30 December 2012

Seeing Purple: 2012 Topps Chrome Purple Refractor Hot Box

I won't bore you with text. See some purple:

Pack Zero: This one was the "extra pack" in the box, the one that was, you know, supposed to have all purple refractors. Joe Benson, Hunter Pence, Adam LaRoche, Jason Vargas. Not the best, but I enjoy Pence and LaRoche was a fantasy sleeper this year. Worked out well for me.

Pack One: When I ripped this one, I knew what I had. You just don't get three purple refractors and a basic refractor in a single pack. Needless to say, I was excited at this point. Also, the player selection in this pack was killer (save for the basic refractor). Dustin Pedroia, Giancarlo Stanton, Mark Reynolds, Michael Morse.

Pack Two: Love the player selection here, along with the photography. I am sure someone will be interested in the Kershaw. Clayton Kershaw, Drew Hutchison f/the hockey flow, Zack Cozart, Miguel Montero.

Pack Three: A slight recession. Eric Hosmer, Ryan Vogelsong, Justin Morn-'O Canada, BJUpton.

Pack Four: Most boring star in baseball, some rookies, and the most exciting non-star in baseball. Mark Teixeira, Alex Liddi - MLB's first Italian-born player, Colin Cowgill, Nyjer Morgan (why do we have no Brewers and Athletics card blogs?

Pack Five: Kelvin Herrera and Roy Halladay in almost the same exact pose, World Series Hero David Freese and a boring old base refractor of ex-Blue Jays great Shaun Marcum (come home, soon.)

Pack Six: A very awesome shot of Madison Bumgarner, XFractor Brian Dozier, Taylor Green, Mike Napoli.

Pack Seven: The closeout is easily the best pack. I enjoy Andre Ethier and his hockey flow. RA Dickey is a Nue Jay, and the colours and photo on the Chris Young is awesome. And then the most valuable card in the box, a basic Yoenis Cespedes refractor.

In total:
Purple Refractors: 25
XFractor: 1 (Brian Dozier)
Regular Refractors: 3 (Shaun Marcum, Dustin Pedoucha, Yoenis Cespedes)

Damn, that was a fun blaster. Oh yeah, This was the first of three DISCOUNTED blasters I grabbed with leftover Xmas gift card money from Sprawl Mart today. No, the others were not hot, but still yielded some decent cards.

28 December 2012

Warning: Beautiful Baseball Cards.

Yesterday, the 'burbs of Syracuse, New York were buried in about 18" of fresh powdery snow. I have to drive a good amount for my job (about 70 miles/day) in a rear-wheel drive Ford Ranger - a vehicle which has no place on anything other than tarmac in even the best of weather. Knowing full well that I had recently won many auctions of some very exciting cards off of the 'bay, I used my hard (read: moderately hard) earned vacation time to hang out, exhume cars from the depths of December and watch a mini-marathon of No Reservations until my shiny new awesomes arrived.

I know, I'm living the life.

However, the cards never came. In fact, they should have on Wednesday, but they didn't then, either. Patiently (or, obsessively refreshing every 10-20 minutes) checking the tracking info, I received a message around 8pm that the postal carrier left an undeliverable note in the box. This was not so - we had placed the rent check to be mailed out in the box earlier in the day, and it was still there by this time. Jerks.

Anyways, today the packages came. All four of them. This is one of those times where you'll hear some ridiculously repetitive spiel about how these cards look so much better in person! or the scans just don't do these justice!

I'll spare you that. Just know that these are some of the best-looking cards to come out in 2012. Bottom line.

I'll start with my main man and current Blue Jays rotation afterthought, Drew Hutchison.
Sepia Swooooon
This is the sepia refractor variation of Drew's 2012 Topps Chrome Rookie autograph. I will admit Topps have been pumping out some great Jays rookie autos of late, from Kyle Drabek and JP Arencibia in 2011 to Drew Hutchison and Brett Lawrie in 2012. Any version of this card which featured a full-colour photograph is an absolute abomination. One of the worst Toppshoppings I have ever seen. Awesomely, though, there are only 75 of these buggers. Happy to have one.

Have you ever seen a 1st Bowman Card of a 32nd round, 985th overall pick? Well, Jorge Saez is one, and Bowman decided to feature him on this card for 2013. I can find almost nothing on him. In fact this is the only one I have of him - COMC is bare and everything else on ebay was overpriced.

The Jays drafting Saez shows Jays Brass' love of college catchers. JP Arencibia, Yan Gomes (now with the Tribe) and Saez - all recent picks. The blue refractors are astonishing with the new Jays uniforms, even if they are Toppshopped - and Jorge's catcher's gear makes this card that much better.

This card, however, was just a $.99 throw-in to the main attraction:

Hello, I love you.
Introducing the perfect baseball signature card. This card is absolutely stunning. Its really hard to convey that message through a poor scan (after vicious cleaning of the scanner bed and checking the card over for imperfections), but believe me when I say that this card is absolutely perfect. Francisco has an original, instantly-classical signature. Rarely do you see such a compelling "F" in someone's inkings. I've had quite an adoration of Lindor since hearing about him on Baseball Prospectus' Up and In podcast - the best podcast ever, if you were wondering - and have made him a cornerstone of my collecting interests with this purchase and a pile of Lindors waiting for me to request shipment on COMC.

By the way, I've bought four of these so far.

Yep. Four.

And that does not include the following three, all 2012 draft picks of your Toronto Blue Jays.

Round 1, Pick #17:
DJ Davis

Bowman Scouting Report: Davis has scary speed and good instincts, which lead to myriad outfield highlights*. His strong forearms whip the bat through the zone, generating line drive to all fields.

I do not know too much about DJ Davis - mostly that he's a hell of a sight in centre field and was regarded as the fastest in the 2012 draft class. Some of his major-league comps include Alejandro de Aza and Michael Bourn. That's fine by me, but I'll be honest, I was hoping Lucas Giolito would slip one spot lower than he did. So it goes.

I do, however, love Davis' signature. It's so authentic. Its not forced. It doesn't look like he has been practicing it since he was eleven years old. It's just...honest.

Round 1, Pick #22 (Supplemental):
Marcus Stroman

Bowman Scouting Report: Stroman turned Duke into destination for scouts*, unleashing 95-mph fastballs and filthy sliders against overmatched ACC competition. His efficient delivery, obvious intelligence and rare polish make him a good bet to zip up the Blue Jays chain.

I am quite excited for Marcum Stroman's future as a Blue Jay. He was amazing at Duke. Unfortunately, a banned-substance suspension ended his 2012 and will cut into his 2013. I highly doubt that Stro' is juiced - it doesn't fit his build or his performance. However, Marcus immediately took responsibility for his actions and vowed that this instance was entirely a mistake and will be buried in the past.

Round 2, Pick #50 (CA)
Matthew Smoral

Bowman Scouting Report: Left-handed swingers never feel very comfortable against Smoral, whose low, three-quarters arm angle and long limbs can make his low-90s heater seem like it's jumping at hitters. A plus-slider and an improving change-up keep the righties at bay, too.

Smoral seems like decent replacement in the ranks for recently-traded Noah Syndergaard. Big, tall, lefty, with solid control and medium heat. I love the way the Jays uniform, albeit inauthentic, looks on this card. Blue jersey. Blue border. Blue ink.

Matthew's signature is definitely the least interesting, though, but it's bound to morph into something different during his trip through the Jays system.

This post was wordy, but most of the good ones are. I try to avoid the cliche "look what I found on ebayz!!1" posts and actually write something rather than just...write. Something.

I hope you enjoyed it. Leave comments to let me know you did or did not.


*I apologize for the abysmal grammar on these cards. I doubt they were actually written by baseball scouts, but rather deciphered from their notes and columns and so on.

27 December 2012

A Stack of Gypsy Queens

This blog, like many others, has been rather quiet lately. Prior to this post, I checked my last publish date, which was the 21st. Almost a week. It's not that cards haven't been of concern -  I am actually working on a little baseball card "market research post" and ravings over the 2013 Bowman Sterling set. In fact this post was originally a considerably less eloquent canton written while waiting for out Chinese food to cook the other night. It was an attempt to publish via the Blogger Android App, which is trash. Don't bother with it.

I suppose it's the season. Many are travelling. Some are snowed in. In fact, today, I was more or less confined to the house  - my job requires me to drive a rear-wheel drive Ford Ranger around all day. Aaaaand last night we got about foot of fresh powder on top of at least six inches from Christmas Eve and another half-a-foot the weekend prior.

On top of a few other things at Target sometime last week, I grabbed the above pictured stack of Gypsy Queen packs. I love Gypsy Queen, and I was surprised and delighted to see a fresh retail box of them at Target...so I grabbed six of them.

The results were actually quite excellent. Here's what I came home with:

Love that AMERICAH! uniform the Nats showcase.
Six packs, three photo variations. I've had excellent luck with these. I'll need to do more research on them, and decide whether or not to go after a base-version complete set, variation set, variations and base complete set, or a motley Frankenset.

Obligatory minis. I enjoy the Gypsy Queen minis much more than Allen & Ginter's. I am slowly convincing myself to go after Gypsy Queen in '13 rather than A&G. I'm sure none of ya'll will stop me. The Gypsy Queen back is my favourite, yet I have not yet landed a paper-framed parallel. I do have one Sepia /99, of JP Arencibia, of course.

Some inserts. The Hallmark Heroes are a big yawner, but I enjoy the Moonshots. Cannot argue with the player selection showcased here. However, I also pulled a Mickey Mantle HHs, and if I pull another Mantle card I may quit collecting modern cards.

And of course, the hit:
How did CJ burn his mouth?
He ate his food before it was cool.

America's (least) favourite Hipster baseballer, CJ Wilson. A clean white swatch. I'd rather not see relics in nostalgia-type sets. It just doesn't look right. However, I am always happy to pull a relic, perhaps one I could flip in a trade or one ebay/comc, and its always a pleasure to have it be someone relevant. No Morgan Ensberg or Khalil Greene here.

So, in essence, not too bad for six $2 retail packs. Enough to scratch the itch for a week or two.

21 December 2012

Messing with things.

If you're like me, you probably don't click on a link to a post unless there is a picture.

Consider yourself tricked by my latest Carlos Delgado purchase, this nice patch card from some Upper Deck set. It's not that I don't know where it came from - I just wanted your attention.

So maybe I have it by now.

I recently did some blogscaping. I think it looks a little better than before. Definitely less amateur. Which is kind of ridiculous - if we were pros, there wouldn't be any amateurism. A little bit is okay. And there is some. Still.

Pay me to write, and it'll look better. I promise. But you're not paying me, so settle down.

I made a new blog logo. It's over here ------>

(You may have to scroll.)

I feel it fits the feel of the blog a bit better. It looks like I am stuck in the greater/lesser Syracuse area for a while to come. Might as well embrace it. Could be worse. I could be in the city.

Hey, do we have trades going? If so, email me. We've all been busy, so do not be offended if I haven't replied lately.

As some of you may remember, I used to collect Colorado Rockies cards. I have a bunch of them, and as I have proposed trades to a few Rockies fans of late - I am going to write up a post in which I have a bunch of scans of the cards up for trade. Tulo will be present. I'll resurrect the corpse of Garret Atkins as well. Todd Helton will rule that post. Stay tuned...probably later next week.

Two quick, non-blog-related things.

Why the hell isn't Bob Seger on Spotify?

And this might be the greatest song ever written.

Blistering: 2008 Topps Chrome Repacks

Recently, Wegman's, the greatest grocery store of them all (yes, better than King Sooper) has been expanding their junk wax section - what used to be a magazine rack is not a checkout isle. And if you've ever been t Wegman's, you know only about three of the ~20 checkouts are open after 7pm - thus no awkward card-section searching while others check out their nightly sustenance.

They've been showcasing some half-priced blasters lately, too. However, they're atrocious. UD X, Icons, 2008 Topps, 2008 Upper Deck 1&2 (read: no inserts in packs.)

However, they did recently have blister repacks of one of my favourite products, 2008 Topps Chrome. For some reason, the refractors look just great in this set - especially the coppers and blues. XFractors, on the other hand, are the Ke$ha of refractors - so trashy, yet somehow irresistible.

I grabbed one blister a few weeks ago that contained a Mickey Mantle HR history insert refractors and flipped it on ebay for 4x the price of the pack. So of course, when I found two more about a week ago, I grabbed them at a meager $1.59/pack.

Here's pack one:

I had both of these, both in base and refractor..or at least I think I do. I know I have seen the Gallardo repeatedly.

What the hell happened to Daric Barton? These features an awful photo on a mediocre design, with gold-foil serial numbering on a faux-aged card back. Yeah, I don't like these. At all.
Blue Bass!

I did not have this one, yet. Well, at least in blue - I don't know about the basic refractor or Ke$hafractor. I love the blue-bordered refractors, which somehow look great with cards of all uniform colours, unlike the new orange, green and purple refractors.

And along to pack number two:

Ah, much better base cards this time 'round. Yadier is one of the more exciting players to watch in baseball - and as a huge fan of catchers, pitch calling and defense, I'll often tune my MLB.TV to St. Louis Cardinals games just to watch him. Also featured is his cross-Missoura rival, Billy Butler.

Five-year chrome bend makes for great
refractor scans.

Oh hey, Martin. Guess what? You're trade bait. Because I already have you. SOMEONE PLEASE TAKE MY BARVES CARDS.
Blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas.

Well that's a great way to end it. A blue refractor of an insert? My hot streak continues. This was numbered to /200.

I enjoy 2008 Chrome. If you have any refractors to offer, I have a want list for the set on the left side of the ol' blog. 

20 December 2012

Group Breakin': O No Part 3

I win, again.

I'm on a roll lately. Team USA jersey from a rack pack. Sidney Crosby dual relic and super short print from the saaaammme pack of 12-13 Artifacts. Some clutch eBay wins. 

Yeah. On a roll. I haven't been on one since...2009 or 10. It'd been a hell of a dry spell.

I almost didn't join Ryan's latest group break over at Another Orioles Blog. But we had a little trade going, so why not pad an envelope with some acid-trippy tunr-of-the-century baseball cards? 

I gave in. Buckstorecards had already grabbed the Jays and Expos (as per usual - which is fine, keep those David Wells and Juicer Clemens' to yourself), so I retreated to my usual backup for that era - the Rangers - mostly for the possibly Pudges. I decided to also grab the Astros, since no one ever does, and all those Bagwells and Biggios end up in an imperfect home. I was also randomed the BROyals and (still teal) Marlins.

There were some lower-end sets, such as:
2002 UD MVP
The MVPs had a great, albeit unorthodox design. It's much of what I miss from that era. Color, foil, and lots of black. Black and color. It makes sense. Seriously.

Ryan also busted, or carefully opened a 1998 Fleer Tradition Update.

They looked like this. That's about all there is to say.

I, myself, joined for the next two boxes, however. Some 1999 HoloGrFx:
Look, more Beltran!
Launchers Insert
Awful name, awfully neat-looking cards.
And some 1999 Topps Chrome. I was hoping for some refractors, but this beauty will do just fine:
Lords of the Diamond
I miss the days when die-cuts didn't suck.

And of course, some Pudges;

Early Road to the Hall
Yes, indeed. The Hall of Fame. When Pudge is inducted, I will be there. In full catcher's gear. 

Moar Pudge!
At the beginning of the post, I mentioned that I won. Well, I suppose some explaining is due. The break had a low probability of provided a hit. As in, none guaranteed.

...so i beat the odds:
From 2002 MVP.

Juan Gonzalez, in the most colorless card I have ever seen. But I totally dig it. Whenever Ryan has group breaks, I manage to get totally hooked up with Juan Gonzalez cards. This is one of the rarest, but the refractor from 1994 Finest wasn't to bad, either.

But hell, I wasn't done. Let's beat the odds again:

Where the hell is Hank Blalock?
Dang. That's a pretty great group break. This wasn't even one of the boxes - there were just a few of the atrocious 2010 Upper Deck packs thrown in for good measure. And hell, it worked out pretty great for me. 

Thanks for the great break, as always, Ryan.

And for this:
Tiny bird!

18 December 2012

2012 Topps Pro Debut 2-Box Break

Phew. It's been a busy night. But since I posted a teaser of these two beautiful babies, I thought it would just be the right thing to pose them up. I busted these way back around 5:30, collated them by 6:30, scanned them, made a grocery run and whipped up a batch of white trash for tomorrow's office Christmas party, scanned a few more images and now I sit, watching, conincidentally, a baseball-themed episode of Psych, and have finally got around to writing them up.


On to some baseball cards!

Ahh, prospects. Except, these prospect aren't so much anymore. Manny Machado came on in August and killed it for Baltimore. Harper was up by May (two weeks before I moved back to Syracuse - way to get hurt, Zimmerman). Billy Hamilton was a September call-up and was pretty much just a blur - possibly the fastest man in baseball right now.

Xander Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar and Starling Marte. Xander easily wins the Greatest Name in the Baseball award, while also being one of the best prospects in baseball. Jurickson Profar made a name for himself during the Futures Game this year in Kansas City when he smoked one out to right field - and again when he homered in his first major league game a couple months later - in his first at-bat. 

The MiLB All-Stars fall 1:3. They're pretty nice for a six-per-box insert, with a solid design and all-star player selection. I was quite happy to pull both Marte and my man AJ Jimenez, a baby Jay catcher who'll probably be fast-tracked to the MLB with the outsourcing of Toronto's catchers of late.

The gold-border parallels fall one-per-box and are numbered to 50 copies. Coincidentally, mine were both of Mets farmhands.

 Of course, I had to sneak in some more blue-chip prospects before the hits come. Deal with it.
...and some more. I was a bit disappointed Hak-Ju Lee wasn't pictured in a Montgomery Biscuits uniform, but the Charleston Rock Crabs aren't too bad, either.
Here, you jackals. Here are the autographs from box one. As you can see, nothing spectacular. Yet. I am going to do a  bit of digging on these guys eventually.

Soooo, this is my second Hutchison autograph from this set. Why second? After I purchased the boxes on 12/10, I figured there was no way, even though I would be pulling in four autographs from these boxes - that one would be my main man Drew Hutchison. So of course, towards the end of box two. That guy fell out. Also, the Sean Buckey is a gold variation, inserted something like 1:196. No big deal.

There are also relics inserted 2:box, and I was lucky enough to land ANOTHER gold parallel (/50), this time of an Xavier Avery bat. Junior Lake was the second bat card, both of these coming from the first box. I also pulled a Mike Adams jersey from box two, but in the haste to scan and post the next card, it must have been lost on the cutting/blogging room floor.

Boom! A Will Middlebrooks manufactured cap patch from the Pawtucket Red Sox. What a beaut. This is a very thick card, thick enough as to replace six cards in a pack. Awesomely enough, it was sandwiched between Bryce Harper and Noah Syndergaard base cards. What a pack that was. There is some mystery as to the insertion ratios of the cap patches, but I watched in the neighborhood of seven box-break viedoes of this product, and along with my two boxes, I saw three of these pulled. So my best guess is one in every three boxes, so it's a solid hit, but not nearly as rare as the gold relics or autos that I also pulled. Yes, this is me rubbing it in.

Blue Jays! I mean, Fisher Cats! I managed to piece together the entire base set, which means I was able to see all of the Jays cards. Drew and AJ are some of my favorites, but I haven't heard much of anything about Deck since he was drafted...so I am not expecting much more than a bullpen arm out of him.

By piecing the base set together, I also got a pile of no-longer-Blue Jays. I was sad to see Sundergaard go, not nearly as much as d'Arnaud however. I am hoping d'Arnaud is going to kill it in Queens, he's got the skill set and the work ethic, I just hope his knee is all healed up. I was never super-high on Nicolino, who for some reason isn't pictured as one of the Lansing Three. I suppose Topps just wanted to throw a Vancouver Canadiens card in. Fine by me.

So that's it. I am so happy that I bought & busted these boxes. I have a lot of base card doubles, so if you're interested in acquiring some of your future collection needs, let me know, and I will be happy to share.

Goodnight everyone.