Thursday, April 28, 2022

Five for Five

Five of my favorite cards of Number Five. 
Once the Los Angeles Angels designated Albert Pujols for assignment, the reunion between one of the all-time franchise greats and the St. Louis Cardinals felt inevitable. His unceremonious exit from Anaheim seemingly freed him up from his "personal services" contract that was supposed to extend beyond his playing days. He would soon join the red jacket club in St. Louis, as long as he wanted to be there.

But for Albert to put on #5 again as a player? It made sense. The universal DH (which I hate) certainly pushed things in that direction. It's fun to see Pujols back, and as long as he's utilized properly I do think it benefits the team. I thought I'd take the opportunity to show off some of the best Pujols cards I've picked up over the years.

This would fit nicely in one of gcrl's mini collections (and, eventually his Hall of Fame collection.)

This card is reminding me just how much I miss the days when Majestic was the official brand for all MLB uniforms. Of course, Nike uses the latest technology for comfort blah blah blah experience, but there's a lot of things I don't like about what they've done to major sports apparel in general. Of course, Majestic ended up getting swallowed up by Fanatics, like many other things.

This one is actually new to the blog! It came from a Nachos Grande Breaker's Club break. I still don't have a Pujols base rookie card from any brand in my collection, but I do have this really impressive looking rookie year bat card.

Here, of course, is the big one. You were probably expecting to see this card all along. I'll go ahead and add this image to every blog post if I can find an excuse to.

There are currently 911 unique Albert Pujols cards in my collection according to TCDB, even though he spent ten seasons away from the team. His total surpassed Ozzie Smith, even though Ozzie is my #1 all-time favorite player.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Only Red Teams

A #CrackinWaxMailDay bit of fun with some red teams in another batch of @CrackinWax breaks. 
Several years ago, the Cardinals went back to wearing red caps on the road after a couple of decades of wearing navy blue. They make an exception, however, when they're facing off against a team that wears red caps and predominantly red uniforms, keeping the blue hats in play for a handful of games each year. I was reminded of this because they're wearing them today as they wrap up their first series against the Reds, but it will likely be awhile before we see them again (at the Philles in July?) I was also reminded of this because it seems that I was only assigned "red teams" in the latest pair of group breaks at Crackin' Wax.

A 2021 Donruss break ended up being the most fruitful. Along with the numbered Yadier Molina Elite Series insert, I landed a pair of nice Adam Wainwright parallels. Panini has gone a little too wild with these in recent years. This is my first look at a "Liberty" parallel.

This is a red and white striped parallel numbered to 2021. It looks like a candy cane, of course. If there was a Donruss Holiday set, this would fit right in.

My randomly assigned red team in this break was, as it often is, the Arizona Diamondbacks. I actually can't recall if the Cardinals wear their navy blue caps when they play in Arizona as their uniforms have not been extremely consistent over the years, but I know it didn't seem too difficult to Photoshop Paul Goldschmidt into Cardinals gear when he was traded from the Snakes.

I didn't do so well on the Cardinals front in a 2021 Topps Archives break, but I did pick up a couple of interesting Reds cards. This is one of those "movie posters" inserts that tend to look better when blown up to more of a poster size.

And here we have last year's NL Rookie of the Year on the 1973 Topps design. If this looks oddly familiar to you, it's because it's also the design that Heritage is using this year. It would be an interesting project to put all of the cards on the '73 design from Archives last year side-by-side with their 2022 Topps Heritage counterparts. Does anyone have that kind of time?

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Donuts and Calling Cards

Another bundle of @flywheels group breaks features those elusive Panini donuts and some minutes to call your sweetie. 
Back in January, I requested another shipment of cards from some Affordable Group Breaks I had participated in late last year. I didn't expect this round of stuff to be so eclectic. I am often tempted by Panini Prizm's "Quick Pitch" boxes because they contain exclusive "donut" parallels. They basically have a circular background pattern and come in a variety of different colors. I think there's one per pack, but I almost never have luck with finding Cardinals in this variety. Of course, this Dylan Carlson numbered to 199 scoffs at that notion.

Speaking of shiny things with wild patterns, this Ozzie Smith Field Vision insert from Panini Mosaic is a bit of an eyesore. Unlike regular refractors, these Mosaic patterns only look good under direct light and never look anything close to normal otherwise.

Colbey breaks a lot of older boxes, which tends to keep things more on the "Affordable" side that the name suggests. Long before Panini was around to do their annual Chronicles sets, Topps had a similar notion when they put together this 2001 Topps Fusion set. It pays tribute to several of their higher end sets of the time. Like Panini, I'm not really sure what they were going for at the time, but it was a thing that existed, briefly. Basically, if you find these in a box and aren't paying close attention, you might miss that they belong to the same set.

Pacific had their own style of weirdness during the days. I don't even know what to say about this. The little Eckersley head is in a clear frame window, allowing you to see through that portion of the card. I think I've shown the backs of these before? Basically, you get a reverse-negative Eckersley head with the team logo airbrushed away so it just looks regular stupid instead of really stupid.

I don't often pick the Eagles in football breaks, but when it comes to the '90s it's really hard to resist (especially at these prices!) This is some weird football card/phone card hybrid set that actually functions (functioned?) for actual phone calls. (Unlike those fake credit cards in that 1995 Studio baseball set.) Remember phone calls?

Basically, you could take this card and use the minutes on it to call your girlfriend or boyfriend from another state that all your friends think you conveniently made up. Three dollars gets you, what, 15 minutes? I have no idea anymore. You can see that this does have an expiration date, so I am less tempted to scratch of the code and try to figure out if calling cards from the '90s still work today. On the football card side of things, this card is actually serial numbered. They printed a lot of these cards!

Action Packed was a fun time in the '90s as well. I also snagged the Eagles in an Action Packed break, and ended up with a healthy chunk of cards including Ricky Watters again (unfortunately in a 49ers jersey.)

This one is a much better looking card, and it's a Randall, of course. I need more Randalls. Give me all of them.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Variety Pack

On the latest #CrackinWaxMailDay, a few @CrackinWax box breaks add some cards to my collection and some trade bait as well. 
Since Crackin' Wax brought back their "break of the day" feature (basically smaller breaks with a daily discount), I've started picking up a few more spots here and there. Results have been mixed, of course. For this latest mail day, I cards from some random team breaks as well as one where I did get to buy my team.

First up is a couple of "silver pack" inserts from 2022 Topps that feature the much loved but overused 1987 design. At some point these shifted from being promotional packs handed out by affiliated card shops to being "box loader" packs in hobby boxes. In either case, they're kind of like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. The Luis Robert card heads to my trade box.

The prize card of the break, if not the whole mailer, is this Tyler O'Neill card from 2022 Topps Heritage.

The O'Neill card is far from ordinary. It's a "French text" variation, numbered to 73. It's quite fitting for the Canadian-born slugger. (Just don't call it O-Pee-Chee!)

I ended up with a few Heritage short prints, which must have beaten the odds. I'm not super wild about legends popping up in the regular checklist this year, but I still suppose it's a fitting tribute to the original set.

The real problem with the Tris Speaker card presents itself on the back. In the fine print, his team name is: St. Louis Cardinals(?!) Of course, Speaker never played with the Cardinals, so this mistake get this card sorted into the wrong team piles. The original 1973 Topps #476 card is a Walter Johnson All-Time Shutout Leaders card (Speaker doesn't appear in the set.) Also, note how Topps is apparently legally unable to spell out Pete Rose's full name.

These two Dodgers cards came from some kind of Bowman break. I didn't do so well in this one, but I never have a problem getting rid of Dodgers cards.

A Donruss Optic break was also not particularly fruitful, but I did end up with an insert card of this young hitting monster.

I felt compelled to jump into an NBA Hoops break even though I've opened a fair amount of it for myself. I just wanted to encourage more basketball breaking. Here we have one of the best players in the league and a dude named Bones.

Here's a couple of purple parallels. I believe these are typically found in hobby boxes, while retail has a similar blue parallel counterpart.

The new NBA Play-In tournament is currently in progress, although I'm trying to ignore it. There is a Blazers lottery pick on the line, however. (Go... Clippers? Ugh.) The Hawks are also in this Play-In thing, which is a bit of a drop-off after winning their division last season. This numbered Trae Young insert also gets added to my trade bait stuff.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Bootleggin' with Panini, Part 2

Panini's on-demand product imitates the 1990 Donruss set. 
Previously on "Bootleggin' with Panini", we saw the major card manufacturer and current NBA license holder take a crack at the 1991 Donruss design for this season's crop of rookies. I decided to buy a couple of cards from last year's set "for research purposes", and my collection as well. Last year's Rated Rookie style tribute, naturally, featured the 1990 Donruss baseball design. I think it was a bit more successful than this year's version.

On the back, you see that the print run was significantly higher than this year's (2502). Last year's crop of rookies, led by Anthony Edwards and LaMelo something-er-other had considerable more hype than this year's set, so that's not terribly surprising. Again, the horizontal Donruss stats-on-the-back look is tossed aside here for a cropped version of the front photo. These cards are a bit more substantial feeling than their 1991 counterparts, and have a completely matte finish as opposed to the bit of gloss we saw with the others.

The most jarring thing to me is that the borders are color coded based on the team. While we certainly have seen the green bordered 1990 Donruss look (see The Rookies), I have a feeling that the color coding will really look strange for players on certain teams.

I know that there was at least one more year of these "retro" Rated Rookies. Should I do some more "research"?

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

I See You on My TV Set

A #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax features an old set I'm very fond of. 
I don't normally go for group breaks where completely random teams are involved, but I have a soft spot for the old Bowman Heritage sets. (Not so much the new ones.) The old TV set design from 1955 Bowman is probably my favorite. From the very moment it was designed, it couldn't have been anything but "retro", even when television must have felt like the cutting edge of technology at the time.

I ended up getting assigned with the Mets and A's in a 2004 Bowman Heritage group break at Crackin' Wax. I think the set does a nice job at paying tribute to the original. Let's check out just a few of the cards that I was able to tick off my want list.

The set has two basic designs, depending on the league each team belongs to. The lighter colored borders, like Tom Glavine, are assigned to NL teams while Oakland's Mark Mulder gets this darker TV cabinet.

While Glavine and Mulder were among the relatively few familiar names in the bunch, Bowman has always been very rookie/prospect focused since its Topps revival. Here we get a first year card of someone named Brad Sullivan. The black & white parallels in this set feature a thicker card stock and a facsimile signature, something which appears in other Bowman Heritage sets of the era.

While it was nice to take a few more things off my want list, this Eric Chavez bat chunk card is heading to my trade box. While Eric Chavez didn't quite put together a Hall of Fame career, he is a memorable player. There are quite a few good to great players to pull bat and jersey cards from in these boxes from the 2000s, as evidenced by a 2006 Bowman Heritage box I bought a couple of years ago. It's just a shame that they're so expensive now.

Unlike the 2006 box, there weren't any significant box toppers in the 2004 product. I did request this scouting report/checklist poster (there wasn't a lot of demand for it) and Christopher was kind enough to send it my way. This includes a blurb about each prospect in the set, and a full checklist is also included on the back. If you zoom in on the upper left corner, you can see what they said about a certain Molina brother. (There's not a lot of "scouting" on these reports.) The whole thing is much larger than my scanner bed, but I'm sure you get the gist.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Opening Day is the Best Day

Baseball is back! 
I'm currently enjoying some Opening Day Cardinals action right now, so this post will be short and sweet. If you don't have any packs of cards to open today, or even if you do, you can check out a pack of Opening Day cards over here at APTBNL.

I picked up this terrific "Mirror Red" Scott Rolen parallel over at Listia, and it landed in my mailbox just in time for today's game. Rolen was one of 16 members of the Cardinals Hall of Fame to don the red jacket today and participate in the Opening Day festivities. I usually miss most of the fanfare because I'm not in the local St. Louis TV market, but MLB TV has recently started showing select pre- and post-game coverage for subscribers, which is a cool thing to have on a day like this.

As you can see on the back, the 2004 Leaf Certified Materials parallel is numbered to 100. I've been doing the Listia thing for almost ten years now, and it's proven to be a cheap and casual way to exchange cards. For the most part, I've had positive experiences, as many of the sellers and buyers of trading cards are longtime members at this point.

Here's another one that showed up today. From the Cardinals Hall of Famer (and hopefully a 2023 inductee into the main hall) to a future Hall of Famer, these two are among the best to ever man the third base position.

Enjoy the games, everyone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Contest Results and a Ginter-load

There can be only... two? And @Nachos_Grande nearly puts to bed my 2020 Allen & Ginter set.
With a wild championship game last night, March Radness has officially come to a close. For what I believe to be the first time in contest history, we had two people tie for first place. But there can only be one winner, so that's what the tiebreaker is for!

Jafronius picked Kansas to win 70-64, while ashbaugh88 predicted a 77-71 win. That means... oh crap. Both predictions were within 7 points of the actual final tally (72-69), which means we will have two winners this year for the first time ever. In third place was Josh W., while James20484 wins the worst place "prize". If your name is in bold, you are due a prize. Please contact me ASAP.

In other news, Nachos Grande dropped a truckload of Allen & Ginter base cards on my porch, which all but finished off the easy portion of the set. I'm only needing card #300 (Andres Munoz), a handful of slightly short printed cards, and assorted inserts and parallels to finish off the 2020 set. You know, no big deal. Considering I didn't even want to collect that year's edition, my want list has come a long way. It's nice to see.

I didn't want to bore you all with tons and tons of unremarkable base cards, so I picked out just a few to scan. We have a couple of TV show stars, including huge Cardinals fan and Bravo talk host Andy Cohen and that guy who passive-aggressively bickers with his wife on one of those house fixin' shows. You know the one I'm talking about.

Of course, Allen & Ginter isn't just about the non-sport subjects. We also get legends like Tony Gwynn in the '80s Padres brown gear.

Speaking of legends, it's Rickey Henderson from one of his stints with Oakland. I'm going to guess this is from his original run, based on the uniform design.

I feel like your young baseball star comes in a couple of different varieties. You have your no-nonsense ball of intensity (every team has one). Think... I don't know... early Bryce Harper. And then there's the guys who just look like they're happy to be there and are loving every minute of it. I prefer the latter kind. I think Vlad Jr. is the latter kind.

2020 was kind of a weird year for Topps rookie cards. You had some strange leftovers who starred the previous season, like 2019's AL ROY Yordan Alvarez. And then there was Gavin Lux and Luis Robert, who still had things to prove on the field. I think there was also a pile of players that were expected to debut in later series, but with the extremely short pandemic fueled season, the 2020 RC class ended up very empty in the end. I guess I don't really have a point to all of this, except that when I think of 2020 rookies I don't think of Yordan. And if I'm tasked with thinking of notable 2020 rookies, I guess there's good ol' Lou Bob and that's about it.