July 15, 2018

Big League Surprise

For several weeks, I've been hot on the trail of retail Stadium Club and each time I've searched another Target or Walmart for those elusive blasters/jumbo packs I have come up empty. This week, I added Topps Big League(BL) to my search. New product, same results...until yesterday. I still haven't found any Stadium Club, but I found these staring back at me from the card shelf at Walmart:

Not only did I find some BL, but the blasters have cards on them!!! I was so excited to see that. I'm pretty sure this is the first time the collecting community has seen cards on packaging since 2009 OPC. The 'box card' set contains 4 cards. I haven't seen a checklist, but I lucked into two pretty popular players.

I can't remember the last time I was so careful about cutting something out. Though the scans don't reflect it, I made sure to keep the dotted lines intact. As cool as 'box panel cards' are, the best part came after I opened the blasters to take the packs out.

They're not just blank backed, they're fully printed!!! To my fellow collectors who are searching this product out, I say being patient on the search for retail will definitely pay off. Now let's move on to the rest of the cards I found.

Here are a few of my faves from the 2 blasters. Manny's sweet swing, the great Pirates throwback, and Benny's concentration at the moment of contact are really cool shots. Albies is having a great rookie season, Mengden looks like he's playing in the '70's with that cool 'stache, and Sano is pretty happy that there's two down in the inning. I love the pic selection. Most of the cards I pulled just have a different feel than flagship's photography choices. The borders are a welcome departure from recent set designs and I like that team colors are incorporated into the framing. Subsets also make a triumphant return.

Though these Player's Weekend and Ballpark Landmarks look like inserts, they're part of the base set. This certainly harkens back to times gone by. He card stock isn't quite old school cardboard, but it does have a different feel than the overly thin and slick stock used for flagship. Add all of this to a 400 card checklist and I feel this is a really solid offering with a lot of positives for set collectors and team collectors alike. If there's one thing I don't necessarily like it's that gold border parallels appear at a rate of one per 10 card pack. They're done nicely, but it makes building the set a bit more difficult.

I don't have much to write about the parallels, though I was happy to pull the Rickey. Each blaster also had a pack of 'exclusive' blue bordered parallels.

I think I prefer the blue borders, they 'pop' quite a bit more than the gold ones. Lastly, unlike most modern sets, inserts aren't a primary draw for this set. That being said, I did pull 4 total inserts from the two blasters.

For me, the inserts aren't much to get excited over. I honestly think I would have preferred 4 additional base cards. Maybe if I find some more of this product, the insert designs will grow on me. Despite mediocre insert designs, this set is really strong for an initial offering. I'm hoping it does well enough that Topps decides to bring it back next year. Maybe they could put all of their 'affordable set' ideas in one basket and move a few of the great insert set concepts from Opening Day over to this set and eliminate OD altogether, leaving behind a really great entry level set that could appeal to kids and any coll chores that aren't interested in all of the crazy bells and whistles that most sets have crammed in these days. (deep sigh)...I suppose that's unlikely, but a guy can dream, right? Thanks for reading.

May 23, 2018

An Exciting Find at the Local Target

No, the title doesn't refer to Bowman Mega Boxes. Thus far, I haven't been lucky enough to find any of those. While walking around my 4th different Target this morning, I found my first empty display instead. I decided to show some restraint and pass by the other offerings in the card aisle, resigned to the thought of not having any new cardboard to enjoy today. I continued through the aisles with my two younger daughters in no particular rush to finish our grocery shopping. As we were wandering, my 5 year old asked me if we could get some Lucky Charms. I wasn't opposed to that idea, so we headed towards the cereal aisle. When we got there, I grabbed the family size box of Lucky Charms with the new unicorn marshmallows that my daughter loves so much and we were off. Towards the end of the aisle, something caught the corner of my eye and stopped me in my tracks.

That's right, trading cards on a cereal box! I am not the biggest MLS fan, but I like Honey-Comb and this particular box happened to have two guys that have featured on the US Men's National Team. I couldn't resist the pull of food issue, oddball cards!

There they in all their glory. It's not the most interesting design, but simple and clean is a good thing. Once I got home, I confirmed that the back of the cards are blank. These are a real throwback. They're going to have condition issues based on wear and tear to the box and due to how carefully they are cut out of the box. I am so happy to have found these! I searched the rest of the Post cereal boxes for other panels, but this was the only one sitting on the shelf. When I got home, I searched for some additional information about this promo(I was especially interested in finding a checklist). However, I was unable to find much beyond this article. Apparently, card panels should be found on different Post cereal boxes beginning in June. I feel like a kid again, wanting to hurry up and finish the contents of the box so I can cut the cards out and go back to the store to get some other ones! 

Today's find gives me hope that this could be the start of something beautiful. That something being the return of regularly issued oddball cardboard. I was especially hopeful back in 2016 when the Walmart/Marketside baseball set was released. Later that year, the Lids/New Era set followed and I thought for sure that oddball sets had finally made a triumphant return to our hobby. Sadly, that was followed by nary a ripple on the oddball front last year. It has to be a good sign that these new Post soccer cards have the Topps branding on them, right? Maybe later this season, we will find ourselves chasing a new Topps food issue baseball set.

No Mega Boxes? No problem! This find reminded me of my collecting roots and I doubt anything I would have pulled from a Mega Box could have done that. Anyone have any thoughts on this set? On the possible return of oddballs? Thanks for reading.

April 4, 2018

Sandlot Cardboard 25 Years in the Making

It took me a week after its official release date, but I finally brought home my copy of The Sandlot 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition Blu Ray. Like many of you, I've had this movie on DVD for many years. So, what was so special about this release that made me spend a week tracking down a copy? It includes a set of 10 baseball cards, that's what! While I realize that there was another card set released  with a previous 'Collector's Edition', I haven't been able to track down a set of those. So, I was very much looking forward to bringing home my first cardboard featuring these characters.

Here is the packaging. Nothing special here except the sticker stating that there are baseball cards inside.

Here's the poster.

...and the front of the booklet. After a quick scan of the booklet, there are some great behind-the-scenes/making-of pics and stories. It will definitely be a good read when time permits.

Here are the goods! I'm really loving the 1962 All-Star design.

There are the primary characters.

I like that the card backs have the actor's name and a brief character description. I was thrilled that Hercules got his own card, but I am bummed that Mr. Mertle and Wendy didn't make the checklist. However, hope isn't lost. There was an additional card in the pack which has a coupon on one side and an advertisement on the other.

I'm sure that this is going to be similar to the Major League and Bull Durham inserts that have been released in the past. At the moment, there's no telling what these cards or the checklist will look like, but it's definitely something that fans of the movie can look forward to. Thanks for reading.

March 28, 2018

The New Season is Almost Upon Us!

As we sit on the eve of a new MLB season, hope springs eternal. It's the time of year when fans of every team can still have hope for a playoff run to culminate in a World Series Championship(no matter how unlikely it may be). I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have this exact feeling about the Yankees this season. It's an exciting time to be a fan of that team from the Bronx. The addition of Giancarlo Stanton via offseason trade is one reason of course, but the team is also stocked with young, homegrown talent. In fact, my hope is that this year will be the dawning of a brand new 'Core Four'. Much like Jeter, Posada, Pettite, and Rivera were just coming into their own in the mid '90's, there are currently four youngsters that are establishing themselves as some of the best players in the league.

First, the starting pitcher:

Sevy had quite the season last year. He logged just shy of 300 innings, won 14 games, registered 230 K's, and finished among the league leaders in ERA. I was beyond fortunate to pull this blue parallel of his Chrome RC auto from a discounted retail hanger I found at Walmart a few months back. The auto is on card and one of the cleaner looking examples I've seen.

Next up, we've got the relief pitcher:

Betances came up through the Yankees system and began making an impact as a setup man, much like Mariano Rivera. Dellin had a brief opportunity as the closer, but has taken the backseat to Chapman since his return from the Cubs. Even back in the setup role, Betances has been pretty dominant. I picked this blue Chrome RC auto up a few years ago before he really had his breakout season. I really love the Yankee Stadium facade in the background. I feel like it makes for quite an iconic RC.

Lastly, we've got the backstop and the humble superstar in the making.

These guys aren't Jeter and Posada, but they sure have been fun to watch over the past two seasons. It should be really interesting to see these two continue to develop over the next few years. This is perhaps my best pull of the year thus far. I was in my local Target and there was a single hanger box of Heritage left sitting behind a few blasters of Series 1. When I opened the cello pack inside, I was a bit bummed that there wasn't a Deckle edge insert in the stack of cards. However, when I reached the middle of the stack, this card was peeking out at me. At the time I didn't know the details about these parallels(except that I really like the gold stamp). I thought they were serial numbers, but when I flipped it over, there was no numbering to be found. After a bit of research I found that they have a print run of only 25 copies.

So, therein lies my hope(s). Not only that the current group of young guys can sustain a high level of play like their predecessors, but also that this year is the beginning of their success. After all, the original Core Four made their initial playoff debut as a wild card in 1995, didn't make it to the World Series that year, and won their first championship as a group the next year. Hmmm, the Core Four Redux team was a wild card entry into last season's playoffs...perhaps history does repeat itself. I guess we will see in about 8 months. Thanks for reading.

March 26, 2018

A Trade Package Breakdown

Today I begin the process of digging out from underneath some trade packages that should have long since been featured with thanks given to the generous folks that sent them. I begin with the most recent package to grace my mailbox. This one comes from Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown. We have exchanged several envelopes over the years and as usual, this one packed quite a punch. It began when I claimed a few cards from a trade bait post of his, but Gavin threw in a few great surprises as well.

The trade bait post contained Tanaka, Torreyes, and all three on the bottom row. I was thrilled to be able to pick up a copy of the blue Torreyes. While they're not serial numbered, they have an announced print run of only _ copies. Not to mention 'Toe' has become quite a fan favorite in the Bronx. Prism refractors of the Outlaw and Gumby were nice additions as well and I'm always looking for Game inserts for the various sets I'm still trying to complete. Finally, I was very happy that no one claimed the gold Tanaka rookie debut. It has been on my COMC watchlist for a while now. The Judge RC was one of those surprises at first glance, but after thinking about it for a bit, I realized that I did comment on a post several months before saying that I'd love to have a chance to trade for his dupe copy of this Judge. Huge thanks to you Gavin, for not trading this away before now and for remembering that request from way back. As per usual, the surprises didn't end there.

What would a trade package from Gavin be without some awesome customs added in? The Mattingly RCs that never were are really something and of course the Bellinger/Judge 1990 throwback is incredible. However, the one that really caught my attention was the Jeter minor league style throwback. It's got great photo selection and a classic design. I really appreciate these awesome new additions to my Yankees PC. Gavin, I look forward to our next exchange! Thanks for reading.

March 13, 2018

Opening Day Came Early

Yes, I realize the MLB Opening Day is still 16 days away, but tonight I was fortunate to find some Topps Opening Day on the eve of its official release. However, when I saw the blasters on my local Target's shelves, I almost decide to pass on picking one up. I always enjoy OD, primarily for he inserts but almost as much for the price point. Here's a look at what was staring back at me from the card aisle:

Notice anything that seems off? Opening Day has always been $9.99 for a blaster of 10 packs. I was ready to spend that much for my cardboard fix, but as much as I like the product there isn't anywhere near $20 entertainment value for me in it. I'm not sure what made me carry a box to one of those price scanners, but I did. Fortunately, the bar code scanner at $9.99 like always. So, that learned, I snagged a box and was on my way.

First up, a look at some of the interesting base cards. The Banda and Thames were some of the most unique photos in the bunch. It's not surprising. I always tend to enjoy the horizontals. I included DeJong simply because of the Rookie Cup. Ozuna and Solarte are Topps Photoshop specials - AKA touched up photos of them in their new unis. I had to include the Andujar since I pulled it. Sorry all of you non-Yankee fans out there.

The OD blue parallels really pop this year! I'm looking forward to tracking down some of the Yankees of this variety. As always(and stated on the box) OD is packed with inserts. I'm not sure I'm a fan of the Before Opening Day set that is making its debut this season, but I do love those mascots! I hear they not only have mascot autos, but auto/relics as well this year.

It hurts me to see Chris Sale in a BoSox uniform, but that National Anthem insert is really nice...and a tough pull at 1:286 packs! The Opening Day insert keeps with the anthemic vibes, highlighting more pre-game festivities. Perhaps the insert I was most looking forward to, Team Traditions & Celebrations was the set I was most disappointed in(so far). This one boasts a 'rookie card' of The Freeze from Atlanta, Yankees Old Timer's Day, Sweet Caroline in Boston, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame in Chicago. As you can see, I'm stuck with a bunch of paper K's, a parade I didn't know existed, and the dang Rally Monkey. I was shut out of those inserts I was really anticipating in addition to an obtainable Ohtani RC and a photoshopped Stanton in a Yankees jersey. Oh well, I guess that just gives me an excuse to pick up some more of this to continue that hunt. Thanks for reading.

March 2, 2018

The Other NFL QB to Play in the Yankees

Three weeks ago word broke that the Yankees had traded for Russell Wilson. When I saw this news, I immediately tweeted to Topps that I really wanted to see this represented on cardboard. We may not get to see that realized in a proper release, but Tuesday a Topps Now card showing him in his Yankees gear at the Spring Training complex was issued. As soon as I got the email notification, I set a reminder for myself to go purchase a copy when I finished work for the evening. While it's great to know that I have that mail day to look forward to, I'm quite impatient. Fortunately(depending on how you look at things), the Topps Bunt app had issued a digital version that could be 'pulled' from 'packs'. I use those two terms loosely since we are talking about flipping through images on your phone or tablet. I opened the app and settled in for what I assumed would be a futile attempt(based on the long odds and multiple different Now cards) to find a digital copy to tide me over. Much to my surprise, it appeared in the first pack I opened!

There he is, once again spending his offseason in a Spring Training camp. Too bad he isn't destined to be the next to follow in the footsteps of Bo Jackson, Brian Jordan, and Deion Sanders. Perhaps one day in the future we will get to see another two sport star. Here's a quick look at the flip side.

I am thrilled to add another Russell Wilson baseball card to my collection and the pinstripes suit him well in this fan's opinion. I can't wait for the physical copy to arrive. Thanks for reading.