4 Out of a Million Ain’t Bad
February 27th, 2011 by slangon

Man, even though the Mets didn’t win yesterday, it felt damn good to sit down and drink a beer and watch baseball on TV. Of course it felt a little bit better since they didn’t technically lose, either. I know it’s an early spring training game and it doesn’t mean anything, but it was pretty refreshing to see them be on the ropes twice and respond. They were down by 1 run in the bottom of the ninth and came back to tie the game and force extra innings. Actually I guess I should say extra inning, since Terry Collins and Fredi Garcia had agreed to just play one more inning. Then they went into the bottom of the 10th down by 2 runs and came back to tie it again. I guees it would’ve been nicer if they didn’t keep giving up runs so that they would’ve won instead of just tied, but like I said, it’s an early spring training game, so who cares?

There’s no game on the TV today, but there is one on the radio, so I’m once again pretty excited. That was always one of my favorite things in the summer. When there was a Saturday when I actually didn’t have anything to do, I would get up semi-early and go out and take care of whatever yard work I needed to do before the heat of the day really sunk in. Then I would play with the little boy for a while and then put him down to take a nap around 12:30 or so. Then I would set up in the shade on the deck with a beer, a sandwich and a newspaper with the Mets game on the radio. It’s a whole different experience from watching it on TV and nice change of pace. It’s going to be extra interesting today to hear how Chris Young and Ollie Perez do. In the mean time, here’s some cards.

Like a lot of people around the blogdom lately, I recently received my final shipment of cards from the great experiment that was the Topps Million Card Giveaway. This was the second shipment that I got and it wasn’t really planned for. After I had wheeled and dealed and got my initial batch of cards down to a manageable bunch of cards that I was willing to pony up exorbitant shipping fees for, I had pretty much planned on not buying any more 2010 Topps cards and therefore washing my hands of the giveaway. I had already finished up Series 1. I still needed a handful of Series 2 cards, but I was at the point where I would end up with so many doubles that it wasn’t worth buying packs. I really didn’t have any interest in trying to go after the Updates & Highlights set. Christmas kind of put a wrench in those plans though, because I had gotten a bunch of packs of Update as presents from various sources. I was actually a little surprised because out of 4 retail packs and 2 rack packs I ended up with 4 code cards, which seemed like a lot to me.

One slightly annoying hitch in the process happened on the 2nd or 3rd code. When I tried plugging it in, the site kept saying it was invalid. I checked and rechecked and checked again and sure enough I was typing it in as it appeared on the card, but same error message. I shot an email to Topps and after a day or two, they emailed me a new code. It turned out that the invalid code on the card was missing 1 letter or number. Annoying, but easily fixed. After straightening that out and plugging in my precious codes, I was relatively happy. I got one really cool card and 3 kind of cool cards that I was able to swap for cards that I thought were even cooler, at least by my “standards”.

First up, the newest of the bunch.

1980 Topps #619 Sergio Ferrer

Why did I bother paying shipping for a 1980 Sergio Ferrer card? It happened to be the last card that I needed to kill off the 1980 Mets team set, that’s why. Not only that, but that finishes off all the 80’s Mets team sets (not counting traded sets). This started out in my collection as a 1979 Greg Minton. By the way, does anyone else think that the Topps cartoonist was being a little generous with that drawing of Sergio on the back?

1980 Topps #660 Rusty Staub

I’m sure anyone who’s participated in the Million Card Giveaway can attest to this, but it seems like there are certain cards that are just magnets for trade offers. During my first foray into the MCG, one of the first cards I unlocked was a 1960 Cubs team card, which also happens to be a high number. During the months that it sat in my virtual collection I must’ve turned down about a million offers for it a day, both legit and offensive. This second time around, I was a little surprised that this card of Le Grand Orange was the big trade magnet. That’s sort of ironic because I acquired this card via trade. I originally unlocked a 1980 Tom Dixon and some sucker agreed to swap for this. I find it kind of hard to believe that they had to go all the way back to 1967 to come up with a highlight for Rusty’s cartoon.

1978 Topps #356 Mets Team Card

This is another card that killed off a team set. This began life in my collection as a 1982 Mike Schmidt All-Star. Part of me wanted to keep that, but most of me would rather have this card. Check out that list of players on the back there. All-Stars and Hall of Famers all.

The last card was by far the best of the 4, and coincidentally the only one that I actually unlocked myself and didn’t trade.

1958 Topps #171 Harry Anderson

I almost blew a gasket when I saw this card. Well, maybe that’s a little strong, but I was quite taken aback at how awesome this card looked. I don’t think I was really aware that ’58 Topps cards came with black backgrounds. That combined with the red stripe down at the bottom makes this one bad-ass looking piece of cardboard. I like that Harry holds a degree in physical education. A friend of mine used to be in band and his stage name was Jim Teacher. I don’t know why, but it took my forever to catch that.

Now that the Million Card Giveaway is behind us, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with Topps. By no means was it perfect. God knows there were tons of glitches in the actual functionality of the site, especially in the early going. I kind of find that a little inexcusable. I mean, I feel like there was quite a while between when they announced the Giveaway and when it actually went live. Haven’t they ever heard of beta testing?

Glitches aside, I personally had a lot of fun with the promotion. It was always exciting to get a nice card, and almost just as exciting to see if you could turn a crap card into a nice card through shrewd wheeling a dealing. One of the first couple of cards that I unlocked was a 1988 Astros team leaders, which I was able to turn into a 1971 Walt “No Neck” Williams. I was pretty impressed with that, and I’m a little curious as to how far I could’ve taken it had I continued on with it.

I was also fairly impressed with the cards that I unlocked. When I first heard about the promotion, I was a little skeptical, along with just about everyone else on the interweb. I figured I was going to unlock about 99.9% junk wax and not end up with anything worth claiming. Aside from the afore mentioned 1988 Astros team leaders, I ended up with very few crappy cards. I guess the fact that I ended up getting every card I wound up with shipped to me says something.

I guess really the only legitimate complaint that I have about the whole set up is the actual cost of shipping. This particular batch of 4 cards that I got sent cost me about $4 or so to ship. That seems a little steep for 4 cards.  I think the first batch cost $10 or so to ship and that was 14 cards. Again, that seems a bit steep. When you promote the whole thing as “We’re giving away the cards that your mom threw out”, charging that much for getting them shipped seems a little greasy.

Sort of the funny thing about the whole thing is that I’m 100% positive that I could’ve picked up those same exact group of cards from Sportlots or Check Out My Cards for less than what I paid to get the “free” cards from Topps shipped to me. Somehow, though, I still don’t mind getting the cards from Topps, since I “won” them. Weird the way the human mind works.

It’s also interesting to note that I had absolutely no plans of buying any 2011 Topps, out side of maybe buying the 2011 Mets cards. After seeing a few posts around the internet talking about the Diamond Giveaway, however, I’m starting to get a little bit of an itch. Damn you, Topps.

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