Monday, April 24, 2017

Flagship Hobby Box, Part 1

For some inexplicable reason, I decided to splurge a little on a box of Series 1 last week.  I really hadn't intended to do so, but I did.  Last year, I didn't open a single pack of flagship and planned on continuing that course this year.  I think my reasoning had something to do with the sheer number of Cubs thrown into the base and insert sets.  I know a lot of people have been critical of the past two years' designs, but I haven't really minded them.  As I've said before, they beat 2012-2014, in my opinion.  No, I just focused last on those little sets that I could put together with one cheap retail box (Opening Day and Bunt) and Archives.  This year, I've changed course already, passing on Opening Day and procuring a hand collated Heritage set.  Now, I've gone and bought a hobby box of flagship (for the first time ever, I might add) and I'm going to put at least Series 1 together.  We'll have to see about Series 2 later.

I'm going to present my findings in four parts, as I divide the box break into four days of opening nine packs each day.  I really don't want to show every card, so I'll just show you the base cards I find most interesting and the inserts.

We have some airborne players . . .

Some players keeping their eyes on the ball. . .

and some baseball exuberance.  This picture turned out way blurrier than I expected, but the D-Backs team card shows some great Gatorade drops flying out to Goldschmidt's left.  Great photography.  And I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing the Cubs celebrating a Game 7 win.

We also have Wilson Ramos staring deep into your soul . . .

and Adam Lind doing whatever he is doing.

While it is true that the design does cut out a good portion of the picture, I don't know that it takes out that much more than a border around the entire card.  Plus, I look at certain Panini brands and see that focal part of the card is the design and there are small pictures inside the keyhole of the border.  I think Topps often does a better job than Panini in this respect.

The back is not quite as good as the front.  In this picture, the problem is obviously not the design, but the giant misprinted line down the middle of the card.  I actually pulled a few cards that looked like this.  Was it just my box, or has anybody else seen the same thing? 

Typically, I find an insert set in lower end products that I really like and try to complete.  That wasn't really the case with this year's flagship.  None of the insert sets really stood out to me.

I think the 5-Tool set is the best of the bunch, and I really like the design.  However, I don't like Topps's loose interpretation of "5-Tool."  There are a few guys on the checklist that had me scratching my head.  Truly, I think the number of true five tool players would make for a pretty small set.

Here is an example of what I mean.  From the back of this card, I learned that Miggy stole four bases during his Triple Crown season.  Four bases!  Now that indicates some top-end speed, right?  Pitchers and catchers alike are shaking in their cleats with Miguel Cabrera threatening on the basepath.  Now don't get me wrong; Miggy is unquestionably one of the best players of this generation and I have the utmost respect for him. But does he qualify as a five tool player?  Topps thinks so.

Not a bad group of players for the 1987 insert.  I like the feel of these cards.  They're more of the "real" cardboard feel--a bit thicker and a bit grainier on the back.  And this is not a bad group of players to pull for the first few of them that I got.  Like many others, though, I have seen enough tributes to '87 wood paneling.

The Topps Salute is a decent-looking insert set, but it's all over the place.  Here we see a throwback uni.  Others are Father's Day, Mother's Day, Legends, etc.  When I first saw them on the blogs, I couldn't figure out why there were so many insert sets with identical designs.  They are all part of the same set, though.

First Pitch is back.  These are fun cards and I like the idea.  I don't think I'll ever chase the set, though.  I just don't care enough about non-athlete celebrities to make it that interesting to me.  Honestly, I have to Google most of the people on the checklist, as I had to do for Leslie Jordan here.  He looks like he's doing his best impression of another celebrated Jordan's silhouette in this picture.

Count me among the buyback detractors.  I don't like opening a pack of new product pulling junk wax commons.  Now, if I were pulling vintage cards, that might be a different story.  But stamping an overproduced card from 25 years ago and passing it off as an insert doesn't really work for me.  Maybe it means I'm too old to be collecting, because I could see this being a thrill for a kid who was born in 2006 to get a card from over a decade before he was born.  But for me, I don't get excited about this 1993 Charlie Hayes.

I also pulled a couple of advertisements.  They look great on the front, but the back is just an ad.  These don't bother me much, though, because as far as I can tell, these were extra cards that didn't count toward the number of cards in the pack.  I'll probably keep these, because they are great players whose actual rookies I will probably never own. 

Overall, I like the base set, but the inserts are lackluster.  That has been my biggest beef with flagship for the past few years: the proliferation of unimpressive inserts that have huge checklists.  Personally, I would prefer either smaller sets or fewer sets.  And they have to be attractive enough for me to decide I want to put the set together.  These inserts were not.

Stay tuned for a few more days of this box.  We'll see how much of the set I can complete from this one box.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Just a Big Guessing Game

A while back, Sport Card Collectors held a contest in which he allowed readers to guess the total number of page views his contest would get.  The closest guess without going over would win.  To muddy the waters a bit, he allowed people to put in a guess each day, which would presumably open the page view count to a potential skyrocket.  I ended up winning, but I was quite lucky to win.  First of all, I have no idea how many page hits SCC typically gets.  Second of all, I only put in one vote.  Third of all, I had planned to visit the page more often and put in multiple guesses, but I got busy and forgot to do so.  Ironically, if I had visited the page just a few more times, I would have widened the gap between my guess and the actual total.  I don't know for sure, but my forgetfulness might have been a key for my win.

So what did I win?  You know SCC always has some great freebies in his contests.  Here is just a sample of my spoils.

How about some numbered cards of a couple of great quarterbacks.  Two quarterbacks who have both received criticism for not being able to win the big one and have suffered some oh-so-close heartbreaking losses in the postseason.  Elway was able to exorcise his demons during his final years.  We'll see if Matt Ryan can do the same for himself at some point.  These cards come from Panini's resurrection of the Patches and Plates line, and really like what I'm seeing here.  The base card are ultra-thick and all numbered.  Looks like a great high-end product to me.

Black Gold is another high-end Panini product.  The base cards are all shadowboxes and even thicker than the Plates and Patches.  These acetate cards are pretty cool, but I'm going to have to get a better way of storing them than I currently have.

And here are some football hits that I got from these products.  The Plates and Patches Hunter Henry auto with the three-color patch is pretty nice.  A decent player, too.  He showed some flashes last season and it looks like the Chargers may have found another great tight end to step in when Antonio Gates decides to hang it up.  The highlight to me, however, is the low-numbered Marvin Harrison, who fits very nicely into my All-Decade collection.

Here we have some nice basketball cards from Limited.  The Chris Paul is serial numbered to 49 and is a great score, but I'm holding my excitement back on Chris Paul as he is facing up against my hometown Jazz in the playoffs.  I very rarely talk basketball on this blog, but I do have to say that the Jazz could be a difficult matchup for anybody in the West, but not without Rudy Gobert.  Gobert went down with a knee injury 11 seconds into Game 1 and his timetable is unclear at best.  The diagnosis was a hyperextenion and a bone contusion, so there was no structural damage, but nobody seems to know if he's going to be able to play in this series.  My feeling is that he will try.  If he doesn't, I think the aforementioned CP3 advances to the next round.

The last part of the winnings came from Donruss NASCAR.  I don't follow NASCAR at all, so I have to say that I don't even know who the relic is, with the accompanying green parallel of the same driver.  I do recognize the name Greg Biffle, at least.  But maybe you can help me out.  Is Martin Treux a big name or not?

The last card in the package was not part of the contest, but one SCC posted a few months back and I asked if it was available.

Here is my second auto of BYU grad "Le"Bronson Kaufusi, a freakish athlete who played basketball as well as football for the Cougars and terrorized opponents' backfields.  He was drafted in the third round last year before missing his first rookie season due to a preseason knee injury, and I'm hoping he can bounce back and realize his full potential.  His little brother, Corbin, by the way, is also a two-sport starter at BYU, but I don't think he has the same NFL frame that Bronson has.  We'll have to see if can bulk and develop a little more.

Thanks for the contest, SCC!  I have been setting aside some cards for you and will send a little something your way when the stack is big enough to justify it.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

First Major League Game

So my family spent the week in Phoenix for Spring Break while we visited my wife's sister.  While we were there, I took my son to his first Major League baseball game.  Oh, yeah, I guess it was my first Major League game, too.  While we were there, I realized that the D-Backs were playing and also realized that this was only the 4th time I had ever been in a city with a Major League team, and the 1st time I had been in one of those cities during baseball season.  I had to go.  Our seats were in the third deck, but we had a pretty good location--right behind the plate, as you can see in the picture.

We went Thursday night, when Arizona hammered the Giants 9-3.  Here we see Shark on the mound vs. Goldie in the sixth inning.  Goldschmidt singled on this at bat and was driven home on the next at bat by Jake Lamb.

We had a great time.  With any luck, it won't be the last MLB game I get to see.  In a way, it's kind of crazy to think that a sports fanatic like me had never made it to a real baseball game.  On the other hand, how cool is that I shared my first game with my 8 year-old son?  Pretty cool.

Since there should probably be a card connection here, I'll provide one for you.  When I was at the card show a couple of weeks ago, somebody brought a few cards over to my buddy and just gave them to him.  I commented that one of them was probably the best card I'd seen all day.  He handed it to me and said, "You take it.  You'll appreciate it more."  I told him that I wasn't just taking his card, so he needed to choose one from me for a trade. He chose this rookie autograph of up-and-coming star Jake Lamb, who played pretty well when I saw him on Thursday.

What card did I get?  This one:

Archives Fan Favorite Auto of Vern Law.  I think we made a pretty square deal.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Coming in From the Clubhouse

Reading posts around the blogosphere, I've learned that things were busy in the Cardboard Clubhouse in the past week or so, as many have posted mailings they have received from Adam.  I got a package last week, stuffed with some great football cards.  Here are the highlights:

Some parallels and inserts from my 2015 Prestige set build.  Love the Peppers here.

And here are some great HOFs from the 90s.  Some great sets here, too.

Thanks for all the football, Adam.  I'm setting aside Reds for you that I'll send out when the stack is bigger.

PS--Happy Opening Day, everybody.  I commemorated by opening packs of Opening Day with my kids.  First time ever, and I was happy to start the tradition.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Christmas in July...err, March

Jedi Jeff, hero of 2x3 Heroes  recently sent out his 'Tis the Season giveaways, and I was one of the lucky recipients.  I claimed a lot of 2016 Archives and 2013 Panini Golden Age.  I claimed the Archives because I am half-heartedly collecting the set and thought this could spark a more concerted effort.  And the Golden Age was intriguing to me because I had never owned any of it and it seemed like a pretty fun set.  I ended up getting more than I expected, which is never a bad thing when it comes to free cardboard.

Here are some of the best faces Jeff sent from the 1953 design.  I once read an article about Max Scherzer's dichromatic eyes, and apparently they are his favorite physical attribute.  Jose Altuve looks like somebody's annoying little brother here, and apparently Nelson Cruz was standing too close to the canister of tear gas in the spring training clubhouse. 

Moving to the 1979 design, we see some clubs that did not exist when this set made its original appearance.  One of the things I about throwback sets is the anachronistic look.  I like seeing the Marlins teal on this design, a color which was not there the first time around.

Likewise, my favorite thing about the 1991 style last year was seeing the older guys in a design that is iconic to my childhood, but still well after the player's time.  I especially like the Maris and Boudreau and their ilk, the ones who are more likely to be seen in black-and-white than the color here.  For some reason, these photos just pop to me.

As for the Golden Age, I was not disappointed.  I really like the cards I received in this set.  Here we have some historically significant baseball influencers.  Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the first commissioner of baseball.  His appointment was spurred by the Black Sox scandal of 1919, and it was partially his ruling against gambling that led to Pete Rose's banishment by commissioner Bart Giamatti about 70 years later.  Josh Gibson was simply the greatest power hitter of the Negro Leagues.  Curt Flood can be credited (or blamed, however you would like to view it) for the institution of the modern-day free agent system in baseball.

Some great old-timey entertainers made an appearance.

 As a history buff, I really like owning cards of some historically significant people.  Since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were born Utahns, they're everybody's favorite outlaws in these parts.  Only in the West do people have have favorite outlaws, I think.

More historical cards here, including the Lusitania, whose sinking by German u-boats during World War I turned Americans away from the widely held preference for isolationism.  Animosity toward Germany began to increase, eventually leading to American involvement in the war.

And, of course, there were other legendary athletes included, as well.  Now my only decision is whether or not I want to track down the entire set.  I'm still debating it, but this was definitely a fun addition.

Jeff also included some 2016 Diamond Kings.  This was first time I'd ever seen any of these cards, and I like them a lot.  I'm not a fan of unlicensed Panini, but with these vintage looking cards, it worked.  Here we have some of the greatest hitters to ever swing a bat and one-third of Chicago's most famous double play team.

To go along with the names that everybody knows, I got a chance to learn about some people that I had to learn a little more about.  I have no problem with researching guys for my hobby.

Jeff included some of my favorite modern-day players as well.  I'm still not used to seeing Ichiro in a Marlins uniform.  I don't think it will ever look right to me.

Some of last year's more ballyhooed rookies arrived in the package too, including Gary Sanchez and former top-three pick Jonathan Gray.  Overall, I thought the set was great.

Included in the package was a note from Jeff wondering why we've never traded yet.  Well, Jeff, now that I have your address, I plan on unloading some White Sox on you.  I'm hoping I have a few that you need.

Nothing like some free cardboard to celebrate the Christmas season in Spring.

But the Christmas feeling didn't stop there.  Oh no, Johnny's Trading Spot got in on the action, too.  In one of his posts, he mentioned that he had picked up doubles of this Jim Kelly holiday promo card:

Isn't that festive?  When I saw it on his blog, I immediately wanted it.  Why?  Well, this is why:

This is the football homescreen of Zistle.  I have seen this card listed first every single time I have pulled up the football page on Zistle for over a year.  When I saw a copy available in real life, I snatched it up, just so I could own the number one listed card on my favorite card organizing site.  Now that Zistle appears to be going the way of the dodo, all this appears to be a moot point.  But for novelty's sake, I'm still glad that I own the card.

So from 'Tis the Season giveaways to holiday promo cards, Christmas made another appearance in my mailbox this week.  Thanks to Jeff and John for the great cards!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Saturday at the Show With My Son

Card Collecting: A Family Affair

This weekend, the Local Card Shop held its semi-annual card show.  I didn't attend the last two, so it has been about a year and a half since I've been there.  This year, I called up a buddy and we decided to split a table to do a little selling at the show.  I try to sell at one of the two shows each year, but I usually only barely break even on the cost of the table.  So, to counteract that, I recruited a partner to share the cost.  Of course, the cost was really only one reason I wanted to share the table with somebody.  I also wanted to have ample opportunity to browse the other vendors' tables. 

I was excited for this show all week because, well, it's a card show.  But even better for me, my 8 year-old son wanted to come with me and sit at the table.  Yes, it would appear that I am in the process of creating a monster.  I loved the idea of my boy's first card show.

So, aside from the joy of having my son choose to join me, what did I find?

Mostly, a treasure trove of early 2000s products that were missing from my collection.  I had never even seen these brands until last week, and I was glad to add to my All-Decade Team collection here.

Let's not forget the late-90s, either.  Most of these products already had place in my collection, but these particular cards were new to me.

Moving backward in time, we see some great defenders of the 90s.  I really want to know why Kevin Greene is wearing only his boxers on this card.  Or why one would want workout shorts that so closely resemble boxers in the first place?

Being a card show just ten minutes away from BYU's Lavell Edwards Stadium, it had its fair share of people seeking and selling BYU players.  I had more people come to my table asking for Steve Young than any other request.  Unfortunately for them, I'm a collector, not a dealer, so I wasn't selling my own BYU collection.  But it can be tough to build a collection around guys with a hometown mark-up, and the LCS marks up the local guys in a big way.  For example, a base card of an Austin Collie non-rookie card is priced at $1.25, and good luck talking it down.  I expected to see the same thing from the various sellers at the show, but I found one seller who was pretty reasonable with his prices.  So I picked up a few cool Cougs.

First up, some great BYU QBs.  This Bret Engeman is my first of his card, and I have to admit, I was surprised to see it.  I had completely forgotten that he had latched on to any NFL team and was unaware that any cards were produced.  I think this is largely because Engeman was a pretty forgettable quarterback for some pretty lean years for Cougar fans.  He manned the QB spot for the teams following Lavell Edwards' retirement, and the team was struggling to find its way for the first time in about three decades.

Those two Ty Detmers are just purty, though.  I really like the Fleer Goudey sets.

Speaking of great quarterbacks, I picked up Steve Young at every level: in college, in the USFL, and in the NFL.  This is my first card featuring Young with the LA Express, and I knew I had to have it.  But I am curious about something on one of these cards . . .

Just who is on the back of this ProLine card?  I looked up Cardinal uniform numbers on Pro-Football Reference, and found nobody of note who ever wore #14.  Whoever this is only played in a handful of games in their career.  So why is this photo even in the mix of photos to be used on these cards?  How could it possibly have ended up on this card of Steve Young?  And, who is it?

Two of these guys now have Super Bowl rings.  One narrowly missed out when his team lost to the Patriots.  All played college football in Provo.

This is the first card I've seen of 2017 Draft Prospect and BYU all-time leading rusher Jamaal Williams.  I got this one from a kid who came to my table wanting to make a trade.  The card is a little more beat up than is visible in this photo, but I was quite willing to make a deal.  He wanted Steelers, and is often the case when I sell at card shows, I definitely let him get the long end of the stick.  I definitely don't want to be that guy who cheats kids out of cards, and I know of some out there.  Sometimes I made a deal just to help the kid out.  One kid came to my table wanting to trade for a Steph Curry.  I just happened to have several copies of the card, so I didn't have anything to lose.  I took a couple of his semi-stars, gave him the Curry, and put the two cards I got from him in my dime box when he left.  This was by far the most trading I've ever done at a card show.

The guy who had the table next to mine was also a Packers collector, so we ended up swapping a bunch of extras.  There was a lot more early 2000s goodness involved here.

These are the first cards I have of either of these players.  Super Bowl Hero Max McGee and Javon Walker.  Both came in the aforementioned trade.

I added a little to my Jordy Nelson PC.  The last two cards (Chrome Rookie and 60th Anniversary Red Parallel) came from the same vendor.  He was selling mainly high end stuff and wanted full book value for it all.  I picked out these 2 cards and talked him down to $7 for the pair.  I immediately wondered if I had just overpaid, but I have since learned that I can't get the Red Parallel (numbered to 60) anywhere online, and the cards of lesser players are on COMC for $3-$6 apiece, so I'm quite happy with the purchase.

I especially love the Anthony Munoz rookie here.  This was another part of the trade with the other Packer collector/vendor.  I traded a Brett Favre Refractor in the wrong uniform for this beauty.  We were both happy about it.

One thing my local card show sorely lacks is a dime box (or even a quarter box, at most tables).  I am the only one who ever sells cards from a dime box.  This show tends to revolve around high-priced high-end merchandise.  The cards shown here, with the exception of the Jose Abreu, are some of the only affordable baseball cards I found.  This seller was two tables down from me, and totally obnoxious all day long and a prime example of Guys I Don't Like Trying to Rip People Off at Card Shows.  I heard his incessant braggadocio all day long, informing anybody who would listen about all the money he had to invest in these cards.  When I selected the four 2017 cards shown above and offered him $2, his face looked like I had offered to slice certain sensitive parts of his body instead.  He agreed, but not before he had shown me another Carlos Correa. He offered me the 2016 Donruss Career Stat Line (shown above as Jose Abreu), numbered to 500.  He told me it was going on ebay for $36, but he would let me have it for $23.  I politely declined, but inside I was wondering if I owed somebody some money.  See, I had just barely paid some guy $1 for the Abreu shown above.  I was worried that he had taken too low of a price.  So I checked on ebay.  The Carlos Correa in question was listed for as low as $3.50 plus shipping, and didn't go above $8.  I couldn't believe the dishonesty in this guy.  I talked to him again about another item, and found a similar story.  He told me it was going for $70 on ebay, but I could have it for $30, when in fact, I could have ordered it right then for about $10.  Unbelievable.

In spite of this guy's getting my blood boiling, it was a pretty successful card show.  My son had a blast handing out my unopened junk wax packs to kids as they wandered by.  He cracked his first box (Panini Triple Play) and begged me for a George Hill card he found at a table.  I don't even care who it is, I was just delighted to have him ask for a player by name because he knew who it was.  And he already wants to know when the next one will be.  I'll take it.