Saturday, August 14, 2021

Diamond Kings


Diamond Kings is a product that I always enjoy seeing but don't usually open much of. This year I saw a blaster on the Target app and decided I would pull the trigger on it. I looked at the insert checklists and the colors on some of these were enough to get me to purchase. I generally like the base set for the basketball Court Kings product, and I think if we had logos on these then Diamond Kings would be one of my favorite products each year. Without them it's probably middle of the pack.

I didn't realize until writing this post that I pulled 5 SPs, cards with a number 101 or higher. I received:

138 Lewin Diaz, 143 David Peterson, 158 Kyle Lewis, 163 Matt Chapman, 168 Max Scherzer

Highlights of the base cards for me, and I think they show the variety in this product. Start with Sisler, born in 1893 and the MVP in 1922 for the St. Louis Browns, and next to him is Bobby Dalbec, a rookie for the Red Sox born over a century later in 1995. 

Then we have an Artist Proof of Joe Jackson, born in 1889, from Pickens County, SC. The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum is across the street from Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive. Cool to pull one of his cards out of a pack, and a parallel, even better.

One of the perks, based on the outside of the box, was a bordered parallel card. I opened George Brett as you can see. 

So many of these rookies I am pulling I know nothing about, and Carlson is one of them. And sometimes that happens even with the highest rated prospects. He was rated a consensus top 20 prospect in baseball heading into the 2021 season. But luckily this blog post gives me a reason to find out more. A first round pick in 2016, Carlson is having a solid season for the Cardinals.

First Cristian Pache going into my collection. I realize he's a defense first player, but I hope his bat gets going too.

I know these guys, no doubt. First Vlad card I've pulled in awhile, and no complaints there. The Legacy Lithographs set is farther down on my insert rankings, if I had them, though.

I like the look of the Gallery of Stars a bit better, especially the colors in the Bryce Harper, although I would have preferred a different player, personally. Luckily I pulled another, of Roger Maris. No complaints on that one.

The Art of Hitting is a sharp insert set. Keeping it simple and it works. Pulling an insert of Pujols made me go and search to see how much his 2001 Topps Traded is going for. Seems like one can be had for under $100, and possibly a good bit less, and a Chrome version for about twice the price. For an all-time great, that doesn't seem too bad compared to all the other craziness going on in the hobby right now.

I’ve seen Pearson show up in multiple pack breaks recently, and though not one of the more hyped rookies, he’s a top prospect for the Blue Jays and a former first round pick. I do like the design on this one with the field and stadium in the background.

This is simply a beautiful card. Anyone have the Cal Ripken Jr. or Greg Maddux from this set they would swap? This set and the one following have to be highlights from Diamond Kings this year.

Artist's Palette is my other favorite from this blaster break. What's interesting is that Reese is the only retired player in the 15 card set. The others are all fairly young stars or rookies. This set is made up of all horizontal cards.

The more I flip through the cards from this break, the more I like this product. The inserts are sharp and the base set isn't so bad either. Seems like the issue a lot of folks have besides the lack of logos is use of the same photos for retired players from year to year, which is valid. If you look at it as a standalone product, it really is a nice design.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Card Message Boards

A recent episode of the Wax Museum Podcast, focused on basketball cards, provides a high-level history of message boards as they relate to the sports cards hobby (episode 125). I'd encourage anyone interested in cards, no matter the sport, to go and give this episode a listen. It's fun to reminisce on my early days of online card trading, but it was also interesting to hear others experiences.

My message board of choice was The Bench. Friendly group of users, mostly easy to make deals in my value range, and a board focused on baseball. I made a good many basketball card trades as well, but they were tougher to come by on The Bench. The last trade I made there was in 2012, coming up on a decade ago, which is hard to believe because that site was a daily stop for me. I check in every once in awhile, and the forum is still going strong on the baseball wants and for trade sections. I'm sure the volume of posts and trades is well down from where it was when I was active, but it's great to see people still making deals on the site.

I wasn't as active, but still made a good many trades on Sports Card Forum.

Honestly, my collection would be nowhere close to what it is today without these message boards. They were my primary method for acquiring the cards I wanted. Looking back at deals I made on these sites, not many of them look like 'bad' deals. I never had a Trout rookie to trade, for example. I probably traded some early LeBron cards that looking back I probably should have held onto, but I'm happy with where my collection is now. It's also interesting to see how my collection focus shifted over the years. In baseball, I focused on Braves from the 90s and Cal Ripken Jr, throwing in some players I've mentioned on this blog before like Cesar Izturis. And while my focus has shifted somewhat based on where I now call home, I traded for cards then that are still some of my favorite cards now. 

I also tried to complete a few insert sets. The farthest I got was 2006 Bazooka Stamps, and most of these I picked up via message board trades. I'll have to get this back up on the want list and finish it out. I'm pretty close. 

Outside of the card blogosphere, where have you made trades over the years? What are your earliest memories of making trades? Were you on sports card message boards? What was your experience like?

Thursday, August 5, 2021

I Went in a Card Store

A month or so ago I did something I hadn't done in several years. I went in a card shop. While on vacation I called over to a local card shop, not something I can normally do at home, to see if they had any of the newly released Stadium Club packs. They had some but said it wouldn't last long so I went over to pick some up. I was excited to open some packs but I was also excited about the prospects of picking up some single cards to add to my collection. 

Turns out I got there just in time. I was able to grab the last three packs of Stadium Club. They had some other products but nothing that seemed in line with what I was willing to pay. With just three hobby packs I think I did pretty well.

Pulled my first Benintendi of 2021 which falls into the Greenville Drive collection. That's one I won't have to put on the want list. It is weird to see him in a Royals uniform. Another former Drive player switched teams this week (Chavis to the Pirates) and while I am glad to continue to cheer for collect them after they've switched teams, it's really satisfying to see them perform well on the Red Sox. Benintendi hit just .183 in July after coming back from injury. Hoping he can turn it around for the last part of the year.

I hadn't seen the Puckett card posted anywhere yet and it may have been my favorite from my three packs. The colors look great on this one. 

And I've mentioned on pack breaks from previous years how I appreciate shots at this angle. Hoping Sale comes back strong- his rehab starts have been pretty solid.

Speaking of switching teams, Manny Machado used to be a guy I sought cards of. I still own a good stack of cards from his time with the Orioles. Since then though it's been tough for me to cheer for him, and I no longer seek out his cards. 

With Turner on the move to LA, the rich get richer. What a luxury to add a player of Turner's caliber at a position where Corey Seager is already playing.

Schwarber seems like a good fit for the Red Sox, and can't have too much quality depth, but starting pitching seems like the real weakness for this team. 

While I'm no Yankees fan, this is a pretty cool shot.

This was another of my favorite base cards I opened. Love the dirt spraying up from the slide.

Harper I'm happy to send to another collector. Never been a fan, as to be expected with him being a rival to the Braves at both of his major league stops in his career.

The Cal is a keeper out of the three packs. Love the design, love the 90s, love Cal. It's a keeper for sure.

Two Phillies inserts in the same box, I'm not enthused. Cutch is 34 now and I forget that he won an MVP award in 2013.

I've been pulling Dodger cards like crazy recently. Nothing mind blowing but solid cards nonetheless. As always the Chrome card didn't scan great, but I can assure you this card looks great in hand.

Was this a Braves rivals box? Kilome is in AAA Syracuse. Tough signature to read but I was still pleased to pull an autograph out of three packs. I figured someone would have opened packs until they pulled all the autos, but I opened one out of the last three packs in the box.

This Devers rookie card from Topps Gallery was in the display case at the front of the store. It was a little more than I could have probably found on eBay, but it was right there in front of me, I didn't have to wait for it to be shipped to me, and most of all, I want to support the local card shop when I can, even on a small purchase like this one.

While I picked up the Devers rookie at the store, this Topps Heritage relic from 2020 I spotted in the store, and it was priced significantly more than I could pick it up online. I would have liked to buy it in store, but when it's more than double the price there, I couldn't justify it. I do love the design and colors on this Devers relic, the 2nd in my collection.

I would have liked to dig through boxes for more cards for my collection, and I did browse a little bit, but I ran out of time. Next time I'm in town I'll be sure to spot back by, though. Just the act of going into a local card store and seeing packs on a shelf in person was therapeutic. Looking forward to the next time! 

Monday, August 2, 2021

Stars in Series 2

I mentioned in a previous post that my family grabbed a few blasters off the Target app for a gift for Father's day. It's encouraging to see that some of the same products are still showing as available over a month later. For me, it's part of what keeps me a part of the hobby. I enjoy adding to my player and minor league team collections, but the biggest joy for me recently is opening packs with my son, and being able to find at least a few of the league's stars when doing so.

A blaster of Topps Series 2 delivered for us a few weeks ago. It was a blast to open these packs. 

I don't own any cards from Series 1 and this was my first time seeing Series 2 in person. I think Topps is on the right track with the design for 2022. The border and design elements just leave too little context for what is going on around the player for my liking. These three were some of the cards that stuck out to me. 

Berrios made his debut with the Jays and started off with a strong start. That AL East is loaded and it will be interesting to see which teams can make the playoffs. Someone's going to be left out, but if it's the Jays, they've got a lot to look forward to in coming years.

I've got a soft spot for the Orioles, even if they do rival some of my favorite Red Sox players. Was glad to see Mullins make the All-Star team and as of this post he's still sitting 4th in the AL in batting average. The Orioles have some bright spots which make them worth watching even if they aren't winning in that loaded division.

Starling I featured here because he's helping USA baseball push towards a medal. Despite losing to Japan, USA is assured a spot in the quarterfinals. I'm cheering for this guy to find success at the big league level, at one point a top prospect in baseball.

Going back to the card design, I found myself gravitating towards the horizontal cards. Look at the hair action on this Hader.

Possibly the two biggest stars in the game today on the same card. 

The Braves need some help to get over .500. Not sure if what they got at the deadline will help them make the playoffs, but Soler will be fun to cheer for regardless.

Like I said, the horizonal cards stuck out to me. They feel less crowded than the vertical cards.

More stars along with my favorite cards from the box. The '65 design cards are great. Would try to collect the whole set if I thought that was realistic. Instead I'll look for the Betts, Dalbec and Devers.

I ended up with seven of the '65 Redux cards and one Chrome, which looks like an unnumbered refractor version.

The last of the base '65 redux. He's now on the Marlins playing for the AAA team called the Jumbo Shrimp. I love minor league baseball.

Mountcastle is another one of those bright spots for the Orioles I was mentioning. 

Can't open a blaster of Topps without getting at least one numbered parallel. Maybe a Rockies collector out there needs this gold Trevor Story.

Here's another star, one of the biggest today. As opposed to the Statistically Speaking insert from the Absolute set, this insert set has a stat that you don't ordinarily see on the front of a card. This set gets a thumbs up from me. 

Can't say I'm familiar with Varsho, but as I've mentioned, I really like seeing current players on previous year set designs. Will definitely look to pick up cards of Dalbec and Houck. 

Both of the Ripken Jr. cards will go into my personal collection. Big fan of both of these and was so pleased to get multiple Cal cards in my box. Especially like the 86 All-Star card.

Another blaster and a second Dodger as the 'hit' with an anniversary patch. This is another very thick card. If I can find a thick enough toploader, I would love to send this along to a Dodger collector somewhere.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Absolutely Sharp Relic


In my last post I mentioned blaster boxes and packs starting to pop up online and in some cases in person near me. My family snagged some cards for me off the Target app for Father's day and I added a bit more to my stack to open with my 4 year old son, who legitimately enjoys opening packs and showing me the cards he opens. Obviously I enjoy it as well and am excited that packs are starting to become available again. In this case, I saw 2021 Absolute Baseball sitting on the Target app, and initially passed it up, but a few days later when it showed up again I decided I would try it out, despite the lack of logos. I was intrigued mainly by the relic cards in this product as well as the variety of inserts. Overall it was great to be opening packs again, but I have some constructive criticism as well.

The base design is fine. There's a very apparent lack of variety in color on the base cards in this product. Lots and lots of blue and red and a few cards with black, orange and yellow. Without logos, this really sticks out. I'll stick with, this design for the base cards is... OK. 

I'm glad to add a Freeman card to my collection. First of 2021 and only 2nd since 2017. I've got a lot to catch up on, even just with Freeman base from the past several years. I pulled multiple Ripken cards in this box and I'm pleased with that too. My son knows who Babe Ruth is from a children's book, so it was cool to show him that card.

I think the backs of the base cards actually work pretty well. Same image of the player on the back as on the front. I usually prefer more stats on the back of cards, but the design here works.

The rest of the post I'm going to share all of the insert designs I opened in order of my least favorite to favorite, and I'll end by talking about the relic card I pulled from my box. Let the insert countdown begin, and it was a variety in this box.

7. Rookie Class

These actually scan a bit better than they look in person. It's hard for me to get past that big bare logo-less hat on the Casey Mize. And it's hard to tell in the scan but the Mize is a green parallel. Normally I'm all about parallels but the green parallels don't add anything to these cards, base or insert. I'm assuming Mize is the highest regarded of these four players. Bart is blocked by Posey and could possibly be in trade talks? Giants fans tell me if I'm wrong there. 

Pulling four of these from one box, was hoping for a Bobby Dalbec. Glad to swap for one if someone out there has one available.

6. Extreme Team

Not sure what is going on here, looks like a flame behind Lindor maybe? The background doesn't fit with the border, the colors just don't fit together here. New team for Lindor but what would a break be without a Lindor insert? When I open packs, I tend to pull Lindor.

5. Statistically Speaking

An insert set called 'Statistically Speaking' should have some kind of statistic on it, right? I actually like the design on this one. The black and white works with the red. I'd take off the 6 lines coming into the picture and then I'd really like the design. I admittedly did not know much about Ken Boyer and I now know he won MVP in 1964 with 119 RBI and was an 11x All-Star. The back does have these statistics and I guess that's where they come into play. Happy to send this card to a Cardinals collector who I am sure would appreciate an insert card of Mr. Boyer.

4. Prospects

If I had just opened the Franco I might have rated this higher. I like the simplicity of this Prospects insert set, and I like how the Rays uniform looks with the gray border. The Rutchman is a green parallel. I guess I'm giving into the hype train and putting this #4 because I opened a card of Wander. You know what, I think I'm wrong on the order of this one.

3. Unsung Heroes 

Something about the Heroes text fading into the background just works. The green parallel on the Goldschmidt doesn't work. The A's are a team I never have a problem with, just a classic baseball brand that I'm generally happy to see do well.

2. Power

I'm a fan of cards with lightning. It makes me think of the Thunder and Lightning basketball inserts from the 90s. Easy decision to put this here in the rankings. If I'd pulled Devers it would be easy #1 for me. I'll be adding that one to the want list right away. The Killebrew is a green parallel and it honestly takes away from the look of the card. It's again nearly impossible to tell in the scan.

I can get behind this card back, as well. Can almost hear the crack of the bat.

1. Icons

No other choice when I pull Cal and Griffey. The Cal is a keeper for sure and I'm betting someone out there would enjoy having the Griffey showing his classic swing. The George Brett is also a fine card. These three also wear the lack of logos very well. 

One thing I'll say for Absolute blasters - if you enjoy inserts, you'll get a bunch. 

And one of the reasons I opened a blaster, a chance at a nice looking relic, and the box did not disappoint there. 15 inserts, 1 relic, 5 green base parallels out of 40 cards in the blaster.

This card is thick, and it looks sharp. Three jersey swatches, a nice color schema and a solid player in Dustin May. Can't complain about this one. 

Glad to be able to open some packs again. What have you opened recently and where did you get it? 

And to those of you going to The National, have fun and stay safe!

Monday, July 26, 2021

Sob Rock and Cards

I'm a man with more than one hobby, one of which is listening to music, attempting to learn guitar, and collecting vinyl records. One of the best guitar players out there, John Mayer, released a new album recently, and it was one I knew I would end up picking up. I like the 80s vibe and comedy in the marketing around this release. 

How does this record relate to a card blog, you ask? Well, what came to mind from listening to 'Sob Rock' while going through cards over the weekend was all the negativity around the hobby. 

Prices too high, can't find cards, the bubble's bursting, it's such a bummer. 

Ebay fees too high, buyer returned my item, grading takes too long, what's going on this Summer? 

Look at the lyrics and listen to I Guess I Just Feel Like while you're scrolling through hobby twitter and you might get what I'm talking about.

Well I'm here to tell you that the low-end collector over here is looking at the hobby in a different light, a New Light, even. 

While I'm enjoying the guitar riffs, the 80s sounds on the keys, the can't get it out of my head tune in 'New Light' and the retro look of this John Mayer album, I’m looking at everything that’s great about the hobby.

1) The blogging community is not going away. My involvement often comes in waves, but quality content from the baseball card blogging community is always there, and it’s awesome to see the friendships and support among collectors in this space.

2) I'm finding packs and boxes again, even if it's not in stores. I've been able to snag a few blasters recently from Target (box breaks to come) at normal prices, and while on vacation I even ventured to a local card shop that had some Stadium Club hobby packs in stock. 

This seems like an excellent progression for everyone, and especially the lower end collectors out there.

3) A few examples of cards I'm enjoying picking up these days:

Cards of my favorite players in sweet insert sets like this one, a Betts Warp Speed insert from 2019 Stadium Club. The good thing about returning to the hobby after a few years away is there's plenty of great stuff to see for the first time. And better yet, I picked this one up for a dollar. 

Cards of my favorite players on classic card designs. I never get tired of these types of cards. While we see them fairly often in flagship Topps, Archives and Heritage, I'm always happy to see current cards on iconic designs like this one.

What are your favorite things about the hobby? What keeps you collecting (and blogging)? 

Also, do you have other hobbies besides cards? I want to hear about them!