Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sometimes You Get McDavid, Sometimes You Get Crouse

Each year I tend to pick up just a single retail blaster of Upper Deck's flagship hockey release around the holidays.  I guess it's habit more than anything, I haven't completed this set in years but I like to get a small sampling and it's always fun to rip open some packs for a change of pace.

Last year my luck was absolutely incredible, as the very first pack I opened contained the card everyone was searching for, Connor McDavid's Young Guns rookie!  Would my hot streak be extended?  Was there an Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine Young Guns waiting for me in this year's blaster?

Here's the blaster I grabbed.  More Connor McDavid, as he's the poster boy for the flagship release this season.  Twelve packs in a blaster, so you're paying less than $2 per pack...

...however as you can see here you get just five cards per pack.  So, 60 cards in a blaster, or 3/$1 essentially.  These have been out for a few weeks, and I'm sure you've probably already seen them elsewhere, so I'll skip showing every single card and instead just pick one favorite from each pack.

The very first card to greet me from the blaster was Bruins forward Ryan Spooner.  You'd think this would be a good omen for a B's fan like myself, but as you'll see below you'd be wrong.  I do like the design this year.  The foil makes the player names difficult to read when scanned, but in hand they're not so bad.

Pack 2 yielded my first Young Guns rookie short print, left winger Lawson Crouse.  I admit that I am not familiar with Lawson, he's a -11 with 3 points in 31 games with the Coyotes so far this year.  Yikes.  In fairness, this kid is still just 19 and I guess I should be grateful that I pulled someone who's logging regular NHL playing time.

Pack 3 was somewhat of a dud.  I settled on this Claude Giroux because he's one of my favorite players, and because I love this Flyers sweater.  Maybe it was just my blaster but I feel like there were a lot of standard, tightly cropped photos like this and less of the creativity I've come to expect from Upper Deck.

Pack 4 yielded my lone Canvas insert of the box.  I look forward to these every year and will gladly accept any that I don't have, so I was bound to be pleased with this one.  And I was.  I think the added color along the bottom really brightened these up, good decision by Upper Deck if you ask me.

Back to back Blue Jackets cards?  Well, this Brandon Dubinsky was the best photo to spill out of pack 5.  I don't think many fans could possibly have predicted the year that Columbus is enjoying to this point.  They're just 1 point behind Pittsburgh for the top spot in the entire Eastern Conference, and have four games in hand on the Pens.  Crazy.

We hit the halfway mark of the blaster with David Pastrnak, who has really turned up his game for Boston this season.  Even after a recent slowdown, he's still got as many goals as any player in the NHL this season not named Crosby.

Alex Ovechkin quietly has 16 goals of his own this year.  You just know he's going to be close to 40 by season's end.  This nice celebration photo was my favorite card of pack 7.

Pack 8 was nothing spectacular, but I do like this retro Devils sweater.

In pack 9 I found my other Young Guns rookie, Anthony Beauvillier of the Islanders.  Anthony is just 19 as well, and has 9 points in 25 games with New York this year.  I could have sworn you got three Young Guns rookies in a blaster, but I guess not.  Last year, Connor McDavid.  This year, Lawson Crouse and Anthony Beauvillier.  Can't win 'em all.

Pack 10 yielded the Bobby Ryan card that you've probably seen a hundred times by now.  It really is a great card, nice job by Upper Deck with this one.

The inserts, as usual, didn't do it for me.  This Shining Stars Erik Karlson that slid out of pack 11 will probably be shipped out to a trade partner at some point, if there's anyone out there that even wants it.

The last pack of the blaster provided me with a new Jaromir Jagr card at least.  I never get tired of acquiring new cardboard featuring the man who is now the second leading scorer in league history.  For me, a nice ending to an otherwise dull blaster.

So yeah, two less than exciting Young Guns and a pile of cards that are already nickel box fodder.  Until next year Upper Deck!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

One Card Post - Sisler

What:  2011 Topps Marquee #18 - George Sisler
Where:  COMC
How Much?:  $.55

: Still enjoying the "Christmas hangover", and my time away from work, so all I can muster for today is this George Sisler I had sitting in my scans folder waiting to be processed.  Hey, if I'm going to mail it in I could do a lot worse than Topps Marquee, right?  Always loved this set...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Buyback Franken-set: A Christmas Clark

Merry Christmas everyone!  I'm spending the day enjoying delicious food and the company of family, but here's a quick one card post featuring a buyback I picked up recently.  Let's call it a small Christmas gift to myself...

1987 Topps #420 - Will Clark

As a kid I was a Will Clark fan and collector, and his 1987 Topps release was for a time one of my most prized pieces of cardboard.  I've been searching out a buyback version for a couple of years now, but it doesn't seem like Topps started including cards from 1981 or later in their buyback program until this year.  Even then, I don't believe a buyback version of this card was released with the flagship or Update sets either, at least I've never seen one.

This one popped up on eBay a couple of weeks ago, and I believe it might be from those Archives 65th Anniversary Edition boxes from Wal-Mart that everyone's been posting about.  Either way, I'm ecstatic to finally have tracked this one down for my buyback franken-set!

I already had a card in slot 420, and not a bad one either:

Normally Ken Griffey would provide some pretty stiff competition, but there's no way I'm choosing him over that Clark card I sought out for so long.

I have a feeling Will the Thrill is going to be a permanent member of the franken-set.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and find plenty of time to relax with your loved ones!

Franken-set Progress:  251/792 (32%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 60

Friday, December 23, 2016

Seasons Greetings from the Dime Boxes

Nick of Dime Boxes fame has certainly been doing his part to spread holiday cheer this season.  I've seen his PWEs popping up on a number of the sports card blogs that I read in recent days.  Well, I too was the lucky recipient of one recently.  Let's dive in...

Coming out of the gate strong with this 1970 Topps Scratch-Off of Yaz.  These were inserted into the first couple of series of Topps' flagship product in 1970, at least I believe that's where they originated.  Maybe someone with more knowledge can confirm that in the comments.  Either way, this is the first of these to enter my collection and it's a really cool little piece of memorabilia.  Here's what the scratch-off game looks like when unfolded, for those of you who haven't seen them:

Simple concept, but this would have been right up my alley.  Had I been a kid in 1970 I could totally see my brother and I spending an afternoon with a couple of pennies and a stack of these.

Of course Nick's PWE was jam-packed with more standard cardboard fare, like this Youk from the beautiful 2009 O-Pee-Chee set.  I agree with most collectors that this release was definitely a high water mark for Upper Deck before they lost their baseball license.  Someday I would love to track down a cheap wax box of this to jump start a set, but it's far down my list of collecting priorities at the moment.

Here's one of those Farm's Finest minis from 2015 Bowman Chrome.  A nice looking little card if you like shiny.  Blake's playing time was reduced pretty significantly last year, and he appeared in just 19 games after playing in 84 in his rookie season the year prior.  We'll see what 2017 brings...

I had to do a couple of minutes of research on this one, as this set was unfamiliar to me.  Turns out this is a 1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Hitters Joe Cronin.  I appreciate this one because you don't see a whole lot of Cronin cards out there.  I think I have less than ten out of the thousands and thousands of Red Sox cards I own.

This Leo Kiely is one of those Archives cards from the '90s, when Topps issued complete reprints of the '53 and '54 sets (I think '54 was done in 1994).

Steve Avery here is from the 1997 Upper Deck SP set.  This is one of those rare cases where a card looks better in a scan than it does in person, as the holographic SP sections on the left and right sides are more vibrant.  Like the Kevin Youkilis card above, I'm guessing that Nick ended up with an extra copy of this in his "players signing autographs" collection.

Up next is a Tim Naehring from Pacific Paramount.  I can see what Pacific was aiming for with the design here, but I'm not sure how well it worked.   Mainly because it is quite difficult to make out the player's name.  It's actually more legible in the scan than it is in hand, but as you can see even here it's not exactly crystal clear.

This Bowman Chrome mini of outfielder Bryan Hudson is actually a refractor, and is serial-numbered to /125 on the reverse.  Bryan is still just 21 years old, but he hasn't risen above A-ball in the years since this card was released.  Cool card though!

When I first saw this card, my initial reaction was that it was kind of busy and ugly.  After a day or two though when I looked at it again it was more along the lines of "it's not that bad".  Posting it now even a few days later though, I think I'm coming around and I actually kind of like it.  What can I's not every day that you receive a card featuring a forest backdrop.  I give Panini credit at least for coloring outside the lines and coming up with something a little more creative than much of what I've seen from Topps inserts in recent years.

Speaking of Topps inserts, here's a First Pitch card I didn't have yet from the 2016 flagship release.  Must be cool to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and have your very own officially licensed sports card all before the age of 16!

I think I'm one of the few bloggers who has managed to resist the temptation of the 2016 Topps Holiday retail boxes featuring the snowflake cards.  Just because I haven't wanted to pluck down the money for a box does not mean I don't enjoy the cards though.  This is the first one I've seen in hand and while I think this gimmick would get tiring if repeated year after year, it is a nice variation for the holiday season.  I seem to have gotten a bunch of variations of Jackie Bradley's 2016 Topps card, at this point I could probably put together an entire binder page of them.

The snowflake card wasn't the only "2016 first" of the package for me, as Nick was kind enough to include this beautiful Topps Gold Label Yaz.  Other than scans on a couple of blogs, I had no exposure to these before receiving this one, but I have to say that Topps did a pretty solid job with this release.  I can't put my finger on why exactly, but this is one of the more attractive Yastrzemski cards I've picked up in quite some time.

The Blake Swihart wasn't the only mini card I got this time around, as I found this '75 Topps Mini Petrocelli as well.  I absolutely love these, and given that they are reasonably priced I'm not really sure why I haven't made more of an effort to complete the team set.  I really appreciate this one, and I think it's going to motivate me to pick up some others in 2017 here.

Last, but certainly not least, Nick included a buyback as well!  This black foil buyback from this year's Topps set is #461, which is great as that number was missing from my franken-set previously!  Rob is already nestled inside the binder, and I'm one card closer to completion!

Franken-set Progress:  251/792 (32%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  59

Nick, thank you for the extremely thoughtful package.  I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas, and I will certainly be sending you something in the next week or two to properly convey my gratitude.

On a side note, despite this being my fourth trade post here since Monday, I'm still falling behind.  Card collectors are really in the holiday spirit this year I guess!  I've got great packages from Douglas Corti, Angus, and another, even greater, PWE from Nick still to be featured in the near future here...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When Connor McDavid is the Second Best Card... know you've received an amazing trade package!

I recently received this Connor McDavid card from my good friend Dave H, who writes over at Wax Stain Rookie.  It was one of the centerpieces to a very thoughtful and much appreciated holiday care package.  I don't recall having seen this one previously, but it's from the 2014-15 Leaf In the Game CHL Top Prospects Canada's Best set.  Quite a mouthful.

Normally, a card of the hottest name in hockey (who just so happens to be pacing the NHL in points at the time of this post) would be the highlight of any trade package.  There was one card that topped even this one however.  Before we get to that let's take a look at a few other goodies Dave sent along...

A new contribution to my ever-growing Hartford Whalers collection in the form of this Parkhurst International "Emerald Ice" Gerald Diduck card.  Diduck played two unremarkable seasons with the Whalers towards the end of the team's existence, with the team missing the playoffs during both years.  A cool parallel regardless, and I've never met a Whalers card I didn't like.

Here's a nice OPC Update card of a guy who was a flash in the pan for Boston.  After less than a year in the United States, Joonas signed a contract to play over in the KHL.  I'm always fascinated by cards of guys who were short term stops with a franchise, so this rookie card is a nice addition to my collection.

Speaking of nice rookie cards, here's a Ryan Spooner from 2013-14 Titanium.  Spooner is still with the Bruins, and has been the subject of some trade rumors this season.  I'm not sure how much the Bruins would get in return, but maybe some team out there thinks he could bloom in a more offensively-minded system.  Either way, a cool card here numbered to /299.

Dave seems to have an endless supply of hockey relic cards, and I got a nice pair in this package.  First up is Tuukka Rask, who's been very solid between the pipes so far in 2016-17.  He's one of a half dozen goalies in the league with a sub-2.00 GAA so far this year.

The other relic is from 2014-15 SPx, and features swatches of a couple of young centers.

Alexander Khochlachev is playing over in the KHL these days.  Seth Griffith was a 2012 draft pick of the Bruins.  He showed some good potential in his limited NHL playing time, and was a big scorer at the AHL level (second in points in the AHL last year).  He was claimed off of waivers by the Leafs earlier this year, then after appearing in just a few games was again scraped off of waivers by the Panthers.  He's recorded three assists in his last five games with Florida, so maybe he's found a home at last.  He's still just 23 years old, and clearly has the offensive skills to make it in the NHL, so I'll be watching his career unfold with interest.

And now, for the card that really blew me away...behold!

This beauty is just my second card from the 1952-53 Parkhurst set, featuring defenseman Bill Quackenbush.  I'm humbled that Dave would think to ship me such an awesome piece of cardboard, especially since this is now the second time he's bestowed a '50s Parkhurst card upon me!  These cards are just so interesting to hold in hand, their smaller size reminds me a lot of the '50s Bowman baseball releases.

I'm astounded that Dave was kind enough to send this my way, because Quackenbush was no slouch.  Known as a very nice guy, Bill was actually the first NHL defenseman to win the Lady Byng Trophy (awarded for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct).  Bill's 14-year NHL career was impressive enough that it landed him a spot in the Hockey HOF!

It's not every day that you get a card from the '50s featuring a HOFer in the mail by complete surprise!  Dave, you are far too kind, thank you very much for the great batch of cards.  Once we get past the holidays here I hope to find something to send in return that will hopefully bring you half as much joy as this package brought me!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another Baseball Card Breakdown Holiday Blast

If you read many sports card blogs the above image should look awfully familiar to you.  I too was the recipient of a PWE as part of Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown's 2016 Holiday Blast.  The highlight of the package was obviously the custom Tony Gwynn rip card that you've probably seen elsewhere by now.

Here's a look at the back, copy 19 of 25 in my case.  I've never pulled an actual rip card, which isn't surprising given how little unopened product I buy, so this is a new experience for me.  When I've seen these pulled from Allen & Ginter sets there's always a debate on whether to rip, or not to rip.  Not so much the case here though, I tore right in...

Inside was a sweet Xander Bogaerts magnet.  Pretty cool receiving this, as Gavin himself is a fellow Bogaerts collector.  We have a ton of magnets on our fridge as well, as my wife and I try to grab one any time we travel:

I just so happened to have a perfect spot for Bogaerts to slide into, right below the Guinness toucan we picked up at the Guiness factory in Dublin.  A very creative and much appreciated idea from Gavin!

The rip card and magnet would have made for a fun holiday package on their own, but I found a few bonus Sox cards in the package as well!  A couple of 2013 Topps Chrome colored refractors were dupes, but I've already set them aside for other Sox collectors I know.  There were four new-to-me cards as well:

This 2005 Diamond Kings Manny Ramirez is a silver parallel, and is numbered 01/50 on the reverse.  A nice relatively low-numbered parallel of one of the more controversial personalities in team history.

Aside from the rip card, this might be my favorite card of the package.  I'd never seen or heard of these Long Gone inserts from 2000 Fleer Showcase before receiving this one.  They are die-cut to mimic the outfield dimensions of the player's home ballpark.  I give Fleer an A+ for creativity and design on this one!

Here's a more recent card, a nice Blue Refractor from 2016 Bowman Chrome numbered to 150.  Kopech's reputation isn't the greatest (he was suspended for 50 games last year, and also broke his hand in an altercation with a roommate), but he has a cannon for an arm, regularly topping 100 mph on the radar gun.

Finally, a buyback!  I really appreciate Gavin thinking to send this one my way.  Tucker Ashford is card 116 on the 1978 Topps checklist, and since I didn't have a #116 buyback previously he makes the cut for my franken-set!  Inching closer...

Franken-set Progress:  250/792 (32%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  59

Thanks for the tremendous holiday package Gavin!  I have some vacation time coming up between Christmas and New Year's and will do my best to get something headed out to Portland soon!
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