Friday, February 6, 2015

Topps 2015 - First pack open! (And some faces!)

I read a post yesterday - a Topps 2015 post - mentioning the significance (or lack thereof) for "first cards of the year."  For whatever reason, these always are a big deal to me - whoever I see first essentially opens the baseball season for me, and I like to spend a little extra time exploring that player.  So, without delay, here is 2015's first card:

By the way, I'm not going to "review" the cards yet - and I'm sure others will.  What I will say is that the cards look better in my hand then they do on the scan - does anyone out there agree with that?  I feel like the team color effect is pretty cool - yet on the scan, they look like some early 90's set.  You guys probably know (and can recite) which set better than me.  (Maybe late 90's?)

Anyway, back to first cards, this year it's Phil Hughes.  Doesn't he kind of look like Mike Pelfrey here?  As a New York area fan, there are certainly some parallels there.  A lot of potential, some flashes of greatness, but then eventually just moving on.  And both to the Twins, as well.  For Hughes, though, it was an excellent 2014, proving to be (at least initially) worth the money that New York sports radio laughed at him for getting (and which certainly looks like a bargain, now!).

Pelfrey's first year in Minnesota (5-13, 5.19) could not have been more different.

One additional note:  check out his face.  More on that soon.

WAR!  But no BABIP?  Maybe next year, Topps...  (and what about FRAA???)

Ah, back to the faces.  My daughters (3 and 1) were trying to mimic the Garza face before bedtime last night.  My wife was impressed.  Is this a theme this year?  The Garza is definitely the best, but Hughes and Flowers are noteworthy, as well.

I like team cards.  I especially like team cards with an interesting picture.  I wish the freaking Royals would have won that Series though!
Did anyone else hate how widely criticized Ned Yost was by the stat people?  I think it made me appreciate the Royals run even more - and root even harder for them.  Widely considered "one of the worst tactical managers in the game," Yost DOES show the ability to attempt to read the game, and a willingness to take risks to give his team an edge.  Advanced metrics people will scoff at percentages of success, but this game is not ALL numbers, is it?

And now, an insert.  It's Fernando!  And add his face to the intriguing ones in the pack.  I said this wasn't a card review post, but I do want to say that this isn't the most aesthetically pleasing card I've ever seen.

I was just old enough in '81 to remember Fernando-mania, though not quite old enough to fully appreciate it.  I like the story on the card back - gives a nice historical framework to the set.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

First ripped pack of 2015 - and it's... soccer!


Well, if you are a soccer fan, then you know that the first card I saw when I opened my first pack was a pretty darn good one!

And even if you are not a big fan, you might have noticed that Graham Zusi was one of the four "cover boys" that graced the outside of my hobby box.  A pretty cool start for me - usually my first card is Mark Reynolds...

Zusi is one of America's stronger players.  He made the World Cup team this past summer, and has been a star at Sporting Kansas City in the MLS. Zusi had 2 assists in the World Cup, but perhaps is most famous for a seemingly meaningless goal he scored in America's final World Cup qualifying match.  USA had already clinched its trip to Brazil in the previous game, but Zusi's goal in the final moments earned a 2-2 tie with Panama; his goal effectively knocked Panama out, and allowed Mexico to advance to the World Cup! 

Here is the back of his card:

Soccer is not really a "stat" sport, so baseball card fans may struggle with this look.  Also, why no career stats?  Odd, to me.

The rest of my pack seemed to be on Fire:

Yes, I went for the terrible pun.  But look at this!

That's my first relic - and my third Fire. (Flame? Damn these singular team names!)

I'd like to close my post with my favorite face of the pack:

When you add in the flowing locks, that's a big winner.  Thank YOU, Juan Toja!

Monday, February 2, 2015


Well, I have proven to be a most inconsistent blogger.

Actually, looking back at my past activity, that's not totally true.  It actually seems that I consistently return in late January and early February to start to wish away the end of winter by grabbing some packs of baseball cards.  Trying - I guess - to will "pitchers and catchers" into view.

Last year I tried to go with a more fiscally responsible route, purchasing a complete master set of Topps baseball.  I definitely missed the fun of ripping packs, though - and as a result, didn't post a single blog entry.

This year I aim to be different.

And my first post will mark a truly different slant to this blog - a whole new sport!

I have grown into a huge fan of NBC (and NBCSN) coverage of Premiere League soccer - never before have so many games been available - in Hi-Def - and with outstanding production and support.  As a result, I've probably watched more BPL soccer in the last two years than any other time of my life.  And this interest has bled into our local league as well, as I've tried to follow the NY/NJ Red Bulls towards a first league championship (and since I root for the Jets, Mets, Knicks and Rangers, you can pretty much bet that I am dooming this team to failure).

Of course, the quality of play in MLS is nowhere close - it perhaps is the equivalent of watching a lot of AA baseball.  But then again, I used to split a season ticket to the Trenton Thunder, so why not support this growing American soccer league?

And this brings us all the way back around to this post.  Although my collecting preferences certainly focus on baseball, I decided to kick off (haha, see what I did there?!) my 2015 card season with a relatively cheap pickup from DAC Card World - they were offering clearance prices on boxes from the 2013 and the 2014 season.

I'll post some of the results, and I hope I don't bore you too much with them.  Maybe you'll like some of what I find - and maybe I'll return to baseball with a fresh new approach.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Topps 2013 - Breaking down two jumbos

My third pack of jumbo proved to be the charm - the pack that got me truly excited about the set - and all it took was a few cool Mets' cards.  As I had mentioned earlier, the insert sets (which often seem to me just a bit overwhelming) this year are varied and individually appealing.  By comparison, I had a gold headache pretty quickly last year.

First up are my favorites - and from what I've been reading in other blogs - are probably yours, too.  Talking to my LCS dealer today, he pointed out that Topps used the same colors from the team's cards in '72, so he liked that touch.  I guess that doesn't really apply to the Bauer card, huh?  I loved the '87 mini's last year, because they reminded me of the time when I had really started collecting.  He said the same about '72 - and although I don't have any personal connection to that year's set, it's such a striking design that I'm quickly intrigued by it.

If you are not a Met fan, you probably don't realize that the greatest moment of the 2012 season perhaps became the worst moment of the 2012 season.  Santana's no-hitter marked the culmination of 50 years of great pitchers who never managed to master the no-no.  Santana's effort that night, 130+ pitches, provided the season highlight - but then he never quite recovered; nor did the pitching staff which eventually had to deal with his (and Dillon Gee's) absence.  That said, Santana's no-no was as exciting a baseball moment as my team has had in a long while - and this card reminds me of that amazin' night.

I continue to be a fan of these - especially the hovering logo lurking in the background.

Is this Bob Gibson card a relic?  I only ask because it is very, very thick.  It kinda reminds me of the framed paper cards that you got in a blaster of Gypsy Queen last year.  My black parallel is Eric Chavez.  Eh, kinda boring.

Two great hitters of the baseball appeared for my green shinies.

Further evidence of why I loved these packs - another Met, and a great card to see him featured on.  While Santana gave us the one amazin' night in 2012, Dickey gave Mets fans a great reason to keep watching, even as the season went down in flames.  I was so happy to see him get that 20th win at the end of the season - and if you've read his book (as I did last Spring), you'd root for him even harder.  Winning the Cy Young was another great individual moment for both him and the team's fans.  The card itself is well-designed, and it's another nod towards Gypsy Queen in my mind.  Oh, and Teixeira.  Yawn.

Why am I scanning these?  I popped over to ebay and saw someone selling a lot of 240 of them.  I am curious what the bloggers think about this year's code contest.  I haven't formed an opinion yet, as I'm still thinking about the Mets season.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Topps Collation Catastrophe?

I am not someone who complains about Topps.  If you look at my past posts, I am not exactly a fanboy, but I'm also not that far from it.  I pretty much only collect Topps, and I enjoy - for the most part - every set they put out.  I like finding little things that I like about a set, and spend little time worrying about what I don't like.  Last year, I didn't love all the gold insert sets, so I didn't go crazy chasing them down - that's it.

So now it's 2013, and I'm liking (perhaps not loving, but that's okay) the new flagship offering.  I don't like the base design as much as the last three years, but I know that's a matter of taste and preference, so I'm not terribly disappointed.  And actually, I enjoy the insert sets much better this year, and may work a little harder to track some down.

Now to the point of this post... I ordered a Jumbo box this year, figuring I'll nail my base set, and grab a good number of inserts (and hits) to decide what I like.

Here's what happened, and bear with me while I share a lot of numbers... I opened my first jumbo pack, and  here are my 43 base card numbers:  1 3 5 11 17 33 36 39 42 50 55 57 61 65 76 80 93 94 106 115 123 126 140 142 169171 173 175 182 189 193 209 216 220 238 254 274 297 298 300 313 316 322.

A day later, I opened my second pack, and after looking at the second card, I realized something was very familiar - the same cards, in the same order.  Here's what I got: 1 3 5 11 33 36 39 42 50 55 57 61 65 76 80 93 94 95 106 113 115 123 140 145 169 171 173 175 189 193 209 216 220 224 238 254 297 298 300 313 316 318 322.

Now, I'm not a kid.  But I was still terribly disappointed!  In the each of the two packs, there were just FIVE unrepeated cards, and THIRTY-EIGHT cards that  were duplicates.  I guess I assume it will all even out at the end, and when I finish the jumbo box, I'll have my set - but still, doesn't this just LOOK bad?!?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Topps 2013 - Opening Day in January

One of my favorite things about the hobby is that on a cold, windy January day, I can get home and get the same "opening day" feeling that I will get in April - and months before a meaningful pitch is actually thrown.  I know that many have posted Topps 2013 impressions already, but I managed to resist the urge to pick up a blaster early, and waited instead for my Jumbo box to arrive.  And the first card of 2013 that I peeked upon was Tim Hudson, a man about to win his 200th game this season - a number to "chase" since 300 doesn't really seem very possible anymore!

My lone Met in the 50-card jumbo pack featured a very cool photo - even if I half-believe that Murphy probably wound up throwing this ball into the dugout.  Murphy played an adequate second base for the team this season, but unless he turns into the .320 hitter with 40 doubles that his best streaks suggest, he may not be long for the team.

I'd say I moderately like the "Chasing the Dream" insert set.  Design is better than average, and I like the oversized team logo in the background.  I'll probably feel more strongly after I see more of the subjects, but for now, I appreciate the variety of the inserts as opposed to last year's clubbing-over-the-head with gold.

These are probably my two favorite "special cards" - a green shiny Howard and the Chasing History Koufax.  The Koufax card has a nice shine to it, and the team logo really pops in that black box.  The green shiny is a nice twist on the shiny theme - still not as nice as those diamond shinies from a few years ago, but they still look good - maybe a bit better than last year's gold.

I was a little disappointed that my auto is one that I have to send in for - just a bit annoying.  And I don't really know about the Alonso card - would have rather had more of a name player.  I do love the retro mini, though, and I'm pretty sure I will complete that set.  Last year I made sure I chased down the '87 minis (though I still haven't finished the Update Series additions - my "dealer" at the card show missed the last few shows, so I may have to find a new strategy) - and I'm planning to do the same this year.

My other cards included a gold Jim Johnson (0454/2013) and a "Million Dollar Chase" Card.

In closing, I liked this Jumbo pack, but didn't really love it - and as a Mets fan, I didn't really get much of a team payoff... but I do have nine packs to go!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I am selling 33 unused Golden Giveaway codes on EBAY

Hello, all!

In a last-ditch attempt to raise funds to defray the cost of some Topps 2013, I have listed 33 unused codes for the Topps Golden Giveaway on ebay.

I have not sold cards (or codes) on ebay before, so this was not really that well thought-out...  I probably should have done it a week (or longer) ago.

But with the code cards expiring on 2-1-13, I figured I'd announce it here, as well.

I started the price at $9.99, with a buy-it-now option at $25.

If that is appealing to you, or anyone you know MAY be interested in this, please pass on the info as soon as you can!

Here's the listing, if interested: