Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Card Show March

Before I get into today's card show finds, let me acknowledge those who would like to help with my 2022 Opening Day sets. A couple of people commented on my last post that they, too, had some collation issues with Opening Day and asked what my set needs were. I thank you for the offer to help. Here is a link to my base set and Bomb Squad needs. And if you are working on the set and need help, well, maybe I have something you need too.

In November I attended a card show and left disheartened. I swore off card shows for a while because there was just never anything there that I connected with. But give that decision a few months and . . .
The next card show I heard about was in March. And, of course, I was all excited to go. I don't know if I have a short memory or a severe addiction, but I was ready to let bygones be bygones and give the show another try.

Maybe all we needed was a change of scenery. When I walked into the mall, I discovered that it was not in the same place it had been. It took me a minute of walking around to find it, but I did.

I didn't spend much, but I did find a few things I liked. This trio cost me a dollar from one seller.

I spent a long time digging through one seller's quarter box. I spent enough time talking to him and picked out enough cards that he turned them into 15-cent cards for me.

These were mostly for my ROY collection. You can see from these first couple of pictures that I found a few Archives and Cards That Never Were, like Robinson, Carter, Bench, and Murphy.

These are cards I found interesting, most for my All-Star Project.

Here are some former All-Stars from sets that are old enough to have gotten the Heritage treatment last decade. The condition may be rough, but these are definitely worth a dime and a nickel apiece.

Baseball wasn't all he had to offer. I was happy to add all of these football cards to my collection. I realized that even though I love Johnny Unitas, he doesn't fit into any of my collecting niches. That doesn't mean I won't take cards of him, though. I'll find a spot. 

I thought I picked up more from this guy, but I don't know what happened to the scans.

My last purchase was a grab bag. They were reasonably priced and advertised some hot packs and hits inside. I found one that had a couple of cards I wanted showing through the team bag, so I decided to roll the dice.

I didn't get one of the big hits advertised, but apparently, I got one of the "rookies and inserts only" packs. Which isn't too shabby. I'm not complaining.

Lots of shiny from this year!

Besides actually finding some cards that I wanted, the experience as a whole was better this time than in the winter. I'm glad I forgot my vow to avoid card shows because I had fun.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Delayed Opening Day

Every year, Topps Opening Day is my jam. I like it because it's affordable and a box will usually complete a set for me. So I get the fun of busting packs and the satisfaction of completing a set but without a big hassle. There are usually a few fun inserts, too. My yearly tradition is to pre-order a box and hold off on breaking it until MLB's Opening Day.

This year, I went a little bit different route. The hobby boxes I saw were more than I am used to paying and I was reluctant to open my wallet more, so I didn't buy a hobby box. Instead, I picked up two blasters. Two blasters cost less than one hobby and yielded 22% more cards, but there is more of a risk of duplicating cards when mixing two sources. I ordered with enough time to sit down and break some packs on Opening Day, especially since I was sitting at home all week after surgery, but some shipping snafu on the part of the seller meant that I didn't receive the cards until the following week. Major League Baseball delayed its Opening Day, and my annual "opening" day was delayed even further. One week after the season started, I finally got to open my Opening Day.

When I finally received my cards after the aforementioned shipping error, I was pleasantly surprised to see the seller had gifted me a few loose packs along with the blasters. I thought that was a nice gesture.

And I loved the sight of a fully stuffed box when I opened it up. None of these folded cardboard dividers holding six packs in place inside a mostly empty box. No sirree, this box was wall-to-wall packs!

My first 2022 baseball card was Jean Segura. It came from the loose packs because I decided to open those first. Now the question is whether or not I was able to complete the 220-card set from the 343 total cards in two blasters plus.

I've seen some 2022 Flagship on the blogs, but I haven't had any personally, so this is my first up-close look at the design. I have to admit that I like it more in person than I do on the screen. It's probably not my favorite of the last few years, but it's definitely not my least favorite. I love the Wisdom rookie cup. Max Scherzer in that all-blue Dodger alternate is jarring. But not as jarring as my first post-Cub cards of the traded trio on the bottom row.

Here are a few fun action shots from the base set. 

Mascots are the classic Opening Day insert. I don't collect mascot cards, but I always know that I'll pull some, and I can usually find someone who wants them in trade. I think I doubled up on all of these cards and Clark and the Parrot both came in both blasters and in the loose packs, so I have three each. I pulled seven mascots in each box and each box just happened to have the exact same seven.

I pulled one blue foil from each box. The Triple Play inserts are new this year. I pulled six of those over the course of two boxes. These are all the unique ones. That means that I pulled three Triple Plays in each box, and both boxes just happened to have the exact same three. I'm not going to collect the Triple Play set, but I am hanging on to one copy of the Vlad Jr. for my All-Star MVP collection and one copy of the Jose Abreu for my Rookie of the Year collection.

I always enjoy the Opening Day insert set. I like it this year, too. I like the transparent Opening Day font superimposed over the photo and the quintessential day-at-the-ballpark feel of the images. I pulled these five from each box, meaning that pulled the same five cards in each blaster and doubled up on all of them. If the collation had been better, I could have 10 of 15 cards already. As it stands, I don't know how much interest I have in tracking down the other ten of the set.

The insert set I am going to build is this Bomb Squad. My collation luck was better here, as I pulled 16 total cards and all were unique, putting me at 64% complete from the get-go. The checklist includes older legends, more recently retired players, and current sluggers.

I'd be more upset about the collation had I opened one single hobby box and had so many cards duplicated. I knew that might run into that problem by opening two separate boxes. What I didn't expect was to have two nearly identical boxes. I finished the break with 185/220 cards (84% complete). The big stat is that 96 of those 185 (52%) were doubled up. Yes, in two boxes over half of my base cards  and 45% of my inserts were duplicated. There was one major saving grace to help ease the pain of seeing doubles.

Beating the odds.

The odds of pulling a Dugout Peeks variation are 1:1,132 packs, or roughly 2 in every 3 cases. The thrill of a pull that is tougher than a case hit makes the whole break worthwhile. My past three years of Opening Day have brought a relic card, which is not guaranteed in an Opening Day box. I beat the odds again this year but did even better this time. 

With 35 base cards to go, I hope to complete the base set by the end of the year. As always, it was a fun break, even if it came a week late.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Card Madness 2022: Pt. 9 (The Finals)

Tonight we find out our NCAA basketball champions. Right now on this blog, we find out our Bump and Run football card champions. In typical March Madness fashion, we have a Card Madness bracket that took some turns I would not have predicted. It has led us to a finals matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Some notable outcomes are the Packers going down hard and Richard Sherman winning a shiny showdown with Kurt Warner to push the Seahawks ahead in Round 1 and the Vikings just squeezing past a strong Giants challenger. Now we are down to two. Let the final bout begin!

Round 5 Championship: Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles

1992 Ultra #233 Cris Carter vs. 1991 Bowman #401 Fred Barnett

We're throwing it back to the early '90s in this battle of receivers. At this time in their careers, these were two similar players. In fact, both were Eagles, but not together. Philly traded Carter to Minnesota in 1990--the same year they drafted Barnett. Was Barnett taken to replace Carter? Barnett made his first Pro Bowl in 1991 after a 1,000-yard receiving campaign. Carter followed suit in 1992. Interestingly, they are both depicted on the year of their first Pro Bowl appearance on these cards. Carter went on to vastly superior career, however. As for the cards themselves, Barnett has an interesting photo that is one that I tend to gravitate toward: the non-quarterback throwing the ball (albeit in warm-ups in this case). But 1992 Ultra is so much better than 1991 Bowman. It's glossy. It's colorful. There are two more pictures on the back. There may only be one year of stats on the back, but it's still more than Bowman put on the back of their cards then. Actually, I just have a strong dislike for 1991 Bowman all the way around and Fred Barnett is not going to overcome that and a Hall of Famer to win this matchup.

Winner: Vikings

And we have a champion! Congratulations to the Minnesota Vikings, who have taken the card crown for the year. Coming from a Packers fan, this just goes to show the unpredictability of March tournament brackets. Let's recap how they got here.

That's a pretty solid lineup of both players and cards. The strength of the Vikings through the 1990s always seemed to be receiver, and that is shown here in the progression of Anthony Carter to Cris Carter to Randy Moss as the team's WR1 through the decade. 

If we do this again next year, I'm thinking it will be time for baseball. So it looks like the Vikings will remain football card champs for a while on this blog. I hope you enjoyed the series. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Card Madness 2022: Pt. 8 (The Final Four)

Here we are, down the Final Four. One post will get us through both semifinal matchups to our championship round. So far, we've seen 56 cards through 28 matchups to get where we are now. Here is the course of the tournament so far.

Let's kickoff the Final Four!

Round 4: Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings


2019 Panini Playoff #173 Aqib Talib vs. 1990 Action Packed #152 Anthony Carter


Aqib Talib was a premiere corner for a span of about five years in the 2010s. He had a run of Pro Bowl appearances and All-Pro nominations to back up his play. Anthony Carter was no slouch, either. He made three straight Pro Bowls at one point in his career. Career-wise, Talib played in eight more games and bested Carter's career Approximate Value number 83-75. But Talib also had some off-the-field issues that sour my view of him a little. The player comparison may be really tight, but it doesn't matter too much because this one is all about 1990 Action Packed. Gold border! Embossed cards you can feel! I still remember my eight-year-old brain being blown when my mom brought me home a pack of this and I saw them for the first time. And there's even a box on the back designated for an autograph! It would have taken a lot bigger difference in players than this matchup provided for 2019 Playoff to beat Action Packed.

Winner: Vikings

Round 4: Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles


2018 Donruss #383 Da'Shawn Hand vs. 2019 Donruss #209 Randall Cunningham


It seems like we've seen a few 2019 Donruss contenders that have put up a fight, yet not overcome their opponent. Squaring off against Donruss from the year before seems to level the playing field a little. Design-wise, I think both are good, but not great. I like the waves on 2018; I like the semi-transparent, team-colored diagonals bars on 2019. One detail in 2019 that I had never noticed until this tournament was team name running vertically and ever so faintly next to the team logo. When we look at the card subjects, the winner becomes quite clear. One is a boring combine photo of a defensive lineman who has played in only 30 games across three years. The other is the classic flying Eagles wings helmet on uber-athlete QB Randall Cunningham. I was a huge Randall fan as a kid, and he wins easily to help 2019 Donruss get over the hump and the Eagles advance to the finals.

Winner: Eagles

And we are down to two! As you read this, I'll be going under the knife to repair the ACL that I tore while playing basketball with my kids on Presidents' Day. I'm using my Spring Break to recuperate--and to write out the thrilling conclusion to this tournament.

Vikings. Eagles. Monday!