The Only Baseball Card I Want

16 10 2016

It’s funny how things turn out. By the spring of 1992, Jose was a unanimous MVP, multiple time All-Star, two-time Home Run King, the highest-paid baseball player in the world and was even having an affair with the biggest pop singer of the times, Madonna. He was a young millionaire who owned a fleet of fast cars and mansions in multiple states. Unbeknownst to Jose, however, the tide was turning.

By 1992, younger and better baseball players were about to take over the game. In his home town of Oakland and pretty much every stadium Jose played in, he was being heavily booed. Hell, he was not even the best player on his own team anymore as the once quiet Mark McGwire added 30 lbs. of muscle mysteriously (and grew a wicked goatee). Jose struggled through the season until the A’s shipped him to Texas by the All-Star break.

When Jose was at his peak of stardom, it almost seemed like a bother to him. He ignored fans, didn’t sign autographs or pose for photographs and was rude to his own teammates and even his manager. The Atheletics clearly saw the writing on the wall because for the decade he played after his original trade, the greatness was for the most part gone. The game of baseball passed Jose by.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Jose Canseco still in the game, at age 52 and for a $2,500 dollar salary. That’s what the Diamonds paid him for his services this year. Of course, in typical Jose fashion … he didn’t complete his time there. I don’t know why and the few outlets that reported on his time in Pittsburgh didn’t even bother reporting on his disappearance. We the fans were promised a month, what we got was 5 games.

It’s clear that at 52, Jose can no longer play baseball. His .143 average as a hitter and his 0-2 record as a pitcher says everything you need to know. It is pretty awesome that the card below exsists. I don’t know its origins or if it is just someone’s idea of a custom card but I love seeing Jose on cardboard 30 long years after his debut in wax in 1986. I love cards of retired players but to me, Jose Canseco is still active, for now.

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Analyzing A 2016 Baseball Card

14 10 2016

I have spent the past few days on eBay, looking at Jose Canseco baseball cards produced in 2015 and this year. I have seen a lot that I would consider “filler” and not worth picking up but this particular card (below) has caught my eye. It comes from Topps’ Tribute brand and features an early-year Canseco photograph, what appears to be an on-card signature, a late 90s’-style design and front and center serial numbering.

My only nit-pick for this card is that it celebrates Canseco’s ‘Ageless Accolade’ of his 1988 MVP season but features a photo of Jose from 1986 or 1987. However, only a Canseco nut would know the following worthless trivia. I don’t know how a casual fan would react to pulling this card of a still hated, very controversial figure. One thing that is unfortunate and Topps is mostly to blame, it is now a $25 card.

Years ago, this card would have booked for more than double that price but with the flood of Canseco autographs that have hit the market the past 3 years, to me … this is at best a card I would pay no more than $10 dollars for and that would be only for the neat design and aesthetics of the card and not the autograph itself. Simply put, Jose has destroyed the value of his autograph.

For a die-hard Jose Canseco fan, that’s actually a good thing because it saves you money in the long run but for the casual fan, it only brings Jose’s total worth down even more. Back in the early-90s when pack-inserted autographs hit the market (thank you, Upper Deck), $20 dollars would fetch the lowliest of journeymen not a former superstar, Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player.

I haven’t quite started collecting Jose Canseco again but I am adding this card to my wish list of cards that I will eventually pick up on my journey of Jose hunting, which began in 1990 and somehow still keeps going 26 years after my first card hit my collection. To me, design trumps gimmicks and this card is about as eye-popping as a design as I have seen in a long time.

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Growing Old Sucks

11 10 2016

I remember bustin’ wax packs in 1990 and loving the card designs of the time. Occasionally, I’d pull something that would feature a design from yesteryear, be it the 60s or 70s and thought to myself how ugly these cards looked and how I wish they wouldn’t waste my time with them. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like for a kid today looking for whatever crazy parallel or game-used-whatever is hot these days and instead find a base card from 1990 Topps. Just typing that out makes me feel a bit sadistic.

Come to think of it, I can’t even imagine a 10 -year old collecting baseball cards, period. Back in 1990, there was no Internet and the video games of the time left a lot to be desired. Baseball cards and toys were still part of the times. If I were 10 again in 2016 the last thing I’d want is a pack of overpriced baseball cards. No mom, I want an Xbox One game or a cell phone, which is now a computer/camera/video game system/TV, all in one.

The times have changed. A piece of cardboard with my favorite baseball player can never compare with 100+ hours of GTA V. Much like the Polaroid camera, this is one hobby that seems more obsolete with every year that passes. Still, here I am in 2016 thinking about baseball cards, even the old ones that didn’t have fancy cut-up pieces of jerseys and bats or stickers with autographs or a billion different colored versions, one more rare than the next. Just a photo, an awful 90s design and stats on the back.

My God, I have become an old man.

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…and so it begins (again)

10 10 2016

It’s been 6 long years since I wrote a blog on the original Wax Heaven. A lot has happened since then. I am not here to bore you with the rise and fall, that’s for another day. Instead, I am writing the first post to say that, I really don’t care about baseball cards anymore. I barely even care about Jose Canseco. Yeah, I still have my thousands of cards but I have finally moved on. Well, I guess not really because here I am at Midnight writing a post about, you guessed it, Jose Canseco and a baseball card.

Just when I thought I was out …

Below is a card of Jose Canseco that belongs in my collection. No, not the insanely awesome Buyback Autograph but the orginal worthless Topps Ames card produced in 1989. Does anyone reading this even remember Ames? I do. I purchased my first Jose Canseco from one of their stores in South Florida in 1990. I thought I was buying a pack of playing cards but instead found a pack of Ames All-Stars and one card in particular stuck out to a 10-year old kid who never watched a game of baseball or knew who Jose Canseco was. I was more into wrestling but Jose’s bulging muscles looked better suited in the WWF (now, WWE) than in MLB, anyway.

The card below was released a year before my baseball card (and Jose) obsession began. It was worthless. This was the type of card you’d get in a trade or something you’d buy if you couldn’t afford a product like Upper Deck. The glossy finish was nice, if I remember correctly and the design is actually kinda neat 17 years later. Keep in mind I haven’t seen a baseball card design in about 2 years. Sometimes less is more. In this case, this card actually looks awesome despite the lazy photograph.

As for the 2016 version with Jose’s worthless signature. I mean, c’mon, he signs all the time …. I really don’t want or need it. I’m happy with my 1989 version for now. I used to be a “completist” but with the amazing custom cards being produced by Tan Man and the insane amount of parallels and rare cards released in the past 5 years, that mission is 100% impossible.

For now, I am back. I wrote 145 posts in October of 2008. That’s an insane amount of time to devote to baseball cards, which is why my ex left me. I now have a very good life and a beautiful daughter so don’t expect numbers like that ever again. I may post once a month, maybe more but for now, Wax Heaven is back yet again.

-Mario A.

2016





And So It Ends

6 10 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

There was once a time when The Hobby ran through my mind 24/7. Here I was cranking out over 100 articles per month, recording box breaks to post on YouTube, scouring eBay for new cards I needed, and making online trades in every popular online forum available. Oh, did I forget to mention I had a full-time job and a wife and kid at home?

I guess you could say I was burning the candle at both ends looking for something I could never quite find. Was it the perfect Jose Canseco collection, a cover story on Beckett, or maybe those long-lost barrels of 1952 Topps buried at sea? I can’t quite say because I do not know the answer. I do know that my time at Wax Heaven, which unofficially ended in December when I shut the site down, is officially over as of October 4th, 2010, just a few weeks shy of the third anniversary.

Rather than let the site sit unattended and underappreciated except for the 700-800 random visitors who come through Google searches daily, I did the only thing I could do to ensure the Wax Heaven name would live on; I sold it. Everything, too, not just the WordPress blog. The Twitter account with 200+ followers and the YouTube account with over 500 subscribers as well. Everything Wax Heaven was, including the 2,000+ articles, close to 2 million visitors, and 25,000+ comments now belong to one man … and who is this man, you ask?

Well, his name is Austin and aside from being a true blue journalist like everyone’s favorite blogger, Chris Olds, he is also a collector from the 80’s and early 90’s who has just come back to The Hobby after a long absence and wants to write about his experiences coming back to a completely new scene none of us “old” collectors could have ever envisioned.

Sounds exactly like me, which is exactly why I knew he would be the best man to take over Wax Heaven. So expect a full return to stories, probably written much better than I ever could with an entirely new perspective on this wonderful hobby of ours that keeps us coming back for more even decades after our last pack of cards.

God bless you all for the wonderful support, emails, free cards and so much more. A special thanks goes out to Upper Deck and Chris Carlin for being the first to believe the “little guy” could one day compete and kick Goliath’s ass (and we certainly did). We had a great run and I’m very proud to see how immense the entire community has become since my arrival in 2007. See you all in the future and for those that want to keep up with me you can find me on Facebook.

Keep Collectin’,

Mario Alejandro Castillo





Taking Issue With Beckett Media

15 09 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

No, it’s not what you think. I am not back to blogging full-time, nor is this another jab at Beckett Baseball’s editor, Chris Olds. Actually, since my departure from the blogosphere, Beckett’s blog has become a daily visit for me, believe it or not. While my days of collecting are behind me, I still have an interest in The Hobby, which is why I have become an avid reader of that site.

I no longer have time to keep up with the “inside” info great forums like Freedom Card Board provide, or from reading the hundreds of collector blogs so Beckett provides just the right amount of information for someone like me who wants just the facts sprinkled with the images and details. That way I can kinda sorta pretend like I know what I’m talking about on the rare occasion I log into my Wax Heaven Twitter account.

That being said, something Chris Olds said in a recent blog really irked me. Forget about the fact that I wrote about a very similar story well over a year ago. What really gets me is his assumption that many collectors “cringe” when reminded of Fleer’s Metal Universe line from the late-90’s. Yes, the cards were not as valuable as other releases from that year but are they any worse than today’s sets because it lacked relics and autographs and were a little, well, over the top? Absolutely not.

I challenge any collector to purchase a box of Metal Universe from the few years it was in production (I believe ’96-’98) and tell me what they think. First off, notice how much more enjoyable (and valuable) parallels are when they are actual tough pulls and not 10-12 per box. Second, look at the base cards and tell me when was the last time a card company put that much time and effort into their cards.

Just go out and bust a box of the uberhot 2010 Bowman and tell me how much fun you have if you don’t pull a Stephen Strasburg base or parallel. Yes, the cards are well produced, feature above average photography (most of the time) and the Refractor parallels are beautiful but how much time did you spend looking through your duds AKA commons?

With every card in Metal Universe, you had something great to look at and it didn’t matter if you just pulled a Ken Griffey Jr. or a Billy Ripken. In a day and age in collecting when parallels consist of an extra border or reflective film on a card, Metal Universe was a step in the right direction by a company that was clearly on its last legs.

No, I’m not calling for The Hobby to go back to the “good ole days” when base was everything, relics didn’t exist and autographs in packs were only done by Upper Deck; I’m just saying that a forgotten brand like Metal Universe deserves a little respect by Beckett Media since it is clear that collectors on eBay, browsing forums, and writing blogs already have plenty of respect for this unique brand from yesteryear.

For more coverage on Metal Universe, click HERE.





How To Put More Offenx into Topps Attax

11 08 2010

Author: Todd Uncommon

It does seem like there is life in the hobby for those under 15, and some gravity has accumulated around Topps Attax.  On June 26th, national championships were held for Topps Attax baseball at Citi Field.  Ike Davis was on site, as promised, but how cool was it to have Keith Hernandez be the emcee?  I wonder if that was a surprise for the contestants.  And their moms.

These championships are a good idea, and should be kept up, and expanded, as long as Topps Attax continues to live on.  Since the brand started last year with baseball, Attax has expanded to include Pucks, Slams, Matches, and well, NFL Football most recently.  Topps appears to be committed to promoting and expanding the sports card gaming brand for the foreseeable future.

There may be potential for Attax to be the sports-based gaming card that can add new life to sports card collecting in general, especially with the younger generation.  Even with console games, television, schoolwork (really?), and every other activity kids have available to them today, many still choose to collect and play Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Bakugan, and every other anime card game out there (Zatchbell, Pokemon, Digimon, Dragonball, and on and on…).  However, I think there are a few things holding Attax back from really competing on the same footing.

  • Round the corners, please.  The cards are a little schizophrenic; they’re not quite full baseball cards (no stats, numbering, etc.), but are expected to be used as game cards. Used as game cards = going to receive “wear”.  Sharp corners undermine its playability somewhat, like the card should be in a sleeve, case, or page only, and not play ready without wrecking its sports card “value potential”;
  • Durability! Every Magic or anime game card out there is more shaped like (rounded corners), and feels like (coated), a playing card than a traditional sports card.  They seem more durable and ready to play, rather than “will I ruin my card if I play with it?”  The Puck Attax game cards were made circular to avoid violation of the exclusive NHL license to Upper Deck.  If Topps didn’t make a [square sports card], but made a (round game piece) then they were in the clear.  Genius, really.  The got to make a card-like product with the NHL’s blessing, and also come up with a design that is, lo and behold, more durable to play with;
  • Add a greater element of the chase.  Every collectible card game (CCG) out there has a standard common, uncommon, rare, and super rare seeding process in every booster pack.  Make cards along that tier, and desirability goes up.  I’ve seen kids barter for rare anime cards (like I used to with baseball cards) with tactics that would make an Antwerp jeweler blush;
  • Make an easy checklist and number the cards, even on the front in mouse type, if that’s what it takes.  Attax’s ready-to-game status is hindered by the shape, but conversely, its status as a collectible also is hindered because you just don’t know what’s good to get, exactly, especially when a kid (and parent) is at Target, deciding whether to buy it or not, given neighboring alternatives. Yes, even those Bella Sara cards;
  • It’s the Attax UNIVERSE!  Now that there’s five different versions of Attax, it would be sweet to come up with rules to have a meta-game with their values.  Payton Manning vs. John Cena!  Vladimir Guerrero vs. Cristiano Ronaldo!  Given that the current releases have different backs (and shapes with Puck), that may be difficult.  However, that idea may open the door to plan ahead for cross-sport potential in future designs;
  • Use the sports property effectively!  Past editions of Attax with foil versions just aren’t going to cut it.  Let Panini do the foil thing; if they could coat LeBron James in foil and sell off slivers of him as relics, I think they might give that a try.  What about autos?  As far as I know, there’s no such thing as autographed anime cards.  Even artist-signed Magic cards are a yawner idea.  I was just thinking the other day, “If Topps has this fierce backlog of sticker autos they need to use, why not put them on a more budget “game” card like Attax, and add value and a chase factor to the product?  How much cooler would it be, as a kid, if you could slap down a Ryan Howard auto FTW?”

Topps Attax with autos! (But does it have a card number?) - image courtesy of dacardworld.com

It’s nice to see that there are some attractive autos in with the Attax NFL Football cards.  If we’re looking for innovation in the sports card business, some of it may be with Topps Attax.

So where’s the Keith Hernandez Topps Attax card with a Moustache hair relic?  I’m sure Keith’s ‘specialty’ value would be, like, 306.

“Say ‘hi’ to your mom…”