Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Next Step in Red Sox Collecting

As most of you know by now I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan. I have more Red Sox cards than cards of any other team and therefore I have built player collections of some of my favorite Red Sox.

But the next step for me is to get into team collecting. I've never collected Red Sox team sets, but I know that many collectors collect this way and I figured I need to give it a shot.

I'm going to start with just team sets from the 2010's. I'll be working on the list later and putting it on up as a new page on my blog. It will be a want list separate from my regular want list, so if you want to see if you have any Red Sox cards to trade me you can check that list.

My one problem with this is that I collect quite a few current Red Sox players that are featured in sets as well as retired players. Player collections are the highlight of my entire card collection, so I don't know if I want to take those from my player collections or not.

So far I've separated the cards of Red Sox I don't collect. This means a whole lot of David Price and Brian Johnson.

Like I said a WHOLE LOT of Brian Johnson. I think he can be a good starter even in the postseason if the Red Sox would give the poor guy a chance.

And even if I decide to leave my player collections alone, any new cards I acquire from team sets I'm going to build will not go to player shrines, even if I collect that player. Instead, I will put these cards towards the building the team set.

If anyone has advice on if I should take apart my player collections or not please leave a comment below. I'm kind of indecisive right now so any help would be appreciated. 

And before you ask yes I know about team collecting. I know what I'm getting myself into. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

2 Sets, 40 Years Apart

The evolution of baseball cards to me is extraordinary. Cards have changed drastically over time. From the simply designed 50's and 60's sets to the colorful 70's sets all the way to the foil-centric sets of the 2000's and now the borderless sets of 2016, 2017, and the future.

2015 was the last year of borders and even though the set is only 2 years old it feels a lot older. So much innovation in cards has occurred since then that it's difficult to remember what it was like.

After many years of colorless borders, 2015 Topps surprised collectors with bright and colorful cards for the first time in years. Topps hadn't made such colorful cards since 1975. These 2 sets which were released 40 years apart have more connections to me than just these.

That's because Matthew from Summer of '74 reached out to trade with me. He had a handful of 2015's and a couple 1975 Topps cards that he sent my way.
If you look at this set enough you can't help but compare it to 1975. Yes, it has its differences like the logo on the card, but the bold colors on each and every card are something that can be matched only by 1975 Topps.

He sent me some of these future star cards. I have previously stated that the future star part of these is rather boring, but that shouldn't take away from the spectacular picture quality in the set. The C.J. Cron card especially catches my eye, probably because it's bright red and screams "you can't help but notice me." Neither of these players has really become a star yet so maybe Topps should choose a bit more wisely in the future.

To me, the landscape view cards are hands down better than the standard cards. These allow for more action shots and players in action, not just the same card of a player at bat all the time. The uniform of the Vargas card is one of my favorites in baseball, while Infante is playing defense which is something I always love to see.

All in all the 2015's were great, but my favorite cards are yet to come.

Now tell me you don't see some resemblance.

I haven't gotten any new 1975 Topps cards in a while, but this Steve Ontiveros card reminds me of what I was missing out on. It's a great shot of him at the plate with who I believe to be Jerry Reuss (I could tell by the hair.) The bright colors look great and they work despite not having any correlation to the team colors.

And sometimes it only takes 1 card to remember what you liked the most about a set. 1975 Topps went year by year through decades of baseball and featured cards of each MVP with their Topps card from that year on a card in 1975 Topps to commemorate their 25th anniversary. This one features Nellie Fox and none other than Mr. Cub Ernie Banks. Not only do I love the purple and yellow, because it's just so 70's, but I also believe that 1959 is the only year that a north-sider and a south-sider each won their league MVP award.

I always knew a lot about what each set looked like, but I never really seriously compared them until today. So thank you, Matthew, for the cards as well as helping me connect 2 sets, 40 years apart from one another.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Guess I Buy Heritage High Number

Yesterday I did a post about Heritage High Number cards from the past 2 years and I wondered who would actually go and buy this stuff in retail or hobby boxes?

Well, apparently I do because I went out there and bought some of it today. I went to the Target a bit further away from where I live, because I know it has a better collection. I picked out a blaster as well as 2 hanger boxes.

I guess Topps thought it would be "clever" to do Now and Then because of the fact that they do Then and Now in regular Heritage. This insert set celebrates impressive feats that players (in this case it's Manny Margot and Dansby Swanson) reached, and they compare these accomplishments to those of past stars.

Rookie Performers is basically New Age Performers for rookies only. This insert set also takes the approach of comparing these players to past players, however, Topps doesn't choose super well-known players and I admire that. Zimmer is compared to Dusty Baker on the back of the card while Gurriel is compared to Astros first basemen from the 70's Bob Watson.

Another insert is the Award Winners which is basically the Award Winners insert from 2017 Topps Series 1, but a much better take on it. I also like how they didn't just choose the awards from Series 1 like MVP and ROY, but they also chose to include the All-Star Game MVP from 2016 Eric Hosmer. The design in the middle of the cards is pretty nice, and I like how it's more than one color too. But I think they could think of something a bit more exciting than white borders because the cards need a bit more excitement. 

But now onto why I really went after this set, the rookies.

Ian Happ was very highly thought of when he was called up earlier this year. He's done well in terms of home runs but has come up short in batting average. Regardless the card itself looks blue like almost every card in the set, but it works better for Happ since he is a Cub.

The blue also goes well with this card.

My very first Cody Bellinger card. This was the first card of the first pack of the blaster and didn't disappoint at all. Bellinger seems to have way more consistency then Judge and more power than Benintendi which is why he's had the best season out of those 3 rookies. This card also doesn't have too much blue and instead has a faint sunset with trees which is something I'm grateful to Topps for doing. Anyway, it's definitely a great card, and I feel very proud that I now own a card of Bellinger.

Heritage also means Heritage Chrome and I was able to add one of those to my collection. This standard Chrome card of Drew Smyly is numbered 702/999 and isn't a bad player to get. Considering most of the set is unknown backup players and rookies that have yet to play well it's quite great to get a card like this of a player you recognize even if he isn't doing that well.

The final insert set is the 1968 Topps Game Rookies which Topps already did as a Wal-Mart exclusive in Topps Heritage earlier this year, so I don't know why they'd do it again. They returned as a 15 card insert set exclusive to Target. I got 2 of these like I got 2 of every other insert. The first is Jacoby Jones a player I recognize.

 The second is Christian Arroyo a player I had never heard of until today.

But I was about to find out.

A redemption! And it's not expired like the first redemption I ever got.

Let me just start by saying that 1. Pulling autographs in Heritage is very difficult. 2. Getting an autograph in anything retail is also very difficult. 3. Pulling a retail Heritage autograph is nearly impossible which is why I don't even care that it's a player I've never heard of.

I did some research and found out that he was hitting .192 with 3 homers and 14 RBI'S before he broke his hand last month and was declared out for the year. He's a third baseman for the Giants and we all know what happened to a specific third baseman for the Giants (cough cough Sandoval cough cough) so I'm hoping he won't go down that path. He's only 22 so there's still some hope that he could turn out a sucess. 

Here's the thing about Heritage High Number, most of the players are players you may not have heard of. But if you can get past that and appreciate the inserts and all the other stuff then maybe this set is meant for you. If not there's always regular Heritage.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Do People Even Buy Heritage High Number?

I took very little notice of the fact that 2017 Topps Heritage High Number came out earlier this week.

This set seems kind of unpractical. It's basically Heritage's version of Topps Update. The 200 card set features rookies and players who went to new teams during the season. The only reason I have it is because I bought the base set of 2015 and 2016 from someone at the card show 2 years in a row.

It also includes players who didn't make the first Heritage set. This is made up of mainly backup players like fan-favorite catcher David Ross and the veteran 4th outfielder for the Red Sox Chris Young.

But don't get me wrong it also includes some pretty distinctive cards.

Like the Matt Wieters card from last year. This card featured Wieters on his first Topps product ever since he never negotiated a deal with Topps until last year. Topps has made up for lost time since then by including him in most sets, even Stadium Club as a National (you'd think there would be plenty of Nationals in a 2017 set that they wouldn't need him.)

But the best part of Heritage High Number are the rookies. Players who called up later in the season get to be featured on their own rookie card in Heritage and don't have to share with another player.

Like back in 2015 when Tommy Pham made his debut for the Cardinals. I don't know much about what or how the Cardinals are doing nowadays, but a friend of mine told me that he is what's driving the Cardinals and helping them stay in playoff contention. Since I don't follow the team can any Cardinals fan confirm or deny this for me?

Flash forward 1 year to the first Heritage card of the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. Fulmer has put together another pretty good season this year. He's 10-12 which isn't bad for a team with a .415 winning percentage. He has a 3.83 ERA and has struck out 114 through 165 innings pitched.

2016 Heritage High Number also features 2 successful mid-season Cubs call-ups. Contreras and Almora each bring something different to the table for the Cubs. Almora is a faster and better defensive player, while Contreras brings more power to the plate. 

There's just something about Julio Urias cards that makes me love them and perhaps this time it's the blue glove. His light blue glove goes will with his blue sleeves, blue cap, blue sky. Everything seems to be blue in this card. Most of the time I'd be annoyed, but this time I'm okay with it.

But the most impressive rookies of these 2 years of Heritage High Number are yet to come.

Yes, it's Thor himself, before he had the very long hair that is. 

Syndergaard was one of the 3 Mets pitchers (him, DeGrom, and Harvey) that propelled the Mets to the 2015 World Series. He has been arguably the most consistent since then with a 2.92 career ERA and 416 career strikeouts. He may not match the strikeout total of DeGrom nor Harvey quite yet, but with continued stellar seasons he could reach that mark soon.

But a rookie card from this 200 card set better than Syndergaard? That seems impossible.

Well, it's possible. It's none other than the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year and Astros phenom Carlos Correa. 

Correa truly emerged as a triple threat in 2016. He proved he could be a slugger (20 HR 96 RBI'S) a solid .274 hitter though he's improved to .305 this year and a Gold Glove-worthy fielder at SS. If the Astros make it far in the playoffs he will be one of the main reasons that happened.

Okay so maybe after this post I might be into getting a bit of 2017 Heritage High Number. We'll have to see.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Yes These Are Actually Purple

In a post a few days ago I stated that my new goal for collecting is to obtain one of each 2017 Topps Heritage Purple Refractor. I chose these because even though I only had 3 at the time I figured since they weren't numbered that they would be easier to find and cheaper to collect.

Like I said I only had 3, but I obtained 6 more via COMC with the remaining balance of $7.12 I had from Paypal.

Since flat rate shipping was $3.99 that limited what I could get. I decided to go quantity over quality and pick up the cheaper players for roughly .40 cents a card.

Ryan Braun is definitely a player whose stock has fallen drastically since proof came out that he used steroids. However, that shouldn't take away from this card especially with the nice background (despite blue skies being in practically EVERY HERITAGE CARD THIS YEAR). Seriously Topps think of something else, please.

Even though they're in a place to win the wild card Rockies refractors were notoriously cheaper than most other teams. I was able to get Story.

And Carlos Gonzalez for a very good price. Yes, I know that all of the images you've seen don't look very purple but in reality, they are. The cards actually have the purple refractor on the border while the image is your more standard chrome, and the team name is left alone.

But my personal favorite card I got is coming up now.

The Urias card stood out to me among all other cards from this year's Heritage. Between the bright All-Star Rookie symbol, the glasses, and him holding the ball. It just has so many different factors that help it stand out, and since it was around the same price as the others I knew I had to choose this one.

So with that my total is up to 9 purple refractors. Please don't hesitate to offer any others that you'd like to trade. You can see which ones I need along with my email and the rest of my want list on my want list page at the top of the screen. I know I'm a while away from completing this, but that's part of the fun.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

First Impressions

I received a nice package of cards from Matt of Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits today as a kind gesture to welcome me to the blog community. It contained a bunch of Allen & Ginter X cards, something he stated that he believed I didn't have much of and that's why he sent them my way.

Well, he was right. I personally have never acquired an Allen & Ginter X card ever before, and this was a great way to start.

Matt knows I'm a huge Red Sox fan, and so he was able to send cards of some of my favorite current and past Red Sox's my way. 2016 Allen & Ginter X was the second year of the product and by this point, Topps was really able to iron out all the kinks and put together a set that looks even better than Allen & Ginter base.
Like I said he sent me a lot of Red Sox. Brian Johnson hasn't really pitched in a while though I do believe he has a lot of promise to be a solid pitcher down the road. Price has been out for most of 2017, but he's looking to come back soon. As for the other 2, Craig Kimbrel is having a possible CY Young season (yes he's that good) and Eduardo Rodriguez pitched quite possibly his best game of the season last night against Oakland.

He even threw in a couple of retired Red Sox players. Nomar is pretty nice to have, but Yaz takes it up a notch. Especially since I'm very close to 100 Card Yastrzemski cards, so this definitely helps.

But it wasn't only Red Sox in this package.

Matt included a player who played about half of his career with the Red Sox and a player who almost came to Beantown. You can learn more about what would have been if A-Rod came to Boston here.

I also thought it was really great that Matt looked at my players I collect list to find what cards I'd like to have. He definitely chose some great players that will make great additions. My favorite would have to be the Lorenzo Cain just because of how well the shade of blue works with the black background.

Matt also included 2 special and select Cubs rookie cards. Carl Edwards Jr. is a player I pulled a lot in packs last year, but Schwarber is a different story. I can never seem to find Schwarber cards even at the show, so thank you for including these guys in the package.

But 2016 wasn't the only Allen & Ginter X set included.

I definitely like 2017 Allen & Ginter more than a lot of Allen & Ginter sets. The frames help the whole art theme and help the cards look like actual pieces of artwork. These 4 have all been doing really well this year. Even Rick Porcello who had a bumpy start is now starting to take the form of his 2016 CY Young self.

I was really happy when I saw that Johnny Damon was in the set this year. I think it's been enough years that it's time for him to get the recognition he deserves for hitting .284 career with close to 3,000 hits.

Speaking of 3,000 hits.
More Yaz!

This card is just about as close to perfect as you can get. It includes just the right amount of everything whether that be the red on his jersey or the photo size this card is pretty amazing. If I end up making a top 5 cards post for Yaz don't be surprised to see this card included.

Finally, to end it off Matt included a card from my want list.
A major need from my 2016 Topps Heritage set. This Baseball Flashbacks card features none other than Roberto Clemente a card that I have only seen before online for a higher price than other flashback cards because of course, it's Clemente. The card itself is very 60's and the photo choice is fabulous. Definitely, a great card to have.

This package was just so fun to open and to uncover all these great cards. Thanks again Matt I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mini Sets: It's All About Balance

Throughout the 80's, 90's, and to a degree the 2000's companies like Fleer, Donruss, and even department stores and food companies got in on the baseball card craze by making their own mini sets. These have now been replaced by what is commonly known as inserts in modern collecting, but for a while, mini sets were an interesting and fun way to collect cards.

For example, this 1989 Fleer For The Record mini set includes Hall of Famers like Maddux and Boggs.

Near greats like Kirk Gibson and Andres Galarraga.

As well as players who came just short of making the Hall of Fame like Don Mattingly.

And players like Roger Clemens who because of steroids (accusations at least) may never make the Hall of Fame.

What I like about such a small set like this one is that with only 6 cards you can really appreciate each and every card. It allows you to pay attention to each card as well as the player. You start to like the card, the player, and the set more and more.

Like I said before there were unlicensed mini sets and this Cap'n Crunch is no exception. This set like the Fleer set also features near greats. Players who had a few years that they were amazing, but for one reason or another they weren't able to keep up that performance for their entire career.

But one thing I don't understand is how this set is manufactured by Topps, but they aren't licensed. Topps has maintained their licensing with MLB since 1951, so why doesn't a mini set made by Topps have those same rules apply to them?

However, despite not having licensing rights this set has some amazing cards. Finding cards of Eddie Murray on the Dodgers can be difficult, so between that and the great photo, I know that there are at least a few great cards.

Speaking of food-related sets.

This one is perhaps the most bizarre of them all. 

In 2003 Donruss teamed up with French's (yes French's mustard) to make this 6 card Yankees only mini set. My dad purchased this set for a slightly pricey $5 at a card shop in Illinois, and I truly believe it was worth the price he paid. 

It includes a balanced mix of players I've never heard of before like Jeff Weaver and Steve Karsay as well as some semi-stars like Jose Contreras and Soriano.

It also features Yankees stars like Jorge Posada. 

Posada was a star catcher for the Yankees for 17 years. He's not a favorite of mine, for he always seemed to do well against the Red Sox. I may not like him that much, but I most definitely respect him.

But you can't really have a Yankees set during his illustrious 20-year career for New York including the captain himself Derek Jeter.

This Jeter card instantly makes the set worth it. As I've noted before Yankees cards are known for being expensive which is why I will always jump at opportunities to get Yankees cards for the right price.

This is why I love mini sets the variety is unlike anything else in the card collecting world. You can get stuff in mini sets that you may not have ever known existed, and that's why I love them.