Archive for Topps Now

Collecting Kershaw: The first pitch from a historic start – The Winningest Left-Handed Pitcher in MLB History

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Game-Used Items with tags , , , , , , on September 5, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

The mailman this week brought me two amazing baseballs, one of which will be the subject of this post; the other will come soon.

While Hit By Pitch balls are my niche in game-used baseballs, I also dabble in Clayton Kershaw items. I was able to acquire a ball from the Giants this week that has some historical significance.

Kershaw is at the stage of his career where he is passing folks on various statistical charts, and on 8/27/2020 he won his 173rd career game by defeating the Giants. The win made him the winningest left-handed pitcher in MLB history. It’s sort of a convoluted stat as it’s percentage driven and the number changes, but it is history.

Anyway, the ball that arrived today is the first ball Kershaw used that day against the Giants. The ball was used for warm up pitches and then for eight pitches spanning three batters.

Giants lead off hitter Mike Yastrzemski saw three pitches, the third of which he rapped into center field for a single – his 136th career hit. The ball was fielded by Cody Bellinger and thrown back to the infield where it was tossed to Kershaw for the next hitter.

Wilmer Flores saw two pitches from Kershaw, the second of which he blasted to right-center causing Bellinger to chase it down near the warning track, a play that was replayed on television with high praise.

Evan Longoria, a fellow 2006 draft pick, saw three pitches from this ball including a classic Kershaw knee-buckling bender that was on the inside corner but called a ball. On the third pitch, Longoria fouled the ball off the chalk of the batters box and the ball was removed from play, ending it’s lifespan.

I’m always a tad skeptical when I see balls that are authenticated as used for various batters, especially when they are out into play. So when I opened the package today and saw that this ball is hammered, it made me smile as again the Giants Authentics department left me with zero doubt as to the authentication.

I also ordered the associated Topps Now card pictured below.

Machado Topps Now Relic draws ire … but why are we so angry?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 23, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Sometime yesterday afternoon I received a text message from a hobby friend advising me that the Topps Now program was preparing to release that afternoon Topps Now relics containing swatches of the table cloth used during the Manny Machado contract signing press conference held Friday.

I admit: My first reaction was not positive.

In fact, it went a little something like this:

That’s dumb … That won’t sell out.

I didn’t go too much further than that. Afterall, I was busy at work. Then I started seeing the negative reaction from the Twitterverse, which of course does NOT represent everyone in the hobby, and people seemed legitimately angry.

And so I thought some more about my initial reaction, about why I also disliked the idea. And then the more I thought about it, the more I found myself not really understanding my anger.

The whole point of Topps Now is to document things through the year. And this year the market had/has two major free agents in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Machado signs a 10-year, 300-million contract and Topps decides to document the moment with Now base cards, and then the special relics, which include a piece of the cloth on the table during the press conference.

Why is that bad?

Did Topps FORCE anyone to buy them? No. In fact, they priced the relics cheap enough that they were way less than any other relics offered through the program. If you ever wanted to own anything through the program, this is a fair shot at doing it.

What Topps did by creating these relics is made them available to anyone who wanted them; who wanted a part of the action, which is not really unlike any of us who collect random swatches of players not used during any specific year, season of event.

So, why the hate?

Well, I think there are three reasons why:

  1. People like to complain, especially when it involves Topps doing something they are not used to. Topps is the exclusive licensed manufacturer of MLB cards so the company draws a lot of criticism regardless of what it does or does not do.
  2. It’s Manny Machado, a player with tremendous talent but was the easy target to pick on for his antics during the Post Season. The once hobby darling definitely has lost a lot of love.
  3. It’s the Padres. The team does not have a major fan base, so even though Topps did something to finally cater to the fans of the team in San Diego, it draws the ire of non-Padres fans because it’s seen as a gimmick.

So, while I admit again that my initial reaction was not positive, I will say I am changing my tone. I do understand why this Machado Topps Now relic exists and I am not going to hate on it going forward, or any other effort that Topps does to legitimately get us closer.

I am curious what the reaction would have been if this happened last year when the Angels signed Shohei Ohtani, or what it might be in a few years when Mike Trout is set to hit the market.

The Machado relic clearly is not for everyone, which is fine. But why must we hate on Topps for trying something different?

I leave you with this thought: We get so bent out of shape about this Machado relic, yet we have a large portion of the hobby still clamoring over relic cards containing pieces of jerseys worn by rookies during a photo shoot. And the market somehow allows for these relic cards — often not really featuring anything more than the aforementioned Machado — to sell for hundreds of dollars. Does that make a lot of sense? Nope.

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.

2019 Topps release and the World Series relics

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Today sparks the beginning of the new card collecting year as 2019 Topps is released in most hobby shops and online. And like every year for the last 10-plus years the set will feature an insert set honoring the World Series champions complete with relics and autographs

There should be some excitement for Boston Red Sox fans as once again they have championship cards to collect. But in some ways, the relics in the new Topps release feel second-rate based on what was offered months ago directly from Topps.

The reason I say this is because while the 2019 cards themselves commemorate the champions, the relics within the cards are not from the World Series. Hell, they even say as such on the front of the card.

Now, this is NOT breaking news. Over the last decade, Topps has refrained from identifying the year in which the items was used, and sometimes even don’t identify the fabric embedded in the card. And my point of this post is not to complain, or to poke fun at Topps. Rather, this post is to highlight the greatness of the Topps Now program.

Because if you as a Red Sox collector wanted a legitimate piece of the World Series, there were pieces available directly from Topps a day after the Red Sox claimed the title at Dodger Stadium. Topps made available a team celebration card that featured a small chunk of a base from Game 5. It was limited, but it does in fact feature a piece of baseball history.

The 2019 Topps World Series champions cards do indeed look nice, and I’ll reiterate that this post is not to disparage them. Heck, if I can get a few of them at a decent price at some point I will probably pounce on them. But for me, the smarter money was spent in October after the title when I secured my piece of the game. And to my surprise, the card arrived in relatively quick fashion.

My specific card is the Purple version, serial numbered 10/25. It features a white base swatch bearing hologram number JC698628  the authentication certificate via MLB then refers to the original hologram for the entire base
JC334202 which indicates the base used in this relic card was second base used during innings 5 through 7 of Game Five of the 2018 World Series, which means the base was actually stepped on by League MVP Mookie Betts and JD Martinez, who both homered in that game, in innings 6 and 7, respectively.

Of course, this relic from Topps Now is a bit more special to me than most. I managed to attend Game Five and see my favorite team of more than three decades hoist the World Series Championship Trophy before my very eyes.