Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Top 5 Cards; Alex Bregman

Hopefully, soon after I finish writing this blog post, the 2019 World Series Champions, whether it's the Washington Nationals or Houston Astros, will be crowned.

At the top of the 7th inning, the Astros are leading 2-0 following an RBI single by Carlos Correa and a solo home run by Yuli Gurriel back in the 2nd inning. The highly-anticipated Scherzer vs Greinke pitching matchup has delivered a close game thus far, but there are a million things that could happen over the next few innings.

For instance, as I finished the previous paragraph, Anthony Rendon hit a solo shot for Washington, cutting the lead down to 2-1 with 1 out in the 7th.

Admittedly, my schedule simply hasn't allowed for me to watch much of the Fall Classic whatsoever.

*Update, Howie Kendrick just gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead with a 2-run homer to right field (off the foul pole) off Astros reliever Will Harris. Hopefully, the commercial break allows me to get through this intro without any more action.

Anyways, if Washington holds onto their lead and ends up World Series Champions for the first time in franchise history, I totally envision NL MVP candidate Anthony Rendon taking home the World Series MVP honors.

If Houston rallies and wins it all for the 2nd time in 3 years, AL MVP candidate Alex Bregman will likely win the award.

The respective performances of Rendon and Bregman, arguably the two greatest 3rd baseman at the moment, has made for a thrilling postseason, particularly while they've faced off in the Fall Classic.

One of the newest additions to my player collection list, I've only been collecting cards of Alex Bregman for roughly a month.

The Bregman cards in my collection before I began collecting him make up most of the 21 cards, though I envision coming across more and more at the card show in the future.

Usually, I'd wait until I've been collecting a player for many months or years before formulating a top 5 cards list, but the timing of this post was just too perfect.

#5 2017 Topps Stadium Club
Stadium Club and Archives never fail to produce some incredible cards which is why they appear so frequently on my top 5 cards posts, and the Bregman countdown is no exception. I guess my decision to hunt down new releases back in 2017 paid off because I have my fair share of Bregman rookies, including this action shot from Stadium Club.

2017 was one of the strongest years for the revived photography-centric set. Though the product still has a certain wow factor associated with it, Stadium Club's popularity piqued a few years back.

#4 2017 Topps Archives
The 2nd Alex Bregman rookie to kick off this countdown, Bregman's 2017 Topps Archives card features an action shot that triumphs over the '17 Stadium Club rookie. The timing of the photo seems like something from Stadium Club rather than Archives, but the pairing with the '92 Topps design is a nice one.

The Astros are currently wearing the same orange uniforms that are on Bregman's card above. The Nationals, on the other hand, are in their alternate blues, a jersey that seems to have given them a fair amount of luck thus far.

#3 2019 Topps Stadium Club
Though the 2019 Topps Stadium Club failed to reach the level of previous releases in the revived brand's abbreviated history, there's a large handful of cards that sincerely impressed me.

Throwback uniforms and ballpark shots don't do as much as they used to for me. Rather, I've been looking for Stadium Club cards on the simple side that, simultaneously, incorporate all my favorite aspects of the popular brand. Bregman's 2019 card definitely fits that bill.

#2 2017 Topps
Bregman's been a fairly well thought of player since his MLB debut back in July of 2016, only 1 year after being drafted #2 by Houston in the 2015 MLB Draft.

It wasn't until last season, however, that Bregman morphed into one of the game's brightest stars, and he's continued to improve all throughout the 2019 season, cementing himself as one of the American League's best alongside Mike Trout.

As a result, this 2017 Alex Bregman rookie is probably a lot more desired than it was 2 years ago. The rookie logo and rookie cup combo is something you don't see very often, so that makes for a pretty interesting card.

*During the time in which I wrote about Bregman's 2017 Topps card, the Nationals scored another run, on a Juan Soto RBI single making the game 4-2. They now have runners on the corners*

#1 2019 Topps Archives
As I previously mentioned, Topps Archives and Stadium Club are essential to almost all of my top 5 cards post recipients, particularly modern players. The products, drastically different in concepts, provide my 2 favorite things to see on a Baseball card; a retro design and/or fabulous photography.

Stadium Club can't use a vintage design, but Archives often has fabulous photography, and Bregman's 2019 Topps Archives card is no exception. The diving grab that he appears to be making in the photo above, in one way or another, resembles something out of the original 1993 Topps set.

Now, with the game heading to the bottom of the 8th, I'm going to take some time to read over this post. After I'm done, I'll (hopefully) watch a World Series Champion be crowned.

By the way, I'm rooting for Washington.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Paying Tribute

The need for supplies, specifically thick top loaders, is what drove me to visit my LCS over the weekend, but the 50-cent bins and the 2019 Panini Prizm parallels is what prompted me to stay a little while longer.

More so than any other card shop I've ever visited, this store, located about 20 minutes away from my house, is immaculately organized. Everything, from the hobby boxes to the supplies and display cases, is accessible and organized, so I barely have any trouble tracking something down while I'm there.

There are also ~a dozen bins of cards, ranging from Red Sox singles to relics/autographs, scattered across the store. Being that I had some time on my hands, I opted to search through more than just the usual 50-cent box to see if there was anything else that piqued my interest.

Given the cards that follow across the rest of this post, I assume that the LCS owner either opened a box of 2019 Topps Tribute and opted to sell the individual cards or purchased singles for an affordable price.

Either way, there was a fair number of hits from the high-end set in the relic/autograph bin, all of which were at a reasonable price. Typically, the relic cards that I purchase are from mid-end 2000s sets or modern-day products like A&G or Heritage, so it's not every day that I add a high-end card from a set like Tribute to my collection.

The Schwarber relic is a green parallel from the Stamp of Approval insert, a set where all the cards are authenticated by MLB and guaranteed to be from a specific game.

The jersey piece is said to be from 5/28/2018, a road game in which the Cubs played the Pittsburgh Pirates. Schwarber, however, didn't do much in that game besides draw a walk and drive in a run.

Unlike my player collections, I don't have any established rules when it comes to purchasing relic cards and autographs, for I store them separate from the cards of guys that I collect.

This, I find, gives me more freedom when it comes to this aspect of the hobby and permits me to purchase a card that I appreciate, whether I have a PC for that player or not.

For example, I just started collecting Freddie Freeman several weeks ago, but that didn't influence my decision to pick up this triple relic green parallel, serial numbered out of 99.

Instead, I chose it because I love the look of the glossy card and the dark blue jersey swatches whereas, in most products, the relics are grey or white.

The jersey relics on the Carlton Fisk dual relic may be white and grey, but I'm totally fine with that given that he's a Hall of Famer whose jerseys are likely hard for Topps to come by.

Though relics aren't as popular as they once were, it still impresses me that Topps can acquire jerseys worn by Baseball legends regularly for their high-end and even mid-end products.

The 2 pieces of game-used memorabilia on the card above are fairly large as far as relics are concerned, and even though Fisk is shown on the White Sox rather than my desired team, the Red Sox, I felt that adding this card to my relic/autograph collection was worthwhile.

I'm not a huge follower of the New York Mets nor star pitcher Noah Syndergaard, but the price on this Iconic Perspectives autograph was too low to pass up, especially taking into account the beautiful and intricate design that you can't find in just any Baseball card product.

Plus, the signature is on-card as opposed to sticker autos which have grown to bother me even more so than unlicensed autographs in recent years. Everything about this card is so exact that a sticker autograph could potentially ruin this gorgeous design.

Like all hits in high-end products like Tribute, the Syndergaard auto is serially numbered (in this case, 40/99). The back of the card accompanies the front perfectly with the black and gold pairing brilliantly with the multi-layer design that creates such intricate patterns on the front of this on-card auto.

This Syndergaard card symbolizes exactly what I love about collecting autographs and relic cards in the hobby today. The latter of the 2 can be found at extremely low prices given the low demand for relics nowadays, and even autographs can drop in price if you buy them at the right time.

Syndergaard isn't coming off the best season, and he's not a player that I follow too closely or know that much about. Both the design and the price of the Iconic Perspectives autograph, however, captured my attention, and that's what I love so much about this part of the hobby.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

4-Color Magic

It's become somewhat of a tradition here on Cardboard Greats. A quick trip to my LCS for supplies leads me to search through the various bins set up around the shop and before I even know it, I have new cards to go with the top-loaders that I bought. Then, the cycle repeats itself all over again a few weeks later.

If nothing else, the unplanned purchases provide content for the blog, and it's not like I'm choosing cards just for the heck of it. I think very closely about what I believe is reasonable when buying singles at my LCS, and I always try to walk away without breaking the bank.

Today, for instance, I needed some 130-pt and 180-pt top-loaders to store my abundance of new Red Sox autographs. I knew full well that this store has the best prices for supplies aside from the weekly card show, so I picked up what I needed and, while I was there, searched through the 50-cent box.

The card at the top of this post will let you know what direction I went in from there. Indeed, there was a handful of 2019 Panini Prizm parallels in that box, a no-brainer for me to scoop up to make progress with this mission of mine.

I've had much more luck with Prizm parallels over the past few weeks than I had during the 2 months prior. I wasn't able to find any while walking the floor of The National, but a casual trip to the card show as well as my LCS landed me some singles for the project.

The red and blue parallels are common to both retail and hobby boxes, so I've accumulated more of these 2 refractors than most others in the set. Still, the checklist consists of 300 cards, so completing any complete set rainbow will prove challenging, nevermind 27 of them.

Still, I envision having this project for many, many years as something that I can always add to or work on. It'll take me as far as it takes me, and I know I'm going to have fun doing it.

Plus, the missing logos and team names make the cards a bit more affordable, hence why each card in this post was found in the 50-cent bin.

Today was actually a pretty big day for the 2019 Panini Prizm project in that I picked up my very first purple parallels, cards that I believe to be blaster box exclusives.

It seems that each medium of Prizm retail has its own exclusive parallel, including different colors depending on what store you buy it from. For example, Target's mega box exclusive is pink, but I've seen other stores with cosmic haze Prizms instead.

I don't know if this will positively or negatively affect the price point of the cards, but it is going to make tracking them down a bit more challenging, hence why I hadn't come across a purple parallel until today.

The parallels themselves, nonetheless, are stunning, some of my favorites from the set thus far. Although they aren't serial numbered, you rarely see this shade of purple make it onto a sports card (Topps' shade of purple is much darker; this is more of a magenta).

The unconventional parallels, from this distinct shade of purple to the zebra stripe and snakeskin cards, are what inspired me to begin this project in the first place.

Panini makes up for not having the MLB license through their creative cards, and I hope that, even if they come to an agreement with MLB, they never lose this uniqueness.

The last of the 4 Prizm parallels that I found today is pink from the previously mentioned Target mega boxes. Unless I'm forgetting something, I only had the 8 from the box that I opened going into today, so any addition to that list would surely help.

The various tiers in this set (I-III) still feel extremely unnecessary. Though it doesn't affect the print-run of each card, it makes some base cards more expensive than others, and it could be impacting the price of parallels for all I know.

Still, I don't exactly know where this Panini Prizm project is going to take me or how close I'm going to get to complete the whole thing. It's projects like this, however, that make Baseball card collecting such an enjoyable thing for me.

I truly love finding new parallels from this set and watching them accumulate as I sort the piles by player. Granted, I may never complete all 300 of the rainbows (I'm excluding cards with print runs <25), but I'm going to do everything I can to make it happen.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Frankenset Page #68

At this point, I've reached the homestretch when it comes to my frankenset series. After this post, there will be just 7 pages remaining before I move onto my 2nd binder when I'll have another 666 cards to discuss.

Page #68 goes through cards #604-612 with cards spanning 3 different decades. Let's get started with a card from the early 1980s.

#604 1983 Topps Joe Morgan (Super Veteran)
 Showing off the longest-tenured players in the game, the 1983 Topps Super Veteran cards are one of my favorite features in that particular Flagship set. The lineup includes guys like Morgan, Tony Perez, and Nolan Ryan.

On the right is the team that the player was on in 1983 which, for Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, was the San Francisco Giants. On the left is, I believe, the team he made his MLB debut with. In this case, it's the Houston Colt .45s.

#605 1976 Topps Al Downing
The 1976 Topps set has been on my radar for several years now, and I'm currently at the point where I'm close to wrapping up the 660-card set. I'm only 39 cards away and, as far as I know, there aren't any major cards left for me to purchase.

One I track down the remaining ~3 dozen cards, I'm looking forward to taking a slow look through the completed binder. Seeing all the colors pop off the page will be the most rewarding part of the whole process. 

#606 2007 Topps Ron Washington
In light of all the recent managerial signings, I took interest in Ron Washington's commitment to remain the 3rd base coach for the Atlanta Braves rather than explore other opportunities. 

Given his track record with Texas, he wouldn't have had much trouble being hired by a team like San Diego or San Francisco. I understand the decision, however, because there's far more potential to work within Atlanta than most of the other teams looking for new leadership.

#607 1987 Topps Tony Bernazard All-Star
In spite of how burned out I am on the 1987 Topps design, the All-Star cards still pique my interest, mainly because I haven't seen too many of them before. The design, moreover, was only featured in 2017 Update, so I didn't see a lot of the reprints 2 years ago.

I'm a little confused as to why Topps lists Indians 2nd baseman Tony Bernazard as an All-Star in his 1987 Topps card considering that his Baseball-Reference page doesn't note that achievement whatsoever.

#608 1980 Topps Alan Bannister
It seems like every White Sox Topps card from the late 70s and early 80s features a different uniform, whether it's the red stripes, shorts, white shirt with black sleeves, or the all-navy blue jersey above.

I also like the cap the White Sox 3rd baseman Alan Bannister is wearing, for they remind me of the uniforms that the Southsiders would begin wearing later that decade.

#609 1983 Topps Danny Darwin
I apologize to anyone who's grown bored of the seemingly never-ending collation of 1983 Topps cards that appear on basically each of the last 15 pages of my frankenset.

Though the cards have become repetitive, each one, in my opinion, is incredibly interesting, from the black and gold Pirates uniforms to the powder blue jerseys worn by a surplus of early 80s teams.

#610 1971 Topps Amos Otis
A speedster for the Kansas City Royals in the early 1970s, Amos Otis made the All-Star team 5 times throughout his 17-year career. 

While I knew before writing this post that he played for Kansas City and Pittsburgh, I had no idea that Otis made his major league debut with the New York Mets in 1967.

In addition to his All-Star game selections, Otis won 3 Gold Glove awards and obtained MVP votes 4 times, all of his achievements coming as a member of the Royals. Not bad for a guy listed as 165 pounds on the back of his cards.

#611 2003 Topps Chris Magruder
As soon as I laid eyes on this 2003 Topps Flagship card, my immediate thought was to think about Topps Stadium Club and all the unconventional angles used in that set's photography. 

The zoom and angle of this shot exclude everything from the background besides dirt, things found on virtually every card. I appreciate the unusual nature of this card, for Topps base sets can get repetitive with the same cards appearing seemingly over and over again.

#612 1989 Score Matt Williams
Last up, a card form 1989 Score of Giants 3rd baseman Matt Williams, a key member of their team across the late 80s and early 90s. 

A 5-time All-Star, he obtained MVP votes on 4 separate occasions in his career, including finishing 2nd to Jeff Bagwell in 1994. The card, however boring it may be, encouraged me to research and learn a little more about him, so I guess there are benefits to having rather uninspired Baseball cards. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

One For the History Books

I've been waiting to write this post for what seems like ages, though in reality it's only been about 3 days. The Chris Sale real one autograph from 2019 Topps Heritage foreshadows what's to come, possibly the greatest Baseball card purchase that I've ever made in my life.

I celebrated my birthday last Friday and, throughout most of the week, planned to visit my LCS and purchase a hobby box of cards to open, which has become somewhat of a tradition for me.

My plan, however, was totally altered once I saw a listing on Thursday by one of the collectors whom I follow on Twitter, promising a huge lot of Red Sox autographs for around what I figured to spend at my LCS the following day.

Because of all the cards that he had to include, 24 in total, I couldn't make out exactly what the serial numbering was or what set the autograph was from. I knew, however, that this was a once in a lifetime deal, and I'd take this over a 2019 hobby box in a heartbeat.

So, I messaged the user and asked if the autograph lot was still available. 5 days later, it arrived in the mail.

As far as I know, the collector was trying to clear out some of his inventory, which is why he listed the group of cards for such a low price.

I thought it was too good to be true, but everything lined up perfectly, and now that I've had them in my collection for a couple of days, I'm dying to share them on the blog.

Behold, what will probably rank as that best Baseball card purchase of my entire life.

2018 Bowman Chrome 1st Bowman Autograph Darwinzon Hernandez
The only real issue that I have with this entire lot is something totally out of the seller's control, to begin with. That is the centering of Darwinzon Hernandez's 2018 1st Bowman Chrome autograph.

He might not be as well known as the rest of the guys on this list, but with Rick Porcello's departure all but confirmed, I envision Hernandez, who will be 23 by Opening Day in 2020, joining the rotation of Sale, Price, Eovaldi, and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Having his 1st Bowman auto is a huge plus because I have faith in Hernandez's talent after seeing him pitch a few times this season. Whether he stays in the bullpen or becomes a starter, I'm eager to see what the future has in store for the Venezuelan native.

2017 Topps Pro Debut Green Parallel Autograph Jason Groome
One of the autographs not pictures but, nonetheless, included was a 2017 Topps Pro Debut green parallel auto of Jason Groome, my first ever signature from this set.

Currently sitting at #6 on the Boston Red Sox top 100 prospects list, Groome has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor league career. During this time, however, he's also shown that he has significant potential.

Groome was drafted #12 back in 2016 and is expected to make his major league debut in 2022. For the sake of the future of the Red Sox as well as the following few cards in this post, I want nothing more than for the 21-year old to thrive going forward.

2017 Bowman's Best of 2017 Autograph Jay Groome
I also remember Groome being one of the more sought after autographs back when 2017 Bowman's Best was released. His injuries have hurt the value of his cards, but he has the potential to bounce back and become what the Red Sox envisioned he could be when they drafted him back in 2016.

I love chrome autographs not only because of how beautiful they look, but they're on-card 9 times out of 10. The best thing I can do with these Jay Groome autos is holding onto them and seeing what happens a few years from now.

2017 Bowman High Tek Base Autograph
Just like the Pro Debut Groome auto was my first signature from that set, the Bowman High Tek autograph above is my first ever card from this high-end product. The scan doesn't do the card justice, for in-hand, it's much clearer and modern rather than translucent.

Every autograph thus far has been signed on-card, something that is symbolic of the lot as a whole. While there are some sticker autos mixed in here, that's not a huge deal to me, especially when they're a bunch of new Red Sox autographs for my collection.

2017 Bowman Chrome 1st Bowman Refractor Autograph Jay Groome
The final Jay Groome autograph of the lot is my favorite of the four, and that's not only because it's a 1st Bowman auto (though it helps) numbered out of 499.

Rather, I just love the look of Bowman Chrome autographs, both rookie and prospect, are absolutely beautiful, no matter how plain the base design might be. In-person, the card, like the High Tek auto above, is less translucent and shinier.

There's something about chrome cardstock that almost always elevates the quality of the card, and this 1st Bowman auto is a prime example of that.

2018 Topps Tribute Autograph Craig Kimbrel
He might not be a member of the Boston Red Sox any longer, but I'll take any chance that I can get to add a new Craig Kimbrel card to my collection, let alone an autograph numbered out of 199.

I've always appreciated how detailed and gorgeous Kimbrel's signature his. Along with Mariano Rivera, I'd have to rate it as one of the best of the 21st century, though that's not a huge statement when you consider guys like Chris Sale's autograph which is basically 3 circles.

Topps Tribute is a fantastic high-end set with glossy cards and some beautiful on-card autographs. As you'll see, this product makes a couple more appearances as this crazy lot of Sox cards continues.

2012 Topps Tier One On the Rise J.D. Martinez Autograph
There was only 1 non-Red Sox autograph in the entire lot, and it featured a guy's signature who, hopefully, will remain a member of the team and exercise his option for the 2020 season.

With the addition of the J.D. Martinez auto from 2012 Topps Tier One, this lot is beginning to heat up. If I couldn't have his signature on a Red Sox card, I'm glad it's the Astros where he spent the first few seasons of his career before being released.

It seems that he has at least 2 On the Rise autographs from 2012 Tier One, both of which are numbered out of 350 copies. He hasn't, to my knowledge, had an autograph (Topps or Panini) since joining the Red Sox in 2018, so the next best thing would then be an Astros auto.

1998 Bowman Blue Autograph Nomar Garciaparra
The only autograph on this list not from the 2010s, I was pretty impressed to find a Nomar Garciaparra auto included in this lot. He may not have ended Boston on a high note in 2004, but had some incredible seasons and, at one point, was the most popular athlete in the city of Boston.

This on-card signature dates back to right around the time when guaranteed autos were starting to be inserted into packs. It may not be as flashy as the autographs of today, but given all the 2010s players featured in this group, it's nice to have one guy from a couple of decades back.

2017 Topps Tribute Autograph David Price
I'll try to pick up the pace a little bit since there's a lot of material to cover and I don't want this post to take forever to read. Moving past Nomar, we're now getting into the heart of the 2018 World Series team, particularly the guy who came up big in the ALCS and Fall Classic last season.

This is the first David Price auto to make its way to my collection, but it's far from the last. That's because there's a lot more to come of the 5-time All-Star, autos that I'll be showing off momentarily.

2016 Topps High Tek Pattern 1 Gold Autograph David Price
Come to think of it, I don't recall having a Topps High Tek autograph in my collection until these cards came in the mail 2 days ago. Something about the combination of Price's red jersey and glove with the sleek High Tek design makes for a spectacular modern card, especially with the gold parallel.

2017 Topps Tier One Prime Performers Autograph David Price
The lowest-numbered card on the list thus far, this on-card autograph is out of 40 copies and features a design perfect for a high-end product like Tier One.

The cardstock has a glossy finishing while not being too thick like some Tier One and Five Star autos tend to be. I'd say it would fit in an 80-point top loader, maybe 100.

The numbered (#/40) is a little strange, but Tier One is oftentimes known for that. I've seen other autographs out of numbers like 367 and 110, so I guess 40 isn't too odd. Plus, the card is absolutely gorgeous.

2018 Topps Tribute Autograph Orange Parallel David Price
Aside from the occasional box break that I watch on YouTube and the base cards I find in the dime bins, I'm not that familiar with high-end sets like Tribute, Triple Threads, and Museum Collection.

This lot, however, features a reasonable number of cards from those sets, and that's going to continue until the end of this post. This is the 3rd Tribute card so far, a bright orange parallel from 2018, and the 4th David Price card thus far.

2017 Topps Tier One Dual Relic Autograph David Price
This is an instance where I'm more than willing to look past the sticker auto because this card features a couple of gorgeous 2-color patches to accompany the 5th David Price auto of the lot.

Numbered out of 25 copies, this is the first autographed relic thus far. Don't worry, though, it will not be the last.

Also, this is the 3rd card from Topps Tier One included in the lot, and it's just made me appreciate this product even more. You only get 3 cards in a box for around $100, so I'd never buy one myself, but that doesn't mean I can't love the look of these fabulous hits.

2017 Topps Diamond Icons Autograph David Price
One box of Topps Diamond Icons, regardless of the year, typically sells for ~ $1,000. To think that I have even just a single card from this unfathomably expensive product is crazy. After all, you only get around 9 cards, and they're all hits numbered out of 25 or fewer copies if I remember correctly.

There are colored parallels in this set like red, purple, and, I believe, gold 1/1s, but there's something to say about the plain white base autographs. The card is simple, yet there's so much to appreciate about it because of what the price point is for a box of these cards.

I'll never, as long as I live, buy a box of Diamond Icons or any of these unbelievably expensive releases, but I'm thrilled that this lot has allowed me to add one of these autographs to my collection.

2018 Topps Museum Collection Dual Relic Autograph David Price
I suppose I should just let you all know now that out of the 24 Red Sox autographs in this lot, 9 of them (a little over 1/3) are David Price's signature.

Though he makes up a significant portion of the lineup, I'm glad that, if nothing else, there's an extensive variety of cards, ranging from ultra-modern High Tek parallels to a Fanatics Authentic patch in his Museum Collection dual relic autograph above.

Just like the Tier One auto-relic, a lot is going on with this Museum Collection card, so I barely notice the fact that the autograph is on-sticker instead of on-card.

2016 Panini National Treasures Game Dated Signatures David Price
As I've previously mentioned, I'm not an expert, by any means, on high-end sets, so I have no idea if this game dated David Price relic is actually from April 5th, 2016, his first start as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

Regardless, I feel the same way about National Treasures as I do Diamond Icons; I'll never buy a box, but it's awesome to have one of these cards in my collection.

This is my first NT card and, like Diamond Icons, the card relies on simplicity and while it may not have the MLB license, I'll rank it as one of the best cards out of the 24.

2017 Topps Triple Threads Autograph Relic Sapphire Parallel
I don't have any Red Sox 1/1s in my collection, so this spectacular David Price autograph relic, numbered 3/3, from 2017 Topps Triple Threads is officially the lowest-numbered Red Sox card that I own.

I had a couple of Triple Threads hits in my collection before purchasing these cards, but this only increases my appreciation towards the product. The autograph relics in this set draw collectors in each and every year, and the inclusion of star veteran players like David Price gives this set a ton of appeal.

Triple Threads isn't quite as crazy as Diamond Icons and Definitive, but the price point is, nonetheless, incredibly high for a hobby box. For the time being, I'll stick to affordable hits, including their iconic relics.

2016 Panini Diamond Kings DK Signatures Xander Bogaerts
Not only did I not have a single David Price auto before making this purchase, but I didn't have a Xander Bogaerts signature either, 2 key members of the 2018 World Series team.

As if the lot didn't impress me enough, the Twitter user included multiple Xander Bogaerts autos, another monumental addition to my Red Sox collection.

Bogaerts, who's coming off an MVP-caliber season, continues to improve year in and year out. Now is the best time to sell valuable cards of the 2-time All-Star, so I'm shocked that these were included in the first place.

2017 Panini Diamond Kings DK Signatures Xander Bogaerts
The 2nd Bogaerts auto is pretty similar to the first, only it's from 2017 Panini Diamond Kings instead of 2016. Other differences include the layout (horizontal vs vertical), the color of the 2 relics (red and blue vs grey and white), and, finally, the serial numbering (#/49 vs #/25).

It's a toss-up as to which one I prefer. I'm not a huge fan of Diamond Kings, so I was impressed, for starters, that I took such a liking to these cards. Then again, he was a top 2 player on the team in 2019, so that'll definitely help.

2013 Bowman Inception Autographed Relic Xander Bogaerts
As if it wasn't enough to have 2 Xander Bogaerts autos from Panini Diamond Kings, there's a 3rd, this time a licensed autograph, back when he was in the minor leagues.

At first, I preferred the 2 Diamond Kings cards solely because of the design, but the more I think about, the more I realize how special this Bowman Inception autographed relic is. For starters, the product is no longer made, and it's a licensed autograph of one of the game's most talented shortstops.

I'm not focusing too much on value when it comes to these cards. I know that I got an insane deal, which I'll touch on later, but it's worth noting that this card is going a pretty penny on eBay, though the range of different prices is fairly large.

2017 Panini National Treasures Player's Collection Signatures Andrew Benintendi
The name of the card may be a mouthful, but this gorgeous Andrew Benintendi card is my 2nd look at Panini's highly sought after National Treasures brand. 

The card, presumably a redemption that was filled and, thus, placed in a magnetic top loader, features 2 small jersey pieces, a colossal red uniform relic, and an on-card autograph from the 25-year old's rookie season.

Serial numbering isn't always uniform throughout a set which is why I was a little surprised that 99 copies of this card were printed. Still, that's been my biggest complaint about the lot thus far, so I'd say I'm going pretty well.

In all seriousness though, the Benintendi card is a gem, easily one of my favorites along with the David Price from Triple Threads and the 2 cards remaining from this purchase.

2018 Topps Tribute Autograph Green Parallel Rafael Devers
Seeing a Benintendi card in the picture didn't shock me, for he's coming off a year in which he had more struggles than any year of his career thus far. But Devers? He just turned 23 years old today and recently finished a historic season that will certainly garner MVP votes and consideration.

If not for his sensational performance, the Boston Red Sox would've been eliminated from playoff contention much earlier in the season. His impact on the team was extraordinary as he and Bogaerts led the offense to the top of the MLB.

For these reasons and more, I was shocked to find a licensed, on-card, serial numbered, rookie autograph of Rafael Devers along with the other 23 cards in the lot. 

However, there's still one card left which, even taking everything else in this lot into account, will reign supreme as the greatest card of the purchase.

2017 Topps High Tek Red Orbit Diffractor Autograph Pedro Martinez
This card may rank as one of the most beautiful cards I've ever laid my eyes on in my life. Every single thing about it is breathtaking and near perfect, from the gorgeous shade of red to Pedro's phenomenal signature.

The diffractor makes it hard to see the numbering, but this card is 6/10, a lower print run than the Transcendent auto of Martinez that I picked up at The National. Aside from being Pedro Martinez autographs, those 2 cards couldn't be more different.

I could go on for much longer about each of these cards, particularly the Martinez auto, but I'll leave with this. I don't usually like to give exact numbers on how much I paid for a card/group of cards, but this lot of cards was such a steal that I feel the need to share just this one time.

I got all 24 of these cards delivered to my house for a grand total of $110 including shipping. If you do the math, that's $4.50 per card. That includes the 9 Price autos, the 3 Bogaerts, the Devers, the Pedro, and everything else shown above.

After writing this post, I think it's official; this lot is the best Baseball purchase of my entire life, and it's going to take something huge to dethrone it.