Faux Gint-a-Cuffs


As promised, I did a little research and tried to score my box of 2011 Allen & Ginter. I had wanted to officially register for this year’s blog battle, but just didn’t have the hobby funds at the time. So per the norm, I am a day late and a dollar short. The official 1&G product review is still forth coming, but here is my mock Gint-a-Cuffs breakdown awhile. And note, since I am not an official contestant this year, I’m not doing a pack-by-pack and I’m not showing every card that scores points. You can see scans of some of them in that forth coming review. These scores may also not be 100% accurate, but I tried to be as true to the rules as possible and penalized myself where necessary. For instance, I did pull a Chuck Woolery, but due to knowing I wasn’t doing a pack-by-pack review, I didn’t note until after the fact that his point bonus was contingent on who was in his pack, so no points for my misstep. For the record, my favorite team is the Pirates and favorite player is Neil Walker. Now, the results:

#7 Mickey Mantle (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#15 Diana Taurasi (UConn Women) -1 badness
#47 Phil Hughes (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#63 Neil Walker (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team, +4 Favorite Player (+5 total)
#79 Aimee Mullins (Paralympic Champion) +1 awesomeness
#94 Josh Rodriguez (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team
#109 Martin Prado (Braves) +2 FP List
#125 Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) +2 FP List
#133 Geno Auriemma (UConn Coach) -1 badness
#135 Kyle Petty (NASCAR) +1 awesomeness
#150 Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) +2 FP List
#173 Mariano Rivera (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#184 Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team
#184 Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team (duplicate)
#200 Josh Hamilton (Rangers) +2 FP List
#230 Mark Teixeira (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#235 Cole Hamels (Phillies) +2 FP List
#259 Tim Hudson (Braves) +2 FP List
#264 Adam Jones (Orioles) +2 FP List
#314 Nick Markakis (Orioles) +2 SP, +2 FP List (+4 total)
#318 Brett Wallace (Astros) +2 SP
#320 Jon Lester (Red Sox) +2 SP, +2 FP List (+4 total)
#321 Mark Reynolds (Orioles) +2 SP
#322 Travor Cahill (Athletics) +2 SP
#323 Orlando Hudson (Padres) +2 SP
#330 CC Sabathia (Yankees) +2 SP, -1 Yankees (+1 total)
#334 Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) +2 SP
#335 Jason Heyward (Braves) +2 SP, +2 FP List (+4 total)
#336 Kevin Kouzmanoff (Athletics) +2 SP
#342 Mike Pelfrey (Mets) +2 SP

#197 Jay Bruce (Reds) +3 FP List
#202 Nick Swisher (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#317 Brian Matusz (Orioles) +3 SP
#343 Drew Stubbs (Reds) +3 SP

Penultimacy – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)
     1 of which was Mike Gellner +2 code breaker

World’s Most Mysterious Figures – 1 @ +3 (+3 total)

Animals in Peril – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)

Step Right Up – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)

Uninvited Guests – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)

Black Borders
     #92 Michael Pineda (Mariners) +3
     #94 Josh Rodriguez (Pirates) +3, +1 Favorite Team (+4 total)
     #270 Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) +3, +3 FP List (+6 total)

A&G Ad Back Minis
     5 basic ad backs – 5 @ +2 each (+10 total)
     #335 Jason Heyward (Braves) +3 FP List, +12 mini SP (+15 total)

N43 Box Loader – David Price – +5

Hometown Heroes – 18 @ +1 each (+18 total)
     #HH12 Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team
     #HH84 Matt Kemp (Dodgers) +2 FP List
     #HH93 Lance Berkman (Cardinals) +2 FP List

Floating Fortresses – 3 @ +2 each (+6 total)

Baseball Highlights Sketches – 4 @ +3 each (+12 total)
     Mark Teixeira (Yankees) -1 Yankees

Minds That Made The Future – 3 @ +2 each (+6 total)

The Ascent of Man – 4 @ +1 each (+4 total)

Code Cards – 3 @ +3 each (+9 total)

Basic Relic Cards – 3 @ +10 each (+30 total)


One adjustment that needs to be made is for my favorite player. I added +4 for Neil Walker, which I believe plays by the rules. However, if I had registered on time, everyone else also would have been given +2 for Neil being on the Favorite Player list. So instead of figuring out everyone who pulled Neil and adjust their scores, I will just assume all participants pulled his card and thus the net affect would be to reduce my score by -2.


As of right now, that would put me square in a tie with Night Owl for third place. Fortunately for Mr. Owl, I am not eligble. Unfortunately for everyone, I am pretty sure I will be participating should there be a Gint-a-Cuffs IV. I was obviously happy to pull my favorite player, and I was surprised at some of the players not on the list (Chase Utley? Albert Pujols? Really?). I can also definitely see the value in having a favorite team such as the Phillies though: way more chances at bonus team points due to team popularity and representation in the overall checklist. I pulled a whopping 6 Pirates, and one was a duplicate.

I must say, I have a new appreciation for everyone who participates. Breaking an entire box and scoring every card was enough work for me. I can only imagine how much more effort and time it would take to report on a pack-by-pack basis and show a scan of every scoring card (every card listed above, without being able to group total like I did for the inserts).

This certainly was a lot of fun though. The official 1&G box break product review will definitely have an entertainment factor built into the overall value portion.


Blogosphere Kindness, Pt. 6


Just as a warning, this post is EXCESSIVELY late.

A little (ok, ok, a LONG) while ago, I got an email from a collector I had never “met” before. He said his name was Bo and he had a whole box of base Topps Pirates for me if I wanted them. This was right after I began my quest to collect every base Topps Pirates card, and this Bo guy must have found my blog and either read that post or took a look at my Buccos page above. I informed him I didn’t have a lot of trade bait as most of my baseball cards are from the height of the junk wax era. He said that was perfect as he loves those sets and he expressed interest in my early Upper Deck cards. Sweet. He sent along his box and it did not disappoint one bit. In fact, it exceeded my expectations more than any other package I’ve received so far.

Bo sent so many Pirates that I couldn’t scan all of them. Instead, I scanned just a one-card example from each set that was represented in Bo’s box, and it still took two scans to get them all. Below are those one-card examples…coming from a staggering 17 different sets.

Click images for full sized scans

In total, Bo sent an absurd 201 different base Topps Pirates. He was able to completely knock out my 1988 wantlist and nearly completed several other years. I was blown away by the sheer kindness and generousity of Bo. I did a little digging (actually, he may have sent me a link to make my “research” much easier) and found that Bo is a fellow card blogger and is the proud owner and author of the aptly named Baseball Cards Come to Life! If you enjoy old school ‘ball cards and some clever writing, you should definitely check out his site.

So, what did I send in response to Bo’s generous offerings? Absolutely nothing. Why? Because I’m a jerk. Actually, the truth of the matter is (and yes, I realize this sounds like a cliché and awful excuse), I just haven’t had the time to go through my old Upper Deck cards and compare them against his wantlists. I also have a bad feeling that one of my early collection boxes is missing because I know that I have more UD cards around somewhere than I am finding. But Bo, if you are reading this, please know that I am a man of my word and I promise to get a box to you someday. It may not be this week or even next month, and I may not be able to get together 201 different cards you need for your collection, but I will make good on my end of the trade and the excessive time that has lapsed since you fulfilled your side.


Blogosphere Kindness, Pt. 5


For a guy who doesn’t trade all that often, I sure seem to have a lot of trade posts backed up in the “to be written” queue in my head. Here is another one.

A little while ago (okay, maybe it’s been a long while by now), I sent out a few emails to fellow bloggers in an attempt to kick start my Buccos base Topps collection. One email I sent out was to Big D of Hey, That’s Mine! and Big D Custom Cards fame. He said he probably had some cards that would match my criteria and would send them off.

Not long afterward, I received a package straight outta Texas. Big D said it turned out he didn’t have a lot of base Topps Buccos, but he sent me what he had. I could piss and moan and cry that he should have sent more, but hey, there are now 10 fewer Buccos I need to track down, and that is cool by me.

And because Big D obviously has a Big H(eart), he threw in some Emmitts to boot, most of which I did not previously own. Let’s just say I would never turn down or complain about having more Emmitts. At this point I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to completing the massive overhaul to my Emmitt Smith card site, but at least I now have a few more to look at in person.

In return, I sent him some old Elways I had laying around. There aren’t a lot of trades I can complete with a smattering of old football cards, so I was really excited. I also like when I can use one of the many 1997 Donruss Preferred Tins as “packaging material.” Fortunately, Big D appreciated my offerings. It’s great guys like Big D that make me wish I had more trade bait and more time to complete trades. It certainly is a fun way to get some new cards for your collection while at the same time cleaning out some room in your storage boxes.


Blogosphere Kindness, Pt. 4


Time for another trade post. I am terrible with these things…trades and trade posts. I picked this one for today because it’s already been several weeks since it occurred and because I’ve actually completed my end of the deal for this one (I have a few outstanding trades I just can’t seem to find the time to fulfill).

A while back when I decided I would be foolish and embark on a quest to collect base Topps cards of Buccos, I sent out a few emails to prominent baseball focused blogs to see if I could kick start my collection. One guy that replied rather quickly was sir Night Owl of Night Owl Cards fame. He said he could probably scare up a few Pirates for me and although he’s already got most of the Dodgers from the junk wax era, there were probably a few I had that he didn’t.

Not long afterwards, I got a nice package in the mail from Mr. Owl. In it were two stacks of Buccos, including 34 individual cards off my base Topps wantlist, as well as a bunch of other goodies, including some nice Allen & Ginter cards (I had not seen any in person up to this point). I didn’t take time to scan and crop each of the 34 cards I needed, but I did scan all of them en masse:

I was quite happy with the older cards as I figure those will be the hardest to track down. Mr. Owl didn’t send any priceless 1952 Topps or a mint condition of Roberto Clemente, but these are 34 great looking cards I did not previously have, so I am very appreciative.


I will admit, I feel like a bit of a terd for not sending an equally great stack of Dodgers back to New York, but at least he did enjoy a few of my offerings. Who knew perforated cards could be appreciated?

Blog Bat Around: $50,000 Shopping Spree


Being somewhat of a blogging newcomer (First and Goal’s first “birthday” is still over a month away), this is my first Blog Bat Around. The topic for discussion? What would I do if I were given $50,000 and 15 minutes on eBay? First, I would like to say that I am actually a pretty sensible guy. Given $50,000 in real life, I would most likely max out the Roth IRA contributions for my wife and I, get some home improvement projects rolling, and put the rest towards the mortgage. Obviously there are three glaring problems with this plan: 1) that would take more than 15 minutes to orchestrate, 2) I can’t really do any of this on eBay, and 3) no one is actually giving me $50,000. Second, given that I am a budget collector and an accountant, there is no way I could blow $50,000 in a 15-minute span on eBay. Not going to happen. I am far too anal about looking for the lowest prices (even if it’s free money, I’d still want to get the most possible for my hard(ly)-earned dollars) and most of what I collect is dirt cheap to begin with. So I am throwing out that portion of the question. I’m going to answer this question instead: What would you do if you were given $50,000 in eBay gift certificates, had an entire day off work, and had to spend the money on sports collectibles?

I like that question a lot better. It gives me time to do some homework. But not too much homework. And since no one has offered to pony up that $50,000 yet, here are my quick thoughts as to what I would buy:

1) 1950 Topps Felt Backs Joe Paterno
As a football collector and a Penn State alumnus, this would be the ultimate card for my collection. Even given JoePa’s incredible success and longevity, he still has only been featured on a small handfull of cards, including this gem of a rookie card. What some people may not know is that Joe was actually 64 years old when this card was printed. Estimated cost: $2,500

1950 Topps Felt Backs Joe Paterno

2) Emmitt Smith autographed jersey
Supposedly no player collection is complete without an autographed jersey. Given my normal shrewdiness, it is very highly doubtful I will ever splurge to get one of these. But, given fantasy money to blow, I would be more than happy to in this case. Estimated cost: $500.

Emmitt Smith autographed jersey

3) Pittsburgh Pirates Grab Bag
Next up would be a quick solution to my sudden urge to put together a collection of every Topps base card featuring a Pittsburgh Pirate. Because I doubt there are very many auctions or BIN listings for 1987 Topps cards, this would probably take the form of me buying a ton of lots and hoping for the best. Obviously I would go for anything that resembles a team set for a particular year, and then try to fill in the cracks with singles. The biggest problem with this idea is that I have a feeling a fair amount of money would be wasted on shipping charges. The one perk is that what I predict to be the most expensive card in that category, Roberto Clemente’s rookie, would easily be within my reach. Estimated cost (at least what I’d be willing to spend on random Topps Pirates): $3,500.

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente

4) Random Emmitt Smith additions
As I said, I am a budget collector AND I am trying to focus my collection. So rather than go blow a bunch of money on iconic cards or very overpriced cardboard of young players who haven’t proven anything yet, I would just bolster my Emmitt collection. This is a big reason I vote for the “all day off work” revision to the Blog Bat Around. I would love to stroll around eBay and add whatever Emmitt cards I come across that I do not already own. One of the general targets would be autographs and/or jersey cards as I have very few of those in my collection currently. I would especially be interested in stuff from the high-end sets I wouldn’t otherwise purchase, like Exquisite, UD Black, etc. But to stay true to my roots, there is no reason to expect I would walk away from this fantasy without tons of shiny 90s inserts and any base card I do not already have. BTW, I’m putting out a bounty for the 1999 Donruss Elite Primary Colors Red. I have yet to see one of these listed for sale anywhere. It would look really nice beside my Yellow and Blue ones. Probable limit: $8,500

5) Card Shop inventory
For those of you who have read my blog for a little while, it is no secret that it is a dream of mine to own my own card shop. With the estimated remaining $35,000 of eBay goodness, I would try to buy a ton of boxes and cases of unopened product (and maybe give in and buy a bunch of over priced cards of young players who haven’t proven anything yet or even some iconic football cards). Without having to pump in $35,000 of my own capital (which would NEVER happen at this point in life), I wouldn’t be obsessed with profit margin to start off with. I could start selling the inventory to get cash, which would in turn be used to buy more inventory. Right now may not be the best time to jump into the market, but even if the entire $35,000 was gone in two years, at least I could say I gave my dream a chance at reality AND I wouldn’t be out $35,000 of my own money. That sounds like a win/win situation to me.

So maybe my $50,000 shopping spree wouldn’t be as fun or frantic as some others’ and maybe I am aiming far too low, but if all I walked away with were the things listed above, I would be a VERY happy collector.

Now, who wants to make this plan a reality…?

What Am I Doing?


In case you have been living in a hole somewhere or are just generally oblivious to ANYTHING around you, you should already know that it is Opening Day. Well, I mean, sorta Day 2 since the Yankees and Red Sox decided to kick things off early last night (like that shady fella who throws his line in the water at 7:54am when trout season technically doesn’t open until 8:00am).

Now, you may be asking yourself why a self-proclaimed football guy would care about the first day of baseball season. Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m not exactly a one-sport guy anymore. When I was in college, my best buddies were always stoked about Opening Day. And why not? The sun was finally warm, bikinis started appearing in the freshmen quads, and even your worst class was only a few weeks from being over. I even made the voyage with them to Pittsburgh my junior and senior year to catch a Buccos game in late April, my first professional sporting events ever (not proud of that tidbit of info). Unfortunately, their love for baseball and the Pirates slowly rubbed off on me.

I say unfortunately, not because the Pirates are awful, but because I generally don’t do anything half-assed (except writing for First and Goal during tax season apparently). That means that I watch every game I possibly can, am elated during the wins, and miserable during the losses. And when your favorite team is losing 120/162 games, you can imagine how many losses I suffered through last year.

This year, after football was in the bags and before IRS compliance really became a day and night thought for me, I was looking ahead to the 2010 Pirates. What will this year hold? Who is going to be the young stud that makes his first MLB appearance? Which fan favorite will be the first to get traded? When would the team lose for the 82nd time of the season?

Around the same time, I was thinking about how all of these other bloggers have great general collections and are able to trade and buy at will and can always find things they need. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on a list of Emmitt Smith cards I’ll never own that continues to grow, knowing I won’t pony up the dollar to start stratching things off. That’s when it hit me: collect baseball cards! Now, before you get all excited and streak around the neighborhood, I should define that a bit (I’m an accountant; I need order and organization in my life): I am going to collect base Topps cards of Pirates only. No Astros. No Donruss. No shiny parallels or inserts (even the sweet ones from the mid 90s).

So, now that I have that out in the open, let the trades begin. I don’t have a lot of trade bait (I can tie my own trout flies, but I can’t print my own cardboard icons), but what I do have is yours. If you send me a stack of old base Topps Pirates, I’ll send you whatever you collect, assuming it falls into the worthless late 80s/early 90s ballpark. You like the Yankees? I’ve got some for you (I’m looking at you, Joe). You like Chipper Jones? I’ve got something you might want. You like Diamond Kings subset cards? I’m your man.

If you’re interested in my progress, see the “Buccos” tab above. I can’t guarantee this will always be 100% up to date, but I will do my best.

Now, send me some Pirates. Something between this:

1952 Topps #12 Monty Basgall
1952 Topps #12 Monty Basgall

And this:

2010 Topps #284 Ross Ohlendorf
2010 Topps #284 Ross Ohlendorf

Will I ever get them all? No. Will I ever get close? Probably not. Do I plan to enjoy the quest? You better, you better, you bet…