It's Gonna Be A Good Year.

It's Thursday, April 6th and it's the fourth game of the season. The Astros are 3-0, looking to make it 4-0 with a win tonight to (hopefully) sweep the Mariners and get started off well in the AL West. My man George Springer already has 3 homers, including a walkoff in the 13th last night and a 454 foot bomb to lead off tonight.

While I haven't been posting as often as I anticipated, I have managed to keep up a nice string of trades - albeit in smaller quantities than I'd originally hoped. Still, it feels great to unload a bunch of cards and get some nice handfuls of things I'd like in return.

Like this Mike Scott from one of the litany of Fleer oddball sets that came out in the mid/late 80s. This one is from 1988 Fleer Baseball MVPs, and came to me via another trade over at TCDB from Kevin, whose handle is Lexie130.

The rest of the cards that came in from this trade were basketball cards. Basketball, you ask? And just why would this be?

Well, for starters while I'm trying to clear out nearly all of my non-baseball cards, I am open to hanging on to and even acquiring some select cards of players I enjoy. These Rockets cards all harken back to the days when I would lay on my parents living room floor and watch them pound through the playoffs on their way to a pair of NBA Championships, with a young star in the making in Robert Horry, a great guard in Kenny Smith, and the always entertaining Mad Max.

I've never really had any vintage basketball or football cards, so I've decided to pick a few up in trades as well. These 79-80 Topps feature a nice design which I would certainly copy for baseball customs. Rudy T coached those championship Rockets teams, so picking up a card of him as a player was a no brainer. Gianelli was a member of the championship Knicks in '73. Otis Birdsong is a hometown boy, one of the handful of Houston Cougars to have his number hung in the rafters after his stellar collegiate career before becoming a four-time NBA All-Star. The Gianelli and Birdsong are going out for autographs, and while I would love to get Rudy's card signed, he doesn't seem to reply to TTM requests. I'll just have to hang onto it and hope for a signing sometime here.

Kevin, thanks for the trade! The Astros are tied 2-2 going to the bottom of the 6th. Let's do this.

 - Marc


Overdue Trade Post: Stealing Home

I'm about to have some more trade packages rolling in, so I'd better clear out my backlog of overdue trade posts. Back in December, I got a nice little surprise package from our friend at Oscar, aka Stealing Home at All Trade Bait, All The Time.

Inside was a nice little assortment of Astros, including this lovely 1989 Sportflics Billy Hatcher. These are, of course, hard to scan, but I think I pulled it off.

I've found packs of the '86 through '88 sets before, including plenty of the '87 series, but I've never come across any old packs of the '89 set. I like this design, and I think it works particularly well for the Astros colors.

There were several more cards, but I only scanned a handful. These two second baseman were my other favorite cards from the package. If Altuve can keep up his productive pace, he could very well become the third Hall of Fame second baseman from the ballclub. I certainly hope he stays with the club for his whole career.

Thanks again Oscar! I have a stack of Dodger blue for you that I need to drop in the mail.

 - Marc


TTM Roundup: A Flounder and a White Whale

Ok. I have so, so many unresolved returns from my TTM autograph adventures. There are seriously hundreds of returns that I haven't posted. So, I'm going to try to tackle them in short posts. That should give me plenty of blog fodder for a good while. Let's start with a pair of Astros that came in this week.

First up is Lucas Harrell. Ah, Lucas, we hardly knew ye. Lucas had a promising 2012, making the team as the Opening Day Starter (oh goodness we were bad), and wrapping up the season as the only Astros starter to break double-digit wins in a horrific 55-107 season. In fact, he was the only starter to even hit a .500 winning percentage, with his 11-11 record. It was a bad season all around for the club, but Harrell's future and a diminutive second baseman named Jose provided a spectre of hope.

For Harrell, that didn't last long. His stock dropped hard in 2013 and 2014, to the point where the Astros had insult added to injury when trade discussions from the infamous Ground Control leak mentioned the team wanting someone of Giolito's caliber in return for Harrell. The team released him towards the end of the 2014 season, leading him eventually to the KBO. He's back in camp with Toronto this year as a non-roster invitee, where I wrote him. Lucas got back to me in 27 days.

Yesterday's return was one at the opposite end of the former Astro spectrum, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. Needless to say, I was quite ecstatic to open my mailbox and find this inside. A couple posted returns had trickled onto SCN recently, so I took a shot and wrote Joe c/o the Hall of Fame. Less than two weeks later, and I had a lovely Joe Morgan signature to add to my collection!

Joe is arguably one of the greatest "Astros who got away," along with Cesar Cedeno and the never-drafted Phil Nevin Derek Jeter. He had some fine years in Houston, but really flourished in Cincinnati, where he was a key factor in the Big Red Machine and won back-to-back MVP titles in '75 and '76 as he led the Reds to a pair of World Championships.

This return was extra special, because Joe typically responds in the Fred Lynn fashion, where your card comes back unsigned with an signed index card. As someone who was hoping to get him in an Astros uni, that was disheartening. There have been several recent successes posted with on-card signatures though, and they look to be legit (whereas the index cards sometimes don't match, with a very different J). I suspect this may be in part because of the recent reports of his ill health - he was preparing for a bone marrow transplant last summer and put his house on the market. So Joe, thank you very, very, very much for taking the time to sign a card for a fan, and I wish you a speedy recovery.

As always, may your mailbox bring you joy.

 - Marc


He's Out.

This past weekend, I got an email from a fellow collector here in the Houston area whom I'd traded with before. His name is Trevor, and he'd decided he wanted out. He wanted to know if I, being a fellow Astros collector, would be interested in his cards - nothing in return, just take the cards and give them a good home.

I honestly weighed the decision longer than you'd expect - I'm trying to unload cardboard, not pile it up. But the prospect of filling out some holes in the Astros collection won out, and we met up on Tuesday. This picture here is the resulting lot that I received - three long boxes, a triple box, a few other assorted boxes, and about five binders - and a 91 Donruss factory set.

A quick flip through revealed that most of the binders are Astros, the big box and another long box are all Astros or dupes. That'll go nicely towards filling out my needs and giving me some TTM fodder. The rest I'm hoping to comb through, pull a few small stacks to keep, and then pass on to the rest of you fellow collectors.

This'll have to wait until I've successfully completed my job search, though - I've promised the wife no more cards until that's done.

Oh - and if anyone out there is looking for a load of Astros base cards, I'll have more than plenty now. Hit me up.

Trevor, thanks for the cards and rest assured that they'll all wind up in good hands.

 - Marc


An Assorted Mailday

It's an odd week here at the office. Most of the staff is gone (it's a small office), and things are very quiet. I'm getting some good work done on a couple big projects, thanks to the lack of distractions. It's also afforded me a small amount of blogging time, as you may have noticed.

Yesterday's mailbox was similarly odd, with a wild assortment of goodies waiting for me, including some of those hand-egg fellers.

Let's start off with yesterday's TTM return: fellow Texas A&M alum Quentin Coryatt. He's best remembered for what at A&M is simply called, "the hit," a crushing blow that he delivered on a hapless TCU receiver that got the attention of ESPN. Today, it's probably not legal, but it's definitely a stunner. This autograph was a stunner too, as it's one of the first I sent when I resumed my TTM endeavors in January - of 2014! Yep, this puppy has been out for over three years, and Quentin only lives about 30 minutes from me and probably 10 minutes from my folks.

I don't do much in the land of eBay anymore, what with Baby Bru on the way (due in just 10 weeks!), but the few packs of Heritage I bought at Target made me really interested in what the inserts looked like. That led to me snagging this Altuve relic for under a fiver. If you come across a spare Springer or Correa, I'd love to complete the trifecta. Also, let's take a moment to acknowledge how spot on Heritage is this year. The design is awesome, the card stock is effing immaculate, and the photos are really nice. It's almost enough to make me want to go for the set, but I'm trying to get rid of cardboard, not accumulate more of it. I'll settle for the Astros, a few PC guys, and some TTM fodder. I have a feeling these will look really great signed.

My final bit of mail came from another trade over at TCDB, with fellow (greater) Houston member Joshua, who's handle is Sportzcommish. I plunked a big stack of Astros in his lap, including a fair number of my Bagwell dupes, in return for a handful of baseball players and some TTM fodder. First up: a pair of Hall of Famers.

And, here's a pair of football Hall of Famerse. Joshua didn't have much on my want list, but I took advantage of his trade list to pick up a few football guys, mostly in the effort of sending them off for some autographs. As a local legend, Warren Moon is a guy whose cards I pick up casually now and then - he and Hakeem Olajuwon share a small binder. He looks like he could use some O-Line help here, but maybe he's just thankful that he doesn't have to worry about LT over there. Those '87 Topps football cards are a killer design, with the pennants at the top. I may have to replicate that for some customs - think about how awesome they would look as horizontals! Taylor does sign now and then via the Football HoF, but it seems very hit and miss. I picked up a couple more and might try to send him one before this year's induction.

Here's another pair of gridiron legends. Who could forget the Fridge? Childress was a superb defensive end, and is another fellow Aggie. He's not enshrined in Canton, but he is in the College Football HoF. He was a two-time All-American at A&M, and made five Pro Bowl teams during his 11 years with the Oilers. Ray leaves near Houston (in Hempstead) and signs, so I picked up a few cards to send his way.

Finally, we come to the lone Astro in the trade package, this '88 Fleer Glenn Davis. Glenn wants to know why the hell it took me so long to get to him, what with this being an Astros blog and all.

As always, any new Astros card is a welcome card in my collection, so Glenn's just going to have to get over it and settle into his happy new home amongst my other Astros cards from 1988.

Thanks again for the trade, Joshua!

Last, but certainly not least - it's time to pimp another contest! A Penny Sleeve for Your Thoughts is going to fire up the randomizer, and one lucky entrant is going to get some COMC loot. Go enter already!

 - Marc


Snow in Houston!

I mean, it does happen from time to time, but you probably already guessed that I was either (a) really late with a post or (b) putting some of those ridiculous Topps Holiday cards up on the blog.

If you guessed (b) then congratulations! These (and a few more) came my way via a quick trade at TCDB from Jerry, who's handle there is Colengco90. We did a quick 6-for-6 swap of some Holiday cards for some 2017 flagship, with eyes on a larger trade in the future.

I still think this set is just absolutely bonkers and redundant as all get out, but I'm an Astros completist, so I'm thankful for them and they've got a home in my binders. We're all in agreement that this set is nuts, right? Good. Since we know it's ridiculous, let's play a quick game of "caption this."

Tyler White's thoughts: "Good grief, Charlie Brown. I'm already a converted third baseman, now you want me to try and field a baseball in a snowstorm? How am I even going to stay on this team?"

George Springer is thinking, "What the hell?! We play in a stadium with a roof! I can't even see the plate from here, how am I supposed to score in all of this?"

I think this one is pretty easy, but let's have a little fun. Drop your best caption for Carlos here in the comments.

Thanks again for the cards Jerry!

- Marc


Tradin' at the Database: Old and New

Back in the beginning of January, when I was in the midst of my new year trading frenzy (still looking to move some cards, of course!) I put together a quick trade with fellow TCDB member rodine. He happily let me unload a stack of over a hundred cards upon his collection in return for a dozen 'Stros. Here's a few of the highlights.

I've been on the hunt for another of these Jim Campbell cards ever since I got a smudged auto back from him in the mail. He responded rather quickly, but unfortunately there was a nice smear where the ink caught, fouling up his last name. Now that I've finally got another one of these lovely '63s in hand, I can put in another request. I've also whipped up a custom to send off to him as well.

The 70s were full of great sets from Topps, including what I think was an absolutely marvelous 1973 set. Sure, it's not the crazy colorful weirdness of '72 or '75, but it's a very aesthetically pleasing set (with some of Topps first action shots). I was quite happy to get this Red Rooster for my binder.

Most of the rest of the cards were early Fleer issues, but these were the other two standouts. For all his firepower, Billy Wagner was one of the nicest guys on those 90's Astros teams. I have very fond memories of hanging out by the bullpen before games and chatting with him as the team warmed up. Some day I'll have to show off the many autographs he signed for me during those days. I love finding the obscure minor league cards from the early 90s, so this Classic 5 Sport was right up my alley.

Speaking of multi-sport sets, that Craig Biggio comes from the 02-03 UD SuperStars release, a bizarre four sport release that I'd never heard of - most likely because I wasn't buying cards at the time.

Thanks again for the cards rodine!

 - Marc