Cross Another Whale Off The “At Large” Wanted List

The term white whale, prior to its bastardization in Triple Threads, meant a card that you had a card out there in the sea of collectors that was virtually impossible to find. To this day, people still chase white whales all over the hobby, and for many of us, they are truly a quest fit for Ahab. In most cases, those whales were usually 1/1s that you didn’t know had been pulled, or a rare card that infrequently hit ebay at an affordable price.

For someone like me, there werent many of these cards that I had on my list. I can think of two specifically, and after last night, both of them were on the captured list. The first one took me forever to find, and I mean absolutely forever. I think I posted at least three times about the 2005 Artifacts Joe Mauer Patch Auto /10 before I pretty much gave up looking, even going so far as setting up multiple daily ebay spam mailers with new auctions. I was searching for about 3 years before it finally popped up on ebay in the middle of last year, and I knew that I absolutely needed to buy it before it was lost again forever. A user on FCB collects the set, and luckily I knew he already had this one, so my competition was going to be easier because of that fact. On the other hand, this card was the coveted number 7 of 10, Mauer’s jersey number, and I knew there would be more people wanting it just for that fact. Even though I couldn’t care less what number in the run it was, other Mauer collectors would definitely have it on their list because of that.

There was a problem though, and it was one I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with. The card was located in Taiwan, and most card collectors know that cards from overseas are always a risk, especially expensive ones like the Mauer. I put the thought out of my mind and concetrated on the win. As the final seconds ticked down, I entered a ridiculous snipe. You know, the type of max bid that could really get me in trouble if it actually was put to the test. It won me the card at a much higher price than I wanted to spend, but I still had the card on its way to California, and that was all that mattered to me at the time. This was also before Mauer’s MVP run, so prices were considerably cheaper due to it being the off season. I still spent more than I had spent on a Mauer card in over 3 years, yet it wasn’t something that would break my bank. I waited for around three weeks with no delivery, but the card eventually showed up without problem. It is still on my shelf today, and is no doubt my favorite and only current on card Mauer signature. The patch on it is way above average, and to have the hard signed card, great player picture and nice patch is what makes it the centerpiece of my collection. I would sell my Chrome Rookie Auto before I sell this card.

The second card was one that I had been looking for on and off for the better part of three years, but it definitely was not as rare as the Mauer and not worth as much. The reason I wanted it was more for filling a hole in my Vikings collection than it was collecting the individual player, something that hindered my need to search for it daily. The card I am talking about is a 2003 Leaf Certified Fabric of the Game Cris Carter Patch Auto /80, one that I wanted for some very specific reasons. First and foremost was the auto that adorned this series of cards. Carter is notorious for signing like a chump, and this card was one of the only ones I saw that featured his full auto. Second was that this set looked better than any of the other donruss cards that he signed, so naturally, it was the one I wanted. I first saw it on blowout two years ago when someone posted their complete set of these type of cards, and I knew it was the Carter auto I wanted. Because autos and patches were VERY rare in the 2003 set, and because this set had an extensive checklist, they rarely came up for sale.

As if the cardboard gods were taunting me again, the seller of the card had VERY low feedback and even had a few negs on his profile in the last six months. That was a bad sign, but I figured the forty bucks was worth the risk. Well, things really didn’t turn out the way I expected, and my 75 dollar bid was swallowed up pretty quickly into the final 24 hours of the auction. I ended up having to spend 90 bucks to get the card, and I am now forced to play the waiting game and see how this card turns out. I could tell this guy was not an eBay veteran, as the picture in the auction was mirrored and flipped, as well as being quite blurry. He does live in Minnesota and was selling a ton of Carter cards, so I don’t think he is in the market to keep his collection. Ill be sure to let you guys know as soon as I get the card in my hands. Otherwise, I will definitely not hesitate to flip a shit like normal.

In the end, when it comes to White Whales, you need to make a sacrifice in order to cross them off your list. With the Mauer it was overseas shipping and high prices, and with the Carter, its definitely the seller’s profile that I will need to put out of my mind. If these cards were easy to get, they wouldn’t be my whales, so its obvious that certain measures would no doubt be necessary.

Going To My First Baseball Game This Year

Ive always been a fan of going to the park, downing a few beers and having a dog while watching some baseball. Because I am not a Dodger fan, and Anaheim is way too far away, I dont usually make it out to the games I want to see. The Twins play out in California at least once a year, and there is always a reason we cant go. This year, despite the fact that my wife is bursting at the seams, she insisted that we see the Twins and her “boyfriend” Justin Morneau.

Due my wife’s prodding, we bought cheap tickets on eBay, and tonight is the night we go. Of course, I missed the game where both Mauer and Morneau went deep, but Im sure it will be fun regardless. I wish we would get to see Kevin Slowey instead of Carl Pavano pitch for the Twins, but a least we get to see them. I wanted to buy one of the awesome new away jerseys for the game, but I figured that making a clothes investment like that when I am expected to lose a ton of weight, isnt really the best idea.
Either way, we will both be there in our Twins garb, cheering on our boys to an eventual 12-2 loss. We will be THOSE fans, the ones you hate seeing cheer for the other team, but at least we arent too loud. Im just hoping to see a good game, and a Twins win would definitely be icing on the cake. After last night, Im a little worried they blew their load the night before we decided to go, and all that is left is a sacrifice fly and two bloop singles. Hopefully the ass-bats werent packed for the trip and it wont be a game laden with Twins fails. Hopefully.

Baseball Brings Hope To The Weary

I have said every year that I have two religious holidays that I celebrate. First is the opening Sunday of the NFL season, and the second is obviously Opening Day for MLB. This year the Twins are playing in LA, so I have the privilege of watching the first four games on TV here. I will also be venturing towards the land of Mickey on Wednesday to see the game, which means that all is well in the world of Gellman. Funny enough, though my wife is VERY pregnant, she was the one who wanted to go more than anyone.

Other than that, Im glad there are a slew of games today, and I have the opportunity to watch each and every one on demand, thanks to my purchase of 1 month of MLB TV. See, this is the part of the season when I am so interested in baseball that I would sit and watch any game that is on. The feeling quickly wears off about 50 games in, where I switch modes to paying attention to only the Twins. I have the feeling that this particular season will try my patience with the Twinkies, especially after the Target Field new car smell wears off. This is the first season in a long time where pitching is the hole rather than hitting, and everyone knows that pitching is always more important. There are also teams like Detroit who made as many moves as the Twins, slating them atop many lists as a contender for the AL Central Crown. However, with good improvements made to the infield due to the signing of Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy, as well as Jim Thome to fill the ever fluctuating DH slot on occasion, I still think the Twins have a good shot at a run into the post season.

I still think its kind of odd that despite my lack of interest in baseball cards and most things baseball that come extra, I still pay very close attention to what is going on for most of the season. I follow the stats more than anything, and I get awfully heated when the all star rosters and season ending awards come around. I hate undue recognition in Baseball, mainly because of the outdated stats used to determine success. With last year’s awards being the first in a long time to pick the right players, I felt somewhat vindicated in my hulabaloo. This year, I hope the trend continues as dumb ass sports writers move away from stats like Wins for Pitchers and RBIs for Batters. Baseball has long shown that the good players excel at getting on base and hitting for both average and power over knocking in runs, and that Wins are about as meaningless of a stat as Holds or something similar. I can see that maybe people like Joe Morgan, Woody Paige and Mike Celezic are finally becoming part of a growing minority now that Sabremetrics are finally making their way to the top of player measurements.

Lastly, because Baseball is here, we know that nice weather isnt far behind. Baseball is a constant in our lives and I expect it to be for as long as I am around. It’s a long, long, long season and its tough to not get caught up in early hype and small sample size success. At this point I don’t care, as its obvious that the Yankees are slated for 162 losses if they continue on their current pace. Hopefully this statement turns out to be true as the season moves on, but right now, everyone is in first place, and everyone has the shot at being world champs. I cant help but wonder who will rise to the challenge this year, and Im praying to the baseball gods that my Twins will be the ones to raise the trophy when all is said and done.

Mauer Signs and I Am Very Happy

I have seriously been watching the Twins’ MLB webpage and MLB Trade Rumors like a hawk these past few weeks, and I am very glad to see that Mauer has finally jumped on board for a good part of the rest of his career. His contract may be the fourth biggest of all time, but I believe it was a move that Minnesota could not have done without. Im not just talking about the Twins, but Minnesota in general.

See, in Minnesota, Mauer is like Jesus. If he were to have signed elsewhere come next spring, there may have been a riot. On my end of things, if he came back in pinstripes or in a Sox jersey, I probably would have cried. In that, I dont think I would be alone. He is the hometown boy, and could turn out to be the best catcher in MLB history, so why not throw money at him like we were the Yankees?
A lot of people are questioning the money spent on him as a limitation from signing other players in the future. To that I ask about whether or not we are watching the same team. I mean, I dont think I have ever seen the Twins sign a guy that wasnt on the downside of the downslope of their career, and many of the pieces of their team nucleus are signed long term. Although it will be tougher to afford to resign guys like Morneau in 2013, I would think that the new stadium should help to make the Twins into a larger market team.
Regardless of how the deal looks, I believe Mauer is worth every penny, and funny enough, so do all the people who have driven up his card prices. I own close to 40 different Mauer autographs, including some incredibly rare ones, and I couldnt be happier that his 2002 Chrome auto is selling at close to 300 raw. I bought mine for about a hundred bucks, and its pretty crazy to think that it has almost tripled in true value. Even his weird, common autos are selling through the roof, and that is nuts! If he has a good year this year, again, who knows where the peak will be. Considering I also have a signed game model bat authenticated by MLB, I may be sitting on a gold mine – that is – if I were ever going to dump his stuff.
Realistically, Mauer probably wont play at the level of A-Rod or Pujols, despite his contract reflecting that level of talent. However, I do think this is good for small-market baseball, and definitely good for Minnesota. Hell, if Mauer did end up as a fucking Yankee, I may have had to put my eternal hatred of them on hold for awhile. That would be bad.

Mauer Wins 2009 MVP and I Am At Peace

Rant avoided. Thank god.

The votes are in and Joe Mauer is the 2009 AL MVP. I cannot express how happy that makes me, as Mauer is my favorite player and definitely gives new meaning to small market success. Morneau may have won in 2006, but he didn’t really deserve it over some of the other players, whereas Mauer’s season was definitely MVP worthy and then some.

I remember when Kirby Puckett had his run in Minnesota, and I loved every game he played. I got to experience game 6 of the 1991 world series, and at that point, Puckett was like a god. Mauer has reached that level of fandom for me, even though he has yet to win a ring. Now that this battle against the Yankees is over, hopefully the Twins will pull their heads out of their asses and prevent battle number 2.

Regardless of what is to come after 2010, congrats to the most valuable AL player this year.