Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The TTM Desert

Looking around at various message boards and autograph websites, it appears that there has been a serious outage in regard to TTM (through the mail) autograph returns.  While long wait times are not unusual, I haven't seen much that shows that successes have been anything but on the decline.  There are guys/gals with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of requests out to players and these same TTM hall of famers are not getting back the returns they should with that many out.

So, why has the formerly Elysian Fields TTM arena dried up like the Sahara Desert?  The short answer is:  I have no clue.

Maybe the players of today didn't grow up writing letters to their favorite players and asking for their autographs.  Since they never did it, they would be less likely to respond and know the feeling that a fan gets from something from their heroes.  Maybe today's players don't really remember what it was like to be a fan.  Or...maybe players want to get paid.

Modern players often have many different streams of income.  One of those streams happens to be the lucrative memorabilia market.  So, why would...let's say Jarrod Parker...want to give his autograph for free just because some schmuck in Iowa took the time to send a letter to him and a card to sign?  Mr. Parker could just as easily get paid for his signature.  It's heartless but it kind of makes sense.

Major League Baseball should encourage the players and coaches to participate (at least somewhat) in TTM autograph requests.  On the management side, these interactions with fans, albeit over space and time, helps in growing the game by bringing fans and players together.  More fans means more money for everyone...players included.  Maybe there should be a push (or nudge) by MLB for their teams and players to participate.  Not mandate, mind you.  Just a little encouragement.

So, TTM'ers are getting a little antsy.  It's the nature of the hobby and always has been.  I love through the mail requests.  But, I like writing.  And I like getting mail.  I'll wait with the rest of the hobbyists in quiet and not so quiet anticipation.  I also will wait and hope that TTM is not a dying part of the hobby.

After all, ballplayers are busy folks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Red Sawx Fan Pack

There's a new leader in the department of fan packs.  A few years ago, I sent a request to the Cubs.  They sent along all kinds of swag...stickers, kids autograph book, a t-shirt...and, so far, it was the best free fan pack I had ever gotten.  The Cubs still lead the all-time list.

But, as for this season, the Boston Red Sox are the front runners for fan pack of the year.  Within the little manila envelope I got today was:  the obligatory pouch of Fenway dirt, a big 'ol sticker, a pocket schedule, and...get autographed 4x6 of Ryan Sweeney.  This was the first time out of all my years requesting fan packs that I got an autographed anything.

Pretty sweet.

I still hate the Sox, though.  Go Rays!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The (Sarcasm Alert) Luck Continues

2013 Topps Heritage.  Bought my one box for the season. a jersey card.  Jon Jay.  Not that there's anything wrong with being Jay...ha.

Cards are nice but I sure did waste some cash on this one.  Only the one jersey card and two serial numbered. That's it.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Not to Gush or Anything...

Normally, I don't get overly excited about a TTM return.  I did in the past when I got a Trout return...and a Josh Hamilton...and a Yogi.  But, normally I'm happy to get them back but I don't get mushy over most of the returns.  Today's mail brought a smile to my recently downtrodden face.

Billy Hamilton.  Cincy Reds' super-stud prospect sent back two cards in the mail.  Both were signed, which was both that I had sent, and they were signed in gold paint pen.  This was a first for me.  Didn't matter.  The Minor League Heritage looks amazing in gold...the Pro Debut, meh.  I'm really happy to get these back.

Like I felt with Trout, I really think that Hamilton is going to be a difference maker in the league.  This guy has lightning speed and will be the only player I can imagine that could break Ricky's stolen base record (season AND career records).  I'm really looking forward to what Hamilton can do in the big leagues.  It's obvious the minors can't hold him any longer.

Good return.  No...awesome return.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Had Forgotten About These

Fan packs.  How could I have forgotten these things?  For the past few years, I haven't emailed a request for a fan pack to any team.  I think I may have been remiss in my neglecting of such fine and FREE items.

So, last weekend I sat down at the computer and sent an email to every MLB team requesting one of their fan packs.  What is a fan pack?  It's basically something the teams send out in the mail to fans trying to drum up support for their team.  There's usually schedules, season ticket info, or other goodies the teams throw in.  Sometimes it's really good.  The last time I requested a pack from the Cubs they sent me a whole bunch of crap and a free T-shirt.  Not a bad deal, considering the cost.

Anyway, the first batch of this season has arrived.  Astros and White Sox.  Here's what they sent me.

Astros:  A 2013 Pocket Schedule, a good sized sticker, and an oversized card of pitcher Bud Norris.  I suppose they picked Norris since he has been with the team the longest of any active player.  Face of the franchise, anyone?

White Sox:  A flyer for Sox Pride fan club, pamphlet for Southpaw appearances (the mascot), a letter from a team ambassador, two 2013 Pocket Schedules, and a good sized sticker.

Not a bad start from a part of the hobby that had completely slipped my mind.  As more of these roll in I will be sure to share what goodness the envelopes behold.

On a related note.  The following teams (that at least sent me a reply email) only send fan packs when you send them a postcard or note (mailing them instead of emailing) asking for one.  So far:  Braves, Cubs, Twins, A's want an SASE, Blue Jays want an SASE, and Phillies.  Seattle hasn't gotten theirs together yet (check back in May).  The Giants are no longer sending any out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 Topps Heritage

Killer Stan
Well, well, looks like Topps Heritage was released without me looking.  I'm actually quite happy with the release of Heritage.  I've been very happy with buying the Heritage brand for a while now (both Major and Minor league) and will likely be picking up a box sometime soon.  Surely, I will let you all know what comes out of the box when I get it.

Anyway, the Heritage for this year looks pretty loaded.  Tons of inserts and autos.  The design is based on the 1964 Topps set, which, to me, is one of the classics.  A very nice choice from Topps, in my opinion.

The only real downside to Heritage, and this has always been a downside, is that the hobby boxes only have either an autograph or a relic.  The big word there is OR.  With my luck, I'll buy three boxes and come away with three shitty relics.  Like an Angel Pagan, or a Braden Looper (does he still play?) get the picture.  My luck in product without a guaranteed autograph is pretty dismal.

Sample Relic
The set design looks like it would be fantastic for in-person or through the mail autographing.  Like other Heritage sets, the cards would need absolutely no prepping for the autograph, whatsoever.  This is a nice little upside to the set.

1964 Mint
Set builders might be a little put off.  Each box contains roughly 200 cards.  The set itself is just shy of 500.  Therefore, if my math is correct, it would take three boxes and very few duplicates to put one set together.  This, as most of you know, never (EVER) happens.  Hopefully, the collation of the cards is pretty good.  Most likely, it won't be.  So, set builders may be a little pissed.

2013 Topps Heritage looks pretty good to me.  But, I'm biased because I am a fan.  If you want to see the checklist head on over to our friends at sportscardradio and check it out.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fine and Agonizing Art of Selling

Every collector gets to the point where he/she wants to sell something from their ever growing collection.  Whether it be because the collector doesn't want an item anymore or because a player has left his/her favorite doesn't really matter the reason, sometimes you just need to clean out the old closet.

This is the Belt.
I find the art of selling to be a completely frustrating experience.  Recently, I tried to sell off a few certified autographed cards I had obtained one way or the other over the past few years.  One was a Brandon Belt Topps Finest Auto (green refractor, if you care).  Belt has been the forever-prospect for the Giants for a few years now and hasn't really gained much traction in the numbers department yet.  But, he's still a major league first baseman that has potential.  I tried to sell on a message board.  I was offered a pittance.  This has not been the first time I was lowballed but, for some reason, this time really pissed me off.  So, I still have a Belt auto green for sale.

Where the heck do we sell these items without getting royally screwed?  I would say many of the reputable message boards have good buyers (there are good buyers out there).  I would say that your local card/memorabilia shop would be a good place.  I would say that craigslist would be a decent route to go.  I would also say that a few sites specialize in selling your stuff for you and this would be a good move for you sellers.

This be the Yu.
I would say these things.  But, I would be lying.  I would never lie to you guys.

I suppose that leaves the ultimate online flea market...eBay.  The way to sell is still with the big boys over at the Bay.  Which sucks because there are fees and such and paypal can be a drag and all that kind of stuff.  But, there are people on eBay...with money.  They want your stuff and if you sell at a decent price (and with minimal competition) you CAN actually sell something.  Although I did have a Yu Darvish RC auto (Allen and Ginter) on the Bay for a long time and never sold the thing even though Yu was super hot at the time.  But, I digress...

Selling your unwanted or unloved or unneeded pieces of your collection can be a huge pain in the ass.  I feel your pain.  I have experienced your misery.  I, however, will not quit trying to rid myself of the pieces that are hogging valuable real estate in my home.  So, if you are looking for a Yu or a Belt or whatever...just give me a shout (on here, JRM on Pat Neshek's site, or JRM on freedom cardboard) and I'll cut you a wicked deal!

Take care people.