Friday, November 29, 2019
While I wasn't able to enjoy any of yesterday's football games, I had a great holiday, celebrating with family members whom I haven't seen in quite some time and food: lots of terrific food.
Nowadays, it's challenging to even mention Thanksgiving without talking about Black Friday at the same time. Whereas stores, even a few years back, opened around 9:00 or 10:00 pm on Thanksgiving, I've seen ads over the last few days for stores opening as early as 2:00 pm the same day.
Aside from buying a reduced price phone case from a store near me, that's going out of business, I didn't partake in Black Friday, not that I've done so significantly in the past.
That said, there's one part of this mega shopping day that might lure me in over the weekend. It shouldn't come as a surprise that I might end up purchasing Baseball cards over the next few days.
Currently, eBay, Amazon, and, most notably, COMC are all having sales along with all the major wax distributors like Blowout cards.
Because I was in the area, I tried the Walmart card aisle today in hopes of snagging the 2 Donruss Optic Basketball mega boxes that I saw while purchasing Topps Gallery last weekend.
Given how much the prices have risen on that stuff, particularly the Holo rookies, I'm kicking myself for not picking those up instead. Alas, you live and you learn.
While I contemplate what, if any, Black Friday Baseball card purchase I'd like to make, I have my first top 5 cards post in ~2 weeks to get to. Today's subject is Fergie Jenkins, a silver tier player collection with 81 cards; I chose my favorite 5.
#5 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game
Because they don't have any competition in terms of licensed cards, Topps can practically do whatever they want without any repercussions. Furthermore, their quality control is pretty poor because, as I mentioned before, there's no competition to force Topps to step up their game.
If only Fleer never had their licensed revoked or Panini was given the right to use MLB logos in the first place. Then, we'd have more cards like the one above.
#4 1975 Hostess
The '75 Hostess design isn't something to look twice at, but the powder blue Rangers uniform heavily enhances the otherwise ordinary card. Plus, there's just so much to love about these Hostess cards, despite how plain the set design might be.
#3 1971 Topps
I originally intended to write about the Donruss Optic Basketball boxes today, but since I was unable to get my hands on them at Walmart, I turned to a trusty top 5 cards post.
Seeing this 1971 Topps card makes me all the more excited for the release of 2020 Topps Heritage. The following year, moreover, is when my favorite Topps set (1972) will be replicated.
#2 1973 Topps
I'm a lot more knowledgeable about the Red Sox than I am about the Cubs, so I'm not sure if these uniforms were just a 1-year thing or not. Regardless, I love the contribution to Fergie Jenkins' 1973 Topps card.
#1 2005 Fleer Tradition Club 3000
As soon as my memory was refreshed surrounding these cards, I knew that the Jenkins insert had to earn the #1 spot on my list. I don't have any terrific vintage card to challenge it nor a modern one to dethrone it.
The border, color combination, photo, and background all contribute to a beautiful card overall, one that I'm proud to place at the top of this countdown.
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
I opened the first of 2 blaster boxes a couple of days ago in a full recap on the blog, breaking down each pack card by card and sharing my thoughts on what I pulled.
Now, I'm overviewing what came out of blaster box #2, but in a recap instead. Whereas I listed each card I pulled last time around, I'm only overviewing a select few today.
2 of the cards in the photo above (Harper and Villar) were done by artist Dan Bergren, an artist who I recognize from past Gallery sets for his more abstract approach to the cards. I also admire the work of Kevin Graham who created Yelich's and Guerrero Jr's cards.
I don't have much to do with the world of art aside from Topps Gallery if I'm being honest, so I appreciate that the set introduces something that I know very little about into my world.
Thus, I'll finally be able to buy individual Tatis Jr cards online without breaking the bank rather than counting on pulling them from packs. I did, however, have nice luck with blaster box #2, for I pulled his base card and the artist proof parallel.
Injuries may have limited his rookie campaign, but Tatis has already established himself as one the most well-rounded players in Baseball at just 20 years old.
If he keeps it up, he could outshine both Alvarez and Alonso as the top rookie from this year's class.
Even though he just played a part in leading the Washington Nationals to their first-ever World Series victory, I know practically nothing about the 26-year old. I just recall him being very well thought of back in 2016 when he, along with Corey Seager, was a rookie.
Since then, however, I haven't heard all that much about Turner, though the artwork remains magnificent.
Of course, no matter what kind of Baseball card purchase I make, I'm always on the lookout for how many Red Sox cards I ended up with. In the case of this blaster box, I'd say I did pretty well, landing a Mookie Betts base card and a J.D. Martinez high number SP.
Both cards are brilliantly designed and have their strong points, but the attention to detail used by the artist of Martinez's card (like the shine on the helmet) elevates it to a slightly higher level.
But the Red Sox mojo didn't end there as, like is the case for all inserts, I pulled one of the Master & Apprentice cards out of my 2nd blaster; it just so happened to feature Ted Williams and Mookie Betts, a picturesque duo of Red Sox outfielders.
This artwork differs from that of the base cards and while I don't necessarily prefer it, I like how it contributes to the wide variety of styles in this set.
Now, I have to decide whether the card will go towards the Williams or Betts player collection.
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Page #72 is the 3rd to last of 74 unique pages included within this frankenset. Since I've been averaging about one of these a week, the series won't wrap up until the first few days of December.
Encompassing cards #640-648, page 72 spans just 3 decades of Baseball history (the 1970s, 80s, and 2010s). Let's begin the page, starting with another stellar combo card from the 1980s.
#640 1984 Fleer Bench & Yaz
Fleer, a company that never shied away from making combo cards, produced one to highlight Bench & Yaz in their 1984 set. If you've seen my past few pages, you know how much I love cards like these.
#641 1988 Donruss Stan Musial
That card was always a specialty card of a Hall of Famer, and in the case of the 1988 set, that player was Stan Musial. Other subjects included Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron.
While I admire the idea of recognizing the game's greats, there must've been a better way for Donruss to do this rather than placing puzzle pieces into packs that didn't have much to do with the actual set.
#642 2015 Topps Alex Wood
Currently, the 28-year old is a free agent, and while he's coming off injuries and a poor 2019 season, there are a plethora of teams that could benefit from adding a respectable starter to their rotation.
#643 1988 Donruss Keith Hughes
#644 1982 Fleer Rollie Fingers
Even though the photo quality of 1982 Fleer leaves a lot to be desired, this set has delivered some amazing cards for my frankenset, including a Big Red Machine combo card of Driessen, Concepcion, and Foster.
#645 2016 Topps Danny Santana
Granted, the Twins faired pretty poorly in the playoffs, but their 100-win season came as a shock to Baseball fans everywhere, including myself, for I didn't even predict they would make the postseason.
#646 1983 Topps Jim Essian
Even without that part of the background, this card still has a whole lot going on. From the pink and yellow borders to the 2 different shades of blue being worn by the Mariners players, it's no wonder why '83 Topps is one of my favorite Flagship sets.
#647 1976 Topps Ramon Hernandez
Speaking of that set, I'm down to just 39 cards needed to finish it up. Ideally, I'd track down the remaining cards during COMC's Black Friday sale and have the set completed within the next week or so.
#648 1987 Topps Barry Larkin
I've been collecting Larkin for quite some time now, but for whatever reason, he has yet to even reach silver tier status. Even though he's a Hall of Famer, Larkin doesn't seem to get much love from modern-day card companies. Either that or I never seem to come across any of them.
Saturday, November 23, 2019
The same can definitely be said in regards to the Topps Stadium Club revival; the first few years (2014-2016) were revolutionary, for the photography was at a level unparalleled by any other Baseball card product.
Meanwhile, no set comes close to matching the gorgeous art that makes up the 200-card Topps Gallery set. It's just that there's only so much you can do with a release that places more emphasis on the pictures than the design.
While the base designs have become slightly repetitive, the breathtaking artwork more than makes up for it. This Walmart-exclusive is one of the most enjoyable products to open year after year, and the price point is quite reasonable as well.
I've mentioned in the past that there's no Walmart within 10 miles of my house, but that hasn't stopped me from acquiring Gallery in the past. When I found myself within proximity to a store today, I decided to take the chance and stop by.
Luckily for me, it paid off, and I grabbed 2 Gallery blasters: 1 for today and one for later on, either tomorrow or Monday.
Pack #1 (Exclusive Artist Proof parallels)
#102 Mike Yastrzemski
Aside from the gold foil stamp in the bottom right-hand corner of the card, I don't think there's anything that differentiates the artist proof parallels from the base cards. If Topps was looking for bonus cards to include in the blasters, something a little less ordinary would've been nice.
#6 Shane Bieber
#109 Shaun Anderson
#98 Vladimir Guerrero Jr
He still put up very respectable numbers during his age-20 season, and when there's a new class of rookies to take the pressure off his shoulders in 2020, he'll have a stellar sophomore season.
#137 Jose Ramirez
#54 Pedro Avila
Graham's work is very realistic in that the drawings look like they could just as easily be photographs with an added filter. The more real the players appear, in my opinion, the better.
#HT-32 Gallery Heritage Paul Goldschmidt
Just looking at this one card makes me wish that Gallery Heritage was its own product, for I'd love to see what Topps' artists can do if given a larger checklist for this brilliant set. Whatever set Heritage is replicating in any given year, have Gallery do the same.
Or, better yet, have them start from the very beginning, pairing iconic designs with brilliant artwork.
#69 Corey Kluber
#148 Rafael Devers
Adding landscape-style cards to the Gallery set gives this product yet another unique element and one that I hope is somewhat common throughout the entire checklist.
#35 Mitch Keller
#MA-AA Master & Apprentice Hank Aaron & Ronald Acuna Jr
If Hank Aaron was compared to Ronald Acuna Jr in an insert set like Topps Heritage Then & Now, I'd be a little upset, for I don't feel that the 2 are equitable (yet). However, the name of Master and Apprentice suggests that Aaron has something to teach Acuna, a more accurate comparison if you ask me.
#40 Josh Naylor
#92 Willson Contreras
The result? One of my favorite base cards of the entire blaster box and one that could, potentially, rank among my favorites from the entire set. That's how much I love Willson Contreras' base card.
#HT-27 Gallery Heritage Blue Parallel Manny Machado
The card, like everything else in this set, is stunning, and I like the way the blue border pairs with the color of Machado's cap. It's also fairly low-numbered (#10/99), so there's definitely something to be said about that.
#13 Brendan Rogers
#43 John Lester
#136 Freddie Freeman
#25 Shohei Ohtani
In Ohtani's case, Topps showcases only his batting statistics, so while Ohtani excelled in April and August, he struggled in July.
#79 Kyle Freeland
#125 Garrett Hampson
#129 Jose Altuve
I've heard there are talks about banning Houston from the 2020 playoffs, but I believe that would just give them an incentive to throw their games and get a high draft pick in 2021.
Whatever ends up happening, however, I don't think it'll be pretty.
#71 Jose Berrios
#109 Autograph Orange Parallel Shaun Anderson
I'll be honest, I'd never heard of Shaun Anderson until I pulled his artist proof parallel card, but given that the odds of an autograph orange parallel are 1 in every 1,000+ packs, I can't be disappointed whatsoever.
I also learned, via the back of the card, that he was the Red Sox's 3rd round draft pick back in 2016 before being traded for Eduardo Nunez the following year.
#4 Lance McCullers Jr
#47 Matt Chapman
#34 Daniel Ponce de Leon
#MP-9 Masterpiece Francisco Lindor
Personally, I can't picture Lindor anywhere but Cleveland, and I don't think it makes sense for teams to trade away any of the 3 superstars listed above. At least, not until the trade deadline rolls around and they don't feel like a playoff push is a possibility.
#113 Domingo Santana
#116 Yusei Kikuchi
#143 Manny Machado
#200 Johnny Bench SP
Plus, the 100th-anniversary patch from 1969 can be seen on Bench's sleeve, so we even know what year this drawing is supposed to emulate. If I could only get one SP from the entire box, I'm glad it's a retired player who I also collect.
#22 Jalen Beeks
That does it for my 2019 Gallery blaster. Overall, I'm ecstatic about how well I did; I walked away with a low-numbered autograph, an insert parallel, a HOFer SP, and a ton of beautiful base cards.
You only get 32 cards for $20, so this set may not be for everyone, but if you appreciate the artwork as much as I do, I'd highly recommend it.
Thursday, November 21, 2019
I've also refrained from making too much progress with this series so that I can (possibly) accumulate more cards for these countdowns, thus boosting the quality of the lists.
For instance, I held off on creating a Cincinnati Reds top 5 relics/autographs post until today, and 2 of the top 5 cards were brought back from The National. Had I rushed and written these posts more frequently, the quality of the cards in the countdown wouldn't be as high as it is if I wait a little longer.
When I began this series over a year ago, I started out with top 5 Red Sox and Cubs relic cards, 2 posts that I'd like to update soon to feature autographs and/or expand the number of cards featured.
I also have to have a fair number of cards to consider for one of these posts, hence why I've only done them for a handful of teams thus far. Now, the Cincinnati Reds are about to join that group.
The list features 3 relic cards and 2 autographs, highlighting some of the greatest players in franchise history. Let's begin with #5, a jersey relic from a pretty well-known catcher, perhaps the greatest to ever play the position.
#5 2016 Panini Diamond Kings Masters of the Game Johnny Bench
The jersey piece on this card, however small it may be, was worn by Bench in an MLB game, and he's a top 2 catcher of all-time alongside Yogi Berra. Not to mention, Panini also did a pretty nice job with the overall design of the card.
I realize that autographs are where it's at and that no one pays all that much attention to relics anymore, but it's important, from time to time, to take a step back and realizes how much history and significance these overlooked cards contain.
#4 2005 Fleer Tradition Cooperstown Tribute Johnny Bench
The Cooperstown Tribute design is near-perfect for its subject set, and I'm thrilled to have a reasonable number of these cards in my collection. Though they're not serial numbered, these relics are some of my personal favorites in my entire collection.
#3 2000 Upper Deck Legends Legendary Signatures Dave Concepcion
For starters, Concepcion's autograph is beautiful, and Upper Deck was smart to have him use a blue sharpie even though the card was produced before the autograph soared in popularity. I'm also a huge fan of the black and white filter, particularly how it pairs with the simple card design.
While the autograph may not be groundbreaking, Upper Deck did an excellent job considering that this card is almost 20 years old. It just so happens that, as time went on, companies perfected this art.
#2 2006 Topps Heritage Flashbacks Stadium Seat Relics
Midway through the 1970 season, the Reds moved to Riverfront Stadium where they'd achieve a great deal of success, including a World Series appearance later that season and consecutive Fall Classic victories in 1975 and 1976.
Stadium seat relics aren't as common as jersey and bat pieces, but I, nevertheless, appreciate the history and context that they provide.
#1 2018 Topps Luminaries Home Run Kings Black Parallel Frank Robinson
Certainly, a card of this caliber didn't have any trouble claiming the #1 spot on the list. The Luminaries design, however expensive the cards are, is beautiful, and Frank Robinson's signature is one of the best that I've ever seen.
It's challenging to see the full beauty of this card without looking at it in person, but the longer I stare at it, I notice more details that help make this card one of the prized possessions of my card collection.
Monday, November 18, 2019
Initially, I started by creating a complete inventory of all the cards of players I collect on Google Sheets with one spreadsheet designated for each player. Each row lists the year, card number, set name/info, and the team name. This process is repeated for every card of all the players I collect, and that number can be anywhere from 8-460.
Next, I introduced the idea of player collection tiers roughly a year ago. Using this process, I list all of my PCs in one Google Sheet from largest to smallest and, along the way, sort them by 4 separate tiers: Platinum (200+ cards), Gold (100+), Silver (50+), and Bronze (49>).
Through the player collection tiers, I'm able to see where each player collection, by the total number of cards, ranks in comparison to all the others. For example, I know that Fergie Jenkins, a player collection with 81 total cards, is #74 on my list of PCs.
Last April, I wrote an update on player collection tiers in which I detailed the changes that occurred since I began this endeavor. Considering how much has changed over the last several months, I figured it was time to craft an update once again and that this could be a reoccurring post a few times a year.
Ryan's 482 total cards (excluding a small handful that I haven't added in yet) beat Ken Griffey Jr's 280 soundly for the #1 spot on the list. Since there's no real competition rivaling Ryan's #1 spot, I'm instead looking to make steady additions to the player collection.
Specifically, I'd like to have 500 total Nolan Ryan cards by the end of the year, a goal I set for myself back in January.
When I updated you all on the player collection tiers back in April, Maddux occupied the #2 spot on my tiers list, but he has since been usurped by Griffey.
At the moment, Maddux trails KGJ by just 3 cards to round out the top 3. After that, there's a pretty significant drop (~30 cards) before the #4 PC, Manny Ramirez.
With these two additions, the closest I am to adding another player to the platinum tier is both Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg at 180 cards. Even though I come across their cards somewhat often, it'll be a little while before the top tier expands to encompass 11-12 players.
The gold tier, featuring players with totals anywhere from 100-199 cards, has grown to include 35 members over the last few months. Specifically, I've seen a fair number of active players cross the threshold as of late.
The additions of so many active players to the gold tier are somewhat surprising, considering that it used to be Craig Kimbrel, Joey Votto, and Miguel Cabrera not too long ago. Now, that group includes Anthony Rizzo, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, and Buster Posey.
At any given time, there's always at least 1 player on the cusp of moving up to another tier, whether it's silver, gold, or platinum. At the moment, Evan Longoria is the closest to making this happen at 99 cards, just 1 away from becoming the 46th PC to reach 100 cards or more.
I thought this would happen following my previous trip to the card show, but the Longoria card that I picked up (shown above) was a duplicate. Thus, I'll have to wait a little longer before the 3-time All-Star moves up.
The more progress I make with this endeavor, the higher the bar is raised for players to achieve a certain ranking on my list of 260 player collections. For example, to make the top 100 out of all the players that I collect, a PC has to have at least 62 cards.
Still, players are moving up the list constantly, and players have been consistently reaching the silver tier mark of 50 cards since my last PC tiers update. Currently, 84 of my player collections find themselves between 50-99 cards.
Of course, the majority of my player collections (135/264) are part of the bronze tier, meaning I have fewer than 50 cards of that player. Since this tier encompasses more players than any other, there's an extensive range of players who are apart of it.
Some, like Wilbur Wood and Mickey Lolich, may never move up enough to join the silver tier simply because of how few cards have been produced of these 70s pitchers.
Other guys' totals, like Alex Bregman's, have increased since I began collecting them, and it's only a matter of time before they reach 50 and maybe even 100 cards.
In fact, there are roughly 30 players within 10 cards of silver tier status, so needless to say, I don't think that the overall growth of my player collections is going to plateau anytime soon.