Thursday, January 31, 2019

It's a New Year of Cards

On release day, I bought my first Topps flagship pack since 2015. 

As some of you may recall, I had so many complaints about the annual Topps flagship set that I gave up on it altogether. I was never a set builder, but I used to buy my share of the stuff (hey, it's cheap) as an annual ritual. I quit cold turkey with the hideous 2016 set, and those same issues I had never really went away in subsequent years. However, this year's set has a design that actually appeals to me, with one glaring issue... and it is a very glaring issue. I also heard through others that they righted a great wrong by restoring full stats to the back, after back to back years of getting the '80s Donruss treatment: just the five most recent seasons' worth of stats.

The first card out of the pack was Votto Joey, and yes, I'm going to be reversing the names of these players all season long. Why, Topps, why? I wasn't super excited to see Votto come out of the pack first, but I don't control the universe.

Here's a good look at Bader Harrison and his rookie cup card. Topps is still using very heavily processed and closely cropped photos for their cards, but a solid design (with one glaring exception!) does well to cover that up.

It looks like Topps is paying tribute to each team's stadium with their team cards this year, which is a nice look. I'm one of those guys who is jealous of everyone who made it their life's goal to visit every MLB stadium.

I like that Topps is documenting the team's starting lineup and pitching rotation for the previous season. Are the Team Leaders stats chosen at random, or does every team just have OPS and Saves?

Didi, comin' in hot!

Another close-up of a Cardinal. Again, the last names first thing looks even worse when the last name is significantly longer than the first.

Ah, the backs look really nice, though! This is an especially good looking color scheme for St. Louis, with the Cards bringing back the baby blues this season for the first time since 1984. And, look at all of those stats! We get more than a decade's worth of stats for a guy who bounced around all levels of professional baseball before finally getting his big break.

Here's a slightly overhead forward-facing shot of the Cardinals sudden ace of 2018, Mikolas Miles.

My one an only non-base card was an Albert PUJOLS Greatest Seasons card. One out of thirty-four? That seems a little low to me.

Springer is a guy I semi-sorta stealth collect. His friends call him George.

I bought into a case break, so I probably won't be going nuts on these packs in the future. I am not hating this, though. I do wish they'd finally take a long look at switching up the card stock to make these feel like classic baseball cards again, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I will have plenty of extra Cardinals team sets in the future, if you're a fan of that team.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Grande Group Break

A @Nachos_Grande group break delivered the goods. 

Literal Fan of Reds, and known Cardinals-hater Chris from Nachos Grande hosted another super group break a couple of months ago, and I was a happy participant. I'm always interested in the breaks that favor team collectors instead of hit-chasers, and this one had a nice variety of stuff from the '90s and '00s.

1997's (Leaf?) Limited set is an interesting one, as most of the cards are dual-sided "Counterparts" cards featuring two players who are not even teammates at all. This ends up being kind of a weird thing for team collectors, but hopefully there are enough cards to go around to keep everyone happy. (It also means I now have a card headed to my binders that has Roger Clemens on the back, which is kind of gross.)

Here's a head shot of Izzy, brand new to the Cardinals at the time. This was one of a handful of 2002 Topps Total cards I needed from the break.

One of the biggest attractions to the break was the ultra shiny and suave 2001 Topps Gold Label. This is a Gold version of J.D. Drew's Class 2 card, numbered to 699. Someday, I will have all of the shiny things and variations and retire as the King of Baseball Card Mountain.

Here's another numbered card, from 2016 Panini Donruss, which I believe was a bonus to the break. These Black parallel cards look good when contrasted with Cardinal red.

I am pretty much up for any break that includes Pacific products, because I don't have a lot of their stuff and they always seem to have a million parallels, something that seems to have rubbed off on Panini when they inherited their rights.

In a mild upset, there was actually an Ozzie Smith base card that I needed. This is from 1995's Score Summit set. It's pretty Score/Pinnacle looking, but the thickness of the cards adds a nice touch.

Back when I was actually still collecting, Topps issued a full reprint set, under the now ubiquitous Topps Archives name, of 1953 Topps. I must have completely ignored it, because I was generally uninterested in anything older than I was at that particular time in my life. Ah, youth. In any case, it was nice to pick up a bunch of cards from this set.

Finally, here's a collecting dilemma, although I'm not really going to lose any sleep over this one. I pretty much add anything Cardinals related to my collection, but I might have to draw the line at this one. As you may know, a number of the cards in the 1995 Summit set have the wrong logo foil stamped on the front of the card. (I have a Terry "Not The Famous Quarterback" Bradshaw card with a Brewers logo stamped on it in my collection, for instance, even though he never belonged to that team.) Mr. Unroe, if that is his real name, was never a part of the Cardinals in any capacity, so it's hard for me to consider including this in my collection.

I also had the Baltimore Orioles in this break, so if you are a fan of that team and have some needs from any of the sets shown here, feel free to let me know! A numbered Brian Roberts card may be in the offing for you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Cracked Cardinals? (That's All I've Got)

Cardinals cards and more from @acrackedbat migrate northwest for the winter. 

Last fall, I decided to part ways with a J.T. Realmuto Topps Heritage autograph (on-card, of course!) that I had been hanging on to awhile. I really like the on-card autos in the set, but with Realmuto's growing presence in the game and my need to return a little generosity in the world, I decided to send the card over to a home that it was more suited for. That's where Julie from A Cracked Bat came in. Some day, I'll get motivated to acquire some more Heritage autos that are more suited to my collection. I think I owe myself at least one.

Julie sent over a bunch of Topps Heritage High Numbers needs from the most recent set, including Cardinals cards and set fillers. By mid-summer, the flamethrowing Jordan Hicks was starting to show up in every set. This isn't, unfortunately, something that tends to last for most relievers.

Last year, Topps paid tribute to their 1983 set with some of their inserts in the flagship set, and Chrome'd up versions in their (well, duh) Chrome set.

More Marcell Ozuna (x2)! Here is the Cardinals left fielders on a part of parallels of inserts (what?!) from last year's Topps Fire set. Nice.

Low numbered relief pitcher alert! Low numbered relief pitcher alert! Kevin Siegrist, who was drafted in like the millionth round some years ago, doesn't even really fit in frame here. Does Panini have any idea what they're doing with their fancy high end baseball stuff?

Here's one of those awkward greyscale Honus Bonus cards that someone on the internet quickly shut down back in 2017. I love these for some reason. I guess if you're going to go with an unlicensed product, it's cool to go super weird with it.

Finally, as mentioned, there were plenty of 2018 Heritage High Numbers cards to go around. Hotshot rookie Juan Soto and the perpetually unsigned Bryce Harper are almost doing the "Spider-Man pointing at himself" meme thing here, which would be pretty weird because they're not the same guy. Soto might be the superstar outfielder of the future in Washington, if there is even a Washington left in the future.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Is it Baseball Season Yet?

Cardinals cards from @SportCardCollec are getting me through the long winter. 

The next Hall of Fame class is about to be announced. There are flower stems starting to pop up from the ground at home. And the days are... slowly... getting longer. However, with Spring Training still more than a month away, and Opening Day even further down the road, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, I still have quite a backlog of card packages to go through, with another great bunch coming to me from New York (football) Giants fan Sport Card Collectors.

Shiny parallels were heavily featured, including this numbered to 99 version of Cesar Izturis's 2009 Upper Deck card. Izturis had a not extremely memorable single season with the Cardinals. I was surprised, though, to see that Izturis stole 24 bags in his lone year in St. Louis, which was 9 more than anyone stole for the team in 2018.

This one commemorates Matt Carpenter's career OBP of .377, which has remained steady a year after this card came out.

One cool thing about this Chrome'd up parallel of Adam Wainwright is that you can actually see the serial numbers from the back of the card shining through on the scan.

An older Wainwright won a Silver Slugger award in 2017. Again, that still doesn't explain why he had a bat piece on a card about his pitching prowess. If there's a memorabilia version of this card, it would make a bit more sense.

Finally, it's Shiny Yadi! Just like regular Yadi, only a lot more serious. This is one of those retail only rainbow foil (not Chrome) parallel-ish cards from the 2015 Topps Heritage set, which was fortunately just a one year experiment. And speaking of Serious Yadi, something something Cubs... ahh, who cares?! Let's play baseball already!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Blazers from the Past and a Hilarious Error

Our recent contest winner sent some cards to me not so recently. 

I noticed that expert football prognosticator Trevor from Bump and Run Football Card Blog sent me another envelope awhile back that got buried under some other stacks of cards I need to blog about. I do open everything I get in the mail and log it into my collection as soon as I get a chance to, but after that the cards usually sit in a queue (aka a cardboard box) for me to write about. The box has been fuller than it should be lately. I'll blame the... holidays? Okay, sure.

An extreme close-up of Buck Williams appears on this foil parallel of Buck's 1994-95 Topps card. These are pretty nice looking, but not quite as fancy as their football counterparts that I discovered in my Goodwill purchase awhile back.

J.J. Hickson... honestly, I have no idea why I scanned a J.J. Hickson card. I am glad to add it to my collection (all Blazers need to be in my collection apparently), but he's kind of a lousy dude. Last I heard, he was in jail on a pretty serious robbery charge.

This card is wild! I love it.

Here's a card featuring Damon Stoudamire in a throwback jersey (I miss those!) on what looks like a precursor to Upper Deck's short-lived Upper Deck X baseball design. This is another reminder that, even though it says "Grizzlies" on the top, I still needed this card because Stoudamire is in a Blazers jersey. Were he in a Raptors uniform, but with a Blazers logo or team designation somewhere on the card, I would also want it. I should really probably narrow down what I collect.

On the baseball side of my collection, I promised a stupid error card and am delivering a stupid error card. Adolis Garcia, who is a Cuban prospect for the Cardinals and made his MLB debut last season, probably thought it would be smart to go by his longer name (Jose Adolis Garcia) here in order to not be confused with Adonis Garcia, his much older brother who used to play with Atlanta. Topps just kind of mashed their names together and messed this card up royally, both on the front and the back. I didn't fact check his bio info, but I think they at least got that straight.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Contest Results and Night Owl Cards

Both things are worth celebrating. 

There was virtually no movement from the result of last week's college football championship game in the contest standings, which means that Trevor from Bump and Run is the the winner of both the contest and the sub-contest. Pray for the Suns (reader Brian, who has participated in past events) takes home 2nd Place and bbcardz (of Stadium Fantasium) was dead last. OMG, indeed. These folks should look to be checking their mailboxes around the beginning of next month (still need a mailing address from a couple of you.)

Since roughly 7% of all Cards on Cards posts are about Night Owl Cards bubble mailers, now that I've got your attention after talking about prizes and stuff -- look at these cards from Night Owl Cards! I received a bundle of all-Cardinals goodies longer ago than I care to admit publicly, so let's check out a few of them. Panini's version of Donruss has its own version of Chrome, which has been around for a couple of years now. It's called Optic. They then parallel the heck out of everything, and end up running out of usable colors, which is how you end up with something like a "Red and Yellow" Prizm parallel.

I completely forgot there were Will Clark Cardinals cards in 2018, so this was a nice surprise. Clark has way more Cardinals cards than you would expect, but then again, so does Eric Davis.

I have said my share of negative things about Topps Fire, but when you're presented with a shiny Yadi like this that's numbered to just 25 copies, it's hard to say anything critical. This is a really nice addition to my collection, and is fun to stare at under direct light.

Hey, it's a card back! Topps used to sell blister pack All-Star sets, but at some point removed the All-Star designation (and logos), making the set this card came from more like "2018 Topps A Bunch of Good Players in the National League". Sadly, after essentially finally completing my Cardinals want list project (all years are actually covered now!), I realized I need far too many one-off cards from tiny sets. It was good to take this off the list.

The fancy Topps sticker here means this card is UNTOUCHED BY HUMAN HANDS. My only gripe is... Waino is great with the bat, but why did they use a bat piece to honor Wainwright's career best season in striking people out. I mean, that is a piece of HIS bat, isn't it? ISN'T IT?!

Manufactured relic cards aren't really my favorite thing in the world, but this card from 2018 Topps Update has a really appealing look and feel for some reason. Wow, this was a really Molina-heavy post, wasn't it? (Note: not complaining.)

Thanks again to Night Owl and everyone who participated in my contest. There's another one just around the corner! I have a feeling it's going to be pretty Rad.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Revolution on Basketball Cards

Yet more new basketball cards, featuring the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Time has passed, which means Panini has put out another NBA set. As I write this, I'm pretty sure I'm at least a couple of sets behind in their release calendar, but there's one I'll get to eventually and another one I surely can't afford to be throwing my money at. My quest for new Blazers card acquisitions this season continues as I bought into another eBay group break.

I believe the Revolution brand goes back to the Pacific days. I think Panini owns the old Pacific brands, somehow... really, I'm not sure how. This is sort of a low rent version of Topps (High) Tek, where there are multiple patterns for each base card. There are three vets and two rookies in the base set, and I came up one short on the team set by not getting a Damian Lillard card.

Vortex is one of the inserts. I ended up with two of these. CJ McCollum is not quite on the side of All-Star status, so I'm not sure what kind of trade interest any of his cards would get. I don't really know any basketball player collectors, so I'm not sure what to do with cards and inserts of star players unless I find a team collector who is a fit.

Jusuf Nurkic has actually supplanted CJ in terms of value, as he is now soldily the Blazers second most valuable player. In the first season of a big contract that he signed with the team, he has impressed by taking his game up at least half a notch, which you don't always see when guys get that first big money deal.

Here's one of the other designs. This is a "Groove" parallel. I am glad that Panini put the design name on the back of the card, because it feels like something Topps wouldn't bother with.

Rookies get special treatment on NBA cards, which means an entirely different background pattern here.

Neither Gary Trent (the younger) nor Really Lil' Penny have seen the floor much this season, which isn't terribly surprising considering their ages. Hopefully the practices are going well?