10 December 2014

2013 Bowman Inception Jonathan Singleton Auto / Relic

I'd been wanting to get a Jon Singleton autograph for my collection, but price was a factor for me. Then I actually started searching and realized that his prices aren't as high as I expected. Maybe his less-than-stellar 2014 and a marijuana-related drug suspension in 2013 worked in my favor? Hopefully he can avoid his drug and alcohol problems in 2015 and beyond, and put together a solid career.

After a few failed bids, I got a pretty good deal on a Jonathan Singleton auto/relic from 2013 Bowman Inception. The signature is pretty thick and messy, but he managed to get it all on the sticker.

After winning the auction, I took a closer look at the photo and got worried about that mess of scratches on his leg. Had I duped myself into buying a damaged card by not questioning why the price was so low? A little searching told me they were present on all the cards, and probably just a weird Photoshop enhancement.

Here is the back of the card. It basically just contains the usual Topps note congratulating the collector for receiving an auto/relic card and reminding the reader that Topps representatives witness the signing of each sticker and that the relic swatch can't be traced back to anything concrete.

Tonight is my last final for the semester, and after this I should have just one more semester left before I graduate with a real live Accounting / Business Administration degree. I have been laid low the last couple of days with a nasty cold bug, and I am hoping that it will go away soon. I am not much good to anybody when I am sick as I devolve to the mental state of your average small child, full of whining and moping and requiring many long naps just to function. One bonus of the time I've spent at home trying to recover is that I was able to scan a bunch of cards in for future posts and spend some quality time with my wife and kids.

09 December 2014

Breaking it Down 19: Topps High Tek Diamondbacks

I wanted to take a look in person at the new 2014 Topps High Tek set, but with prices approaching $70 (for 8 cards), I can't justify buying my own box. I bought into a random team break with my usual folks and wound up with the Diamondbacks. I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but you never know how a break is going to go.

The first autograph in the box was Paul Goldschmidt, so I didn't have to wait long for the break to pan out for me. The three Diamondbacks in the set are Goldschmidt, Chris Owings, and Randy Johnson. I really wanted some Randy Johnson love in the break, but it was not meant to be. In a 6-box break of this product there are only 48 cards to go around.

I managed to also get a base card of Goldschmidt, which is in the second-most common background pattern according to Cardboard Connection. They call this the Grid pattern. The background pattern on the autograph is the Spiral Brick pattern and is the most common background. Supposedly all of the colored parallels only have the base card background on them, so there aren't multiple parallels featuring each background. The AL and NL teams have their own sets of backgrounds, so you won't see these same patterns on AL teams. And in case you haven't heard, these cards are all made of transparent acetate, so you can see through the parts that aren't printed. Fancy!

One of the boxes in the break had an extra autograph stuck to the front of another autograph, so this 6-boxer had 13 total hits (autographs or numbered parallels). I was lucky enough to get two of them. In the middle of the break I got this Chris Owings Clouds Diffractor parallel numbered # 20 / 25. You can kind of see in the scans that there is a circular holographic pattern on all the printed areas of the card. Owings had a decent year with the Diamondbacks, playing in just over half of their games and playing a little above replacement level. With Didi Gregorius being traded to the Yankees, it looks like he might have a clear road to more playing time in 2015.

And that's about it. I got skunked on Randy Johnson cards, but I got a hit from each of the two other Diamondbacks in the checklist and a base card to boot. And most importantly, I got to hold a few High Tek cards in my hand and see what the hype is all about. They are certainly cool, but at this price point I really would have liked to see at least 30-40 base cards in a box. Eight cards is just too few. I would be much more likely to seek some of this out if it were configured in a 5-pack box that looked something like this:

I will probably be seeking out a few cards from this set for my collection, but it is getting a lot of heat lately and the prices keep rising, so I don't think I'll be picking any up on the cheap a few months from now. The cards look nice and are certainly a welcome departure from a lot of the same-old stuff Topps is releasing every year.

08 December 2014

Black Friday Blowout Part 2: More 2014 Press Pass Ignite

This is the second box of 2014 Press Pass Ignite that I got in the Blowout Cards Black Friday Doorbusters sale. It would be hard to live up to the first box in the break, which produced 3 relic cards, two numbered parallels, a 1/2-case special card, and a low-numbered autograph from one of NASCAR's bigger names. This box didn't quite match the fireworks, but I still pulled some good cards, including a very nice PC hit.

This is what the normal base cards look like. They are quite colorful, and feature the drivers in their best 'standing there' poses. I included Josh Wise in the scan because I became a fan of his this season after the big push from internet users to sponsor his Dogecoin car, which I was able to acquire in die-cast form a little while ago. Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart are mainstays on my top driver list, and Travis Pastrana is a crossover star from the world of the X Games, motocross, and rally cars who ran some colorful cars in the Nationwide series before leaving at the end of the 2013 season. He's got a couple of die-cast out there that I'd like to pick up some day.

I again got two each of the Turning Point and Convoy inserts, For Turning Point I got Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, who won this year's Sprint Cup Championship. For Convoy inserts I got another of my favorite racers in Dale Earnhardt Jr. and also Kasey Kahne, a driver I really have no opinion on whatsoever. I will be sad to see the National Guard sponsorship of Dale Jr.'s car lapse, but I can see how taxpayers might not want their money funding a racing team.

I got the usual two Profile inserts, with this box yielding Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. I used to like the FedEx car, but I don't anymore. Neither of these cards does a whole lot for me, but once I find the Ignite cards from previous purchases I can pool them and see how close I am to completing these insert sets. I got one Hall of Fame insert, featuring a guy named Buck Baker. I don't know a single thing about him.

Another insert in this box was a part of the Davey Allison tribute set, honoring the 20th Anniversary of his death in a helicopter accident. It was issued across 5 different Press Pass products in 2013, with two cards from the set found in each release.

Since this was a special Hobby box, it contained a Power Pack, which contained a Kyle Busch Power Picks card numbered # 29 / 99, and a Jeff Gordon Hot Threads relic card similar to the one that I got in the Power Pack from the last box, although this one has a plain black swatch as opposed to the two-color red/black relic on the other card.

My autograph for this box was a Scott Speed Ignite Ink Black card numbered # 62 / 99. It's not quite as exciting as the Kyle Busch autograph I pulled from the first box of this break. Speed was a transfer from Formula One racing, and didn't find a whole lot of success in the world of NASCAR. His last race was in 2013, and I don't know if he'll be coming back for another try.

My numbered parallel was a Clint Bowyer Yellow Color Proof, which is Hobby-Only and numbered # 5 / 5. Bowyer has had a pretty good career, with a whole pile of Top 10 finishes, a few wins, and a 2nd-place finish in the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship standings.

For me the big his of the box was the relic card, a Hot Threads Red parallel of Dale Earnhardt Jr., numbered # 08 / 10. It's a nice low-numbered card of one of my favorite drivers and it features a three-color relic swatch. It's pretty good stuff. This box probably still rates below the other one in terms of quality, but I only paid $20 each for them, and I think I definitely got my money's worth out of them.

07 December 2014

Black Friday Blowout: 2013 Press Pass Ignite

I took a look at the Black Friday Doorbuster deals at Blowout Cards and saw a couple of things I was interested in. Since I was up all night doing homework, I was at my computer when they started posting the deals in the morning. I was hoping to snag some 2014 Bowman Chrome Baseball and there were a couple of NASCAR deals, including 20 2014 Press Pass Racing blasters for $40 and boxes of 2013 Press Pass Ignite for $15.

Unfortunately, the deals weren't all rolled out at once, so any deal you got also came with a separate shipping cost. So my plan for preloading my cart and hitting refresh over and over at the start time was foiled. When the Bowman Chrome deal came around it sold out in seconds and once you accounted for shipping it wasn't that great a discount. They reloaded it a few times during the day and each time it sold out extremely fast.

When most of the case deals were posted, like the 20 Blasters for $40 deal, there were usually just 5 put up and they went into the negative numbers almost immediately. Any deals that were posted showed the number in stock at that price, and on the really frenzied sales the number would go to -15 or more within seconds of the deal posting. There were a lot of complaints on the forum, but that's how Doorbusters go.

With Bowman Chrome not falling beneath my threshold when accounting for shipping and the big 20 blaster deal going so fast, I preloaded a couple boxes of 2013 Press Pass Ignite in my cart and waited. It was mid-afternoon before that deal got posted, and when I refreshed my cart and saw the price drop I checked out immediately. Then I went to look at the product page and saw that the quantity left was 18, so I had probably been the first to check out. I also noticed that there was a 1 Box Per Household limit on the deal. I had ordered 2 boxes and I knew that the Doorbuster rules were that any orders exceeding those limits would be cancelled. So I sent them a note through the website apologizing for my oversight and saying that I would be happy to just have the one box and a refund for the second box.

They responded a while later saying that although I had broken the rules for the product, they still had processed my order and shipped both boxes. So I can't complain about that. Blowout Cards could have cancelled my entire order, but they took care of me and they'll be seeing more of my business in the future. Their forums are a pretty good resource, too, especially if you want to research box breaks of a particular product.

Their shipping was also pretty quick. My order was sent out the same day, and arrived within a week. My Cyber Monday order from Dave & Adam's didn't even ship until Friday evening, and isn't scheduled to arrive until Wednesday. They are different companies, but quick processing is definitely a plus in my mind.

Here's what came out of the first box:

This is one of the subsets in the base set. The cards show the speed the drivers attained on their qualifying runs for the Daytona 500. The cards are pretty colorful and busy, which I kind of like in this case. The backgrounds have a matte finish while the pictures have a glossy sheen to them. I chose to show off the cards from a few of my favorite drivers; Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

There are a few insert sets, which fall about 2 each per box. The Turning Point set discusses key moments in a driver's career. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are pretty good pulls for me. The Convoy insert set highlights each driver's team hauler. I like seeing the semis, even though I am still in a very frustrating battle with my insurance company and the insurance company of the truck driver who used his lug nuts to push my car out of my lane in October. I don't have much hope that I will see any insurance settlement without a lawyer, and I don't know if it's worth getting a lawyer for a couple thousand dollars. I've wasted a lot of time and energy being mad about it already, and I imagine I will waste more before it's all done.

The Profile insert set is a pretty generic set that basically has the same paragraph on the back of each card: [Driver] races a smooth line, driving as fast as [s/he] can and passing cars until [s/he] is at the front of the pack. [Driver] knows what it takes to earn points and win. There are variations on the theme, but that's the basic gist of it. The Hall of Fame insert is an ongoing series that is inserted across multiple products and years, so it doesn't usually match up with the rest of the cards in the packs.

Because these were special hobby boxes, they each contained a Power Pack, which contains special cards. I guess it would be similar to the Panini Black Friday Packs or the various special Topps packs that get released at hobby shops, like the Spring Fever and Father's Day promotions. Apparently each Power Pack from Ignite contains one Power Picks base card and a Hot Threads firesuit card. This box's Power Pack contained a Joey Logano Power Picks card numbered # 15 / 99 and a Jeff Gordon Hot Threads Firesuit card with a nice red stripe on it. It looks like maybe it's part of the piping on his shoulder. The Jeff Gordon DuPont firesuit cards were apparently exclusive to the Power Packs.

Each box appears to contain one numbered parallel, and promises one relic and one autograph. My numbered parallel was a Kurt Busch Black Color Proof parallel numbered # 27 / 50. These ones were Hobby only. I was lucky and got two relic cards in this box. First up is a Paul Menard Blue Holo parallel (the base level, Silver, is unnumbered) numbered # 24 / 99. It's a plain black swatch. The other card is a pretty good hit, being a Jeff Gordon Hot Threads Patch Edition. The Hot Threads Patches only come in one level (Red) and are advertised as being numbered out of # / 25 or lower. This Gordon is numbered # 10 / 20. So far this has been a pretty good box, especially if you like Jeff Gordon.

I got a bonus insert in the box. This was a special Danica Patrick # 0 card that was inserted one in every 200 packs, or once in every 10 boxes. It was apparently a pretty tough pull. I think I may have purchased one when this set was pretty new. It only pulls a dollar or two at auction these days, but I probably paid some multiple of that for my first copy.

My autograph from this box was pretty good, a Kyle Busch Red parallel numbered # 2 / 5. It looks a lot better in-hand than it does in the scan, which really accentuates the junk on my scanner and the sticker, which is relatively transparent when looking at the card in person.

After shipping these boxes cost me just under $20 each, and this box was certainly packed, with 3 relics, two numbered parallels, a rare special insert, and a nice low-numbered autograph of a top driver. The other box wasn't quite this good, but it was still definitely worth the $20 I paid for it. Once again, I enjoyed watching all of the Doorbuster deals throughout the day and I was pleasantly surprised that Blowout processed my order and sent me both boxes.

05 December 2014

Zack Greinke is Probably Not Tom Brady

I snagged another Members Only parallel from 2014 Stadium Club, this time of Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke. This is a pretty standard pitching shot, although it includes a nice big dose of Ugly Pitching Face. For some reason it reminds me of this:

As far as I know, though, Greinke doesn't have his own line of UGG boots...

Because every time I see Tom Brady, I think, "Ugg..."
...a series of Stetson ads...

"These are mah shit-kickin' boots! I can kick a cow pie a quarter mile!"
...or a tiny goat.

"I wear the gloves on account of his fierce bite! That little sucker packs a wallop!"

I don't know where that was all going, but even though Zack Greinke throwing a baseball looks a lot like Tom Brady throwing down a high five, they are not the same person. I also am pretty certain that Tom Brady is not as country as these ads would have you believe.

Here is the back of the card, scanned for the sake of completeness. I followed Greinke pretty closely because he was on a lot of my fantasy baseball teams during his time with the Royals, but after he moved into the big market of Los Angeles his draft stock went up and I'm usually not willing to pay the big-market premium on players. I've kind of lost track of him lately.

03 December 2014

Pack of the Day 83: Box 3 of 2014 Topps Mini Baseball

I've got a bit of Mini Fever, and here are the results of another big break of 2014 Topps Mini Baseball. First up is a little breakdown of the base cards in the box:

This box produced 225 base cards. There weren't any doubles within the box, but when it came to working on my set build there were only 80 new cards added to go along with 145 doubles. At this point I still have not pulled any triples, but have 176 total doubles across three boxes, or close to 80% of a box. For the set I moved up to 498 / 660 of the cards, or 75.45% of a base set. At this point any further boxes are likely to contain a lot of duplicates. Adrian Beltre hates to have his head touched, so a card by Topps featuring a teammate in the act of touching his head makes for good comedy. If I were a better detective I would know who that teammate is. He seems rather pleased with himself. I'm kind of surprised they didn't save this photo for Stadium Club, although the flagship set does usually have a few photography gems to go along with all of the torso shots and cropped-off limbs.

It would be a lot easier for me if all the parallels in a given box were horizontal or vertical. When you have a mix you either have to feature some cards sideways or split things up into a million different scans, which means more cropping and re-sizing work. At least this horizontal-format card is Puig, even though it's only a checklist. And from what I hear, Puig is like three guys back on the HOT list. He got supplanted by Jose Abreu, and then Abreu has supposedly been passed up by this Kris Bryant guy. At least Puig has some decent-looking cards because he's always violating the unwritten rules of baseball by celebrating and having fun. *Brian McCann's nose starts bleeding* This card is # 36 / 63, which is sort of a symmetrical number and probably qualifies as an eBay 1 / 1.

I also got Gold cards of these other three guys. Alex Cobb is probably spitting a substance into his glove to rub on the ball later. That Lonnie Chisenhall picture gets me every time. That has got to be the least flattering uniform in all of baseball. I guess throwbacks are cool, but some of them should stay in their own eras. I always think that Aramis Ramirez card is a Ryan Braun card, but it's not. It's Aramis Ramirez. Speaking of Ryan Braun, in my Cost Accounting class we did an example problem in class, in which a company called Louisville Sports is contracted with making corked bats for a Green Bay Brewers player named Ryan Brown. Cost Accounting is pretty boring, so they put little stuff in there like digs at sports cheaters to spice it up and add an edge to otherwise boring problems.

Ramirez is # 09 / 63, Chisenhall is # 21 / 63, and Cobb is # 03 / 63.

I got one Pink parallel in this box, this one of Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders. The rumor is that Seattle is looking to move him and get some other pieces for their outfield. He played pretty well last year when he wasn't injured, but his time on the DL led to criticism from the GM and counter-criticism from Saunders' agent. Don't fight with your GM, folks, or you'll get shipped off to Canada. Just ask Josh Donaldson. Of course, Saunders is from Canada so maybe he wouldn't mind getting shipped there.

edit: I just heard that Saunders was traded to the Blue Jays for J.A. Happ. I guess there's something to this theory of mine. 

This Pink parallel is serially-numbered # 24 / 25.

Probably the hit of the box was this Yellow Printing Plate of A.J. Ellis of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I'm not a Dodgers fan, but it's kinda cool to get a printing plate out of a box. Yellow printing plates are probably the least of the four plate types (my personal order of preference is black-blue-magenta-yellow), but a 1 / 1 is still a 1 / 1. 

The promised hit of the box was this Prince Fielder relic card. Some of the shine is taken off of this one due to Fielder's lost year, which was a part of the Rangers' collective lost season. Still, he's a name-brand player and so far my relic pulls have been much better this year than they were in 2013. 

As a whole the box was pretty good, although I didn't make as much progress on the base set as I wanted. That is to be expected, though, as I get closer to that 100% completion mark. At around this point last year I think each box was getting me only 5-7% of a set in new cards and a while lot of duplicates. 

02 December 2014

2014 Topps Stadium Club Victor Martinez Members Only

I haven't got much to talk about today, but I did add another Members Only parallel to my 2014 Topps Stadium Club collection. This time I was able to get Victor Martinez. I don't have any aspirations for completing the set, as there are too many big stars on the checklist, but I will continue to grab them when I can. I would imagine that the time to get them is now, especially in the aftermath of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts. There are liable to be a lot of people breaking a box or three of this stuff and posting their pulls to eBay. In the future the supply will dry up and it will be harder to find this stuff on the secondary market as people move on to other things. I'd really like to get a copy of R.A. Dickey's card, but I haven't seen one pop up yet.

I've seen 2014 Topps High Tek popping up on eBay the last few days. It looks like an okay product, but the checklist passes on most of my player collections. The price tag seems a little excessive, but I haven't watched any box breaks to see what actually comes out of the pack on average. I may try to track down some Jon Singleton cards from the set depending on how the prices play out.

A side note: It really bothers me that the players' birth dates aren't included on the backs of these Stadium Club cards, especially since Topps listed the date the player was acquired. I expect that date to be the birth date, and then it looks all wrong, and then I get mad. I guess it's a minor nitpick, but they really should list the birth date and maybe even the home town. At the very least it would make that text box look less empty and half-assed.

01 December 2014

Danica Patrick 2011 Press Pass Gold

A couple weeks ago some eBay sellers were offloading a couple of huge Danica Patrick collections. I wasn't able to land anything major, but I did grab a decent stack of numbered parallels. Anything with Danica's face on it went for more than I wanted to pay, but most of the card showing her cars, haulers, pit crew, and whatnot were pretty cheap.

This first one is a Gold parallel from the 2011 Press Pass set. I had a scan of the back of the card, but Blogger ate it while I was shuffling pictures around. The card is numbered # 47 / 50, and it looks like this card features Danica's car after some front-end damage. That front-left fender just doesn't look right, and that front bumper's got quite a lean to it. Perhaps someone at Press Pass wanted to take a dig at Danica's perceived lack of driving skills?

In other news, some of the 2015 paint schemes were released a little while back, and here is Lionel Racing's rendition of Danica Patrick's 2015 car. I think it's a pretty sharp-looking car. I wouldn't mind getting the die-cast at some point, although it's hard to keep up with all of the paint schemes for a given driver. I still need her Aspen Dental and Florida Lottery cars from this year. Emphasizing the orange and black over the green does kind of make this look like a Halloween car.

30 November 2014

2013 SEGA Card-Gen Extravaganza 10: New York Yankees

I haven't posted a team set of 2013 SEGA Card-Gen since the end of August. I was a little surprised to see that it has been almost three months, but I guess time has a way of moving faster than you want it to. I finally scanned a couple more teams and the next one on the list is the New York Yankees. This team set is pretty big on star power, with a whopping 7 players with 7- or 8-star ratings. There are 11 Yankees in the set, which is slightly under the team average of 13 over the whole checklist.

Kicking things off for the Evil Empire is Mark Teixeira. Injuries have plagued him for the last couple of years, so he hasn't quite lived up to the 8-star rating he shows here recently. You can't knock him too much, though, as he's been around long enough to have two career peaks, with some decent production between them.

Robinson Cano left the Yankees for the Mariners in 2014 after signing a 10-year contract for a buttload of money. Most importantly, he's been a valuable commodity in fantasy baseball as a 2B who hits for power, although the move from New York to Seattle hurts that a bit.

Alex Rodriguez has been caught up in all sorts of scandals centered around steroid use, and that has marred a career that could be measured among the all-time greats. I just don't like the guy. It's interesting that he only got 7 stars. You'd think his superstar status would garner an instant 8-star rating.

Derek Jeter is pretty famous. You may have heard that he retired after the 2014 season. He's been an All-Star for like the last 15 years, although the last few seasons it was probably more out of reputation than actual performance on the field. A lot of people are all about the Yankees, and Jeter has been the face of the Yankees for a long time. My favorite Jeter memory is pulling a Jeter Rip Card out of 2014 Allen & Ginter's and selling it on eBay for enough to buy a cheaper Rip Card and a bunch of other stuff.

Granderson was coming off of two consecutive 40+ home run season when this card came out, so I guess the high rating can be excused. He had a down year for the Yankees in 2013 and then moved to the Mets for 2014 and at least was able to stay on the field for most of the year.

Ichiro is another pretty famous dude who plays baseball for the Yankees. He came into the league on fire, winning the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, and reeled off ten straight All-Star appearances. He led the league in hits like a million times. His last four seasons have been at a lower level than the first ten, but he's still probably an above-average player. I'm not sure where he will play in 2015. Some team will probably pick him up, if he is willing to accept whatever contracts are offered.

CC Sabathia is another guy who was coming off a pretty good 2012 when this set was produced. 2013 and 2014 were pretty rough for him, and with his knee being as bad as it is, who knows if he will ever be able to come back and put up serviceable numbers? He's got a Cy Young and 6 All-Star appearances, but heaven help you if you draft him in fantasy baseball expecting miracles.

Now we're getting to the weak portion of the team, with a guy who only has 6 stars. Just kidding, it gets a little worse later. He pitches a lot of innings with decent ratios, and his career win-loss record is an even 79-79, which is kind of cool. Looking at the numbers, he probably deserves to have a few more wins than that, but that's just one poorly-educated man's opinion based on a cursory glance at his Baseball Reference player page.

Ivan Nova hasn't exactly been great in his career, and his 2014 was cut short by an injury that required Tommy John surgery. I don't know a lot about him, as I've never wanted his inflated WHIP on my fantasy baseball rosters.

Based on star rating, Phil Hughes would be tied with Carlos Pena as the best player on the Houston Astros' Card-Gen roster. Hughes was kind of a yo-yo with the Yankees, with some pretty good years and some pretty bad years. He signed with the Twins for 2014 and finally put it all together and/or had a career year.

David Robertson pitched well for a few years and then in 2014 stepped into the closer role vacated by the retired Mariano Rivera. He pitched pretty well as the closer and the rumor is that he will make big money on the free agent market from a team looking to add a top reliever. It is interesting to see that the Astros might make a play for him. They need somebody consistent to take over the late innings, as it seems like the bullpen is constantly a train wreck waiting to happen.

And that does it for the Yankees in 2013 SEGA Card-Gen. Ten teams are down, so I've just got 20 more to go. I may finish this series of posts by 2017, but I don't know that I'd put any money on that.