30 November 2017

november nue jays (pre-comc binge)

The weather is cooling, and the singles from ebay keep trickling in. I've been more busy and avoiding retail strores as much as possible, so there hasn't been any ripping to speak of since the Topps Fire hate rip and the Heritage Minors, but there's always something interesting worth discussing, as long as I can find some images to keep the attention.

First up is the Stroman above, which, I didn't think I could hate a Marcus Stroman card...but there it is. I am yet to find a redeeming quality to 2017 Topps. I truly believe it's the worst flagship they've ever put out.

While I don't like Gypsy Queen so much either, the Glassworks box toppers from 2017 caught my attention, and Marcus was the lone Blue Jay from the checklist.

This monster is a 3x5" on a refractor board. It's a great-looking card, but on the back there is the token Topps "Congratulations" spiel. Stop congratulating me for buying your product, you pompous assbutts.

Keeping with Blue Jays pitchers, I've started working on a PC of TJ Zeuch, their first rounder from the 2016 draft.

This insert from Bowman Chrome basically just features where the player was originally drafted and where they were drafted and signed. In 2013 Zeuch went 924th overall, but in 2016, he was a first-rounder at 21st. It's a fair enough concept for a card and fits the Bowman brand. The colors in this insert are also unique, so it was an easy purchase.

He also wrote his name on it for some reason.

From Z to A.

I think this came out of 2017 Topps, possibly making it the only redeeming quality of this year's "effort." For the record, 1987 Topps was seven years old by the time Anthony Alford was born in Columbia, Mississippi in 1994, and Major League Baseball went on stike less than thirty days later.

To another A, Rick Ankiel. I have a low-key Ankiel collection, along with other players that were huge prospects at the time but along the way something went wrong, and their cardboard is now virtually worthless.

That's pretty much how I came into finally owning a Pacific Cramer's Choice card. This one is from 2000 or 2001 though, so it's not one of the originals with a gem-like appearance.

Still big, though:

I used a 2017 Bowman's Best of Anthony Alford, also autographed, to show off the size. The seller was kind enough to include a top loader, but I don't think soft sleeves exist for cards this big. Man, it's loud.

I've also been going though a bit of a 2017 Bowman High Tek binge now that the price has plummeted. High Tek offers awful reward for your money for breakers, and I'm taking advantage of that through ebay, pumping up my Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. collection.

Here's the base (left) and the autograph (right.)

Upon closer inspection, the autographed one is a diffractor, but since it's unnumbered, it fell through the cracks as a base auto for around the price of a pack of Gypsy Queen. Add another parallel to the pile.

Not to be confused, of course, with this Tidal Diffractor, which is numbered out of /199:

Right. So all of those look pretty much the same, but the final one has the "Tidal" pattern, which looks more like a simplified hurricane or whirlpool. I may further expunge upon this in the future, using photographs instead of scans.

Tek autos are reasonably priced on the secondary, as long as you don't go too hard into the parallels. Somehow, I managed to pick up the Bo Bichette (base) in a lot for an extremely reasonable price along with Sean Newcomb, Anderson Espinoza and Jorge Mateo (Tidal Diffractor.)

As November churned on, I finished out the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend with a few more additions. It only resulted in one auction that put cards in my hand before the end of the month, though, and that was these:

So, Topps Gallery is a thing again, but it doesn't' have to be. Especially when you're just putting shitty instagram filters on Getty Images. Want to resurrect a great Topps set? Bring back the original Topps Stars.

With that being said, I'm done with 2017 Topps Gallery.

But let's not end on that negative (though I do like the Alfords.)

You may have noticed the scans of the Bowman High Tek are...bad. I experimented with a couple methods, such as directly on the glass (above) and on top of a small snapcase. The answer to a good-looking Tek scan? Put it right in the snapcase and put it on the glass:

And there you have it, a 2017 Bowman High Tek Bo Bichette diffractor (/199) in all of it's holographic glory.

Stay hard, friends.

26 November 2017

getting blasted: 2017-2018 upper deck series 1 hockey

It's been quiet here, between some increased work activity, the holiday(s), birthday(s), and some other things, but yesterday I was able to saunter on out through the writing hoards of half-dead Black Friday shoppers to finally get my hands on some 2017-2018 Upper Deck Series 1. While never a cheap product, it's always damn near the top of hockey releases - featuring excellent photography, plenty of nice base cards, limited parallels, and some decent, 90s-esque inserts and of course: Young Guns.

This year's cover boy is none other than Toronto Maple Leaf Auston Matthews:

Matthews isn't a guy I collect with much vigor, as his huge breakout rookie season in 2016-2017 has inflated his value among collectors, pushing us hobbyists out of the picture. Your basic foil pack is found 12 times in each $20 blaster, with just five cards in each pack. Cartes par paquet. 

With Upper Deck, you come and stay for the unique photography. Here we have Marc-Andre Fleury, fresh off his drafting by the 17-18 expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights on draft night in a new, well-selling jersey. 

From new to old, we see Oliver Ekman-Larsson, featured in the best sports uniform, period. Just fantastic.

I'm always amazed at how much product NHLers use in their hair before they cram it under a helmet for the next two and a half hours.

Patrik Laine, AKA Diet Auston Matthews, models our card backs. Laine has just one year of service, showing off the Winnipeg Jets logo in the background of the ice-cool card. Upper Deck hasn't changed much over the years, and I take comfort in that.

Portraits fall 1:14 and I was lucky enough to land this Vladimir Tarasenko, the Russian Tank. I'm not sure lucky is the best word, though, as this season's version of the Portraits insert is black-and-white and could not be more uninteresting.

The Canvas "parallels" are 1:14 and the highlight of the inserts, using a canvas-like feature on a light cardboard stock with an alternate photo choice, usually one of the players in a rare pose or from a different angle, such as this one that looks like it was shot from ice-level in an ensuing scrum. Brodie wouldn't be my top choice of players to receive here, but I am appreciative of the Canvas inserts as always, regardless of the player pulled.

The Shining Stars (Defenseman in Series 1) looks straight out of 1998 or so Upper Deck, featuring an impossible to scan foil board with stamped, gold-foil logos. While very nice in-hand, they're a nightmare to scan. Here we have Seth Jones in the awesome Columbus Blue Jackets third jersey, featuring the cannon logo.

And here they are, the Young Guns. Falling 1:6, I grabbed the guaranteed two per blaster. Pierre-Luc Dubois was one of the better ones in the 2017-2018 set, but we're not even close to the class of 2016-2017.

The Sharks' Marcus Sorensen was pulled as well. This year's cards are very blue in design and look great with the teal Sharks jersey.

Now on to the Leafs.

Here's a great shot of Uncle Leo playing in the outdoor game. Komorov has only played in two outdoor games, the 2014 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor and the 2017 Centennial Classic at BMO Field. This one is from the latter.

Mitch! makes an appearance. Marner, like Matthews and William Nylander, is also a tough guy to collect right now.

Nazem Kadri - not so much. With so many Maple Leafs collectors losing their minds over Auston Matthews, Kadri has fallen behind, even though 2016-2017 was his best season and 2017-2018 might shape up to be just as good. Its another one of those alternate photo type UD cards, featuring Kadri in a third grade class Maple Leafs team photo.

As much as I complain about the secondary market on Auston Matthews cards, I can manage to pull him once a blaster on a good day. Aside from an action shot, Upper Deck couldn't have made a better card than this one, featuring a very old school Toronto St. Pats uniform. Just awesome.

So there you have it. UDS1 has been found, and it's beautiful. The End. 

04 November 2017

october nue jays

This October, I made what was probably my 5th or so return to card blogging. I've had a pretty good outlet over at Jays From the Couch in regards to analysis and speculation, but there was always that urge to write beyond that wall, to really just spill out my love - and frustrations - in a more appropriate arena.

Luckily, my ebay, comc and blogspot passwords all still worked, so I didn't lose much time there. However, I needed some material, and pulling nothing but Yankees from 2017 products wasn't going to cut it. So I resorted to ebay, and it went well.

I don't recall which year of heritage this came from, but this one had been on my radar for a long time. Stieb is a legend in the land of the Blue Jays, and his silky smooth autograph on the 1990 Topps is just beautiful.
I don't have the original, but I am sure one of you out there does. Unlike the nice blue border above, it's purple, but still represents the obnoxiously 90's flavour of that set:

A couple weeks back, I complained almost endlessly about 2017 Topps Fire. Don't get me wrong - it's a total trash fire. I was, however, drawn to the following card:

It's the blue parallel of Jose Bautista's Monikers insert, under the guise of "Joey Bats." The graffiti on these is a nice touch, with the player bursting through a brick wall. The blue works well with the Jays uniform. These might be the only redeeming part of the Fire set.

Here's a 2017 Bowman Green parallel (90/99) of future super-utility Jay, Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., making his debut here at PGS. Personally, I find the "paper" designation to Bowman flagship demeaning. Baseball cards are paper. 

Chrome is what brings everyone to the show, and as much as I do like the chromes and their associated refractors, I enjoy the flasghip so much more, even in the worst Bowman design, possibly ever. The above Gurriel auto was purchsed in conjunction with the Stieb that led this post off, coming in at about $7 American. 

At this point, you might notice a theme growing. While most Jays prospectors are going heroically strong on Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., I'm doing the same on Gurriel and the next guy. Gurriel has some development issues at the moment, but I am pretty confident in the guy. This gold refractor (44/50) came from the National Convention packs.

I was really excited about Justin Maese once he was drafted by the Jays in 2015.He has struggled a bit, but much of that was due to injuries. One thing he's already mastered, though: The Pitcher Struggle Face. 

What's a ZJ?
Zach Jackson checks off two important collections of mine: Team USA and Blue Jays. Not to mention this 2017 Panini Baseball Stars & Stripes is limited to just /99 and features a swatch of digital camo jersey, which I am admittedly a sucker for. 

While only featuring seven scan-worthy cards, I feel like I did pretty well in October 2017 in regards to ebay pickups. Already for November, I have two Gurriels and one Marcus Stroman on the way, not to mention countless Anthony Alford and Marcus Stroman auctions ending soon. November should be a good month. 

*If you have to ask, you can't afford it.

01 November 2017

drinkin' & rippin': 2017 topps heritage minors

Tuesday the 24th was a long day. Some travel, meetings, a webinar, an more travel. After returning from beautiful Avon, NY - gassing up the rental and jamming the key into the drop box, I returned home to find a svelte cardboard box on the table from Dave & Adam's Card World. Inside were two boxes of 2017 Topps Heritage Minors and some free hockey packs.

I haven't bought boxes since about 2013 or so, again with a Topps minors product in Pro Debut. Then, I did well. This time, well...let's see.

Drinkin' and Rippin' is a simple concept. A boy, a beer and a box of cards. In this case, two hobby boxes of 2017 Heritage Minor Leagues. The beer in this case is from Thin Man Brewery in the Elmwood area of Buffalo and is the double-dry-hopped version of their Very Friendly IPA. It's fucking great.

On to the cards.

My goals were simple: a few Blue Jays, some hot prospects, and some Yankees to flip. If we can't avoid all of the Yankees seeded into today's product, we might as well profit.

It started off as expected, with plenty of Yankees to be had. I think they made up at least 10% of the base set and closer to 15% of the inserts. This is a lot easier to disguise in minor league sets where all levels of the minors cloak the pinstripes.

Each box contains a relic and an autograph, and Box 1 was a dud in that regards. The following are two of the lesser impressive or impactful available.

The Jorge Mateo (a Yankee, of course) was the first "hit" to come out of the packs, and man. I wasn't ready for this kind of disappointment. The cards are absurdly thick for not being patches, resulting in packs of just three cards. At least Mateo is a good player, and a fast one at that: he stole 234 bases in 452 minor league games so far, and he's just 22 years old.

Next up came the auto, from Jacob Heyward. I had to look him up, which isn't a good sign. The Giants' LF prospect had a pretty mediocre season in 2017 at A-Ball.

The autos take the look of the base card, but come backwards in the pack as they're potentially hard to spot. With Heyward signing blue on a white jersey, it wasn't difficult in this case.

Here's a short print of Twins' middle infielder Nick Gordon. This one shows just how pretty these cards can be in their 1968 glory. There was another significant SP in these boxes, but this one was a football player in a baseball set for some reason:

Baseball America All-Stars fan 1:6 packs, so I was hoping for six, and received six.

These are really excellent, bringing the scouting and prospecting aspect to the hobby without having shlubby Bowman scouts signing sticker autos. I was very lucky to pull Blue Jays' top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and future impact OF Ronald Acuna of the Atlanta Braves organization. Vlad Jr. cards are already looking extremely collectible.

Speaking of Blue Jays, there were plenty in Heritage Minor Leagues, a 250-card set.

Again, Guerrero is looking awesome. Redi-Foley...might be considering his next murder. The Rios is a total dud. But there's more:

We get ROWDY and Urena in the next batch, along with a J.B. Woodman. Urena was solid in his limited MLB debut in 2017, but Tellez was disappointing with Triple-A Buffalo.

Another future Blue Jay falls from the 1:5 Topps Discs insert, this time Bo Bichette, who won a MiLBY award for Offensive Player of the Year. When I say falls, I mean it literally. If you're not paying close enough attention, when you pull the deck of cards out of the pack, the discs fall out freely. There were also some mascots involved in this set, but I couldn't care less about those.

Of course, with it being a Topps release, there were plenty of parallels:

Blues fall 1:17 and are numbered to /99.
Greens fall 1:33 and are numbered to /50.
Grays fall 1:66 and are numbered to /25.

None of the above are particularly interesting and they'll probably end up on ebay.

On to the good stuff. This box treated me well with the second memorabilia card, as I added ex-Blue Jay and current Oakland Athletic Franklin Barreto to my collection.

plain gray swatch

After that, though, a case hit:

You might be thinking, "Hey, that's just a base card." And you would be right, but in this case Topps has dropped Arozarena's first name on this card (it's Randy, by the way) and printed them at a scant enough amount for them to be inserted at 1:714. This one already sold on ebay, but there's not much demand for this listless variation.

While the Arozarena pull was a good one, it paled in comparison to the autograph in box two. Prior to this one, I was a little disappointed.

Looks familiar, right? It's the first card in this post, but it's also a photoshopped and autographed version of it, featuring one of the game's elite prospects in Eloy Jimenez. While not rare, this is a huge pull for the player alone.

Heritage Minors 2017 was a good break, but most of it's allure comes from very rare parallels and the potential of guys like Eloy Jimenez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Gleyber Torres. It's affordable at just $52/box, and the reward can be either significant or non-existent. It's a bit of a roulette, nut fun nonetheless.