Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Big Time

A look at the new Topps Big League set. 
In the current production schedule, there aren't a lot of new baseball cards to look at this early in the season. For this reason, I'm grateful for the arrival of the now annual Big League set, even if it's never really going to be my thing.

As a replacement for Opening Day, this isn't a bad idea. The design is fairly eye-catching, though the cards are printed on the same somewhat cheap feeling card stock of years past.

It's that tiered rarity system for the base yet that Topps revived for last year's set. I'm quite confident that nobody likes this. The rare set collector probably won't even bother with this product, and the team collectors (like myself) get mad about having to track down rare cards whenever their team lands on that portion of the checklist. These are two foil cards from the most common short printed tier. The cards in the higher tiers will probably stay on my want list for years, just like last year.

Here are some more Cardinals. We get Large Lad Luken, currently back with Memphis for the third straight season, plus a few more well known guys from the active big league roster.

The card backs look similar to the flagship set. It's not a bad template.

Of course, there is the usual crop of inserts to be had. Good Vibrations would probably make more sense in a Heritage or Archives type set instead of something modern like this. I think Ozzie is the only retired player on the checklist, but I'm certainly not complaining about another card of the Wizard in 2024.

Topps Big Leaguers is the most redundant insert set name of the year. These Big League Big Leaguers come in a few different design that look like something out of an '80s children's magazine. (Highlights, anyone?)

Topps did port over their Mascots inserts from the defunct Opening Day set to this one. These are definitely for the kids, and kids at heart.

Orange parallels can only be found in blasters now. Previously, you would find blue parallels in blasters and orange elsewhere. They're still called "electric orange" despite just having a bit of plain orange on the borders. The more common foil cards also come in this orange variety, only, you know... foil.

No one openings Big League packs expecting hits, but I actually landed two autographed cards in the same one blaster that I opened. It feels like the Orioles have had a plethora of prospects run through their system of late.

Both autographs are headed for the trade box. I haven't been able to add this one to TCDB yet, as someone needs to upload a checklist first. (That someone could be me, I suppose.)

March Radness Contest Results

Another contest is in the books! 
The 2024 basketball tournament has come and gone, and along with it we have concluded another March Radness contest. It was a tight race this year, with AngelsInOrder taking first place on the tiebreaker. In second place was TDK, with (the real?) J.D. Drew rounding things out in third. The Diamond King also won the pop-up contest during Final Four weekend, with espn36697562 finishing in last place.

If your name is in bold here, please contact me with your mailing address so I can send out your prizes. Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Three Yadis and a New Contest

A new contest is upon us, and this one is easy to enter!
To go alongside the annual March Radness contest, I promised a quick and easy one for anyone who didn't have the time or patience to fill out a bracket. And even if you did fill out a bracket, stay tuned for the end of this post (or skip to the end if you don't like a certain legendary Cardinals catcher.)

Today's cards are from Cardpocalypse, and all three of them are Yadier Molina cards that I've never seen before. (This was a big reminder that I need to reach out to Tim and send him some stuff soon. He's probably really excited that NC State is in the Final Four in both the men's and women's tourneys.) 

Along with the numbered jersey card from the 2019 Topps set came a pair of Stadium Club parallels. The 2019 Chrome parallel above is actually a refractor, but I don't have the kind of scanner that can easily show the difference between refractors and otherwise.

The last Yadi of the trio is this rare Rainbow Foil parallel from 2017, which is numbered to just 25. (It's actually 25/25!) These are terrific editions to my still growing Yadi collection. Between Erin and I, there are quite a few cards of his in our house.

And now... the contest! This is for anyone to join, whether or not you filled out a bracket this year and are participating in March Radness or not. Simply comment below with the NCAA men's team that you think will win it all on Monday night, and tell me how many points that team will score.
  • A valid entry example: NC State, 99
  • As a reminder, Saturday's games are UConn vs. Alabama, and NC State vs. Purdue. You'll need to pick one of those teams.
  • Deadline to enter is Saturday 3:09 PM PDT (6:09 PM EDT)
  • If you're unable to comment here for any reason (sometimes Google can be a jerk), feel free to reach out to me via e-mail or direct message somewhere and I'll add your prediction here.
  • The winner must pick the winning team and having the closest total number of points scored by that team in the championship game. If no one picks the winning team, I will choose whoever picked the closest score regardless of which team was chosen.
  • The winner will get some sort of unopened 2024 baseball pack/box (up to $12.99 in value).
  • You can only enter once, so make it a good guess!

Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Sunday Night PWE Round-Up

Cards from assorted envelopes featuring goodies from @vossbrink.bsky.social and more! 
Hey, it's spring! And Easter! How did that happen already? Well, before we get completely stuck reflecting on the passage of time, let's check out a few cards from a few envelopes received over the past few months.

First up is a batch from gcrl, which was heavy on the Dylan Carlson content. Just as Carlson was finally starting to show some signs of multi-talented player he was touted to be, a dreadful crash during an exhibition game at the tail end of spring training derailed his efforts to seize control of the starting center field job. (The Cardinals began the season with three CF types all on the IL.)

Along with an insert parallel (or parallel insert?) comes a pair of colored parallels of Carlson's base card from the same 2021 Panini Prizm set. I'm one of those hopeless fools that continued to buy Prizm baseball products, at least until they lost their MLBPA license

Neither green nor purple really suits the Cardinals all that well, but I'd probably go for this one if I had to choose.

We go back to the fully licensed side of things here with a Topps Chrome Prism (not Prizm) refractor of ex-Cards shortshop Paul DeJong. DeJong won a roster spot with the White Sox this spring after struggling mightily with two different teams after leaving St. Louis around the trade deadline last year.

These next few cards were a fairly big surprise. I kept all of the various "Ben Baller" brands off of my want lists intentionally because I just couldn't stand the branding, but if I can manage to block out the annoying logo in the corner, these black bordered Chrome cards actually look really nice. (I hate that!)

I had assumed that this set was released later in the release calendar back in 2022, so I was a bit surprised to see the retired Jon Lester included here. It's basically just a copy of both his regular Chrome and flagship card. I'm guessing they didn't do anything terribly interesting with the checklist for Mr. Baller here.

Harrison Bader is a Met now, which is a bit sad but also makes a ton of sense for some reason. I'm hoping he can hit well enough to stay in the lineup, because he's fun to watch when he's firing on all cylinders.

The next envelope comes from The Lost Collector, who was kind enough to send a few cards my way in order to "test" out my new mailing address. The former Ducks QB Anthony Brown Jr. recently signed up with the Las Vegas Raiders organization. Hey, it's better than one of those wonky spring football leagues that no one cares about.

Royal blue is one of my favorite colors, so there's a part of me that wants to go nuts on trying to seek out all of these parallels. These are one of the few perks of buying retail products, the biggest downfall of which is the horrible collation, of course.

Here's a nice pink refractor parallel of Albert Pujols in the 2009 All-Star game, which his Cardinals hosted. This was the year (2020) that Topps put a ton of cards of past All-Stars into their Update and Chrome Update sets due to the All-Star game itself not being held that year.

This is another nice Chrome parallel, as we see Yadi in sepia tones.

Next up was an envelope with a few Conlon cards in it. This doesn't happen to me too often, but I actually lost track of who this was from. It was from Matthew, and there's a couple of Matthews I can think of that would fit the bill, but I feel bad that I can't give full proper credit here. I'm sure at the time (it was postmarked November 15th) that I was quite confident that I would remember, but... oof.

The last group of cards are from Giants/Stanford fan Nick Vossbrink. He included a pretty excellent TV-shaped card from the 1968 set, commemorating a big World Series win. I would love to see them win another Series soon, but they seem to be in a deep dark funk for the foreseeable future.

I'm glad I kept Nick's envelope, but the whole Giants thing probably would have been a pretty big tip-off. Cueto is one of those dastardly SPs that I'm always needing for some sort of Heritage set or other.

And speaking of Topps Heritage, we end things here in style with the Say Hey Kid Willie McCovey (apparently I was tired after a long weekend) on his Baseball Flashbacks insert from 2019. Not bad!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Oregon is In... Are You??!


It's your last call for Radness. 
The games tip off early tomorrow! Make sure to sign up for the annual March Radness contest and fill out your bracket before the first game starts. Keep an eye on this space for another contest which anyone can enter, even if you don't want to fill out a bracket.

(Card image courtest of COMC. I would love to own a N'Faly Dante card at some point. Go Ducks!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

The Elusive Heritage

A bunch of Topps Heritage short prints from @scottcrawford.org including a couple for the Cardinals boxes. 
As anyone who attempts to build Topps Heritage sets year in and year out can attest, picking up those last 100 or so cards can be quite a shore. They look and feel like the regular base cards, for the most part, but they're a bit of a tougher pull at one in every 3 packs. If you crunch the numbers, I think you'll find that Heritage short prints are not nearly as scarce as their reputation holds. I blame Beckett for, at one point, pricing even the most fringe players who appear at the short end of the checklist at a starting rate of $5 a card, causing a whole generation of collectors to hoard these cards.

In any case, there was plenty of reason to get excited about adding a few dozen more SPs to my collection from Scott of I Need New Hobbies. This was easily the biggest number of these elusive cards to arrive in the mail in a single day for several years now.

Two of these cards will end up bypassing my set builds and head straight to the fancy Cardinals boxes. (Because they are scarce, you see!) This means that I'll need to track down a second 2013 Yadi Molina card, which makes me question why I insist on collecting this way.

For my 2010 set build is this pair of pitchers. These are the only cards in the lot that are easily distinguishable from their printed-in-regular-quantities counterparts without looking at the actual card numbers. The 2010 set has the short printed cards printed on bright white stock instead of the usual cardboard stock. (This was a reversal of the 2009 set, where the regular cards were on white and the SPs used a darker cardboard.)

Here's a four-pack from the 2011 set. I like this set a lot, even though I feel that it was the beginning of the seemingly unending string of boring head shots on Heritage cards throughout the 2010s. (I suppose you can't fault Topps for trying to be true to those original sets here.)

It's a pair of Joshes from the 2012 set. How many Joshes do you know? Is Joshes the right way to pluralize the name Josh? I seem to know a lot of Joshes.

It took me awhile to appreciate the 2013 Topps Heritage set because they were printed on a light stock and felt exactly like the Allen & Ginter cards they had been printing for years at this point. I know that the original 1964 set had lightly colored card backs, but it still seems like the black sheep of the 2010s Heritage sets to me.

Thanks to Scott, I added five cards to my 2014 set build, including another Yadi. It's unfortunate that he has to share with Ryan Braun here, but I already scanned this stuff and it's too late now.

A whopping nine cards received were from the 2015 Heritage set. A couple of these guys are actually still in the game. Off the top of my head, I know that Rodon (a rookie here) is in the Yankees rotation this season and Chris Sale is trying to make another go of it with Atlanta.

Here are three more from the 2016 set, including 2019 World Series champ (ugh) Michael A. Taylor.

Just a single card from the 2018 set made an appearance (and none from 2017) as I am pretty sure Scott was starting to tire of Topps and their shenanigans by this point.

Last up is a pair of grey-bordered cards from the 2019 Heritage set. I believe Yonder Alonso does work with the MLB Network these days.

Thanks again to Scott. And don't forget -- make sure you sign up for the not-actually-gambling-because-it's-free thing soon before Thursday's games tip off.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Contest Time! March Radness XV

The annual March Radness contest is back for the 15th (!) time. Fill out a bracket and maybe win a prize? 

We back. Pick the best NCAA bracket and you can win a prize. There are also runner-up prizes. I will also create a bonus contest at some point, selecting a game for anyone, including those who don't want to fill out a bracket, to predict the final score of (game TBD.)

2024 rules:
  • Selection Sunday is March 17th (tomorrow!), which means that is the earliest the brackets can be filled out. The games that actually count for the contest will start on March 21st.
  • Default ESPN scoring rules apply. You must fill out the entire bracket, including the tie-breaking final score of the final game.
  • First place wins a 2024 Topps Heritage Value Box (blaster) or suitable equivalent (subject to availability! up to $24.99 in value!) I will email the winner shortly after the final game to make the prize selection among the available products at the time.
  • Second and third place prizes will consist of some team bags of cards from your favorite MLB and/or basketball teams.
  • As always, the worst (honest) bracket will get something, too.
  • Click here now to join, and follow the "Create a Bracket Now" link. Make sure to fill out your entire bracket prior to March 21st!