Friday, August 18, 2017

Found Some Platinum Packs

I got caught up in the Bowman Platinum hype and the Bellinger and Judge hype and tracked down a few packs at a local Wal-Mart. I have to say while I appreciate the photography of Stadium Club, I also like this design. In fact it's my favorite Platinum design to date.

Here are the best of the base cards and a Benintendi rookie. This is the 3rd Benintendi I've pulled and I was pleased to see one of the more desirable rookies come out of the first pack.

Both of these prospects were shipped to the White Sox as part of the trade for Jose Quintana. Jimenez was recently promoted to AA Birmingham and is rated as a top-10 prospect by Cease is the 65th rated prospect on and is in single-A Kannapolis.

Here are the blue parallels I received. After reading up on Aiken, I'll be rooting for him to succeed with Cleveland. He's had an up and down season in single A it seems. Kyle Tucker is a top 10 prospect and has homered in back to back games for AA Corpus Christi. 

Alfaro is currently on the Phillies big league club and 6-16 early on, hitting a home run in his most recent game. Alfaro was acquired from the Rangers when they traded Cole Hamels. Weaver has pitched in five games for the Cardinals this year, starting two. He's currently in AAA Memphis and has pretty stellar minor league stats.

No Judge, no Bellinger, but I'm glad to settle for a Benintendi. Anyone need these prospects? Most everything from my recent pack breaks is up for grabs.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Favorite Pack I've Opened This Year

I don't mind the Donruss brand in recent years. In fact I've enjoyed opening packs of it with the good number of inserts in the larger retail 'value' packs. I'd seen good things from Optic breaks this year and wanted to get my hands on some. I opened a 16 card pack the other day and it was the best pack I've opened so far in 2017.

Here are the best of the base cards, of which there were six. Anytime I pull cards of my main player collection guys, I'm happy. Glad to add the Freeman to my collection. I liked the Donruss design this year and I like the shiny version from Optic even more.

Here are the non-Prizm (refractor) inserts. Mancini and Bregman are both having solid rookie seasons. Excited to pull multiple Braves in the same pack, and getting to see Albies with the big-league club in recent weeks has me excited for the future of the Braves.

Each of the 16 card packs have four Purple Prizm cards in them. The first for me was the guy on the pack, Mickey Mantle. It's not every day that you pull a Mantle. The regular Diamond Kings are less exciting but Kluber sure is making a run for AL Cy Young.

Here's the lone regular Prizm. I had to look up Paulino. He's started 6 games for the Astros this season but is currently suspended for a positive test for a banned substance.

The rest of the purple prizes from the pack. Hard to argue with Prizms of Gwynn and Trout, and I'm pleased to add to my small Benintendi collection.

Keeping the Freeman and Benintendi, but the rest are up for grabs. Looking to trade for other Braves from this set and I'd also like to pick up cards of Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers from this set. This was a great pack that will probably lead me to going back and picking up a few more.

On a side note, I'm hoping to make it to my first card show in over 10 years on Saturday. Should be fairly small but I'm excited even if it is. I'll have a recap sometime next week, even if I strike out at the show and end up picking up another pack of Optic.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Card Back Quotes and Facts Part 1 - Ryan Klesko

I'm starting a new series where I take a look at card backs in my collection and pull out interesting facts and quotes. I recently completed adding a list of all the Ryan Klesko cards in my collection to my What I Collect page. I'm at 98 different cards, oh so close to the 100 card milestone.

"When I'm healthy and playing every day, I can put up the numbers with the best of them."
- Ryan Klesko, Houston Chronicle, 10/1/97

From the man himself, once Klesko did get a chance to play every day by virtue of moving to left field, he did indeed produce and put up numbers. 

The Thunder brand for baseball looks like the Z-Force brand that I am familiar with on the basketball side of things.

"In the World Series, Ryan hit three HRs in three straight games."

All three of those home runs in the 1995 World Series were on the road at Jacobs Field. Here are the specifics courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Game 3, 7th Inning off Charles Nagy - Braves lose 7-6
Game 4, 6th Inning off Ken Hill - Braves win 5-2 
Game 5, 9th Inning off Jose Mesa - Braves lose 5-4

"The slam was the Braves' 12th of the season, an ML record."

The team record of 12 grand slams for Atlanta in 1997 has since been broken by the Oakland A's in 2000 and the Indians in 2006, each with 14 grand slams.

"Klesko's diving catch was a big play as the Braves beat the Reds 3-2 to take two of three in that series."

I've featured this card on the blog before and I really just wanted to show this one again for the photo on the front. The description above seems like a missed opportunity. What was the situation in the game when this catch was made? 

I tried to find this play in the box score for the game on Baseball Reference. There isn't a clear indication of which play this was. In fact, I don't see any plays that show a flyball to LF where Klesko would have clearly made the play. Here are the possible plays:

Bottom of the 4th, runners on 1st and 2nd for the Reds, 1 out. Flyball to CF.
Bottom of the 5th, runner on 3rd with 1 out. Flyball to CF/Sacrifice Fly, Hal Morris scores a run.
Bottom of the 5th, no one on with 2 outs. Lineout to CF.

The bottom of the 4th inning seems to be the most critical situation there, and maybe Klesko had to come over from left field to make the play. 

On this Bazooka card there's a Funny Fortune section on the bottom of the card. Let me flip that around so you can read it.

"May 22, 1996 - Ryan becomes the 1st slugger since 1971 to reach the upper level of Fulton County Stadium."

The home run in question happened in the 1st inning against Chicago Cubs pitcher Jim Bullinger, scoring Dwight Smith and Chipper Jones. I miss the Bazooka card brand, by the way. I'm a few cards away from completing a Bazooka Stamps insert set that I'll share in a future post.

"Led all big-league first basemen with 23 steals in 2001 to go along with a career-high 113 RBI, the highest total ever tallied by a Padres first sacker."

Here's the front of the card, which is pretty sweet by the way. Donruss originals, can these make a comeback? As for the 113 RBI, Adrian Gonzalez came along with 118 RBI in 2008, breaking this record. And you wouldn't think it, but Klesko could steal a base.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the card backs and plan to make this a regular practice.

Friday, August 11, 2017

My First Look at Stadium Club

By now you've seen most if not all of these cards on other blogs, but who doesn't like recaps of pack/box breaks? Here's what I pulled from my 12 card pack of 2017 Stadium Club. Plus two inserts I picked up off ebay.

Some of my favorite vertical shots from the pack. Look at all those Ks behind Johnson. Looks like he was havinga good night here. Saying Lester has been a great pickup for the Cubs would be an understatement. Hard not to cheer for the guy. And lastly a bat toss from the rival Phillies.

Another Cub with a cool shot of Kendricks walking to the dugout. 

And my favorite photo from the pack, and one of the more memorable cards from the set, I would think.

I opened a Chrome parallel of Astros rookie Gurriel. He's having a nice season batting .295 with 13 home runs and he just picked up July AL rookie of the month honors.

And one of the reasons for the Diamondbacks success this season. Wish the Braves had a consistent ace like Greinke. Maybe one of the prospects in the system will turn into one. Hard to believe Greinke is 33 years old.

For those who are interested, the full contents of the pack:

Randy Johnson 21
Michael Conforto 110
Jon Lester 120
Kyle Hendricks 123
Luis Severino 128
Kenta Maeda 164
Max Scherzer 214
Odubel Herrera 216
Martin Prado 276
Jon Gray 290
Yulieski Gurriel SCC-51
Zack Greinke SS-ZG

These two inserts were actually the first two 2017 Stadium Club cards added to my collection. Big fan of the Beam Team insert set over the years, and glad that the Braves are represented. 

The Red Sox are on an eight game winning streak and Betts is always a big contributor both at the plate and in the field.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

2015-16 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey Blaster

I've had my eye out recently for discounted blasters at my local target. It's hard for me to justify paying full price for a blaster unless it's a product I'm really interested in (2017 Archives baseball, for instance). Recently I had some luck with some discounted hockey blasters showing up. I snatched them up to make them my first hockey blasters. The first was Upper Deck Series 2 from 2015-16. I saw a few familiar names as I continue my journey into following the NHL.

First some names that a familiar to me. Jagr is trying to find a team for the upcoming season after playing the last three with the Florida Panthers. Tarasenko has put together three straight 70+ point seasons and is only 25 years old. Kopitar has played his whole career thus far with the Kings and I respect any player that plays for the same team as long as he has. He's a two-time Champion and a three-time All-Star.

I like the design for the base set but I prefer 2016-17 a bit more. 

These three I wanted to show because of the awesome photos. Johansson is pumped after scoring on the second-longest tenured goalie in the game today. The second shot shows the puck up against the glass- just a unique shot. And I am enjoying the angles in some of these cards that show the arena in the background. The Stralman even gets some of the banners hanging off in the distance.

Had to choose at least one goalie base card and Talbot is a strong player to include as he makes his entry onto the ice.

Here's the lone Young Guns card from the blaster. Forbort played in all 82 games for the Kings this past season and from what I read quickly he seemed to provide solid defensive play. 

One of my favorite photos from the blaster. Neil's just been hired as the CFO of the Senators after 15 years as a player. Staying with the same team for a long-time must be more common in the NHL than other sports, which I appreciate greatly.

Awesome shot from the goal looking out onto the rest of the ice and arena. Again, the angles on the photos in this set are great.

One more shot of the arena in the background.

While I didn't pull any Predators, I did pull recently signed Predator Nick Bonino. He's expected to be the second line center after Mike Fisher's recent retirement. Glad to take away from the Penguins while also helping the Preds.

Moving on to the inserts, I opened up one UD Canvas parallel. These would be awesome for in-person or through-the-mail autographs. Another Senator in this one.

Two O-Pee-Chee Update cards and a UD Portraits card wrap up the inserts. Not going to lie, I was hoping to pull a Connor McDavid card out of this blaster, but no such luck. I'm a big fan of the O-Pee-Chee brand, and in particular the Martin Jones has an awesome background. The odds seem to be much worse for pulling Veterans in the Update set, but I somehow managed to pull two of them. The Portraits insert set I could do without, honestly. The design doesn't do anything for me. 

I'd buy a discounted blaster of this product every time. Enjoyed breaking this many hockey packs at once. Hoping to find some hockey trade partners to add more Nashville cards to my hockey binder. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Hit Milestones

2,000, 10, and 1. Three numbers that came up during last night's Braves/Dodgers game. Two go with an Atlanta veteran outfielder and a favorite player of mine. The other was a first hit for a Braves top prospect. Let's start with the veteran.

Nick Markakis reached the 2,000 hit milestone last night with a fourth-inning single off former Brave Alex Wood. He added number 2,001 later in the game. Nick has never made an All-Star appearance. He does have two Gold Glove awards and is 2nd all-time in fielding percentage as a right-fielder. 

These are the first two Markakis cards from 2017 I've picked up. Still need to pick up Series 2.

Here's the stat for Markakis that jumps out at me. He's 10th among active players in hits. Here's a list of guys behind him who are the same age or older:

Adrian Gonzalez (35)
Brandon Phillips (36)
Joe Mauer (34)
Chase Utley (38)
Dustin Pedroia (33)
David Wright (34)
Hanley Ramirez (33)
Yadier Molina (34)
Ryan Braun (33)
Edwin Encarnacion (33)
Joey Votto (33)
Ryan Howard (37)
Brian McCann (33)

There's a lot of All-Star appearances in that list. Markakis is a model for consistency and solid play. Outstanding career with hopefully several more years left.

Still adding versions of 2016 Topps to my collection. These bring the total to five cards for Markakis (Series 1, Gold, Opening Day, Chrome, Mini).

This brings us to someone who's career is just getting started at the big league level. Ozzie Albies broke through with his first hit, a three-run home run in the 9th inning of last night's game. I love seeing guys get their first hit as a home run. Same thing happened with Rafael Devers for the Red Sox the other day. Here's hoping Ozzie gets to 2,000 someday. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

From the Binder- Rafael Furcal

While Rafael Furcal, a three-time All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year award winner, played more seasons on other teams than with the Braves, he was one my favorite Braves to watch.

The GameTime card shows more pixeled or blurry Furcal than clear Furcal. Neat design nonetheless. Always enjoy a good Heritage card, and this shot of a smiling Furcal is no exception. And while the 2003 Topps design isn't among my favorites, the Chrome version looks much better, especially with Braves cards. 

A few more cards here reminding me how much I miss Fleer brands, and mainly, card buying choices. The Gold Label ranks up there for me in my Fucal card hierarchy. Have always been a fan of the Gold Label brands from the late 90s/early 00s. Any opportunity to open a pack of Gold Label was a special treat, even years after release.

I have almost as many non-Braves Furcal cards as ones that show him in a Braves uniform. Gypsy Queen usually falls near the top of my mental set 'power rankings'. I've talked about the Flashback Fridays set in the center before. This is an insert set I wouldn't mind trying to complete. Chipper is the only Brave in the set. While I mentioned not being a fan of the 2003 Topps set, I quite like the design and colors on the 2006 set.

In the spirit of 2017 Stadium Club being released, here's a Furcal Stadium Club card from 2002. Pretty nice photo here. Safe bet that runner is out.