Archive for Topps

The err of my way: Not everything needs to be collected

Posted in Commentary, Dad Life with tags , , , on June 28, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

As I’ve grown older, I’ve done a lot of thinking — some good; some bad. But when it comes to this hobby, I’m always thinking about it: the cards, the purpose … the addiction.

It’s a tiresome exercise to be up one day and down the next on a hobby that is supposed to be nothing more than a hobby, yet has become your life.

I like to act like this is merely something I do for fun, like it’s an escape from reality. And in some ways it is. But at times I’ve got things completely backward, sometimes my life has actually become my escape from this hobby.

Too deep for a Friday? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s time for me to check myself; to again write words that I can reflect on to help remind me why I still do this. And of course as the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present.”

I have brought my son into this hobby, for better or worse. I’ll say for better — it’s helped further an amazing bond with a young man whom I see so much of myself in. But it’s that same notion that makes me reflect on it all the more — Do I want my son to be like me? Do I want his thoughts to be consumed by his hobby?

Clearly the answer to the latter is no. A resounding Fuck No!

But I’ve arrived at this conclusion today: A lot of my driving force in hobby spending lately has been to establish this unbreakable bond with my son — which I didn’t have fully with my father — so much so that I am finding myself generating reasons to buy cards so we can “experience” these things together. When really, we can experience much of the same with items we already have, or even outside this hobby.

I do not need to collect everything; and everything doesn’t to be collected.

This is a mantra I need to repeat to myself every day. Because while I have an absolute love for a product like Topps Stadium Club, and feel good about purchasing it, I often find myself manufacturing a similar sentiment to help justify purchases of other items.

My son can enjoy a pack or two of a product and walk away. He’s innocent. But I don’t need to go buy a box or multiple blasters of said product to maintain the father-son bond.

I don’t need those cards in my collection; I don’t need them for our relationship; I don’t need them to stay active in social media circles..

Simply put: I don’t need them to And believing that we do has been an error of my way.

2019 Topps Series 2 Blaster Break #1 (results)

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When it comes to Topps Series Two, I am usually not one to overly indulge. By the time this set comes out every year, the luster on the Topps base set has worn off and there are lots of products available from which we can choose, so it’s somewhat of a secondary option.

This year, the feeling is a bit different since there are key rookies in Series Two including rookie cards of Pete Alonso, Eloy Jimenez and Fernando Tatis Jr.; a short-printed Vladimir Guerrero Jr. release (technically not an official rookie card). Also, the set features new cards of two of my favorite players, Clayton Kershaw and Roger Clemens. So it seems natural for me to open at least one blaster to chase the aforementioned, as well as to casually complete the Series Two set to go along with the first series my son and I have nearly completed.

I checked a few Targets this week and managed to find blasters of Series Two at only one store, so I grabbed the first one I saw and headed to the register. Each box contained seven packs of 14 cards, and one manufactured relic card for a total of 99 cards. Here are the overall results.

The manupatch for this blaster bore one of the hottest names in the hobby, Vladimir Guerrero. However, it is of the Hall of Famer Vlad Sr., not the son, Vlad. Jr., whom hobbyists are currently swooning over.

The seven packs contained the following:

Key rookies: Pete Alonso, Eloy Jimenez and Yusei Kikuchi — which really could have been much better if Topps could have used an image from his debut during the Opening Series in Japan, but I’m sure they’re saving that for the Update Series. This photo on the Kikuchi is the same that was used on the Opening Day rookie card.

Short Print: Veteran, Dale Murphy — I dig these horizontal short prints.

Parallels: Rainbow Foil Raisel Iglesias, Gold Carlos Carrasco

Inserts: Aaron Judge Exclusive (#23); 84 All-Stars Alex Bregman and Rickey Henderson; 84 All-Stars Blue Roger Clemens; Franchise Favorites Tony Gwynn and Jose Altuve; Iconic Card Reprints: 73 Topps Carlton Fisk; 150 Great Moments Bartolo Colon.

Comments: This blaster was better than I expected as it held two of the key rookie cards in the set, a short print and a insert parallel of one of the guys I collect.

As for the base cards, I’ll be building a list of needs in the near future. I’ll be more than happy to trade most of the inserts here within for base cards that my son and I need to complete this set, or cards of Kershaw and Clemens.

The kids will get to see Kershaw pitch

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Today is a special day. Los Angeles Dodgers star pitcher Clayton Kershaw is set to take the mound tonight at Oracle Park, home of the rival San Francisco Giants, and not only will I be there to see the future Hall of Famer take the mound, but so will my kids and my nephew.

The Points are Poop gang will finally get to watch the player whose cards they see all over my home, the player whose game-used items and cards are frequently arriving by mail, and the guy whose picture I took in 2015 and had the image printed on canvas and eventually hung in my hallway.

This will be my fourth time seeing my favorite player pitch. My sister and I saw him in 2015 as he locked down the NL West title in San Francisco in what was scheduled to be a pitchers duel against Madison Bumgarner. Kershaw was masterful that night, allowing just one hit and striking out 13 batters. It was at that game I took the aforementioned photo I had printed on canvas, and it is also the game at which the image used on this 2016 Stadium Club Gold Autograph card was snapped.

I saw Kershaw again last season when the Dodgers came through Oakland; and of course My sister and I saw him at Game 5 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium when my favorite team knocked around my favorite player in order to clinch the World Series Championship.

If this was just me going, I would have ponied up for seats along the first base line, but with three kids going with me, the budget just doesn’t allow for such premium seats. Instead we’ll be taking the game in from the bleachers.

Kershaw may not be the dominant pitcher he was five years ago, and I won’t pretend that he is the best in the game — pretty sure Max Scherzer has that title at the moment — but it’s pretty special for me to bring my kids and my sister’s son to a game that features my favorite active player.

By comparison, I only saw Roger Clemens — my childhood favorite — pitch twice, once on Opening Day 1999, which his first start with New York, and again in 2007 as a member of the Houston Astros. My ex wife was with me on both occasions.

I did have loose plans to see him in 1997 when the Blue Jays came through Oakland in May of that year, but I had a medical emergency right around my birthday that prevented that from happening — I wound up watching that game from a hospital bed. And in the early to mid 1990s I really didn’t have the means to see him as the Red Sox ace, which is unfortunate.

Rare, non-serial numbered parallels get lost in the shuffle

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Commentary with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

As a player collector, it’s fun (sometimes) to chase down parallels. In most Topps brands, we can expect there to be some sort of gold parallel and then of course a refractor and variations thereof. Sometimes those cards are serial numbered to match the year, or much lower, say to 5, 10, 25, etc.

But in Stadium Club, Topps has gotten back to an early parallel called “First Day Issue” … and they’re rare, but often forgotten about because they’re not serial numbered.

Topps began releasing the First Day parallels in the early 1990s, and those parallels initially had a holographic logo emblazoned on the front of what looked like a base card. And then in the late 1990s the company moved to a a gold foil logo. The idea — at least in my mind — was to signify a certain batch of cards that were made during the first run the product and then inserted as a parallel of the base card.

In the last half decade or so, Topps brought the parallel back and made them much tougher to pull. And much like the late 1990s Topps used a foil emblem on the front to signify this parallel. Pretty cool, right? One problem: The cards are supposedly limited to like seven copies and they’re not serial numbered.

This means sellers may not know what they actually have, so they may not bother listing them, so they’re missing an opportunity to make money.

But on the flip side, player collectors tend to get them cheaper than other rare parallels solely because they’re not serial numbered.

I hope that when Topps releases Stadium Club in the upcoming months that the First Day Issue returns, and that they are rare, and I hope they begin serial numbering them … even if it means I’ll be paying more for the latest Kershaw.

2019 Finest half-box break makes a case for sticker autos

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

We all want hard-signed autos, right? Welp, here’s an argument for stickers.

I opened a half-box of 2019 Finest baseball today (6-packs in a sealed inner box) and the auto I pulled was a Justus Sheffield blue refractor, serial numbered to /150. Not a horrible auto. Just one problem: Sheffield is shown as a Yankee even though he was traded from New York to Seattle in November.

The blue refractor technology would have looked great on a Mariners auto of Sheffield, but instead I am looking at yet another auto of a player who no longer plays for New York. But we all know why this card exists … it exists in this form because Topps made the card before the trade and had Sheffield sign them instead of re-making them. (Jake Bauers is also shown on his old team on his Finest auto.)

This is why Sheffield is a Yankees on autos in Bowman as a Chrome auto, in Definitive, and in other Topps products released to date. I don’t blame Topps entirely for this; I mean we the collectors are the ones lobbying for more hard-signed autos. And in order for that to work, the company needs to produce these cards and send them to athletes way in advance to have them signed and returned before pack-out. (For the record, the Sheffield and Bauer base rookie cards do show the players on their current teams.)

Of course, this puts us consumers in an interesting spot: Would we prefer the hard-signed autos showing players on an old team, or would we want to a sticker that can be placed on an updated card of the player showing the player on the current team?

If you ask me, this could have been a good use of a sticker. But how would Topps have known that the trade was going to happen? And what would Topps do with a backstock of hard-signed autos if they did re-create the cards and had Sheffield sign a new batch?

I agree with Topps in releasing the cards; it’s what they had as of the deadline they had for the product and it’s just not a smart business move to not release (i.e. destroy) inventory that was already created. It’s really just unfortunate that it exists in this format.

Fortunately for everyone it wasn’t one of the higher-valued prospects who was in this situation.

How was the rest of the break?

Refractors: Kris Bryant, Marcus Stroman

Blue Refractor: Cody Bellinger

Prized Performer: Justin Smoak

Mariano Rivera Die-Cut MR2

Blue Chips: Miles Mikolas, Trey Mancini

Rookies: Eloy Jimenez, Cedric Mullins, Corbin Burnes, Touki Toussaint, DJ Stewart, Steven Duggar, Ryan O’Hearn, Rowdy Tellez

Base: Mookie Betts, Salvador Perez, Marcus Stroman, Paul Dejong, Jose Abreu, Willy Adames, Whit Merrifield, Josh Bell, Mitch Haniger Ozzie Albies, Ronald Guzman, Kris Bryant, Trea Turner, and Max Scherzer

Anyone have Kershaws from this set? Everything above is available.

That’s a long way to come for a card …

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

In this day and age of our hobby, there is almost nothing that isn’t available on the internet.

Rare singles, cheap wax, you name it — it’s all there at the click of a button. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth visiting local card shops.

This week my girlfriend and I traveled to Pittsburgh for a wedding. And while in the area I thought it’d be neat to visit a shop, a place that would give me a flavor of the area, as well as an opportunity to find a card for me to take home as a memento of this trip. After all, cards are the timeline of my life.

I sought out suggestions via Twitter and was immediately reminded that Steel City Collectibles is based in the area and does have a retail store. But while it would have been cool to visit the hub of one of the internet’s largest card dealers, I was short on free time, and really wasn’t seeking cheap wax.

A quick check of a Google revealed several options, which was refreshing since I often hear folks complain about the lack of shops. There were three potential options based on the time available and our location: one was a small shop nearby but based on Online reviews and images, it looked to be more focused on gaming cards — not horrible, just not what I was seeking.

The other two options were SportsCards Etc. and Sports Card Junction. I checked reviews of both and available photos and while either could have worked for me, I chose SCJ solely because I could see they had a larger selection of singles and several Dollar Boxes to soothe my itch to uncover a buried treasure — you all know how I love to unearth gems.

So we set out for the shop and upon arrival I was pleased to see that the store was indeed open for business and was as well-stocked as the photos online showed

Store owner Chuck was behind the counter engaging with another customer who appeared to me buying a Mario Lemeiux card for his son or nephew. I set my eyes on the Dollar Box and began my hunt.

It should be noted that this is the first trip to a shop or show in which my girlfriend of two years has come along. It’s a big deal — how was she going to react when she saw price tags and saw how much time I was going to spend blindly hunting for a possible gem in the stacks?

Much to my surprise she was supportive. Gave me time and space, and even began interacting with the store owner as he continued to field phone calls from a potential seller of a couple of Michael Jordan rookie cards. She made small talk with the owner and even told him we were from California, to which Chuck muttered the phrase: “That’s a long way to come for a card …”

I spent a good 30 minutes digging and came up with 11 cards from the Dollar Boxes that I felt needed to come home with me. They were as follows:

Four 2012 Topps Update All Star Mike Trouts. Why? Because it’s An early Trout.

Two 2016 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor Garret Hampson cards. Why: Because Friend Big Shep has built him up to be someone to whom I needed to pay attention

A 2017 Bowman Chrome Sean Manaea Rookie card. Why: Because I got to shake Manaea’s hand on the morning after his no hitter and my girlfriend was there to snap the picture.

A 1998 Prism Gold Wade Boggs serial numbered to 480 copies. Why: Because the card is gorgeous and will go well with the Revolution parallel my son and I pulled from a box we bought earlier this year.

A 1996-97 Flair Blue Ice Collection Keith Primeau /250. Why? Because I thought I could flip it, but in hindsight it’s also a cool card because it showcases the Hartford Whalers logo.

A 1992 Score “The Franchise” Stan Musial / Mickey Mantle / Carl Yastrzemski

Why: Because I LOVE this insert set and know how tough they were to pull at the time of release. Also, this card had a $12.99 price tag on it which made me feel as if I was getting a steal of a deal. I know the market for these is soft, but open a case of 1992 Score and tell me how many The Franchise inserts you pull.

1952 Topps Roy McMillan

Why? Because it’s 1952 Topps! Sure, this card has had its borders trimmed, it’s creased like crazy and part of the back is probably stuck to the paper album in which it had been affixed at some point. But cmon … THIS is the kind of stuff I dig for.

I could have spent hours digging; and honestly, there were other flippable cards. But I wasn’t solely there for cards on which to profit. I wanted a piece that would define this trip

I located another box on the showcase that had some cards on top loaders at varying prices. This is where I found two Clayton Kershaw cards for my collection.

2017 Topps Chrome Update Gold Refractor /50

2015 Panini Immaculate Jumbo Swatches /15

While those Kershaws would have been sufficient for my defining cards — after all I don’t own a whole lot of jumbo blue swatch Kershaw relics — I continued to look . And then my eye set site on a glorious vintage Willie Mays card that was clearly handcut, and the price tag made my mouth water. I asked Chuck if I could look at the Mays and he opened the showcase for me and handed me the card, which he did not know was a Bazooka release. I pulled the card halfway out of the Card Saver, touched the back and gave it a sniff — yep, it was authentic vintage. I mentioned that I thought the card was a Bazooka release, and as Chuck rang me up, he again asked what I had identified the card as so he could mark it down on his sales sheet.

I thanked Chuck for the hospitality — he threw in a few freebie packs from Topps and Panini and cut me a small discount on the purchase — and shook his hand and left the shop really feeling good about the decision to go there.

In the hours and days after the purchase, I showed a few items off via social media and even tagged the shop and had a little pleasant interaction with Chad, the son of the owner and also the person who does the buying — I know this based on the multiple calls Chuck fielded while I was browsing.

If you find yourself in the Pittsburgh area, make sure to swing by SCJ as you’ll probably find something that suits your needs. It was a long way to come for a card, but now that Mays card will act as the card to define this trip.

Thanks again, Chuck and Chad.

In Memoriam: Bill Buckner (Dec. 14, 1949 – May 27, 2019)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , on May 27, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

1970 Topps Rookie Card