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.