Series. However, the A’s, led by their pitching staff, proved why they would be able to win three straight World Series in the 1970’s. Thanks to Topps practice at the time of showing pictures from each World Series game we did get one last 1974 Willie Mays card out of our packs. Now I realize Topps did certain things in those days to appease the target audience of kids, but the lack of a 1974 Mays card ranks right up there with other players who never received a final tribute card.

Off the top of my head such cards as a 1964 Stan Musial, 1967 Sandy Koufax and 1977 Hank Aaron would have been great for the kids then and the adults today. I’m convinced one reason the 1969 Mickey Mantle is so beloved is because he did not formally retire until March 1969 and Topps had already planned his card. Thus he got the last cards those other greats missed.

And as for Tom Seaver, as he heads into the long goodbye. he would pitch for more than another decade and amass more than 300 career victories, as well as gaining a first ballot selection by the BBWAA to elect him into the Hall of Fame on the 1st ballot.

This is just a cool modern card of “Tom Terrific” so we can all remember him as he was.

Guest Blog: Let’s Go Back to the 80’s for a Minute

(Editors Note: This post comes to us thanks to the Call to Arms we put out earlier this month seeking guest writers. Please welcome longtime COMC Member FairDeal to the COMC Blog!)

2020 will mark my 40th year for collecting sports cards. Collecting has been more than a hobby for me. It’s been a way to stay connected with my favourite teams and athletes, not to mention buddies who also collect. It’s also been about building something I can be proud of over several decades as well as act as a cathartic release during tough times.

My collection is comprised of baseball and hockey cards (1980 to present) with rookie cards, pre-rookie cards, refractors, active-era Carlton Fisk as a player I collect, and few favourite built master sets acting as the foundation of my prized haul. For this Blog entry, I want to share with you the story of the two first cards, which caught my eye and remain, to this day, on the centre shelf in my Sports Collectibles Man-cave.

1979-80 o-pee-chee Brett Callighen:

The 1979-80 season was the inaugural NHL campaign for the Edmonton Oilers. A young 18-year-old prodigy named Wayne Gretzky captured the hearts and imagination of all Edmontonians (if not all Canadians as a whole) with unparalleled vision of the entire ice surface and play-making ability. The future was bright for this young up-start squad – the sky was literally the limit. Numerous Smythe Division Titles, Campbell Conference Crowns, and 5 Stanley Cups to follow – not to mention hall of fame nods for almost a quarter of the active roster. Despite the pre-social media fervor and ground-swell excitement surrounding Wayne, my favourite Oiler was his line mate and left-winger Brett Callighen.

Callighen was a journeyman winger who had been a part of the World Hockey Association (WHA) originally with the New England Whalers then later with the Edmonton Oilers. Smooth skating and creative passing skills made Brett Callighen a force to be dealt with. Through that first NHL season, Brett was paired with Wayne on most nights and he would end up with 58 points despite missing 21 games to injury.

When the week’s worth of chores were successfully completed, it was allowance time and hockey cards were certainly a priority for me. The ‘79-80 O-Pee-Chee set had an amazing blue edge border with white swoosh down the right side with team logo anchored in the corner. Each pack contained 14 cards and a stick of gum that often would ruin a card if it became attached.

Each card served to mesmerize and I was always waiting with anticipation for the next opportunity to visit the corner store to get more of them. Obtaining Callighen’s card was almost an obsession from day one! Unfortunately cracking my first few packs did not yield my favourite player. Now I won’t say that I traded a Gretzky for a Callighen; that would be like Jack and the Beanstalk in trading a field’s worth of cows without the beans growing into too much. However, I do recall having to part with a number of good cards, in a lop-sided trade, to get the elusive card number 315 of this set. I remember beaming in having this card proudly showcased on my dresser during that first season; it was an amazing childhood experience that I still smile at when I look at it.

Callighen would play through two more injury-plagued seasons with the Oilers before being released prior to the 1982-83 season. When the announcement came in the local newspaper that Callighen had filed for retirement from the NHL and signed with HC Lugano in the Swiss Elite League, I was as crushed as a 12-year-old boy could be. Brett gave up pro hockey for good after the 1985-86 season and would make periodic appearances with the Oilers Alumni during events over the next 3 decades including the final epic send off for the Edmonton Northlands Coliseum.

1980 Topps J.R. Richard

Some of my favourite childhood recollections come in the form of watching Montreal Expos games with my Dad. The two of us, on a weekend, seated on the couch with junk food in hand, with games on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) were a staple and nothing could change that.

On August 13, 1979, Dad and I prepared for another tilt on the tube; this time the opponent was the Houston Astros. We had our ace Steve Rogers going that day so victory was a certainty…or so I thought…

The opposing pitcher that day was J.R. Richard. Before Randy Johnson, there was another tall lanky fire-baller who dominated hitters with triple digit MPH touching fastballs, J.R. Richard. As the game progressed, hitter after hitter for the Expos were sat in rapid fashion by J.R via a strikeout and weak ground outs. Among the strikeout victims were future hall of famers Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. The ball just exploded out of J.R. Richard’s hand as he delivered each pitch. With his super long and lanky frame the ball seemed to be halfway to home plate already at the point of release. The Astros came out on top via a complete game victory from their starter that day. (See the box score below):

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU197908130.shtml

The next season, I started to purchase Topps baseball cards (to go along with the O-Pee-Chee hockey cards) and I knew immediately that the J.R. Richard card was a must have. Fortunately, I was able to find his card in a purchased pack and I was over the moon! The photography captures a dominant pitcher who was likely on his way to sitting down another hitter with the shameful fruitless walk back to the dugout after a strikeout.

Sadly, 1980 would turn out to be J.R.’s final season in Major League Baseball and after retirement, personal problems led to homelessness and a series of life challenges for Mr. Richard. Happily, J.R.’s life made somewhat of a turnaround in the 2000’s, as he was involved in a documentary on his story as well as a series of appearances with the Astros organization. The images of him delivering that fastball was unreal and the 1980 Topps Card was something I absolutely treasured then and still treasure now.

Takeaways:

These two cards are cherished possessions, and illustrate that despite having almost no market value but, incredibly special to me, from a sentimental lens. There are literally thousands of cards in my collection that I would part with before getting rid of these two. Whenever I open a box or pack and struggle with the condition of an upper-end candidate for grading or lament a short-print, wishing it was a 1/1 instead of out of an /100, I look at these two cards and am reminded not only of great memories of yester-year but humbly brought back to why I started to collect and continue to collect to this day. They keep me grounded for sure. It also helped me build a foundation for why I collect:

· Collecting keeps me young with connections to heroes of the past.
· Collecting keeps me connected with players and teams of today whom I follow.
· Collecting may seem antiquated, but the stories and hunt of each card can make it special for you!
· Collect if you love it because life is short and doing something you love is worth it. I will continue to do it until there are literally no cards left to buy or trade.

Guest Blog: Top 10 New Collections to Start on a Budget.

(Editors Note: This post comes to us thanks to the Call to Arms we put out earlier this month seeking guest writers. Please welcome COMC Member Tycrew to the COMC Blog! Tycrew is a University of Illinois alumni and is currently in graduate school working towards a career in dentistry. His areas of focus in the hobby are football and baseball, but as a lifelong collector, his collection is not just limited to those sports).

The perfect collection is what we all are striving for in this hobby. It is an ever elusive goal along with the oft insatiable drive to find the perfect combination of cards that allows you to take a step back and stare in awe. Most average collectors are not going to ever be able to afford to add the Graded 10 Mike Trout rookie autograph flight to our personal collections. Us mere mortals must abide by budgets and finical restriction. That said, financial restriction does not need to limit us. I put together a list of potential collections that can all be complied while being fiscally responsible. The goal is to to always be adding loads of intrinsic personal value while sending only a little cash. It doesn’t have to have a huge price tag to be the prefect collection.

Bonus) Jersey Cards NBA Starting Five

I’ll be honest, I don’t collect basketball cards and that is why this idea is a bonus. I open packs of them on occasions and then try to trade them away as soon as I get them because they just do not fit in my collection. If I did collect basketball, I would do this: I would find a jersey card for every player on the starting five on my favorite basketball team. It’s a small collection that is highly displayable. Even if you are a Warriors fan, and every player is an all-star, the jersey cards are affordable. You can always expand to the whole bench too with out running out of dough

10) Your fantasy teams

This idea could be a fun one especially if you can get the others in your fantasy league to buy into the concept too. The core set up would involve you drafting your team like normal but, once the season begins, you cannot start the player unless you have their card. There are all sorts of different rules you could add to make this work for you and your friends. To add a degree of difficulty you could make a requirement that all the cards have to be numbered or an insert. It would make the league more fun and add an exciting twist to free agency. Setting up a keep league where you can only keep the player if you have their autograph could also be an intriguing option.

9) The Regional Gems Collection

You would be surprised how many players from your area have a rookie card. Most likely they only ever got a rookie card, but that’s all it takes. This collection usually will stem around your high school. Go back and make a list of the schools from your area. Obviously start the list with your school. Then add the crosstown rivals and then make sure throw the rest of the conference in for fun. Use your favorite web search to find the guys who made it to the big,s and who you need to look out for going forward. Occasionally, you will be searching through a box at a show or opening a pack and find someone from your area to add to the collection too. People in the community will be impressed when you show them, and you will always be able to add to the collection as more guys work their way up the ranks.

8) Home Run Derby Bat Card

Some relic cards can almost seem disappointing when people are only on the hunt for autographs or high price cards. Not in this scenario. The whole goal of the collection is to get a bat card from every player in the most current year (or your personal favorite year’s) home run derby. Even though some of the top players are in the derby, most solo bat cards are reasonably priced, and there are only eight guys with the most recent rules.

7) Starting QB for every NFL Team

To be clear this is not going to be the cheapest collection when you start it. Among all of the ideas on the list this one will have the highest start up cost. This will be a long term investment though. Once you get the starters in the collection, you will only need to replace a few a season which makes it very affordable long term. This might have the best display options of any of the ideas on the list two. A big matted frame with the teams listed with window spaces for the card would look sharp in just about any man cave in the nations.

6) Old Players, New cards

Keep a look out for famous players on new cards. These usually come in the form of inserts or numbers, but can also be autos and relics too. There are many old timers that have tons of new cards that you can pick in in the quarter box at shows or on COMC. Pick a player, pick a team, pick an era – they all will work. Most of these cards are very affordable and look great. The hard part about this collection is it is limitless!

5) Player collection

If you don’t have a favorite bench player or back up or guy who didn’t ever make it quite as big then you need to find one. A player from your childhood who you really liked works too. The only two rules here is it cannot be the hot rookie, or a superstar, and you cannot arbitrarily pick someone for this collection. If you do just casually pick someone you will quickly begin to get buyer’s remorse. I found my player when I was young. Mark Prior was my favorite Cubs pitcher growing up. Not sure why, but he was. Even though he won’t make the Hall of Fame or get his number retired, I still really think of him as one of my favorite players. His autograph is reasonably priced, and I can’t get enough. Find yourself a Mark Prior.

4) In person autographs

I do not need to tell you too much about this kind of collection. This is simply a reminder that not every card has to be DNA carbon dated, graded and personally certified with a COA to be a real autograph. Most teams have opportunities to meet the players with autographs. Taking base cards to those opportunities can really add personal value to a collection without spending money.

3) MLB Team Top 30 Prospect Autographs

This has been my most recent focus as of late. I went and found a website that ranked the 30 best prospects for the Cubs and made a list. I’ve been collecting autographs, but could have chosen base rookie cards just as easily. Spring training has become a blast watching these guys play with the big boys, and having the hope that one day they may become the big names on the roster. It is an evolving list, but without too much turnover, so it gives you the opportunity to keep up without having to build something completely new. Most guys are very inexpensive except the few top guys. You will have a prospect get good and have to dish out some cash but they are most likely to became a valuable card. This collection has the added benefit of giving you a chance at finding gem that turns in to the next MVP and pays for the whole collection.

2) Your college football player

Think about how many players you see in the dollar box at the last show you went to or COMC of college football players who went undrafted. There’s a lot of them and no one seems to what them. Well I want them, or at least some of them. I went to a big ten school with a bad football team. That doesn’t stop me from loving my alma matter and watching every Saturday. To me a lot of the best players on the team give it their best to make the league, but most fall short. That doesn’t stop the printing plates, however. Like with the baseball products, I like to keep a look out for the autographs. This collection is always evolving, and can keep you engaged with the college players you watched and cheered for three to four years. The best part is, unless you are a fan a power house program, most of these players are very affordable. Who cares if they don’t go pro, they were and always will be your guys.

1) The base card set

That’s right. The best collection on a budget is still and always will be a complete base card set. It is accessible and overwhelming satisfying. You can make it easy on your self and buy a box or two of the new stuff and almost ensure you get all the cards (and guarantee yourself a good insert or two), do it the old fashion way one pack at a time, or finish off your set via COMC. If vintage is more your style, you will probably end up spending a bit more, but you do not need to be sucked into grading or only having cards in perfect condition. You can snag lower quality copies via COMC, or go to local show or store and add to your collection. There is probably no better feeling than completing the set yourself. In contrast to many of the other collections, this collection has a defined start and finish which can be a great drive and also a great way to prevent you from over spending. The complete set is the king of affordable collections and I don’t see that changing any time soon!

The Good Word: Everything is Better with Age

By James Good

As a kid growing up in the 90’s, my sports card collection was amassed primarily thanks to weekend trips to the grocery store with my Grandma that always yielded a couple packs, and thrift store or garage sales finds of junk wax commons that I gladly handed over a  few dollars of my allowance money for. But every once in awhile I would be taken on a much anticipated, highly coveted trip to Toys ‘R Us or K-Mart, where I would be forced to decide between a new video game or a couple $20 boxes of trading cards. Unless an amazing new video game had just come out, I always went with basketball cards, exclusively Collector’s Choice or Fleer, as the local grocery stores strangely only carried baseball and football cards.

The first vintage trading cards that I ever owned were 12 nine-pocket pages filled with of 1970 Topps baseball cards.They were given to me by one of my Grandpa’s friends who caught wind of my obsession with trading cards. The best card of the bunch was a Carl Yastrzemski #10, but the cards never impressed me much. The gray bordered design was dull and the photo quality was grainy when compared to those 1995 Score baseball cards I loved so much.

Flash forward to 2019 and what a difference a couple of decades can make. The trading card industry has radically changed, but there is still no better product being produced today than Topps Heritage Baseball. The great thing about Heritage is that it sets out to do the exact opposite of almost every other product being released today. As the industry continues to innovate, Heritage throws it back to decades ago, celebrating card design, modest insert sets, and a time when trading cards didn’t feature embedded table cloth relics.

Earlier this year as 2019 Topps Heritage’s release date drew near, I was reminded of my disdain towards the 1970 design, which I knew would be featured this year. Initially, I was not even a fan of the mock-ups provided by Topps prior to the release date, but that all changed when I opened my first pack. All of those flaws in the 1970 Topps cards that I owned as a kid were gone. The updated card stock boasted a modern feel and the print quality was immaculate. Perhaps more importantly, these cards were actually well centered! All of these improvements immediately calmed my concerns over the product design, and my four box rip on the Friday after release day was an absolute blast.

Heritage is a product that is 100% built and designed for collectors who appreciate cards for more than just their value, so if you go into ripping hobby boxes and retail packs hoping for big hits, you’ll usually walk away disappointed. But for me, the action image variations, short prints, and all of the callbacks to cards of yesteryear are more than enough to keep coming back year after year. Here are just a few reasons that I love this year’s product.

The Callbacks

Pat Neshek is respected in the hobby for being just as big of a baseball card collector as the rest of us who don’t have hundreds of baseball cards of our own. I can only imagine how thrilled he was when presented with the perfect opportunity to recreate Lowell Palmer‘s 1970 Topps photo and put on the shades. Todd Frazier also plays along in imitating a classic, but he would need to shed about 25 pounds of muscle to create a more accurate imitation of Bud Harrelson.

The Official Farewells

A large portion of my life revolves around sports and sports cards. I am a daily visitor of MLB Trade Rumors and I receive push notifications of breaking news to my phone courtesy of ESPN.  Even though I knew these hometown favorites of mine were no longer Seattle Mariners within minutes of trades and signings going down, and some of the deals were for the better, it only feel real to me once I saw them in their new uniforms on these cards. Heritage is that set that hits me right in the feels before the season gets underway. Their contributions to the team I love most cannot be questioned, but it’s going to take a very long time getting use to seeing ‘The Boomstick’ in a Minnesota Twins uniform or James Paxton donning the pinstripes.

The End of an Era

There were no bigger free agent signings this off season than Manny Machado to the San Diego Padres and Bryce Harper to the Philadelphia Phillies. These should be among their final cards of them depicted in their former teams uniforms for the time being. The Sporting News themed cards are very fitting considering that these two dominated the off season rumors and headlines. I’m very big fan of Harper, who also got a pretty sweet action image variation this time around, a card that I was fortunate enough to pull that will remain in my PC for decades to come.

The In-Game Action Cards! 

In past blog posts my fellow COMC Blogger Rich Klein has talked about how much he enjoys game recap cards, and I cannot agree more. I really enjoyed the clever captions on these cards, which is why they stood out to me this year more than others. Topps knocked it out of the park in paying tribute to their 1970 counterparts:

The Ridiculous Mustaches

Daniel Mengden has had the best ‘stache in the MLB on lock for the last couple of years with his Rollie Fingers-esque facial hair. However, a new challenger has emerged, and Darren O’Day has kicked off 2019 by taking over the crown of Most Magnificent Musache in the Majors (MMMitM). That thing rivals even some of the sharpie jobs we’ve seen over the years from cards submitted to COMC.

The Evolution of our Pastime

It’s always fun to put into context how much the game has evolved over time, and there is no better way to do so than to compare the league leader cards found in Topps Heritage with the cards from the original set they mirror. To wrap up this blog, I’ll leave you with two statistical comparisons that are pretty incredible.

Rod Carew hit .332 over 458 at bats, with 8 home runs, 56 RBI’s and 19 stolen bases, while walking 36 times, and striking out 72 times in 1969. He earned an All-Star nod and finished 10th in MVP voting.

Mookie Betts hit .346 over 520 at bats, with 32 home runs, 80 RBI’s, 30 stolen bases, drawing 81 walks and fanning 91 times in 2018. He was an All-Star, the American League MVP, and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

Fergie Jenkins went 21-15 with a 2.63 era, 273 strike outs, 71 walks and gave up 27 home runs over 311.1 innings in 1969. He was not selected to the All-Star Team.

Max Scherzer went 18-7 with a 2.53 era, 300 strike outs, 51 walks, and gave up 23 home runs over 220.2 innings in 2018. He was an All-Star, finished second in Cy Young voting, and 10th in league MVP voting. He racked up 27 more strike outs than Jenkins in 90 less innings pitched.