Monday, February 29, 2016

Shots Fired

I'll never get organized at this rate.

Jaybarkerfan fired the opening salvo of what will go down in the annals of history as The Great Trade Wars of 2016. The always generous JBF got the #supertraders thing up and running. Here's just a few of the great Cards on cards that he sent my way.

Topps will never cease with the parallels, and I'm still needing quite a few of these horror glitter cards. Horror glitter... can we make that a thing? Maybe it's already a thing.

I really like the Fleer Greats sets of the '00s. It really makes the Upper Decking of Fleer all the more frustrating. All of this happened during a time I didn't really collect cards, but it's not like one mere card collector could have done anything to stop it.

Hmm, let's just put all of the league's logos on the same card and make it look like a computer program is selecting the right team. (I guess that's what they were going for here?)

Keith is just leaning into this card with a little bit of uncertainty in his eyes.

This one is going in the binders, of course, but I'm tempted to find a bunch of Mark McGwire stickers to stick on things all around my neighborhood. Could be fun and confusing!

One of my goals this year is to put some money that I would have normally spent on Topps flagship towards stuff like the older Bowman Heritage sets. I'll probably have to work my way backwards, but it'll be fun.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 Topps Flops

My first and last look at 2016 Topps Series One. 

I've made a little noise about giving up on buying Topps flagship products for the foreseeable future, but you can't honestly judge something until it's right in front of your face. I'm not giving up on being a team collector, so I went in on the Cardinals from a jumbo group break hosted by Nachos Grande.

Here is the entire team set from Series One. At only 9 cards, this likely leaves a lot more players for Series Two, though the Cardinals probably won't be as highly represented in this year's products as they have in the past now that everyone is in love with the Cubs. Kolten Wong, Trevor Rosenthal, Randal Grichuk and whoever our first baseman is going to be this year are among the missing.

I'm going to try to contain my rant here and just hit some key points.

  1. I was already getting worn out on the flagship set long before this. I'm just tired of the thin white glossy cards that they churn out year after year. Buying the packs started feeling like more of an obligation than an intrigue.
  2. Specifically, I strongly dislike this year's design because they have done away with the backgrounds. Half of the fun of baseball cards is that they become some sort of historical record. There's stats on the back of how that player was doing and a photo on the front. It could be a night game, a day game, some awkward photo shoot or an early spring training moment. It was only three years ago that we got the amazing Jon Jay card from a key moment captured on film (and card) from late in the 2012 season. All of the players on these cards are lost in a fog. I realize that sets like Allen & Ginter remove the background completely from the equation, but expectations are different for that set.
  3. The success of Topps's digital trading card products seems to have bled into their decision making process for the physical flagship set. There's been a lot of chatter on Twitter about this where some folks with ties to Topps have defended the process and denied that there's any relation between the decision making process across both the physical and digital teams. It makes sense that they'd say that, but I suspect that Topps BUNT is making the company a lot more than they expected (with the crossover success of the Star Wars digital cards) and money usually drives decision making processes more than anything. It seems impossible that scalability to the digital product had no impact, since they effectively share the same design. Even if this is truly not the case and that BUNT had no impact on what design was chosen, I don't like the direction that Topps is heading in.

On to the rest of the cards. This is one of the rainbow foil parallels, although it's not evident by the scan as is usually the case. These are similar to last year's parallels.

I landed a short printed photo variation of Jhonny Peralta in a camo jersey. There are two more of these to track down, including a so-called SSP Yadi card.

Similar to reprint style inserts from the 2010 and 2011 sets, Topps is honoring the designer of the legendary 1952 Topps set Sy Berger with a reprint insert set. I'm not sure why Carlton's 1967 card was chosen over his rookie card. Maybe there are licensing issues with the "other guy" on the card, Fritz Ackley?

It's not the most expensive card in the world, but this is probably the closest I'll come to owning a Pujols 2001 Topps Traded card unless I happen upon a generous trader or find an absolute steal on one.

I have a few of these originals, though.

I don't even know what to say about this. Who would want these? No one wants these.

This was a neat idea for an insert set, but there's no reason for Stan's inclusion here since they clearly don't have a photo of him actually pitching. Instead, we get a photo we've seen used a million times before, which is an unfortunate problem with certain HOFers that's never going to go away.

Does this mean they're going to start having insert sets for other stadium anniversaries?

We've seen Topps do the combo insert thing nearly every year, but it doesn't work as well when the cards aren't landscape (horizontal) in my opinion.

I had already read quite a bit of backlash about these Perspectives inserts, and with good reason. Here, Topps takes some nice photos (hint, hint, your base set design SUCKS and needs more photos like this) and completely ruins them by throwing in this weird 3D rendered lettering that look like it's straight out of a Windows 95 screensaver.


These would have looked so much better with a player name in small writing, out of the way... in the bottom corner or something.

I landed a buyback in the form of a 1974 Rich Folkers. The stamps are color-coded this year according to rarity, and this is apparently a "rare" one. I don't think 1974 Rich Folkers cards are exceptionally rare, though. Just to be clear, the foil stamp itself is the true rarity.

The game-used cards look nice. I have no complaints here. I need to track down Michael Wacha and Yadier Molina's cards at some point.

My 2016 want list is up to date. I'm only missing some retail-only inserts, parallels and rare stuff. If you have anything like that, let me know. Also, if you need a Cardinals team set for some reason, I have several extras.


A Most Wanted card arrives to complete a set, and more!

This poorly scanned Yogi Berra card that you see above was the final card I needed to complete the 2010 Topps Turkey Red inserts set, and I'm feeling very accomplished as a result. This is just a 150 card set, but it spans three separate releases and the only way to acquire them was in 2010 Topps flagship packs. I still have a lot of work to do on the 2009 set, but this is one I can finally put in the books. Big thanks to fellow Cardinal fan Cory of Hitting Random for making this happen.

Cory also sent a bunch of needs from my mammoth 2015 Topps Heritage want list. I'm getting there... slowly. I picked this card of new Cardinal (weird...) Mike Leake, the guy that "accidentally" thieved a bunch of shirts early in his MLB career. I guess I should stop mentioning that now that he's playing for the good guys. Here's hoping for his future success, at least as long as he's wearing the Birds on the Bat.

Cory also sent a bunch of (ex) Blazers my way. Will "The Thrill" (aka The People's Champ) Barton has been a huge factor off the bench with the Nuggets since he was traded a year ago. He was a Slam Dunk Contest participant this season.

Next up, here's a misspelled Jarrett Jack rookie card. Many thought the Blazers season would rival Jack's rookie season in terms of success (or lack thereof). The Blazers went 21-61 that season, and their new head coach (Nate McMillan) was on the cover of nearly all of their promotional material... never a good sign. This year's Terry Stotts-led squad eclipsed the 30-win mark tonight.

Nolan Smith is back at Duke as some sort of assistant coach now.

I feel like I don't have enough Scottie Pippen (as a Blazer) cards. He was never my favorite player, but I miss those teams that he played for.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Basketball Club Renewal

If you like NBA cards, read this. 

I made some updates to my Guilt-Free Basketball Card Club today, cleaning up the list a little bit by purging a few people I've lost contact with and adding some folks from the Super Traders list. In a nutshell, this completely free to join list gives me a chance to offload basketball cards to people any time I decide to put some money down on some packs. I like the NBA, and I like opening packs and looking at cards. But in the end, I only want the Blazers cards (and Ducks alums.)

If you're interested, all I ask is that you send me an email with your current mailing address and consider sending me a card or two somewhere down the road if you have anything you think I'd be interested in. I don't keep tabs on people; there's no Karma Points system. If you are on the list and want to be removed or make any changes, let me know as well. If you used to be on the list and aren't any longer, drop me a line!

And now, here's a bunch of cards that I will be getting rid of (with some exceptions).

I've fallen hard for the latest Panini Prizm set. The cards just look really nice. After scoring a jumbo rack pack of packs (or whatever those things are supposed to be called) last month, I went in for a discounted $15 blaster at the most recent card show.

There are refractors ("Prizms") and colored Prizms and they also make parallels of the inserts, just to confuse everyone. This is a Fireworks Prizm. Or a Prizm Fireworks.

Just regular old Fireworks here.

I don't think this is an insert card or anything, but I have a serious question that I wanted to ask. How is it that no one has claimed Steph Curry? Or his defending champion Warriors team? Is it because the Blazers thoroughly embarrassed them the other night? No one wants to step up? I guess I can send all of his cards to COMC or something. (I don't actually have massive piles of Curry cards. I tend to exaggerate.)

Marketing staffers spend hours and hours in meetings coming up with new names for insert concepts. Emergent.

It turns out that the Orange Prizms don't scan well, at least when I try it.

Elfrid's wild hair is not well seen on this card.

I have to confess that I never liked Isiah Thomas at all.

I believe I ended up with 3 different Jimmy Butler cards in this box. The green Prizms scan nicely.

Dirk! In one of those laughably terrible 2015 All-Star jerseys.

And here's just a plain old Prizm.

I also bought a blaster of Panini Complete, this year's super low budget offering. I have to say that I really like these cards, despite how thin they are. Something about the matte finish and low price point usually works for me. These are reminiscent of some mid-'90s Fleer baseball sets.

There are both Home and Away jersey-based inserts, with the Away (I believe) being the rarer of the two.

There are two parallel versions to collect, silver (one per pack) and gold (1:36 packs I think?) Mo is wearing a big man number.

Kristaps! People seem to like this guy.

And now for the cards that you don't get to have...

Here's my first card of former Duck Joe Young. He almost single-handedly willed Oregon to the big tournament last season.

Mason "Not Miles" Plumlee, our starting center here in Portland. He's been fun to watch.

Here's two versions of CJ McCollum's card.

With the complete roster overhaul this past offseason, Meyers Leonard is now (along with Damian Lillard) the longest tenured Blazer. This is weird to think about.