Thursday, September 5, 2019

You Be the Judge

Well I opened my first pack of 2019 a few weeks back, and that led to more packs being purchased, of course. In what I hope will be an ongoing tradition, my two year old son helped me open two 3-packs of Topps Chrome, with some Pink Refractors included with each.

My favorite card of the bunch is the our first Braves card of 2019. I give you, Chrome Nick Markakis.

Base Chrome cards never scan particularly well, but it's the first Braves card I've opened in over a year, what can you do? I compare Nick Markakis to Topps Chrome in that you pretty much know what you're getting. With Markakis you're not going to get a ton of power, but you're going to get good at-bats lots of doubles and solid above-average defense. When you open a pack of Topps Chrome, you know you're getting shiny cards that you've probably seen before, and chances are solid of getting an insert or refractor, and a rookie card. 

These packs fulfilled that expectation perfectly.

Here's the other base card that stood out to me from these packs. I first watched Manny Margot (He'll always be Manuel to me), play in Class A ball in Greenville, and he stood out as one of the best on the field each time. 

I appreciate Topps Chrome (and Topps) showing Minor league and Major league stats for the younger players. This one shows stats from Margot's ascent up the minor league ladder to the Padres, and his switch from the Red Sox system to the Padres (Portland to El Paso). Over 40 stolen bases between Greenville and Salem back in 2014!

The best of the Pink refractors had to be Jeff McNeil, one of the Mets star rookies. While not the most valuable card of the two rookies, McNeil is having a fine season and a big reason that the Mets still have a shot at the playoffs. This was the first of many cards we pulled of rival and 'hated' (Yankees) teams.

Springer I seem to pull a card of in just about every break. Francisco Lindor is another. Could do worse, I guess, and the play at the plate shot here is fun.

Two 1984 Topps inserts, neither fit into my collection and fit the NL East or Yankees criteria. The Nationals are trying to catch up to the Braves in the NL East, but are looking like a sure thing to make the playoffs and are one of the hottest teams in baseball. I also opened a base card of Soto.

And this is the first Judge insert I've seen and while I won't object to pulling his cards, they don't fit into my collection either. The inserts definitely scan much better than the base cards.

Another NL East player in Brian Anderson. Down the road the Marlins may be dangerous but it seems like it might be awhile. Also opened a Trevor Richards.

Kopech can throw the heat with the best of them. Another former member of the Greenville Drive who went to the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade.

Greatness Returns in Jeter/Judge form in my packs of Topps Chrome, and while I'd rather have it return in the form of a Braves great and current star, I know I'll have plenty of takers for this insert. The faces of the Yankees franchise, as the back of the card describes, won rookie of the year 21 years apart.

It looks like both Braves in this insert set are paired up with Mike Trout. GRE-8 features Hank Aaron and Trout, and GRE-10 features Ronald Acuna and Trout. Why not just pair up Aaron and Acuna, or at least have it as another card in the set?

Here's the full contents of the six chrome packs plus the pink refractors:

19 Alex Bregman Astros
22 Gary Sanchez Yankees
29 Lorenzo Cain Brewers
39 Kyle Tucker RC Astros
91 David Dahl Rockies
93 Trevor Richards RC Marlins
97 Heath Fillmyer RC Royals
113 Ian Desmond Rockies
116 Jake Lamb Diamondbacks
125 Brandon Belt Giants
144 Blake Treinen A's
145 Nick Markakis Braves
155 Juan Soto Nationals
176 Aaron Nola Phillies
187 Ryan Borucki RC Blue Jays
196 Dee Gordon Mariners

Pink Refractors-
26 Nomar Mazara Rangers
42 George Springer Astros
63 Jeimer Candelario Tigers
136 Sean Reid-Foley RC Blue Jays
152 Jeff McNeil RC Mets
174 Eric Hosmer Padres

Regular Refractors-
79 Dean Deetz RC Astros
181 David Fletcher Angels

1984 Topps-
84TC-1 Juan Soto Nationals
84TC-2 Aaron Judge Yankees

Freshman Flash-
FF-14 Michael Kopech White Sox

Future Stars-
FS-16 Brian Anderson Marlins

Greatness Returns-
GRE-6 Derek Jeter/Aaron Judge Yankees

So you be the judge, which card wins from this set of packs? What are the odds of hitting two inserts of Judge out of 6 packs.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

My Son Likes 'Stuff'

Since my son was born in late 2016, my posting on this blog, and card collecting altogether, has been minimal. He's now getting to the age where he likes 'stuff'. What kind of stuff does not matter much. He likes rocks from the yard the same as a bouncy ball, the same as his dinosaurs, the same as... baseball cards. He likes to port his 'stuff' around in a backpack or in the basket on the back of his bicycle. So when we went to the store the other day, I was able to get him excited about opening a pack of baseball cards, just as if I was offering him a sucker or chocolate milk.

I chose a 2019 set that is generally one of my favorites each year, but also one that had more than a handful of cards to make the fun last a little longer. To scratch my own pack busting itch, we opened a 20 card pack of 2019 Topps Heritage together, the first pack of cards I'd opened in over a year.

These were the cards that stuck out to me in this 20 card pack. The Carpenter was the lone SP in the pack. Nelson Cruz and the Twins just finished up a series against the Braves, and he's still slugging away at age 38. 32 Home runs in 86 games in 2019, can that be right?? And J.P. Crawford was the other player of note for me in this pack. Last I checked, he was on the Phillies, but looks like the former 1st round pick was traded in December to the Mariners. Still just 24 years old.

And this was the highlight of the pack for me. Anytime a former member of the Greenville Drive over the past few years shows up on a card, it's fun to see, especially when it's highlights from big playoff games. 

And now that I know I can use a pack of baseball cards as a reward, maybe this blog will become more active again, who knows.

Here's the full contents of the pack:

56 De Los Santos, Suarez, Phillies
60 Josh Reddick, Astros
72 Verlander, Cole, Sale
90 J.P. Crawford, Mariners
128 Robinson Chirinos, Rangers
134 Nelson Cruz, Twins
143 Chasen Shreve, Cardinals
191 David Price, Red Sox
201 Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox (ALCS Game 4)
238 Brandon Drury, Blue Jays
260 German Marquez, Rockies
268 Brad Boxberger, Diamondbacks
288 Cesar Hernandez, Phillies
307 Max Muncy, Dodgers (World Series Game 3)
309 David Price, Red Sox (Word Series Game 5)
313 Michael Fullmer
322 Ivan Nova, White Sox
336 Ervin Santana
376 Ryan Borucki/Sean Reid-Foley/Danny Jensen, Blue Jays
438 Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (SP)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

First pack of 2018

It's been awhile since my last card activity. Adding a baby, now toddler to the mix can have that effect. I'm sure a good many of you can attest.

I've followed the card blogs a bit, but seeing Stadium Club on the shelves at my local target finally led me to spend my first dollars on cardboard in 2018.

I asked my son to pick up a 36 card pack of Topps Series 1 and a 12 card pack of Stadium Club (there were four Stadium Club packs on the shelves. Next time I went to target they were all gone). I opened the Topps Series 1 pack first, and since my favorite player in the game today showed up in the pack, I'm calling it my first card of 2018.

Doesn't get much better in this hobby than opening up a pack and finding your favorite player.

You've seen plenty of base cards by this point, so here's one of the highlights of the pack for me. A World Series highlight, in fact. This is one of Springer's five home runs in the 2017 World Series.

This looks like a gold parallel, and it is. The window threw me off. The serial number on this one was 1812, which made me think, wouldn't it be cool to pull a team card with a serial number of the year of the team's first season or the team's founding? Anyone out there with a Dodgers card with a serial number of 1883? Anyone need this Justin Turner card?

And the interests from the pack. I guess Machado will make himself into a legend on another team here shortly. To all the Orioles fans out there, I feel for you and hope that the players coming back end up making a difference down the road.

The D-Backs just took two of three from the Braves before the All-Star break and Goldschmidt is a big part of the success they are seeing. With all the player movement these days, I appreciate seeing a guy stay with a team for the long term.

I would like the Superstar Sensations insert set better if the colors matched the team colors rather than seeing purple on every card.

Since Stadium Club is always my favorite set each year, I'll have to devote an entire post to that pack. Hopefully it's not another 11 months before the next post!

I'll be watching the All-Star game tonight. Mookie, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis in his first AS game and starting - a lot to get excited about!

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.