Friday, August 30, 2019

Frankenset Page #62

We've reached the home stretch with frankenset series, for, after today's post, there will be just 12 pages remaining in the 666-card custom set.

Page #62 features cards #550-558 and spans 3 decades (70s-90s). There isn't much else to say, so let's get started with yet another page of my frankenset.

#550 1982 Donruss John Henry Johnson
It's a shame that Donruss got lazy with their set design 1 year later in 1983 because I actually enjoy the look of the Baseball glove with the bat more so than the ball. However, the '83 design is often shamed, as it should, for being practically a copy and paste of the previous year's set.

1982 and 1985 Donruss rank as my 2 favorite designs in the brand's history. I love the '85 cards because of the black borders while the '82 set includes all the colorful uniforms of the 80s like the powder blue Rangers jersey above.

#551 1992 Fleer Ultra Scott Bullett
I'm not sure why the banner around Scout Bullett's name is orange instead of yellow which would be much more of a traditional fit for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Still, as far as the cards from '92 Fleer Ultra go, this one isn't half bad.

I don't know which MLB ballpark is in the background of this card. After all, there aren't many context clues, but if I had to guess, I'd go with Turner Field, former home of the Atlanta Braves.

#552 1987 Topps Larry Sheets
It's been 2 years since Topps "paid tribute" to the 1987 Flagship design by featuring '87 inserts in way too many of their products. After Topps burnt me out on the wood-bordered set, I'm slowly starting to appreciate these cards again, though the design was never one of my favorites, to begin with.

I suppose the Baltimore Orioles logo in the top left corner helped with this as well. There's something about old school insignias and uniforms that bring out the best in any set of cards.

#553 1984 Topps Joe Nolan
I haven't bought as much Series 1 and Series 2 this year as I did in 2017, so I haven't been burnt out on the 1984 Flagship design like I was for '87. In fact, the '84 design still ranks as my favorite Topps set of the decade with '83 coming in at a close second.

Looking ahead, I'm excited for the tribute to 1985 Topps next year in 2020 Series 1, Series 2, Chrome, and Update. I barely have any cards from that set, so I'm going to take this as a way to familiarize myself with this underrated design.

#554 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection "Bucketfoot" Al Simmons
I don't need to be familiar with the player or the era to appreciate the gorgeous photography on these Conlon Collection cards. Since a large portion of the final ~200 cards are from Topps Flagship, it's nice to have something unique to break them all up.

If you've seen my past pages, you know there are all sorts of different cards in this set, ranging from World Series Champions from 1917 to nicknames cards like the one above.

#555 1991 Topps Turner Ward
Although I was disappointed with their recreation of the 1953 design, I was impressed with the remaining products (1979 and 1991) featured in 2016 Topps Archives.

They did an exceptional job, in particular, with the latter of the 2, even inspiring me to purchase a '91 Topps hobby box at the Baseball card show to appreciate the original cards from yet another set with incredible photography.

#556 1974 Topps Dave Campbell
Similar to the previous 2 sets on this page, '74 Topps includes some fabulous photos across the 660-card set. Moreover, the design is interesting and the price point is fair, all the more reasons for me to collect this year of Topps once I'm finished with '76 and '79.

Speaking of those 2 sets, I'm pleased to announce that I'm heading to the Baseball card show this Monday (Labor Day) to officially get back into buying cards. If I see singles from either of those 2 Flagship sets available, I'll definitely take a closer look.

#557 1972 Topps John Odom
The color choices within1972 Topps are one of the main reasons why I was so adamant about completing this 787-card set. I mean, pink with the Chicago Cubs and red with the Oakland A's. The creativity is through the roof, and the cards look absolutely stunning.

This isn't even my favorite card of John Blue Moon Odom. If you have a spare moment, take a look at his eye-catching 1971 Topps base card. It's certainly worth a look.

#558 1974 Topps Bill Fahey
I'm not certain, however, what would become of my frankenset if I were to start collecting 1974 Topps. There are a fair number of '74 cards in this binder, and I can't say whether I'd move them or not.

After all, that would force me to search for specific cards for my frankenset based on their number, and I'm not sure if I want to rebuild this set years after completing it.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Low on Luck

Last season, there were about 9 rookies that were, in their own right, Rookie of the Year caliber players. These 8 position players (Devers, Hoskins, Andujar, Torres, Ohtani, Acuña, Albies, Soto) and 1 pitcher (Buehler) created a buzz surrounding both the game as well as virtually all Baseball card releases.

These 9 stars plus a few other respectable players highlighted one of the greatest rookie classes in MLB history. Furthermore, 2017 featured several big-name rookies, particularly sluggers Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger.

Though a reasonable part of this hobby has to do with luck, the past few rookie classes featured so many stars that it became a little easier to pull monster hits out of packs, both hobby, and retail.

I certainly had my fair share of luck when it came to 2017 and 2018 products, and a significant portion of that luck was thanks to the sensational rookies. Last year, in particular, was unbelievable in terms of the incredible cards that I pulled.

My luck in the past is a major reason as to why I'm disappointed with my wax purchases in 2019. Topps and Panini have featured the big 4 rookies (Eloy Jimenez, Vlad Jr, Tatis Jr, and Pete Alonso) in almost every product, but I haven't come up with a major hit or even a numbered card of any of these guys so far.

I'm not sure if the pack odds are making things more challenging or if my luck's run out, but 2019 hasn't been great as far as hits are concerned. Don't get me wrong, I still love the products that I purchase and the cards that I pull. It's just weird that I haven't had much luck when it comes to hits.

This hasn't stopped me, however, from buying retail and even the occasional hobby box, like I did with this blaster of 2019 Panini Donruss Optic.

The most important factor is what I think of the set and its design, but I also take into account whether I'll get my good luck back when I purchase a box of cards.

Now that Panini Prizm Baseball seems to be back for good, Optic needs to do a lot to impress me enough to purchase even a rack pack. However, I opened some Chrome at The National, and Heritage High # has never yielded anything worth mentioning, so Optic seemed like the best bet when I was at Target earlier today.

Part of the reason why I chose Optic is that I'm a sucker for chrome cards. Each year, I'm captivated by Topps Chrome not out of the possibility of pulling a big-name auto because then I'd be buying boxes of every single set. 

Rather, Topps does a phenomenal job with Chrome every year, no matter what the Flagship set looks like. Panini does the same thing with Optic, though I've never been too fond of any Panini Donruss base set.

If nothing else, the base cards allow me to add to my player collections and give me a chance to form an opinion on Optic, a set I haven't opened in over 2 years.

Unfortunately, when it came to that major hit/parallel that I've been chasing all year, I fell short once more. I was hoping, if nothing else, to pull one of the better Rated Rookies from this set, but the best I could manage was Ramon Laureano and Jake Bauers.

Still, the Rated Rookie logo is so reminiscent of the late 80s and early 90s Donruss sets, so these cards have more going for them than your traditional Laureano and Bauers rookies. 

As I mentioned earlier, with Prizm Baseball making its return, I have even less of an incentive to purchase Optic which is part of the reason why I bought this blaster. I wanted to give this product another chance to impress me before I commit to Prizm from here on out.

I appreciate that Panini featured Rated Prospect cards in this set, but I can get chrome prospect cards in Bowman's Best, one of my 2 favorite releases of the year. Though the price point between the 2 products is drastically different, so is the value of the cards.

I will admit that the inserts grabbed my attention, mainly because of how they add a much-needed break from the white borders of the Optic base set. The Mythical cards aren't too special; they're just pretty). 

The MVP insert set, on the other hand, showcases previous MVP winners on the team that they won the award with. Seeing Josh Donaldson on the Blue Jays reminds me of how dominant he was a few years back, just like when I saw someone pull a Pedroia insert from when he won the 2008 AL MVP award.

In addition to 6 regular packs with 4 cards each, the Optic blaster delivered an exclusive 3-card pink parallel pack. Maybe I'm tough on this set, but the pink refractors were the only part of this blaster that impressed me. 

I've always said that the best thing Panini can do is distract me from the fact that the cards are unlicensed. The pink parallels did this for me in the 2019 Optic set, and I'm sure there are plenty of other refractors that do the same in this product.

Unfortunately, I'm simply not willing to spend money on another Optic blaster, let alone a hobby box. Maybe I should've gone with the value pack ($10 for 16 cards) which promises 4 lime green parallels since I love these refractors so much.

Panini did a fabulous job with Prizm this year, and I can't wait to get my hands on some Chronicles. Even if I've been low on luck when it comes to hits, I've learned which products I want to purchase in the future while collecting cards this year.

As beautiful as the parallels are, Panini Donruss Optic just isn't one of those sets.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

2 More Treasures From The National

When I arrived home from The National in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, I was faced with the daunting task of organizing and storing all of the cards that I brought back with me. After writing the blog post for a particular group of cards, I put them away in binders and/or boxes.

This routine continued for around a week as I wrote 7 posts recapping my purchases at the show. It took a significant amount of time, but last week, I completed this mini-project and put all the cards from The National where they belong.

This isn't the time to get into the topic of organization, so I'll save that for a potential post later on. Still, with all the cards that I needed to properly store, I completely forgot about 2 treasures that I picked up at the show.

At any given Baseball card show, 99% of what I purchase is cards while the remaining 1% is memorabilia. It's not that I don't like adding unique items to my collection. Rather, I usually choose to focus primarily on cards, and memorabilia is often over-priced anyways.

The 2 bobbleheads at the top of this post, however, were far from over-priced, and they're exactly the type of memorabilia that I'm looking for. Most of the walls in my card room consist of Red Sox and Cubs items, so bobbleheads are my best bet when I'm hunting for pieces of memorabilia.

One of the many vendors that my Dad and I spoke with at the convention was from the Negro Leagues History foundation. He had a ton of unique items, ranging from bobbleheads to a Centennial Team postcard set (which we also purchased).

Many of the products were discounted as a show special, so we bought 2 carefully-chosen bobbleheads (we wanted to be sure that everything would fit in our luggage so we didn't buy anymore).

Our first choice was a little unconventional, but there's a distinct reason behind our decision to purchase a Leon Day bobblehead. I don't believe I've shown this card on the blog before, but I actually pulled an autograph of his from the 1994 Ted Williams Card Company set. 

The box was only $15 and is dated well before the days of certified autos, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to land that card. Now, I have a beautifully-done bobblehead to pair with the on-card auto. 

The vendor had 1 bobblehead of each player outside of the box and on display, so I got to examine the piece of memorabilia before I brought it home. The attention to detail is absolutely superb, more so than any other bobbleheads that I've ever seen before.

I'm not usually this captivated by Baseball cards or memorabilia, but I've never seen anything quite like these bobbleheads before in my life. They're just so unique that I can't help but regret not buying more when I had the chance (the vendor sold out on Saturday, August 5th). 

While we pondered buying the Leon Day bobblehead for a little bit, neither one of us hesitated in buying one of Josh Gibson, one of the most iconic players in the history of the Negro Leagues. 

Like the Leon Day bobblehead, a certain card in my collection inspired my Dad and me to buy one of Josh Gibson as well (we have a Josh Gibson stadium seat relic from Griffith Stadium from the 2005 Bowman Heritage set).

Whoever designed these bobbleheads put a ton of effort into capturing each and every detail. I can't say enough positive things about these beautiful pieces of memorabilia. The design is great, the boxes feature information about the player, and they're perfect and unique additions to my bobblehead collection.

Most importantly, they shed light on an important and oftentimes overlooked part of Baseball history. Guys like Gibson, Day, Satchel Paige, Ray Dandridge, and countless others impacted today's game in many ways, even though most Negro League stars never had the chance to play in the MLB.

The bobbleheads and the dealer from the Negro Leagues History foundation gave me even more insight into the Negro Leagues and its players, and that was possible thanks to The National. 

I just hope they'll be back at the show next year because I'd love to pick up even more collectible items created by this fabulous foundation.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Top 5 Cards; Joe Morgan

As today's game becomes more focused on high-velocity home runs and puts less emphasis on batting average, multi-tool players are becoming scarcer.

Guys like Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, and Mike Trout are still some of the best players in the game, but it's become acceptable for players to bat around .230-.240 so long as they rectify that batting average by hitting 30 or more home runs.

2017 and 2018 were historic years for homers, and 2019 is shaping up to be the same. Each year, the total number of dingers rises along with the number of strikeouts. In exchange, there have been fewer hits (singles, doubles, and triples), and players' batting averages have, overall, gotten worse.

I won't get into whether I believe the obsession with home runs is beneficial for the game or not. However, there was a time when the contact hitters outnumbered the power hitters, and there were far more multi-tool players in the game.

One of the most talented of these players was Joe Morgan, an essential part of the Big Red Machine during the mid-1970s. Morgan made the All-Star team for 8 consecutive seasons with the Reds from 1972-1979.

Throughout his 8 years in Cincinnati, he hit .288 with 152 home runs, 612 RBI, and 406 stolen bases. Besides the Reds, Morgan played for the Astros, Giants, Athletics, and Phillies, though the best seasons by far of his 22-year career were with Cincinnati.

I've been collecting cards of Joe Morgan as well as other essential members of the Big Red Machine (Bench, Rose, Perez, Concepcion, and Foster) for several years.

At 92 cards, the Joe Morgan PC is almost at gold tier (100 cards) status, so I figured this was the perfect time to write this top 5 cards list.

#5 2013 Panini Golden Age
This is one of my only cards from the 2013 Panini Golden Age set, a product that's virtually non-existent in the dime boxes at the shows I attend. Similar to Upper Deck Goodwin Champions, Panini Golden Age combines sports figures with pop culture icons. 

One of the athletes that they chose for the '13 release happened to be Joe Morgan. Panini, likely in an attempt to hide the logoless helmet, chose a sensational photo of the 2-time NL MVP award winner and paired it with a gorgeous vintage design. 

A revive of the Golden Age brand is highly unlikely, though it would be interesting to see what Panini could make of this set if it was a part of the Chronicles product.

#4 1985 Fleer
Morgan spent just 1 year of his career with the Oakland Athletics, so it stands to reason that there aren't many cards of him on the A's out there. The only one in my collection is this beauty from 1985 Fleer, my favorite design in the brand's history.

Truth be told, there's not a single color in the '85 Fleer set that doesn't pair beautifully with the silver borders. I absolutely love the combination of light green with grey along with the simple shot of Morgan at the plate in an Athletics away jersey.

I don't know how expensive is it to purchase this set online, but I might just go for it when my birthday or the holidays come along to have a complete version of this gorgeous release.

#3 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces
Oftentimes, I find that Topps dominates the majority of my frankenset and top 5 cards posts, so it's refreshing to see other brands represented.

So far, Panini, Fleer, and Upper Deck have appeared on my top 5 cards list for Joe Morgan, the latter of which is a gorgeous painted card from 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces. This set went the same route as most art sets (Gallery, T206, National Chicle, and Turkey Red) and disappeared after a couple of years.

Thankfully, the dime bins, particularly those at my LCS, helped me to appreciate this fine product and all of its stellar cards.

#2 1970 Kellogg's
The newest addition to the Joe Morgan PC came my way via The National. One of a few cards that I have of the 5-time Gold Glove award winner on the Houston Astros, this beauty from the 1970 Kellogg's set was a bargain back when I bought it in Chicago.

Virtually everything about this card, from the Astros cap to the blue sky background and even the facsimile signature, is so cohesive together. The '70 Kellogg's design is incredibly simple, and that's exactly what makes this card such a standout.

#1 1966 Topps
I keep my relics/autographs and graded cards in separate boxes than my player collections, so I don't count the Joe Morgan rookie card that I have as a part of his PC. This allows me to focus on the other cards when it comes to making the top 5 cards list, like the 1966 Topps card above.

I absolutely love the old-school Topps All-Star rookie trophies from the 60s, and it's a shame that they won't be replicated in Heritage for much longer. In addition to the rookie cup, the Astros uniform and Morgan's pose elevate this card to the #1 spot.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Frankenset Page #61

My apologies for posting so late the last 2 nights. I've been pretty busy as of late, but I wanted to keep up with the blog since I missed so many days in July and August.

During the times when I'm busy, I choose either a top 5 cards post or a frankenset page for a quick yet interesting post. One of the many benefits to having these continuous series is that if I'm low on ideas or time, I still have options for my posts.

Today's frankenset page is #61 in the 74-page series, featuring cards #541-549.

#541 2016 Topps James Shields
I'm indifferent towards James Shields at best, and I cannot stand the 2016 Topps Flagship design. With that being said, I'm all about the actual card when it comes to this frankenset, and I must admit that I like this Series 2 card quite a bit.

Nonetheless, it still baffles me that the Padres were able to trade James Shields in June of 2016 for a couple prospects, one of them being Fernando Tatis Jr. 

Just think, if the White Sox still had Tatis, they would've appealed more to Manny Machado, meaning they could have an infield of Fernando Tatis Jr, Machado, Eloy Jimenez, and Jose Abreu.

#542 1992 Fleer Ultra Kim Batiste
This 1992 Fleer Ultra card is simple enough, but it's not a poor choice for the frankenset either. There are a lot of spaces in the binder filled by cards from this set, so I'm guessing that it was rather challenging for me to find a better card for #542.

When I finalize my 2nd frankenset for the next continuous series, I'll do my best to ensure that sets don't appear as frequently as cards from '92 Fleer Ultra seem to.

#543 1990 Topps Nelson Liriano
Some of the color combinations in 1990 Topps, like the card above, are effective and help compliment the image. Others, like green and yellow or green and red, are far too distracting and simply don't look great on cardboard.

As a whole, 1990 Topps is very hit or miss as it pertains to the base cards. Some of them look great and give off a 1975 Topps vibe, but others are so mediocre that it's hard to be a huge fan of this set.

#544 1983 Topps Larry Whisenton
Aside from some cards in my Bo Jackson and Salvador Perez player collections, this might be the bluest Baseball card that I've ever seen in my life. Virtually everything, from the background to the banner and even both photos, features a gorgeous light blue color.

My favorite part of this card would have to be Whisenton's uniform in the large picture. I don't recall the Braves wearing this as a throwback jersey recently which is definitely a shame.

#545 1988 Score Jack Morris
Although I was pleased when Jack Morris was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I've come to question the committee's decision. His 2,478 strikeouts across 3,824 innings pitched isn't the greatest ratio, but I'm more concerned about his 3.90 career ERA.

I realize that some of his years with the Tigers as well as his sole season with the Twins were terrific, but his career stats simply don't seem HOF worthy to me, particularly his 6.19 ERA in '93.

#546 1970 Topps Ron Reed
 Over the last few days, I've seen collectors pull some monster hits out of 2019 Topps Heritage High Number, ranging from Rod Carew and Nolan Ryan autographs to black chrome refractors of Fernando Tatis Jr and Pete Alonso.

Unfortunately for me, I've never had much luck with Heritage High #. Aside from the major rookies, the checklist is usually awful. I like to think that I keep up with Baseball, so it's frustrating to pull so many cards of guys I don't know.

With products like Chrome, Optic, Archives, and Chronicles out as I speak, I think I'll learn my lesson and stay away from Heritage High Number this year.

#547 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection Bob Johnson

Almost a decade after we found the box at the card show for $15, I still consider the 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection purchase one of the greatest bargains that we've ever found. 

The photography is absolutely gorgeous, and the card backs feature a ton of a text which tells you a lot about early and mid-20th-century Baseball. Most of the players in this set aren't well known, so I absolutely love the insight that this product gives to what the game was like roughly a century ago.

#548 1990 Fleer Eddie Williams
I really like the layout of the 3rd and final row of this particular frankenset page. I didn't plan it this way, but the 1990 Fleer card looks nice between the 2 black and white Conlon Collection cards on either side.

By and large, I'm not a huge fan of the 1990 Fleer set, but the angle of this photograph is interesting, and it's a nice fit with the Sporting News cards as well.

#549 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection Ed Reulbach
Out of all the records and accomplishments in Baseball history, those achieved by pitchers are the least likely to be broken. Cy Young's 511 wins will most certainly not be topped, for starters simply don't pitch as much as they used to.

Furthermore, it's rare to see a pitcher have 1 shutout, but 2 on the same day? There's virtually no chance that will ever happen again.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

2019 NBCD Pack #2

Let's pick up where I left off in yesterday's post with my 2nd pack of 2019 Topps National Baseball Card Day cards. I shared my thoughts on the set as well as my exclusive Vlad Jr card in the previous post, so this one will be recapping what I got in the 2nd free pack of cards.

#6 Javier Baez
I haven't seen every card from this 30-card set quite yet, but Javier Baez is making a stellar case for my favorite of the bunch. The combination of the Cubs home uniform and the ivy in the background is so classic that it truly will never get old.

I mentioned this yesterday as well, but I'm very pleased with the 2019 NBCD design. Even if they're just promotional cards, the set and photographs must complement one another, something that Topps didn't do well in 2017 and 2018.

#11 Miguel Cabrera
He may not be the superstar he once was, I never mind pulling cards of Miguel Cabrera, especially if the pack is free. The 11-time All-Star's stats don't lie; he's going to end up in Cooperstown when all is said and done.

The 2012 AL Triple Crown award winner is currently sitting at 474 career home runs. At one point, it seemed more than likely that he'd make it to the 500 home run club, but injuries set him back in 2018, and he only has 9 dingers so far this year.

At 36 years old, Miggy is cutting it close. I'm going to keep an eye on him to see if he can reach the 500 home run mark.

#17 Jose Berrios
I've barely paid any attention to the Minnesota Twins in 2019 despite them being one of the strongest teams in the American League. I'm not quite sure what's behind all of their success, but I'm guessing that ace Jose Berrios has a lot to do with it. 

The 25-year old pitcher made the All-Star team for the 2nd consecutive season this year, and his 3.37 ERA is 8th among AL starters. He, along with fellow starter Jake Odorizzi, seem to be helping this team out a lot.

#26 Paul Goldschmidt
I was baffled when 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt signed an extension with the Cardinals over the offseason despite not playing a single game for St. Louis at the time. Though his home run and RBI game is still going strong, Goldy's .256 batting average is by far the worst out of any full season of the 31-year old's career.

On the bright side, he has 5 seasons in St. Louis after this year (if I remember correctly), so he'll have plenty of time to get back on track and become the player he was in Arizona. Who knows? Maybe he'll end up in Cooperstown as well.

#10 Nolan Arenado
Nolan Arenado, one of the most talented all-around players in baseball, also signed an extension before the start of the 2019 MLB season. The superstar 3rd baseman is staying in Colorado for another 8 years and is set to earn $260 million.

With superstars re-upping with their current teams left and right, I'll be interested to see what guys like Kris Bryant and Mookie Betts do once their contracts expire in the next couple of years.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I Guess I Didn't Miss Out

Since I started blogging back in August of 2017, I've celebrated my blog anniversary right around National Baseball Card Day. Both my first ever post as well as my 1-year post featured packs from this promotional event, so it's always been a major part of the blog.

I wasn't able to, however, continue this tradition, or so I thought, in 2019. The only participating Baseball card shop near my house was closed for vacation on August 10th, and I didn't trust that my local Target would stock the NBCD cards, to begin with.

The realization that I wouldn't participate in 2019 National Baseball Card Day was disappointing, but I moved on, nonetheless. With stacks of cards that needed to be put away, I made a couple of trips to my LCS last week once the owners returned from vacation.

One of those visits happened to be last Saturday, the 17th when I stopped by for a box of Ultra Pro sheets. Unbeknownst to me, card shops were still giving away free packs on the 17th for the 2nd installment of National Baseball Card Day.

While I knew about the Vladimir Guerrero Jr card which could only be acquired by spending $10 or more on Topps products on that particular date, I didn't realize that the exclusive packs would also be available.

After some deliberation, I bought 2 packs of Heritage High Number to get the Vlad Jr card. This forced me to break my "I'm not buying cards for at least a month because of The National" rule, and I did horribly with the Heritage High # packs.

But it's okay because I got my hands on an exclusive Vlad Jr rookie card even though I wish I'd just handed the owner $10 for the card and not suffered through 2 awful packs of Heritage.

Anyways, I walked out of my LCS with 2 NBCD packs, 2 Heritage High # packs, the Vlad Jr card, and a box of Ultra Pro sheets. After all, you can't really beat free cards.

To keep this post short, I'll recap the first pack today while saving the 2nd one for tomorrow.

#22 Josh Bell
I already like the 2019 card design more than the past 2 years during which Topps has done this promotion. The 2017 cards were over-complicated and featured silver foil names, something I cannot stand as it's near impossible to read. The 2018 design was okay, but it was far too simple and didn't do much to stand out.

This time around, the cards are still on the simple side, but this design is far more effective than years past. The Topps NBCD logo is a new addition, and the cards are just modern enough. 

For whatever reason, the full-bleed photos from 2018 didn't work for this promotion, so I'm glad Topps added the 2 logos in the top left and bottom right corners.

#16 Christian Yelich
During each of the 3 years that Topps has done this promotion, the checklist (excluding cards like Vlad Jr's) has consisted of 30 cards, one from each MLB team. For example, the Brewers, have their superstar player, Christian Yelich, featured while other clubs, like the Marlins, showcase Jose Alfaro. 

Because each club has only 1 spot in the checklist, I'd be interested to see if and how their 1 "star player" has changed over the years. Some guys have probably maintained their spot for years while others, like Ronald Acuna Jr, are featured for the first time in 2019.

#14 Clayton Kershaw
The 2019 NBCD set diverges from the past releases in that the cards feature full stats on the back. In the past, the card backs included a quick blurb about the player, but I'm always one for complete-stat card backs, and it's nice to see them, even on promo cards.

I couldn't think of a better example for the card backs than Clayton Kershaw. It's pretty unbelievable that throughout of his 11-year career, he's led the NL in ERA 5 times. 

Having complete stats is definitely a plus, but other than that, the card backs are pretty standard.

#1 Mike Trout
In the past, Trout's card has only been available with a qualifying purchase, so I was stoked to find his card in one of my 2 base packs. I'll take absolutely any card I can get of the 8-time All-Star, from a low-end base card to a high-end autograph.

Back to this specific card, I'm not sure what's going on with Trout's left hand. There seems to be some kind of cast or something on it, but I can't pinpoint what it is.

#20 Matt Chapman
After taking this trip to my LCS, I relaxed and watched the Astros battle the Athletics last Saturday afternoon before the Red Sox game at 7:00.

Through this game, I learned a lot about 2 talented teams, one of which seems destined to win the AL West while the other has a solid shot of winning a Wild Card spot.

I don't get the chance to watch a lot of west coast Baseball, so it was interesting to see how the Astros and A's players are doing, particularly Matt Chapman who's shaping up to be one of the most well-rounded players in all of baseball.