Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Itch to Rip - Late to the Big League Party

Since Topps Stadium Club, the one new release I seem to really enjoy each year, hasn't come out yet in 2020, there just hasn't been much out there that appeals to me in terms of new sets.  The one exception to that might be Topps Big League Baseball.  I've enjoyed the concept for this low-end set since its inception, but the design for the first few years hasn't done much for me.

This year seemed different though, at least based on the images I saw on other hobby blogs.  I was intrigued by the design.  As with this brand in previous years, I like the concept of a simple set, devoid (mostly) of hits and chase cards that is cheap, easy and, gasp, FUN to collect!

When I finished ripping my 2018 Topps Stadium Club blaster a couple weeks ago I decided I'd try to track down some Big League next.  Retail cardboard availability is an absolute joke still, and I'm not keen on spending time in big box stores if I don't have to due to COVID, so once again eBay it was.  Worked out great actually, as I found a seller with two blasters available for $32 with free shipping.  Not sure how that could be profitable for this particular seller, but anyway, let's crack open the first pack from the first blaster.

I'll try to keep my commentary to a minimum, as I'm sure you've seen (and probably collected) many of these cards by now.  What can I say, I'm a little late to the party.  Like I said, I love the simple design Topps used here, with the subtly color-coded borders and simplistic layout.

Your 2019 AL WHIP leaders.

The photography might not be "Stadium Club level", but that's okay.  There are some great shots, and the framing is very well done as you can see here.

Each pack in the blaster comes with one Orange parallel, and apparently this blaster was meant for me since my very first one is a Red Sox card.  Chavis may not be one of the more exciting players in Boston's line-up, as he swings for the fences and strikes out a ton.  Still, a cool card with a really nice photograph.

I have to be honest, these Roll Call inserts sort of make me snooze.  They're slightly better than what I've seen in other recent Topps projects, but just don't do much for me.  Off to the trade box with this Arenado.

It's never a bad thing pulling a Mike Trout card.  Never.

Fantastic action shot on Lorenzo Cain's card.  I can certainly understand his recent decision to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season.

Actually, the first pack ends on back-to-back awesome horizontal photographs, with a great sliding catch here from Pittsburgh outfielder Gregory Polanco.

That was a lot of fun, so let's take a look at another pack.  Now would be a good time to mention another plus for Big League, which is that you get ten cards per pack.  Even with the obligatory insert and parallel, you still get what feels like a generous eight base cards per pack.  With ten packs in a blaster, you're coming out of one with a full 80 base cards.  Compare that to Stadium Club, where you get five cards per pack and just eight packs per blaster, and you're getting more than twice the number of base cards for the same price.

Second pack starts off with the NL RBI Leaders.

Again, keeping the commentary to a minimum here but really enjoying these cards.  At just 300 cards in size, and with no short prints, it doesn't feel like too daunting a task to take a stab at this set.

Orange parallel was a little less exciting for me personally this time, with D-Backs hurler Robbie Ray.

On the other hand, I actually enjoy the insert and may hang onto it.  I know a lot of people are creeped out by them, but I sort of enjoy the "big head/caricature" cartoon cards like this.  Maybe it's due to the fact that I was a kid collector in the early '90s when things like Topps Kids and those Score All-Star subset cards used this tactic.  Anyway, I'll hang onto this one for now.

That wraps up pack two.

Let's rip one more open in this first post, why not.

Another leaders card in the lead-off spot.

Two Trouts in the first three packs.  Not too bad, even if the "bro-hawk and a tux" look isn't the most desirable form of Trout card.

Sort of indifferent about these Flipping Out inserts.  Into the trade stack with this one.

Great Spider-man wall-climbing shot on Ramon Laureano's card.
Hanser Alberto is a player that had somewhat fallen under the radar as far as my fandom goes, but I thought he looked great when the Sox played Baltimore at the start of this odd 2020 season, and learned at that time about his impressive 2019 season also.  Happy to have this card, my first of his I'm fairly certain.

Well, that's a wrap as far as the first three packs of this blaster go.  An entertaining start to the rip, and I'm excited to get to the remaining packs soon.  These blasters come with a 5-card pack of blue parallels as well.  I'll likely squeeze two more posts from this in the coming days, one covering packs 4-7 and another with packs 8-10 and the blue parallels.

Thanks as always for stopping by, and enjoy your evening!

Monday, August 3, 2020

A Straight-up "Holy Shit Flip"!

I don't often swear here on the blog, but I think you may forgive me for the post title and agree that the eBay flip I'm covering today warrants it.  As you may know if you've frequented this blog earlier this year, I've done a good deal of eBay flipping while stuck in quarantine in 2020, purging some cards I'm not necessarily in love with in order to procure some that I am.  Today's flip may take the cake as my single best yet, though...

This starts off as a soccer card post, but morphs into something very different, so stick with me for a couple of images if you don't mind, especially if you enjoy really old baseball cards!

The image up at the top of this post is a big old lot of packs of 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup soccer.  I really got into the international tournament in that summer of 2018, and was able to score a huge stash of well over a hundred loose packs at a price point that worked out to just a buck and change per pack.  My goal was to try to complete a 300-card base set, and maybe land a cool parallel or two.  Fast forward a couple of years, and this worked out to something much greater than that.

About halfway through ripping the packs in the fall of 2018 I came across this, the Silver Prizm parallel of Kylian Mbappe's card.  For those who aren't Panini collectors, the Silver Prizm is akin to the standard Refractor in the world of Topps Chrome.

Now, Mbappe was the biggest name in the set, and I knew this was a good pull at the time.  I was happy to land any parallels of his from my break, but these Silver Prizms were by far the most plentiful and easy to pull of the various parallel cards in the set.  Because of that, I didn't necessarily realize that this would be a high dollar value card.  I put it in a penny sleeve only, stuck it in the small shoebox that holds my soccer collection, and promptly moved on with my collecting and forgot about the card.

Well, when cards in general just went bananas as far as value here in 2020, I stumbled across this one while sorting and decided to take a look at what it might be worth.  Let's just say that I was astounded.  Even though they are more common than some of the other un-numbered parallels in the set, it turns out these Silver Prizms are probably the most highly-collected of the parallels.  It became apparent in short order that I could sell this card, pulled from a pack that I paid just a dollar and change for in 2018, for hundreds of dollars.  Many hundreds in fact.

I went ahead and did exactly that, and unlike some of the other flips that I've featured here on the blog I used the sum of the proceeds to grab just a single baseball card for my collection.

I know what you're thinking...that must have been one hell of a baseball card!

Well, it certainly was.


Check this one out!

OH.  MY.  GOD.  This transaction took place a couple of months ago now, maybe longer, and to this day I'm still in a state of disbelief when I take this card out and look at it.  A real, authentic, playing-era card of the Yankee Clipper!

In just 13 MLB seasons, Joe won three MVP awards, was an All-Star in every season, won ten AL pennants and nine World Series titles.  None of those accolades are even what he's best remembered for, which is just insane.  That honor goes to his incredible 56-game hitting streak, accomplished the season after this card was printed up.

Joltin' Joe was always one of those few players who, even though I absolutely love vintage baseball, I figured I'd never be able to acquire a playing-era card of.  Right there with names like Ruth and Gehrig, guys who are absolute legends of the sport, but that owning playing-era cardboard of seems like a pipe dream at best.  Thanks to a lucky pull, and the most insane secondary market for sports cards I've seen in my lifetime, this dream became a reality earlier this year.

The card itself, aside from being a freakin' Joe DiMaggio, is just great.  I love the old school Play Ball sets, and they picked an appropriate subject for card #1 in their 1940 release here.  Just an awesome shot of a stoic DiMaggio swinging for the fences while he looks off into the sunset.  I wanted this version in particular, because it's got amazing visual appeal, especially for a PSA 3 slab.  If you look closely, there is a surface crease running from about a quarter of the way up the left side, through the '1939 Pennant' logo, which is probably about the only thing keeping this card from being a PSA 5 or 6, quite honestly.  A real beauty!

A nice, clean back here, with no paper loss or other issues to speak of.  The write-up is fun to read just because this was so early on in Joe's esteemed career.  Already it was obvious that he was a legend though, as the back of the card notes he was the first player in history to participate in the World Series in each of his first four MLB seasons.

So yeah, what more can I say?  I'm still in stunned disbelief that an un-numbered, non-autographed soccer parallel pulled from a pack of relatively low-end 2018 product funded an authentic Joe DiMaggio!  That's just the crazy world we are residing in as far as this hobby goes in 2020.  We've got a few months to go, but I have a hard time imagining anything but this card being selected as my best overall addition in my annual year-end countdown in December.

Have you done any selling or flipping like this yourself, on eBay or otherwise?  If you had a big pile of "hobby fun money" to use like this, would you target one big card like I did here, or a bunch of little ones?  I'm curious to hear your thoughts!

Thanks as always for stopping by, I'm going to go back to staring at this one with a stupefied smile on my face now...

Friday, July 31, 2020

One Card Post - Gettin' Miggy With It

What:  2013 Topps Archives #GH-MC - Miguel Cabrera Gallery of Heroes
Where:  eBay
How Much?:  $3.99 (plus shipping)

Why?:  I'm a full half dozen cards in now as far as this 2013 Topps Archives Gallery of Heroes insert set goes.  Couldn't pass up this gem featuring the last triple crown winner on the offensive side of the ball, for less than $4 before shipping.  I'm not much of a Tigers or Cabrera collector, so this instantly becomes probably my best overall card of the man.

Because these stained glass beauties are best viewed with some back-lighting, here's a picture featuring Cabrera in his new OneTouch home, in front of the window in my hobby room...

Absolutely awesome.  Six down, nine more to go including the tough Mike Trout.  I will get there though!

I managed to post here on the blog 30 days out of the 31 calendar days in July, falling just short of my post-a-day goal.  I can't promise that I'll maintain that ferocious pace through the upcoming dog days of August, but I will be back with more content later this weekend for sure.  Until then, thanks as always for stopping by!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Stickers & Sox - An Appetizer from Joe Shlabotnik

Thanks to the generosity of all the wonderful folks in this hobby, the number of inbound packages that I've yet to show off is starting to grow to an uncomfortable number.  Let's make a little forward progress on that front anyway, and check out the contents of a PWE I received from the great Joe Shlabotnik, probably a few weeks ago now!

You can't go wrong with Topps Heritage as a team/player collector.  It's even better when it's a need from one of the earlier Topps Heritage releases, which came out during the period where I was not collecting cards whatsoever (1996/1997 or so, until late 2007).  Awesome.

Amazingly enough, with well over 5,000 Red Sox and counting in my organized collection on The Trading Card Database, not a single one of those was from 1982 Fleer.  Joe helped me out on that front in this particular PWE, with a couple of big names too!  Tony Perez is the first.

I love me some Cal Ripken Jr., and as a child of the late '80s/early '90s I'm also a fan of holograms.  Combine the two, and you've got a keeper for my collection.  Side note, there is actually a Denny's in my town today.  Tried it once for breakfast with my wife about five years ago, haven't been back since and don't plan to.  Let's just say I'm more impressed with their baseball cards than their omelettes and home fries.

Here's one that's actually a back of one of the stickers in the 2020 Topps Stickers set.  Technically this doesn't increase my Red Sox count on TCDB, because for some reason only the players on the fronts of the stickers are noted in the database.  I hope that maybe someday a collector will take the time to request all the back players/teams to be added, but it's certainly not going to be me!

Same deal with the 2019 Topps Stickers set.  If you listen to TCDB, this is not a new Xander Bogaerts card...

...and this is not a new Craig Kimbrel, either.  They count to me though, and that's what matters.

Back to the '82 Fleer well, but with all due respect to Mike Torrez he was not the other "big name" that I mentioned above.  That honor would go to...

...fuzzed out Jim Rice!  I feel like if I had three or four post-work beers tonight, then maybe Jim would come into focus.  Gotta love '80s Fleer.  It's great to have these three in hand to kick off my team set.  I say kick off, because Joe sent me a much larger package only in the past week that really gets me moving on this release!  More on that later though.

As far as this particular PWE goes, we'll close it out with another pair from 2005 Topps Heritage.  Submarine-delivery wonder Byung-Hyun Kim...

...and arguably the greatest clutch hitter in team history, certainly the greatest in the current century anyway.  These are really sharp looking cards.  Even though I wish Topps had printed them oversized to match the original '56s, I get that a lot of collectors aren't into that (see 1989 Bowman).

Like the Fleer cards above, these 2005 Heritage singles are just the beginning of my team set build.  Joe also delivered more of these in that latest bubble mailer I talked about above.  I'll be featuring the contents of that one soon (just scanned them all in today), but until then thank you to Joe for this wonderful assortment of Sox, and thank you to everyone else for stopping by!
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