March 31, 2017

My 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day One

A few days ago, as I was doing my best to finally complete my longer than expected 12 Days of Trade Posts series, I read this post from Tony over at Off Hiatus Baseball and I immediately knew what the subject matter of my next (probably longer than expected) series was going to be.

As soon as I saw it, I knew The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge would allow me to have some fun creating content that I probably wouldn't have ever written otherwise. I plan to take the challenge as it made: one topic per post. I'm not sure how long it will take me to complete the 30 topics, but 'day 30' will be written some time before the end of the year. I hope that a few of you will find my choices to be entertaining reads. Let's dive into day one: a card from the current year with a photo you like.

When I saw the topic for day one it gave me an excuse to go flipping through the stacks of 2017 product that I've opened so far. While there were several worthy candidates that fit the topic, I decided to go with a card that I haven't previously shown off. I recently found this Gary Sanchez in my first a Donruss retail pack of the season. I was immediately impressed by the composition of the photo. It does a great job of hiding the lack of licensing. Though the background is blurred, I'm pretty sure that is Joe Girardi in the dugout and I'm pretty sure this was taken during a game against the Rays. As I was scanning this awesome piece of cardboard for its place in this post, my mind wandered back to the day one topic. As it is written, it doesn't say anything about having to own the card you select. So, I started seeking out a card that I don't own that has a photo I like. After some searching, I settled on this:

This SSP photo variation from Opening Day is a card I will likely never own. It reminds me of cards you would find in the early to mid-nineties. There's a great view of Tal's Hill in Minute Maid Park behind Longo. It's rare to find this kind of pre-game warmup captured on cardboard. I suppose there was an unintended double meaning to my last statement. There aren't many cards that depict baseball players throwing a football and now that this one has been released, there aren't many copies to go around. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... I sure wish that Topps would utilize some of these unique photos to add some spice to a base set. I mean, how many of the same type of photo can you possibly look at across a 300+ card series without getting bored to tears? Thanks for reading.

March 30, 2017

(Finally)The 12th Day of Trade Posts...

Dimebox Nick sent to me, a bit of just about everything! Today, I highlight the last of my really overdue trade packages. Moving forward, I'll be able to get to my just a bit overdue packages. Some months ago, I received a rather large, bulging bubble mailer from Nick. Side note - the mailer had a small tear in it, but fortunately none of the contents were missing. I know this because I can't imagine anything more cardboard actually fitting in it. As usual, the trade from Nick contained a little bit of everything that I collect. Let's get on to the highlights!

Among the various stuffed team bags were these. Despite the note, there were not 179 Burger King cards in that pack. There was a half dozen cards towards the Yankees set though and that was an awesome start. In the middle here is a sleeve stuffed with minis of all sorts. Perhaps most interesting in the pack was the alert to 'check the backs...' Upon flipping them over:

Wow, the Ginter #23/25(best I can read the hand numbering) and a Sabermetrics Brett Gardner variation were surprising finds.

Oddballs!!! I can't imagine receiving a trade from Nick without some form of oddball being included. The Smokey the Bear Angels were ones that I had previously eyeballed on Johnny's Trading Spot several months before this package arrived. Bill Dickey is one of my favorite old school Yankees players. It's always awesome to find a Hostess card in a trade pack and that also goes for any Kellogg's cards. I was doubly grilled with that Guidry because it was completely crack-free.

Moving on to some former Yankees that I have sentimental attachments to for one reason or another. As you can see, the oddballs continue through this scan as well. I love that Strawberry with him taking a curtain call. The Donnie Baseball is one of the sometimes tough to find box bottom cards. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my love of those Dufex parallels before. The Topps Kids Kevin Maas actually looks really similar to the way I remember him when he was mashing HRs in his rookie season. The blue parallel, serial numbered Betances doesn't really fit since it's kinda mainstream, but it was definitely a welcome addition. Finally, a minor league issue of Hideki Irabu. I vividly remember the hype that surrounded him and the hope I had for him to be even better than Hideo Nomo. Good times, reminiscing about a time when he had all the potential in the world. Too bad he was one of the biggest busts.

Here, we've got some old and some new. I especially love the Buck Leonard and the Trea Turner, but they're all pretty great.

Next up, some Archives-y and Heritage-y inserts of former Yankees. The 1951 design is my first from that set and it only serves as a reminder that I really need to pick up one of those factory sets one of these days. In case you guys haven't gotten the idea from reading my previous posts, I am a sucker for these old school oddball-type sets.

I was blown away when I flipped to this one in one of the stacks. Now, I'm no Jayson Werth fan, but I have eyeballed these Sega Card-Gen issues since I first saw them on several other blogs. Occasionally, I've search d for these on eBay and I've never come across one that fits my collection well enough to pay the asking prices. I love this card.

I was shocked to see these. Knowing Nick's usual point of view on relic cards, I would have never thought I'd find one(let alone two) in a trade from him. These are welcome additions to my former Durham Bulls collections. If only that Souza had the Rays logo on that helmet... Usually, if I'm lucky enough to find a relic in a trade package, it is the final scan that I post. However, this particular envelope happened to contain a parallel that blew me away even more so than he truly unexpected relics...

There you have it! Maybe it's not so awesome to some of you being that this is a week or so from opening day. Though I'm embarrassed to say it, this card arrived in my collection right at the beginning of Gary's barrage of home runs last summer. I actually kinda felt bad because had Nick held onto it for another week or so(rather than throwing it into this trade package), he probably could have sold it for a pretty penny. I'm extremely thankful that he was willing to include this awesome RC parallel. Thanks for another great trade, Nick. I've got several stacks set to the side with your name on them. I'll be sure to get them in the mail to you really soon. Thanks for reading.

March 29, 2017

Waiting For Opening Day

For the past few years, I haven't been able to get into the March Madness as easily as I did when I was younger. Instead, once the final whistle of the Super Bowl blows, I anxiously await the a start of baseball season. Tuesday evening a few weeks back, I was fortunate to stumble across something to help keep me occupied until MLB's first pitch of the season on April 2nd.

It was on the shelf a day earlier than its release date and since it is one of the most affordable products of the year, I went with a blaster and a jumbo pack. Other than three inserts(shown below), the jumbo didn't yield anything terribly exciting. Here are the highlights of the night's pack ripping.

This year,s Sanchez is a significant upgrade from the pixelated monstrosity of an RC he had in OD last year. I'm diggin the emotion captured in the Andrew Miller photo and I can just imagine where the ball landed after Javy Baez put his bat to it. The bottom row is a trio of first cards of guys on new teams. This season they seem to be photoshopped much better than in previous years.

Here are three decent looking horizontal cards set next to the first few inserts from the product. I really like the team inserts and who doesn't love ballpark food?

Now, I might love some ballpark popcorn, but that has got to be one of the most generic pictures you could possibly ever see grace the front of a baseball card. Next up, Superstar Celebrations. As has been the case the last few years, these are by far my favorite inserts from OD. Photo selection is always really great and unique in this set.

Running a close second in the favorite insert set race are the mascots! If only the Yankees had a mascot, I'd really love this set. I guess I'll have to settle for Tampa's Raymond. Lastly, the Pence was the best of the blue foil parallels that I pulled. I think these are really well done. I do wish they would go back to the practice of a few years ago and put serial numbering on these. While it's true that #/2017 is nowhere near 'limited' I just like the numbering. That was all I ever expected to pull from an Opening Day blaster, but apparently the odds were with me on that day a few weeks back.

This was tucked away in one of the blaster packs! Ive never pulled a relic from Opening Day. It's a mundane, gray swatch and isn't numbered, but it was a real thrill knowing that the odds are stacked against you in this product. How high are they stacked?

Opening Day relic 1:525 packs, that's how high. One in every 53(yes, I rounded up) blasters should contain a relic pack. As always, OD was a fun break. In the big picture, I really hope a Topps brings Bunt back as a low cost option, but I don't see myself abandoning OD anytime in the near future. Thanks for reading.

March 28, 2017

A Royal Visit to the Card Aisle

Today was one of the worst workdays I've had in quite some time. I was stressed about an issue walking in the door and the day just snowballed. It ended up with me spending 2+ hours with a dear friend(and coworker) of mine at an urgent care and eventually the ER. From the ER, it was back to work for another 2 hours, where I was unable to be very productive due to the events of the day. So, when I finally left the office, my car kinda drove itself to the local Target for some potential retail pack therapy. I would up picking out a variety of products to open, but for tonight I'll focus on the most unexpected.

Once again, I am apparently out of the loop on release dates. GQ officially releases tomorrow, but as is sometimes the case, I found some blasters on the shelf and some 'Value Packs' hanging on the pegs a day early. Not shown in this picture, there was a coupon for a free pack of Opening Day attached to the front of this package. Let's take a look, shall we?

Here are a few favorites from the three packs. Of course, I love the Tanaka. The Trout is already re-homed, but it's a nice 'art-card'. That concept seems a bit lost on me for a set like GQ though. I mean, can you really tell a huge difference between these drawn cards and the artistic likenesses that always grace the fronts of the Gypsy Queen set? I included Kirby Yates because he was one of my favorite Durham Bulls a few years back. Then he played with the Yankees for a short while. The Reyes and Swanson were the only RCs I pulled, but they're pretty good ones to pull. It's a shame Reyes got hurt. The Quintana shows of the design of the backs. Overall, I think I like the design a bit better than in most years past. It's probably not a product I'll open much more of, but it was a fun rip nonetheless. Now. On to the exclusive green bordered pack.

Not to shabby. A rare cardboard Wieters sighting, Andrew Miller(even if it is in an Indians jersey), and a promising young hurler from Philly makes for a decent pack. I really like the way the green border works with the design and it's a bonus for me that these are not done as 'colored frames' like in years past. My free OD pack was not my first exposure to the 2017 version of the brand. I had picked up a blaster and jumbo pack the day before they officially released. The goods from that break have been scanned and a post is about halfway written, but I haven't gotten a chance to finish it. Maybe I will sometime soon. Anyway, on to the free pack.

Of course it was not nearly as good as my last free pack(series one yielding the Bryant photo variation SSP), but it was a fun addition to my therapeutic break for the evening. I scanned the V-Mart because you don't often see him playing in the field on cardboard these days. The Bregman RC should speak for itself. I always dig the mascots in OD, maybe one year, I'll put together the set. The Sano was my first Opening Day Stars in hand. I like the design, but I'm not sure I'll ever get past the idea that Topps is no longer using the lenticular design on this insert. There were a few other packs that were part of my pack therapy, but they'll have to wait for another post. I'm so glad that cardboard is my 'go-to' vice on difficult days like today. Thanks for reading.

March 27, 2017

Return of the Demon King

As I sit writing this, I'm watching the final Monday Night Raw before WrestleMania. Along this Road to WrestleMania, I had hoped that one of my favorite performers would make his return from injury. Finn Bálor has been out of action since right after Summer Slam last year. Sadly, though he has returned to action at live events across the country, he hasn't returned to WWE television. My hope now stands that he will make a triumphant return to television one week from tonight on the Raw after the Show of Shows. While I hold out hope for the return of a favorite, let's take a look at the last few nights he appeared prior to injury - as told in cardboard.

That's quite an entertaining entrance.

The back of my first Topps Now WWE card tells the story of the night.

The celebration of the first Universal Champion, separated shoulder and all.

From the top of the mountain, back to square one in less than 24 hours.

Here's hoping one week from tonight that the road back to the Universal Championship begins for the 'Demon King'. Thanks for reading.

March 25, 2017

The 11th Day of Trade Posts - Supertrader Style

Rolling right on through to the next severely overdue thank you post. Today's trade package arrived in my mailbox courtesy of AJ, The Lost Collector. He's a fellow Yankees guy for those who don't know, but the majority of this package was of the Supertrader variety. For me, that means Rays for days! Sorry, I'm apparently still shaking the rust off and couldn't resist that cringe-worthy phrasing. Let's go to the highlights, shall we?

I had never seen those UD Power Up cards. In fact, I'm not sure what they're about exactly. I do know there is a code in the upper right corner of the card that is hard to see in the scan. The Cairo from Stadium Club just goes to show that great photography has long been a staple of the brand. Logo-less RCs of two of my favorite former Bulls happens to be hiding in the stack as well. Admittedly, the photo selection does a decent job hiding their logo-less nature. I am looking forward to getting some ink on that Adames once the Durham Bulls season begins. I'm hoping he starts the season in the Bull City, but even if he begins back in Montgomery at Double-A, he's likely to make an appearance at some point of the 2017 season. Last, but not least, the 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods Matt Moore is an awesome addition. I was always a fan of Matty's and I was happy to see him turn hints around somewhat after he was traded to the Giants.

This is an awesome addition to my collection for a few reasons. First, Bubba was a fan-favorite(including this fan) when he played in Durham. Add to that, this is my first auto from the somewhat iconic, original Donruss Signature Series. Very cool!

I did say that the package was primarily Rays. I can only assume this nice looking Pineda relic was a dupe for AJ. I sure do appreciate that this one made its way into my trade package. Thanks for a great stack of cardboard! I've got some Yankees set to the side to send back your way. Thanks for reading.

March 24, 2017

Finally Getting to the 10th Day of Trade Posts

I have finally found a reasonable scanning solution and some time to actually get some scanning done so it's time to pick up where I left off. It's the 10th Day of Trade Posts! In this one, I focus on a PWE from John of Johnny's Trading Spot and a small bubble mailer from Chris over at Nachos Grande. I've still got all of the packaging from each trade package so I could realistically provide an accurate time frame for when each of these packages arrived. I'm not going to do that though. Not because it would take too much time, but rather because I'd be too embarrassed to divulge how long past due these 'thank you' posts really are. Let's just work with the understanding that proper thanks are months over due at this point. For that trade partners, I'm sorry. Without further delay, let's check out the PWE from John.

I love that the use of 1/3 of a nine-pocket page has become fairly standard in PWE shipping. I mean, what better way to maximize content and security?

As you could see, his was a Supertraders package. It contained Rays of all kinds. Many were of the Bowman/Bowman Chrome variety. These four stood out above the rest, each for different reasons. Look at that young David Price, brings back memories of seeing him in Durham. The Floro makes me a bit sad since he is no longer with my local Triple A team. Sonnanstine played locally during a time when I didn't catch many games, but I remember reading about him frequently while he was here on the farm. I love this Finest card highlighting his impressive 10 strikeout performance in his first MLB victory. Finally, I'll always have a soft spot for Carl Crawford. While it's true that he carved out a pretty solid career in the majors, I thought he would do so much more. Oh yeah, I picked that one because it's really shiny too! Let's move on to the contents of the bubble mailer from Chris.

I love it when trade partners include notes. This one made me laugh. I mean what else is one of the ever-present Hector Olivera RCs good for? I don't know anyone out there that actually wants to collect them, so why not use them as note paper?

Here were the contents of the team bag that was inside. Those are two stacks of 2015 Stadium Club. There were ten in all. I did, in fact, still need all 10 for my set build. I purposely selected the Big Mac and the Britton for the top cards in the stacks because they were the best photos in my opinion. I especially dig the Britton. It's just a great shot of team intros with a piece of Camden Yards signage in the background.

Thanks to John and Chris. Sorry the post was so long overdue. I'm building stacks to send to each of you soon. Thanks for reading.

March 8, 2017

Ripping Packs of 2017 Donruss Gets Me Feeling Nostalgic

I am working on getting a scanning system up and running so that I can resume/conclude my 12 Days of Trade Posts, recap my first card show of the year, and show off the results of my 2017 Topps jumbo box break. Until I'm ready to go, I'm sticking to posts that are light on the scans(when I'm posting at all). That being said, I happened to be in my LCS looking for some new 'home-made repacks' that they always have out. The pickings were kinda slim today, so I took a look at the product on the shelves. I had no idea that I would see a freshly opened box of 2017 Donruss staring back at me. I picked out two packs and set them on the counter to pay.

Turns out, that had just been delivered an hour or so b fore I walked in. I was the first to grab any packs out of the box. The owner of the shop wished me luck, I said thank you and left. I hadn't read any product reviews/previews prior to picking up these packs and therefore had no idea what the design looked like. This made me feel like a kid getting ready to open packs again. I never knew what a new product looked like before I opened my first pack of it back when I was younger. In some ways, I miss that feeling of anticipation as I would get ready to rip open the wrapper of a product for the first time. For a moment, I got to feel that again this afternoon. If anyone knows the feeling I'm talking about, I would highly recommend you try to go into a product without any prior knowledge. These days I know it's tough, but it can be done...and it is soooo worth it! Let's get on to what I saw once I removed the wrapper of pack one.

OMG. This design will clearly not be for everyone. However, it was perfect for me. Why, you ask? My first thought as I saw the design was 'Wow! It's a slightly updated 1990 Donruss!' This was perfect for me because I'm one of the few people that happen to have fond memories of that set. I actually liked it quite a bit back in its day. Seeing that this was the design for this year's set allowed my nostalgic feelings to continue through the ripping of both packs. Let's look at a quick comparison.

There you go. Both designs share similarities of two lines across the top, script writing for the player name, and a 'paint splatter' motif. Panini can't use the team names these days, they opted to put the position above the top line, and the Donruss logo is significantly different but the inspiration was definitely drawn from this set from 27 years ago. Let's get back to the contents of the first pack.

There's a look at the card back. It's interesting. So far I don't hate it or love it. The Cueto continues the trend of insert sets paying homage to the sets of Donruss' history. This year, they rework the 1983 set. I've liked these over the past few years and this year is no different. If they continue these efforts next season, it may be the first time I try to complete the set. I'm kinda partial to the '84 set. Seven cards down, one to go in the first pack.

This is a blue parallel of the Signature Series auto set. I have not heard of Jose Rondon and haven't looked him up yet. If the back of this card is to be believed, he may end up being a decent player. Either way, it was a nice way to finish the pack. On to pack two. As I ripped the mylar, I could see something thick in the middle of the pack. I closed my eyes and reorganized the stack so at the thick card was on he bottom of the stack. I'm not really sure why I did that because since their return, Donruss packs have often contained the thick, blank, 'dummy' inserts.

The more I see the base set, the more I like it. If these were fully licensed, it would be my favorite set of the past few years. From my small sample size, I'm not sure that Panini has done as good a job selecting photos that mask the lack of logos as they have in past years. Perhaps as I see more, I'll feel differently on that.

This Balckmon Dominator is #/99 and very shiny. I'm really digging this particular insert set. I'm going to have to look into who else is on the checklist.

Wow! I guess it wasn't a dummy! Apparently, I'm being pushed into starting a Javy Baez PC. I guess there could be worse things. This sweet relic concludes my unexpectedly nostalgic pack busting session from earlier today. What do you think of the Donruss design this year. Am I the only one crazy enough to like it? Thanks for reading.