Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Quick & Dirty 2018 Topps Review

After a long day at work, I had to stop by Target for a few things on the way home, and they had some 2018 Topps baseball in stock.  It's been many months since I made a retail purchase so I decided to treat myself.  Picked up two of these 36-card hanger packs for $5.99 each, one to open tonight and one to sit on my pack shelf until a rainy day.

I'm not going to show all 36 cards, I'm sure you'll see them countless times on other blogs, but here are some highlights at least...

My first card out of the pack was a decent one for me, as I've always been an Ichiro fan.

Here's a look at the back, the color along the top changes depending on the team which I like.  Unfortunately, while this card would have been one of the only keepers out of the pack for my collection, it's got a small bend along the bottom edge.

My thoughts on the design?  Well, I guess I'm one of those in the camp of "Topps flagship sets should have borders".  I will say that I like it more than the past two seasons, though that's not much of a compliment.

Honestly, I have no intention of completing the set, but really just wanted to see a small sampling in hand.  $5.99 for a 36-card hanger pack like this isn't a terrible deal, breaking down to less than 17 cents per card.

The photos in my first pack here weren't earth-shattering, but there were at least some interesting shots that you don't see every day.  The Starlin Castro 'tip o' the cap' card above, and Cameron Rupp here blowing a bubble, are good examples of that.

But the best photograph in my pack goes to Billy Hamilton, who's had some really great cards the past few seasons (I saw his 2017 Stadium Club card atop more than one blogger's top cards of 2017 countdown).

I got a whole lot of rookies for NL teams that I just plain didn't recognize at all.  Here's one of a player I am familiar with though, as I remember a fairly big deal being made about Clint Frazier upon his call-up last season.  He got card #7 in the set, I assume as a nod to Mickey Mantle?

The logo used for the Future Stars designation is a bit odd this year, not sure how well it works.

I did get a few interesting horizontally-oriented cards as well.

Not really sure what else to say I guess.  I'm just at a point in my collecting life where I don't get all that excited about the prospect of a new flagship Topps set every year.  It's not you Topps, it's me.

Based on my small sample size here, I do feel like this would be an enjoyable set to collect for those folks who still enjoy collating this release every year as a tradition or collecting rite of passage.

That's about all I've got time for in terms of noteworthy base cards.  I did get three inserts.  Traditionally, Topps inserts are pretty boring to me overall, did 2018 fare any better?

Eh, looks like more of the same with this one.

These 35th Anniversary 1983 inserts are well done.  I'm not one who creates customs or gets into analyzing fonts or anything like that, but overall they look convincing to me (including the backs).  Still, I won't be hanging onto this card, just not a fit for me.

Here's the last one, yuck.

Well, there you have it.  Glad I only grabbed two packs, and won't be buying anymore.  Like I said though, that's as much because of where I'm at with collecting these days as it is a reflection on the product itself.  As I read others' opinions of the set in the coming days I expect to hear a lot of folks who'll say this is an improvement over the past couple of releases, and I agree.

Oh yeah, and out of 36 cards I received exactly zero Boston Red Sox.  Oh well...anyone know if there are buybacks this year?  Have you picked any of this up?  If so, would be interesting in hearing your opinion in the comments!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

One Card Post - Mistaken Identity

What:  1971-72 O-Pee-Chee #44 - Bob Nevin
Where: eBay
How Much?:  $1.00 (free combined shipping)

Why?:  This one came with the Parkhurst Ed Sandford I showed some time back, the seller offered free shipping for any other cards tacked on to the order.  I honestly bought this one because it was in basically mint shape, and because I needed it for my '71-72 Topps set.  The thing is...

...I didn't pay attention and it's an O-Pee-Chee card.  I'm still satisfied with my dollar spent however, as it's my very first '71-72 OPC.  I had no idea they had completely different backs than their Topps counterparts that year (with cartoons!).  Worth a buck to discover that fact alone...

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: The March to 1,000

Another day, another ten buybacks evaluated for my franken-set project.  I'm not feeling particularly wordy so tonight's post will be somewhat abbreviated comment-wise...

1963 Topps #32 - Tony Gonzalez

We start off with what's probably the best buyback in the post, and one of the older buybacks I've picked up to date from the 2017 "Rediscover Topps" promotion.  Tony Gonzalez was a solid-hitting center fielder for the Phillies in the '60s too.  Funny how the Rediscover Topps foil looks like it's kind of falling into Tony's glove in the inset photo there.

Interestingly, I have another Philadelphia outfielder already in slot 32 of the binder, and a guy who at times patrolled with Tony Gonzalez.

I've got plenty of '66 buybacks in the binder though, and I just like the Gonzalez card better.

1990 Topps #498 - Rick Schu

Don't have a whole lot to say about part-time third baseman Rick Schu.  I appreciate any and all 1990 Topps buybacks though.

In this case I already had a #498 buyback in the franken-set binder...

...allowing me to slide Rick into the separate 1990 Topps buyback binder.  One card closer to a project I'm not even sure it's possible to complete.

1984 Topps #776 - Craig Reynolds

Next up we have longtime Astros infielder Craig Reynolds.  Reynolds was an All-Star for a couple of consecutive seasons in the late '70s.  This one's a win as far as I'm concerned though, as #776 is a nice new high number for the binder.  Sweet!

1989 Topps #86 - Al Nipper

Here's Cubs hurler Al Nipper's 1989 Topps release.  Chicago actually released Nipper just before the start of the '89 season, and he didn't play at all that year.  Kinda makes this buyback a bit of a dud.

Not that it stood much of a chance regardless, as this fantastic 1972 Topps AL Batting Leaders buyback is already firmly entrenched in slot 86.

Don't see that one leaving the binder anytime soon quite honestly.

1991 Topps #428 - John Barfield

1991 Topps was really a great set, but John Barfield here is far from the most interesting card the release has to offer.  '91 was the final year of John's very brief big league career.  He was actually shot to death in a domestic dispute on Christmas Eve a couple years back, yikes.

Craig Reynolds has been holding down slot 428 in the binder.

Craig Reynolds will continue to do so.

1990 Topps #726 - Gene Nelson

Nice, another '90 Topps buyback.  I have to be one of the only collectors on the planet that would be excited by these.  Will Gene have any better luck with the franken-set than Rick Schu did above?

Not a chance, this great Kirt Manwaring is in pocket 726, and is going to stay there.

Like Schu though, Nelson is off to strengthen the '90 Topps buyback binder, so all is not lost.

1984 Topps #114 - Checklist

Hah, kinda funny, I think this is the first buyback checklist I've encountered so far.  In order for it to make the franken-set binder though it has to unseat...

...this Ron Swoboda box-topper buyback from last year's Heritage set.  Easy call here.

I'm not ruling out including a checklist in the franken-set, in fact I'd kind of like to have at least one in the binder.  I'd prefer it be one of the nicer vintage checklist cards from the '60s, maybe even one that includes a photograph.

1988 Topps #777 - Lonnie Smith

Here's the second new number in today's grouping, as Lonnie Smith slides into the binder in pocket 777.  Interesting that despite me grabbing a totally random grouping of ten I ended up with 776 and 777 in the same post.  1988 wasn't a great year for Lonnie, as he hit just .237, a career low for any season with at least 50 plate appearances.  Won't be too hard to bounce this one if I ever encounter another #777 buyback.

1989 Topps #194 - Greg Harris

Greg Harris actually garnered a few Rookie of the Year votes in 1989 (finishing 7th), but was out of baseball after the 1995 season.  An obvious Spring Training shot on this card.

Kirk McCaskill's '87 card is already in slot 194 (complete with in-game action photo!).

Don't see any reason to replace Kirk with Greg quite honestly.

1988 Topps #399 - Tim Wallach All-Star

Last card for today, a Tim Wallach All-Star courtesy of 1988 Topps.  This is a great buyback in my book, as it commemorates Wallach's 1987 All-Star selection, which was an absolute monster year and by far the best of his career.  Tim swatted .298 with 26 home runs and career highs in doubles (42) and RBI (123!).  He earned a Silver Slugger to go along with his All-Star selection, and actually finished 4th in MVP voting as well.

Bruce Boisclair's '77 Topps buyback has been sitting in slot 399 for many months now.  It's also one of the few rare (just four so far) red foil buybacks I've landed so far from the 2017 "Rediscover Topps" promotion if you care about that sort of thing (I don't).

Bruce was born and raised in the same neck of the woods that I'm from, but even that's not enough when he's up against Tim Wallach and his amazing 1987 campaign.

Two new numbers, and two new cards for my 1990 Topps buyback project as well.  Hard to believe I've looked at well over 900 buybacks now since beginning this project.  In a few more posts I should hit 1,000, and I've got a special buyback planned for that occasion.  A jaw-dropper for sure.

Thanks for checking in!

Franken-set Progress:  527/792 (66%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  421
Total Buybacks in Collection: 948

Sunday, January 21, 2018

One Card Post - Coffey Refractor

What:  1995-96 Topps Finest Refractor #137 - Paul Coffey
Where: eBay
How Much?:  $2.50 (free shipping)

Why?:  When I picked up the Parkhurst Ed Sandford I showed off the other day, the seller offered free shipping for any other cards tacked on to the order.  Of course I looked around and snagged a few more gems for my collection.  Among them was this refractor of HOF defenseman Paul Coffey.

I'm under no delusion that I'll ever complete this 191-card set in refractor form, especially with the super scarce and expensive gold refractors that are on the checklist.  Nonetheless, Coffey here is my 25th refractor from this set, which feels significant.  I'll continue to keep my eyes peeled for more of these for sure...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

One Card Post: Sandford Parkie

What:  1954-55 Parkhurst #64 - Ed Sandford
Where: eBay
How Much?:  $6.00 (plus $1.50 shipping)

:  It's been a "frugal" start to 2018 for me collecting-wise, which is fine.  I've picked up about 60 total cards over the first two and a half weeks of the year, but most of those were cheap (50 cents or less) needs for a vintage set that I'll be posting about when they arrive.  At six bucks, Ed Sandford here is one of the more expensive cards I've picked up in the new year.  It just arrived in my  mailbox today, and makes for an easy post on a night when I'm short on both energy and time.

This is my fourth card from the '54-55 Parkhurst set, but my first from the All-Star subset (the others feature game action photos).  The '54-55 season was the best of Eddie Sanford's career, he finished in the top 10 in scoring, was named a Second Team All-Star, and captained Boston (though he's wearing only the 'A' in this photo).

I really like just about all of the vintage Parkhurst sets, but this one in particular is a favorite.  Since my overall goal for 2018 is to really increase the vintage section of my collection more than anything else, I figured it would be great to knock one of these off early.

The card is in great shape, the price was right, and I certainly have no regrets about adding this one!  Hopefully I stick to my guns and will have plenty of other great vintage like this to show off as the year rolls on.  Thanks for checking in!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Approaching 2/3 Complete

A paid holiday from work today actually provided me with some spare time to cobble together a blog post.  Why not grab another ten buybacks off the stack and see how they fare for the franken-set project?

1987 Topps #425 - Tom Seaver

A real strong contestant starts off today's proceedings.  Tom Seaver made the final 16 starts of his HOF career in a Red Sox uniform.  He first appeared with the Red Sox on a Topps card in the 1986 Traded set, but that was an air-brushed monstrosity.  This one, from the '87 set, features what must be a photograph from one of those 16 starts in 1986.  A nice "sunset card" of one of the best pitchers of his era.

With card #425 being a "hero number", it's no surprise that Seaver has some quality competition as the franken-set goes.  Interesting that we have what was also the final Topps card (as a player) of another guy who's got a plaque in Cooperstown.

In the end I decided to keep Torre in the franken-set binder because I like the photograph better.  This was definitely one of those tough calls that could have gone either way.  I'll admit I was also swayed by the fact that I know I have a much nicer Seaver buyback waiting in the wings for a future post...

1993 Topps #363 - John Smiley

Just two buybacks in and already a good sign, as John Smiley here represents my very first #363 buyback.  John actually won 20 games in 1991 for Pittsburgh, was named an All-Star that year, and even received some MVP and Cy Young votes though he didn't win either award.  With one year remaining on his contract the Pirates dealt him to the Twins, where he spent 1992.  His contract expired in the off-season and he signed with the Reds for 1993.

1987 Topps #521 - Rick Reuschel

Here's Rick Reuschel sporting one of the many variations of the Pirates cap that collectors from the '80s know and love.  Rick actually had a very impressive 2.75 ERA through 25 starts with Pittsburgh in 1987 when he was dealt to the Giants.  He's got some competition for the franken-set binder here:

A relatively bland card of Toronto DH Sam Ewing from 1979 Topps.

The wood grain and ridiculous cap won out, Reuschel unseats Ewing.

1990 Topps #462 - Denny Walling

Denny Walling was a typical utility/AAAA player.  He saw MLB action for 18 consecutive seasons between 1975 and 1992, but appeared in 100 games or more only 6 times during that span.  1990 saw him hit is final of 49 career home runs.

This '88 Don Slaught was already in slot 462.

I like the photograph on the Slaught better than this one, which has to be high up there in terms of most surface area covered by the color red as far as baseball cards go.  This Denny Walling now sits snugly in the 1990 Topps buyback binder, which is coming along quite nicely.

1984 Topps #341 - Dave Tobik

I really don't know what to say about Dave Tobik, who pitched his last Major League inning when I was just three years old.  I do get a kick out of that dated Texas Rangers logo on Dave's chest here, can't say I've seen that one in a while.

A '74 Dan Driessen buyback is already resident in slot 341.  A much more interesting photograph, easy decision here.

Tobik didn't stand a chance.

1993 Topps #442 - Kevin McReynolds

1993 Topps isn't particularly well-represented within the group of buybacks I've processed for this project so far, so it's interesting to get a couple of them in today's post.  Kevin McReynolds is seen here winding down a 12-year career, and is better remembered for his time spent with the Mets.  In order to make the franken-set binder, Kevin will have to come out on top against this card:

While I don't have much affinity towards either player, the photograph on this Alan Foster card is just great.  I can't get over the difference in the dugout compared to what you see at modern ballparks today.

Foster wins, McReynolds loses in what was essentially a battle of photographs...

2006 Topps #550 - Alfonso Soriano

Here's one that I get a kick out of personally, as I have fond memories of the hype surrounding Alfonso during his brief stint with the AA Norwich Navigators, who played their home games just 20 minutes or so from where I lived growing up.

While I will always think of Soriano as a Yankee or a Cub, his lone season with the Nationals in 2006 was damn impressive.  How impressive?  Playing in all but three of the team's games he hit for a .277 average with 41 doubles and 95 RBI, to go along with career highs in home runs (46!) and OPS (.911).  Oh yeah, he also swiped 41 bags.  Wow.

Clete Boyer's Heritage box-topper buyback from this past year was in slot 550 already.

Sorry Clete, you simply ran up against a buzz-saw there.

1987 Topps #298 - Larry Herndon

Another '87 buyback here, and I'm pleased to say it's a new number for the franken-set binder at #298.  I'd really have to flip through page by page to be sure, but at this stage Larry Herndon here certainly has one of the top mustaches in the binder.  He had a good year in 1987 too, hitting .324 with nearly 50 RBI in just over 250 plate appearances in part-time play.

2006 Topps #141 - Randy Wolf

I'm not overly familiar with Randy Wolf, who pitched in the National League for his entire career prior to his final 5 games with the Orioles.  In 2006 he must have gotten a lot of help from the offense, because despite an ERA of 5.56 in 12 starts, he finished the year 4-0!

Pat Bourque's 1974 card was already in slot 141.  Pat looks kind of creepy here, but in general I prefer 1974 Topps to the 2006 set so...

Bourque stays and Randy Wolf is off to the reject box.

1978 Topps #619 - Thad Bosley

Final card for today, and it's yet another new number for the project!  Three new numbers out of ten, I feel like it's been a while since I had that much success.  Don't know a whole lot about Thad Bosley, except that he was actually with the White Sox for 1978, making this image outdated even at the time of printing.

The three new numbers in today's post bring me to a tidy 525 total in the set.  That's just three cards away from the 2/3 mark for the project overall.  With any luck I'll be surpassing that milestone within the next couple of posts...

Franken-set Progress:  525/792 (66%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  413
Total Buybacks in Collection: 938
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