Collectors have an increased presence the second time around
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since a bunch of bloggers and fans did what the Mets wouldn’t do – put on a fanfest to brighten up the dark days of winter. The 2014 Queens Baseball Convention was a huge success, so of course there were high hopes for a follow-up. That came on a cold and icy Saturday at City Field. Well, in the bar around back at least. Lessons were learned from last year and things ran more smoothly. But with so much going on, there was a lot to miss. Many questions remain about what will come next, but it is a near certainty that this event will continue in 2016 and beyond.
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Contains more Mike Piazza than the Hall of Fame
When we last checked in with Topps revivals of decades past, we saw the unenthusiastic return of Stadium Club. With a generic format, terrible photography, and no standout cards, it looked like Topps had pushed the modern-retro thing just a bit too far. After all, the Major League cards in Archives were a huge hit, Gold Label returned in a classy, though limited, form, and Finest had one of its best designs in more than 20 years. Stadium Club seemed to show that Topps was out of ideas, but they didn’t stop there. Topps dug back into the turn of the century well for one of its shortest-lived but fondest-remembered experiments: Tek.
Topps Tek ran from just 1998 to 2000. In a departure from cardboard, Tek is an all-acetate product. Plastic cards? It’s an interesting novelty, but it wouldn’t last. The product’s unique hook was that each player is featured on a variety of different patterned backgrounds. The 1998 version, which featured John Olerud and Mike Piazza as Mets, had 90 different patterns for each player. The 1999 version (with Piazza), cut that to 30 but had two photograph variants for each player. 2000 (again Piazza) narrowed the checklist even more with just 20 different patterns, five each with four different photographs, the last five being colored pattern short prints. Tek was tailor-made for player collectors and made base cards relevant again.
And then it was gone. The rise of autographs and memorabilia and the eventual emergence of parallels pushed quirky concepts like Tek aside. Those player sets were fun to chase but almost impossible to finish. Tek was a journey. 14 years later, the journey begins anew.
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The hobby of diminishing returns
Welcome to 2015. With Topps and Panini going down to the wire with their 2014 product releases, it will take at least another couple of weeks to finish off all of the year in review pieces here. With any luck, we’ll have the Best Mets Cards of 2014 post up this weekend. But before we get to that, let’s look at how my luck fared with packs in 2014. Spoiler: it was crap.
My spending was down in 2014, with just under $3,000 going toward unopened 2014 product. That yielded just $540 in eBay sales, though, for a variety of reasons, I ended up not selling quite a few of the biggest hits. Meanwhile, even the lesser hits were tough sells; cards that would have sold for $20 or more a year or two ago were lucky to go for $10 this year. Part of the problem is overproduction. Topps in particular has been pushing out more products with more parallels than ever before (and somehow without featuring more players). This results in a glut of low-numbered parallels of star players. That’s great for collectors who buy singles, not so good for sellers. If a Jose Altuve parallel numbered to 35 isn’t going to sell for more than $1, I might as well hang on to it. And so now I have piles of 2014 hits that can’t find good homes.
Of course, even the cards that did sell didn’t always sell. Out of 130 sales on eBay this year, three resulted in non-paying bidders. We’re not talking about junk cards either, these were big names: Clayton Kershaw, Kris Bryant, and Robin Yount. All of these cards went relatively cheap compared to other listings, but all three went unpaid. This seems to be an increasing problem as eBay has become more and more biased against sellers, bending over backwards to placate buyers while making selling more of a hassle. With Check Out My Cards getting into auctions, it should be interesting to see how eBay fares in the sports card market. We could see a tipping point in the next few years.
But enough doom and gloom, let’s get to the pretty cards.
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Duda doing all the things that Duda does
Another year, another batch of GIFs to entertain, amaze, and confuse. 2014 had a lot of highs and lows. And a lot of Lucas Duda. But before we got to the Mets’ first base conundrum turned revelation, let’s check in on the minors. This year, I experimented with GIFs from original video content shot at minor league games. I’ve already covered the 2014 Binghamton Mets in GIFs, so let’s start with the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Marcos Molina rocketed up the prospect lists in 2014, going from a relative unknown to one of the hottest pitching prospects in a system filled with them. Here he is on what must have been an off day for him. He still pitched well, but it wasn’t anything worth raving about.
One of the other big names in Brooklyn was Michael Conforto. Taken tenth overall in the 2014 draft, Conforto came with high expectations. He started his professional career off with an impressive hitting streak, which he is shown here extending. If he keeps this up, he could make it to the majors very quickly.
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The strange and wonderful things that have come out of my packs in three decades
As I’ve mentioned before, this all began exactly 30 years ago with an uncut sheet of 1984 Topps. From there, things have kind of snowballed into everything you see here and a whole lot more that’s waiting for a turn in the scanner. Those stacks of cards are filled with rookies, stars, nobodies, and Hall of Famers. But through all of it, one thing has remained constant – you never know what is going to come out of a pack of cards. Usually it’s nothing. Sometimes, it’s the card you were hoping for. And every once in a while, well, you’re not really sure what it is. And that’s what we’re looking back on tonight.
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Something old, something new, something orange, and something, um, black?
Part of the Donruss legacy from the Playoff years was innovation and diversity in memorabilia. To date though, Panini has been a bit inconsistent in its memorabilia releases. This fall, Panini brought the Immaculate Collection brand to baseball and brought with it some of what made Playoff/Donruss great. It also brought some of what has become controversial in the hobby and, until now, has been largely unseen in baseball products.
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