Sunday, March 29, 2015

2014 Press Pass National Redline Intensity Set

I've been absent from the blog and the online card world for the last week or more. There are many reasons for that, but most of it has to do with a feeling of lethargy that hits me every time I sit down to write a blog post. I guess that is a sign that it's time for a break. I've still got 20 or 30 posts sitting in the queue, a bunch of scans in my photo folder waiting to become posts in the queue, and a bunch of cards sitting in stacks waiting to be scanned so I can process the photos and place them in queued posts. It feels a lot like work. The other thing that has been keeping me from posting is OOTP 16, the baseball simulation game. I always want to just play one more month, or just until the All-Star break, or just until the trade deadline, or just until Hall of Fame voting results are announced. It's a real problem. If you are a baseball fan and have a tendency to get absorbed in virtual worlds, stay far away from OOTP 16.

This is one of those shiny card sets that scans poorly, looking muddy and highlighting only the debris on your scanner bed. It's a 5-card Press Pass Redline Intensity set that was available at the 2014 National convention. I didn't attend the National in 2014 (or in any other year), but I needed to add a couple of dollars to my order at Dave & Adam's a few months back to qualify for free shipping, and this fit the bill. The cards feature a black and white portrait of the driver in the upper 2/3 of the card, and a color photo of them in their helmets in the lower 1/3 of the card. Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a pretty good run in the Auto Club 400 last week, starting 17th and finishing in 6th place. This week in the STP 500 he had a much rougher go of it, starting in 14th place but wrecking and breaking his shifter lever off and finally taking 36th place. The bad showing dropped him to 9th in the overall points standings for the season.

I like Jeff Gordon, but I don't really track his race finishes or his place in the standings. I don't pay much attention at all to Jimmie Johnson. Danica Patrick did okay at the Auto Club 400, starting in 22nd and climbing a couple of spots over the course of the race to finish in 19th. She did really well in the STP 500, starting in 16th and finishing inside the Top 10 with a 7th-place run. That finish moved her up several spots to 16th in the overall points. Tony Stewart has struggled this year. He started the Auto Club 400 in 20th and finished in 14th, and then in the STP 500 he started well in 6th but fell to 20th by the end of the race. He is currently 32nd in the overall standings. The other driver I follow is Josh Wise, who doesn't appear in this set. In the Auto Club 400 he started in 35th and finished in 36th, and in the STP 500 he started in 31st and finished in 30th place. He is 35th in overall points for the year.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pack of the Day 95: 2014 Topps High Tek

Last time I visited my local card shop I noticed that he had boxes of 2014 Topps High Tek for sale at less than the going online rate. I went ahead and grabbed one to see how I'd do. I like the design of the cards, but I am still a little miffed that you only get ten cards in a box.

These three cards are from the most common tier of variations. Players from each league get six background patterns that all have a different rarity. Cardboard Connection calls these patterns Wave for the AL and Spiral Brick for the NL. I don't have a lot of interest in these three dudes, although Cueto is a pretty darn god pitcher. It seems like he doesn't get the respect he deserves for that, although he did get into the All-Star Game last year.

These cards come from the second tier of rarity. Again deferring to the Cardboard Connection names, these backgrounds are Grid for the NL and Spirals for the AL. I hope that Fielder is able to regain some of his power-hitting prowess this year, as I picked him up on one of my fantasy teams as a late round flier.

George Springer skips right past the third level of rarity and lands in the fourth tier with a pattern called Circuit Board. Springer is an Astro, so that falls right into my collecting wheelhouse. I am putting together a Jon Singleton rainbow from Topps High Tek but I don't have much from the other Astros in the set, and that makes this Springer a welcome addition to my collection.

Now we are into the 'hits' section of the box. Each box promises a numbered parallel and an autograph. All of the numbered parallels use the basic background for the player's league (in this case Wave for the AL), but add colors or foil patterns to distinguish them from the base cards. This is the Gold Diffractor version of Sonny Gray's card, which is the most common numbered parallel. This is copy # 46 / 99.

And my autograph is Roenis Elias, who pitched his way to a 10-12 record last season and is competing right now for the last spot in the Mariners' rotation for this season. At the moment it looks like he might miss out.

Well, that box wasn't very exciting, although it hit a couple of players and teams I like in George Springer and Sonny Gray. With just ten cards in a box it can be hard to pull something exciting every time out.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Some 2014 Stadium Club Additions

I picked up a few Stadium Club inserts at some point in the far past. The far past would include approximately the last 4 to 4-1/2 months. I accumulated cards and also took a sort of break from posting, and now I am very far behind on clearing out my draft folder, and even further behind on getting pictures from my scan folder into my draft folder. I was planning on marking the occasion when it passed, but I hit the 500 posts mark a week or so ago. By my count, the 500th post was the one about the lot of vintage Allen & Ginter chicken cards I purchased recently.

This first card is a Foilboard parallel of R.A. Dickey's base card, which is pretty shiny from certain angles in person but just looks like a darker base card in the scanner. The back shows the serial number, which in this case is # 17 / 25. That red jersey is a pretty good look for the Blue Jays. These cards fell about 1:4 boxes.

Here is a Members Only parallel of Matt Adams. The Members Only cards are not numbered, but they were a case hit and estimates say there were less than 10 of each made, with most folks doing the math saying the print run probably fell between 7 and 9. Outside of the big stars, these don't really sell up to their scarcity. That's good for buyers, but not so good for sellers.

And here is an acetate Illuminator parallel of Hanley Ramirez from the Triumvirate insert set. After I pulled a Clayton Kershaw Illuminator card I got the wild idea that I would try to complete one Triumvirate Illuminator trio, because I thought the other two cards were Han-Ram and Hyun-Jin Ryu. But the Hyun-Jin Ryu card apparently falls into the 'Pitchers from Asia' trio with Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish. The other guy who gets grouped in the 'Dodgers' trio with Kershaw and Ramirez is Yasiel Puig. I don't know if you've ever tried to track down a case hit featuring Yasiel Puig before, but it's not something I would recommend. So this trio is on hold indefinitely.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Star Wars Masterwork Luke Skywalker Stamp Relic

One type of card that I didn't pull from the box of Star Wars Masterwork that I opened recently was a Stamp Relic card, which basically is one of the Star Wars stamps released by the USPS in 2007 mounted in a little frame. I decided I needed to pick one up as a part of my Star Wars Masterwork 'type' set in which I do not try to get every card, but I grab the most common sets and supplement the collection with cards from some of the harder-to-find inserts. I wound up getting the Luke Skywalker Stamp Relic card, numbered # 63 / 99.

The back of the card is pretty simple, with a picture of Luke Skywalker, the Star Wars Masterwork logo, and the standard congratulatory message that comes along with any Topps relic card.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Just the Commons, Ma'am 8: Jon Singleton Patch Auto and the Replacements

As part of the Just Commons order I started talking about yesterday, I grabbed a couple more cards for my Jon Singleton player collection. This was the main attraction. It's a Clubhouse Collection Autographed Patches card from the 2013 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball set. Even with a sticker autograph it's a pretty cool card. I do wish the photo and the relic swatch were a bit bigger, but Topps had to put all kinds of other stuff all over the card.

The back of the card shows the serial number, which makes this card copy # 03 / 10. In addition to the information reminding you that the relic can't be traced to anything specific, the card features a cartoon on the back. Informative and entertaining!

I grabbed these because they were cheap and I was pretty sure I didn't have them yet.

Ditto for these. 

These too.

In January I posted about a previous order from Just Commons and some Jon Singleton cards that were destroyed by some combination of my dog and my kids. I replaced those cards with this order, and added a couple of other shiny cards to my collection, too. The new cards are the Bowman Platinum in the upper right and the Blue Refractor in the lower left. I think that die-cut in the lower right is a duplicate that I probably bought because I wasn't sure. Now I have two of them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Just the Commons, Ma'am 7: Dickey, Reddick, and Some Horizontal Stadium Club

A couple of months back I was looking to fill out some player collections and finish my 2014 Stadium Club set, so I made a purchase from Just Commons. There wasn't a lot of new stuff for my R.A. Dickey and Josh Reddick, but I did grab one card for each of them. The Dickey is a Season Statline parallel from 2014 Donruss, celebrating his 177 strikeouts in 2013 with a shiny card numbered # 089 / 177. The Josh Reddick card is a Topps 100 Prospects insert card from 2010 Bowman. I like these sets that list the top prospects in order based on some scout's preferences.

You've gotta show the backs of the cards sometimes. Dickey has been all right in Spring Training so far, but it's a sample size of six innings so far and you can't really tell what might happen with the knuckleball over the course of a season. Reddick has only appeared in one Spring Training game so far, going 3 for 3 with 2 runs and 2 runs batted in. Based on those numbers, he should have 486 hits in the regular season, with 324 runs and 324 runs batted in.

In purchasing all of the cards I was missing from my Stadium Club set, I realized that every single one of them was of the horizontal variety. I had up to seven multiples of some of the vertical cards, but I was missing a decent stack of cards and they all were horizontal. I don't know if that means the sideways cards were short-printed or what. I don't recall that happening with other sets, so I wonder what made these cards harder to pull.

That Nolan Ryan card was one I really wanted, so of course it was one I just couldn't pull from any of the many Stadium Club boxes I opened. It's not too often that you get to see livestock on a modern trading card, but I believe there was a David Price card a couple of years ago that showed him with a cow at the stadium. That Johnny Bench photo is pretty cool, too.

To balance out the pitchers in the first scan, here are four pictures of hitters, including some pretty nice shots from angles you don't see too often on cards. Also notable is the fact that you can see most of the players rather than just close-ups of their torsos. Heck, you can actually see things like the catcher, the umpire's butt, fans in the stands, other players watching from the dugout, and huge advertisements for Monster Energy Drinks and AAA Insurance.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Rainbow in the Dark 27: Jon Singleton 2014 Panini The National Wrapper Redemption Rainbow

A little while ago I saw this Jon Singleton card pop up on eBay. It's from the 2014 Panini Wrapper Redemption set that Panini released at the National Convention, and it's the Lava Flow 1 / 1 parallel. I put in a bid on the card and I wound up being the only bidder, winning the auction at the starting price. It took a while for the seller to ship, but eventually the card arrived. With the 1 / 1 in-hand, I felt somewhat compelled to seek out the rest of the rainbow. I don't know if printing plates were released, but I am pretty sure I got every other parallel that they put out.

I think this is called the Cracked Ice parallel. It looks similar to Topps' Atomic Refractors. Mine is copy # 16 / 25. The backs of all of these cards look the same. I don't even know why I went to the trouble of scanning and uploading them.

This is the Thick parallel which is printed on, you guessed it, really thick cardstock. It's not serially-numbered, but the rumor out there is that there were about 50 copies printed. I guess I will believe that. Either way, I needed a copy of it to complete the rainbow.

Finally, here is the standard base card. It is numbered # 220 / 499. As far as I know, that is it for Jon Singleton's 2014 The National rainbow. It was certainly a lot easier than trying to gather all of a player's Bowman variations. Singleton seems to be doing okay in Spring Training so far; hopefully that success will extend to the regular season.