Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Opening My First Pack of 2018 Topps Heritage

After debating the pros and cons of pursuing yet another Topps Heritage set, my dad and I ultimately decided that continuing to collect cards from our favorite Topps product was worth it. Therefore, we decided to continue the tradition we established and pick up a hobby box of 2018 Topps Heritage from our local hobby shop. It was a bit more than we expected, but we collectively decided that the set was something we wanted to collect, year after year.

Today I'll give a nice overview of the set by showing all the cards from my first pack of the product. After this, I'll spend the next couple of posts highlighting the hits from the box and any possible variations or inserts I pull.

Each hobby pack contains 9 cards and there are 24 packs per box. Here are the cards from my very first pack of 2018 Topps Heritage.

#99 Twins Rookie Stars
This isn't the best start to Topps Heritage this year, but it does give me an immediate look as to how well Topps replicated the Rookie Stars cards. Topps seems to have done the 1969 Topps Rookie Stars cards justice by making them look nearly identical to the original versions. I've also heard some pretty good things about Zack Granite, one of the players included on the card.

#327 Yasiel Puig
The next card was my first look at what the cards looked like in-hand, and once again, it's safe to say that Topps did a very good job with Heritage. They replicated the 1969 set very well, despite not having much to work with considering how 1969 can be a pretty boring set. The borders are (thankfully) not as huge as they appeared online, and the cardstock is once again given a nice vintage feel. 

#24 Charlie Blackmon
I may be just 3 cards into the first pack, but I can already tell that this set is going to have a lot of cards with sky backgrounds like last year. However, with interesting photos like these, it will be a bit more bearable to see the sky appear over and over again. 

#198 Hunter Renfroe
Topps never fails to pull out all the stops for Topps Heritage, and that includes replicating the card backs extraordinarily well. The recognizable pink card backs share the exact same color that drew attention to them back in 1969.

#412 Carlos Gonzalez SP
Here it is, my very first short print of 2018 Topps Heritage is Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. CarGo is definitely one of the better players to get an SP of in this year's Heritage, considering that Topps took a different approach to Heritage short-prints this year and placed many of the star players in the base set for the first time in years. This card of Gonzalez is a standout for many reasons, including the bright blue batting gloves he's wearing.

#231 Kole Calhoun
I kept my eye on Kole Calhoun when he began to emerge as a power-hitter in LA just a few seasons ago. And while he hasn't been able to match his 2015 performance in which he hit 26 home runs, I still believe that he could be a vital player on this new-look Angels team along with Ian Kinsler, Albert Pujols, Shoehi Ohtani, and Mike Trout.

#296 Reynaldo Lopez
Reynaldo Lopez is not too exciting of a player to pull, but the picture is actually one of the better ones I've seen and makes up for getting a sub-par player.

#135 Nationals Rookie Stars
The first card of the pack was a rookie stars card, and so is the 2nd to last. This rookie stars card is the Nationals and features a player I recognize from Series 1, Raudy Read.

#168 2017 World Series Game 7
The final card of the pack is without a doubt my favorite card not just of the pack but could end up being one of my favorites of the box. The iconic World Series Special design that was featured in 1969 Topps returned in 2018 to highlight the 2017 World Series. I know that Night Owl hoped for the Dodgers to be included in this World Series design, and despite them not winning it all, they at least will get 3 cards honoring there 3 World Series wins from 2017.

Overall, despite only opening 1 pack so far, I can tell that I like what Topps did with their Heritage set this year and how well they replicated the 1969 design. I'll be sure to post more of what I pull in the box over the next couple days. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cards To Trade, I've Got Cards To Trade!

Along with many card collectors, I too have acquired way more cards than I really should've. This is due to retail and hobby breaks, dime box hauls, along with box after box of random cards sorted by team. As a result of that, I'm a bit low on space for other stuff in my collection which is why I began selling on Sportlots just a few weeks ago. I've also completed trades to trade away cards in exchange for ones that I need for sets or player collections.

I've never done a post like this before, but I've decided to share a few of the cards that I have for sale. These are the highlights of the many cards I'm hoping to either trade or sell fairly soon. The card on top is an insert called The Expressionists from 2017 Topps Gallery. These are very rare pulls (1:82 regular packs) and since there are quite a few Cardinals bloggers, I'm hoping this card can appeal to someone. 

Speaking of 2017 Topps Gallery, I also pulled a couple of Twins inserts from the set. The Sano is from Gallery Heritage and the Dozier is from the Masterpiece insert set. I like these cards a lot, but I don't currently collect Sano or Dozier. I also think there would definitely be someone who these cards would appeal to more than myself.

I've also got a lot of Derek Jeter cards than I'm not a huge fan of, but I'm certain some Yankees fan will be. Being a Red Sox fan, I've never been a huge fan of Jeter and his recent decisions in the Marlins organization have made him even less popular in my eyes. These 2017 Topps Archives Derek Jeter inserts are cards I'm sure will make some Yankees fan extremely happy, and if I could get a few Red Sox cards for these it would be a win-win trade.

I also have 2 Diamond Kings parallels from 2017 Donruss Optic of none other than Mickey Mantle (I'm starting to wonder why everything I'm offering for trade is from 2017). I have to say the thing that drives me away from these cards is that the player does not really look like Mickey Mantle. It was a big deal that Mantle returned to baseball cards last year, but I don't think he can be in Topps products and I also don't believe Panini is doing Mantle any justice with these cards. 

The final card I'm showing today that's available for trade is from, you guessed it, 2017! The Bowman's Best Atomic Refractors were pretty rare cards (1 per box) and feature a cracked ice design.  I have one of Clayton Kershaw that is definitely a pretty cool card, but I know there are a lot of Dodger and Kershaw lovers out there that would really appreciate this card. And once again, it's mutually beneficial because I'd be getting some cool cards that I need in exchange for it.

If you want to trade for any of these cards, don't hesitate to let me know. I'm certain we'd be able to work out a trade. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Reviewing the 2018 Topps Heritage Checklist

With the release of 2018 Topps Heritage just a few days away, I've decided to share my thoughts on the checklist as well as what I plan to buy from the set.

I did this same type of post for 2018 Topps Series 1 a week before the set was released due to how popular the set is and that it's the first release of the year. I'm not going to do this for every single set that's released, just the ones I'm excited about, like Topps Heritage.

Topps Heritage has always been my favorite set that Topps has put out. While there have been certain years that I've liked other Topps products more than Heritage, the consistency of the product combined with how well Topps is able to recreate its past sets makes the product a hit in my eyes year after year. In 2018, Topps is taking a trip back to the Summer of '69 and honoring a simple yet nice 1969 Topps set. Topps is once again going for a 400 card base set with 100 short prints along with the usual inserts. I just pray that the set doesn't have borders that are as gigantic as they look on this card.

When I talk about the usual inserts, I'm referring to the 4 inserts that are consistently included in basically every Heritage set I can remember. One of these inserts is Then & Now where they compare legends of the past to the star players of today based on similar performances and stats. I'm a pretty big fan of the idea, but Topps has been using a lot of the same players over the last couple of seasons so it's getting kind of stale. Still, with relatively new players like Tom Seaver and Rod Carew on the checklist this year, it's looking a bit different than years past.

Another personal favorite insert set of mine is the New Age Performers set that features an extremely colorful and interesting design this year. It's another set that has been somewhat lacking over the last few years, but the 2018 insert looks the best it has in years. I might have to change my mind about collecting the set after seeing what these look like, or at least collect the New Age Performers inserts because of how fantastic they look.

Baseball and News Flashbacks cards are the last 2 of the standard inserts and are once again separated into 2 sets instead of 1 Flashbacks set. The News Flashbacks are going to be exciting as they include cards for Apollo 11 and Woodstock while the Baseball Flashbacks include the stars from 1969 like Willie Stargell and Hank Aaron.

Just to point out, Craig Kimbrel has just 1 card in the set, and that's a simple base card. He has no New Age Performers card or a Then & Now. He doesn't even have a chrome variation card but somehow Elvis Andrus does. I wish he'd be represented a bit more, but I think Topps is hesitant to do it because he's a relief pitcher. Either way, it makes my job of collecting his cards a lot easier.

As for what I'll be buying, my dad and I have a tradition going back years of buying a hobby box of Heritage and opening it together. It's always been both of our favorite set, but with prices soaring to around $100 or more this year, we might have to think twice about it, especially since you get 1 hit per box and that's usually a relic. No matter what, I'm still going to buy some 2018 Topps Heritage, I'm just now sure what that will be. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Mission Accomplished

When I bought 3 Craig Kimbrel cards at the show earlier this week, I technically had 100 different cards of Kimbrel. However, my 2nd package from Sportlots had not come yet in the mail, so while I knew these 4 were on the way, I didn't have 100 cards in my possession quite yet.

That changed a couple of days ago when this final Sportlots package came in the mail, containing the 4 cards that would bring the total from 96 to 100 different cards in the Kimbrel Collection. The 4 cards are all from 2018 Topps because I wanted to be able to collect Kimbrel cards as they are released so I don't fall too far behind. I'm going to show off these 4 new additions today. 

The first card is actually a rainbow foil parallel which isn't very noticeable in this year's Topps. The only thing that makes the card look more like a parallel when scanned is the glow in the background. Other than that, it really looks like a base card. Nevertheless, it's a new card of Kimbrel and a parallel of the base version that was available for a pretty good price.

The next card is from the MLB Awards insert set and commemorates Kimbrel winning the 2017 AL Reliever of the Year award. The card has a very modern look, much more so than last year's insert set.  The bottom of the card features a bit of a bizarre design with all the slashes and lines, but it works with the modern theme. It's still great to have this card because it honors Kimbrel for winning the award in the first place, verifying how good he really is.

The next card is also an insert, this one is from the 35th Anniversary insert set for 1983 Topps. Another part of my Kimbrel-themed Sportlots order was the black parallel of this very card, numbered to 299. Now that I have the base version in hand, I'm able to give my full and complete thoughts on the card, which I absolutely love. The picture chosen is very unique and is one that we don't usually see on cards. And while the blue and red around the image may be a bit safe for Red Sox colors, I appreciate Topps' effort to replicate the set as best as they can.

The final card is also a parallel that is a bit more noticeable, but still subtle compared to last year's parallels. Topps continued with what they've done in the last 15 years or so with the gold parallels, serial numbering them out of the year of the set. In this case, the Kimbrel card is numbered 560/2018. I love the image they included on this card and have yet to get tired of it despite seeing the image on 3 different cards. I like it so much that I wouldn't mind seeing it on Opening Day and Topps Chrome later this year (take notes, Topps). 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Changing Positions

A Topps photographer's decision to take photos of Troy Tulowitzki pitching became an internet story yesterday, prompting Topps to create this Topps Now card as a way of laughing off the fact that their photographer actually thought Troy Tulowitzki was a pitcher. 

The mix-up involving Tulowitzki inspired me to look through some cards I was organizing to see if I could find any cards of position players pitching or of pitchers hitting just so I could find and show some cards that are different from what we're used to seeing of certain players.

Since the majority of the cards I went through were of players I collect, those are the players I found most of these types of cards of. Case and point; Greg Maddux, who is shown here getting ready for a bunt while batting at a home game for the Braves. This is something I consider one of the best parts of NL baseball, seeing pitchers batting, especially when those photos make it to baseball cards. I'm not saying Topps should use these pictures all the time, but with good hitting pitchers like Bumgarner and Arrieta in the NL, Topps could at least make a card or 2 showing these star pitchers, hitting the ball which is something they do pretty well.

The next card is of Tom Glavine, and it takes it up a notch by actually showing a pitcher in the batter's box hitting like a position player on a baseball card. It looked so much like a position player card that I mistook it for a card of Chipper Jones until I read Glavine's name. The card is from 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond, a set that I have grown to like because of this card. I don't know how many cards there are that show pitchers batting, but I do know I have a really nice one in this Tom Glavine card.

Finally, the very opposite of pitchers batting is position players pitching, which is exactly what this 2016 Topps Pressed Into Service insert set is all about. The idea behind it is to highlight times where a position player was told to pitch in an MLB game, and in this case, that player was Josh Harrison. Other players in this set include Ichiro, Mitch Moreland, and even legendary Cardinal Stan Musial. 

I would certainly consider starting a mini-collection showing pitchers batting because of how unconventional it is and how it doesn't seem to be represented on cards all that often. I'd have more luck finding those cards than cards of position players pitching, because if that were to ever happen again, Topps would just make a Topps Now card of it and charge 10 dollars. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

1959 Fleer Ted Williams From the Mansfield Show

The final of the 4 recap posts of Monday's Mansfield card show is showing off one of the most impressive hauls I've ever brought home from a card show, and for a good price too. As I was looking around at the show looking for something to catch my eye, I found a vendor who was selling a bunch of 1959 Fleer Ted Williams cards. He stated that he would be willing to take a few dollars off each one, and so the cards of my choice would be available for 4-7 dollars each.

I called my dad over to see what he thought of the deal and to decide which cards to get. He agreed that these cards of Williams, possibly the greatest hitter to ever play the game, were available for too good of a price to pass up. So, we decided to go for the ones that seemed to most interesting to us like this one titled "Sox Miss Out Again" and the back of the card explains how. The Red Sox lost the pennant to the Yankees on the last day of the 1949 season, for the 2nd year in a row. The cards with multiple pictures like this one and the card at the top of the post were the ones that caught my eye and caused me to appreciate them enough to choose them over other card options.

I also really liked how well the action-shot cards looked, especially considering they were made in 1959. The quality is truly superb and images like this make the cards look like paintings on the wall. The details like the grass and the dirty as well as Williams' jersey were very well created by Fleer, especially in the case of Ted's All-Star hero card that commemorates his walk-off home run in the 1941 All-Star game.

It was hard to make the decision on which cards to choose and which cards not to choose, but I knew that I wanted cards that caught my attention and that I instantly noticed. This included the 2 cards above, each of which has a detailed background. Each of these 2 cards also pays tribute to a significant event in Ted's career. Those are the types of cards I liked the best, which made them the ones I wanted to choose.

But without a doubt, my favorite part of the 1959 Ted Williams set are cards like this. Not every card commemorates a baseball accomplishment, this one pays tribute to another very important part of Ted's career, his serving in the Navy during World War 2. He was also in the Marines during his lifetime. His service to the country off the field earned him a card in an insert set back in 2007 Topps called Distinguished Service. He was also given this card in the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set that instantly became my favorite. He had dozens of accomplishments in baseball, but he also did a lot to serve the country, sacrificing 3 years of his prime to serve in the military. That's an example of the person he was, and I'm glad he was given the credit he deserves in cards like this one. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Accomplishing Goals at the Mansfield Show

Monday's baseball card show allowed me to accomplish 4 out of the 5 goals that I created for myself before I attended the show. I wanted to follow these goals to the best of my ability to ensure a successful trip to the baseball card show. 

The first goal that I accomplished was a fairly simple goal, buy something special. Much to my surprise, this ended up being the final 2 1993 McDonalds/MLB glasses that I needed to complete the set. The same vendor that sold them to my dad at the previous show had the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig glasses available for $5 each and even told my dad he'd keep his eyes open for the short-printed glass of Carl Yastrzemski that was sold exclusively in the Boston area. 

The next goal that I was able to accomplish us adding to the Jackie Bradley super-collection that my dad started. I added on to what I already have of his 2012 1st Bowman card by picking up 2 parallels. One is the flag variation background which is one of my favorite card variations ever made, and the other is a nice purple parallel. These each cost me a few dollars each, which was a bit pricey for non-numbered parallels. However, they are parallels of his 1st Bowman card, so I understand why it was priced a bit high. 

Continuing with the theme of Bowman parallels, I found a couple from 2013 Bowman Draft, Bradley's rookie season. The card on the right is the chrome parallel while the blue is numbered out of 500. It was nice to be able to add on to what I had of both of the base cards. Plus, they're both either rookie cards or 1st Bowman cards which definitely makes it worth what I paid.

I continued looking through this vendor's JBJ cards, and it turns out he had a bunch of different cards I needed. Like this 2014 Heritage High Number card from one of my favorite Topps sets of all-time.

Speaking of Heritage, I also found this 2017 Topps Heritage Purple Refractor for a dollar, the same price as the High Number card from 2014. 

Also costing me just a buck was the gold parallel of one of my favorite Bradley cards I have, his 2014 Topps Update base card. The card shows him sliding into home plate at Fenway Park which is an awesome picture to include on a card. I already had the base card like I had the 2012 Bowman and 2013 Bowman Draft, so I picked up the gold parallel numbered to 2014.

All in all, I found 8 new Jackie Bradley Jr. cards for my dad's super-collection today, which brings the total to around 30 cards. This includes an insert from 2013 Bowman. It's called Cream of the Crop, and the card I picked up is the blue wave mini refractor. I've never seen these cards before, and they look very similar to the base set. However, the blue wave looks pretty cool and it's numbered out of 250, the lowest numbered Bradley card I purchased. 

After accomplishing 2 of my 5 goals, I moved on to my most important goal which was to find 3 cards of Craig Kimbrel to bring the total number of cards up to 100. I knew I had 1 more Sportlots package with 4 Kimbrels (which arrived yesterday), so that meant finding 3 cards at the show on Monday was all I needed to find.

One of the cards was from 2016 Topps Museum and is my very first card from 2016 Museum as well as my first Museum card of Kimbrel. I've always liked what Topps has done with the Museum base set, and since the base cards are relatively cheap, I should be able to acquire them pretty easily for the Kimbrel Collection.

The 3rd Kimbrel card that brought the total to 100 cards was an image variation from 2017 Topps Update, a card that should be rare but is instead currently going for less than the base card on COMC. Still, it's a pretty dope card because it gives us a type of picture that we don't usually see. He looks incredibly happy to be at the All-Star game and while the card might not be as valuable as it should be considering it is a variation, I probably wouldn't be able to get the card at all if it was truly short-printed, and I'd be at 99 Kimbrel's right now instead of 100.

At this point, I had accomplished 3/5 goals and had quite some time left at the show, so I decided to regroup with my dad and see what he got. He found some nice vintage cards from 1969 Topps, like this Frank Howard for a very good price. Each card was from 2-6 dollars and it pretty good condition.

He paid close attention to condition, cost, and player when determining which of the 1969 Topps cards were worth it. He decided that this Tony Perez card was worth it for $6, a decision I agreed with. The card is in excellent condition aside from the centering not being perfect. 

The next card he showed me was one that he got at an unbelievable price. This Willie McCovey All-Star card was just $2, which made choosing to get the card or not an easy decision. Acquiring this card of McCovey from 1969 makes me excited to collect 2018 Topps Heritage, a set that's checklist was just released today.

But it was the Ted Williams cards as a manager of the Senators that I was astonished to see included in the stack of 1969 Topps cards. The first is a dual-player card showing Williams teaching Mike Epstein some of his various hitting techniques. I would have been very happy with just 1 Ted Williams card, however, my dad didn't just choose one card...

He chose 2, the 2nd of them being Williams' manager base card. These 2 cards of the greatest hitter to ever play cost a total of $10 all-together, and show off his brief stint as manager of the Senators. These cards will be fantastic new additions to the Ted Williams player collection which is surprisingly at around 50 different cards.

And to think, these weren't the last cards of Williams that we would get at the show...

To be continued.