2016 Biggest Pulls

End of the Line?

2016 will go down as they year when I just couldn’t take it anymore. Ever-diminishing returns (even with the annual Kris Bryant autograph) already had me cutting back on hobby boxes. The proliferation of the same things in every product and the lack of anything new (Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz autographs in everything and no new prospect autographs until December) certainly gave me plenty of reasons to pass even on old favorites. And with the focus on the high end more than ever ($22,000 for one box?), nothing new was drawing my interest. And that’s just on the input side of the equation.

On the output side, rising postage rates and eBay fees (and new requirements pushing Top Rated Seller status beyond the reach of most mere mortals) made the prospect of selling unwanted cards something to dread. Why pay for a box that guarantees a hit when the hit will either be worthless or require dealing with eBay? I listed 12 items in 2016. 6 sold. And one of those got sent back, despite my listings clearly stating that returns are not accepted. That was the last straw.

I’ve had plenty of problems with eBay as a buyer and a seller before. No matter which side I was on, eBay always seemed to come out against me. They just haven’t been so blatant about it until now. It all started with a Kyle Schwarber blue parallel RC from 2016 Bowman. It has a slight ding on the corner, which is clearly visible in the scan from the listing. It sold for $7.50. Not much for such a big name, but I was glad it was going to a good home. After everyone’s cut, I got about $6 out of it.

But then the buyer wanted a return. It was defective! Sure, he saw the ding in the scan, but he thought it was just a “scanner artifact.” It is typical, he says, for all cards listed on eBay to be in near mint condition unless stated otherwise (which is absolutely not the case). My listing was obviously inaccurate and deceptive (the listing made no claim except that the card was in the condition shown, which the buyer admitted was true). So now he wanted a full refund plus return shipping. I offered a partial refund as a gesture of good faith. Hell, I would have given him the whole $6 I got from the sale. But he would accept nothing less than a full refund because he wasn’t fully satisfied. And eBay sided with him even though his own complaint admitted that his “item not as described” claim was fraudulent. Huh?

The official response from eBay was that they automatically find in favor of the buyer because they have no reason to dispute their claims. Even when the buyer’s own words contradict the claim being made. As for return shipping, eBay forces sellers to pay for return shipping as a punishment for not offering returns. You see, if you offer returns, the buyer pays. But if you don’t, the seller pays. The return still happens either way. And if you have a problem with that, your only recourse is to report the buyer, which is about as effective as pissing into the wind. I was shocked that eBay would actually admit that they rigged the system against sellers, but the actual rigging was to be expected – eBay has been waging a war against small sellers for a long time, after all.

So now I’m out $3.30 on a card that I didn’t even want in the first place and only sold because I figured that maybe someone out there actually did want it. I was wrong. Knowing that, regardless of what you say in your listings, no sale is ever final on eBay has soured me to the whole thing as a seller. And without selling, the appeal of buying unopened product is diminished. So that leaves this whole exercise in a very strange place. Did anything good come out of 2016? Kind of, but not in the usual way

1. 2016 Bowman Chrome Mike Gerber Gold Refractor Autograph 20/50
$30.00 (2017 sale)

As if my eBay frustrations weren’t enough in 2016, Topps threw a wrench in the works with 2016 Bowman Chrome. Rather than just doing the usual base set that is largely unrelated to the base Bowman set, they did that and also had a second base chrome set that was a partial parallel of the 2016 Bowman base set, offered exclusively in “vending boxes,” whatever that means (and no, they aren’t anything like the vending boxes of old). Both base sets featured largely the same players and offered no way to distinguish which set the cards were from. It was photo variations taken to an even more incomprehensible extreme. And so, after largely avoiding 2016 Bowman Chrome (possibly why I didn’t pull any big cards…), I bought a 2016 Bowman Chrome vending box on a whim. And to find out just what a “vending box” was (it is basically a smaller upright jumbo box with four guaranteed autographs). The Gerber was the best card of the box and the only one I would eventually try to sell. It was also the best card I pulled from a pack in 2016.

2. 2016 Topps National Baseball Card Day Stephen Piscotty Autograph A-SP 020/160
$22.00 (Twitter sale)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything decent come out of hobby shop promo packs. Topps started up National Baseball Card Day in 2016 and offered free (with purchase) packs to customers. The first thing I saw when I opened up my first pack was “CONGRATULATIONS! You have received a National Baseball Card Day Autograph.” Was it Jacob deGrom? Please be Jacob deGrom… No, it was Stephen Piscotty, my second Piscotty autograph of the year. Amazingly, there was interest on Twitter and I quickly negotiated a price of $22 shipped. Without eBay taking a cut, that’s roughly comparable to an auction sale price without shipping, so we’ll go with that. Best of all, even after shipping and fees, that was more than enough to get the deGrom. So at least this story had a happy ending.

3. 2016 Bowman Lucius Fox Purple Refractor Autograph 235/250 $20.53

Getting a $20 card out of a Bowman hobby box isn’t bad. But this was my biggest eBay sale in all of 2016 and one of only three $20 or better cards I pulled from a pack in the entire year. That’s bad.

4. 2016 Topps Archives Dwight Gooden Blue Border Autograph 087/199
$20.00 (Estimated)

It was a disappointing year for Mets autographs in Archives, which consisted of just Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. Still, Crackin’ Wax came through with this blue parallel Gooden in their 2016 Topps Archives case break.

5. 2016 Panini Elite Extra Edition Cole Stobbe Future Threads Silhouette Autograph Emerald FTSA-CS 06/10

I closed out the end of the year with a box of EEE and pulled my requisite Phillies autographs, both of Cole Stobbe (Aaron Nola, my usual Phillies nemesis, was not in this product). One of these autographs was this amazing autographed patch card with a huge piece of chain-stitched patch. Well, it would be amazing if it were game-used instead of player-worn. It’s still a great looking card, but it’s not really worth anything. So I guess I’ll hang on to it a while longer.

Best of the Mets

After that, there was nothing else worth more than $10. But between packs and breaks, I did manage to pick up a few nice Mets cards. Nothing earth-shattering, but they are nice cards. Takes a bit of the sting out of the year, I guess.

No Good Deed…

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t you say something about an annual Kris Bryant autograph?” Indeed, I did. And indeed, I have acquired one Kris Bryant autograph each year for the last three years. But 2016’s Bryant came in an unusual way – by donating to charity.

0. 2015 Panini Immaculate Collection Multi Sport Kris Bryant Autograph 263 24/99
$89.34 (2017 sale)

Well, not quite. Technically, it did come from donations to charity. But those donations also acted as entries into the 2016 Crackin’ Wax Allen & Ginter Charity Prize Pack raffle. That prize pack was woefully short on Mets cards, but it did have the aforementioned Bryant (which I sold only after I pulled my 2017 Bryant), $50 in eBay gift cards, several decent hits, unopened packs and boxes, and a while lot more. I was in a slump and saw an opportunity to turn things around; for the price of an expensive break slot, the odds of winning were better than the odds of getting your money’s worth out of a break. And the proceeds went to charity. So I made a flurry of donations in the last few minutes. In the end, victory was mine.

Inside the big box that arrived a few days later were loads of cards: autographs, memorabilia, manufactured material, jumbo cards, Rookie Cards, packs, boxes, you name it. Also a Cubs tie, a Peanuts tote bag and book, eBay gift cards, and even an iPhone cable!

Scratch that, it was only more cards inside, no cable. The biggest hits were the Bryant, an Anthony Rizzo autograph, a John Smoltz autograph, and a Sandy Koufax manufactured ring card. That easily topped my entire year. A year later, it’s time to do it again, only in reverse.

The Package

As soon as I won, I knew I needed to donate big time the next year. I could just take whatever I didn’t want and send that back, but that’s not exactly very generous. I sure had plenty of cards accumulating over the years from unwanted hits and accidental duplicates, but it would take a while to come up with something suitable. Good thing I had plenty of time. 11 months later, it was time to get started. So much for time… Over about two weeks, it all came together. Some packs. A set. And an amazin’ assortment of anything and everything Mets. I might have gone a bit overboard there. But, damn it, I wanted this to be good. In the end, a 5 pound package left my house bound for a lucky winner yet to be revealed.


2017 Bowman 100-Card Base Set
– Includes Aaron Judge Rookie Card!
2016 Topps Heritage 20-card Rack Pack Lot of 3
Lot of 72 Different Mets Bowman Chrome Prospects
– Just about every one from 2012 to the present. Also includes a Tyler Pill from 2011 because there was room for one more.
2016 Topps Now Bartolo Colon Lot of 5
– Includes 2016 Topps Now cards 46, 57, 315, 360, and 396. Bartolo Colon’s first home run! His first walk! His first multi-hit game! And some stuff about his pitching, I guess.

Mets Base Cards and Inserts

2017 Leaf Best of Baseball Tim Tebow Acetate 21
– Not the Tebow card everyone is paying big money for, but it’s still a Tim Tebow baseball card.
2015 Bowman Chrome Lucas Duda Gold Refractor 12 35/50
2017 Bowman Thomas Szapucki Gold Parallel BP138 37/50
2016 Topps Triple Threads Noah Syndergaard Amber Parallel 35 071/150
2012 Topps Golden Giveaway Johan Santana Golden Moments Die Cut GMDC-46
2012 Bowman David Wright Orange Parallel 86 181/250
2001 Topps Series 1 Mike Hampton NLCS Highlights Gold Parallel 404 0904/2001
2001 UD Prospect Premieres David Wright 52
– David Wright’s first professional card from the set that caused the reintroduction of the XRC designation.
2016 Topps Museum Collection Noah Syndergaard Canvas Collection Reprint CC-7
2016 Topps Museum Collection Mike Piazza Canvas Collection Reprint CC-22
2016 Topps Museum Collection Matt Harvey Canvas Collection Reprint CC-24

Mets Game-Used Memorabilia

1997 Upper Deck Rey Ordonez Game Jersey GJ3
– One of the first memorabilia cards ever made and the first Mets jersey card.
2017 Panini Diamond Kings Dwight Gooden Studio Portraits Materials SPM-DG 08/99
– Yes, that’s a green pinstripe.
2017 Topps Series 2 David Wright Major League Material Relic MLM-DW
2016 Topps Triple Threads Kevin Plawecki Triple Threads Relic TTR-KP1 11/36
2016 Topps Heritage Steven Matz Clubhouse Collection Relic CCR-SMAT
2017 Topps Heritage Yoenis Cespedes Clubhouse Collection Relic CCR-YC
2016 Topps Museum Collection Mike Piazza Primary Pieces Quad Relic Copper Parallel PPQR-MP 48/75
2016 Topps Museum Collection Wilmer Flores Meaningful Material Prime Relic MMPR-WF 20/50
2002 SPX Jeromy Burnitz / Edgardo Alfonzo Winning Materials Combo Jerseys WM-BA
2002 SPX Al Leiter / Mike Hampton Winning Materials Combo Jerseys WM-LH
– The Alfonzo and Leiter Swatches are from their 2000 All-Star workout jerseys.
2007 Topps Update Carlos Beltran All-Star Game Stitches AS-CB
– As the name implies, the jersey swatch is from Beltran’s 2007 All-Star workout jersey.
2011 Topps Series 1 Howard Johnson Topps 60 Relic T60R-HJ
– The only holdover from last year’s prize pack and one of very few Howard Johnson memorabilia cards.
2003 Donruss Classics Rickey Henderson Dress Code DC-30 053/250
– Includes a swatch from the underside of a hat brim.
2003 Flair Greats Gary Carter Cut of History
– A prime variant from before such pieces were labeled prime jerseys.

Mets Autographs

2002 Sweet Spot Classics Keith Hernandez Classic Signatures S-KH
2002 Donruss Originals Lenny Dykstra Recollection Collection 1986 Donruss Buyback Autograph 482 35/40
– His Donruss rookie card.
2005 UD Past Time Pennants Ray Knight Past Time Signatures KN
2004 Donruss Timelines Howard Johnson Recollection Collection 1990 Donruss Buyback Autograph 654 18/28
– This was likely issued damaged.
2005 UD Legendary Cuts Sid Fernandez Legendary Lineage Autographed Jersey Gold LE-SF 09/10
2017 Topps Archives Joe McEwing Fan Favorites Autograph FFA-JMC
2017 Topps Archives Turk Wendell Fan Favorites Autograph FFA-TWE
2001 Bowman’s Best Ty Wigginton Exclusive Autograph BBEA-TW
2017 Topps Gypsy Queen Logan Verrett Gypsy Queen Autograph GQA-LV
2015 Topps Chrome Dilson Herrera Autograph Rookie AR-DH
2015 Topps Update Eric Campbell Career High Autograph CHA-EC
2012 Bowman Jordany Valdespin Retail Paper Autograph BPA-JV
2014 Bowman Inception Noah Syndergaard Autographed Relic AR-NS
– The jersey swatch is from the 2013 Futures Game at Citi Field.
2015 Bowman’s Best Steven Matz Best of 2015 Autograph B15-SMA
2015 Stadium Club Zack Wheeler Stadium Club Autograph SCA-ZW
2012 Bowman Sterling Kevin Plawecki Bowman Sterling Autograph Prospect BSAP-KP
2014 Topps Update Rafael Montero Trajectory Autograph TA-RM
2013 Topps Chrome Jeurys Familia Autograph Rookie 59
2012 Panini Prizm Lucas Duda Autograph LD
2013 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks Dominic Smith Blue Prizm Autograph 11 01/75
2012 Panini Elite Extra Edition Logan Taylor Franchise Futures Autograph 74 082/712
2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition Luis Mateo Franchise Futures Autograph 92 193/799
2013 Bowman Sterling Andrew Church Bowman Sterling Autograph Prospect BSAP-AC
2014 Bowman Chris Flexen Bowman Chrome Autograph Prospect BCAP-CF
2015 Bowman Marcos Molina Bowman Chrome Autograph Prospect BCAP-MM
2017 Bowman Luis Carpio Chrome Prospect Autograph CPA-LCA
2015 Bowman Chrome Milton Ramos Bowman Chrome Autograph Prospect BCAP-MRA
2015 Bowman Chrome Akeel Morris Bowman Chrome Autograph Prospect Refractor BCAP-AM 464/499

Mets Manufactured Material

2015 Topps Update Carlos Gomez First Home Run Medallion FHR-11
2016 Topps Series 1 Matt Harvey MLB Debut Medallion MDR-MH
2014 Topps Series 1 Matt Harvey Rookie Card Manufactured Patch RCP-18
2014 Topps Series 2 David Wright Manufactured Commemorative Mr. Met Logo Patch CP-40

Non-Mets Cards

2017 Topps Series 1 Bryce Harper Jackie Robinson Day Patch JRPC-BH
2014 Topps Series 1 Stephen Strasburg Manufactured Commemorative Logo Patch CP-15
2016 Topps Series 2 Wade Boggs MLB Debut Medallion MLBD2M-3
2015 Topps Heritage High Number Chris Sale Clubhouse Collection Relic CCR-CS
– Not cut by Sale himself.
2013 Panini USA Baseball Champions Gerrit Cole Game Gear 48
2007 SP Authentic Josh Willingham By the Letter Signatures ‘F’ BL-49 21/50
– Change up the KEEP CRACKIN THAT WAX sign with this letter patch. Now you can KEEP WRACKIN THAT FAX or KEEP FRACKIN THAT WAC. KEEP THWACKIN CARFAX?

One More Thing…

3 years ago, I had my best autograph haul at a minor league game. 2017 All-Star Michael Conforto headlined the group (on an official NYPL ball no less), but the other notable names included Amed Rosario, a promising prospect at the time and currently one of the top prospects in baseball, on the verge of making his MLB debut whenever the Mets decide that they’re willing to start his service time clock. So probably next year…

Last year, I got another Amed Rosario autograph, this time on an official Eastern League ball. That left me with an extra Rosario ball. I don’t sell the autographs I get at games, so I guess I just have to give it away. That ball rounds out my prize pack donation for 2017. What will I come up with for 2018? Let’s just say that I know of a few closets with assorted oddities that I haven’t figured out what to do with.

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