Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Prizm a Plenty!

A few weeks back I picked up a hanger pack of 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup cards on a whim while strolling through Target.  I really liked the cards, but wasn't such a fan of the $9.99-for-15-cards price point.  Well, I ended up doing this...

I found a couple of giant lots of unopened hobby packs on eBay, what amounted to a few boxes worth, at a price that worked out to well under $2 per pack.  Now that's my kind of bargain!  Even now, a couple of months later and well after the conclusion of the tournament, boxes are still going north of $100 (and contain 24 packs), so this was a good deal in my mind.

Now, I'm not completely naive.  I realize what likely happened here.  Odds are a case breaker just ripped packs from new boxes until they found the guaranteed "hit" in each, then set the rest of the unopened packs from each box aside for this lot.  Doesn't bother me in the least given that I paid about a third of the price, and am more interested in completing the base set and pulling a few cool parallels than I am in pulling an autograph.

Tonight's post will cover the first 24 packs I ripped open, a poor man's hobby box so to speak.  With five base cards per pack (plus one parallel/insert/hit), and a relatively deep (by soccer standards, anyway) 300-card checklist, it would take perfect collation across 60 packs to finish the base set.

Happy to have pulled Ronaldo in my first batch of packs here, given that he would certainly be one of the pricier singles to have to chase down later.

I landed quite a few of the game's brightest stars in the base cards that I pulled here.  James Rodriguez was easily one of the best players in the 2014 World Cup with Columbia...

...and the same goes for Luka Modric in the 2018 World Cup with surprise finalists Croatia.  This is just my second card of the 2018 World Cup's Golden Ball winner.

All told, between these 24 packs and the cards I had previously I am now sitting at 140/300 for the base set, or 46.7% complete.  Plenty more packs to go however, hopefully the next 24 get me over the 60% mark at least.

As far as inserts and parallels go, I pulled just one of these Connections inserts, featuring Sweden.  Maybe my least favorite insert, but I only pulled a single one and it was new to me at least.

Next up, Fundamentals.  I ended up with only one of these as well, featuring Toni Kroos of Germany.  I doubt whether either of these first two are all that rare in terms of insertion ratio, most likely just a result of the random grouping of loose packs I was sent.

And now, the two insert sets I actually like, New Era, featuring the brightest young stars in the game...

...and Scorer's Club, which as the name implies showcases the sport's best offensive talents.  I pulled five New Era inserts and five Scorer's Club cards as well.  Worked out nicely that I pulled the two sets I enjoy five times as often as the two I don't.

The highlight of the product for me are the numerous colorful and amazingly shiny parallels.  In this grouping I pulled a single Hyper Prizm parallel, Swiss defender Ricardo Rodriguez, who plays his club ball for Italy's A.C. Milan.

I got a pair of these sweet-looking Mojo Prizms (gotta laugh at that name).  These look great in hand, and even better on the scanner bed apparently.  The better of the two I pulled is this Kasper Schmeichel, who was Leicester City's goalie during their improbable rise to the top of the Premier League table (and is still their starting goalkeeper to this day).

The most common parallel was, as expected, the Silver Prizm.  Think of these as equivalent to a basic Refractor in the Topps Chrome products.  They look nice, and allow you to see much more of the background texture and design elements than their darker base card counterparts.

I ended up with eight of these, so basically pulled one every three packs.  My favorite was certainly this Philippe Coutinho, one of the game's premier players in that tier right below the Neymars/Ronaldos/Messis of the world.  Philippe was so fun to watch during his time with Liverpool that I've been searching out his cards for years now, was nice to pull a new one for my collection from a pack myself.

I also landed this rarer Red Prizm featuring Gustav Svensson of Sweden, and serial-numbered to /149.  I was excited to pull this even though I admittedly don't know much about Gustav as a player, because I may try to build a franken-set of the 300-card set built entirely of different parallels, and this will be a unique addition towards that project anyway.

Well, that was fun.  I don't rip packs all that often, and opening that many of them from a set I enjoy was some good entertainment I have to say.  I actually just finished ripping through the next 24 packs, and will have those results up here in the next week or so.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Back at it with 1990 Topps

It's been over six weeks since I last made any progress on my buyback franken-set project.  Unacceptable.  Let's jump back into the fray here with a 10-pack of 1990 Topps buybacks.

1990 Topps #270 - Dave Stewart

As far as 1990 goes, this is a great buyback to start things off.  Dave was on a tear of dominance as a starting pitcher, and had been for a few years at this point.  In 1990 he made 36 starts for that powerhouse Oakland team, going 22-11 with an impressive 2.56 ERA.  His 11 complete games, 4 shutouts and 267 innings pitched were all good for tops in the AL.  Dave finished third in Cy Young voting, and even garnered some MVP votes that season.

Even better, this one completes a new page for me as my first #270 buyback.

 A nice, diverse grouping here with only the 1968 set appearing more than once.  As nice as the Stewart card is, my personal favorite here is Rick Wise, author of one of the most impressive single games in MLB history, in the upper left there.

1990 Topps #99 - Rich Monteleone

Next up, Rich Monteleone?  He actually pitched with the Yankees in 1990, but made just 5 appearances out of the bullpen.  An obvious candidate to be relegated to the 1990 Topps buyback set, right?

Well, I just so happen to have this 1970 Mark Belanger in slot 99 of the franken-set binder.  So yes, Mark will stay where he is...

...and Rich joins the 1990 Topps buyback set.

1990 Topps #316 - Carney Lansford

Carney Lansford, whose MLB career began back in 1978, was nearing the end by 1990.  He did appear in 134 games for Oakland, but swatted just .268.  Not terrible, but certainly not up to snuff for a guy with a career batting average of .290.

I've already got a great buyback in slot 316, as it just seems so odd to me to see Curt Schilling in an Astros uniform.

Off to the '90 Topps buyback binder for Lansford.

1990 Topps #349 - Steve Finley

Steve Finley would go on to have a very respectable Major League career, but 1990 was only his first full season (he played 81 games in his rookie season the year prior with Baltimore).  At this point he'd yet to find the consistent stroke and power that would earn him All-Star and MVP votes later in his career.

Given that, I can't really oust this fantastic Heritage Dick Williams buyback from the binder to make room for Finley, can I?

Not a chance, that Dick Williams is a personal favorite and is pretty well entrenched in the binder of this Red Sox fan!

1990 Topps #249 - Mike Smith

Never heard of this particular Mike Smith?  Don't be too hard on yourself if not, he appeared in the final 2 games of his 2-season career in 1990 and finished that last season with an ERA of 12.00.

A beautiful Bobby Adams buyback with a nice Seals Stadium backdrop already calls slot 249 home.

You knew how that one was going to end.

1990 Topps #782 - Jose Alvarez

Jose Alvarez didn't actually pitch at all in 1990, having thrown the final innings of his big league career in 1989.  Not a terribly exciting card, either.  Can it maybe sneak into an open slot in the binder though?

Negative, already had this '85 Tom Niedenfuer buyback in slot 782.  I see no reason to make a change here.

1990 Topps #333 - Bill Wegman

Bill Wegman made 5 starts for Milwaukee in 1990, and also appeared a handful of times out of the bullpen.  He finished 2-2 with an ERA close to 5.00.  Alrighty then.

Rough match-up for Wegman as well, as he gets pitted against this colorful '75 Dick Drago buyback.

Obviously going with the Red Sox card there and shifting Bill over to my '90 buyback binder.

1990 Topps #214 - Terry Francona

A nice card here for a Red Sox fan!  Sadly, injuries had taken their toll long before 1990, and the 3 games Terry appeared in that year marked the end of his career.  As a player anyway.

Terry gets pitted against a buyback featuring the team he currently manages courtesy of Tom Kelley's 1967 issue.  Love the bright blue jacket under the sleeveless uniform look.

Enough so that I'm going to keep the Heritage buyback where it is, and shift Tito over to the '90 Topps binder as well.

1990 Topps #96 - Jody Reed

The Red Sox ties keep on coming, as Jody Reed is the next card up for evaluation.  Did you know that Jody hit a league leading 45 doubles in 1990?  I certainly didn't.  This has been a fairly brutal grouping of buybacks so far as the franken-set goes, can Reed break into the binder?

Sonny Siebert's 1965 issue stands in Jody's way.  Siebert had a great year in '65 as a starter for Cleveland, finishing with a sub-2.50 ERA and a league-best 4.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  Whoa.

Even this admittedly biased Red Sox fan can't choose Jody over Sonny.

1990 Topps #30 - David Cone

Last card for this evening, featuring Mets pitcher David Cone.  David's 233 strikeouts paced the National League in 1990.  Definitely an example of where the colored borders in 1990 Topps can actually work quite well.  I think even haters of 1990 Topps might admit that this is decent enough looking card.

Ouch, HOFer Tim Raines charging out of the box in that glorious Expos uniform is a tough draw for Cone.  Competition is typically rough when you have a card number that ends in 0, and that's exactly what we have here.

Gotta go with the Raines.  Better career player, plus the Expos factor.

Well, just one new card for the franken-set tonight.  Not such a bad thing though given that I added nine new cards to the 1990 Topps buyback binder.  I'm on the threshold of 10% complete with that project now.  There's still at least a few cards from the 1990 set that I've never even seen in buyback format with my own two eyes, so who knows if I can even complete this, but accumulating them is a fun way to relive my first set from childhood regardless.

In the next Buyback Franken-set post, we'll take a long overdue look at a fantastic PWE sent to me by my friend Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown.  Until then, thanks for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 611/792 (77%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 76/792 (9%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 480
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,167

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Vacation & Blogging

I've been on vacation from work the past week or so, yet despite that I haven't managed to find a ton of time for posting.  Running the blog can be a good deal of work, so I tend to treat work vacations as blog vacations as well for the most part.  So what have I been up to instead?  Well, how about seeing one of my favorite movies of all-time, The Sandlot, in the theater?

My wife loves the movie as well, and when we found out it was briefly coming back to our local cinema to celebrate the film's 25th anniversary we couldn't book our tickets fast enough.  It was a blast, I mean just look at Squints' giant-sized eyeglasses staring you down.  I could watch this movie a hundred times and still enjoy it just as much.

Also managed to see one of my favorite bands ever (certainly top three) when Radiohead came to TD Garden in Boston last weekend.  I've been pretty much obsessed with this group since they really rose to prominence and starting releasing groundbreaking albums during my teenage years.  They don't seem to make it to New England all that often, so despite the fact that I'm a total concert junkie I haven't had a chance to see them live in close to a decade.

In fact, I was so excited to have an opportunity to see them play again that I bought tickets to both nights the day they went on sale.  Don't regret it in the least, they were that good.  More so than with any other band from my youth I'm amazed that, despite pushing 50 years of age on average, these guys still sound every bit as good as the first time I saw them many, many years ago.

It pains me to say it because Pearl Jam is my favorite band of all-time, but in terms a pure musical and vocal flawlessness and just absolutely nailing the entire set, Radiohead blows them out of the water at this stage in their careers.

As for the rest of the week, when we had one or two days where the weather didn't cooperate we made the best of some indoor time.  This picture's from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  If you live in the area and have never been I highly recommend it.  Three stories of really interesting artwork, paintings and sculpture wrapped around a beautifully manicured, enclosed central courtyard.  Only about a ten minute walk from Fenway Park!

When the weather cooperated, we enjoyed the beach, hiking, and kayaking on the ocean.  We have a relatively short summer season here in New England, so my wife and I try to make the best of every single good day we get.  Probably explains the decreased posting numbers I seem to have every summer.  Sometimes I wonder whether I'd blog at all if I lived somewhere like San Diego!

Okay, enough about my vacation, I should show at least one card I suppose given that this is a sports card blog after all.  So, here's a pretty significant one towards my budding 1959 Topps set that I landed a month or two ago...

Stan the Man!  Nice to land one of the more significant HOFers from the set.  A little off-center left to right, but a beautiful sample overall if you ask me.  This is my 279th card from the 1959 Topps set so far, I'm extremely close to hitting the 50% mark now.  Maybe I'll finish this one off someday after all.

Well, that's all for now, I'm going back to having fun.  But not too much fun.  After all, work starts again Monday...

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Dimebox Dozen - More Great Sox

Time for another random batch of a dozen Red Sox sent to me by my buddy Dimebox Nick!

We'll start things off with a pair of cards featuring World Series MVP Mike Lowell!  Though they came out around the same time, this Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts has a real retro/classic look to it...

...whereas this Topps Chrome card is unmistakably modern.  Both nice enough cards, but I definitely prefer the SP Legendary Cuts out of the two.

Although I do enjoy the set, I never seem to pick up much Stadium Club each year before it inevitably vanishes from retail shelves.  It's one of a very small number of baseball releases that I like enough that I keep any card I land that I don't already have, not just the Red Sox.

This John Valentin is a Dugout Collection parallel.  An interesting photo on this card for sure, Valentin is suspended in mid-air, but also looks strangely ready to field a ground ball.

Next up, a '97 Ultra Troy O'Leary.  1997 Fleer Ultra is a design that screams Fleer Ultra, if that makes any sense.

The winner for most random card in today's grouping is certainly this entry from the 1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack set.  Maddux and Clemens are each die-cut fold-outs covering a hologram that sits inside the card.  Here it is unfolded (click the image for a larger view):

Yup, Nick certainly has a knack for finding some very nice oddball cards.

In his last delivery Nick provided me my very first in-person look at 2018 Donruss.  I say this every year I think, but if Panini had a license I'd probably think about buying some Donruss.

You're not seeing double, this is a sepia type variation that, according to The Trading Card Database, is a short-print.

Flash from the past, Johnny Damon (pre-beard!).

I'm a part of the seemingly overwhelming majority who enjoy the Topps Total sets.  Happy to give this card of old fan favorite Shea Hillenbrand a good home in my collection.

I guess Upper Deck was emphasizing the "trip" portion of "Power Trip" with this design?

Last card for tonight, a late-career David Ortiz Finest card.  I've enjoyed Topps Finest most years since its debut back in 1993, and the 2016 set is no exception.  This card looks even better in hand than it does in the scan, good enough in fact that I think I might need to track down the rest of a team set.

I've still got some cards left in the pile, so I'll have another dozen up soon.  Thanks as always for the solid cardboard Nick!
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