Wednesday, February 24, 2021

In Envelopes We Trust

Just one stamp sends cards across the country! Cards from @CardBuzz @breakdowncards and more. 
Bryce Harper is a bit of a polarizing player, but I think at this point in his career he's reasonably popular among fans of the game of baseball. Still, I never imagined myself owning cards from a baseball card set that he had his hands in designing. Back in 2018, the online exclusive offerings from Topps were still relatively basic, so this one struck me as odd. Laurens from Card Buzz sent me two cards from the set known as 2018 Topps X Bryce Harper 220 (yes, that's really the name). Despite my misgivings about this set's general nature, I'm always thrilled when someone sends me one of these online exclusives.

Here's what the back looks like. You get a basic quote from the man himself. We also find out that 220 stands for "second to none" because, okay, sure.

There's only fourteen cards in the set, with two of them being Cardinals. I believe Bryce hand-selected the checklist, but I'm not ready to call him a secret Cardinals fan.

The second envelope to check out today is from gcrl / cards as i see them. Topps included scratch-off contest cards in their 2003 Topps Opening Day packs which feature a miniaturized version of the base design on the front. These are confusingly listed online in many places as stickers, but it's pretty clear that they are not. (I'll go ahead and blame Beckett, the source for most checklist disinformation, for this one.) I'm fairly shocked I didn't own this Jim Edmonds cards already considering that I feel like I opened a ton of the stuff early on in this blog's life.

Having dropped out of card collecting after 1993, the mid-90's Topps Traded sets still aren't old hat to me.

At this point I'm just missing one last Topps Traded card set for what I believe to be a complete (Cardinals) team run from the '70s sets, and 1981 through 1995. Of course, it's also from 1995 and features Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith. (I'm also missing a junk wax era variation, but we're not here to talk about junk wax era variations today.)

Bowman Chrome cards are high on the list of the Topps food chain, so I always appreciate an addition to my collection from this product. Yadi is entering his 18th season with the Cardinals after a prolonged period of free agency.

Speaking of appreciation, I'm always excited to get Pacific cards. They are so wild and often rather hideous. It's great!

Last up to bat is Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown, who unearthed this odd camo signature featuring Carlos Martinez from the unloved 2015 Panini Prizm set. Prizm-mania may never come to the baseball market considering the license agreement is only with MLBPA and not the league itself, which means that it shouldn't be too costly to pick up inserts and autos from these sets if I'm patient enough. I was definitely happy to get this one, even though Martinez has been mostly frustrating for years.

Here's a refractor of a former Cardinal who had two plate appearances with the Cubs last year that must have been easy to miss. It looks like he signed with the Cubs again this offseason. Maybe he can increase his plate appearances this time to around a dozen or so?

Once again, I want to extend a big thanks to everyone who has sent me PWEs over the years. They are truly appreciated.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Actual Topps Cards

Revisiting some past Topps cards along with another Turkey Red push. 
Jeremy has a concept blog called Topps Cards That Never Were which, as you might guess, features cards Topps never got around to making. Here's an example. This is something I have done in my own head from time to time, but my ability to create and design doesn't usually translate well to the physical world. Jeremy is also a Rays collector and put together a few team-for-team exchanges with me in 2020. The latest package featured a really nice assortment of Cardinals goodies.

This is a yellow Bowman parallel of one of the top starting pitchers for the Seattle Mariners. With Dexter Fowler officially out of the picture, Tyler O'Neill probably only has one more season to prove that the Cardinals didn't lose this trade.

Upper Deck Masterpieces had a great two year run, and was one of the companies better offerings. We miss them in baseball for this reason, although they certainly had many missteps.

Box topper or box loader? What is your preferred nomenclature?

This was kind of a forgettable insert design, but the black swirly bit at the top of the photo makes it a rare parallel. These were actually numbered to 299.

I always loved the "## Years of Collecting" printing on the older Topps gold parallels.

By the end of its life, after the Upper Deck takeover, Fleer had reverted to its original place as a very low end brand with only a couple of sets to its name. I still miss it. The inserts weren't anything special, but occasionally you'd get something wild like this Pujols In The Zone card.

It's true that I made fun of these Diamond Anniversary parallels when they first came out, but they really stand out as a classic a decade later. The 2011 set was really a high point for modern Topps cards. I wish Topps could have done something interesting with their cards this year to commemorate their 70th anniversary, but all they did was double the production numbers over 2020. (Seriously, just check the odds on the numbered parallels.)

Here's another nice insert with a goofy font. I'm always excited to add stuff to my Jim Edmonds collection.

Wait... I don't think that's actually Jim Edmonds.

Along with the big batch of Cards cards, Jeremy sent a six-pack of Turkey Red needs. I'll still be working on this master set well into 2021, but at least I know that I had a ton of help from a lot of folks like Jeremy.

Thanks again to Jeremy. Let me know if you have any of these pesky retail only inserts.

RAK Pack #2

Time to look at another @CrackinWax RAK Pack. 
Back in September, I was very excited to receive a "RAK Pack" from Crackin' Wax because, honestly, who doesn't love a bit of randomness? Fast forward a couple of months and the bonus wheel had me landing two more of these things in the same week. Here's another batch of random cards with a gooey Cardinals center.

This is a heck of a way to start things off, as it's not only a short print but it's a needed short print from a set I collect.

Next up is an outstanding former player from a Stadium Club set that I almost tried to collect.

A minor leaguer gets in on the action. I've almost accumulated enough random minor league cards again to think about doing another giveaway at some point this year if there's any interest.

Here's a man who needs no introduction.

Now we're in Cardinals country. After ending last season as the team's clean-up hitter, it'll be interesting to see where Carlson ends up in the lineup this year with the acquisition of Nolan Arenado.

Scratchy scratchy. I believe I already have two copies of this, so it'll most likely be heading to the trade stack.

Dakota Hudson will be spending most of this season rehabbing after Tommy John surgery, unfortunately. This is a really cool shot of him walking off of the field at Busch, though.

It's another one from the 2020 Stadium Club set. Chipper is in the "I'm a broadcaster now" phase of his career.

The Fayetteville Woodpeckers are one of the teams that managed to survive the massive kill-offs of minor league teams.

It's a Bowman Prospect card from 2015. Forrest Wall. Huh... there's a name for you.

Back to 2020 Stadium Club here with a guy that's been on my fantasy teams recently. It'll be interesting to see what the Blue Jays do with him since they've already got the up-and-coming Bo Bichette.

The last one is an oldie from Panini. It looks like Rathjen topped out at the AA level in 2015.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

PWE Time!

Cards from @dvdgao @BoRosny and @Thorzul on a Tuesday night. 
Another week is here, which means it's time for another PWE round-up. First up to bat is Cardinal fan David, who sent along a few of his Redbird extras as well as some set needs.

Griffin Roberts isn't on the 40-man roster and I haven't seen him in any 2020 sets, but it looks like he received an invite to Spring Training this year which means he's still in the organization.

Matt Adams, of course, isn't in the Cardinals organization anymore after coming up with the club and a brief reunion in 2018. It looks like he's a free agent currently.

David included three more cards from my long sidetracked attempt to collect the 2020 Heritage set. Why do I collect sets again? It was nice to pick up two inserts and a short print (Garrett), though!

Bo of Baseball Cards Come to Life! sent me eight 1987 Sportflics cards I needed. You may wonder why I would need any old Sportflics cards at this point, but I recently discovered that, like many sets of the junk wax era, there were lots of variations. The factory sets apparently had a 1986 copyright on the back, while the packs had 1987 copyrights (although a few cards from one of these varieties are missing their copyright line altogether.) I could also have this backwards, since I mainly only had '86 copyright versions in my collection and I don't know why anyone that I know would open and break up an old Sportflics factory set. This would mean that various internet sites are incorrect, but I don't really care anymore. I just want both versions.

I only scanned a few of these, mostly out of curiosity for how they would look when scanned. You can mostly see Ozzie Smith here along with a bit of Shawon Dunston.

You can scarcely see the Cardinals player at all on this one. As you might have expected, this is another one of those "Tri-Stars" cards featuring multiple players.

Lastly, I claimed a single card from Death Stare Cards as part of his annual Trade Me Anything feature. I always make it a point to participate but may have missed a year or two in the switchover from his old blog Thorzul Will Rule to its current incarnation. This was actually the first time that I can recall where there weren't any cards I was interested in, so I snagged this Yordan Alvarez just for fun. I guess it remains to be seen if I continue to casually follow the Astros as much as it remains to be seen if Yordan Alvarez is going to be a star player. Hopefully he can stay healthy?

If you have just a few cards you think I might like and want me to send something back to you of similar size, let me know. That's what snail mail was apparently made for. At least someone is buying stamps these days.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Hoopin' with the Blazers

New basketball cards are here. 
We're already halfway through February and more than a third of the way into the NBA season. It's strange, then, that 2020-21 NBA cards are just now hitting the shelves for the first time. I bought into a break from Rip City Cards (no relation to the real Rip City) and ended up picking up the Blazers team set multiple times over. This is probably the only way I'm going to be able to get new Blazers cards this year as the basketball card market is officially shadier than the drug trade these days.

There are just seven cards in the Trail Blazers team set, including four players that started the majority of the games last season, a would-be starter if he ever stayed healthy, a random bench guy and the team's second round draft pick. The draft pick is CJ Elleby, who went to school at Washington State. It's nice to see the team draft a Pac-12 guy. Elleby hasn't had a ton of minutes yet this season, which is to be expected for a second round pick, though he did have a big game in Philadelphia recently. Yes, Portland has two CJs now.

Here's the Dame card. This was taken at the Moda Center last season from one of their two home losses to the Lakers (not sure which night without checking that NBA jersey site). You can tell it's not from the playoffs because there are obviously people in the stands. I did notice that there are a few cards in the recent 2019-20 Hoops Premium set that have photos from the bubble, but it looks like Panini is trying to do what they can to avoid that here.

I just don't like this design at all, I'm afraid. As much as I liked the shot of Damian Lillard going to the hoop past Anthony Davis, this photo of the original CJ is just kind of awkward.

Here's the random bench guy. Anfernee Simons did play in 70 of the team's 74 games last season and had a fairly key role off the bench, but if you were limited to picking just one bench guy I would have expected Gary Trent Jr. to get the nod here.

Hassan Whiteside was one-and-done as a Trail Blazer, and his role diminished greatly with the return of Jusuf Nurkic as you would expect. Unlike normal years, it looks the new basketball sets (Hoops, Certified, Donruss, possibly Prizm) will not have any logos or indications of players that were traded or signed elsewhere in the offseason. Given that the Blazers have two new starters this year (three if you count Enes Kanter who has been filling in for Nurkic once again), it looks like I'll be waiting awhile add new Blazers to my team collection.

Zach Collins won a starting job at the start of last season, played a few games, got hurt, then came back and started again in the bubble... only to get hurt again. We may have seen the last of him as a Trail Blazer, but hopefully he can get his health and career back on track.

I also picked up a couple of purple parallels in the break. This doesn't really improve the design.

Melo's inclusion in the set was a no-brainer, of course. He agreed to a bench role this season and is playing for the league minimum for the second straight year, but he's found a lot of space to be a big contributor. If he continues on the tear that he's been on lately, he could make a strong case for 6th Man of the Year.

I wound up with just one insert card, and it's sort of a mess. I had to read it several times to realize it's called "Prime Twine"... which... yeah, I get it. In any case, it's nice to add another Dame insert to my team collection.

If you have any basketball cards that you think I might like, please hit me up. I'll be interested to find out how you're actually finding those cards. I have extra Blazers from this set if anyone is looking.