Card of the Day: Halloween Special – 2010 Topps T206 Aaron Harang Mini

Today’s Card of the Day is a special treat for all you ghoulish Baseball fans on this All Hallow’s Eve…

On offer is a 2010 Topps T206 mini of journeyman pitcher, Aaron Harang, who was throwing for the Cincinnati Reds when this card was produced.

2010 Topps T206 Aaron Harang

Now, I’m no oil painting myself, but this is one scary looking image on a Baseball card. In fact, Harang reminds me of one of the extras from the episode of The Walking Dead that I was watching the other day!

Rather than worrying about making his next start he looks more pre-occupied with the prospect of eating the flesh of the living!

An easy choice for first inductee into my list of the Top 10 Ugly-Ass Baseball Cards of All Time

Normal blogging service to resume soon 🙂

Happy Halloween folks!!!

eBay’s Global Postage Programme – An Update

Several days ago I posted a piece on a new scheme set up by eBay called the Global Postage Programme (GPP), designed to enhance the buying/selling experience for non-US buyers obtaining items from the US. If you wanted a read just click on this link.

This post gained a small amount of interest from this blog’s small readership, helped in greater part by Brent Williams who got the piece out to a wider audience through the wonders of Twitter. Brent has been trading sports cards on eBay for over 11 years and you can visit his eBay store brentandbecca’s 5-star sportscards or follow him on Twitter @brentandbecca

Anyways, since writing the original post I’ve found out a little bit more about the programme, details of which I’ve posted here and there, but I figured that it might not be a bad idea to collect it all together in one place.

The good thing about this programme for sellers in the US is that their main obligation is to just make sure that the item purchased from an overseas buyer as part of the GPP is delivered to the relevant address in the US, and Pitney Bowes (who eBay uses) then have the responsibility to ensure that the item reaches it’s international destination.

However, the best thing is that eBay sellers are still covered by PayPal’s Seller Protection Program.

For full details eBay sellers in the US can click on the link below and this will give you details on how to opt in and add the GPP as part of your auctions…

Using the Global Shipping Programme

From what I can gather, the GPP will works on a Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) basis where the onus is placed on Pitney Bowes for all international shipping obligations which includes bearing all the risks and costs (including duties and taxes).

This is FedEx’s explanation of how this whole system works –

Fed Ex on Duty Paid Shipment Regulations

I’ve become aware of other companies that offer this (or similar) kinds of service such as BundleBox, myUS and bongoUS.

You can also click here for information directly from the Pitney Bowes website.

I hope that this is of further help to you sellers in the US! The more of you guys that get on board with the GPP as part of your listings will go a long way to helping us guys in the rest of the world (or at least the countries covered by the GPP anyway) in getting items, such as boxes of sports cards, sent over at much more reasonable prices, without the worry of loads of hidden tax and admin charges upon delivery!!

I’ve just purchased my first box of cards through this programme (2012 Topps Heritage Retail, in case you were wondering), and I’ll give you a breakdown of the whole experience when the box arrives with me in the UK!!

Thanks for your time!!

In Appreciation Of… Randy Johnson

A few weeks ago I started up a new feature that was designed to look at players who don’t get a massive amount of Hobby attention in comparison to certain other players. I’ve found that this can be for any number of reasons but usually it’s because, despite showing incredible skills on the Baseball diamond, they often play for a smaller market team!

Today I’ll be looking at one of my favourite players from when I first started following Baseball, Mr Randy Johnson!

1989 Upper Deck Randy Johnson RC

OK, I know he’s retired, but in my early collecting days I could never understand why he didn’t have a bigger following in the Hobby. He threw hard and had a quirky nickname… What’s the problem?? Oh yeah! He played for the Mariners and then for the Diamondbacks (via the Astros)! That would go some way to explaining it!!

Johnson had a 22 year MLB career, playing for six different teams on route to racking up some of the most impressive pitching statistics in MLB history…

He finished his career first in strikeouts per nine innings pitched among starting pitchers (10.67), second all-time behind Nolan Ryan in total strikeouts (4875 – first among left-handed pitchers), third in hit batsmen (188), tenth in fewest hits allowed per nine innings pitched (7.24), 22nd in wins (303), and 57th in shutouts (37). He also pitched two no-hitters, the second of which was the 17th perfect game in Baseball history.

While amassing this impressive tally he also won five Cy Young awards (second only to the seven won by Roger Clemens), played in 10 All-Star games, defeated every team in the Majors at least once, and hit (and killed) a bird with his fastball during Spring Training in 2001.

During batting practice while playing with the Expos in 1988, the 6′ 10″ Johnson collided head first with teammate Tim Raines, which prompted Raines to exclaim “You’re a big unit!” – a nickname that stayed with him throughout the rest of his career!

You don’t need me to tell you that Randy Johnson will be a sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Fame inductee when he becomes eligible in 2015. Maybe then he’ll start to get the ‘proper’ widespread recognition in the Hobby that he desrves, not just as one of the best pitchers of his generation, but as one of the best pitchers of all time!

You can pick up all of his 1989 Rookie cards for ridiculously low prices on eBay, including his best RC from 1989 Upper Deck (see the image above). Along with the UD version he also has Rookies available in Fleer, Topps, Score and Donruss…

Go pick a few up as a great investment of this awesome pitcher and future HOF’er!!

The Light at the End of the Tunnel for International Postage…?

Last night I was perusing eBay, looking to buy a box of 2012 Topps Heritage Baseball!

You can pick up both Retail and Hobby boxes at pretty reasonable prices but one particular item caught my eye. Click on the link below to check it out…

2012 Topps Heritage Baseball 24 Pack Factory Sealed Box

This box is listed by the seller pittsburghsportscards and you can click on the link to visit their eBay store (or alternatively click here to visit their website)

The thing that particularly caught my eye about this was how cheap their shipping was to the UK!! £7.25 for a full box of cards – sounded too good to be true!! I figured that it must be some kind of typo until I saw an extra amount for ‘Import Charges’ at $16.23 just below!

Ahhh… Hidden charges, I initially thought, until it suddenly dawned on me that I’d never seen ‘Import Charges’ against a listing before.

So, I investigated a little further and found that pittsburghsportscards appear to be signed up to the Global Postage Programme.

Say WHAT!?!?!?!

The Global Postage Programme appears to have been implemented as part of a number of changes that eBay made from 1st October 2012, and is aimed at making life easier for buyers outside the US getting hold of items direct from the US!

Click here for the lowdown on this new service direct from the pages of eBay and here for details of the T&C’s!!

There is a restriction for items listed in the category – Sports Memorabilia, Cards, & Fan Shop (excluding Fan Apparel & Souvenirs) – which I thought automatically excluded Baseball cards, but then I noticed that the majority of US Baseball card listings seem to be under the category of – Sports Memorabilia > Other Sports Memorabilia > Baseball > Trading Cards – and so didn’t fall under this ineligibility clause!!!

It appears that eBay has had a relationship with Pitney Bowes since 2004 with regard to the shipping of items in the US (read all about that in this press release), but this looks like the first time it’s been introduced for international shipping!

So… Where does all this leave us UK collectors?

Well, I’m not too sure at the moment until I use the service!

What I’m hoping is that this will remove the worry of buying boxes of cards from the US and then being stung by extra customs charges and Royal Mail/generic courier ‘admin’ charges when the box arrives at the door!

This was going to be a topic for another post, but lets face it… We’ve ALL been there! We get ourselves a bargain off the ‘Bay, pay a little extra for international postage, and then see that ‘bargain’ turn into a financial liability due to the ‘extras’ added at our end in the form of Import Duty and handling charges!!

This is NOT, and NEVER has been, the fault of the seller! It’s just one of the problems we face in the UK (and Europe) with respect to receiving items from the US through the postal service. Sometimes it happens, other times it doesn’t, and it’s these sorts of inconsistencies that drive us absolutely mental!!

Case in point – I purchased a box of 2009 Bowman Chrome Baseball from Dave and Adam’s Card World eBay store for a snip at £27.00 with around £12.00 postage. Grand total approximately £39.00 ($62.00). When they arrived I ended up having to pay an extra £18.00 in Import Tax plus the couriers ‘handling’ fee turning my box of Bowman Chrome into a rather costly £57.00 ($91.00), or thereabouts!

I know I’m not the only one to have a story, or several, like this!

What it looks like the Global Postage Programme intends to do is make things simpler for international sellers and buyers! Sellers can, and hopefully will, offer cheaper postage rates as they are shipping to a domestic address (I’m assuming that they are charged a small amount for being able to use this service which will probably be passed on to the buyer) while the buyer will benefit from consolidated postage and import charges!

With the box of Heritage that I initially looked at the total postage for the box was just over £17.00, including the Global Postage Programme charges. With most sellers you can be expected to be charged between £12.00 and £20.00 for postage on a standard 24pk box of sports cards through USPS, sometimes more. However through the Global Postage Programme I’d be happy to pay just a few pounds more for shipping costs, happy in the knowledge that the package will include tracking and that there will be no extra charges slapped on at the end when the postman come a’knockin’!!

How well this whole process works remains to be seen but it’s a mammoth step in the right direction for buyers who regularly purchase items on eBay from the US.

Hopefully more sellers will start to sign up for this programme as word starts to spread. And if it helps increase their overseas customer base, especially if buyers know that the Programme works and can be trusted, then this can only be a good thing for all parties!

I’m going to try and contact a couple of sellers that I’ve used before just to get their take on it and I’ll report back I know more!!

Review: 2011 Topps Update Baseball – Retail Blaster

OK, I won’t lie… I was after the Mike Trout rookie!

Aside from the thrill of ripping open some brand new packs, fresh from a sealed box, it was really the prospect of getting my hands on this season’s hottest ticket in the form of his nicest rookie card – at least in my humble opinion anyway!

(You can insert some pun at this stage about ‘Trout Fishing’… I was going to but – you know – a bit too obvious really…)

Anyways, I bought a retail blaster of 2011 Topps Update off eBay from Strictly Mint, and really took my time with this one when it finally arrived… savouring every pack as I opened it and pouring over the cards inside!

2011 Topps Update Baseball – Retail Blaster Box

The box breaks down into 10 packs containing 8 cards per pack plus a special pack containing a manufactured Commemorative Patch…

So, fancy knowing what I got???

Throwback Patch Card

Rickey Henderson – San Diego Padres

2011 Topps Update Commorative Patch – Rickey Henderson

Pack 1

Freddie Garcia
Mike MacDougal
Andy Sonnanstine
Dustin Moseley
Allen Craig
Robinson Cano – All-Star (Platinum Diamond Anniversary)
Charlie Furbish RC
Mike Cameron

Pack 2

Eric O’Flaherty
Kerry Wood
Tim Stauffer
Javy Guerra RC
Edgar Renteria
Drew Storen (Topps Town)
Hanley Ramirez (Cognac Diamond Anniversary)
Joel Hanrahan – All-Star

Pack 3

Brooks Conrad
Angel Sanchez
Sam McLure
Prince Fielder – All-Star
Scott Sizemore
Hank Aaron – Kimball Champions Mini
Dustin Ackley – All-Star
Orlando Cabrera

2011 Topps Update All-Stars

Pack 4

Reed Johnson
Conor Jackson
Sean O’Sullivan
Carlos Pena (Gold Parallel)
Andre Ethier (Platinum Diamond Anniversary)
J.D. Martinez RC
Ryan Ludwick
Craig Kimbrall – All-Star

Pack 5

Cody Eppley RC
Adrian Gonzalez
Aaron Harang
David DeJesus
Diamond Giveaway Promotion
Willie McCovey (Topps 60)
Brian Wilson – All-Star
Lonnie Chisenhall RC

Pack 6

Koyie Hill
Trevor Bell
Victor Martinez
Daniel Moskos RC
Brandon League
Grady Sizemore/Shin-Soo Choo (Diamond Duos)
Andrew McCutchen – All-Star
David Ortiz – All-Star

2011 Topps Update Rookie Cards

Pack 7

Wilson Valdez
Juan Uribe
George Sherrill
Justin Turner
Paul Molitor – Kimball Champions Mini
Jonny Venters – All-Star
David Ortiz – All-Star (HR Derby)
Yadier Molina – All-Star

Pack 8

Brendan Ryan
Jose Morales
Armando Galarraga
Kevin Correia
C.J. Wilson (Platinum Diamond Anniversary)
Jake Westbrook (Cognac Diamond Anniversary)
Michael Pineda – All-Star
Paul Konerko – All-Star

Pack 9

Tyler Chatwood RC
Jo-Jo Reyes
Sean Burroughs
Jerry Sands RC (Cognac Diamond Anniversary)
Pee Wee Reese (Topps 60)
Jacoby Ellsbury – All-Star
Miguel Montero – All-Star
Matt Holliday – All-Star

Pack 10

Takashi Saito
Chris Dickerson
Ryan Adams RC
Eric Hosmer RC
Alex White RC
Rogers Hornsby (Topps 60)
Andre Ethier – All-Star
Troy Tulowitzki – All-Star

2011 Topps Update ‘Topps 60’ Inserts

OK… OK… So I didn’t get the bloody Trout rookie!!! What can I say?

However, overall it was a pretty cool box with a fair spread of inserts, rookies and base cards!!

The base cards are nice and sharp, with some gorgeous full colour photography. I’ve been really impressed recently with the Topps base sets for these reasons and the 2011 set doesn’t let the side down.

Here are some overall thoughts –

The ‘sparkly’ Diamond Anniversary are OK if you like that sort of thing. There a bit too gaudy looking for my tastes but are OK for completists or player collectors

The Topps 60 inserts are my favourite! If there wasn’t so many I might consider putting a set together. Nice to see Baseball legends in full colour on these cards, although I’m a bit put out by the Rogers Hornsby card… 11 years as a Cardinal and they put a picture of him on a card in his bloody Cubs uniform??? What’s that all about??

Those manufactured patch cards are DAMN ugly!! ‘Nuff said!! Shame really as it’s always nice to pull a card with Rickey Henderson on 🙂

Nice selection of rookie cards!!

—————————————————–

So, not a bad box when all’s said and done!

In summary –

Best Card – Eric Hosmer Rookie card

Worst Card – Rogers Hornsby – Sorry, it’s that Cubs uniform…

Best Insert – Topps 60 – Looks like a great set to build

Worst Insert – Diamond Anniversary parallels – a little too much ‘sparkle’ for my liking!

Overall Rating – 8/10

As usual, if any of you see any cards that you might be interested in then let me know and they’re yours! If we can maybe sort out a trade then even better!!

Proudly presenting… ‘uk_cards’

Fellow collector and regular reader of this blog, Glenn Codere, has put a new Yahoo Group together called ‘uk_cards’!!

Glenn is originally from the US but has lived in Glasgow, Scotland for the past couple of decades, and is a big collector of Vintage cards and a fan of the Detroit Tigers. In Glenn’s words…

‘UK Baseball Cards is a mailing list dedicated to collectors of baseball (and other US sports) cards in the United Kingdom. The group offers a forum to discuss the hobby, show off your latest acquisitions, arrange trades, and chat about all the difficulties of being a UK-based collector.’

Blogs don’t often make the best forums for conversing about the Hobby so this will be an ideal environment to cover all card collecting topics, free of my rants and random musings that you’ll often be subjected to here!

You can click on this link – uk_cards – to get to the Group, so show please show your support and sign up!! The more that we get on board the better!

Spread the word!!!

2012 Topps Heritage High Numbered Set… WTF???

Update: For a great take on this story (it made me smile anyway) take a look at this article from @NightOwlCards

Yesterday saw Topps release product information of a late season addition to its Heritage Baseball brand, details of which can be found courtesy of our friends over at Cardboard Connection.

I must have missed the boat on this one as I didn’t even know this was on its way, but the idea of some of those rookies (Harper, Darvish, Cespedes, et al.) in a 1963 Topps design really appealled…

You know what, I might just pick myself up a set of those…

But hold on a sec… I didn’t check the price… Can’t be much more than $30-$40 for a 100 card set?? Surely!!

But no…

If you want to get hold of this online only beauty then you’ll have to shell out just shy of $100.00.

“Now hold on a minute, Andy. You crazy-ass SOB!!” I hear you all cry!! “Surely that’s some kind of typo… $100.00?? It can’t surely be that much!!”

Well, my card collecting, baseball loving friends, I’m afraid it is!!

I can’t help but feel a certain amount of disdain and disappointment with Topps on this! I’ve often felt like a bit of a Topps apologist on a number of occasions in the past but I can’t muster up much love for them on this occasion!!

It feels like Topps are flipping the bird to all of us collectors out there with such a ridiculously high price-point on this set! What makes matters worse was that I was considering investing in a few boxes of 2013 Heritage – but if I’ve got a 2013 Heritage High Numbers set like this one waiting for me at the end of 2013 then I don’t think I’ll be bothering…

I’d be interested in all your thoughts on this one!