Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trying Something Different

Cutting the flagship out of my life. 

This is the time of the year that I'm supposed to be excited about brand new cards, but I'm trying something different here. I'm just not excited about it anymore, and buying new packs of Topps Series Whatever over the years has come to feel like more of an obligation than anything intriguing. I am just really tired of the thin white UV coated base set that Topps produces every year, where the card stock more or less hasn't changed since... I don't know... 1994? After going through seven consecutive years of boring white bordered cards, with two years (2010 and 2013) nearly indistinguishable from each other, I was actually looking forward to last year's set. The design was daring, and at least, didn't have plain white borders. But it wasn't enough to get me to collect it, and with this year's design looking more and more like it was inspired by Topps BUNT than something you'd want to show your grandkids in fifty years, I just can't do it anymore. At least, I'm going to try not to. I snagged a goodly amount of Cardinals through a group break and am solemnly swearing to not buy a single pack or box of the stuff all year.

There are other things Topps does that I am actually interested in, and one of those sets is last year's Stadium Club set. I only bought a couple of packs last year but am hoping to collect this one on the side and maybe pick up a discounted blaster or two if I'm lucky. I know parallels like this Gold Chris Davis are at best rather unnecessary and at worst a serious annoyance to team and player collectors, but this design is just so good that I don't mind that these things exist.

This is a fitting card for Cespedes, traveling, with bat in tow. He's made quite a few stops already since coming over from Cuba a few years back.

This is one of the rarer Black parallels, and the typography shows up a little better here.

As far as I know, Topps did not set aside a chunk of this set to be short printed, something that's even more of an irritant to a set collector these days. I like this.

I know this card made the rounds quite a bit last year, but it cracks me up too much not to show it off here.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Airbrushed Fridays: 2014 Topps #622

Two weeks until pitchers and catchers report. Two weeks! 

Who is he? Dexter Fowler is a speedy outfielder who came up in the Rockies system after Colorado made him their 14th Round draft pick back in 2004. His most productive season at the plate came in 2012, but he was known for having a severe home/road split like many Rockies hitters before him.

How did he get here? Fowler was traded to the Astros, recently moved to the American League, following the 2013 season. He only spent a year in Houston and played for the Cubs last year. He's currently a free agent.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None, but here's the source photo -

Airbrushed Score: 10

Comments: In the Photoshop era, this is about as bad as they come.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Loot Locker, Looted

A review of my January purchase from @thelootlocker 

I've never belonged to a X of the Month Club, so I recently took the plunge and decided to sign up for a box of stuff: baseball card stuff, as it turns out. For the price of a blaster, The Loot Locker lets you pick a sport and purchase a box of curated hobby packs, which is ideal for someone like me who likes a little variety and is down to only one brick and mortar card shop in a 30 mile radius. (I think.)

In addition to some top leaders (both thick and slim) and penny sleeves from Ultra Pro themselves, this month's box included 4 shiny hobby packs. And, yes, candy! The ordering process was smooth, the price seemed reasonable, and I ended up with some trade bait (though not actually a massive pile of cards considering the products selected.) If I have anything negative to say about the experience, I can only say that I do wish that there was some indication that your box was shipped with a tracking number provided. I get the feeling that this is by and large a one man operation right now, so if this thing gets bigger maybe we'll see this in the future.

Let's check out what I got.

2015 Bowman's Best

TP-44 - Brandon Nimmo Top Prospects - I was going to make a Finding Nemo joke, but based on this guy's Twitter name, I'm guessing he's heard them all.

B15-MCH - Matt Chapman Auto - Two cards in and I'm already in autograph land. I'll probably hang onto this one for awhile, if for no other reason than because I've had this blog for nearly 8 years and I've never managed to trade with an A's fan that I can recall. Chapman could be alright someday?

74 - Charlie Blackmon Refractor - This is really a pretty nice design. This was my first pack of Bowman's Best anything ever, and I can't complain about the look.

 2 - James Shields

26 - Starling Marte

2015 Panini Elite Extra Edition

181 - Gregory Guerrero - This is definitely my least favorite product in the box (no logos), but I'm guessing it was chosen by it's heavy autographed prospect potential. This is Vlad Guerrero's nephew according to the back of the card. Which New York is this supposed to be?

174 - Steven Brault

15 - Luis Severino Hype - This insert really threw me for a loop. It's a current major leaguer and not a minor league prospect, it's thinner than the base cards and it doesn't have the same metallic finish. I think I could find a Yankee fan to send this to... I know that's the right New York this time.

38 - Daz Cameron - Kids these days have cooler names than we did.

31 - Kyle Holder - Again, what New York is this? I'm guessing they got scolded for putting (AL) or (NL) in parenthesis.

2015 Bowman Chrome (Pack 1)

64 - Michael Saunders - The final two packs were both Bowman Chrome. This is one of the first years in awhile where I didn't get sick of the Bowman flagship design before the year ended.

BSU-JW - Jesse Winker Bowman Scouts' Updates - Rumor has it that he has to keep his shades on in the dugout, too. Because he's a Winker. And it makes his teammates uncomfortable.

BCP213 - Austin Brice Prospects

BCP172 - Bobby Wahl Prospects - A couple of prospects round out the first pack.

2015 Bowman Chrome (Pack 2)

- Nick Gordon Ad Card - This is some sort of non-counting ad card that advertises some sort of Twitter giveaway that probably already happened. I wonder what other players have these ad cards and if I care about any of them.

96 - Pat Neshek - The baseball card enthusiast and ex-Cardinal got a card in this set. Nice.

BCP165 - Luiz Gohara Prospects

BCP152 - Matt Olson Prospects - More A's. Sheesh.

160 - Nolan Arenado - And this will close out the box.

There were no Cardinals to be found, so all of these cards are up for grabs. Next time, perhaps? One nice thing about the ordering process is that you can just sign up for a one time box (like I did) rather than a recurring order, and I believe there isn't a price difference. I will most likely sign up for future boxes, unless they're full of spiders.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Heritage Surprises

Some unexpected surprises from recent purchases. 

I hit up the local card show a little over a week ago and spent most of my time with my head down at the quarter boxes, snagging some stuff for myself and a few people I owed stuff to. My theme for the year, hopefully, is to avoid unnecessary purchases whenever possible. However, there's no way I can pass up Retail Guy's table, which led me to buying two 2015 Heritage blasters at a deeply discounted rate of $12 apiece.

The first box I opened was a High Numbers box. It was easy to talk myself into these purchases because they're from sets I'm actively collecting. The High Numbers box was the most frustrating from a set collecting standpoint as I already had every single non-SP base card and insert card in each pack, instantly growing my pile of dupes past an already unacceptable level. This set is very small compared to most Topps sets configured this way, and with modern collation being what it is, once you see a familiar card in a pack you know that the whole thing is probably going to be Dupe City.

Still, I can't complain, because look at this thing! It's rare enough to snag a great hit for my personal collection randomly out of a pack, but considering Cepeda's relatively short time (3 seasons) with St. Louis versus the rest of his long career, it's a wonder that this exists at all. I love it. I also did get to knock off 3 short print cards from my want list, including the Kris Bryant card that essentially paid for the box itself.

Blaster number two was from the regular (low? series) Heritage set, where I was able to knock off a couple dozen needs from my list. Cool. Even better, I pulled an on-card autograph of an obscure pitcher from the '60s in Gordon Richardson. A quick Google search tells me that the original 1966 version of this card was Richardson's only MLB card. I usually hang on to any interesting Topps Heritage cards even if I don't actively go after stuff like this if it doesn't fit my mostly Cardinals-centric needs, but I could imagine trading this for another similar card if it made sense.

Finally, you may be wondering about the Nolan Ryan card at the top of the post, which uses the 1960 Topps design that was featured in the 2009 Topps Heritage product. It came to me out of another one of those $4.99 drug store repack boxes that I can't keep myself from buying even though they're mostly recycled Gary Pettis cards. This card, confusingly enough, sports a 2010 copyright... not to mention the fact that Ryan only turned 13 in 1960. It turns out that this is another National promo, similar to some Mantle stuff I found recently in the 2010 design. I am going to hang on to this as well, but I don't really have a good reason why.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Airbrushed Fridays: 1972 Topps #64

He'll be your bro... berg.

Who is he? Pete Broberg was a starting pitcher for the better part of the '70s, albeit not a very successful one. He was the first overall pick in the June draft of 1971, back when there were multiple drafts in a calendar year.

How did he get here? Broberg was drafted by the Washington Senators and went straight to the majors in what would prove to be Washington's last season in MLB until the Expos were moved there in 2005. As such, he was subject to the Topps airbrushing department, where his red cap could remain but traces of his Senatorhood were removed. These days, Broberg is a partner in a Palm Beach law firm.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 8

Comments: I don't know... sideburns?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lou Brock on a Poster

And other fine cards to take a gander at.

Spring training is just around the corner, and so is a new year of Topps Series One. I'm going to try to avoid buying any packs of it this time around (along with any other sets I deem unnecessary) and just try to focus on building my team sets. We'll see how long that lasts.

This is my final trade post from 2015, and it's a good one. Nick from the Dime Boxes blog sent over a great mix of vintage and current cards, as well as a bunch from the Lost Years where I wasn't collecting at all.

I think we take team themed cards for granted nowadays, but hardly anything beats an old out of focus group photo on a classic design. Yes, I consider 1973 Topps classic.

My favorite photo from the 2012 season became one of my favorite cards to collect in 2013, and here's another one for the collection in the form of this Orange Chrome Refractor for the recently departed (to the Padres, not to the ether) Jon Jay.

I really like how this Ray Lankford 2000 Topps Gallery card reminds me of the Jon Jay photo. Lankford isn't crashing into the padding next to Tony La Russa's likeness, but he's making a similar dent in the wall. Based on the available evidence, I'm going to guess that's Mike Scioscia that Ray is busting into. Am I right, Dodgers fans?

Sometimes there's a junk wax deep cut that I really needed without even realizing it. This is one of those times.

Completing the Lankford Trilogy (for this post, anyway) is this 1998 Topps Gallery Permanent Collection card. It's classy.

When it comes to Ginter game used cards, I vastly prefer the framed mini relics to the full size ones, but I like how the grey swatch here blends in with the gray background blob. This is my 68th unique Matt Carpenter card and 3rd jersey relic. Thanks, Zistle, for letting me keep track of these things.

Can you spot the closer among the seven-headed All-Star monster? If the Cardinals have half as many All-Stars this season, I will be genuinely surprised. I am not predicting doom and gloom for this team, but they are lacking in starpower. Also, it would be really weird if they had three and-a-half All-Stars.

Here's a fun one that I'd never seen before. It's a '64 Bazooka-style mini from the 2013 Topps Heritage minors set. Maybe the Jedd Gyorko acquisition will light a fire under the talented but still not fully realized Kolten Wong.

Oh yes, I promised you a poster...

Look at this thing! Click on it to make it bigger. Save it to your hard drive and make it your desktop background. This is awesome! Today's inserts can suck it. Vintage inserts are where it's at, folks.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Twitch Batch

An overstuffed pile of quality cardboard.

As I inch ever so close to being caught up on sorting through incoming cards once again, I received a generous pile of cards from Twitch (aka Lonestarr) and thought I'd show off a few.

We're all hoping for big things from the Tsunami in 2016 as he continues to recover from a late season injury. This silver, numbered (021/199) mini parallel from 2015 Gypsy Queen is a great addition to the collection. (Well, I'm sure Cubs fans like Twitch aren't hoping for big things, but those guys don't count.)

I was a little surprised that I didn't already have this Chrome Refractor parallel in my Matt Holliday collection. It's not huge, but it's approaching 300 unique cards. Apparently, I don't even have the regular Chrome version of this card.

Lance Lynn's throwing motion looks really unnatural here, but it wouldn't be for another eight years that he'd blow out his elbow. We'll see you in 2017, Lance!

Kyle Lohse is here, on a green parallel Prizm card playing for no team in particular.

This is from the 2015 Panini Donruss set, and I assume it's either a parallel or insert of some sort. It does a decent job of aping the original 1981 Donruss design, though there are some unforgivable differences. I'll start with the team name (because they can't use "Cardinals"). They could have at least left-justified it, though.

Twitch must have opened a lot of Gypsy Queen last year, because he made a huge dent in my team set needs.

Ah, a Blazer sneaked in there! This is always welcome. It's Gary Trent, guys.

Thanks again to Twitch!