25 March 2019

Cards from A Cracked Bat and Some Other Stuff

If I am going to maintain my 2 posts per month pace this year, I need to get a second post published before March ends. I'll start off by offering my belated thanks to Julie from A Cracked Bat for sending me a large batch of cards featuring famous Astros, notably Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.

There are a lot of cards in the pile, most from a time when I was either collecting basketball cards or not collecting cards at all. In addition to Bagwell and Biggio, other star Astros players made appearances.

Julie was quite persistent in tracking me down to mail these out after I won her Dupe, Dump, or Dwindle contest in October. I haven't been feeling all that sociable lately, but I do appreciate that she took the time to send these my way.

Although I haven't felt like blogging much over the last year or so, my collection keeps growing. I sometimes post my maildays on Twitter, and sometimes I just let cards pile up on my desk. I've got a sorting project that goes in fits and starts, and I am slowly getting the sorted cards entered into my Trading Card Database profile.

For the most part I am just trying to stay afloat. I am burnt out and tired most of the time. I've been trying to do a better job at work. I don't think I am in imminent danger of getting fired or disciplined or anything, but I know I could do better and I can feel that I've been pushed to the fringes of my work group.

On Friday I get to go to the doctor to see how much surgery a hernia that popped up recently will need. Or I will see the doctor, who will order some imaging, which will eventually lead to an analysis of how much surgery I need to get my insides back where they go. It hurts when I do things like move or stay still or cough. This is all complicated by the fact that I have a big trip scheduled this summer that will require some amount of exertion. I also need a clean bill of health to maintain my part-time job, because if I can hold on for three more years I will be able to retire and access a very good healthcare program.

School is going moderately well. I am pursuing my M.B.A. at a local university, and I am doing enough to stay in the program. My first couple of classes were pretty rough, but I have dropped down to taking one course at a time and it is at least manageable. I don't know what I will do with the degree, but I figure the time is going to pass whether I get more education or not and my job is paying for it, so I might as well get the fancy piece of paper.

All things considered, life is pretty good, even though I don't feel good. I try to maintain some kind of positivity, though, because I want to be a good example for my kids. Odds are that they will struggle with mental illness since it runs in both sides of our family, but I want them to see that you can still have an okay life even if you are miserable.

All of the cards after the pictures of Julie's cards are eBay pickups from the last couple of months. I especially like the Dikembe Mutombo shoe card, the Ember Moon autograph, the Jake Butt autograph, the Jeff Bagwell AuthenTix relic, and the dual bat relic of Jeff Kent and Roberto Alomar.

03 March 2019

Pack of the Day 193: A Hobby Box of 2019 Topps Heritage

Topps Heritage came out the other day, and I talked myself into going to the local card store to see what their pricing was like. It was fairly reasonable compared to online prices, so I bought a box to open and get a look at this year's offering.

There's the box before I tore into it. I guess there's not much else to say about this picture. You're guaranteed one autograph or relic in the box, and there are 24 packs with 9 cards per pack. You also get a box topper.

Here's what the box topper wrapper looks like, for anyone who was wondering.

My box topper was a 1970 Topps Super Baseball card of Juan Soto. Other options include 1970 Topps Originals (buybacks with foil stamps), 1970 Topps Posters, and 2019 Topps Teammates.

The packs look like Heritage packs.

Here are the odds for all of the various things, as well as the NPN information, for folks who like to participate in that.

Here is a standard base card from the set. I pulled 196 / 400 cards from the base set, so it is conceivable that with some luck you could complete the non-SP set from two boxes and a couple of packs or trades.

Here's an example of a League Leaders subset card. I had to choose the one I pulled with two Astros on the front.

The Rookies get to share their cards, and they get minor league stats on the back of their cards.

The All-Stars have a newspaper design. Several blogs have noted the return of The Sporting News branding on these, after a couple of years without. The backs get cartoon heads with varying levels of creepiness.

There are also playoff cards, with The Sporting News branding, black and white photos, and box scores on the backs.

Here are a few other base cards I picked out for this post. I don't know why so many Braves showed up in this picture. I didn't set out to do that. I don't even like the Braves. I guess I picked Minter because of the All-Star Rookie trophy.

I pulled 8 cards from the short-printed # 401-500 portion of the set. I'm glad I got an Astro in Gerrit Cole. Aaron Judge is probably the other highlight here. I noticed that the cuts on the edges of many cards are pretty rough. You can see it well here on the bottom of the Edwin Diaz card. Maybe they should switch out the cutter blades a bit more often.

The Chrome partial parallel set falls 1:58 packs, and I pulled an Odubel Herrera from the box. I think the serial number on it is # 261 / 999. It is quite bowed.

The Black parallels are not serially-numbered, but fall 1:62 packs. I think this is a full parallel set rather than a partial, but don't quote me on that. I am not a reliable source here.

Baseball Flashbacks are a 1:18 pack insert set, and I pulled a Reggie Jackson as the lone representative from that checklist.

New Age Performers fall 1:6 packs, and are quite colorful in spite of the bland grey borders.

News Flashbacks are another 1:18 pack set, and I got two of them in my box.

Then & Now is an additional 1:18 pack insert, and I got a card with Jim Palmer and Justin Verlander on the front. It is interesting to see how the pitching game has changed over time. No one last year threw more than one shutout in the AL.

1970 Topps Scratch-Off inserts come one per box, and I got Mike Trout as the subject of my booklet.

Here's the inside of the booklet after it's been unfolded. I think I liked these better as box toppers.

And the promised hit is a Yankees pitcher autograph. Real One Autographs are a 1:106 pack pull.

I like this product quite a bit, but at the going rate for boxes I don't feel like the perceived value is there. Maybe if you can break enough of it to pull a few variations or cooler hits it would be different. At $90-100 per box, though, you're getting a lot of base cards and not much else. You can get a # 1-400 base set for $35-40 online. This would be a much better break at $60-65 per box, but I guess we're not going to see that happen anytime soon. This is a fun product to sort through and look at, but I'll probably just buy a set online at some point rather than bust any more boxes.