Thursday, August 30, 2018

Frankenset Page 19

The sport of baseball truly is fascinating. More so than any other sport, there are countless cases in baseball when a players' stock or value can fall so drastically over the course of just a couple years.

To put this into perspective, Josh Donaldson is currently on waivers. You know, the 2015 AL MVP. I realize that health is a major factor, but I'm still shocked that it's come to this. With waivers still in mind, Daniel Murphy, the 2016 NL MVP runner-up, and a career .300 hitter, was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. They barely gave up anything to get him.

However, among all the stories of players who fell off the map, and there are plenty of them, one that stands out to me is Jose Bautista. A couple days ago, Bautista was traded from the Mets to the Phillies. Keep in mind, Joey Bats has also played for the Braves this year.

Bautista is nearing in on 350 homers and 1,000 RBI. There was a time when he was a perennial All-Star and MVP contender, even leading the AL in homers in 2010 and 2011.

Some of these players bounce back from these situations, others don't. In the case of this frankenset page, players like Johnny Peralta and Curtis Granderson are familiar with a decline in their stats throughout the years.

The 19th page in my frankenset includes cards 163-171. This includes a couple oddballs but is made up of multiple Stadium Club cards as well.

#163 2009 O-Pee-Chee Alex Gonzalez
Upper Deck's 2009 O-Pee-Chee set remains one of the most underrated sets in recent memory. The color combinations were brilliant and even though I doubt I have more than 10 cards from the set, it's one of the most well-done sets of this card collecting era.

#164 2014 Panini Donruss Curtis Granderson
There must have been some slim pickings for spot #164 in the frankenset judging from the card above. Not only is the 2014 Panini Donruss set a mess, but Panini did a poor job in trying to cover up the logoless cap in this card in particular. It looks like they tried to cover it up, but stopped halfway through.

#165 1999 Topps Stadium Club George Lombard
The first of 3 Stadium Clubs on this frankenset page is from the 1999 set. It shows Braves outfielder George Lombard getting ready to make a catch. However, the ball that he's supposedly waiting to catch is nowhere to be found on this card.

#166 2015 Topps Heritage Jhonny Peralta
I didn't collect much of 2015 Topps Heritage when it came out because the 1966 Topps set is very uninteresting to me. However, I can make exceptions for a few cards, and this Jhonny Peralta card is one of them. The yellow and red banners perfectly match the yellow and red colors on his home jersey.

#167 2016 Topps Stadium Club Micah Johnson
The next Stadium Club card to end up on the 19th frankenset page is from the 2016 set, my favorite Stadium Club set design. On this card, Dodgers infielder Micah Johnson is preparing to bunt. Cards that show players getting ready to bunt are incredibly rare nowadays, so it's always worth a look each time you come across one. 

#168 2015 Topps Stadium Club Carlos Baerga 
The final Stadium Club card of the page is most likely my favorite. The sheer 90's feel to this Carlos Baerga card as well as the perfectly-captured image of him diving to make a play encapsulates everything that the Stadium Club brand is about.

#169 1990 Topps Richard Dotson
From shorts, black with white striped shirts and pants, to the red shirts that came around in the 80's, the Chicago White Sox sure have had their fair share of different uniforms over their history. However, they've been sticking with their classic black-striped home uniforms for quite a while now.

#170 1998 Upper Deck UD3 Future Impact 
'98 was a big year for Ben Grieve. With an All-Star appearance and winning of the 1998 AL Rookie of the Year award, it seemed like the beginning of a successful career for the A's outfielder. The 1998 UD3 set is probably one of the most confusing sets of all-time, both in terms of card numbers and all that's happening on the front of the card as well.

#171 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Michael Young
The 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter set is the only set in brand history to not stick completely to the white backgrounds, instead opting for this shade of green for all the cards. That's likely why this is my least favorite of all the A&G sets ever made.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Top 5 Cards; Roberto Clemente

Since starting the blog in August of last year, I've always tried to find a type of post that I can fall back on. If I'm looking for something interesting that will always be available as an option, I look no further than my top 5 cards posts.

Just a few days after starting my blog last year, I started my top 5 cards series with a top 5 cards post on Jake Arrieta. Thankfully, my player collection totals and writing skills have improved immensely since that day.

When choosing a player for today's top 5 card post, I realized that there was a major player who I still haven't dedicated one of these posts to yet, Roberto Clemente. A superstar on the field and an incredible person off the field, Clemente is up there with Mickey Mantle in terms of the most collectible players of all-time. 

Clemente's perseverance, talent, and caring personality are what makes him one of my 5 favorite all-time players. I've been collecting him for almost as long as I've been collecting baseball cards. I remember collecting him back when I first got into cards, and now his player collection is 57 cards strong, excluding cards from The National that I have yet to add to the PC.

I tried to represent vintage as much as I could in this post. With that in mind, here are my top 5 cards of Roberto Clemente.

#5 1987 Donruss
In most cases, when you have more than 1 of the same card, the card can start to feel less special since you have so many. However, Clemente's special HOF Diamond Kings base card from 1987 Donruss is an exception to this statement. I may have 4 of this card due to the dime bins and my wanting to accumulate as many Clemente cards as possible, but there's no denying that this is a standout card. Between the Puerto Rican flag and other detailed background features, it definitely catches your eye a lot, especially for a base card from a 1980's Donruss set.

#4 1963 Topps Buc Blasters
Ideally, this card would include Willie Stargell in the place of one of the 3 players besides Roberto Clemente. Then again, the price of this card with Clemente and Stargell on it would likely mean I wouldn't have it in my collection. No matter what, the trusty 60's combo cards never fail to impress me, and this is a key reason why. The 4 players on this card happen to all be in the same uniform and pose, which helps to make this vintage combo card a true standout.

#3 1962 Topps
Sometimes, classic works best and simplicity reigns supreme. No Clemente card in my collection embodies that better than my 1962 Topps Roberto Clemente card, one of many cards to feature the name "Bob" on the card instead of Roberto. The pairing of the vintage Pirates jersey and the fabulous 1962 Topps set is one that I could never get tired of. Even with such a simple pose like holding the bat, Clemente's 1962 Topps card is easily able to become one of my favorites.

#2 2001 Topps Combos Latin Heat
If this were any other list, or I was without vintage options, this card could easily be #1. However, because this is a top 5 cards post for Roberto Clemente, it was up against some stiff competition. Anyway, this is one of a few cards from the 2001 Topps Combos insert set. I've seen a few of the other combos, but none came close to the Latin Heat card of 2 of my favorite all-time players, Vladimir Guerrero and Roberto Clemente.

#1 1958 Topps
At some point, you just have to tell yourself that condition isn't everything. Sure, the better condition a card is in, the better. But, it's not a huge deal if your vintage cards aren't in the best shape. I don't think I've ever shown my 1958 Topps Roberto Clemente card before on the blog. As you can very well see, there are creases and smudges all over the surface. But for a card like this, that doesn't matter. What I believe truly matters is having a 1958 Clemente in the first place. If you can say that, who gives a damn about the condition? 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Outcome of a Target Gift Card Part 2

To add on to a Night Owl Cards post from a couple days ago, I'm definitely feeling like these are the "dog days" of card blogging.

I assume this makes sense. For most of us, we're in the last week or so of warm weather before fall comes along. I assume some people are vacationing while others may simply be too busy to blog or check out other card blogs, which I totally understand.

In my case, I have enough time on my hands both this week and last, so I can continue to put out posts almost every day. However, the views and comments have not been what I'm used to. Not since I was in my first month of card blogging have I gone so long without a comment.

Still, I've been enjoying posting over the last few days and have pulled some nice cards so far from the 2018 Topps Archives blaster and value pack from yesterday's post. As for today, I decided to spend the 2nd half of my gift card on a Topps Chrome blaster, containing 7 packs and 1 pack of Sepia exclusive parallels which I will save for last. 

Also, in order to see how prominent rookie cards are in Topps Chrome, I'll be keeping a rookie card count throughout the entire blaster box. 

Pack #1

#126 Scott Kingery
That sure didn't take long. Right off the bat, we have a rookie card of Phillies 2nd baseman Scott Kingery.

Rookie Card Count; 1

#FS-16 Trey Mancini Future Stars
I wish I could say this was my first Mancini Future Stars card. But in fact, it happens to be my 3rd. 1 of them is in my Topps Chrome set while the 2nd and 3rd will have to be designated to one of my boxes.

#178 Nomar Mazara

#44 Tim Anderson
The landscape-style cards look awfully nice in this years' Chrome set. For whatever reason, the background appears to be faded when the card is scanned, but in-person the background is equally bright and shiny as the foreground.

Pack #2

#74 Andrew McCutchen
Given that they're still stuck in 4th place in the NL West, it's evident that the Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria experiment did not work out for the San Francisco Giants. It leads me to wonder where McCutchen will end up this offseason. Could a return to Pittsburgh be in his future?

#188 Garrett Cooper
The 2nd rookie card of the box is of a guy who will likely be playing today when the Marlins take on the Red Sox at Fenway Park, a game I can happily say I will be attending. 

Rookie Card Count; 2

#182 Gary Sanchez Prism Refractor
Somehow, this Gary Sanchez prism refractor is also a double (please don't ask me how). This card, along with the Mancini Future Stars, is available for trade if anyone is interested.

#119 Yoenis Cespedes

Pack #3

#198 Andrew Stevenson

Rookie Card Count; 3

#133 Chance Sisco
I'm still not familiar with half of the over-hyped rookies from 2017, and now Topps expects me to familiarize myself with a bunch of 2018 rookies? This is why I could never be a major case-breaker or prospect hunter.

Rookie Card Count; 4

#123 Joey Votto Refractor
A nice refractor of a guy I collect and who also has one of the largest of my player collections for an active player. You can't ask for much more than that.

#142 Trey Mancini

Pack #4

#92 Francisco Mejia
I understand that Topps Chrome is a major set for rookie cards, rookie autographs in particular. But from what I've seen in this blaster and the online checklist, I think the sheer number of rookies included is excessive.

Rookie Card Count; 5

#83T-12 Mike Trout 1983 
If you've seen any of these 1983 chrome cards in-person, then you know what I'm talking about when  I say how beautiful these cards are. To make things even better, the 1983 insert I pulled is of Mike Trout, and you can't get that many better names than that, even counting this years' high-profile rookies.

#181 Kenta Maeda

#8 Josh Donaldson

Pack #5

#72 Ozzie Albies
Now, here's a rookie card that I'm extremely happy to get. Besides Topps Heritage, I don't think I have any other rookie cards of the possible 2018 NL Rookie of the Year.

Rookie Card Count; 6

#FF-1 Shohei Ohtani Freshman Flash
Nice! Here's an insert to make the entire blaster box worthwhile. An Ohtani Freshman Flash, possibly the only insert that looks better in person than the 1983 chrome cards. Instead of being forced to overpay for one online, now I have the coveted Freshman Flash insert, making the completion of this insert set far easier.

Rookie Card Count; 7

#191 Jon Lester

#80 German Marquez

Pack #6

#30 Alex Colome

#139 Bryce Harper
A .351 batting average over the last 30 games has brought Bryce Harper's batting average "up" to .249. Still, that's not a guy I'd be looking to give half a billion dollars to if I was a GM.

#164 Troy Scribner Refractor

Rookie Card Count; 8

#7 Eric Thames
With 1 base pack and 1 sepia parallel pack still to come, there are already 8 rookie cards in the box. Even if no more rookies are pulled, that's still 1/4 of the box.

Pack #7

#103 Carlos Correa

#83T-16 Dominic Smith 1983
I don't think I know much at all about Mets rookie Dominic Smith. All I know is I've heard some pretty good things. I just hope, for his sake, that the Mets don't find any way to mess up his development. They deserve to have something go right for them.

Rookie Card Count; 9

#34 Luis Castillo

#55 Trevor Bauer
It seems like it's going to be between Chris Sale, Blake Snell, and Trevor Bauer for the AL Cy Young award this year. Sale has been a contender for years, but Snell and Bauer are both having breakout seasons with career highs in nearly each stat category.

Exclusive Sepia Parallel Pack

#161 Cody Allen
If you cover their faces and player names at the bottom, I don't think I'd be able to tell the difference between Cody Allen and Trevor Bauer's cards.

#31 Gleyber Torres
Another great rookie card hit! That makes three for the whole blaster box (Albies, Ohtani, Torres). That also brings the rookie card count to a grand total of 10 with Torres being the final rookie card pulled.

Rookie Card Count; 10

#136 Michael Conforto

#37 Paul Goldschmidt
Not a bad way to end the blaster box. A sepia parallel of a guy I collect and most importantly, it's not another rookie card.

All in all, I was pretty happy with this chrome blaster. Granted, I didn't hit any numbered parallels, but I did land an Albies base rookie, a Torres sepia refractor, and best of all, the Shohei Ohtani Freshman Flash. Now, hopefully, some of these will be needs for my 2018 Topps Chrome set, and then I'll be thoroughly happy with this purchase.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Outcome of a Target Gift Card Part 1

Over the weekend, I received a very generous $50 Target gift card from my grandma when I went out to dinner with her to catch up. I try to see her at least once a month or so, but I hadn't gotten a chance to talk to her since I returned from Cleveland a couple weeks ago.

She's always been a giving person, and this gift just so happens to come at a time where I'm trying not to spend any money (cash or card) on baseball cards. Last weekend, I cashed in my change jar and bought a blaster of Topps Archives. However, with the Target gift card, I really tried to think of anything else I needed before deciding to spend the money on baseball cards.

Of course, not a single thing came to mind. 

Okay, baseball cards it is.

I started off with Topps Archives, just to see how I'd do 2nd time around. If I do well, I'll probably go back for more Archives using the gift card. If not, I might try Topps Chrome again or even a 20-pack repack box.

But for now, I combined the highlights of my blaster and value pack of Topps Archives to show for you today. After this post, I'll decide what to spend the 2nd half of my gift card on.

For each of the 3 years included in the 2018 Topps Archives set, I pulled some cards that will be able to go directly to their respective player collections. Among the 1959s, I may not have hit an Ohtani rookie, but I did pull a Rafael Devers rookie card and an Aaron Judge base. The absence of Devers due to injury could be one of the reasons as to why the Sox have been struggling so much over the last week.
While most of the '59 player collection cards were of current players, most of the '77s featured retired players. Certain players, like George Brett, have become mainstays in the Topps Archives set over the last few years. Others, like Satchel Paige, aren't always represented in sets like this which makes it all the more thrilling to pull a card of him, especially since it's a photo I don't believe we've seen before.

Of all the years, I think the 1981 portion of the set had the best selection of players. In addition to rookies like Acuña and Andujar, the 1981 cards include multiple retired players like the 4 shown above. From what I can see, I believe the Gibson and Johnson photos were taken at Wrigley Field due to the part of the scoreboard and the ivy-less wall in each respective card.

The blaster box also delivered another Sandlot insert card just like my first blaster had. Again, I know absolutely nothing about the movie, so both the Scotty Smalls and the Alan "Yeah Yeah" McClennan cards are available for trade for all you Sandlot fans out there.

I'm still not a big fan of these Topps Rookie History reprint cards, similar to the Derek Jeter reprints from last year. It just so happens that the 2 I've pulled so far, Bryce Harper and Al Kaline, are players I collect. That being said, they too are available for trade. 

From what I know, each value pack promises 1 Coming Attraction insert card. I ended up with an Alex Verdugo card, who I hear is a very talented and promising rookie. The Coming Attraction cards originally appeared in the 1993 Topps set, though the only notable name I found when looking through the cards on COMC was Jim Edmonds.

I was also happy to pull yet another purple parallel in my 2nd blaster just as I did in my first. With the first one being Yoan Moncada and the second being Felix Hernandez, it's clear that both of these players' value is at an all-time low, but there's no saying Moncada can't recover given he's only 23, and Hernandez can't bounce back in a bullpen role. And even if they don't, these purple parallels numbered to 175 look fantastic either way.

In addition to a base rookie of Miguel Andujar and a 1959 combo card of Stanton and Judge, I hit a Yankees Future Stars card in the value pack. On the card are the big 3 2018 Yankees rookies, including Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, and Miguel Andujar. Besides the Future Stars with Ohtani, I don't think I could've pulled a better one than this trio of Yankees rookies.

The next card I'm showing is a Clayton Kershaw base card. Although it's a nice base card and will help add to my Kershaw PC, I'm not showing it so late in the post for no reason. I'm showing the base card so I can show you this

I didn't even notice this card right away until I realized I had pulled 2 Clayton Kershaw base cards. Upon checking the codes, I discovered that this card was, in fact, an image variation. Only about 9 players in the entire set have image variation cards, and they're fairly tough pulls as well. Going for around $30 on eBay, this Kershaw card alone could pay for the entire purchase.

But, as amazing as the Kershaw variation was, there was still 1 card in the purchase that was a bit better. This card came out of the value pack which cost me $5.99.

I guess you could say this was a Yankees and Dodgers hot-box because I landed one of the Fan Favorites autographs of Chris Chambliss right in the middle of the value pack which I added to the purchase last minute. Now, I'm extremely glad I added that value pack to the purchase. 

The Chambliss autograph pull is everything I like about retail Topps Archives I wouldn't want to pay $100 to get 2 autographs of this caliber in a blaster, but pulling fan favorite retail autos is pretty fun, especially out of a value pack. 

After this purchase, it's clear to me why retail Archives is more popular than hobby. You have similar odds at great cards and spend a fraction of the hobby cost.