March 25, 2017

The 11th Day of Trade Posts - Supertrader Style

Rolling right on through to the next severely overdue thank you post. Today's trade package arrived in my mailbox courtesy of AJ, The Lost Collector. He's a fellow Yankees guy for those who don't know, but the majority of this package was of the Supertrader variety. For me, that means Rays for days! Sorry, I'm apparently still shaking the rust off and couldn't resist that cringe-worthy phrasing. Let's go to the highlights, shall we?

I had never seen those UD Power Up cards. In fact, I'm not sure what they're about exactly. I do know there is a code in the upper right corner of the card that is hard to see in the scan. The Cairo from Stadium Club just goes to show that great photography has long been a staple of the brand. Logo-less RCs of two of my favorite former Bulls happens to be hiding in the stack as well. Admittedly, the photo selection does a decent job hiding their logo-less nature. I am looking forward to getting some ink on that Adames once the Durham Bulls season begins. I'm hoping he starts the season in the Bull City, but even if he begins back in Montgomery at Double-A, he's likely to make an appearance at some point of the 2017 season. Last, but not least, the 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods Matt Moore is an awesome addition. I was always a fan of Matty's and I was happy to see him turn hints around somewhat after he was traded to the Giants.

This is an awesome addition to my collection for a few reasons. First, Bubba was a fan-favorite(including this fan) when he played in Durham. Add to that, this is my first auto from the somewhat iconic, original Donruss Signature Series. Very cool!

I did say that the package was primarily Rays. I can only assume this nice looking Pineda relic was a dupe for AJ. I sure do appreciate that this one made its way into my trade package. Thanks for a great stack of cardboard! I've got some Yankees set to the side to send back your way. Thanks for reading.

March 24, 2017

Finally Getting to the 10th Day of Trade Posts

I have finally found a reasonable scanning solution and some time to actually get some scanning done so it's time to pick up where I left off. It's the 10th Day of Trade Posts! In this one, I focus on a PWE from John of Johnny's Trading Spot and a small bubble mailer from Chris over at Nachos Grande. I've still got all of the packaging from each trade package so I could realistically provide an accurate time frame for when each of these packages arrived. I'm not going to do that though. Not because it would take too much time, but rather because I'd be too embarrassed to divulge how long past due these 'thank you' posts really are. Let's just work with the understanding that proper thanks are months over due at this point. For that trade partners, I'm sorry. Without further delay, let's check out the PWE from John.

I love that the use of 1/3 of a nine-pocket page has become fairly standard in PWE shipping. I mean, what better way to maximize content and security?

As you could see, his was a Supertraders package. It contained Rays of all kinds. Many were of the Bowman/Bowman Chrome variety. These four stood out above the rest, each for different reasons. Look at that young David Price, brings back memories of seeing him in Durham. The Floro makes me a bit sad since he is no longer with my local Triple A team. Sonnanstine played locally during a time when I didn't catch many games, but I remember reading about him frequently while he was here on the farm. I love this Finest card highlighting his impressive 10 strikeout performance in his first MLB victory. Finally, I'll always have a soft spot for Carl Crawford. While it's true that he carved out a pretty solid career in the majors, I thought he would do so much more. Oh yeah, I picked that one because it's really shiny too! Let's move on to the contents of the bubble mailer from Chris.

I love it when trade partners include notes. This one made me laugh. I mean what else is one of the ever-present Hector Olivera RCs good for? I don't know anyone out there that actually wants to collect them, so why not use them as note paper?

Here were the contents of the team bag that was inside. Those are two stacks of 2015 Stadium Club. There were ten in all. I did, in fact, still need all 10 for my set build. I purposely selected the Big Mac and the Britton for the top cards in the stacks because they were the best photos in my opinion. I especially dig the Britton. It's just a great shot of team intros with a piece of Camden Yards signage in the background.

Thanks to John and Chris. Sorry the post was so long overdue. I'm building stacks to send to each of you soon. Thanks for reading.

March 8, 2017

Ripping Packs of 2017 Donruss Gets Me Feeling Nostalgic

I am working on getting a scanning system up and running so that I can resume/conclude my 12 Days of Trade Posts, recap my first card show of the year, and show off the results of my 2017 Topps jumbo box break. Until I'm ready to go, I'm sticking to posts that are light on the scans(when I'm posting at all). That being said, I happened to be in my LCS looking for some new 'home-made repacks' that they always have out. The pickings were kinda slim today, so I took a look at the product on the shelves. I had no idea that I would see a freshly opened box of 2017 Donruss staring back at me. I picked out two packs and set them on the counter to pay.

Turns out, that had just been delivered an hour or so b fore I walked in. I was the first to grab any packs out of the box. The owner of the shop wished me luck, I said thank you and left. I hadn't read any product reviews/previews prior to picking up these packs and therefore had no idea what the design looked like. This made me feel like a kid getting ready to open packs again. I never knew what a new product looked like before I opened my first pack of it back when I was younger. In some ways, I miss that feeling of anticipation as I would get ready to rip open the wrapper of a product for the first time. For a moment, I got to feel that again this afternoon. If anyone knows the feeling I'm talking about, I would highly recommend you try to go into a product without any prior knowledge. These days I know it's tough, but it can be done...and it is soooo worth it! Let's get on to what I saw once I removed the wrapper of pack one.

OMG. This design will clearly not be for everyone. However, it was perfect for me. Why, you ask? My first thought as I saw the design was 'Wow! It's a slightly updated 1990 Donruss!' This was perfect for me because I'm one of the few people that happen to have fond memories of that set. I actually liked it quite a bit back in its day. Seeing that this was the design for this year's set allowed my nostalgic feelings to continue through the ripping of both packs. Let's look at a quick comparison.

There you go. Both designs share similarities of two lines across the top, script writing for the player name, and a 'paint splatter' motif. Panini can't use the team names these days, they opted to put the position above the top line, and the Donruss logo is significantly different but the inspiration was definitely drawn from this set from 27 years ago. Let's get back to the contents of the first pack.

There's a look at the card back. It's interesting. So far I don't hate it or love it. The Cueto continues the trend of insert sets paying homage to the sets of Donruss' history. This year, they rework the 1983 set. I've liked these over the past few years and this year is no different. If they continue these efforts next season, it may be the first time I try to complete the set. I'm kinda partial to the '84 set. Seven cards down, one to go in the first pack.

This is a blue parallel of the Signature Series auto set. I have not heard of Jose Rondon and haven't looked him up yet. If the back of this card is to be believed, he may end up being a decent player. Either way, it was a nice way to finish the pack. On to pack two. As I ripped the mylar, I could see something thick in the middle of the pack. I closed my eyes and reorganized the stack so at the thick card was on he bottom of the stack. I'm not really sure why I did that because since their return, Donruss packs have often contained the thick, blank, 'dummy' inserts.

The more I see the base set, the more I like it. If these were fully licensed, it would be my favorite set of the past few years. From my small sample size, I'm not sure that Panini has done as good a job selecting photos that mask the lack of logos as they have in past years. Perhaps as I see more, I'll feel differently on that.

This Balckmon Dominator is #/99 and very shiny. I'm really digging this particular insert set. I'm going to have to look into who else is on the checklist.

Wow! I guess it wasn't a dummy! Apparently, I'm being pushed into starting a Javy Baez PC. I guess there could be worse things. This sweet relic concludes my unexpectedly nostalgic pack busting session from earlier today. What do you think of the Donruss design this year. Am I the only one crazy enough to like it? Thanks for reading.

February 28, 2017

Sneak Peek at 2017 Heritage

About a week ago, I finally picked up my Topps Series one jumbo box and the associated silver packs. It was so much fun ripping those packs, but as has been the story with much of what is going on in my collecting life over the last few months, I haven't scanned/written up said fun. At any rate, since I just busted my first real look at Flagship, my internal product release calendar was way off. Subsequently, when I walked into my local Target while on my lunch break today, I had no clue that I was going to see new product staring back at me from the shelves of the card aisle. I was looking for one of the Topps blister packs that had four packs and one of the 'fielding award' cards(I hoped to find one with Brett Gardner) or another Road to WrestleMania jumbo packs. Instead I found this:

Heritage was on the shelf a day early! As an added bonus, my hanger box had this stuck to the front of it:

That will be important later. I probably wouldn't have grabbed a loose pack of Topps since they were all clearly searched. Hey, a free pack is a free pack so I picked one from the gravity feed box and hoped that it would at least have one of the 1987-themed inserts. More on this in a bit. Let's take a brief look at what came out of the Heritage hanger box.

First things first, here are a few of the more interesting of the plain old base cards. I chose to show Duffy since he is with the Rays now and there really wasn't much other competition for 'interesting' or 'exciting'. Obviously, I chose Bartolo so everyone could see him in all his airbrushed Braves glory. I added Kershaw because he's one of the best pitchers in the game right now and there wasn't much other competition for 'interesting' or 'exciting'. Sounds like there's an echo in here, but that's what the contents of this hanger box had me thinking over and over.

I will say that I like the All-Topps(AS) subset. I pulled five total from this portion of the base set. These were my three favorites of the bunch(Kershaw and Scherzer not shown).

The Russell is a High Number SP. To top all, it looks as though the 1968 Game set makes a return this year in two distinct forms. The Manny in the middle is part of a 30 card set while the Jake Thompson RC is from a 15 card, Target-exclusive set that focuses on 2017 rookies. Topps decided to borrow from a different 'Game-like' set by making the regular set with blue backs and the rookie set with red backs. Though not historically accurate, I think it's a really nice and easy way to distinguish between the two while giving a nod to the 1951 set. Man, it looks like I'm going to have 45 more 'Game' cards to track down. I haven't even finished the set from that time they put these in Archives...

Anyway, let's move on to the loose pack of Flagship. As I flipped through the stack, I was mostly underwhelmed at first glance.

These were my highlights. I was thrilled to pull the Judge RC and I was indeed fortunate enough to pull one of the 1987's(a need at that). Almost immediately it occurred to me that guy in the middle didn't look the way I remembered seeing him while recently busting my jumbo box. A quick glance at the code on the back confirmed my hope/suspicion that I had just pulled the SSP photo variation of Mr. MVP/World Series Champ, Kris Bryant. Those fall at a whopping 1:566 packs and I pulled one of the most popular guys on the series one variation checklist! Unbelievable! I think my adrenalin is still pumping. Guess those pack searchers at my local Target couldn't pick out all of the good stuff. That was one heck of a free pack! Thanks for reading.

February 18, 2017

Bellator 172: Ready to Crush This MMA Fan's Hopes

I can't wait until baseball season starts. Once it does, I think I'll have an easier time focusing on baseball card posts. I still haven't had he chance to drive out to my LCS to pick up my jumbo box and the two bonus Silver Packs I have waiting on me, my scanning capability is on again/off again, so I've had to rely on relatively shorter posts that have been focused on other current events. Tonight we keep with that theme.

MMA fans are likely aware that tonight is Bellator 172. Unlike many of their recent fight cards, this one is of interest for two reasons. First, on the undercard, former UFC top contender Josh Koscheck makes his debut for the promotion.

'Kos' has a big mouth and tends to say/do some controversial stuff, but he has been one of my favorite fighters since I watched him on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. That was years ago. He's always been an entertaining fighter and you never know what he might say at a pre or post fight press conference or weigh-in. Tonight, he steps in the cage as a 39 year old who is riding a 5 fight losing streak. As much as I would like to see him pick up a 'W' in his Bellator debut, I just don't see it. Moving on to the other notable attraction tonight:

'The Last Emperor' was, at one time, considered the best fighter in MMA. Since he didn't fight for the UFC, it was a bit more difficult to watch his fights on a regular basis, but once you found them, they were worth the effort. He is one of the few fighters to lay claim to being the best in the world that I actually rooted for. Historically, I have rooted against any fighter tagged with that title. All of the hype came crashing down in mid-2010 when he began a 3 fight losing streak. He has since won his last 5 fights, but the level of competition has been less than impressive. I'd really like to see him pull off a great victory tonight, but he is 40 years old and has not looked good in his last few fights so I think that is unlikely. 

There you have it. Tonight's fight card is setting me up for two huge disappointments. Come 9:00, I'll be watching Spike but I'm sure that two of my favorite fighters are going to suffer the agony of defeat. I suppose disappointment as a fan comes in threes(like so many other things). At least if they both lose, the silver lining would be that what started last month when BJ Penn was destroyed will end tonight. Is it opening day yet? Thanks for reading.

Well this post is shot! Literally a few minutes ago I heard that the main event between Fedor and Matt Mitrione was cancelled due to illness. Guess I didn't have to wait until 9pm for the disappointment to begin...

February 17, 2017

Farewell to an 'Animal'

My earliest memory of watching professional wrestling was somehow convincing my parents to rent me a VHS copy of WrestleMania III. I recall having to wait until my parents weren't watching anything on the only TV we had in the house that had a VCR connected to it. From the moment I pressed 'play' until the end of the show, I was enthralled. That's it, one show and I was hooked! Subsequently, my parents allowed me to rent WM and WM II along with several of the old Coliseum Video compilation tapes. Here we are approximately 30 years later and I'm still at least a casual fan. I don't feel the same connection to many of today's stars as I did many of the ones from my early fandom. That being said, I was saddened earlier this year when Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka passed away. I didn't write about him here because of the controversial nature of his legal issues. Instead, I quietly remembered his career as an entertainer and mourned his loss.

Today, however, I heard some news that moved me to write my first tribute post of 2017. George ' The Animal' Steele has passed away at the age of 79. I never had the opportunity to watch him during his time as one of the most feared heels in the business. Rather, my memories will always be of the 'slightly off' character that sported a green tongue, ripped open turnbuckles, and pined for Miss Elizabeth.

Here is a 1985 Topps card showcasing his more violent nature(and that green tongue).

There he is ripping into one of those turnbuckle pads! While I'll remember him in his way, this last piece of cardboard shows off an image that will likely be the first to come to mind anytime I think of this HOF talent.

It all comes back to WrestleMania III. The Intercontinental Title match was definitely one of the reasons I was hooked after watching the show. It entrenched all of the participants as favorites of mine. Sadly, there is only one of those original favorites left. Rest in peace Animal. Say hello to the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth. Thanks for reading.

February 11, 2017

The Road to WrestleMania Took Me to Target for My Birthday

I intended to write a WWE post on Royal Rumble Sunday, but for many reasons, that just didn't work out. In the early stages of 2017, I've actually busted more wrestling product than anything else(so far). So , I happened to be in Target a few days before I finally got my hands on some retail 2017 Topps Baseball and instead of finding blasters, and hangers, and value packs(oh my) I found my first 2017 pack of this instead:

I don't usually pick up too much of the Road to WrestleMania product, but I always grab a few of these value packs to have a sampling. I got home and ripped right into it, slightly less disappointed than I would have been since I still hadn't found any new baseball on the shelf(or pegs).

I didn't realize until I took the picture of the pack(a split second before opening it) that you cold clearly see that Triple H was the first card in the pack, and there he is. These are not part of the base set, but rather a separate WM insert, of which there were several in the pack. These three just happen to be a few of my favorite performers in the business right now, so I thought I'd scan them.

Hey look, there they are again! I particularly love the Ambrose from Money in the Bank since it shows him moments after cashing in the briefcase and winning his first World Championship.

Here are a few more base highlights. I'm not her biggest fan, but that is quite an awesome photo on that Charlotte Flair card!

Here is the promised Undertaker career retrospective insert. The Cena has slightly higher odds as they fall only 1:3 packs. These are both nicely designed cards that showcase two,of the biggest names in WWE history from really early in their respective careers. There was one more 'card' in the pack. It was a coupon for $0.50 off any Road to WrestleMania product purchase. This of course gave me a reason to go back to Target so I could pick out another pack. All told, my first pack of a 2017 WWE product was solid.

Fast forward to Thursday. I was out of the house early and had some time to spare before the start of my shift, so I figured I'd treat myself to a discounted, Birthday pack of WWE cards. When I arrived to the card aisle, someone had lined up the only three value packs of this product neatly on top of a 2016 Topps factory set. I took a quick glance at them and grabbed the one which I could clearly see had The Rock's WM card on top. I used my coupon and paid for the pack. Since I still had some time before I needed to be at work, I decided to rip the pack in the car.

There's my second Undertaker insert and the WM Rock that I knew was in there. The KO was also a nice find since he too is one of my current favorites.

Turns out it was a Sting hot pack! I pulled the base and bronze parallel of the card highlighting his WWE Hall of Fame induction. Then there was more Ambrose and Triple H. Next up, Charlotte channeling her father, The Nature Boy! I scanned that last one just because it had Mick Foley on it. I was digging another solid pack, then I flipped to this:

I was in shock. Bray isn't one of my favorite characters, but he has great skills on the mic and is fairly popular. I noticed right away that unlike many Topps autos these days, this was not a sticker-graph. The on-card signature paired up with the design really makes this card pop. I was feeling pretty good about that pack choice and finished flipping through the few remaining cards. Then I went back through the entire stack one more time. It was on the second time through that I turned the autograph card over.

WOW! I literally did a double take. I had just pulled my first 1/1! Now, I've got two or three printing plates of former Durham Bulls in the collection, but I didn't pull those from packs. Once I stopped staring at the serial number, I decided to check the odds on the pack.

The odds of a red auto parallel are 1:40,284.That was some crazy pack picking/ripping mojo! I fully expected that since the packs had been laid out in a row that they had already been 'searched' for hits, but fortunately this slipped through. Yay, Happy Birthday to me! Thanks for reading.