Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cards, Customs, Snow & A Surprise Text

Buckle in, peeps! This is a long one...

A few weeks ago, my wife had an idea - that we should consider helping serve as a woman's homeless shelter on Christmas morning. When we told my parents, they decided they wanted to come as well. We told some other friends about it too, and they met us up there too. This morning, the 8 of us set out to serve in whatever capacity we were needed. We weren't sure what to expect. This past thanksgiving, we signed up to help serve the homeless, and we volunteers ended up outnumbering the ... (volunteer-ees?) 10 to 1. Each time someone came in the door, we all had to keep ourselves from rushing to them first.

This morning was completely different. After signing about 50 Christmas cards, we were all given gifts to present to the families who were there. After that, we were instructed to "help out" in the 80 degree weather. As it turns out, they had hired a company to fill their outside play area with snow so the families could have their very own winter wonderland - Texas style. In what I thought would be a 2 1/2 hour assembly line to help feed and give gifts to the needy ended up being a 3 hour long snow ball fight with the kids. I'd definitely mark this down as the best Christmas I have ever had as an adult! It was really more about having fun with the kids....and occasionally nailing unsuspecting passers-by with snow balls.

Looks legit, doesn't it?

Well, zoom out and you get a better picture of it all. [img][/img] I thought it would be funny to get my friend to stand in line with the kids to take our pic with Santa. #worthit. [img][/img] My son even got in on the act with a snow ball fight (no, he isn't punching me in the face!) [img][/img] When I said it was time to go, dad was genuinely upset. He said it was the most fun he has had in 20 years. Playing in the snow this morning is the last thing that I thought we would be doing on Christmas, but I'm glad it happened. As always, I wish I could take credit for coming up with these selfless acts, but it wasn't me, it was my wife. She is great with this sort of thing. Oh, did I mention we also went to see Star Wars? I mean, how could we not? My son has basically been talking about it non-stop since...2013. Yeah, we dressed up to see it. All of us. [img][/img] So ... yeah. It has been a really fun end of the year so far! With all this fun stuff going on, nothing compares to what happened to me a week and a half ago. Let me try to get you in my head. It was late at night, and my wife was gone to a church function. My son is in bed and I'm alone downstairs, on the computer looking for Canseco cards on eBay that I do not yet have. Not a creature was stirring, not even ... our dogs. All you can hear is me clattering on the keyboard. Then all of a sudden ... BZZZZZZZZZZZZ ring! My phone just made a sound that it doesn't normally make. I reached over to pick it up, and I was presented with a notification: [img][/img] !!!!!!! (See the ! in the picture above? Even Twitter was surprised!) I quickly searched for ways that this could be a joke somehow, but sure enough, the private message was coming from Jose's account! Jose: Hey buddy how are u Me: Good, thanks! Jose: Great! Just wanted to say hello. How is the family? Me: Doing well, thanks. Our son just turned 13 a few months ago. I was actually in the middle of looking for one of your cards online. Remember the lego we did of him? [img][/img] Well, we also did one of Leila had sent both to them as a fun gift because we had some conversations about legos when we were at their house. [img][/img] I asked him if he received them, and he said yes, thank you and Leila kept them. We chatted for a while and ended up talking for a little bit back and forth over the course of several days. I was impressed that he didn't want anything ... he just wanted to say hi. I asked if he was interested in me doing a small project for him that involved graphic work, and some pics of him/Leila/their pets. He liked the idea, and gave me Leila's number to text her to get some pics. She mentioned she would send me pics the next day, but it never happened. Instead, Jose wrote the next day and said that Leila told him to tell me that she was sorry she hasn't been able to shoot over the pictures yet, as she has been busy with several photo shoots. It isn't as cool as hanging out with him with my family at his house, but I am still ecstatic to have some sort of contact with my childhood hero. I have curbed myself from trying to reach out too much, as I don't want to overdo it and annoy him - I truly felt like things could only go downhill from my "lottery visit" with him this past year. However once again, he and Leila were both overwhelmingly kind and polite. My inner 9 year old is jumping for joy all over again ... well then again, so is my outer 35 year old. I look forward to doing this little project for them! SOOOO ... with all that said, you might as well just click away, because nothing else I am going to say in this post is going to measure up to chatting with Jose...but I've still got more to say, so I'm going to go ahead and keep going :) I was contacted by a collector who wanted to have me do a custom booklet of Joe DiMaggio. I gotta say, I love doing some of the baseball legends. This one was particularly interesting, because it portrays the Yankee Clipper as the ... San Fransisco Seal. What a great concept! The plan was to do a quad jersey cut signature booklet. Here is what I had to work with: [img][/img] I had some concerns about the size and placement of the signature, but it was cool to see that 2 of the jersey cards had pinstripes. I don't have any problems posting pics of these Sweet Spot cards destroyed, because they are ... well ... plain. [img][/img] Upon extracting the jersey pieces, it looks like Upper Deck had actually covered up pin stripes on the other two blank jersey pieces! [img][/img] Here is the end result. The front and back: [img][/img] and the inside: [img][/img] I am very happy with how it turned out! As for the hobby we love so dearly, things have been quite active as well. Thanks to Topps releasing cards with both guns-a-blazin', I have been able to pick up some amazing cards over the past few weeks. Collectors were treated to a whirlwind of new cardboardy goodness over the past few weeks leading up to Christmas. This can be construed as a good or bad thing. Bad for collectors who may have had limited funds to pickup what they wanted due to Christmas shopping and good for collectors to give Santa a much longer wishlist. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have likely had visions of Topps Archives Signature Series & Dynasty dancing in your head. As I mentioned in my previous writing, I had hit a bit of a dry spell in terms of not finding anything I needed on eBay or anywhere else for a while. Once Archives hit, I was hooked, and hard. I picked up as many as I could find for my collection. A number of VERY low numbered cards came onto the market ... 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1/1's. As days went on, I decided I was going to be more selective of what I was going to pick up due to the sheer volume of them. (That hasn't worked too terribly well yet, but I'll let you know when it does!) The condition on some of these cards irks me a bit, but in a way, it *almost* adds to the charm of the whole buyback idea itself - the fact that these were already pulled and previously owned in other collections in the past for 1-30+ years, and re-purposed into a new card again...almost. I still don't like seeing some uber-cool buybacks having condition issues. Instead of buying anything and everything, I really have decided to cool my jets a bit. For example, the 1988 Topps Canseco is numbered to 17 or similar. Last week, a 1988 O-Pee-Chee Canseco showed up ... as a 1/1. It was off center and in rough condition. I figured I'd go ahead and pass on that one. Here is my Buyback collection so far. None of them are serial numbered higher than 23. 15 of these are serial numbered to 4 or less, with 5 of them being 1/1's: (Have any you don't see? Message me - I'm interested!) [img][/img] Here is my favorite out of the whole bunch which is a 1/1: [img][/img] Amid a flurry of emotions of pure excitement of picking up so many low numbered Canseco cards and frustration due to there being so many to chase (I have counted over 30 already), Topps dropped another bomb. Dynasty. Admittedly, I didn't pay much attention to last year's release because my guy wasn't in it, but this year was different. Though it is a completely different product than Archives, there are a few similarities. Namely, there is no complete checklist of how many variations there are, and they come from Topps in a one touch holder sealed with a sticker. Archives doesn't tempt you to break the sticker seal, though, while Dynasty almost calls you to do so. With a monster patch just begging to be pet, you would be better off sealing it off in a team bag to avoid any additional temptation to do so. This is truly a game changer for many collectors, because frankly, there are some of us player collectors who have simply not been subjected to an ultra high-end product like this before, and this is quite possibly the best that Topps has ever put out...ever. Amid a flurry of re-hashed, been-there-done-that "retro" releases in recent years, Dynasty is Topps' attempt and doing something new. In addition to going against the norm by having the players sign in black ink, they decided to use single color tones of blue, green and red instead of going the sepia route. You won't find any foil borders outlining the patch area. Instead, you will find a raised intricate design fit for high-end art framing some of the sickest patches you have ever seen. With a pearlescent finish, this release feels luxurious. Heck, even the box the card comes in looks like something you would keep. For me, the jury is still out as to whether I'm going to be chasing one of each of the (known) five parallel poses that are #/10 and #/5. As for now though, I think I've picked up some ridiculously amazing Dynasty cards. Here they are ... #/10 - the blue version features a very nice patch. There have been several that have hit eBay that seem a tad on the boring side. With lots of various color breaks, this is anything but. [img][/img] #/5 - the green version features chaos. This patch is loud, and is quite possibly my second favorite one that has ever been released. Simply put, I don't think Jose has ever had a card with a patch this crazy before ... I love it! [img][/img] #/1 - Well, except for this. The red 1/1 version actually goes a step further. [img][/img] One of the above 2 would have probably been my favorite patch card of him ever, but this one showed up. [img][/img] As a Canseco collector who spends way too much time tracking down cards I don't have and drooling over cards in other people's collections that I can't find available, this is the best patch card I've seen of his, anywhere, ever. I'm very happy to have been able to have landed it! I went back and forth with the seller, and it was a struggle until the very end, but ultimately I was the winner! I believe there are 5 1/1's for Dynasty, and they are already now all locked up in collections within about ONE WEEK of Dynasty being released. How crazy is that? So happy I was able to get what I believe to be the best one out of the bunch! A few other notable pickups recently as well... First, some odd-ball stuff. Remember the Broder cards from the 1980's? I *think* I have all of them, but some color variations (green, blue and sepia) came up for sale from a guy who has had them since 1987. I grabbed them, along with a few other players. I've never seen them before - they are cool! [img][/img] I picked up this 1/1 last month. This card has significance to me because 2013 Panini marks the first time in years that Jose was included in a regular set with a jersey card. Having the 1/1 that started it back up again is great. [img][/img] Plus, it helps that I have the others!
The most recent one however, is this beauty. A 2015 Topps Tribute Red 1/1 Canseco auto. I saw it online and bought it as quickly as I could. Unfortunately, I had someone try and get the seller to break his deal with me by offering more than what I paid. Fortunately for me, the seller stayed true to his word. It arrived a few days ago! [img][/img] It looks great with the others, too! (BTW: I need the one that is #/25 with a clean auto if you have it ... let me know!) [img][/img] While I can't promise I'll keep quiet for the rest of the year, I think that this just might be my last posting of 2015. However, with that said, I've had to eat my words before, and my own writings are proof. Like the time I sold off my entire Canseco collection at the end of 2013 which took 24 years to accumulate (mostly doubles, none worth more than $10). [img][/img] And when I said I would take those funds from the collection to see how many cool cards I could get by staying within the budget of what I got from the previous collection. Then this mostly all happened in the past year: (No doubles at all.) [img][/img] Or in 2013 when I said this: "I dreamed that one day, my Canseco collection would propel me into the pages of my most beloved magazine. That dream came to a screeching halt. Enter: AJ...After checking out his stuff, and realizing that he already had been in Beckett, I realized that I will never be magazine worthy." I thought that was very ironic ... in a good way, of course! Speaking of irony, check this out. Remember this board game that my wife and son made me in 2014? [img][/img] Take a closer look at the top picture. In my previous blog posting in June of 2014, I said "Check out the property cards – one w/me and Canseco. Yeah, he probably should not see this or he will think I’m a stalker. " [img][/img] It is important to note that this game was made nearly a year before the thought of going to his house was even going to be a possibility! Not to mention the fact that they equipped me with a handlebar moustache on the board game a year before I had one. Okay, I'll shut up now. Merry (just a tad late) Christmas everyone and Happy New Year! Thanks eversomuch for reading, as always.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Parties and Topps Archives

In the past 7 days, the mouschi family has been involved in 3 parties. 1 party for the the youth group kids here, which I had to completely miss due to some work nightmares (imagine working upstairs when a ton of kids are running around laughing and screaming...mega fun, tell you what!) The next was a birthday party at "Art Class and a Wine Glass". This was fun, because we were supposed to paint a picture with the help of a teacher: [img][/img] I decided to instead paint something a little different ... a Jose Canseco portrait! [img][/img] You didn't expect anything else from me, did you? Here is a group shot. The birthday girl is in the very front holding the painting, and her hubby is just to my left, above me. OH! I don't believe I've ever shown you before, but my wife is just to the right of me, right below the woman with the red shirt on. Beautiful, isn't she? [img][/img] Okay, maybe I'm just a *little* better at photoshop than I am at painting. My painting kept getting worse and worse after each step the teacher told us to do, so I abandoned ship and free styled it a bit. Here is the REAL original of mine, complete with flying moustache birds in the background. [img][/img] Last but not least, we had our annual christmas party with our friends. This year's theme was Ugly Christmas sweaters. Mrs. Mouschi has been wanting to do one of these for quite a while. I didn't want to shell out $50 for an AWESOME sweater like this: [img][/img] So I opted for a "sweatershirt" for $13: [img][/img] That's my son's actually, but I had one similar for the party that was red. It has been a pretty hectic / fun week. So where does baseball card collecting fit into all of this? Well, it doesn't ... err ... at least, it didn't until a few days ago. I had hit a bit of a lull. Click, refresh. Click, refresh. Nothing. I would check eBay several times, and there would be absolutely nothing that I didn't already have. Then, one night before dinner, the final supreme styling autograph #/15 that I didn't have came up, so I grabbed it. Cool! The next day, a Panini autograph #/10 popped up which I had just missed out on a month before, so I grabbed it. I had a little bit of a streak going! The next day, a 2014 Archives SP (unnumbered white border) autograph came up for bidding. I had let it slip through my fingers a few weeks before, and I was happy that another one had popped up again, as they don't show up too often. Then, the floodgates opened. At the end of the workday, I checked eBay and saw this for sale. I had absolutely no idea what the heck it was, but I knew I wanted it. After doing some research, it turned out that it is from 2015 Topps Archives ... it is an unchecklisted buyback serial numbered autograph! None of the buybacks are checklisted for some reason, but when I got it, I was mega hyped. And then another popped up. [img] And another ... and another and ... They just kept coming! Over the past 3 days or so, it has been raining buyback cards on eBay. I have also had a ton of people online alerting me to new cards they have heard about on the forums, twitter, facebook, etc. (BTW a BIG thank you to all of you who have sent me leads - I really appreciate that!) Thanks to you all, and living on eBay over the past 72 hours, I've been able to amass a nice little buyback collection ... [img][/img] Plus, I'm sure there are several more to come! A few people told me I was going to enjoy this product, and I've gotta say - they were right! At the onset, what exactly are these? They are simply old 25 cent cards that have been signed, serial numbered, foil stamped, slabbed and sealed. It is nothing new really, but there is something that appeals to me so much about these cards. They aren't all perfectly mint ... some of these have no doubt been enjoyed in other people's collections for decades before being made new again. So why do I love these so much? I think I've figured it out. Topps has taken the cards that are literally a part of my childhood and have magically given them a premium feel with a very low serial number (the highest Jose serial I've seen is /23 so far) and had the big man himself sign them on card. It is like the perfect product match for the my childhood and my adulthood ... and there are so many to choose from. The 1/1's are great for sure! But I think one of the more enjoyable things about this release is the KMart cards (and other oddball boxed sets.) [img][/img] Who saw that one coming? When 2015 wraps up, baseball card collectors will have had between 40 and 50 releases of different cards, which sounds ridiculous (and maybe it is.) Topps Archives is definitely my favorite, and by a long shot. I mentioned this in a previous post before, but I'll say it again - I laugh when I think about the old collectors who left the hobby back in the early 90's citing the reason they left was because there were getting to be too many releases. Once again, thank you to everyone who have helped me with my collection by pointing all of the Canseco cards that have been for sale. Please keep 'em coming! There are still several that I don't yet have.

Friday, December 11, 2015

What is YOUR Favorite Product Release of 2015?

I think there have been between 40-50 different releases this year. I laugh about all the people people who cited the reason they left the hobby int he early 90's because the # of releases got out of hand :)

So what is your favorite release so far? There are STILL about 6 products to be released in the next 20 days before '16, but I'm curious to see what YOUR favorite(s) have been so far.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Therapy

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The past several months of work have been particularly frustrating.  From server issues, to programmer problems, to hackers, and more.  I'm thankful I have baseball cards and writing as an outlet to relieve the stress.  My wife, on the other hand, had other ideas this week. She decided that she wanted to go to the gun range.  With as much as I don't want to admit it, I've never fired a gun before, so we opted to take an hour lesson to get a handle on shooting and gun safety before buying one.  Our instructor looked and sounded like a bad guy from a James Bond movie, which made things interesting.  The hour lesson ended up being closer to two. He spent a lot of time with my wife, and was a little too "friendly" with her for my tastes.  I started thinking to myself "is he being too comfortable with her?"  Before I had a chance to consider telling him to back off a bit, it was my turn to shoot. BULLS EYE, BABY!  Wait ... what.... what is this strange sensation I am feeling behind me ... Wait ... uhmmmm ... excuse me Mr. Handy McHands ... I shot *perfectly* ... surely I don't need any hands on help with this?  Ack!  What ... what are you doing, dude? Needless to say, I don't think we'll be going over there anymore.  #YIKES.  I guess at least it got my mind off of work issues. A friend of mine who is the batting practice pitcher for Canseco wanted me to do a card of him for his collection of Jose playing for Pittsburg.  I bet you didn't know he played for Pittsburg, did you?  The Pittsburg Diamonds, that is!  Yes, I'm blessed to have a favorite player who has played on several minor league teams post MLB career, and no I didn't spell Pittsburg wrong. This has inspired me to do a custom Post MLB Minor League set of Canseco at some point - stay tuned! I was also sent this cut auto to do something cool with... Cool Papa Bell!  Here is what I came up with .... Staying in the same design, I decided to knock out a few customs for my own collection using some of the autographs in my pile of TTM/IP signatures I've acquired over the past year or so. Should I pick John Goodman, Ronda Rousey, James Earl Jones or Henry Winkler? After doing the artwork for a Babe Ruth cut signature a while ago, the person I did it for ended up giving me this for free ... I figured why the heck not?  So, I whipped up a cut auto of Stan the Man Musial and Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey ... she even personalized it to me: As you may know, I'm a big fan of obscure cards / variations from the 80's & 90's.  One thing that has piqued my interest in recent days are the 1998 Select cards.  I sure wish they never went bankrupt, because they came out with some gorgeous prototype cards.  Only a select few players were actually made, and they were set in a five-tier "Quasar" system.  One Star, Two Star, Three Star, Four star and Five Star (the bonus one). These looked great to me, but Canseco didn't make it in the set.  Oh yeah, and neither did Chuck Norris. Did you know that Chuck Norris was in all six of the Star Wars episodes?  He played "The Force". There used to be a street named after Chuck Norris, but it was changed because nobody crosses Chuck Norris and lives. Chuck Norris has a bear skin rug in his front room ...its not dead it just doesn't dare move. Death once had a near-Chuck experience. Ok, I'll stop.  (We love us some Chuck Norris facts around here!) I decided to do one of Jose as well ... (Chuck Norris doesn't turn the lights on, he turns the dark out.) Instead of just doing one of the Quasar designs, I figured, what the heck?!  Let's do ALL of them. (When Chuck Norris enters into a courtroom, the judge stands up.) I love how the art work looks, but let's be honest - we are all card collectors here.  They aren't really collectible until they are actual cards. and another view... Here are the backs of them ... btw ... did you know Chuck Norris once drowned a fish underwater?  Just checking. So, that's all I got for this episode of mouschi weekly.  Thanks for reading!  Always remember:  Aliens DO exist.  They just choose not to visit earth because they know Chuck Norris lives here.