Friday, October 25, 2019

These Football Cards Look Like They've Been Through a Football Game

We may be nearing the halfway point of the NFL season, but I'm just barely getting around to buying/posting new football cards. I splurged on a couple of jumbo packs of this year's offerings, as well as some clearance-priced jumbo packs from last year.

As you can tell from the difference in the pictures, I didn't open these all at once. I spread it out a little over a couple of weeks; hence, I have photos from the same purchase but taken at different times.

Let's take a look first at some of last year's cards.

First up, 2018 Score. As far as base cards go, only one will make it into my PC, and that is Adam Vinatieri. The rookies weren't impressive, as Bo Scarbrough was the best of the lot. These two inserts, however, are welcome additions to my collection. I'm getting ever closer to finishing the NFL Draft set, which I'm only after because I love how it will look all together in a binder.

Apparently, there were a lot of inserts stuffed into the jumbo packs of Score last year. This makes 6 inserts. All of these, by the way, are up for trade if you want them.

Did I mention there were a lot of inserts? This brings the total inserts/parallels to 15 in the pack. Heck, there's even a parallel of an insert in the Red Captains Khalil Mack. I tend to like the Captains insert more in parallel form, I've found. The Scorecard Abdullah and the Red Burfict have already found new homes, thanks to TCDB, but all the rest are also available for trade.

My favorite set design of 2018 was Panini. If it's just called Panini, does that make this something like Panini Flagship? That just seems weird. Anyway, I would have definitely gone after this set, except for one little detail: every rookie was a stupid SP, falling one per box. I couldn't afford to chase those down, so I just had to admire the set from a distance. Fitz and Donald were the best I got from the first pack of Panini.

Well, lo and behold, I pulled a rookie! These are on kind of a cool canvas cardstock. And, actually, there are two here, but Mark Andrews is a Bronze Knight parallel. A Bruce Smith Franchise Leaders will go into my All-Decade collection. I really, really like opening 2018 Panini.

A second pack of last year's Panini brought me two Packers, including a Bronze Knight. Of course, seeing DeShone Kizer in the background of Davante Adams's card makes me cringe a bit. Please stay healthy, Aaron!

I was two for two pulling a rookie out of the jumbo packs. And then I started wondering where I heard that the rookies were one per box. One per jumbo pack might be more accurate. So, I did some quick research to find they were two per box or one per fat pack box. I'm guessing, then, that these two clearance packs came from two different boxes originally, and I really lucked out, getting the box hit rookie from each one. Courtland Sutton was a good find, but you may notice the ding in the upper right-hand corner. This was a recurring problem with these cards, as you'll soon see.

Two inserts came out of this pack. I really like the look of the Pillars of Excellence card, but I really don't know what to say about Antonio Brown at this point. For a minute, it looked like his antics in Oakland were part of some master scheme to wind up with the Patriots. Then that stay wound up being short lived and I don't know what to think about it anymore.

I didn't just buy last year's clearance stuff, either. I pick up my first couple of packs of 2019 football, too. I pointed out that some of the second Panini pack had dinged corners. That's a chance you take when you buy older packs at big box stores. Who knows how many times they've been handled or even shipped? But I was really disappointed with what happened next.

I bought a fat pack of brand new Score. I don't know if this particular pack had been dropped or pack searched roughly or what, but the corners were frighteningly ugly. What made it even worse was that I had actually found some pretty good cards in there that I'm hesitant to even trade now.

The design is an obvious allusion to the classic inaugural 1989 Score. The borders are color-coded: blue for NFC teams and red for AFC teams. I believe this is my first MVS, besides the rookie card that came in a factory set of Donruss I bought last year.

"Hollywood" Brown is the best rookie I pulled, but you can see the rounded corner ding in the scan. The NFL Draft insert set (bottom row) is once again a nice-looking set, but not as colorful as last year's. The rookies are the only thing preventing me from selecting this set as my 2019 build. I have no problem with rookies in their college unis, but this is such an early-season release that they can't even tell us the NFL team that selected them. My set builds are a historical artifact in my mind, and I want to tell the story of the year's draft as a part of it.

There seem to be a lot of players jumping for the ball and making catches above their heads in this set.

I love the Packers. I don't care for their throwbacks. I get that they are a very old franchise and they are trying to replicate the original uniforms, which would have had leather helmets. But that doesn't make them any more attractive to me. Both of these inserts will stay in my collection.

Once again, there are a lot of inserts in a jumbo pack of Score. There is a good mix of shiny and not-shiny cards here. I think my favorite look is the Captains set. This was apparently an Ezekiel Elliott hot pack, with a base and two inserts, but all three had a corner that was beat-up. If anybody is interested in any of these cards anyway, they are all still available for trade.

The last pack I bought was Absolute. The past couple of years, Absolute has been really shiny with just a player pasted on a colored background. They were certainly eye-catching, but they weren't my favorite. This year, Panini decided to forgo the shine and put a photo with an actual background on the front. I like the laces on the side as a design feature.

Unlike Panini, with scarce rookies, and Score, with no NFL teams, the rookies in Absolute are a regular part of the base set. They are different from the rest of the base in the way they have been somewhat Chrome-ified. Because of the design and the feasibility of the rookie portion of the set, I think that Absolute will be my annual set build this year.

We'll finish off this post with the parallels and inserts of the pack. Luckily, both inserts are keepers for me, in the All-Decade and Heisman collections, respectively.

Score is always a fun, cheap break with a lot of inserts, apparently. I like this year's Score, but the damaged pack leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth--especially because I got some pretty good cards that were among the damaged. Absolute absolutely came through this year, in my opinion. For five jumbo packs for about $20, I certainly enjoyed the break.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Cubs (and Some Others) Stop Here

There's a new blog out there that I discovered. Well, sort of. It's a newly resuscitated blog that had been dormant since before I started this one, so I never knew it. But now, The Bucs Stop Here and its writer Nate are back and creating great content. Soon after I found the blog, I bought into a group break of Donruss Optic and ended up with the Pirates. I got some decent cards, but I wasn't interested in keeping any of them, so I reached out to Nate to see if wanted to trade.

Well, Nate accepted and took a look at my wantlist.

First he hit some Rookie of the Year players. I like the die-cut Cal. Nomar is in mini form, though it's hard to see from the photo.

Jose Fernandez was also a ROY, and his Chrome rookie is one of my favorite cards. Can you spot the difference between flagship and Chrome versions of this card? I already owned the refractor version, but I still needed the base.

When I first saw this Trout, I thought I had it already. But it turns out that this is a rainbow foil parallel of the insert. I didn't even know that existed.

I haven't bought any Chrome from this year, but this set does look good with the Chrome treatment.

More shiny Cubbies here, but these are more prospect types. I didn't realize it at first, but the Zastryzny is a numbered Green refractor. 2017 wasn't a good year for Topps, but the Chrome colored refractors really suffered with hardly being distinguishable in that design.

This may not be a Cubs uni, but we all know Anthony Rizzo is a Cub. This is a fun card of Rizzo representing his heritage in the World Baseball Classic.

The highlight of the package was this sparkly Javy Baez. It's a 2014 Bowman Platinum Bowman is Back Refractor. That's quite a set name, but this card deserves it. It's a sweet prospect card in the 1989 Bowman look. And El Mago probably conjured the sparkle himself out of thin air. That's just who he is.

Thanks for a great trade, Nate. I hope we can deal more in the future.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Traveling Through the Years with Thunderfoot

Of my many recent trades on TCDB, a few of them have been blockbusters. One particularly large trade was with a member who goes by the name of Thunderfoot. He is apparently a fellow football set collector, and I had a lot of dupes from my 1995 Collector's Choice and 2013 and 2017 Prestige builds that I was more than happy to send out in bulk. We both received more than 250 cards in the trade.

He had a few cards from my actual wantlist, like this pair of Heisman winners.

Or some All-Decade players. There are some great cards here, including Roger Craig getting a blow on the oxygen, a nice LT hologram, and a die-cut Ben Coates. I also like the Richard Seymour rookie and the early Stadium Club of Charles Woodson, but my favorite here has to be the throwback uniform of Champ Bailey. I think the old spearhead helmets are the best uniforms in Redskins history.

And, of course, I'll always welcome some former Cougs to my collection. Detmer and Beck remain two of my all-time favorites some of my favorite BYU memories come with them at the helm of the offense. Those memories seem to be all we fans have for a program that seems to be heading in the wrong direction and is slogging through another disappointing season, having dropped three in a row, including losses to Toledo and South Florida (who made BYU their first FBS win since 2017 last week). Now down to the third-string QB and facing a Top-15 Boise State team, the team may have a rough Homecoming weekend.

Most of the cards I got from Thunderfoot, however, didn't come from my wantlist. Instead, I perused his substantial tradelist for sets that were not represented in my collection. I have an unofficial side project in my collection, a Frankenset with one card representing any [base] set I can add to my collection. Right around 1992, that Frankenset starts to look a little nuts with so many products suddenly flooding the hobby. I was able to click "add" on a lot of cards from sets that needed some representation in my "Through the Years" Frankenset.

Let's travel through time with some football cards. We're starting in 1995 with Isaac Bruce in Playoff Contenders. This scan goes into 1996 with Troy Aikman on a Topps Gilt Edge. I already owned a few of these, but those cards are in other binders. It's a pretty weird set, I think, and I'm not sure that I like it.
More 1996 here, beginning with Tony Brackens as a big-name rookie in Score. Ed "Christian's Dad" McCaffrey represents a beautiful gold-foiled 1997 Pacific design. This ends with in 1998 with J.J. Stokes on Leaf Rookies and Stars.

Return-specialist extraordinaire Tamarick Vanover continues 1998 on Topps Chrome. 1999 flashes though--literally, as it is mostly shiny. I'm a big fan of the Stadium Club shot of Detroit DB Terry Fair returning a kick and being tracked by placekicker Michael Husted. Upper Deck Ovation was always a nice looking and textured card. Charles Johnson kicks off 2000 on Collector's Edge Supreme.

This is where things get weird for me. I have very little from 1999-2012, and to be honest, not too many of these sets interest me much. In fact, much of the decade we're about to see looks very similar from year to year. Of the year 2000, I like the Leaf Certified, shown here by Simeon Rice, the most.

2001 offerings here, and my favorite is clean, classic looking Pacific Eric Moulds. I'm also a fan of Topps Gallery and the rare look at Jeff George as a Redskin. I don't think I have any memory of that particular partnership.


Finest is the finest of 2002, in my opinion. I like the shiny blue and the odd squares along the side. Upper Deck and Stadium Club, as always, represent well.
I hardly had anything from 2003, so there is a lot of new stuff here for me. I don't see anything from this scan that I would necessarily like to see binder pages full of, but Bowman (Reggie Wayne) doesn't look too bad to me.


2003 continues on here, and I like this selection a little more than the last. Finest and Absolute are nice and shiny. Prestige is simple, yet interesting. And SPx, wow! That is a crazy looking card. Realistically, I could see myself building a Prestige set from this year if I decided to chase one from 2003.

Marching on to 2004. This year seemed to improve a lot in terms of design. Score (Steve McNair), Upper Deck (Kyle Boller), Finest (Jimmy Smith), and Prestige (Tedy Bruschi) all look pretty good. Check out the return of Zenith! I didn't even know that Donruss had resurrected that brand from Pinnacle, but it's good too. The big card to me here, though, is the Lofa Tatupu rookie. He had a pretty good career going for him until injuries derailed him.
2005 brought some fancy shine from SPx and SP Authentic. I like Topps's 50th Anniversary set from this, and bonus score for a Thomas Davis rookie. I've always liked Davis's game. Fleer Ultra looks good with the late Sean Taylor on front.
Now we're going to slow down a little, as I have more cards from these later years. Only two new sets from 2006 were added. Oddly, 2006 Bowman Chrome was already represented in my Frankenset--by TJ Houshmandzadeh. Now he's on the page twice in two different finishes of Bowman cards.
2007 was not too impressive. In fact, I really dislike the Donruss Classics design (DeAngelo Williams). Why try to fit the photo into a keyhole?
Two 49er quarterbacks show my two favorite designs I added from 2008. JT O'Sullivan is on a nice Contenders card, while the guy he backed up, Alex Smith, has Upper Deck Icons covered.
Only one 2009 set was new, although I already had a few of these, just in other parts of my collection. Vincent Jackson, whom I watched play collegiately at Northern Colorado, will fill the spot in my Frankenset.
Now we get into the current decade with some cards that are starting to look much more familiar to me. 2010 saw the introduction of Topps Prime (Clinton Portis here), which was great while it lasted.
From 2010 to 2016, Thunderfoot didn't have any cards for trade from sets that lacked representation in my binder. I've been busy collector in those years. However, there were a few Panini offerings in 2016 that I did not sample. I like the looks of all three of these sets, though they are all quite different. The red background on Edelman's Crown Royale is especially nice, I think.

This was just a sampling of a much larger trade through TCDB. While it didn't hit many needs for me, it was a lot of fun seeing sets that I wasn't familiar with and choosing the right cards to fit in my Frankenset binder. There are so many sets out there that I don't anticipate ever getting a sample of all of them, but it is fun to flip through and see the evolution of sets and brands. Thank you, Thunderfoot, for adding to that enjoyment!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Wallet Card at Alcatraz

I've never had a wallet card before, but then again, I never really go anywhere. This week I've been with a team from work at a conference in San Francisco. We spent day 1 playing tourist, including a trip to Alcatraz. It was an invigorating trip, but after 3 days away from family, it is nice to be home.

Something I learned about Alcatraz was that it was a fort during the Civil War. After the war, it was a military prison before it was transferred over to the Department of Prisons. I did not know the military origins. The more you know...

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

2019 Topps Big League: The Good, Great, and Ugly

When Big League was released a few months ago, I didn't buy any. I saw it around the blogs and really liked the look of it, but I never purchased any. A couple of weeks ago, I saw that Dave and Adam's had hobby boxes for $25, so I decided to pick up a couple of them. My hope was to build the set while having a fun rip. It turned out to be an interesting box break for me.

Let's start with the design. It didn't seem to get a lot of love from the bloggers who posted it. I immediately liked it, but I think I was in the minority. Seeing it in hand, well, it just doesn't look as good up close. I like the concept of the ticket stub along the bar with the name. I even like the crooked picture. But seeing all the cards, one after another, the design was less impressive. Still, I like the look; it just got a little busy all together.

Here was my biggest issue, though. The numbers on the back of the cards are not oriented the same way. What the heck, Topps? Also, these numbers are on the bottom of the card, if you're looking at the front. Meaning that the number is upside-down. It's a good thing I double-bag my pages, or this would drive me nuts forever.

As the first box break was going down, I was starting to be less than impressed with the inserts I was getting. Each pack contained a gold parallel and an insert and it felt like I was pulling A's, Tigers, and Orioles left and right. Then I came across a pack with this duo:

Boom! This is by no means a hit-driven product. My main goal was to build the base set and an insert set or two. Still, it's nice to pull cards I can keep or trade easily.  This'll work.  For a low-end insert and a per-pack parallel, I couldn't have hand-picked any more value here.

As per the stated odds, I expected six Star Caricatures, and that's what I got. Due to the size of the set, I don't expect to put this set together. I'm keeping Acuna for my ROY collection, and Kluber an Castellanos have already left my house.  The others are available for trade.

Ditto to the six Wall Climbers odds. This is only a 10-card set, so I'm going for it. It's a cool set, too, with some of my favorite types of shots in baseball.

 I won't be building the Player's Weekend set. None of these cards fit in my collection, so they're up for grabs. Note the teams: A's,  M's, O's, and Marlins. I had a hard time with pulling popular teams, as you will see later on.

Finally, the Blast Off! insert set. I might go for this one. It will depend on how much of the set I still need after two boxes. I'm not in love with the design, but it could be a fun, small set to chase.

 For the most part, the odds played out exactly as stated. I pulled the number of these inserts that I expected.  There was also one Rainbow Foil, numbered to 100, to be had per box. I got that. But I beat the odds on this box--twice.

 An auto! And not just any auto--a Black & White parallel numbered to 25! And the team is the Rays! Oh, wait. Nobody collects the Rays? Well, that fits the theme of the box. It's good pull anyway. Then I pulled reigning MVP Christian Yelich in Ballpark Oddities form. Yup, that's a case hit. It caps off a Yelich hot box, apparently, as I also got the Gold, Blast Off!, and Star Caricatures of him.

After Box 1, I had accumulated 189 of the 400 base cards for 47% of the set. That's a solid set. I was excited for Box 2. I was shooting for about 80% complete by the time I finished this break.

The golds treated me a little better this time. Good players here, and I really love the Albert Pujols highlight card, commemorating hit 3,000th hit.

Six more Caricatures, six new cards, less than ideal teams once again. All are available, minus Blackmon, who is already on his way to a new home.

I'm keeping the top row of Acuna, J-Hey, and Castellanos. There aren't any Castellanos cards with the Cubs yet, outside of Topps Now, so this will have to do for now. The bottom row is up for grabs with the star being Walker Buehler.

Welp, 6 more Blast Off! cards and 4 of them are dupes. I don't think I care enough for this set to chase it, so I'm only keeping Trout, one Judge, and one Harper. The rest are available.

I was hoping to finish off the Wall Climbers set, but all the dupes means I'm still two short of the set. I'll pick 'em up soon, though.

Once again, I got my promised Rainbow Foil box hit. Mariners. Sigh.

The most disappointing thing was how nearly identical the two boxes were. If you remember, I had 189 base cards for 47% of the set. Where did I stand after Box 2?

% COMPLETE47.30%51%
That's right, I increased a total of 15 new base cards. That means that of the 191 base cards, 176 were dupes. After two boxes and 380 base cards, I only have 51% of the set. If anybody is working on this set, get in touch with me. Maybe we can swap dupes and help each other out.

As for inserts and parallels, here is a team-by-team breakdown of my pulls.



There was one final treat in Box 2. Beating the odds one more time, I pulled this

Another auto! Not bad for a product that doesn't promise any hits. And how similar were these two boxes? Besides 92% of the base cards being identical, both hits were Rays. Any Rays collectors out there? They did win Game 4 tonight, so maybe somebody will want these. Still, for the price point and the fun of chasing a set, these two boxes provided a little fun for me this past weekend.