Sunday, January 30, 2022


A three-sport @pennysleeves collection of card things. 
Sometimes, when there's no overarching theme to the stuff that people send me through the mail, there's not really a good word to use as a descriptor. Hence, I'm calling this stack of cards I got back in the fall from A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts a hodgepodge. Is "hodgepodge" a word I use a lot in life? Not really. I'm not sure why it came to mind today, but that's what I'm going with.

Quite a few of the cards in this generous package are of the parallel variety. As a team collector, I'm never going to achieve any sense of completeness, but I do know that the base cards I need from the more attainable sets are dwindling over time.

I honestly have no idea who Dee Haynes is. I'm guessing he didn't progress very far in his professional baseball journey. This Bowman Chrome parallel is pretty similar to the X-Fractors you see in the Topps Chrome offerings, but it's not quite the same. It's a bit more disco-y if that makes any sense.

The Panini Threads concept of just showing a player's jersey would work a lot better if they actually used recognizable players instead of mostly rookies. If you saw a Warriors #30 jersey or a (trying to remember who was popular a decade ago) Heat #3 jersey on one of these cards, it would pop, right? Can anyone name this player from the 2010-11 season? (It's Elliot Williams.) Actually, one of the things that bothers me about modern basketball cards in general is that they are focused so much on rookies, when only a handful of them ever have a lasting impact in any given season.

Speaking of rookie impact, Martell Webster was an interesting player who never quite lived up to his loft draft selection (#6 overall in 2005.) This is a neat looking card, though.

One of the fun things about the 2020 Olympics (in 2021) was learning that Rudy Fernandez is still playing hoops. This Certified Potential parallel is numbered to just 100.

Here's another numbered Blazers card. Robin Lopez has started some games recently for Orlando and has carved out quite a career for himself.

The font is a little suspect and I'm not quite sure why the giant basketball has to obscure a large chunk of the photo (there's some mystery guy's feet at the bottom), but this is otherwise a nice looking card of a former Blazer shot-blocking wiz.

Oh man, I don't think we give 1963 Fleer enough love. It's really sad that a set this nice was limited to just 66 cards, but Topps had their whole monopoly thing going on. I need to get the rest of the Cardinals from this set.

There's been a couple of Cardinals and a bunch of Blazers, so why not some football? Finest refractors look great in any sport. I'm sure a lot of you pro-peel folks are cringing at this card with its protective layer intact.

Jon also sent a healthy stack of 2006 Turkey Red parallels. I've selected a few of these cards to show here, mostly at random.

They do look nice, don't they? I'll never get tired of Turkey Red.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

At Last, Some New Hoops

Panini drops the first set of the new NBA season while we're already past the midway point. 
In the sports card world, it's hard to argue that the global pandemic has made anything more stupid and irritating than NBA cards. Availability was already starting to become an issue prior to 2020, but what I can only assume to be a mix of supply chain issues and general cruddiness pushed most of Panini's NBA release schedule for the 2020-21 season well beyond the end of the actual season. And now, well into January, we finally have the first cards of the current season.

I have to admit that I'm totally surprised that this is actually my favorite Hoops design in years. The design elements, like the team logo in the upper keft corner and the basketball court design on the bottom actually seem somewhat inspired. It could be that it's just been too long since I've seen new NBA cards with a regular photo background, but I'm really liking these.

I'm impressed with the back of the card even more, and that's saying a lot considering how Panini usually treats this stuff. While it's true that I wish the "previous season plus career totals" wasn't the default setting for Panini cards, there's more than enough going on with this to make up for it. I actually like the pixelated looking close-up photo (taken from the photo on the front, naturally.) And there's an interesting dotted three-point line going on in the bottom section. I don't even hate the weird slightly rotated rectangle in the middle, which reminds me a bit of the '90s without, well, being too '90s if that makes any sense.

Of course, I started this post talking about availability of these cards when I ended up having to go to desperate lengths (eBay breaks) to get these. As of this writing, blasters are just finally showing up online and are probably as difficult as ever to actually find in a store.

The prospects of the current Blazers season are pretty dismal at this point, but CJ McCollum is back with the team (until he gets traded, I guess?)

Of course, as exciting as it is to finally see new season basketball cards, there are loads of empty seats in the background of these shots. I did say I wanted to see real photos and not what Panini throws together in all of their other shinier sets, didn't I?

As this is the only rookie card I've had in hand so far, I'm not sure if they used this fake out of focus background style for all of the new guys or if there's more of a variety of looks. Still, considering that these are always going to be Media Day shots, it looks better than what's been done previously.

Derrick Jones Jr. is the only ex-Blazer on the current checklist, although both Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter (Freedom) appear in Blazers uniforms with their respective new team logos. I'll have to track down both of their cards somehow, since I won't be getting them in any breaks.

I have a history of basically never having Blazers players on my fantasy team. This is not an intentional thing, it's just the way things have worked out over the years. I did pick up Robert Covington off of the ol' waiver wire, however. He doesn't score a lot, but he has been picking up some stats in other more coveted categories for me (steals and blocks!)

Monday, January 24, 2022

The New Kids

A #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax serves up some Bowman Draft youngsters. 
Let me just say that I don't get the adoration for Bowman Draft from certain corners at all. It's the third prominent release using the same Bowman design each year, and by this point we're all a bit sick of it. It does tend to feature the first cards of the latest draft class, but... let's face it, this is a prospectors set and nothing more. I did buy into a Bowman Draft break from Crackin' Wax despite my general apathy towards the set because it's my burden as a team collector. Let's check out these cards on the already familiar design.

People tend to only care about the "1st" cards in the set, so we'll deal with those... first. Austin Love was a third round pick, one of the traditional college pitchers that the Cardinals tend to pick.

The 2021 draft was far enough off in the distance by the time these cards came out that none of these guys have names that rang a bell for me. McGreevy was the Cards top pick, but again... college pitcher. Prospectors hate pitchers. I'm apparently not going to get rich off of a stack of Michael McGreevy Bowman 1st's.

Ryan Holgate was a "Competitive Balance Round B" pick, which is sort of like the old "sandwich pick", except that he would be more like something that fell out of the sandwich or went on the side of the plate, like a bag of chips perhaps. Round B happens after Round 2, where Round A occurs between Round 1 and Round 2. I'm not sure if this strange draft structure will continue when the next CBA is agreed to, but that's what we had for 2021.

The Cardinals 2nd round pick, Joshua Baez, didn't make it into the set. I have no idea how Topps decides to make the checklist for these sets, but I know that not all of the top draft picks end up in the mix.

Of course, the Bowman Draft set is not all about firsts. Here's the rest of the team set. Jordan Walker was last year's top pick. Ivan Herrera is quickly ascending the Cardinals prospect ranks. Malcom Nunez made his debut in Bowman Chrome this year.

As usual, there are Chrome versions and refractors of each of the players in the set. Here's one of the refractors.

Bowman Draft also has inserts this year, which surprised me a bit. I didn't end up with any of the inserts, however. At the prices that Bowman Draft usually commands, I don't anticipate buying any more of the stuff, but at least I've got a good chunk of the team collection down.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Dodgy PWE Round-Up


Three envelopes from two Dodgers fans, including @nightowlcards and more. 

It's time to check out the contents of a few more envelopes sent with good ol' fashioned stamps. First up is one from gcrl / cards as i see them. This one was chockful of Cardinals, which are always appreciated around here and less appreciated in Dodgers-loving homes I'd imagine.

I honestly don't remember when Panini's Absolute set came out last year. It always seems to be one of those things that's released with very little fanfare, as if Panini is contractually obligated to put it out somehow. Panini base cards are always appreciated, just because I feel the vast majority of people I trade with primarily buy Topps stuff, and unopened Panini product can be absurdly expensive.

This Bobby Del Greco card from 1957 Topps could not be more different than those Panini cards. Old cardboard is truly the best cardboard, unless you're talking about an old box that's been slowly decomposing in your basement somewhere.

The second of three numbered cards in this gcrl envelope is from the 2003 SP Authentic set. Instead of just serial numbering all of the rookies in the set, it looks like Upper Deck also saw fit to throw some former rookies into the mix.

Ex-Cardinal outfielder Tommy Pham is featured on this purple parallel from the 2018 Finest set. Pham has had a lengthy injury history, but has nearly always been productive when he can actually stay healthy and on the field.

Last up is a red foil parallel from the 2021 Stadium Club set of the dean of the Cardinals. I don't think the term "dean of the [team]" is ever used anymore, but I remember it appearing on all of the Team Leaders cards in the 1986 Topps set, which I found fascinating as a ten year old. Did you get to wear some sort of crown or special belt for being the longest tenured player on the team? Probably not?

Envelope number two is from the world famous Night Owl Cards. This one is full of set needs, including a number of Allen & Ginter cards. I'm a bit surprised that I don't have all of the Dick Perez art cards from the first couple of Ginter sets, because I could have sworn at one time I had a huge stack of them.

Night Owl usually has a ton of minis lying around, or so I imagine anyway. I've been lucky enough to be the beneficiary of quite a few of his extras over the years. The Mark Reynolds is actually one of the rare unnumbered versions.

Here's a few more Military Leaders cards. I'm still hoping that Topps will make a World's Biggest Jerks mini insert set, or something along those lines.

Here are some very good animals. I'm not sure how the pony card ended up upside-down, but at this point I'm not about to fix it.

A Cardinals card did manage to sneak into the Night Owl envelope -- it's one of those sepia-toned parallels from the most recent Stadium Club set, non-Chrome edition.

The final envelope of the evening is also from a Dodgers fan, and it's gcrl once again! This is just a basic Adam Wainwright mini, but it didn't happen to be in my collection at all yet.

I didn't add a ton of George Springer cards to my collection last year. I'm not sure if it had to do with his move to the Blue Jays or just a lack of apathy towards adding to some of my player collections. I've still added a few things here and there, but I should probably take a look at who and what I want to focus on collecting at some point in the future.

Both envelopes from gcrl featured cards from the 2021 Panini Absolute set. This one is a green foil parallel of Ken Boyer's Statistically Speaking insert card. You don't see a lot of Ken Boyer cards in Topps products as they tend to stick to the same handful of retired players they have deals with.

Nolan Arenado hasn't quite reached Icon status in St. Louis yet, but if he can string together a few more seasons like 2021, he certainly will. A nice playoff run would do wonders as well.

This time around, gcrl included some set needs as well. Here's a few cards from various Topps Heritage sets, including a Sonny Gray short print.

We also have a few more Allen & Ginter inserts, including a barn, a huge tower and a mineral.

Thanks to everyone who has sent me plain white envelopes over the months (and years). Let's keep that exchange coming. It's always fun to open up the mailbox and see something like this pop out.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Breaker's Club Has Benefits

Looking at some cards from the @Nachos_Grande breaker's club. 
Over at Nachos Grande, there's a new sign-up for this year's first Breaker's Club that might sound enticing to team collectors who are interested in adding a variety of cards for their team to their collection. You can read the post for details, but the way this works, basically, is that you pay in advance for a bunch of box breaks with your team of choice already locked in. It served me well last year as I was able to add a ton of interesting cards to my collection. Let's check out a few of those cards, which were primarily pulled in breaks from late last summer.

I'm not sure what the people at Topps were thinking with this weird 3D design on this Pristine set from 2004. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it, though, so at least it has that going for it.

Leaping forward in time to the 2021 Topps flagship set, I believe this is what you'd call a "green ice" parallel of slugger Tyler O'Neill. I'm not sure that this looks much like ice, however, but maybe the name "green shards of glass" was a no-go.

I'm always excited to be part of a Pacific box break, because I have completed very few team sets from those products over the years. Private Stock is the one that had T-206 sized minis, long before Topps made them cool again.

Brad Miller was impressive enough at the plate in the abbreviated 2020 season to get his own insert card. He won't have many Cardinals cards, but he has this one.

Another thing that I like about Pacific sets is that there are several of them with larger checklists, like the one-off Online set from 1998. Larger checklists mean more obscure players get included, like David Howard. My only other two Howard cards are from regionally produced police sets.

From the "every rookie card is numbered" era comes this Dan Haren card from 2004 Donruss Classics. I'm glad they're not doing this anymore. These are numbered to 1999, which doesn't exactly make it rare, but does make it annoying for anyone who wants to build a complete set.

I do like the idea of having numbered inserts, however, because it's a better way to keep track of rarity than putting dubious odds on a pack wrapper. This one is numbered to 1250.

With Panini apparently owning all of the old Pacific brands, the Vanguard design gets trotted out every now and then. I don't think it's ever appeared on its own in a Panini set, though. The player photo sticks out in a way that reminds me of those life-sized wall vinyl sticker things (Fatheads?)

Here is something interest. Well, first of all -- check it out! It's even-worn Albert Pujols pants! I took a long look at this card and first wondered if maybe Donruss did not have the rights to the Home Run Derby name. I also wondered if, possibly, what we know to be the Home Run Derby wasn't always called that by name. Neither of these things are correct, however. It turns out that this was from a non-MLB sanctioned event that actually was called the Big League Home Run Challenge. It was organized by MLBPA and I'm thinking the lack of logos should have been a big tip-off here that something was amiss. In any case, this is a very cool and rather strange card to add to my collection. I wonder if Pujols signed any of those jerseys that has his own name on the front.

It's hard to top the Albert Pujols strange pants card, but this one does it -- at least for me! Prior to this, I only had a single Jim Edmonds autograph in my collection, despite him being one of my favorite players of all-time. And that card is from one of the cheaper mid-'90s sets, depicting Edmonds with the Angels.

I'm not sure that I can do much better than this, but I did sign up for the newest breaker's club. It's definitely worth checking out, and as more teams are taken more boxes may get added to the pile.