Friday, April 28, 2017

Flagship Hobby Box, Part 3

Here we are, rounding the third nine packs of this break, and Brett Lawrie is here to cheer us on.

Once again, we'll start with my favorite base cards of this section.  Here we have a little of everything: pitching, hitting, baserunning, catching, fielding, and throwing.  I think that Topps has done a good job with photography the last few years.

I got some more of these cards, though.  I have about 5 that printed this way that came out of this box thus far.  I'm not too thrilled about that.

Here are two more Bowman Then & Now cards.  Eric Hosmer is a PC keeper, while Strasburg is kind of a personal favorite of mine.  Remember when that Bowman Chrome Auto of his was THE card to chase?

 Here is my second Rainbow Foil, and it's a pretty good one.  Thor is about to lay down some thunder on the batter.  Or maybe Mr. Met.  Could be either.

Three more Topps Salute cards, in three different styles.  These cards are really all over the place.  And what exactly is Topps saluting?  Rookies?  Throwback unis?  The more I see of these, the more I think they are just an excuse for creating some inserts.

Here is the first Gold I've seen.  These are Short Printed to 2017.  Once again, I was forced to look up a rookie that I had never heard of.  Hernandez appeared in 41 games last season, and has but one appearance this year.  His hitting stats don't look like much, so I can only assume he makes his living with the glove, but I have to admit, I really don't know anything beyond the numbers I saw on

This is my favorite 1987 insert so far.  I never got on the Bo Jackson train back when he was active.  I think I was just too young to understand exactly how impressive he was.  I have since gained a great appreciation for his athleticism.  He has made his way into my baseball and football collections.

Another 5-Tool card.  Hanley is nearing the end of his career, and has been slowing down for a while now.  It has been years since he was a standout player.  Yet, he seems to be in everything still.  And I still collect him, because he was once a Rookie of the Year.  Although, this is one case where I prefer cards of the player in only one uniform: the Marlins.  Nevertheless, this one will have a spot in my binder.

And we'll end things with a great 1989 buyback.  I've gotten to wondering--Where exactly is Topps getting these?  Who is selling these "buybacks" to Topps?  Is it possible that one of us once owned this card, only to have to make its way back to Topps and cycle back into our own collections with a fancy stamp on it?

I'll leave this post on that thought.  One more post should wrap up this box.  We still have the guaranteed hit, and I really want to see how close I can get to completing Series 1.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Flagship Hobby Box, Part 2

I'm almost this excited to continue my 2017 Topps box break.  Let's take a look at some of my favorite base cards from the second 9 packs.

Zach Britton and David Peralta are ready to play.  I love the dugout shot, but it looks like a lot of empty seats behind him there.

I really like these ball-almost-in-the-glove shots.  The green board behind Lorenzo Cain adds a nice flair, too.  Adam Eaton looks almost out of control to me in this picture, like he's about to trip over his own feet.

And here is a great play at the plate picture.  I wish we could see the ball so we would have a better idea of how this play turned out.  The way the glove is closed already, I'm assuming the catcher has it and he may have enough time to make the tag.

Here is the first Rainbow Foil of the box.  They're kind of neat looking, but nothing we haven't seen before.

And here is an MLB Network insert.  I'm not really in love with set.  It's a good design, and a good idea, really, but just not my cup of tea.  So while the card looks good, it is definitely trade bait for me.

I got two more First Pitch cards, including the only one in the set that I was really wanting: Jon Lovitz.

My first Bowman Then & Now insert.  This card design is a little too busy and crowded, in my opinion.  Plus, I don't understand why they decided to use Bowman cards.  In fact, why use pictures of cards at all?  Why not show a picture from the rookie season to compare to now?  This just feels like some self-promotion masquerading as an insert.  And yet, I'd be hard-pressed to find a better player to pull, so I'm adding this card to my collection.  Well played, Topps.

This is interesting card.  It's a negative parallel and it looks kind of cool.  But for some reason, I was expecting this one to be serial numbered.  It's not, and now I'm wondering what the draw is.  It's essentially a washed-out black & white photo on the card that has no limited print run to make it desirable.  I had to look up Chad Pinder, by the way, as I had never heard of him before.  He got an August call-up last year, started this season in AAA, and was called up again last week.  I don't know much else about him, but here's wishing the young man a good career.

Two more Topps Salute cards.  Both players are pretty good pulls, and both of these cards have already been traded away on Trading Card Database.  Most of my Topps Salute cards have already been shipped out; I came across somebody who was building this set and had some of the base set that I needed.

This is my favorite insert of the box thus far.  Hunter Pence is just goofy enough to be one of my favorite players.  And he is actually pretty close to being a five tool player.  In fact, MLB Statcast says he is.  I like this card.

Two more wood panel tributes, one labeled as a Future Star and another finding himself being labeled a past star.

It's cards like the Mets Future Stars that I don't mind getting in the buybacks, sorry "Rediscover Topps," that is.  It's the Nieves and Yankees leaders that I do mind.  If anybody is collecting buybacks or Brewers or Yankees and wants these, let me know.

Finally, I'll end with one more advertisement card.  Once again, even though the back is only an ad, the player pictured is one that I'll keep in my collection. 

There is one last thing I should note.  In this round, I pulled a Topps Now scratch-off card.  I didn't really want it, so I went to eBay to try selling it, only to find that nobody was buying them.  So I went ahead and redeemed the code.  As it turns out, it was a winner.  So I will be receiving Topps Now card #179 when it is released.  I don't support the idea of Topps Now, but I'll take a free card.  My fingers are crossed for a Cubbie.

We are now halfway done with this box, with two more features to go.

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.