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.

February 28, 2018

A Heritage Pick-Me-Up

The past week and a half has been exceptionally difficult at work. It has been both physically and emotionally exhausting. I was looking for a boost so I hit up the local Target on Monday, hoping that there was a chance I'd find some Heritage on the shelf a few days early. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. After another long day yesterday, I decided to try one more time before release day. When I got to the card aisle, I didn't see anything at first glance. As I began to stare at what was there to make a decision on something to settle for, I saw it...a few hanger boxes! I grabbed two of the four that were there and hit the road.

I'm digging the package design on these! Let's check some of my favorites.

I like the cool checklists with player pics and the retro rookie cups are pretty awesome. I chose the Montgomery not only because he is a Yankee, but I think it's great that you can see a bit of the facade of George M. Steinbrenner stadium in Tampa.

Here are a few rookies and a high number SP. I am thinking of beginning a PC of Jose Pirela. I liked him when he was in the Yankees system and was lucky enough to meet him and get an IP auto at the Triple A All-Star festivities in Durham a few years back.

These are probably my favorites of the bunch so far. I'm not an Astros fan, but I love playoff/World Series highlights and these are done really well.

Lastly, I found one of these Deckle edge insert in each hanger. As you may already know, I am a sucker for these and am still trying to complete the original 1969 issue. Inserts like these have twice popped up in Archives over the past 5 years and I am slowly working on putting those sets together(needs will be posted on my set page shortly). These are even better in my opinion, though for reasons that some may really dislike them. They are not faithful to the original set in two significant ways. First, they are full size and not 'mini'. Second, they are done on vintage, thick stock. I'm probably in the minority, but I'm not going to get hung up on those differences. I like these and will definitely be working on putting together the full 30 card set. 

Sadly, I didn't pull any of the All-Star subset. I'm looking forward to seeing those. Since it's officially release day, I think I'll go out and try to find a few loose or fat packs that I can use my coupon(from my series one blaster). Good luck to anyone out there searching for some to rip, I hope you find product on the shelves and pull some great cardboard! Thanks for reading my brief thoughts.

February 10, 2018

Huge Trade with Sport Card Collectors

My quest to catch up on some (not so)recent trade packages and establish a semi-regular posting schedule begins anew today. Hopefully this time I'll be able to make it last. Though this is not chronologically the first package I need to catch up on, it did contain a huge PC addition and the scans were ready to go so this is where I start.

Several months back I was tweeting back and forth with Matt from Sport Card Collectors. He informed me that he had recently pulled a card of a guy I collected. From the moment the picture came through the message, I knew I needed to find a way to make a deal. Fortunately enough, Matt was super laid back about the deal and I was able to come up with a mixed bag of cards that hit some of his collecting interests. In fact, he sent me the centerpiece of our trade before I finished putting together his return package.

This awesome patch/auto of 'The Outlaw' was that centerpiece. This blue parallel #'d 1/3 came from his box review of Topps Triple Threads, so as is customary - thank you Topps for providing that box to him for his review! Additionally, I received two other Durham Bulls guys to round out my end of this huge deal.

I hadn't opened any Heritage Minors and was thrilled to receive these two in the package. Bauers had a really good first season in Durham last year and Schultz has been a fan favorite for the better part of the past 2 seasons. He led the league in K's the year before last. As much as I'd like to see him in Durham, I hope he sticks in Tampa this year. A short while after these arrived and I sent the return portion of this trade, I received a somewhat unexpected PWE from Matt as well.

Pure awesomeness all throughout! Three new Kiermaiers highlighted the envelope, but all were needs and very much appreciated. Hats my second different version of that Golden Grabs insert from Fire and I am slowly but surely(though inadvertently) building the rainbow on the Optic Diamond Kings(and the Optic base - more on that in another post). This one happens to be an unnumbered purple prizm parallel. Thanks for a really great swap, Matt! I've already started another stack to be sent your way in the near future. Thanks for reading.

February 8, 2018

An Incredible Secret Santa Gift

Christmas may be far behind us, but I can still get into the Holiday spirit thanks to the awesome Bob Walk the Plank Secret Santa package I received courtesy of P-Town Tom. The surprises with this package started from the moment it arrived.

While I knew I should be expecting a package from someone in the Secret Santa exchange, I wasn't expecting to find this hulking package on my doorstep(too big for the mailbox). I was thrilled when I opened it too.

Gingerbread!!! Oh yeah! To my slight disappointment, the box didn't actually contain a gingerbread house kit. It did contain a bunch of individually wrapped presents though.

It may be tough to tell from the way I arranged them for the pic, but there were 6 presents within along with a great note(which I didn't scan) that explained how all this cardboard goodness stayed within Matt's $10 limit. I briefly considered turning this into my own little advent calendar, opening one present each night, but that thought went away almost as quickly as it arrived. There was a little bit of everything in here.

First up, a blaster of a set that is about as oddball as it comes. Tom apparently won this as a door prize at a show and thought it would be a great add in to my Santa gift. I'm really appreciative that he did. It was really fun to rip into these packs!

Here are some highlights. I was thrilled to pull the Rivera and Ichiro. Take a look at how young Jayson Werth looks there! The Tino is a parallel. While it's nice to add a new Tino, it kinda hurts to see him in something other than pinstripes. The Torii is an insert and the Rios is from the rookie subset. Sadly, there wasn't a 'hit' in this box but it was definitely fun nonetheless. These kinda remind me of pogs from back in the day. Next up was a random assortments from his collection that didn't fit his PC preferences.

I didn't open much Fire so all of these are new additions for me. It's hard to pick a favorite here. I like the look of the Tanaka and it's always great to add a new DJ. I thought it was especially good timing that the Aaron Boone was in here considering he is the new Yankee skipper for 2018. The Kiermaier may win favorite of this scan though. It's a gold parallel of an insert that showcases his strong suit that has nabbed him a pair of Gold Gloves to date.

Here are some Yankees World Series heroes, old and newer. I particularly love the Jeter Classic Walk-Offs which highlights the night he became Mr. November.

I was lucky to find a few packs and a blaster of Stadium Club before it all disappeared from the shelves of my local Targets and Walmarts. I was not lucky enough to pull a base Jeter from the little I opened. The blue parallel Frazier is pretty awesome too, especially since he hasn't been traded away...yet. The pair of Didi cards represent my first experience with the rebooted a gallery product. I loved the original product and these look nice even if the card stock doesn't mimic the older product. It was pretty cool to see the base and Artist Proof parallel in this package. There was so much more than I scanned here. All in all, these were sent in a 200 count box which was a blast to flip through. As fun as this gift was up to this point, the heavy hitters were still to come!

This 1991 has been on my Cardboard Wishlist since shortly after I started this blog and remembered that I had a copy when I was younger. When I picked up my collection after a few years away, I pared it down a bit in preparation for a move to a smaller space. Shortly after I started this blog, I saw this card on Listia and was reminded how much I liked it when I was younger. I immediately went looking for it. After flipping through several monster boxes, I came to the conclusion that it must have been a casualty of my pre-move purge, along with others from the junk wax era. Once I realized I no longer had a copy, it took up residence on my Cardboard Wishlist. I'm happy to be able to cross it off that list. This gift package wouldn't stop there though.

This UD Vintage Posada comes from a time when there were so many sets available that it was really tough to see all of your team's issues and even more difficult to grab a copy of them all. I didn't know this card existed until I saw it on Dimebox Nick's blog when he was able to cross it off his Dimebox Dozen list. I immediately fell in love. The photo selection is incredible and it's a card of a member of the Core Four! Check off another card from my Cardboard Wishlist! Truth be told, I decided to add these last two cards to my first ever COMC order, but I received them in this package before my order arrived. It certainly didn't diminish my excitement at having received these. However, if there's anyone out there that would like a copy of either, I now have dupes to share. In addition to these wants, my Secret Santa package knocked out a ton of set needs. Three of the sets from my list were completed courtesy of Tom's generosity.

The last dozen needs for my 2015 Chrome set build were included.

Though I only scanned 6 of them, I received a whopping 14 of these to close out my 1993 Hostess set. Last but not least, I was able to finish off another early '90's oddball set.

I once again only scanned 6, but I unwrapped the final 8 of these 1992 Fleer 'The Performer Collection' cards that could be found at participating Citgo locations many moons ago.

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to finish writing this and get it posted, but I have to say one last 'thank you' to both Matt for organizing this Secret Santa operation and to P-Town Tom for sending an incredible gift package! Thanks to all for reading.