Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Big Topps Archives Surprise

One of my favorite products each year is Topps Archives.  Over the past couple years, as I've tried to pay more attention to my collecting habits and identify what I tend to target--and why--I've been learning that I like the fun factor in my baseball cards.  Opening Day and Archives fit the bill for me.  They're relatively inexpensive and both products tend to include some sort of fun insert set.  Though I always like the Archives product, I don't pick up as much of it as I would like.  First, my local stores don't carry a ton of it.  Second, I never seem to have any leftover money for it when it's released.

Last week I picked up a blaster and a hanging pack of Archives.  I was mostly excited to see the 1991 design.  I was also hoping for a Kevin Costner autograph, though I've never really like Bull Durham.   No, I didn't pull the Costner.  Still, I definitely left with absolutely no complaint.

Let's start with the blaster box.

Pack 1

My first look at 2016 Archives, and I like it.  I like the nostalgic feeling of the older sets, but I think part of the fun of the product is that the cards feel different.  No it's not the thickest card stock, but neither were the originals.  These aren't quite as grainy as the older cards, so they feel more modern, if that makes sense.  Plus, I really like seeing teams like the Rays on 1991 cards.

From this pack, Trout and Marichal go into my PC binder.

Pack 2

Here is an example of the fun inserts I like.  I'm fascinated by the lineage of baseball families.  The Father-Son set gets my attention.  I do wish that this particular card were Sandy and Sandy, Jr., though.  Ichiro will go into the binder.

Pack 3

I think Topps did a great job using photos that actually fit the set they were redoing.  The Bench card is great.  There are 3 pretty solid rookies in this pack.  But the highlight here is the Kris Bryant insert.  It's impossible to be a Cubbies fan and not be totally captivated by what he has done in his two seasons with the team.  I'm always happy to add something of his to my collection.

Pack 4

HOLY COW!  It's a Phil Rizzuto numbered to 199.  I think these blue borders come about one per blaster.  It's up for trade, if any Yankee fans out there are interested.

I'm not a Ryan Braun fan at all, but that is one attractive card to me.  The colors and the photo framing mesh together so well.

Nomar and Abreu will go into my binder.

Pack 5

Gooden and Fergie will go into binders. The Matt Kemp here exemplifies one more thing I love about the 1991 redux: teams that have changed logos have their current logos and colors represented on the 2016 version of 1991.  Again, I like the modernity it adds to the older design.

Pack 6

Here it is.  For just the second time in my life, I pulled a 1/1.  From a blaster box, no less.  And I've no intention of letting this puppy go.

Yes, that's a 1/1 black border of one of the biggest rookie names on my favorite team!

There it is, in all of it's serial-numbered glory.

Apparently, I was so stoked about this card that I forgot to get any pictures of the rest of the pack. Sorry.

Pack 7

Another insert, this one from the #1 Draft Pick set.  Hamilton is the only active player in this pack.  The rest are all retired, and I'm okay with that.

Pack 8

We'll polish off the blaster with the second Luis Severino, this one an insert.  There's a nice-looking Griffey and the newest member of my All-Star MVP binder, Eric Hosmer.  This is my first Corey Seager, believe it or not, but I expect I'll be chasing more of his cards in about a month or so.  All due respect to Trevor Story, but I think Seager gets NL Rookie of the Year and joins my collection.

Earlier I mentioned the new Padres look represented on the 1991 style.  Well, the Perry here shows the same concept in reverse.  An older Indians style for this card to match the player's era is a nice touch.

Hanger Pack

Now on to the hanger pack.  In just one blaster and one pack, I ended up with a few dupes, but here are the new cards.

Welcome to my binders, Mr. McCovey and Mr. Williams.  If I had pulled an Aroldis Chapman, I would have the Yankees' entire back end shut-down pitching armory in one pack.  Well, as it was constituted when the cards were made.

So there is my first taste of Archives.  Even without the Schwarber, I enjoyed ripping these packs.  I think I'm going to passively put this set together; I'll put my needs up on my wantlist here and see what happens.  As much as I liked the set, I already am working on two sets from this year and I'm pretty much all geared up for football.  But this set is definitely worth picking up to me.

Friday, September 23, 2016

1997 Pinnacle Zenith pt. 6

We're in the home stretch of some great late 90s time travel.

Pack 21

Here is a solid group of players.  McNair, Muhammad, and Pickens were some of the best players their respective teams had to offer in the 1990s.  In McNair's case, ever, probably.  Warren Moon and Steve McNair remain the two best Houston Oiler/Tennesse Titan quarterbacks in franchise history, in my book.  Even better than McNair's packmate, Chris Chandler.  Wait, why am I pulling two Oiler quarterbacks in one pack, anyway?

Pack 22

 Deion, Bruce and Ricky Watters.  Look how dirty that uniform is!  I love that picture, and it is one of my favorite cards I've seen in this set.

Pack 23

Dan Marino, Terrell Davis, and a faux Marvin Harrison rookie highlight this pack.  Don't worry Marvin!  Peyton Manning will soon be there to get you the ball!

Pack 24

We'll wrap this up with two all-time great Smiths, Emmitt and Bruce.  Plus a solid Junior Seau and a great action shot of Anthony Johnson.  Not a bad way to end the box.

For those of you who weren't keeping score, that box brought in 144 total cards.  I pulled 5 inserts, as opposed to the expected 3 according to the odds.  I completed 139/150 (93%) of the base set, with no extras.

If anyone has any trade, I still need numbers 3, 50, 77, 78, 101, 105, 107, 110, 115, 143, 145, 150.  Not one of these cards is available for trade on Zistle, so unless a reader can help me out, I may end up buying the rest of these singles.  I always find trading to be so much more gratifying, though.  Let me know if you've got anything available.

1997 Pinnacle Zenith pt. 5

Two more parts to go in this box break.


A pair of All 1990s receivers, a Hall of Famer from BYU, and a pretty cool rookie shot of 4 Ohio State draft picks: Rickey Dudley, Terry Glenn, Bobby Hoying, and Eddie George.  I know not all of those guys panned out in the NFL, but it was still a pretty explosive college offense.

Pack 18

Here are two guys that make me cringe for different reasons: John Mobley and Jamal Anderson.  The name John Mobley just makes me think of Mobley's pass break up to kill any hopes of a Packer comeback in Super Bowl XXII.  Jamal Anderson played his college ball at Utah, and the BYU/Utah rivalry is a pretty bitter one.  Every once in a while, I find myself rooting for a Ute in the NFL (Alex Smith, Eric Weddle, for example), but mostly, the rivalry runs deep.

Pack 19

Here's another quarterback card of the QB being sacked.  I don't get why the card company would do that.  Especially for Warren Moon in a 1996 photo.  I almost want to scream, "He's too old for that!"

Pack 20

The first card in the pack: Mark Brunell.  The last card in the pack: Keenan McCardell.  Brunell to McCardell is an underrated connection in my opinion.  They could light it up in their day.  Speaking of underrated, Ben Coates doesn't get nearly as much remembrance as he probably should.  For a few years, he was the only offensive option the Patriots had.

Four packs in this box to go...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

97 Pinnacle Zenith pt. 4

Here are the next four packs of my Pinnacle Zenith box break.

Pack 13

Aside from the Emmitt, not much to say for this pack.

Pack 14

What's this?!  Is that another V2 insert?  Yes, the odds on these cards are 1:25, so I expected one in this box.  But here is another, and it's of the player who defined my favorite team for over a decade.  Welcome to my collection Brett.  I sometimes feel like it's rare for me to beat the odds, but I managed it here.

Pack 15

Marshall Faulk.  Junior Seau.  Kevin Greene.  Brian Dawkins.  All of those are either in the Hall of Fame or deserving to be there soon.  Garrison Hearst and Tony Brackens are no slouches either.  This is a pretty solid pack, and has the makings of a pretty solid defense, too.

Pack 16

And here I go, beating the odds again.  This is my 3rd Rookie Rising insert, pulled with 1:12 odds from a box of 24 packs.  It's a nice looking card of a guy who definitely didn't live up to expectations in out of Michigan.  The Chris Warren is nice to me, as well.  I always liked watching him play, and I don't think he is remembered nearly as much as he should be for the great job he did.

Down to eight more packs to go.  I can't expect to pull another insert, as I've already beaten the odds twice.  But no dupes so far means I'm making some good progress on the set.

Friday, September 16, 2016

1997 Pinnacle Zenith pt. 3

Here are packs 9-12 of my box of one of the late-90s better brands.  (Still apologizing for the white space on the scans.  No matter how I try to crop it, the new version won't save.)

Pack 9

As a Packers fan, this pack with 3 Bears makes me a little bit ill.  But a young Curtis Martin is good.

Pack 10

Two bruising running backs that I really enjoyed watching back in the day highlight this pack for me.  I'm surprised to see Tony Banks in a running shot.  I don't remember him as a running quarterback.  Actually, I barely remember him standing, now that I think about it.  Adrian Murrell makes another appearance in a photo that I absolutely love, this time as a cameo on little Wayne Chrebet's card.

Pack 11

Desmond Howard will always have a place in my heart as the MVP of the first Super Bowl the Packers won in my lifetime.  A card commemorating that performance is awesome as well.  I'm realizing as I go through this box just how much I watched Chris Berman on NFL PrimeTime.  His nicknames are the first thing I think of for so many of these guys, such as Amani Toomer.

Pack 12

A couple of Hall of Famers and a beloved Packer in this pack.

Well, we're now halfway through this box.  Based on the odds and number of cards, I expected to complete 93% of the set (if there are no dupes) and pull 4 inserts.  At this point, I have pulled 3 inserts and have completed 46% of the base set.  No dupes so far.  We'll keep it rolling next time.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

All the Way to the Pinnacle, Zenith (Acme?) of the Hobby Pt. 2

Continuing my box of 1997 Pinnacle Zenith.  I've pulled a Hall of Famer out of every pack, and have one insert under my belt so far.

Pack 5

What's this?  Two Jerry Rices?  And All-Decade man Hardy Nickerson.  And my first Packer, a rare cardboard appearance in the Green and Gold by Mr. Bad Moon Rison.  And my second insert.  I'm not too happy to pull a Lawrence Phillips, but oh well.  Rookie Rising inserts have 1:12 odds, so I should get a second shot later on.  Overall, though, not a bad pack.

Pack 6

And the very next pack brings me that second expected Rookie Rising.  Keyshawn, the number one overall pick from the previous year.  I'm not a huge Keyshawn fan, but it sure beats Lawrence Phillips.  Really, the insert is the only saving grace for this pack.  No other big names, but there is a card of Jim Harbaugh being sacked.  You know, I've never understood why card companies put pictures of quarterbacks being sacked on the quarterback's card.  It's like a picture of a batter striking out.  Come to think of it, I have other cards of Harbaugh being sacked.  It must speak to the quality of the Colts' offensive line in those years.

Pack 7

Two Rices, and now two Favres.  Plus a Barry Sanders.  Needless to say, this is my favorite pack so far. All of these players are solid or stars.  Even Elvis had his moments. 

Pack 8

Three "rookies" in this pack, and it's a good selection with Zach Thomas, T.O. and one of my all-time favorite names, Tshimanga Biakabutuka.  But alas, these are faux-rookies, as these cards are actually from the year after their rookie year.

More to come from this box later.

All the Way to the Pinnacle, Zenith (Acme?) of the Hobby

A while back, I found a box of 1997 Pinnacle Zenith on ebay for under $20 delivered.  This was a product that I could never have afforded as a kid with a part-time job, so I had never cracked any of it.  At that price, I decided it would be fun.

So, to give a brief review of a product that has only been out for 20 years or so, I like the design on it.  It looks high-class, 90s style, but isn't too busy, like many of its late-90s contemporaries.  The inserts are actually harder to come by, and not as prolific as many sets, which I like.  It gives them a little more value to me, plus makes it easier to build the set.  I came close on only one box.  The biggest drawback, to me, is the lack of rookies.  The "rookies" in this set are actually the class of 1996, which makes these second-year cards.  Nobody from the class of 1997 is to be found.  Oh well; I like many of the names in the '96 class, so I was glad to see them anyhow.  I also have a slight problem with the set name.  Pinnacle Zenith.  Is that not a bit redundant?  But I guess I won't let that retract from the cards.

The box I opened contained 24 packs of 6 cards each.  I'll roll these out 4 shiny, gold-foil packs at a time.  I apologize for the white space on the scans.  My photo editor isn't saving any changes I make, so I finally gave up on trying to crop them.

Pack 1

Well, the first pack brings me 3 Hall of Famers.  I especially like the design of the Season Highlights subset.  It's just a little bit more than the solid circle of the regular base cards.

Pack 2

Not much to speak of here in Pack 2.  Thurman Thomas is a HOFer and an All-Decade guy, but the rest of the pack is pretty uneventful.  I do appreciate the crowd acknowledgement by Adrian Murrell, though.

Pack 3

Two Heisman winners here, including one of my all-time favorites, Barry Sanders.  A Barry appearance will make me happy with pretty much any pack.

Pack 4

Two more Hall of Famers, but the big news is my first insert.  The V2 set is seeded about one per box, and I pulled this lenticular of Joey Galloway.  A solid player, if not the biggest name.

I'll keep it going with other pulls from this box later on.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Fantastic Return

Well, it has been awhile since I dropped off the radar.  I’m still around, but I haven’t had much opportunity to accumulate more cards, let alone write about them.  We are in the middle of selling and buying a house and moving.  In fact, moving day is tomorrow so I’m still way too busy to be posting this.  But since I’m trying to keep my blog football-centric, it seemed to me that I couldn’t let the opening of the NFL season without trying to get this blog rolling again too.

With the first game of the season come fantasy football drafts.  I have two teams this year, but I always try to keep one team as my “official” team.  The second team is just because I like to try the draft again and try a different track.  But I hold myself to my original thinking for evaluating my fantasy season.

Here is my team for this year:

QB-Blake Bortles

I picked up Bortles in the ninth round, and I’m happy with it.  He’s not the flashiest, sexiest pick at QB, but he was solid last year, and I expect he can improve in Year 3.  Plus, I can’t deny the weapons around him.

RB-Todd Gurley

Here is my first round pick.  I had him higher on my draft board than I actually took him, so I’m happy.  I tried a zero WR strategy because I figured that with the myriad receiving yards and TDs in to be had in the NFL, I’ll take a chance on a bunch of middle tier receivers while I stock up on the few guys who could be workhouse runners.  Gurley will be options 1-3 for the Rams, so I’m expecting a lot of quantity from him.  I hope he can hold up.

RB-Jamaal Charles

Here’s another back that I hope survives.  And it already appears he’s out for Week 1.  But he’s a good bet when healthy, and the ability to insure one injury-prone workhorse with another workhorse is another reason for my zero WR strategy.

WR-Jordy Nelson

Jordy was my first receiver choice, and I broke a little with my strategy, but when one of my favorite Packers is on the board in the 3rd round, after his ADP, the fan in me won’t let me pass him up.  (Incidentally, the same reasoning explains the presence of Eddie Lacy on my secondary team.)  I hope Jordy hasn’t lost a step, and fantasy is just a small reason for that.

WR-Kelvin Benjamin

My second receiver choice, I hope he picks up where he left off his rookie year and Cam keeps playing lights out with some actual talent around him.

WR-Donte Moncrief

I listened to all the pundits who are predicting a breakout season for Moncrief, and took a shot.  This isn’t a sleeper pick, but I am counting on the prospect of production here.

TE-Jordan Reed

I didn’t plan to take a tight end this early, but I had just taken my 3rd running back and I liked Reed’s projection compared to his peers compared to taking my pick among similar WRs.  Maybe it was the wrong choice, but I thought that since Reed is projected to be so much more dominant than the other TEs that were left on the board, I’d try to give myself a leg up there.

DEF-New York Jets

Does this pick even matter?  The way I stream defenses, don’t expect this DST to stay on my roster beyond Week 4, at the latest.  But this seemed to be the best team available to start the season.

RB3-Matt Forte

I could list my kicker here (Dan Bailey), but they don’t really make kicker cards very often anymore.  For better or worse.  That could be the topic of future post, now that I think about it.  But I don’t want to write about the kicker on my team.  Instead, I’ll add Matt Forte, since he was my 4th round pick and is sure to play a big part on my team.  I don’t think he’s lost too much, and I feel sorry for the poor guy because he’s always been so underrated.  For me to show as much love to a Bear as I do tells you how much I really think of him.  Now that he is no longer a Bear, I have no qualms with picking him up in hopes that he becomes a major cog in my machine. 

And my bench:

Gio Bernard
John Brown
Sterling Shepard
Rishard Matthews
Dak Prescott

This is one of my favorite fantasy teams I’ve ever had on Draft Day.  My biggest concern is injuries.  Three of my top starters (Charles, Nelson, and Benjamin) are coming off of season-ending injuries.  But if they make it back, I like the potential.

I’m thinking of creating a fantasy binder that chronicles my fantasy teams—each team gets a page of top contributors.  It would add an interesting dimension to my collection, and I wind up cheering for new guys each year and I get attached to them.  I may not want nine new PCs each year, but sporting a page chronicling some of the new players I find myself rooting for each year could be interesting.