Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reader's recommendation, and some box busting

Thanks to TGC reader Big Anthony for recommending Triple Cards in Plano to me.  About a month ago, I wrote about visits to Nick's in North Dallas and Duane's in Arlington, and he left a comment saying to check out Triple Cards if I'm ever out in Plano.

Two weeks ago I made my first trip out there.  I didn't want to post a full review since honestly, I was a tad overwhelmed.  This place has EVERYTHING.  I went in pretty unprepared with just a basic list of players I needed.  Most card stores I've been to lately don't have a huge inventory of current commons.  Duane's is good on that, don't get me wrong, but Triple even blows them out of the water.  An entire wall plus of shelves with boxes, all sorted by sport, brand, year, and set, all in numerical order.  The first trip in, I just went through some Topps Heritage stuff, followed by a quick peek through their discounted autos and GU cards, and a purchase of one of their mystery envelopes, and I left $10 lighter in the wallet, but knowing where I needed to start shopping.

I headed out there again today.  I skipped out on the FC Dallas game that I was thinking about going to, but it netted me time with my wife and her mom who came down from Wichita Falls for the day, a visit to the card store, to Stonebriar Mall, and dinner and quality time with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend.  They live over in Allen, and while Arlington to Allen is closer than Wichita Falls to Allen, I still don't get to see them as often as I'd like to.  We hit up Quaker Steak and Lube (my and my wife's favorite restaurant) and got some ideas planned out for my wife's birthday in September.

This time I came prepared for the visit to Triple.  I went through SportLots last night with a list of players I needed, and scratched out a list of five cards of each player.  I needed three of most of them, so listing five would give me three plus two backups in case they were lacking one or two.

All in all, I picked up 64 cards for hounding over the next few weeks (mostly Reds, Astros, and Mariners, as well as a few Rangers Alumni and celebrity baseball game players), another mystery envelope (this time GU of Charlie Ward and Latrell Sprewell; not a basketball fan, but still nice, and better than the one I got last time with an auto of a guy who never got past AA ball due to injuries), and also a box of 2002 Upper Deck Vintage baseball.

I loved UD's 2001-02 and 2002-03 Vintage hockey sets, do I figured I'd try my hand at a baseball box.  The cards are very similar to (read: a direct ripoff from) the 1971 Topps baseball set, which has the classic black-bordered design that looks more like the cover of an album released on the Stax label.  I almost expect the cards to feature a bonus track by the Staples Singers.

The card backs are a putrid yellow color, similar to what I puked up along I-70 a little over a year ago when afflicted by a stomach bug on the drive from Wichita Falls to Cleveland. Related: I hope you aren't eating while reading this.

So now, I'm going to borrow a page from a number of card-blogs and go through pack by pack and tell what I got.  Boy howdy readers, you're in for a treat now!

24 packs, 10 cards per pack.  The box has them arranged in three stacks of 8 packs each.  I'll start with the leftmost pile and work down through it, then the center, then the right.

PACK THE FIRST: Todd Helton, Trevor Hoffman, Fernando Tatis, Barry Zito, Todd Ritchie, Mike Piazza, Paul LoDuca, A's Checklist, Derek Jeter Postseason scrapbook, Phillies Rookies (Nick Punto and Carlos Silva)

PACK 2: Jim Edmonds, Tino Martinez, Jeff Weaver, Tony Batista, Geoff Jenkins, Jon Garland, Carl Everett, Yankees Rookies (Nick Johnson and Erick Almonte), Angels Rookies (Wilmy Caceres and Elpidio Guzman-- no, I don't know who they are either), Tino Martinez Postseason Scrapbook

PACK 3: Eric Chavez, Bobby Abreu, Jason Schmidt, Brian Giles, Brad Penny, Mark Grace, 2001 NL Batting Average Leaders, Cardinals Checklist, Indians Checklist, Derek Jeter Postseason Scrapbook

PACK 4: Rondell White, Richard Hidalgo, Joe Mays, Marcus Giles, Frank Thomas, Nomar Garciaparra, 2001 AL Batting Average Leaders, Cardinals Rookies (Bill Ortega and Luis Saturia), Indians Rookies (Ryan Drese and Roy Smith), Nomar Garciaparra Sandlot Stars insert.

Through four packs, nothing super-impressive.  One insert (Sandlot Stars are 1:11 and not very distinct from the base set), two Indians-- two rookies who never amounted to much and a team checklist, and not a whole lot I can get signed either TTM or IP.  Oh well, it's fun to bust at least.

About a year ago, I finished a project that I considered making into a book.  Starting as articles at SCF, I ranked the Topps baseball base sets in order from worst to best in the years of 1952 through 2011.  I actually have a full book done in PDF form with photos and everything, but now that I work for Panini, I figure it would be wise just to shelve the thing.  Topps is one of our big rivals, of course.  But in that book, I railed against the use of "Rookie Stars" or "Future Stars" labels on cards because, really now, how many of those guys were actually Stars at any point?  While Future Serviceable Major Leaguers or Future Fungal Fellows doesn't sound as good, those titles would have been more accurate.  Thankfully, the dual rookies' cards in this set have nothing regarding any sort of present or future aspirations of stardom.

Back to the packs...

PACK 5: Robb Nen, Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, Lee Stevens, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Bagwell, Brewers Rookies (Josh Mieses and Alex Sanchez), Devil Rays Rookies (Dewon Brazelton and Delvin James), Randy Johnson Postseason Scrapbook, Reds Rookies (David Espinoza and Dane Sardinha

PACK 6: Cristian Guzman, Rafael Palmeiro, Ben Grieve (I can get this signed next week!), Tony Clark, Jason Johnson (I could have gotten this signed on Thursday!), Raul Mondesi, Mike Hampton, Braves Rookies (Wilson Betemit and Horacio Ramirez-- might be able to get Betemit in mid-July when the Orioles come), Blue Jays Rookies (Brandon Lyon and Vernon Wells), Luis Gonzalez Postseason Scrapbook

PACK 7: Brandon Duckworth, John VanderWal, Luis Gonzalez, Greg Maddux, Phil Nevin, Orlando Cabrera, Bud Smith, 2001 NL Steroid Users... err, Home Run Leaders, Cubs Checklist, Mariners Checklist

PACK 8: Eric Milton, Gabe Kapler, Toby Hall, Mike Mussina, Jose Lima, Jeff Conine, Alfonso Soriano Postseason Scrapbook, Pirates Checklist, Astros Checklist, Manny Ramirez Night Gamers insert (also 1:11 packs and rather nondescript)

On to the center group...

PACK 9: Devin White (He was a Brewer? Huh, okay), Ray Durham, Hideo Nomo, Russell Branyan, Mark Quinn, John Olerud, Mark Mulder, Darryl Kile, Jim Thome Postseason Scrapbook, Marlins Rookies (Abraham Nunez and Josh Beckett)

Two Indians in that pack.  So I probably won't see another one the rest of the way.

PACK 10: Garret Anderson, Pat Burrell, Preston Wilson, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgardo Alfonso, Shawn Green, Tigers Rookies (Pedro Santana and Mike Rivera), Mike Mussina Postseason Scrapbook, Phillies Checklist, Yankees Checklist

PACK 11: Matt Williams, Brian Jordan, Brad Radke, Jimmy Haynes, Derek Jeter, Mike Sweeney, Edgar Martinez, Angels Checklist, Andruw Jones Postseason Scrapbook, Mets Rookies (Alex Escobar and Jae Weong Seo)

Alex Escobar.  What a bust for the Indians.  There's a trade I think both the Tribe and Mets would love to take back.  Alomar, after hitting a career-best .336 the year before, hit .265 with the Mets in a season and a half.  Escobar shredded his knee in Spring Training, then hit .235 in only 74 games with the Tribe.  Of everyone involved, only Matt Lawton was worth anything after the trade-- weird to say that about a guy who hit .236, .249, and .277 with the Indians, the last season culminating in an All-Star nod.  After bouncing between three teams in 2005, Lawton picked up a PED suspension.  Ask for a refund Matty, they didn't work.

PACK 12: Frank Catalanotto, Aubrey Huff, Robert Person, Troy Percival, Juan Pierre, Mark Kotsay, Twins Rookies (Adam Johnson and Juan Rincon), Curt Schilling Postseason Scrapbook, Rockies Rookies (Jason Jennings and Luke Hudson), Ichiro A Day At The Park insert (1:23 packs, also pretty nondescript)

PACK 13: Larry Walker, Brian Lawrence, Tony Armas Jr., Juan Uribe, Bubba Trammell, Barry Bonds, Eric Young, Twins Checklist, Curt Schilling Postseason Scrapbook, 2001 AL PED Abusers... err, Home Run Leaders

PACK 14: Jon Lieber, Wade Miller, Damion Easley, Jay Gibbons, Lance Berkman, Bobby Higginson, Chris Richard, Cubs Rookies (Juan Cruz and Mark Prior), Mariners Rookies (Rafael Soriano and Dennis Stark), Andruw Jones

PACK 15: Chris Carpenter, Jim Thome, Ramon Ortiz, Jose Cruz Jr., Aaron Boone, Robin Ventura, Jorge Posada Postseason Scrapbook, Giants Checklist, Royals Checklist, Tom Glavine Postseason Scrapbook

PACK 16: Rob Mackowiak, Al Leiter, Chan Ho Park, Kevin Brown, Mark McGwire, Paul O'Neill, Reds Checklist, Braves Checklist, Blue Jays Checklist, Mark McGwire Sandlot Stars insert

And finally as midnight passes, the rightmost pile...

PACK 17: Reggie Sanders, Rafael Furcal, Mark Buehrle, Mike Cameron, Tim Hudson, Dmitri Young, Pirates Rookies (John Grabow and Humberto Cota), Astros Rookies (Tim Redding and Morgan Ensberg), A's Rookies (Oscar Salazar and Juan Pena), Troy Glaus

PACK 18: Trot Nixon, Juan Gonzalez, Aramis Ramirez, Jay Payton, 2001 AL Wins Leaders, Diamondbacks Rookies (Alex Cintron and Jack Cust), Orioles Rookies (Sean Douglass and Tim Raines Jr.), Catfish Hunter Timeless Teams Jersey Card, Devil Rays Rookies

There we go!  I figured I wouldn't get any big hits since the odds on them were two sets at 1:144 (or 1 per 6 boxes) and 1:288 (1 per 12 boxes).  Also, the first double of the entire box, I believe (some names appear doubled in the Postseason Scrapbook cards, but those were different cards of the same player in the same subset).  Really nice two-color swatch too.  Here's a pic.

Pretty nice looking card!
Let's go for a second one!

PACK 19: A.J. Burnett, Gary Sheffield, Ben Sheets, Magglio Ordonez, Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Jorge Posada, Ryan Dempster, Edgar Martinez Postseason Scrapbook, Marlins Checklist

Or not.

PACK 20: Manny Ramirez, C.C. Sabathia, Mo Vaughn, Carlos Beltran, Kaz Sasaki, Jermaine Dye, Tigers Checklist, Chipper Jones Postseason Scrapbook, Mets Checklist, Ivan Rodriguez Night Gamers insert

PACK 21: Dee Brown, Freddy Garcia, Jason Giambi, Jose Ortiz, Charles Johnson, Curt Schilling, Jeromy Burnitz, Brewers Checklist, Devil Rays Checklist, Omar Vizquel

It feels so weird seeing Devil Rays on a card. Seeing Expos is less weird and more nostalgic. I also believe Omar Vizquel should be in the Hall of Fame.

PACK 22: Scott Rolen, Rich Aurilia, Kerry Wood, Jose Canseco, Dante Bichette (raise your hand if you remembered he played for the Red Sox; my hand is not raised), Bartolo Colon, Rangers Checklist, Brent Abernathy, 2001 AL ERA Leaders, Dodgers Rookies (Ricardo Rodriguez and Carlos Garcia)

PACK 23: Moises Alou, Robert Fick, Josh Towers, Darin Erstad, Adam Dunn, D'Angelo Jimenez, Jose Vidro, Rangers Rookies (Mark Teixeira and Carlos Pena), Carlos Delgado, 2001 NL Wins Leaders

Teixeira/Pena has to be the best "rookie" combo in this set.  That's not saying much though, as the second best one is Lyon and Wells, and trying to name the third-best in this is roughly the equivalent of trying to name the third best president post-Kennedy.

PACK THE LAST: Alex Gonzalez, Kris Benson, Luis Castillo, J.D. Drew, Mariano Rivera, Dean Palmer, Diamondbacks Checklist, Orioles Checklist, Bret Boone Postseason Scrapbook, Vladimir Guerrero Sandlot Stars insert

Overall not too bad.  Very few doubles. Should be less than 75 cards from a complete set out of a single box (225-ish of 300) if I wanted to put it together.  Oddly, I didn't pull a Tanyon Sturtze card, the lone card from this set that I ever had in my collection coming into breaking this box (got it signed during the 2004 ALCS in Boston and apparently traded it at some point, as it's not listed in my inventory).

I'll definitely be heading back to Triple more often.  I just need a Toll Tag to make the cross-Metroplex trips a little cheaper.


  1. Triple Cards is where I always go when I need singles for signings. I live in Euless but never been to Duane's, is it cheap for cards?

  2. Duane's is reasonable-- most singles are a quarter each and sometimes they'll discount them further. The problem is they take a while to go through as they're only sorted by year and set, not by card number.