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.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


There's no denying Chipper Jones is one of the greatest to wear the Atlanta Braves uniform. Being a Braves collector I have accumulated a decent number of Chipper cards despite not specifically calling him out among my player collections. Part of the appeal for me is he shows up in some interesting insert sets from the 90s that will give me an excuse to pick up cards from sets I otherwise wouldn't as I discover what I've missed from before I really started a baseball card collection in 2014.

And even though Chipper hasn't been retired that long, I remember getting goosebumps hearing his name announced during the only gave I saw him play in, at Turner Field against the Dodgers.

One thing I've been missing in my collection is a Chipper autograph. For my birthday back in April, my brother-in-law picked up a copy of Chipper's recent book, Ballplayer. While I've yet to read it, there's something special about this book outside of it being a birthday gift.

My brother-in-law went to a book signing and got the book autographed! Pretty neat item that I will hang onto for a long time.

I look forward to digging into the book and adding more cards of Chipper to my collection, particularly 90s inserts.

A few more Chippers that stand out to me from my collection.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dodger-centric Stack from the Night Owl

After Greg, aka the 'Night Owl' lost his want list (tragic) and worked on recreating it starting with 2017, I figured this was an opportunity to send out a handful of recent cards that might make it there before others beat me to it. A few days ago I found a package in my mailbox with the note below.

By the way, a handwritten note is appreciated in any circumstance. And yes, these cards put a dent in several areas of my want list.

While a good number of the cards in this stack were Dodgers, I'm going to start by sharing the non-Dodgers. A trio of Braves Heritage cards means I'm about halfway through collecting the team set for 2017. Vizcaino is having a strong season in relief so far. Jace Peterson went down to AAA for a little while but is back with the big-league club after straightening some things out. Wisler's spent most of his season in AAA but has appeared in seven games for Atlanta.

A program is a neat idea for an insert, and I appreciate Teheran appearing in an insert set, regardless of design. I couldn't have imagined Kemp playing as well as he has since coming over from the Padres. He's become one of my favorite Braves.

So much Green on this Freeman from Opening Day. Even one of few doubles for me was still a need, as one goes towards the team set while the other goes in the Freeman player collection.

And the last of the Braves cards I'll share... You'd think a Braves fan and collector would have cards from the early 90s of stars like Glavine already in my collection. But I wasn't collecting baseball cards at this time. Until I started this blog, basketball cards were my main collecting interest. I'm playing some major catch-up and I'm glad to add this Glavine to my binder.

Now we move into the Dodger part of the package. Three Kershaws, all from 2011 Topps products. Opening Day, Series 1, and Update series are all represented. They also instantly become the oldest Kershaws in my collection, a product of getting into baseball card collecting in 2014. Kershaw may be the best pitcher in the game, but his teammate, former Brave Alex Wood, surprisingly has a lower ERA so far this season. I'm sure the Night Owl is pleased with that development.

Sharp design on this 2013 Bowman Kershaw. I prefer this one to designs of the last several years. The Topps 72 mini is from 2013 as well and is the second mini Kershaw in my collection. Would be a fun set to put together.

I was so excited to see Cesar Izturis as the most represented player in this stack. I have around 20 or so cards of Izturis, a key player on Dodger teams from 2003-2005. He won a gold glove in 2004 and made the only All-Star game of his career in 2005. Unfortunately that season was cut short by injuries in the second half.

One of my favorite memories is from going to a game at Dodger Stadium with my Dad in 2003 as part of a family trip out West. The Dodgers beat the Cardinals, with Rickey Henderson hitting a home run. When that happened the place just exploded. Really neat moment. Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Edgar Renteria all homered off Kaz Ishii, but the Dodgers prevailed 8-5. For several years after that I followed that group of Dodgers pretty closely, but the only one that's remained in my list of player collections is Izturis.

What happened to the Bowman Heritage brand? Did they run out of old sets to copy the design of? If so, who would oppose picking that up again starting with '89?

I'll wrap this up with the 7th Betts card added to my collection featuring this design. The one is the Holiday edition. Looks like there's a metallic snowflake parallel as well, because of course. 

Thanks Greg- really enjoyed going through the package. I'm glad to be a landing spot for duplicate Kershaw and Izturis cards!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nashville Predators Starter Pack from Sports Cards from the Dollar Store

For the first time ever I had a rooting interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Nashville Predators went to the Cup Finals for the first time in team history. I'm not going to say much more at this point other than I had a blast following this team and I can't wait to follow a full season starting in the Fall.

Sports Cards from the Dollar Store saw my initial posts on hockey cards and sent a large package of Predators my way. He seemed excited to have a landing spot for his Predators cards. Well let me tell you all I am happy to be that landing spot.

Glad to have a reason to pick up the O-Pee-Chee brand. Wish this existed for current baseball sets. Pekka Rinne 'shut the door' repeatedly on playoff competition and the defense picked up from the regular season as well. Roman Josi is a big part of that. Weber was traded last June for my personal favorite P.K. Subban after serving as the Nashville captain for many years.

With O-Pee-Chee comes the Platinum brand as a separate release. And unlike other Chrome brands these scan pretty well, I think. It was nice watching you the last few months, James Neal. Good luck in Vegas!

Even though the consensus was that Rinne had a sub-par regular season based on his past performance, he stepped it up in the playoffs, helping get the Predators farther in the playoffs than they've ever been. Excited to be collecting new cards from the Fleer Showcase brand once again. It's been awhile.

The first card from 2015-16 Tim Hortons Collector's Series is a beauty. The Panini Select card on the right is a sharp looking card, too.

Three cards of the current captain. Particularly like the Contenders card referencing Bridgestone Arena.

Forsberg is probably my other favorite player at this point along with P.K. Subban. Was shocked when I learned he is only 22 years old and is as good as he is. Colin Wilson seems to step up his game in the playoffs. Glad to add a rookie card of his to my collection. Would Johansen have turned the finals in favor of the Preds? He sure would have helped.

Now we're getting to the gems of the starter park. This Forsberg is a silver parallel /25 from 2015-16 Champs. Nice, clean set design here.

I didn't fully appreciate this card until I saw Rinne dominate for stretches of games in the playoffs. What a card this one is! So glad for it to be the first hockey autograph to go into my collection.

This was just a small part of an amazing starter pack. Focused on current players in this post because those are the guys I'm familiar with based on the last few months or so of watching. Already can't wait for next season to start!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Green for Gypsy Queen

Quick rundown of the three packs of Gypsy Queen with a three card pack of green parallels I picked up from Target the other day.

Best of the base cards. When Kipnis is in the top three, it wasn't necessarily the strongest group of names. Kipnis is a fine player, though, of course. Just wasn't a star-filled set of packs. Glad to pull another Dansby. I've had pretty good luck pulling his cards so far in 2017.

Here are the three green parallels from the bonus pack. First Padres Margot card for me. Nice to see the former Greenville Drive outfielder having success in the majors. Also can't go wrong with a Bogaerts parallel.

I like these better than the retail parallels from years past. They don't have the raised border as in past years, which I am a fan of.

Here is the lone insert from the group of packs. Was excited to pull a Hand Drawn art (reproduction) card. Since it doesn't have his name on the card, this one is Rizzo.

I really like this year's design, and though this is usually one of my favorite releases each year, this set in particular looks like an improvement over the set from recent years.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hokies in the Pros Part 2

Last time in the Hokies in the Pros series I talked about a player who has rookie cards in 2017 card sets, Chad Pinder of the Oakland Athletics. This time I'm checking on Ben Rowen, who's made major league appearances with the Rangers in 2014 and the Brewers in 2016. He's now in the Mets organization in AAA Las Vegas after being in contention for a big-league bullpen spot.

He led the Hokies bullpen in 2009 and 2010 with 68 combined appearances, posting a 9-4 career record with 97 strikeouts compared to 19 walks.

The first thing you'll notice about Ben is his submarine style delivery.  He dominated in the minors during his rise to making his Rangers debut in 2014. He made eight appearances for the Rangers but pitched in several organizations since then. He's had a few tough appearances around a string of three scoreless appearances in the Pacific Coast League in 2017. Last season he was a mid-season All-Star for the Buffalo Bisons in the International League.

These are the only two cards currently in my collection for Rowen. The beckett database lists a little over 50 cards, most of those being various parallels. His only true base card, at least from what I can tell, is his 2013 Bowman Prospects card, which is the design shown in the Chrome cards above. He also has a handful of minor league team issue cards, from his 2012 Myrtle Beach Pelicans card as his earliest card, to his International League All-star card in 2016. While I don't plan to try to pick up every parallel of the 2013 Bowman card, I do plan to try to track down the minor league cards.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hitting the Gaps Part 2

Another round of hitting the gaps, where I try to track down cards I've missed from recent years and add them to my player collections. This round is for Mookie Betts.

Betts has three cards in The Future is Now set from 2014 Topps. I received the 3rd one in a recent trade but was missing the first two in the set. These are sharp looking cards, really like the glare effect in the bottom left, with the blurred background. 

These two from 2016 Allen & Ginter are the rare cards where the backs are more interesting to me than the fronts, although the fronts look sharp.

Really neat to see the list of Red Sox to wear #50 as well as other notable MLB players to wear the number.

Also neat to see 'The World's Champions Boston Red Sox' on the back. Others may disagree but I think it's a neat callout on the back of the card, regardless of which team is the champ in the current year.

I had the Topps Series 1 card, Opening Day, Opening Day blue, but had not picked up the Chrome, the mini version, or the card from Update. Still missing plenty of parallels of these cards.

Sweet group of cards from 2016. My favorite of the three is by far the Future Stars Topps Chrome insert. Love the stained glass look. This would be an insert set I would try to complete if I were to choose one. The card also scanned surprisingly well.

My second 2017 Betts card to appear on the blog, with many, many more to go. I have fond memories of the Gold Label brand from the 90s. Sadly the 2016 version doesn't stack up to those cards in look or feel but it's still nice that the brand saw a return.

The Rainbow parallel of the 2017 card above, and two other cards from 2017 Topps put me off to a solid start for picking up Betts cards from Series 1. I wouldn't really consider 2017 cards 'gaps' yet since they are pretty new but still glad to add them to the binder.

I'm now caught up on getting new Betts additions in my binder and up on my player collection page.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Two Donruss 30 card packs

I've enjoyed opening packs of Donruss in recent years, and this year is no exception. I like the number of inserts and parallels in these packs, which is usually five or more in a 30 card pack. There's also the slim chance of opening a variation card. I've yet to pull a variation from a pack but I'm still hopeful, whether or not it's warranted. Here's what I opened from my two packs.

Obligatory Lindor and Buster Posey. I'm getting these guys out of every product this year. Who wants cards of these guys? I've got some to send you!

Highlights of the base cards. Won't be upset pulling any of these guys.

I pulled 12 of these 1983 Retro Variations. I guess I did pull some variations after all, right? It's what these are called! Right?

In Heritage I pulled a Chris Sale SP. Here I pulled part of the other side of the deal, the new White Sox #1 prospect Moncada. The local Greenville Drive practically had a parade when he joined the team two years ago. Interested to see how he does when he reaches the majors this year.

I did pull a Diamond King. I guess this one technically isn't an insert, but I'm going to list it as one since I only opened one out of 60 cards. I still need the Markakis from last year, and the Optic version of it!

Rounding out the inserts, the two numbered cards in the break. I like the look of the Dominator insert but it's hard for me to get excited about the player. The Rose is fine. The grey border looks nice, I think.

List of Retro variations I opened:

Paul Goldschmidt RV-1
Freddie Freeman RV-2
Mookie Betts RV-4
Kyle Hendricks RV-6
Corey Kluber RV-9
Justin Verlander RV-12
Mike Trout RV-15
Albert Pujols RV-16
Ryan Braun RV-20
Khris Davis RV-24
Kyle Seager RV-30
Matt Carpenter RV-34

Saving the guys who fit into my collection for last!

The base cards- Machado and there's a Markakis base card. Markakis is batting cleanup right now in the absence of Matt Kemp. Come back soon Matt!

Spoiled my favorite two cards in the break from the list of Retro cards above, but I opened my top player collection guys, which is always welcomed.  I think I'm done opening packs of Donruss this year unless there's a series two.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Topps Heritage Blaster Highlights

Heritage is always one of the releases I get the most excited about every year. This year is no different.

My favorites from the base cards, including my first 2017 Heritage Brave. Colon has already made a positive impact with a solid start and win over the Padres. Nice to have a pitcher you can count on to pitch 6+ innings a game.

Here's one from the Rookie Stars subset, including Wimmers who I happened to see pitch seven scoreless innings in AA Chattanooga on a summer trip in Tennessee in 2015. That game also featured Miguel Sano. Here's a link to the Box Score from that game.

Two of the games young stars. Nice card.

I pulled two SPs from my blaster. They aren't 'special' variations, but they are SPs. Nice to see Sale in his new Red Sox gear.

Pulled a Chrome parallel of Posey. He along with Lindor seem to be the guys I am pulling out of about every product this year. Could be worse players to show up regularly.

I can't say I'd heard of Aledmys Diaz before pulling this card. I had to look up the card to find out who was featured on this card. 

And my first Benintendi. Hard to believe how fast he's moved up in the system, now batting second for the Red Sox big league club.

Speaking of Lindor... I'm a fan of this insert set. I know there's a Mookie out there I will look to pick up.

Johnny Bench I've also pulled in several products already this year. Pretty cool card here. The back of this card talks about Bench hitting a go-ahead RBI single and scoring as well due to two errors in left field.

And lastly I pulled six of these Topps News cards. While they look like inserts they are actually a part of the base set. The others I pulled not pictured here are Scherzer, Altuve, Kluber, and Syndergaard. Was pleased to see Machado and Kershaw. Another two cards added to player collections.

No luck once again on the variations, but it's fun to break hoping to pull them.