29 September 2013

Pack of the Day 26: 2012-13 Panini Crusade Basketball

I had some fairly bad luck with my first pack of Panini Crusade, pulling an autograph of a guy who played just a few minutes in the NBA while bouncing around in the D-League. So I did what I always do when I have a bad experience with a pack of cards, I went and got another dose of cardboard punishment.

First up are my three base cards. As a Houston Rockets fan I feel like I should be more excited about Dwight Howard coming to the team, but his bad back and questionable attitude give me pause. Hopefully having the whole city of Houston kissing his butt for signing there will motivate him to play hard rather than sandbagging it because he has to share the limelight like he did in LA for the Lakers. He has a tendency to disappear in important games, too, so we'll probably continue to lose key games.

Next up we have Kris Humphries, who is most famous for spending 72 days as Mr. Kim Kardashian. He continues to stick in the NBA, despite being widely panned by fans.

Jordan Crawford is not notable for much. He has racked up a couple of triple-doubles in his career, but mostly comes off the bench as part of the second team. He is famous for dunking on Lebron James at Lebron's basketball camp. Lebron and Nike tried to cover up the video footage of the dunk, but it was released eventually on YouTube anyway. The dunk itself happens at about the 30-second mark in the video.

And that brings us to the hit of the pack:

You may be asking yourself, "Who is Nando de Colo?" He is a guy who has had a little success playing ball in Europe and signed last year to play for the Spurs, where he bounced back and forth between the big club and the D-League. While with the Spurs, he averaged about 4 points per game. So, the big hit is again of a guy who barely qualifies as an actual NBA player.

I have read that in light of the somewhat lackluster autograph checklist, the main draw of the product can be found in the Crusade insert set, with its many levels of multi-colored parallels. The low-numbered cards of big name players tend to be quite popular. In this pack I got a Gold LaMarcus Aldridge, who is what I would call a semistar for the Portland Trail Blazers. Many of my impressions of players come from their value in fantasy sports, and he is a pretty solid 21 point / 9 rebound guy with a better free-throw percentage than many other Power Forward / Center guys. Last year he was statistically the 13th-best player in fantasy basketball. He would probably be a star if he played on a better team.

The Gold Crusade cards are numbered out of 10, so this definitely qualifies as a bigger hit than the autograph. Without this card the pack would have been a big dud. With this card, the pack grades out as a decent one. The Crusade inserts are nice and glossy, and although Aldridge isn't a huge name, he is at least an All-Star and the card is rare enough to be considered a hit. If he were to get traded to a contender, that would be even better. I think I heard rumors a time or two that Houston might go after him, but they went all-in on Dwight Howard. There isn't a lot of sales data out there, but last month #2 /10 sold on eBay for $22.00 + $3.00 shipping.

28 September 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 17: More Gold Parallels

I started this post quite a while ago, but it just sat in my Drafts folder forever, accumulating pictures of 2013 Topps Archives Gold parallels. They've arrived in ones, twos, threes, and more-than-threes. Sometimes I kind of feel like:

I am not even sure what to say as far as commentary on most of the individual pictures goes. I like the way the A's uniforms pop on cards.

It's pretty nice to cross Encarnacion and Butler off of my need list. I never did like those chinstrap beards, though, Edwin. Of course I own three pairs of Zubaz pants, so who am I to be critiquing fashion choices? I have read that Zubaz are coming back in some circles, though, so maybe I'm more fashion-forward than I thought. 

Not much to say about this one except that it fills a hole in the binder.

Here are a quartet of cards in the 1990 Topps design. I happen to like the set, but I seem to be in the minority on that point among bloggers.

Here are a few more cards. McCann was at the center of a disagreement between the Braves and Brewers this week after Carlos Gomez admired a home run longer than McCann felt was necessary. Watching the video, I think Gomez did stare a little too long because he was feeling vindicated after having been plunked a while ago by the pitcher, Paul Maholm. The way I saw it, McCann and Freddie Freeman yelled at him, so Gomez started talking back as he went around the bases, exchanging words with all of the Braves' infielders. As he came down the 3rd base line McCann blocked the path, got in his face, and started a shoving match that ended with the benches clearing, at least one elbow and maybe some punches thrown, and a number of ejections and a possible suspension at some point for Freddie Freeman, who was the guy with the errant elbow. The video appears to have been edited since the first time I watched it, as originally you could hear the initial stream of expletives that McCann yelled at Gomez as he started walking out of the batter's box. It was something like, "Fart and run, consarnit!"

I personally think that Gomez was a little bit wrong for gloating and taking off slowly, but McCann is more wrong for getting bitchy and yelling at Gomez to run and then blocking the basepath so he could get in Gomez' face and pitch a fit. If the Braves players didn't want Gomez to talk trash to them as he went around the bases, maybe they should have kept their mouths shut. I see a lot of commentary praising McCann and the Braves for enforcing the unwritten rules of baseball and standing up for the pitcher, but all I saw was a guy who couldn't control himself and a bunch of crybabies who felt sad that a guy homered on them in the 1st inning. I guess McCann went off on Jose Fernandez earlier this season for the same thing. What a douche-canoe. I used to have a minor positive opinion of the guy because of his production at the catcher slot in fantasy baseball, but not anymore.

I didn't grow up watching baseball, so there are probably nuances of conduct that I miss out on that explain why I feel one way and most of the sports columnists and commenters feel another.

This Derek Holland is probably my favorite card of the year. It's got that weird posed senior picture look to it, and that mustache and the creepy stare into the camera is just a bit off. It makes me laugh every time I see it. A guy with a mustache like that is either guilty of unspeakable acts or just someone with a good sense of humor. I hope Holland is the latter.

I'm running out of steam here. Look, pictures!

More pictures! Peavy has got the awkward pose down, but he doesn't have a mustache and he's looking away from the camera, so he doesn't get all the points that Holland got. We've got the bat on shoulder pose covered with this group, too.

I guess I wound up with more to say than I thought. I've stopped scanning all of the cards from this set that I get in, as there are just too many of them. But there will probably be plenty more shown on this blog. I'm only a little over halfway done.

26 September 2013

Contested Shots 1: Thorzul Will Rule's $5.00 Challenge

A while back, Thorzul Will Rule held a $5.00 Challenge. The premise of the contest was that you went to eBay, chose a random page in the baseball cards section of the site, and purchased the first thing you saw that 1) you didn't already own and 2) could be had for $5.00 or less shipped. Once you had the item, you had to mail it in to Thorzul so he could scan all of the entries and put up polls asking who had gotten the best and worst cards for their money. The winner of each poll would get half of the cards in the contest, with the collector who won the Best Entry poll picking a lot first.

I went off to eBay, selected my random page, and began to scroll down. The first 15-20 cards were all vintage cards from the same seller and the same set, priced well above the limit for the contest. Then a card came into view, a 1992 Leaf Don Mattingly base card. The asking price for this piece of art was $2.48 with free shipping. I have to admit the picture is amazing. There is a mullet, a mustache, and an amazing man-crotch-exposing stretch pose that all scream, "Look at me!"

I looked at the price and briefly struggled with the idea of pretending I hadn't gone to this page and seen this card. Maybe I could just call a restart on the whole thing. No one should pay $2.48 for a junk wax base card. But I decided to stick it out and follow the spirit of the game.

I got the card, shipped it off, and waited for the voting to begin. It wasn't even close. My overpriced junk wax card obliterated everyone else in the Worst Card poll. I got 13 votes. The closest challenger had 5 votes. I got to participate in a draft with the winner of the Best Card poll to divvy up the lots. The first card I made sure to get back was my Don Mattingly. To be honest, I kind of like the card. I laughed so hard when I saw it posted up among the other entrants. I have definitely got my $2.48 out of this card in pure joy.

And here are the other cards I won in the contest. First up, a 1973 Topps Bill North card, on which Thorzul helpfully pointed out that the airbrush operator forgot to cover up the Chicago jersey. Oops.

2013 Topps Cut to the Chase Derek Jeter. Well, here it is. He's a Yankee, and I don't much go for them. But it's a decent enough card from this year's Topps set.

2008 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Sweet Swatch B.J. Upton jersey relic card. Upton killed several of my fantasy baseball teams this year. I kept thinking he had to heat up eventually, but he didn't, and he cost me a decent draft spot that I could never really recover from.

2011 Gypsy Queen Copper Frame Bob Gibson. This card is numbered #342 / 999 for added collectible value.

Baseball Immortals Bob Gibson. I don't know anything at all about this set.

So there it is. I am much prouder than I should be about winning the loser's bracket of the contest. It was one of the more fun contests I've participated in. It is interesting to see the variety of cards that people got for their money. You can visit this link to see all of the other entries in the contest.

24 September 2013

At the Trade Deadline 5: Blue Sparkles from BaseSetCalling

I completed a small PWE trade with BaseSetCalling, some parallels he needed for some 2013 Opening Day Blue Sparkle cards I needed. I've said it many times before, but I sure do like the way this particular parallel set looks.
The Vogelsong card was an extra that he threw in on top of the agreed cards, so it would appear that I am indebted to yet another trade partner. There haven't been a lot of these cards on eBay lately and I have really been focused in on my 2013 Topps Archives Gold parallel set, so the Opening Day parallels have fallen by the wayside a little bit. I still want to finish the set, though. So far I have 134 / 220 cards, or 60.9% of the set. I believe I just recently crossed the 50% mark on the Archives Gold set, but I would have to check to make sure.

I appreciate the trade and I am now 4 cards closer to finishing out my set.

23 September 2013

Pack of the Day 25: 2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball Box Break

I opened up a Hobby Box of 2013 Topps Series 1. I guess I will let the pictures and statistics do most of the talking.

Base Cards - 301/330 - 91.21%
Doubles - 1 - Travis Ishikawa
Total Base Cards - 302

The box had one extra card in it, and I think that second Ishikawa card was the culprit. When I opened the pack containing it I thought maybe it contained a big hit because I noticed that the Ishikawa card was facing in the wrong direction when I opened the pack, based on cards in that same spot in other packs. Turns out it was just an extra card in the pack.

Emerald Parallels - 7 - Dee Gordon, Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Cook, Buster Posey, Ben Zobrist, Mike Minor, Jayson Werth

Nothing too exciting here. I like the Rizzo card. That Ben Zobrist picture makes me laugh every time I see it. I hope he's not in the midst of being injured or something. It would be bad if I were laughing at a picture of someone about to go on the DL. But why would Topps use such a picture on a card?

Gold Parallels - 4 - Mark Reynolds, L.J. Hoes, Starling Marte, Cabrera/Trout/Beltre AL BA Leaders

The Mark Reynolds and Starling Marte cards are my favorites here.

1972 Topps Minis - 9 - Mike Trout, Ian Kennedy, Joey Votto, Andre Ethier, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Reyes, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Lou Gehrig

The Minis are pretty cool, but I am working on too many sets to feel much like chasing them all down. It bothers me that I can't stack them with the rest of the cards from the set because they make the piles unstable. You have to have separate stacks for minis.

Calling Card - 4 - David Ortiz, Willie Stargell, Mark Teixeira, R.A. Dickey

I already had the R.A. Dickey card, and none of the other ones really do anything for me. The little phrases (the Calling Cards) attached to the players are kind of weird to me.

Chasing the Dream - 6 - Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, Jesus Montero, Josh Reddick, Drew Pomeranz, Tommy Milone

It's pretty cool to get Harper, Rizzo, and Reddick in this box. The big logos in the background look pretty good. This insert reminds me of the 90s for some reason. There do seem to be an awful lot of inserts in this set. Do people break enough of this stuff to actually put all of the inserts together? You get 90% of the base set in one box, and there don't seem to be enough big hits to warrant busting case after case of it.

Cut to the Chase - 3 - Babe Ruth, David Price, Nelson Cruz

I have to admit that I kind of like these cards. They are a little sparkly, thicker than a regular card, and die-cut all the way around. I can't say I really like the group of players I pulled from this box, though. I think the Babe Ruth must have been double-printed or something because I keep pulling it.

The Greats - 2- Ted Williams, John Smoltz

These cards replace several cards in the packs they appear in. I guess they are all right, but they don't do much for me, especially since they displace so many base cards.

Chasing History - 9 - Carlos Santana, Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Hank Aaron, Mark Buehrle, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax

This insert set is another big space-filler that allows Topps to put some kind of insert into most packs. I do wish they would have made these all horizontal or all vertical instead of a mix of the two. The design is attractive enough with decent color coordination based on a player's team. Some of the 'history' being chased is a bit dubious, but it does allow lesser-known players to be included in the set based on their one or two signature career moments.

Chasing History Autograph - 1 - Gary Sheffield

Here is the promised hit from the box, a Gary Sheffield Chasing History autograph. I guess it's all right. I didn't expect anything super-crazy to come out of this box. I don't know much about Sheffield, but I think I vaguely remember seeing him on some of the cards of my youth.

The Million Dollar Chase Code Cards - 6

Total Cards - 353

Missing Cards - 117, 163

I don't have any real complaints about this box. I got most of the base cards I was looking for and a few things to add to various player collections. A Hobby box will get you just over 90% of a base set, with good collation meaning you don't waste a lot of box space on doubles. I don't have much opinion either way on the insert sets. I would have liked to pull one of the low-numbered parallels, like Pink or Camo, but those aren't a guarantee. I am still missing two cards from the set, so I will have to track those down at some point.

21 September 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 16: Austin Pettis

I can't for the life of me remember where it was, but I saw a blog post from a guy who needed some cash and was running some eBay auctions. I put in a bid on this Austin Pettis auto/patch card and won it. Pettis hasn't done much in the NFL and isn't projected to keep his current job as a starter for the Rams, but he was drafted out of the local state university (Boise State University) and thus has some name recognition in the immediate area. I am not a Boise State fan, as my loyalties lie with the University of Idaho, but I do tend to casually follow the careers of Boise State players who get into the NFL.
It's a pretty good-looking card. The edges of the sticker are hidden inside the sandwiched layers keeping the uniform swatch in place, so that helps the presentation quite a bit. I don't much like sticker autographs anyway, but I especially don't like them in higher-end products. Topps Finest doesn't qualify as a higher-end product in my eyes, but I was thinking back to that pack of Panini Crusade Basketball I opened and the sticker autograph in it. In your base level sets stickers are lame but not horrible, but in anything with an MSRP per pack of say $10+ you should be able to expect on-card signatures or at least stickers that are partially hidden like on this card here. That's my little rant for today.

20 September 2013

Pack of the Day 24: Six-Pack

I have mostly accepted the fact that 2013 Bowman Baseball isn't available in any of the local retail stores because some guy went around and bought it all over the last few months. And he still doesn't have a full set. I heard tell of a guy who is was selling full sets of base and prospects for $8 each, which is maybe less satisfying than building them out from packs and singles, but much less expensive. If I go that route, I will still have the Chrome prospects set to finish, so all is not lost on the set-building front.

That got off-topic quickly. I picked up six packs from the store the other day, 2 each of 2012 Panini Prizm Baseball, 2013 Panini Rookies & Stars Football (American Football), and 2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball.

The Topps Baseball is a pretty common sight on the blogs, so I believe everyone knows what it looks like. I filled a couple of holes in my set binder and got a Mike Trout Chasing History card. I chose to put Leonys Martin and Hisashi Iwakuma in the scan because they have each contributed to my Fantasy Baseball team this season. Sergio Santos is there because I love those maple leaf hats the Blue Jays wear. I want to get one of those at some point.

I also got this Adam Jones Chase It Down insert. I like these cards because they feature action fielding shots that take up most of the card, so there is room for the action to fit in the frame.

I kind of like the design on the Rookies & Stars football cards. Everyone's name and team are easy to find, the photography is decent, and there's just enough foil. I like this set's look a lot more than I like the Topps football set for this year. If I were to put together an NFL set this year, this is probably the one I'd go for. I don't know why I put a Raven as the first card in the scan. I hates them. Trent Richardson found himself traded to the Colts the other day, which is a pretty interesting move. I saw somewhere that the Browns were freeing up salary in case Lebron James decides to come back to Cleveland. In baseball I am cursed to pull cards of Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, and in football my curse is to pull Ravens and Michael Vick. It's a sad state of affairs.

I got a rather shiny Crusade insert of Le'Veon Bell, who may or may not have a decent role in the Steelers' backfield when he returns from injury. I doubt he's going to be a superstar, though. This card is the same design as the Larry Johnson Crusade card I pulled out of yesterday's pack of Panini Crusade basketball.

Here are a few more base cards from the second pack...

...and the backs of a couple of base cards. Veterans get another little picture along with a team logo, and rookies get a team helmet. The Calvin Johnson in the bottom left is a Game Plan insert. On the back it basically says, "Opposing coaches have to set up their game plans to stop Calvin Johnson." Riveting commentary. One other comment on the Calvin Johnson card. I love it when the NFL does the Pink Ribbon stuff for breast cancer awareness, and it's always cool to see that little pop of pink on a football card. I like bright colors, and pink certainly qualifies.

Just the other day I was lamenting the fact that I don't have any cards featuring Peyton Manning in his Denver Broncos garb. Well, now I have one. So that's pretty cool. The next card in the pack was a Marshawn Lynch base card, which I believe is my first Lynch card. Pretty crazy that I have the guy's jersey, but I don't have any of his cards. In a similar fashion to the pink on Calvin Johnson's card, I really like the neon green flashes on the Seahawks uniforms, especially when the players pair it with green on their gloves and/or shoes. Maybe I should start a garish fashion blog.

The Prizm baseball cards are rather shiny. I don't have much to say about the base cards I pulled. It was cool to pull a Blue Jay in Colby Rasmus, although I'd rather have pulled Encarnacion or Dickey. The back of the cards features a sepia-toned portion of the photo on the front of the card as well as some stats and text. Rookies, like Jarrod Parker, get a color photo and a little blurb on how much potential they have. The lack of logos is a little hard to get past, especially on the players' hats, but otherwise I like the cards all right.

The insert from one of the packs is a Team MVP of Jason Statham Dustin Pedroia. It is almost impossible to handle these cards without getting fingerprints all over them.

And finally, the big hit of the day, a Nolan Ryan Dominance Green Prizm parallel. I know it's a Green Prizm because it is green and because the back of the card says 'Green Prizm' twice. It's a nice-looking card, although again the lack of logos lessens the cool factor a bit. All in all this was a decent set of packs, with a few cards added to various player and set collections.

19 September 2013

Pack of the Day 23 / What eBay Hath Wrought 15: 2012-2013 Panini Crusade Basketball

So I heard about this premium basketball product by Panini called Crusade, and I thought I'd try a pack of it if I could find a decent price on eBay. Each pack contains 5 cards, which include 3 base cards, 1 Crusade card (a very shiny card with various parallel levels), and 1 autograph or relic. From what I hear, the Crusade cards are the main draw in the product, with rare superstar versions fetching large sums on eBay.

The base cards are attractive, with the Panini shield in team colors and a fairly clean design that isn't overly cluttered with flash and foil that takes some premium sets over the top from good-looking and into various levels of tackiness. None of these guys really excite me, but there they are.

Now this is a guy I remember. I believe the blue/yellow Crusade cards are the lowest level of parallel in the set, but LJ aka Grandmama was a big deal back in the 90s with his commercials and his gold tooth. His popularity probably exceeded his achievements on the court, as his career went downhill fairly early with back problems. He stuck around for a while, but his first couple of seasons were his best. Nevertheless, the Hornets were a very trendy team in the early 90s, and Larry Johnson was one of the big reasons for that. I like the card design and the super-shininess of it.

And finally, here is the promised 'hit' of the pack, a Quest Autograph of Kevin Jones. Who? Well, the back of the cards proclaims that he showed a flash of potential by scoring six points and netting two steals in a game once, so that really tells you all you need to know. His Wikipedia entry says that he went undrafted, got signed by the Cavs, got assigned to the D-League, got waived, got resigned by the Cavs and immediately assigned to the D-League, and then was waived again. The LJ card is cool, but for the going price of three packs of this product I could have an autographed Hakeem Olajuwon insert. Buying the packs is basically rolling the dice that you will pull a serial-numbered Crusade superstar or one of the big-name autographs.

You can kind of see it in the scan, but the autograph is a sticker auto, not hard-signed on the card. Overall I like the gambler's aspect of purchasing unopened packs, but the checklist contains enough scrubs like Kevin Jones to make me wary of trying for anything too spectacular. I am pretty happy with the Larry Johnson card, and it will probably make it into my personal collection. The rest of the cards I don't have any real affinity for.