Archive for Mike Trout

The Waiting Game has made me come full circle on Project 2020

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Just a few months ago I sat in front of my computer going on and on about how great Project 2020 was. It really was a joy to wake up each morning wondering which two cards we would see released through the Topps web site.

I admittedly entered the series not completely understanding it, but luckily I joined early and picked up the iconic — for this series — Mike Trout by Ermsy and the Ken Griffey Jr. by King Saladeen direct from Topps. Every day afterward was like an art appreciation class — I got to tap into my senses and determine if a certain card “moved me.”

Then the hype train came and I began looking at things slightly differently. Instead of looking at things with my art appreciation goggles on, I began to look at them as a bit of a FOMO situation — a fear that if I did not grab anything that remotely pleased me, then I might have to chase it later at a much higher price. This is not to say I do not enjoy the cards I have purchased, rather this is admission that I bought many more cards than I really should have.

For a few weeks we know how hot that series was. Trout by Ermsy reaching $3,000 and Griffey by Saladeen eclipsed the $2,000 mark, and many more — including many that I own — continued to fetch nonsensical coin. It was literally like Topps was printing gold and consumers were lining up each day to grab some at pennies on the dollar. Many went head over heels and bought multiple copies every day hoping to see continued huge cash returns; personally I stuck to one copy for most cards unless I saw there was an opportunity to gift a few to friends and/or family.

So when the bubble burst with the Keith Shore Griffey, I didn’t worry too much. I was still into the cards for my personal collection. However, what happened right about that time was Topps had to adjust its shipping dates due to increased demands, and the Shore Griffey (and Joshua Vides Nolan Ryan cards also released that day) completely overwhelmed the system. Shipping had already been behind due to the COVID-19 issues impacting manufacturing and shipping — and I was OK with that; I preached and continue to speak of patience — but the newer delayed times really started to hit home several weeks later as I continued to make purchases and the delivery envelopes stopped arriving. And even though I knew a delay was coming, it was hard to rationalize spending the money each day when the reward (delivery of a physical card) was still a long ways away.

To some degree I say the delivery delays have hampered my enjoyment, but I should clarify that this doesn’t mean I don’t still like the cards or the project as a whole. In fact, what the delays have done is really make me more critical of my purchases — which to some extent is a blessing in disguise.

When you jump into a collecting project — whether it be Project 2020, or decision to PC a player, team or a certain card — there can be a tendency to be blinded and stubborn. And for some of us, this could mean forcing an issue — do you really need all of the cards, or are you OK with just owning the ones you really like? It’s a personal question with no right or wrong answer.

At this point, I’m still buying Project 2020 — even though I’ve got like 50 cards that have yet to be delivered. I’m still a fan of much of the artwork, and I absolutely feel the need to buy every version of certain players or every release by a certain artists. However, I also find myself operating from a slightly different point of view, which is a bit more in line with my original perspective: Buy the ones I actually like, not the ones that I sort of like and fear I might have to pay more for later if I change my mind.

Topps Project 2020: The product I never thought I’d chase

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

I’m not going to pretend that I am an art expert. Hell, I passed my Art History class in college 16 years ago by showing up exactly five times — which is to say I was there for the first and last days of instruction, for the mid term and final exam, as well as a spot in between to turn in a term paper. Not that I am proud of it, but that is solid C work.

So yeah, art and I have a history … but I don’t have in my brain the history of art, ya dig?

That said, you don’t need to have a degree, special training or any other skill to be able to tell when you like (or dislike) a certain piece. When you look at a design, a drawing, painting, photo, or other type of creation does it make you think or feel a certain way? Do you like it, do you not, do you not care?

Art is subjective. There’s no right or wrong way to create, or appreciate. I don’t always seek out art, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate talents that I do not possess.

When Topps launched the Project 2020 line a few weeks ago, I admittedly did not do a lot of research. Hell, I had no intention to buy anything. The first wave came and went and I thought nothing of it. The second wave brought a controversial version of Mike Trout’s 2011 Topps Update rookie card as re-imaged by Ermsy. It appealed to be on some level — I enjoyed the odd comic-style and the color scheme — so I mulled it over and then pulled the trigger the next day when King Saladeen’s take on Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1989 Topps Update was released. That Saladeen hooked me immediately; and to this point his art in this series has become ones that I will absolutely buy, regardless of who is being depicted.

I suppose it was at that point the Project 2020 release became must-see morning viewing for me. It’s not that I had this idea of collecting every card, but it was really a test for my senses. Would there be a piece today that would evoke an emotional response from me? Seeing as how I own(ed) the original copy of almost every card used as inspiration in the series, I wanted to know how each artist was going to interpret the card/image and present a new version to the world.

I had no clue how the secondary market would take to this, and honestly I didn’t care. This wasn’t a money-making venture on my part; this was a if-it-makes-you-happy-then-acquire-it type of situation. And at the price point of $19.99 in this time in history, there was a direct correlation between blaster money turning into a limited edition personal collection addition.

And now as the weekdays pass I check out the Topps.com site each morning with high anticipation to see if the mood strikes me; will there be a design that speaks to me, or not?

As it turns out, I’ve found myself being infatuated by everything King Saladeen has done in this series. For one reason or another, I’ve decided that I will own a copy of each of his pieces. And I’ve also taken a liking to Blake Jamieson, Mister Cartoon, Ben Baller and Matt Taylor — although I probably won’t buy them all. Those are the five artists to whom I have gravitated, but that’s not to say the others aren’t good in their own way.

I try to refrain from saying certain piece aren’t good. Few things bug me more than when someone just says “the piece sucks.” They may not evoke emotion for me or you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good to someone else. It merely means that the piece isn’t for us.

The one artist in this project whom I think got a raw deal early on was Joshua Vides, whose first piece was not explained and merely looked as though he took a black marker to hard edges and added a few scribbles. I know I mocked it early on, and as it turns out, it was indeed more than what was shown and I was wrong. His pieces are textured, and that is not just black marker on a copy of the card, it’s akin to puffy paint on a plastic coating over the top. I wish I knew this before hand because that, to me, changes how I can appreciate his work. If I had known that before hand, I would have purchased his first piece, the Rickey Henderson, and others might have as well.

At this point more than 60 cards into the set and I’ve got six in hand, two in the mail, and another 8 or 10 that should be shipped soon. This is not something I imagined I was going to embrace in the way that I have, but it’s certainly given me something to enjoy each weekday in a time where we are seeing almost no new card releases due to the ongoing issues regarding Covid-19.

It’s worth nothing that the sales figures for everything in this project are starting to increase as the project gains more attention. That Ermsy version of Mike Trout as mentioned above eclipsed the $500 mark earlier this week — which is a hell of a return on the $19.99 investment — so its hard to not let some resell talk enter your stream of consciousness.

Finally, I will say this: If you like these cards I recommend you BUY THEM DIRECT FROM TOPPS. Look, I enjoy saving a few bucks here and there — and that is possible if you buy them from a bulk re-seller on the secondary market. (Hint: They’re buying in bulk at like $15 each and reselling for $18, which is good money when doing bulk sales.) But when you buy direct from Topps you are giving yourself a chance — a chance! — at receiving a special 1/1 version, which can be re-sold for thousands of dollars. When you buy on the secondary market, you’re saving about $5 in some cases, but you also give yourself no chance at that receiving the lottery ticket. Additionally, buying on secondary market will certainly add an extra few days to your delivery time as your seller is essentially a middleman. If neither of these latter points bother you, then by all means do your thing and support the resellers and save a few bucks on a piece you’ll enjoy. Its a personal preference, just like art.

The Title Defense Starts Today (Opening Day)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Chris Sale peered in at the catcher, gripping the baseball within his glove. He agreed to the pitch selection and began his windup.

The weight transfer. The release. The swing and miss by Manny Machado.

The Boston Red Sox were again the World Series Champions.

I remember the scene clear as day as I viewed it from the auxiliary press box at Dodger Stadium that night, five months ago today.

I had tears in my eyes. I had witnessed something that few have been able to lay claim — watching their favorite team clinch their sports title.

The memories will last a lifetime. That title will forever be linked to that team.

But today starts a new. A new journey for the Red Sox as the team begins its title defense. And for every other team, today also marks the beginning of their quest to unseat the champions to earn the right to start next year at the top of the hill.

Opening Day is upon us. So full of hope and joy. This day is indeed a holiday for some of us. As a kid as would favor illness so that so could stay home and watch the Triple Header on ESPN. As an adult I have selected vacation day(s) based on the seasons first pitch. And for more than a decade I have celebrated this day with packs of baseball cards.

This morning I began this years ritual with my kids as they each opened two packs of Topps Opening Day. And this afternoon I will carry on that tradition with my girlfriend, with whom I will be attending Opening Day festivities in Oakland — this will be our second straight Opener together.

I would have preferred to be in Seattle today to see the Red Sox kick off their title defense against the Mariners, but I have to say being able to see generational player Mike Trout kick off the next chapter of his career after signing the largest contract in the game’s history isn’t a bad consolation.

This will be my third straight year seeing Trout and the Angels open their season against Oakland. And I know that while I understand how lucky this opportunity is, it has not fully sunken in yet how special it has been to see Trout in his prime on Opening Day given that I do not live in the Angels geographic market.

Additionally, it’s also special to be able to see the budding Athletics, especially star third baseman Matt Chapman, whose defense is second to none, something I appreciate since his position is my favorite on the diamond, and slugger Khris Davis who has hit a home run on each of the last two Opening Day games on Oakland.

Writing these words now is getting me pumped up. I can’t wait for the pageantry to begin in less than two hours.

Baseball is back.

Play freakin’ Ball!

MLB’s soft season opener means another year of tradition

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

The 2019 Major League Baseball season kicked off early this morning With the Oakland Athletics facing the Seattle Mariners in the first of a two-game Opening Series showdown in Japan.

It’s essentially MLB’s soft Opening Day. The League-wide official Opening Day comes March 28.

Tradition in my household includes opening packs of cards on Opening Day. Seeing as how the first games were played today, I had to keep up the tradition and as luck would have it, Target received its allotment of 2019 Topps Opening Day Mega Boxes, which is one of a few new ways Opening Day is being presented to collectors.

Thankfully I remembered that I had a coupon in my wallet for $1 off — there were coupons on select Series One blasters — so it made this purchase even better.

For $14.99 you get 16 basic Opening Day packs and one pack of seven exclusive red foil parallels.

The Reds are actually quite nice; sadly I didn’t get the Clayton Kershaw I needed for my collection.

The standard packs appear to have the same odds as single retail packs.

My box started off strong in Pack Two as it contained two timely names: Mike Trout and Alex Bergman, both of whom signed extensions yesterday, as well as this sweet Andrew Benintendi Card.

This pack was followed up by one that contained the rookie of card Seattle Mariners pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, who coincidentally will start Game Two against Oakland before the two teams head back to the United States to continue and complete the exhibition season before the official Opening Day.

This Mega Box contained two blue foil parallels, which are seeded 1:13 packs, so I managed to beat the odds there.

Also two Team Traditions and Celebrations (1:10 packs) and two Opening Day cards, seeded 1:7 packs — the Royals one is neat since it has a Salvador Perez cameo on the big board.

I also received the allotted four Mascot cards (1:4 packs) including the unnamed Baltimore Orioles mascot, and one of Mariner Moose, who looks like he is flipping people off.

And the standard 8 150 Years of Fun cards, seeded 1:2 packs. There was the Trout shown above as the following seven.

This was a fun, cheap way to celebrate the soft opening of the season. I’ll have to find something else to open next week before I head to Oakland to watch the A’s take on the Angels and the sports richest player Mike Trout on the real Opening Day.

The annual free Topps Now Mike Trout has arrived

Posted in Misc. with tags , , on February 22, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I was at work earlier today when I started seeing other collectors receive a surprise in the mail today from Topps.

Needless to say my surprise arrived today as well as they are sent to customers of the service from the prior season. Here is the 2019 Topps Now Card from Topps advertising the new season of “Now” cards.

I’m pretty happy to see the holographic Topps logo on the freebie card. If memory serves me right, the logo wasn’t on last year’s. Of course I could be wrong.