Saturday, September 26, 2020

A King's Ransom

I wasn't planning on posting today, but something just happened to make me change my mind.

Today is my birthday and, purely by coincidence, I opened my mailbox to a PWE from Jon of Penny Sleeve Thoughts. This is the note he sent me.

When he did his most recent Free Stuff Giveaway, I mentioned that both of the cards I would have claimed were taken. No big deal; I didn't think anything of it. Well, apparently Jon did, and he thought I needed a consolation. So he sent this little, insignificant thing instead.

What?! A 1952 Bowman! My first one and now the oldest card in my collection. It's even got a little star power, since Ransom "Randy" Johnson was a two-time All-Star for the Cubbies at third base. All this because Jon a) thought I somehow deserved something just for commenting on his post b) is a very generous guy. I can't say, "Thank you," enough, Jon. It was a wonderful birthday surprise.

Here is the back, for those who are interested. Hope you are all having a great day, too.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Reigning on the Diamond

Panini has one good baseball product, I think. I think Donruss looks atrocious year after year. Prizm may be shiny and have cool refractors, but I think it also looks ugly. Logically, the lack of a logo shouldn't make much difference. After all, you're still getting a 2x3 cardboard picture of a baseball player. But the missing logo just seems to detract so much from the card. In the past few years, though, I've found a Panini brand that I have really liked. I haven't had much chance to break a lot of Diamond Kings, but every time I do, I have a lot of fun with it.


Over the summer, I found a hobby box on eBay for a price I liked, so I picked it up. I knew full well that I would have no time to crack it open for a while, but I thought it would be fun to have something to bust open when things settled. Indeed, we were already packing for a move when I received the box, so I had to pack it away immediately without a glance. We spent a few weeks after the move living with my parents while we renovated, and most things remained in boxes in the garage after we did move in while we figured out where to put things. It was only recently that I could get to my cards. This past week, I got around to discovering the contents of this box. I don't often post box breaks in this format, but I kind of wanted to show how the entire break went, so here is a pack-by-pack look at a 2020 Diamond Kings hobby box.

Pack 1: 

The box started out fast, with 2 inserts and our first hit. Despite the auto, the highlight for me is the fact that both of my inserts in this pack are guys I collect. I have to admit, I had to look up Mauricio Dubon because I had never heard of him. It turns out he was the Giants' primary starter at CF this year, hitting .285/.342/.365. Obviously, he's not a power hitter, but an auto of a player who has established himself as a starter, at least, is better than many autos I could pull.

Pack 2:

Wow, really bad photo here; I apologize. I got another Yordan Alvarez to add to my ROY binder and the Cubs' top rookie to chase on cardboard this season, Nico Hoerner. The DK Original insert looks really nice, and as I look at the checklist, I think I pulled one of the best players that I could have in Ted Williams.

Pack 3:

The second blurry photo in a row. Again, I'm sorry. I promise that the rest of the pics will be better. Another Cubs rookie makes an appearance here, along with three chase cards. The gray-framed Mookie is my first Mookie as a Dodger. I like pulling the Wagner, and I like the theme of The 3000 set, but I'm not overly in love with the design. I do love the All-Time Diamond Kings set, though. It's reminiscent of the 1992-93 sets, which are probably my favorite Diamond Kings. I'm holding on to Dustin May as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate.

Pack 4:

This pack is rife with Hall of Famers: Thomas, Alston, and Elston (Howard). Harvey Kuenn and Ohtani are keepers for my ROY collection, and of course, I love Javy Baez. Jose Ramirez is leading the AL in WAR (and apparently, the number should be higher) and is a short print.

Pack 5:

A couple more Hall of Famers show up here, but Clemente is probably the only keeper for me. My first Gallery of Stars insert is Vlad Jr. I like the look of this set more than The 3000. Donnie Walton is my second SP of the box, but I have no idea who he is. Oh, look! He has a -0.2 WAR for the year (and maybe should be lower? I don't know.).

Pack 6: 

Another All-Time Diamond King here. This is my first look at the DK 206 inserts. I don't like them. I get they're going for a certain look here and the modern players are being portrayed in old-timey uniforms for a reason. But I can only vaguely tell that's Ken Griffey, Jr. Is that a shadow on his jaw, or did they give him a beard? It just doesn't look right to me.

Pack 7: 

Two Ken Griffey inserts in a row! The Artist's Palette insert set sure is colorful and interesting. Add in Kershaw, Ruth, and KB? Already I'm calling this pack a success. Then we can throw in Kyle Lewis, who is the odds-on favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year. This is an SP, to boot. 

Pack 8:

My second Framed Gray card is a definite keeper for me. Another DK 206 card, and this one is a little better. I'm still not a huge fan, though. At least I can see that being Mookie Betts a little better. Here's something interesting. Back in Pack 3, I pulled Framed Mookie.  I mentioned it was my first card of him as a Dodger. Notice here that he is portrayed with Boston. Same player. Same year. Same brand. Different teams. Interesting, no?

Pack 9:

Two more Cubs for me here: base Anthony Rizzo and another colorful Artist's Palette Baez. That makes two Artist's Palette cards and both are players I would have hand-picked to be in my box. Not too bad. Luis Robert, another of this year's rookie to chase, is a nice pull. Mauricio Dubon makes another appearance, in SP form.

We're heading into the last quarter of the box. The second hit of the box has yet to be seen.

Pack 10:

Whoop! And there it is. A quad relic of Tony Gwynn! I'm not one to chase relics, but I think I'm going to hold on to a card with a late legend. There's even a pinstripe. This is a great hit, in my book. I also want to take a moment to notice that this is also a Stan Musial hot pack. But I would like to point out that The 3000 appears to be essentially a parallel of the base. But Tony Gwynn hit!

Pack 11:

We follow up the hit with another good pull, a Gallery of Stars of Ronald Acuna. There's another SP here, this time of Randy Arozarena. This is another player I'm unfamiliar with, but his numbers on Baseball Reference seem like he's a good young player in the making.

Pack 12:

The last pack will wrap this box up with a bunch of Hall of Famers. Mathewson, Alexander, Suttles, Ashburn, Mantle, and Musial are all enshrined in Cooperstown. Pete Alonso is a ROY need. So even though I don't collect most of these HOFers, I can't argue with these cards. Richie Ashburn is a rarer Plum Frame parallel of the All-Time Diamond Kings insert, so that's a pretty nice pull.

Here's a quick summation:

96 Total Cards

  • 67 base cards
  • 6 SPs
  • 2 Gray Framed
  • 6 All-Time Diamond Kings
  • 1 Plum Framed All-Time Diamond Kings 
  • 3 DK 206
  • 2 Artist's Palette
  • 2 Gallery of Stars
  • 2 The 3000
  • 1 In the Zone
  • 1 Aficionado
  • 1 DK Original
  • 1 Auto
  • 1 Quad Relic

I'm not going to build this set, so I have some trade bait available. I thought many of the inserts were interesting, but the bright colored theme kind of made them all blur together to me. As a result, I think I may only chase one insert set: the more subdued, but beautiful DK Originals. I'm also considering the Aficionado set as a possible set-build. Of course, I would go for the sets that gave me the worst head start, but I like them best. I don't know that I'll chase the All-Time Diamond Kings set, but I sure do like it.

For under $70 shipped, this was certainly a great box for me. I had a lot of fun with it. I really think I hit well on the inserts, as most of the subjects of those cards are guys that will fit well in my collection. Baez, Rizzo, Griffey, Ripken, Acuna, Ohtani--I don't know that I could have chosen any better myself. Overall, a successful break for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

State of the Set: 1997 Upper Deck Legends


I feel that there are too many sets on my wantlist that have been sitting there for years while I slowly chip away at them. This year I noticed that a lot of those sets are well within striking distance this year, so I've tried to swing some trades for set needs while focusing my recent Sportlots purchase on sets as well. We'll see how many sets I can kill before the year is out.

For the past few years, I have written a post that summarizes my set completion quests for the year. I still plan to do that for 2020, but I also decided to give a progress report for sets that I'm actively acquiring cards for along the way. I thought this might be more interesting than writing one giant post that tries to tie all the different cards from a trade or a purchase together.

I've never, ever opened a pack of today's set. I've seen 20+ year old boxes of it for sale, and it is far too pricey for me. I never even had a card from this set until the day I decided to build the set. But when I first bought a lot of 1997 Upper Deck Legends from somebody on TCDB, it was love at first sight.

Why I'm collecting this set: The checklist. I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't love having retired greats sprinkled in my modern base sets. But that's not the case with this set. This set is an entire set of retired greats in a modern base set. I love the idea. Plus, they're not all the same legendary Hall of Famers you see over and over and over again. In fact, a lot of players in this set aren't Hall of Famers at all. A good portion of this checklist is made up of players who were great in their day, but are less remembered than many of their peers. This is just a flat-out fun checklist.

How long has it been on my wantlist (roughly)?: I'm thinking it has probably been two years now.

Current state of set completion: 186/208 (89.4%)

Current needs: #4 (Walter Payton), #12 (Tony Dorsett), #13 (Fran Tarkenton), #35 (Joe Greene), #36 (Mike Rozier), #37 (Lou Groza), #39 (Elroy Hirsch), #41 (Charlie Joiner), #46 (Bob Lilly), #48 (John Mackey), #53 (Marion Motley), #56 (Mel Renfro), #57 (Jim Otto), #124 (Jack Kemp), #127, (Jerry Kramer) #140 (Tom Landry), #152 (Babe Parilli), #154 (Ozzie Newsome), #155, (Jim Plunkett) #157 (Johnny Robinson), #178 (Joe Montana), #180 (Bart Starr)

Prognosis: Not promising. I mentioned that unopened product for this set is expensive. So are the singles, for simple base cards. Not to mention that some of these cards on my list aren't even for sale on Sportlots, COMC, or eBay at the moment. There is a scarcity to this set that I can't really explain. I'll just keep plugging along, picking up what I can from time to time, like these two cards I got in my latest Sportslot order. And if anybody has some extras they are willing to trade, I'm willing to listen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

State of the Set: 2019 Topps Big League

I feel that there are too many sets on my wantlist that have been sitting there for years while I slowly chip away at them. This year I noticed that a lot of those sets are well within striking distance this year, so I've tried to swing some trades for set needs while focusing my recent Sportlots purchase on sets as well. We'll see how many sets I can kill before the year is out.

For the past few years, I have written a post that summarizes my set completion quests for the year. I still plan to do that for 2020, but I also decided to give a progress report for sets that I'm actively acquiring cards for along the way. I thought this might be more interesting than writing one giant post that tries to tie all the different cards from a trade or a purchase together.

Today's set is one that has been surprisingly more difficult to put together than I expected at the beginning. It's a "low-end" base set, so I thought I would be able to pick it up with just a box or two. Unfortunately the collation gods weren't with me, and I have needed significantly more than my initial purchases to whittle down this set. Let's see where I stand in my 2019 Topps Big League set build.

Why I'm collecting this set: When 2018 Big League was released, I really liked the concept because it was budget-friendly and different from Flagship. I wasn't a huge fan of the design, though, so I decided not to build it. When I first saw 2019, I really liked the design. (I like it a little less now that I've seen pages of it all together in a binder.) I still liked the idea of Big League, so I decided to put the set together.

How long has it been on my wantlist (roughly)?: If I'm remembering correctly, I think I picked up a couple of boxes for myself for my birthday last year. Since it is now my birthday month again, I'm going to estimate I've been working on it for about a year.

Current state of set completion: 398/400 (99.5%)

Current needs: #100 (Jose Altuve), #375 (Christian Yelich Award w/ Hank Aaron)

Prognosis: My most recent Sportlots order kicked about 35 cards off my wantlist for this set. With just two remaining, I think I can polish it off this year. Does anybody have my two missing cards for a trade?

Friday, September 11, 2020

A 12-Team Auction Draft Goes Nuts!

I play multiple fantasy football leagues each year. This year I have two public leagues: one that had an auction draft and one that had a snake draft. I just wanted to do both types of drafts. Honestly, draft preparation research and the draft are my favorite parts of fantasy football. This probably stems from my great love of the NFL Draft. Even though I join several leagues, I never count my public leagues as my "league of record." Even if I win a public league, I can't count myself as a champion unless I can win my workplace league. That one is my "real" team every year.

We held our draft on Wednesday. This draft was a fun, unique one because we had never done an auction before, and for the first time we had the majority of the participants together in a classroom. Once again, I learned that you can mock draft all you want, but when you get real people in there with their own strategies, all of your planning and preparation can go out the window. The draft started and suddenly the money was flying around. Patrick Mahomes, whose average salary in Yahoo drafts was somewhere in the low 40s, went for $65. Christian McCaffrey went for $75. Somebody spent $80 on Lamar Jackson! Apparently, our league held quarterbacks at a premium, which doesn't make sense to me because we don't do any special QB scoring or start 2 QBs. But some guys had drafted 3 QBs before I had one. Our principal joined in with an interesting strategy: draft any guy he could find who came from a local university. 

Overall, though, I think my plan held up. I was targeting Davante Adams for up to $60, Kenyan Drake for up to $52, and Miles Sanders for up to $50. While everybody was spending huge chunks of their salary caps for other players, I was able to snag Adams for a discounted price of $47 and I stole Sanders for a measly $21. I missed out on Drake, but made up for it with Julio Jones for only $43 (compared to his average salary of about $49). The only wrench in my plan was that somebody else had the same idea for a late-round pick. Here was my idea: save a little cash and spend my max bid on a Cam Newton flyer late in the draft. The only problem was one other guy had the exact same idea. And he had a higher max bid. He put an opening bid on Cam that was higher than my max, and Newton disappeared from the board right before my eyes. All in all, though, I think I may have the best team in my league because I didn't go crazy when the bids started skyrocketing.

Here is my official 2020 fantasy team:

QB: Josh Allen, Buffalo

Not my first choice of quarterback, but he has more talent around him this year and I think he can still get me some points with his legs.


RB1: Miles Sanders, Philadelphia

One of two running backs that I think will get workhorse touches, but weren't going to cost me half my salary caps. I wanted at least Sanders or Drake (but preferably both) going into the draft. I got Sanders to be my RB1.

Photo from TCBD. I don't have a Taylor card yet.

RB2: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis

I shied away from rookies this year because they've had no live reps to get them ready. I think many will struggle as the year begins. But then again, Clyde Edwards-Helaire stole the show in KC last night, so maybe I'm completely wrong.

WR1: Davante Adams, Green Bay

This wasn't a homer pick for me. I just don't see too many other players receiving targets in Green Bay, so I think Adams will have a monster year. He was the guy I wanted going in, and I got him.

WR2: Julio Jones, Atlanta

He may be getting older, but he is still The Man in Atlanta. I put in a bid on him when I saw that it was still low, and nobody beat me out. I got two bona fide WR1s for this team without sacrificing too much at the RB position. I'm extremely happy.

TE: Hayden Hurst, Atlanta

Two Falcons pass catchers in a row may be an issue, but I think Hurst will soak up the targets Austin Hooper left behind. For a late, low-risk price, I'm banking on a breakout year for Hurst. If it doesn't work out, I'll just stream the scraps of the TE position. As per usual.

Flex: Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

I had Robert Woods last year. I spent half the season trying to get rid of him because he couldn't find the end zone. I think he will this year. My top choice for this spot would have been Juju Smith-Schuster, but I was drafting with a Steelers fan.


DEF: Philadelphia

For now. I rarely keep defenses for longer than a few weeks. Of the defenses left available to me, I thought the Eagles had the best Week 1 matchup, so here we are.

K: Jason Myers, Seattle

Ditto above.

I couldn't be happier with my starters. But I think my bench is great, too. We added two extra bench slots this year to accommodate any increase of players sitting out with illness this year. Have you heard about this COVID thing, guys?  It sounds like a situation to keep your eye on.


Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville

Jordan Howard, RB, Miami

Boston Scott, RB, Philadelphia

Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo

Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas

Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit

Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina

What do you think? Are you as confident in my as I am? Do you view my draft as Fantasy Pros sees it?

 Or do you see it a Yahoo does?

That's a pretty big difference in projections. Yahoo doesn't like my draft, but I do.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Bo Gets a Link to His Blog on

No cards to share today, just some news. While perusing this morning, I saw an article highlighting the top Cal Ripken cards of all time. One of the cards showed Cal using a brick cell phone circa 1993. The blurb mentioned a Rob Murphy card in which he is using an ancient laptop. I clicked on the blue link to see the card, expecting to be sent to TCDB or something. Instead, I found myself on Bo Rosny's blog! Maybe he has some readers among the writers at 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other (and Contest Results)

The free stuff just keeps on coming. Blogger giveaways have never been as plentiful as they have been this year and, though the trend has died down a little, there are still smatterings of free offers out there. Recently, I partook in a few giveaways from my fellow bloggers.

First, I claimed a few cards from Tom of The Angels, In Order. A few years ago, we did an exercise at a professional development day in our school district in which we were given four shapes and asked to find commonalities to group three of them together and decide which one didn't belong in the group. Depending on perspective, there were different possible answers. I found myself doing something similar with this group. Maybe Steve Young is the only non-baseball player. Or maybe Jeff Bagwell is the only card not to feature red. I noticed that Bagwell and Howard fit together because they're Starquest inserts. I haven't really found a way to exclude Howard from a group, though. Thoughts?

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I owned this Steve Young at some point, but it was apparently missing from my collection until I got this envelope.

Let's play again, this time with a trio of cards from Bo of Baseball Cards Come to Life! I say Bartkowski  doesn't belong because he is the only offensive player. Or maybe because he isn't wearing a college uniform. Take your pick. Or maybe Rudy doesn't belong because that is actually a baseball card, from A&G. Or maybe it's Darrelle Revis who is the misfit, because that is the only insert of the bunch. I only claimed Rudy and Revis, but Bo threw in Bartkowski for me, too. I'm not going to complain about a free card from 1979 of a player who was the number one overall pick in the draft.

The last group of cards was part of Jeff B's Wax Pack Wonders Pick 3 giveaway. He offers three tiers of players, and you can select one player from each tier to get a few cards.

I selected Cal Ripken as one my players. I'll let you play the "Which one doesn't belong?" game with these. I'd be interested in hearing your answers in the comments. I will just say that this is a pretty cool group of cards, with a promo, a pop-up, and Pacific Spanish card included.

The second player I selected was Tim Salmon. Again, I'd be interested in hearing how you would group these cards in the comments. My favorite here is the Tombstone Pizza card. I remember having one or two of those back in the day when I was a kid.

The final player I chose was Ronald Acuna. These are some strikingly colorful and sharp-looking cards, in my opinion. Let's see, the two DK cards can be grouped, leaving out GQ. Or the two base cards can be grouped, leaving out the Gallery of Stars. Maybe the two cards showing the swing follow-through are together, but not the DK base of him running. What do you think?

Thanks to all of those bloggers for the cards. Every single one of them was new to my collection. That brings me to our last topic of the day: contest results from my last post. I received a boatload of Cubs cards from Roy and asked readers to guess what percentage of those Cubs cards was new to my collection. Eleven people made their guesses, but only one could be the closest and declared the winner.

The answer is that 282 of the 726 cards were new and added to my collection. My middle school English teacher math says that is 38.8%. 


  1. John Sharp--11%
  2. Elliptical Man--20%
  3. acrackedbat--26%
  4. Fuji--31%
  5. Diamond King--32%
  6. Jeff B.--40%
  7. Sports Card Collectors--40%
  8. hockey kazi--53%
  9. Jon--58%
  10. Bo--66%
  11. bbcardz--72%

By my best reckoning, Jeff B. was the closest, guessing 40% and missing by just 1.2 percentage points. Congrats, Jeff! I'll put together a prize package for you. Thanks to all of you who played along.