Thursday, April 15, 2021

Crackin' More Heritage

A recent #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax with another look at Topps Heritage. 
While I'm not thrilled about this year's Heritage set, especially when compared to previous years, I'm still going to end up collecting as much of it as time (and money) allows. I also have a team set to put together, and I made a serious dent in that effort with some Crackin' Wax breaks. Along with a pile of Cardinals came a road uniform swatch from former Cardinal Kolten Wong. Wong was with the team for seven seasons, starting most of the games at second base. Rarely has their ever been such stability at the keystone position in the team's franchise history. As luck would have it, Wong was there to lead off against the Cards for the home opener at Busch and understandably got a huge ovation. (Well, that's to say as huge of an ovation as a crowd of 10,000 or so can provide.)

As always, there's a ton of short prints in the set. I did land this short printed card of Harrison Bader, who began the season on the injured list. Unlike previous years, I feel that a good chunk of the 100 card short printed portion of the set is dedicated to regular everyday guys like Bader instead of stars and rookies. That's often been a complaint in the past. There's also been grumblings about certain starts being held out of the checklist this time, most likely for inclusion in the High Numbers set. At least from Topps' perspective, that strategy makes sense. The High Numbers checklist is usually full of relievers, players who changed teams in the offseason and were DFA'd by May, and maybe one or two top rookies.

Speaking of top rookies, I ended up with a pair of Dylan Carlson cards. The prices for his cards have been kind of all over the place, with collectors investors not entirely sure whether to give him the star rookie treatment or not.

Dylan Carlson played a lot last year even though he still enjoys his rookie status. That means his "In Action" card is pretty legit.

One of the boxes must have been a hot one, as I also ended up with this purple Chrome Jack Flaherty card.

Kodi Whitley was on the taxi squad last year and it looks like that will be his role this year, at least until minor league action is underway. People close to the ballclub seem to be excited about him. Roel Ramirez, on the other hand, is more of a "minor league depth" guy who was entirely out of his element last season when the Cards were down a ton of players due to a certain coronavirus as he made one appearance, allowing 6 runs while recording only 2 outs. Rough stuff.

If this is Yadi's last season, he seems determined to go out on top. He's been one of the team's best hitters coming out of the gate.

We'll end with a quad pack of Cards cards from photo day at Roger Dean Stadium.

Should we do some spring cleaning soon? Does anyone still like cards?

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

It's Fine, I Guess

A first (for me) look at 2021 Topps Heritage. 
I have to admit that I'm not very excited about this year's Topps Heritage set. I may have mentioned this before, but I think it's my least favorite of the annual Topps brand since the 2013 set which used typical Allen & Ginter card stock to apparently emulate the lighter backs of the original 1964 set. Now that we're a few years into the 1970's, I'm just not that excited about this. It's starting to feel more like the more recent Topps Archives efforts than a true Topps Heritage set.

It also doesn't help that of all of the Topps designs from before my time, so to speak, the 1972 set stands out to me as one of the worst ones. It's just not for me. I'm sure this set evokes nostalgia for people of a certain age, but it does nothing for me. In any case, I still leapt at the chance to buy some blasters (online, because this is 2021.) I bought three blasters in total, saving one for my recent contest winner. I am sure I bought these from a "flipper", but by my calculations, after the cost of shipping is included, the seller only made a total of 41 cents on this transaction. Great job?

I'm not sure that the Boyhood Photos of the Stars treatment works very well when a significant portion of these are dedicated to rookies and younger players. This picture was probably taken on a digital camera in 2005 and not from some sort of ancient time when black and white photos were the only affordable option.

Roberto Clemente gets his own dedicated insert set in this one, which makes the Pirates a somewhat more valuable commodity in group breaks.

The New Age Performers inserts look decent enough, or at least they're appropriate for the set as a whole. They've become even more scarce of a pull in this set, going from a 1:11 ratio to a 1:25.

There were a number of dupes across both blasters, but I was lucky enough to pull a New Age Performers card in each box. Ke'Bryan Hayes is probably underrated as a rookie as far as getting attention goes these days, most likely because he's on a team that has been stripped bare.

It definitely looks like Matt Kemp's team name is Rookies. I have no recollection of him playing for Colorado. It seems like there's a lot of these weird 2020 oddities on the 2021 checklist, as Topps continues to lag far behind reality in terms of producing their sets.

Normally, Topps Heritage is the first set of the year that has players in their new uniforms -- Photoshopped or otherwise. Tyler Naquin should be with the Reds here, but again, this still feels like a 2020 set as much as most of the sets released last year felt like 2019 sets.

Albert Pujols inaction.

Mike Trout is up to something, it seems.

I know that it's surprising that we got this far without a Cardinals card, so here we go. Like most of his teammates, Waino is posing at the Cardinals shared spring training site Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Marlins as well as the Redbirds.

My favorite card of the two boxes I opened ended up being this one. Of course, there's a lot of uncertainty with Tatis right now, but it was nice to pull another 1:25 insert card that actually fits into my team collection here. If you're wondering about print runs (I definitely am), it looks like the serial numbered (to 999) Chrome cards jumped from a 1:60 pull in 2020 to a 1:92 pull this year, which suggests that the print run for this set increased by more than 50% this time around. That seems like a lot (and it is), but it's far less than the jump the flagship set made. Just sayin' is all.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Contest Results and More Cracked Wax


The March Radness winner revealed! Plus more @CrackinWax #CrackinWaxMailDay things. 

The big college basketball tournament is in the books and, as a result, we have some prizes to award. It came down to Baylor vs. Gonzaga in the final, two of the very best teams in the sport this year. Baylor steamrolled the team from Spokane giving them their only loss of the season, which means The Diamond King has taken the top prize in both contests this year. Congrats! In second place came Bump and Run, with Stadium Fantasium (aka bbcardz) taking third. Bringing up the rear was Ape Island, aka i.hate.espn, who must also hate picking winning teams. If your name is in bold, please contact me as you've won some sort of prize! 

The rest of you are probably here for the cards. I'm a bit behind on posting about stuff I've received in the mail, but there's a couple more rounds of Crackin' Wax breaks to get through. First up this time is a 2019 Topps Gallery break. I usually avoid this set because I really don't like most of the artwork, but I didn't get very close to finishing my team set whenever this first came out. The other incentive was that the Padres were only available as a random team due to Tatismania or whatever. I actually lucked out here and ended up with the Padres in addition to my actual team. 

Yeah, I'm not a fan of these. Supposedly that's Manny Machado on the left?

Fernando Tatis Jr. rookie cards were at insane levels when I joined the break. I'm guessing there's been a bit of a selloff since the scary injury news with him hit. I can imagine the Padres are probably sweating a bit now after signing him to that massive contract, along with all of the other spending and maneuvering they did this past offseason.

Unfortunately, the 2020 Donruss Optic break was short on cards for me and short on cards I needed. I did end up with this holo Goldie parallel for my collection. It seems like Panini baseball cards are starting to be taken seriously in the market right now, though, because... well, everything else is. Maybe I should start making my own cards.

I also bought in to another 2021 Topps flagship break. The Diamondbacks are often the team that gets dumped on me. This flashy 1986-style silver pack card of Daulton Varsho (guessing he's Gary Varsho's son?) will be headed to my trade box.

The best thing from these breaks was this Harrison Bader black parallel, numbered to 70. Even though they don't look nearly as nice as they used to, I always love the black parallels that Topps puts out.

Monday, April 5, 2021

It's April, so... Merry Christmas?!

My Secret Santa gifts from @GeoffCards are right on time. 
No, I can't blame the postal service for severe mail delays. I am still very behind in catching up on sorting and posting about the stuff I've received from people lately. There's actually a pretty good chance that I will catch up relatively soon, however, as my mailbox in 2021 has been pretty quiet. I entered a Secret Santa type group with some fellow Crackin' Wax break regulars and ended up with some pretty nice stuff.

Payton Pritchard's cards haven't quite gotten the attention than Justin Herbert's football cards have, of course, but I'm still seeking them out whenever I can find them. This is my first signed card of the guard who was a four year starter for the Ducks, running the point even as a freshman on the team that made it to the Final Four back in 2017.

There are actually two Pritchard cards in this Prizm Draft Picks base set, and I still need to track down a copy of the other one -- it looks like the green parallel at the top of this post.

The gift package wasn't all Pritchard and the Ducks, however. A few choice Cardinals were included as well, like this Tommy Pham black insert numbered parallel from a few years back.

There was also a KK auto from last year's Panini Absolute, a set that mostly escaped me, probably due to the cost.

Lastly, there was a Project 2020 card of the late, great Bob Gibson, shown here with the full stash of cards in the package from this photo that I put out on Twitter shortly after receiving the goods. This is actually the second Project 2020 card that crossed my desk last year, both of which were a complete surprise. I've since re-gifted the other card since it wasn't a fit for my collection, but a Gibby card clearly must be.

I'll say this much. There's so much about Project 2020 and other similar offerings that Topps has produced of late that embodies exactly what I don't want as a card collector. And yet... now I will forever own an actual piece of cardboard history from the craziness that was (and pretty much still continues to be) 2020. For a better look at the card, you can check this out from Topps.

Lazy Contest Update


Thursday, April 1, 2021

'80s Hit Chasing

Inserts gone wild. 
It seems like insert cards are something that came from the more recent era of trying to strike it big with a simple pack of cards, but they've been around for seemingly forever. Non-base cards have been a part of many baseball card sets going back to the '60s at least. When I personally started collecting in the '80s, I'm not quite sure I appreciated the "special" cards that you could find in packs, but I know that they were sometimes sought after. I know there especially was a decent market for the Fleer All-Star Team inserts that debuted in 1986, which even came with stated odds on the packs.

The Topps All-Star Glossy set was a bit unique in that it was only included in rack packs, and it used the now ubiquitous glossy UV coating, which really wasn't widely used until the '90s were well underway aside from a few specialty sets (e.g. Tiffany, Fleer Glossy.) These were one per pack inserts that were always on top of the pack at the grocery store, making it easy for a "flipper" to seek out certain players in the pack to sell for a premium. 

Yes, there were flippers in the '80s. Fortunately, though, there wasn't an eBay in the '80s. While opportunists have always existed in this hobby (why wouldn't they?), the whole thing has gotten out of control lately. There's a big leap from someone going down to the local market to buy a 99 cent rack pack with... I don't know... Dwight Gooden showing on the front of it... to what is happening these days with people stalking vendors and operating massive bot armies to buy up anything and everything. Even Pokemon cards. Even. Pokemon. Cards.

If you jump back in the time machine with me back to 1984, though, it couldn't have been an easy task to put together the 22 card glossy All-Star set. Of course, that's the real fun of collecting. Virtually no one who has "flipped" a case of blasters has ever known the pain of missing five cards from a twenty-two card set, even if you could buy the whole thing for five or ten bucks.

It's officially Opening Day, folks. Ozzie Smith is here for it.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Mondays Means PWE Round-Up

Cards the cheap and somewhat reliable way including stuff from @nightowlcards and @acrackedbat on a Monday. 
It's late, it's Monday and it's been a bit. It must be time for another P. (Plain) W. (White) E. (Envelope) round-up. First up is a few things I claimed from A Cracked Bat back in December. 

I don't really know why I thought it was a good idea to try to collect as many mini Allen & Ginter cards as possible instead of being satisfied with completing the regular set. These are always fun to look at, however, though all of the different flavors of mini ensure that no one can put together a complete set of anything unless they go the popular "Frankenset" route.

Jack Flaherty inserts just can't be passed up. Flaherty takes the mound on Opening Day, which is just three days away now. Wow!

Here's a whole collage of Ginter minis from the venerable Night Owl Cards. Minis were stuffed in all sorts of nooks and crannies of a couple of envelopes. This actually doesn't even represent half of all of the minis that were sent my way. See if you can spot the non-human!

Night Owl also sent a few regular sized needs, including the legendary Eddie Murray.

Last up is some stamp-themed stuff from The Angels In Order. This "stamp" card is from a set released in 1992 that I'd never seen before. I think these might be baseball card-sized reproductions of actual stamps from the island country in the Carribean (St. Vincent), but I'm not totally positive.

I wonder if four dollars got you a whole sheet of stamps or if each individual stamp cost four dollars?

I also received some actual stamps in the form of this fearsome foursome of 1982 Fleer stamps. These are very cool, although they are so thin that one of these almost got permanently lost inside my scanner. Yikes!