Saturday, August 31, 2013

2013 Panini Cooperstown Breakdown

 Ladies and gents, I'm pumped to share one of my favorite products for the year! I pre-ordered a box of 2013 Panini Cooperstown for around $75. Each box is guaranteed an autograph from a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. $75 for a serial numbered HOF auto is a fair deal by itself, throw in a bunch of cool cards and it's a great deal.

Panini has put these wood cards into several different products (mostly basketball) recently and I'm all for it. These cards have a great feel to them and are sure to be popular among collectors. 

The Historic Tickets inserts add a fun new touch this year. They're a good example of the creative ideas Panini puts into Cooperstown to make you forget about the lack of an MLB license. Throughout this break I didn't think about the license once which is a testament to Panini.

Colgan's Chips are inserted one per pack and are just under 3 inches in diameter. The backs are identical for every chip, but there are well over 100 chips in the set. It's a nice idea, but I found them to be slightly boring. I'll hold onto a few for my oddball collection but the rest will end up in random trades.

The Induction inserts are pretty straight forward. A passage from the HOF member's induction speech is written on the back. More cliches than an evening with Jim Nantz.

The Emerald Cracked Ice parallels look really good in person. Whether you buy any of this product or not, I'd recommend acquiring one if you've got a PC player in the set. I was very happy to get a Walter Johnson to add to my PC! Take a look at the Johnny Bench photo. If there was ever a photo that didn't need an MLB logo, it's this one. I doubt they had to do any photoshopping to this shot in the first place.

If you're a paralleliac (parallel maniac, duh) you can try to complete the rainbow with the blue, red or yellow parallels. I'm sure these have fancy names like ruby or something, but I've never understood the need to compare baseball cards to precious gems. Are there many men out there who collect baseball cards and jewelry? If so, these cards are for you. DOUBLE STENGELS!

The card backs in 2013 Cooperstown are pretty awesome. There's a ton of info packed in each one including first and last game, HOF Class, a box score from a significant game they played in, and their complete career line. The cards don't feel busy, so it's a testament to the design team at Panini for pulling this off so well.

Ahhhhhh yeah! I've been pulling Panini redemption cards left and right, but I'll never complain about a Barry Larkin! Look it up sometime and you'll see how few certified card autos Larkin has out there, which surprises me for such a popular and young Hall of Famer. I guess he doesn't need the cash yet. According to the checklist these will be serial numbered to #190. Judging by sales of his other auto cards, I think this is a $40 card all day which would cover more than half of the box by itself. As you can see I'll be redeeming it. Once it comes in I'll admire it, then toss it on the Bay. I'm a terrible person like that.

Overall I give this product a solid thumbs up. One hobby box is more than enough and it really doesn't appeal much to the set builder in me. Nonetheless every card is interesting, it really does feel like a mini trip through Cooperstown with the information they pack in. The only real complaint I would have is that the historic stadium inserts didn't come back this year. Out of ten cards in the set last year, half were the Polo Grounds so I thought they'd have plenty of new opportunities. 

Buy, Sell or Hold?

I'd hold off on making a hobby box purchase with 2013 Cooperstown. The 2012 boxes came down in price quite a bit after the release so I expect the sophomore release to do so even more. This could be a great buy around Christmas and is definitely worth $60 to $70!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

$19.99 Walmart Random Repack Box

The break itch hit me hard last night and coincidentally, I had to get some groceries, so naturally I made the long half mile drive to Wally World. After a quick glance over the available blasters and loosies, I realized it was dry like always. For a little town in the middle of Kansas, there are some serious collectors hidden around here who like their retail. I wish I knew who they were, but they must stealthily slip through the shadows between feeling up loose packs and bending them to see if there's a thick card inside.

I went to the bottom shelf and grabbed my old faithful, a box of random retail and fat packs repackaged by MJ Holding. For $20 you get something like 14 packs, so it's usually a pretty good deal. The downside is they often have 3 or 4 packs of "modern" junk wax like 2010 Upper Deck. Fine by me, 2010 UD had some of the best photography of the last few years!

Let's dig in.

One pack of 2010 UD landed me this "Supreme" Justin Morneau. For most of his career I've despised him as he slammed homer after homer off of the Royals pitching staff. Now that he's in his last year with the Twinkies, I'm rooting for him to find success elsewhere. The NAP Votto is a sharp looking card from 2012 Heritage and the 2012 A&G Morrison is a SP.

Included here is a RC of Wilin Rosario because like most Rockies, I think he deserves more attention. He's passed 20 HR's on the year after 28 last year and has an OPS over .800. He does strikeout too much, but who doesn't these days, especially in a hack-happy park like Coors Field. This box introduced me to 2009 UD Spectrum for the first time. It instantly reminded me of Bowman Platinum and that's not necessarily a good thing. Spectrum treated me well on our first date as you'll see later on.

I think I own three copies of this Johnson-Strasburg Legendary Lineage card now. That's not a bad thing, I have a small Walter Johnson PC going on. Johnson grew up in Humboldt, KS which is only about an hour and a half from where I live. He's hands down the best player ever to come out of this state. The 2012 "Golden Orange Moments" card of Jim Palmer almost didn't make me gag. I despise this insert line, but for some reason it works okay with an Oriole. 

These cards all came from a single pack of 2009 UD O Pee Chee. At one time Carl Crawford was the most exciting player in the league. Those days are long behind him, but I'm glad he's found a suitable role in LA. This Luke Scott card has a black border which makes it the first one of it's kind that I've pulled. It's a pretty cool photo too. The Braves checklist was included because it's the shittiest team card I've ever seen. We get a boring shot of the outfield on a day where no one showed up. Even worse, the videoboard displays an image of Hanley Ramirez. Pretty poor effort all around.

This is how black bordered minis in A&G should be done. They had something good going and tossed it out in favor of a boring solid black border for 2013 A&G. Why? Wasn't a fan of the Golden Great inserts, but a Hammerin' Hank in a Milwaukee uni gets me going any day. I'll say it again, I'm not hard to please.

This pack of Spectrum made me fall in love. First I pulled this green parallel of Dice-K that would have brought decent cash when it first came out. It's #'d 81/99. On the other side was a gray swatch from Dan Haren, pitcher for the Oak... I mean Arizona Diamondbacks? Apparently "Spectrum Technology" was invented before Photoshop or airbrushing. If I'm an A's fan, I'm angry that it says D-Backs. If I'm a D-Backs fan, I don't want a card with a player in an A's jersey on it. Spectrum, I thought we had something but it's this lack of commitment that tells me it'll just never work between us.

The surprise hit of the box was this 2012 Prince Fielder SP. In this photo we have Prince wearing a hat like a douche whilst pretending he wouldn't rather be anywhere else. This card has a $15 BV and is on its way to COMC unless a Tigers fan really wants it. 

This is one of the best repack boxes I've purchased this year. It's rare to find a relic inside one of these because most packs are loosies that were left at the bottom of their original retail box to be felt up by neckbeards and scumbags. For every one good box I've had two or three BAD boxes with nothing but commons and cheap inserts. Thankfully, I like commons and cheap inserts. See a card you want? Hit me up for a trade! 

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: I want to keep growing the Cocktail Lounge Leisure Reading (aka Blogroll) section on the right! If you've got a blog, give me a follow and I'll return the favor! Of course I want to be on yours too, otherwise I'll continue to be the loner I am and my shrink says I need friends.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Let's Make a Deal - Random Trade Bait

Over the last 24 hours I've made contact with several new bloggers and it's been awesome! I've been a longtime blog "lurker", so I've seen countless posts about awesome trades with no expectations and  100% satisfaction. That's something I've really wanted to be a part of. Like everyone else, I've got more cards than I know what to do with. Every time I look at my monster boxes I think "There's someone out there who would really appreciate these cards, I wish I knew how to reach them." Boom, I finally figured it out.

So, to tempt you, here's some very random trade bait. It's not my best stuff and it's not my worst stuff. I have tons of cards from every team. If you see anything you like, PLEASE shoot me an email with that little gadget on the sidebar, or just leave a comment. It's yours. Don't have anything for me today? Don't sweat it, I just want to make some connections so that I can send you a little sumthin' sumthin' when I got it and you can do the same.

I'm also looking for other cool blogs to add to my blogroll on the right side of the page! If you could add me to yours, that'd be really sweet of you. So folks, let's get in touch!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This Land is My Land

I have a problem. I'm a pack ripping addict. I read all of these blogs by card enthusiasts who have the self-discipline to spend their budget wisely on singles that they really want. Why can't I be like them? Instead I continue to bust blasters, hobby boxes and loosies like there's no tomorrow. Oh yeah, and I certainly can't afford it. Oh well, it keeps me happy.

The product I've busted more of than anything this year is 2013 Panini USA Champions Baseball. I'd like to say it's because I bleed the stars and stripes, but really it's because it's such a great value. 2013 USA is packed with prospect and star autos as well as color parallels and diecuts, enough to keep a collector like me drooling box after box. The best part? You can get 5 to 6 hits for under $50. One website currently has hobby boxes on sale for $39.99, so you can get a helluva deal for the price of two blasters. I'm eating it up. Here's an overview of my most recent break.

The box I opened yesterday was by far the best I've tackled this year. The box guarantees five hits (3 relics & 2 autos) but I was lucky enough to get an extra!

It's tough to make out, but the first card is serial numbered to 399. It's my first "Diamond King" to pull this year, and I was pumped that it was one of my favorite players growing up. On the downside, where do they get off calling this thing a "Diamond King"? At least bring in a Perez impersonator instead of giving it that A&G Photoshop effect. The diecut of Tino "the Abuser" Martinez is #'d to 699. The McGwire card is from an insert set that falls one or two per box. I do like this set, but I think it'd be an awesome opportunity to make some manufactured patch cards with the flag instead of just printing it on. Not to be too picky, but the flag is displayed incorrectly here. The stars and stripes should always be in the upper left corner, whether it's horizontal or vertical. They're trying to emulate how the US Army wears the patch on their right shoulder, but baseball players aren't soldiers. There were quite a few more parallels and inserts, but these were the tops. 

These were the three "Game Gear" hits. I may be the last collector alive who still gets stoked about relic cards. The complete set of these has over 60 cards, ranging from players who are now in the minors to kids who are only 15 years old. I'm currently chasing this set and I'm only 25% of the way there, so if you come across some of these, let me know! 

I was stoked about each of these autos. The Viola is now live, so the redemption should be in within a few weeks. Joyner spent a brief time as a Royal, so I'll count this as a PC hit. Of course they're still up for trade if someone wants them!

This bad boy was the monster hit of the box. #'d 1/10 it's a gold parallel Stephen Gonsalves auto. Who is Stephen Gonsalves? I didn't know either. Research shows me he's a 19 year old southpaw who was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 draft by the Minnesota Twins. Apparently this kid has a ton of potential, but slipped to the fourth because of a questionable suspension at his Catholic high school in San Diego. This is a really pretty card, and the auto isn't too bad either compared to what some prospects are going with nowadays. My plan is to hold onto this one for a while and see where his career heads.

My last pack had this as the insert card. Falling one per box, the Highlights cards look very similar to the base cards. My first reaction was "Who is Steve Reich? Lame." A glance at the back changed my mind...

Remember when I said that baseball players aren't soldiers? I guess that isn't always the truth. This card served as a stark reminder that most of the kids in this set will never make it to the show. They'll end up as average joes like you and me. Major Stephen C. Reich dedicated his life to something much more important than baseball, and for that this card will always have a special place in my collection.

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Tokyo Rose

As a collector, it's tough to define myself. Most collectors have their own niche and I have yet to really find myself. I'm a team collector (Royals), a set builder (damn near any set, but namely 1975) and a player collector (Alex Gordon). I really shouldn't have any trouble finding something to write about. Today my boy Alex has made it easy thanks to my latest PC pickup, this 2013 Sega Cardgen Alex Gordon card.

For those who don't know what Sega CardGen is, it's basically a fusion between baseball cards and video games produced by Topps and Sega. The kicker is that the arcade machines used to play the game are only found in Japan. Players buy packs of cards straight from the machines and then literally plug them into position slots on the machine. They then can keep the cards and built their all-star lineup to play with. 

I feel that the biggest issue with sports cards in America is the lack of interest from kids. Machines like this would be the perfect way to get kids involved. I'm sure they already have a concept like this with Pokemon machines or something, so why not baseball? Topps could put little QR codes on cards that could be scanned with an Xbox Kinect or something and they'd have a hit video game on their hands. Or not. 

Back to the Gordon card. I was pretty stoked to see Alex get a 6 out of 8 star ranking because I've always wondered how many stars out of 8 that he was worth. Judging off his 2012 season, I'd say that's pretty fair. I'd bet he drops a star next year, but who knows, it's Japan. On the back the only English I can read is "The Doubles Producer", which he was last year when he led the league in doubles. This year, not so much.

My buddy Ziveus101 from the Beckett Boards introduced me to Sega CardGens and was kind enough to give me a rough translation of the back:

"A prodigy who was the second overall selection in the 2005 MLB player draft. Ever since he made his MLB debut in 2007 he's struggled here and there but in 2011 he had a batting average of .303, hit 23 home runs and became one of the best power hitters in the majors. He also has a strong arm as evidenced by his 20 outfield assists in 2011 and his 17 outfield assists in 2012."

Not sure how 23 homers makes you a top power hitter, especially when you follow it up with 14, but I can't complain. All in all, this is definitely one of the coolest cards in my Gordon collection. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

2013 Topps Football Review

It makes zero sense that my first real post in a baseball blog would be about football, but it will be. With 2013 Topps Football coming out this week, I decided to shake up the baseball monotony and grab a blaster box from Walmart. For $19.99 you get nine packs PLUS an extra PLUS ANOTHER extra! The second extra is in a cello pack glued to the outside of the box. Here are a few of the highlights and a quick breakdown because I'm not qualified to say too much about a football product.

I like the base card design for the most part. I was hoping they'd continue with the Sea Turtle design from 2013 baseball and WWE, but for whatever reason they didn't. The cards have a facemask towards the bottom with some foil wings above the grill. I was disappointed in the amount of combine shots on the RC's since Topps had no problem Photoshopping other rookies into their team's unis. 

These two were probably my biggest hits of the box. Ironically the last time I really payed close attention to the NFL these two were part of the best receiving core in the game with Kurt Warner at the helm. I was happy to see that Topps also went with pink and gold foil for the parallels instead of sticking with silver. The Boldin is #'d 399 and the Fitzgerald is out of #2013. Both are for trade if someone really wants them, otherwise they'll be off to COMC. 
I'm not really feeling the art deco jukebox design of the 4,000 Yard Club inserts. The backs break down the QB's stats from every game of last season. The 1959 mini cards are beautiful. These look really freaking nice so I'll probably be after the set if I come across a trading partner.

The Gridiron Legends and the Legends in the Making inserts are also aesthetically pleasing. As a Chiefs "fan" it's bittersweet to see our best defensive player since Derrick Thomas on a card, but in that godawful purple. In '98 I was a big Packers fan (and still am a moderate one), so it took a lot for me to like a Terrell Davis card.

This was the manufactured patch card. The card looks fine, but I've got a lot of personal issues with it. These will be collectible because some idiots out there will think that by collecting these cards, they're supporting the troops. Bullshit. Topps isn't giving a dime (as far as I know) to any military charities in conjunction with selling these cards. They're simply profiting off of Americans dying overseas. Even worse is the pink ribbon ones, which again benefit breast cancer research in no way. If someone else knows something I don't, please chime in. 

All in all the box was a nice break from baseball and offered a good bang for the buck.