Monday, April 29, 2019

Cognac Over Cracked Ice

Couple of shiny cards for you tonight.  I'm running just about on empty as far as mental energy or creativity goes, and it's only Monday.  So, we'll go with the alcohol theme to tie this pair together!

First, the cognac!  This pre-beard Charlie Blackmon RC is from the 2011 Topps Update set.  I usually stick to Red Sox or the Legends variation cards when it comes to these parallels.  I have landed some of the bigger rookies from the Update set though including Mike Trout and Jose Altuve, so when I stumbled across this Blackmon at a good price from a seller I was picking up some buybacks from anyway, I pounced.

Aside from having some epic facial hair, Charlie has carved out a nice career for himself in the time since this card was released.  He's been an everyday outfielder for Colorado for the past 5 seasons now, and has been named an All-Star and Silver Slugger multiple times.  Even finished 5th in NL MVP voting in 2017 thanks to a .331/37/104 stat line, and an OPS of 1.000.

Then we have the cracked ice, in this case a Prizm Cracked Ice parallel that I believe was released exclusively at one of the big Canadian Expo shows back in 2013.  Think of it as Panini's version of an Atomic Refractor.  I paid $15 for this card earlier this year, shockingly as the sole bidder in the auction.  Given that Nikita's Young Guns rookie sells for hundreds of dollars all day long, and that this rookie card is almost certainly much scarcer (not to mention so much shinier!) than that card is, I think I got a real steal on this.

The Lightning had a disappointing playoff run to say the least, capping off one of the best regular seasons in the history of the NHL with a four-and-out sweep at the hand of the 8th-seed Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round.  You can argue that Tampa Bay, and Kucherov in particular, kinda choked when it mattered most, but what you can't argue is the fact that Nikita just had one of the most impressive regular seasons in decades.

Kucherov finished the year with a remarkable 128 points (the final two of which I witnessed in person!), which is the most ever for a Russian-born player.  It was the highest single season point total for any player in the salary cap era, and the most by any player in a season since Mario Lemieux in the mid-'90s!  This was Nikita's 6th NHL season, and he has improved upon his previous year's assist and point totals every single year of his career so far.

Still just 25 years of age, Kucherov already has close to 500 career regular season points.  If he continues to excel (and play on a powerplay that's as strong as Tampa's was last year) it's entirely possible that he could reach Ovechkin or Crosby status as far as career accolades and statistics.  He's got plenty of years left to try to win a Stanley Cup, but that first round defeat must have stung nonetheless.

It will be a lot of fun watching this guy's career unfold over the next decade or more, even more so knowing that I've got this shiny and relatively rare rookie card representing him in my hockey collection!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Beats a Blaster - Red Sox Edition

A couple of weeks ago, with the excitement of the 2019 Major League Baseball season still fresh, I picked up a lot of Red Sox cards off of eBay.  All of the cards were from the past few years, and there were 70 cards in the lot in total.  The seller accepted my best offer of $15 and change, and when you include shipping the stack set me back just a bit less than the cost of a retail blaster.

After I filtered out some duplicates from within the lot, and then moved a bunch of other cards that I already own copies of to my trade box, I was left with 35 cards that were new to my ever-expanding Red Sox collection on The Trading Card Database...

As you can see, there were cards included in this lot from some of the most recent sets to hit retail and hobby shop shelves.  I've received a few 2019 Heritage Red Sox in trade, but was missing Mookie Betts' card until now.

At the time that I purchased the lot, I was hopeful that Rafael Devers would have a breakout year.  Not so much the case so far, as he's continued to be a defensive liability in the early going here.  Nonetheless, my Devers collection got a decent injection from this lot.  Got the base...

...and Chrome versions of this 2015 card.

Some other Chrome flavor from 2015.  I know I'm not alone in this, but in my opinion there are just way too many flavors and slight variations of Bowman.  I made sure to catalog these accurately while adding them to my collection, but I'm too lazy to go back and look up the difference now.

Here's another Bowman, from the following year.

Got the Chrome counterpart for that one as well.

Even a random, unlicensed, and very loud "HYPE" insert from Panini Elite Extra Edition.

From the Bowman's Best reboot that came out a couple of years back, here's a Mirror Image insert.  As you'll see, there were a few different inserts from this release sprinkled throughout the lot, and I have to say on the whole I really enjoyed them.

Here's another, a "Raking Rookies" Andrew Benintendi.  There's an Atomic Refractor version of this insert that I'd love to grab one day, but I think I'll wait it out and see if it ever gets cheaper than the current $10 asking price.

Another Devers, another card for my 2019 Topps Heritage team set.

Going back a few years, this 2013 Bowman Platinum Jackie Bradley Jr. rookie card was one of the older cards in the lot.  To say that JBJ has been struggling at the plate lately would be an understatement, but man is he fun to watch in center field.

2017 flagship card, didn't have this one.

Didn't have this 2017 insert either.

Another pair of Jackie Bradley cards here, just doing these in the order I happened to scan and add them.  His 2014 flagship card...

...and from the year prior, his Topps RC proper.  I got a few copies of this in the lot, so if Bradley all of the sudden becomes Mike Trout I'll be sittin' pretty.

I was pleased to see Mookie's All-Star subset card from 2019 Heritage included.  I'd received a copy from Douglas a few weeks ago, but it fell victim to the mail sorting machine and was beat up enough that I tossed it.  Happy to have replaced it so quickly.

Speaking of 2019 Heritage, also got the AL Batting Leaders card featuring two Red Sox!

The card that pays tribute to Benintendi's amazing ALCS catch.  I've been wanting a copy of this one since the set came out, great card.

The Jackie Bradley additions keep coming, with his Heritage base card...

...and ALCS highlights card.  Love the headline on this one.

I got my very first cards from the 2018 Gypsy Queen base set here, with (surprise!) Jackie Bradley Jr....

...and my favorite player, Xander Bogaerts.  There were quite a few new Bogaerts cards for my collection among this lot, probably the primary reason that I picked it up actually.

I'm sorry Topps, but this is just stupid.  This is a "Missing Team Name" parallel.  It's exactly what it sounds like.  Notice the white box where the Red Sox were listed on the normal copy of this card above?  Has it really come to this?  I'm glad in a weird way that I got this in a lot, because I don't think I could shell out money for this card specifically.

I've gotten a fair amount of 2019 Topps in trade this year, but hadn't ended up with a copy of this Betts/Pujols combo card until now.

Here's another insert from that 2017 Bowman's Best release.  As a fan of shiny I have to say, not bad!

And now, as if everything above and the three dozen or so dupes that I didn't bother to show weren't enough, here are my top ten favorite cards from this lot...

#10 - 2014 Topps Opening Day - Xander Bogaerts RC

Yes, it's just Opening Day, but a new Xander Bogaerts RC of any sort is a significant win for my collection.  I've got many of Xander's rookies, and am somewhat surprised that I didn't have a copy of this card yet.

#9 - 2015 Topps Update Throwback Variation - Xander Bogaerts

Full disclosure, you'll be seeing a few Bogaerts cards from here on out.  This Throwback insert is from 2015 Topps Update, and features the old-school Topps logo that I really enjoy.

#8 - 2013 Bowman Cream of the Crop Mini Blue Refractor - Jackie Bradley

Serial-numbered to /250, this is a unique and very shiny addition to my Jackie Bradley collection.  While adding this one to my collection, I learned that Xander Bogaerts was included in this same insert set.  Will have to keep my eyes peeled for a copy of that one (and its many parallels).

#7 - 2015 Topps Career High Relic - Xander Bogaerts

Relic cards don't get me that excited in most cases, but Bogaerts relics do.  Especially at a price point that worked out to well under $.50 a card.

#6 - 2019 Topps Heritage - Xander Bogaerts

This one certainly helped convince me to purchase the lot, as Bogaerts' card in 2019 Heritage is a short-print.  Would have ended up shelling out a couple bucks for this on COMC at some point, this was more cost effective.

#5 - 2013 Topps Target Red Parallel - Jackie Bradley Jr. RC

I really enjoyed all of the colored border parallel cards that existed for a few years there when Topps was doing the full white border thing.  Target Red parallels in particular are great for Red Sox cards, for obvious reasons.  Not all of the cards in the lot were pictured well in the auction, and this was one of the pleasant surprises that I wasn't specifically aware of when I picked these up.

#4 - 2016 Topps Heritage Minor League - Andrew Benintendi

Easily one of my favorite cards in the lot, in fact I think I should have ranked this one higher.  I love this shot of Andrew Benintendi with the AA Portland Sea Dogs franchise.  I've eyed this one many times, but have never seen a copy for less than $3-$4.  This is certainly one of my favorite cards of the young Sox outfielder.

#3 - 2016 Topps Archives Blue Parallel - Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts got one of the best looking cards in the 2016 Topps Archives set, period.  I truly think this is a perfect baseball card, there is not one thing I'd change about it.  I love it so much that I already had the base, and relatively rare Red parallel of the card.  Psyched to add this Blue parallel (#'d to /199) as well!  What a gorgeous photo and absolutely perfect job of framing.  Bravo, Topps!

#2 - 2019 Topps Heritage Cloth Sticker - Mookie Betts

I might have rated this one a bit higher than I truly should have, but I think I was just so surprised by the card as I had no idea that there were cloth stickers in this year's Heritage release.  I really like the texture of the card, one of the more unique Mookie Betts cards that I've picked up in some time.

#1 - 2015 Topps Heritage - Xander Bogaerts

The card that drew me to this lot above all others was this 2015 Topps Heritage Bogaerts.  I've coveted this one, featuring that fantastic Topps All-Star Rookie logo, for forever now.  It's a short-print though (I swear Xander gets the SP treatment every year in Heritage), and I've never seen the price on COMC dip below $4 if you can believe that.  I've been waiting years to cross this one off  my list, and thanks to this random lot it's finally in my possession.

Yeah, I'd say that was way more entertaining for me than a retail blaster.  I've now got 138 unique Xander Bogaerts cards and counting, and 3,241 Red Sox cards and counting in my collection on The Trading Card Database.  That's good for the 63rd largest Sox collection on the site, though I'll eventually climb much higher as I have thousands of Red Sox cards still to add.

That's a wrap, enjoy your Sunday evening and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Draft Folder Dump!

Just some random cards tonight, pick-ups from over the years that I've only recently scanned and added to my organized collection.  There's no real theme here other than these all being entered into my collection at around the same time.

Grabbed this '71 Topps out of a dollar box a long while back.  I'll pretty much grab any HOFer from this set in this shape for a buck or less.

Yup, that's an "I'll never need to upgrade" condition '71 in my book.

I grabbed this '72 Topps common for 99 cents from a seller who offered free combined shipping on additional auctions.  Picked it up largely because it's somewhat of a high number, and someday I may just be crazy enough to take a run at this set.

One of the more frustrating collecting quests in my time since returning to the hobby has been these yellow parallels from the 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's hockey release.  There are just 100 in the set, but they're pretty damn rare with just a one-per-box insertion ratio.  Despite keeping my eye out for these on eBay, COMC, and in person over the years, there are still several cards from this parallel set that I've never even seen.  Not sure I'll ever be able to finish this based on scarcity alone, but I'm not waving the white flag just yet.

If memory serves this Will Clark came from a quarter box.  What can I say, I was a big Clark fan as a kid, and I enjoy the GQ "Framed" parallels.  I'd drop a quarter on this card any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

Up next here is a trio of '61 Topps cards that I paid just a dime a piece for.  Why so cheap, you may be wondering?  Well, that's a decent tear on the left border of that Gene Mauch above...

...and Winston Brown's card I'd say speaks for itself.

John Schaive is probably the best of the three condition-wise, but he's got some healthy creasing in the upper left too.  For a dime though I'm game for nearly any early '60s or older card that I don't already have, as a placeholder card if for no other reason.

Don't remember where this one came from, but I believe it's an image variation.  I know they're gimmicky, but I'm a sucker for these when I can find them cheap.

Always loved speedster Kenny Lofton, couldn't pass up his Donruss Rated Rookie for a mere quarter.

I don't think I need to explain why I picked this card up, do I?  1970 Topps at its finest.

Here's a random '52 Topps card, purchased just because it's in great condition and was only $6.  I'm under no delusion that I'll ever complete a '52 Topps set, but it's so iconic that I like to have a handful of examples in my baseball card collection at least...

Just two more cards here, a pair of autos, then I'm calling it a night.  I don't think this Nick Johnson autograph would excite many baseball card collectors, but it sure makes me smile.  This on-card autograph is now certainly one of the highlights of my small collection of Norwich Navigator baseball cards.  This was the AA franchise that played in a brand new ballpark about 20 minutes from my house growing up.  There aren't a ton of Navigators cards out there, and extremely few autographs.  Pumped about this pick-up!

The other autograph, not nearly as exciting.  Remember the failed experiment that was Allen Craig, Red Sox fans?  Over his first four seasons in Major League Baseball, with the Cardinals, Craig won a World Series, and was even selected as an All-Star.  The Cards then dealt him to Boston (along with Joe Kelly) midway through the 2014 season, and boy did he ever plummet.  In a season and a half in Boston, Allen batted .139 over close to 200 plate appearances.  His slugging percentage was below the Mendoza Line in his time with the Red Sox.  Unreal.

This on-card auto courtesy of Topps Five Star cost me just a couple of bucks, and it's kind of a fun reminder in my collection that although ownership has made a lot of great moves the past couple of decades, they certainly weren't all winners.

That's all for now, thanks for stopping by!
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