Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Charity Group Break Results

Like many card collectors, I have been trying to be more active on Twitter over the last few months. As a result I tend to forget that not everyone that may stop by my blog is also on Twitter. While I have shared some of the pictures of the cards we pulled as part of last weekend's Charity break, I realized that many of you may not have seen them. Time to get that resolved.

First however, we collectively raised $150 for my friend Nick Dusenbury's adoption fund! Thank you again to everyone that participated, especially to those of you that donated above and beyond the entry fee. I'll be making this donation to Nick's Go Fund Me campaign early next week once I get paid. Now, onto the cards...

The break included Hobby boxes of 2013 Panini Prizm and Pinnacle, a box of 2012 Topps Opening Day and a bonus blaster of 2018 Topps Chrome.

We ended up with 3 Refractors, the Jon Lester having a different look than the others. Xfractor? Does Topps still do those? The blaster box had a pack of 4 retail Sepia Refractors and I was surprised at how sharp those looked.

 The Reverse Negative Refractors also looked very sharp...too bad it was a Nationals player!! We also ended up with 4 other inserts. The Freshman Flash don't do much for me and the Future Stars, while they look better in person than scanned are another easy pass for this collector. The 1983 Retrospective cards are beautiful.

Up next was the box of 2013 Pinnacle. I was really looking forward to this one personally as I loved the Pinnacle brand back in the 90's and this new design harkened back to Pinnacle's beginning. We ended up with one Artist Proof parallel...nothing fancy, but nice to see that particular parallel again.

The guaranteed two autos in the box I don't think knocked anyone socks off, but was for charity!! It did appear that there was a small cut out for the auto sticker however.

There were several other inserts pulled, such as Team 2020, Position Powers, Awaiting the Call and even a Pete Rose insert? 

Pinnacle was known for their "Dufux" technology and Panini also brought this back (though they call it something different now) and used it on the Slugfest insert...another familiar name from back in the 90's.

The Team Pinnacle insert features two players, but only the player on the front side got the fancy upgrade. This was yet another Pinnacle staple from yesteryear.

The Naturals and Aces were the other insert set subjects pulled. I was glad to pull this Verlander as the Sewing Machine Guy, Larry French himself came out of "retirement" to help out the cause and grabbed his Tigers. I believe these are going to his nephew if I recall correctly.

One of the aspects I really liked about the renewed Pinnacle was their inclusion of acetate inserts. These Swing for the Fences cards have a pseudo wood grain look to them, though it's hard to see against this white background.

The Clear Vision cards are awesome in my opinion. You've got a shiny rainbow foilboard boarder along with colored acetate in the center. As you can see w/ the Kershaw, there are multiple versions to chase.

Essence of the Game is another card that looks better in person than scanned. Not my favorite design, but cool none the less.

The last insert of the Pinnacle box are these Pinnacle Success acetate cards. I'm a fan of baseball cards made of something other than cardboard so these are a win in my book. 

All in all, for a non-licensed set I found the Pinnacle box to be the highlight of the break just for the sheer variety it offered. Perhaps another box will show up in a future Affordable Group Break?

Up next was the box of pre-Optic cards, 2012 Prizm. We hit 4 Refractors, I mean Prizm parallels. I love the thick cardstock used for these and wish Topps would up the stock used for Chrome.

The two guaranteed autos this time around where a little better. At least I've heard of both of these players. Just heard this morning as a matter of fact that Brandon McCarthy is calling it quits and hanging up his cleats at the end of this season. He currently is an Atlanta Brave and is on the DL.

These orange die-cut Prizm parallels are Hobby exclusives and numbered to 60. Happy that we got a good player this round in Rickey Henderson.

These Fearless inserts I felt could have looked better, but as a result are kind of bland to be honest. Maybe if the flames had been done in the rainbow sheen they would've looked better?

Hey, that kid on the left looks kind of familiar. Usually I'm not a big fan of Team USA stuff, but hey when Trout is on the card how can you go wrong?

I wasn't aware going in that the inserts also had parallels until I pulled these Rookie Challengers. The design itself is pretty bland, but at least the Gyorko looks better since it's shiny.

Same thing, but this time with Top Prospects. Got a regular version and a shiny parallel.

Also pulled a Superstar and Band of Brothers inserts. Superstar needs more color, but I found the Band of Brothers to be a cool insert theme.

I have to say the Prizm was better than I expected it to have been. The Prizm shiny cards all look great in hand and as previously mentioned, I love the thick stock used. None of the cards curled or stuck together.

I didn't open the Opening Day box on camera to conserve time as I was already over the one hour mark by the time I got to it. We pulled the normal Mascots, Superstar Celebration inserts as well as a few others. I was in a hurry to get everyone's cards sorted, packaged and mailed Monday morning that I didn't take any pictures of the Opening Day cards, but if nothing else it helped add more cards to every team's stack.

Overall it was a really fun break and I hope everyone enjoys the cards that were pulled for their team(s). Thanks again for all of the support! Until next time...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Minor League Baseball Experience - Greenville Drive

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking my wife along with me while I visited some of my work locations out of town. We left the kids with the in-laws and headed down I-85 to Greenville, SC for a few days.

Being that my work basically paid for the hotel and our meals, we had a little extra to spend on entertainment. One evening we finally got around to seeing Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom at the local theater. For the next evening we wanted to do something a little different and my wife, who's great at finding inexpensive things to do when we travel, noticed the Greenville Drive had a home game. If you aren't familiar with lower A baseball, the Drive are part of the Boston Red Sox organization and used to be part of the Braves organization. We made the short drive to downtown, found a large municipal parking lot where we parked for free, then a short walk over to the stadium.

Upon walking up to the stadium I noticed a little house across the street from the entrance. I had saw earlier on TripAdvisor I believe that there was a "Shoeless Joe" Jackson museum, but I didn't bother to see where it exactly was. Turns out it was right at the stadium. I took a picture of the historical marker outside the house/museum.

Very cool...I had no idea that Joe Jackson had Carolina roots! I wished the museum had been open, but according to the sign out front it appears it's only open to tours by appointment. Too bad...

I was very impressed with Fluor Field, granted though I've only ever attended two other minor league baseball parks before. By the way, if you're interested Fluor is one of the world's largest engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and maintenance companies in the world. Now I can see why this ballpark was so nice...Fluor has money!!

Just inside the gates before we walked up the stairs to the main concourse was the Greenville Hall of fame if you will. Basically information plaques of some better known players that made their way through Greenville. Of course is the aforementioned "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, but others such as Tommy Lasorda, Jim Rice and my man John Smoltz! Always fun to learn some of the legends that passed through or got their starts in these smaller cities and venues.

Upon walking in I couldn't help but to notice the buildings that lined part of the outfield. We ended up sitting over near that section and it appeared as if the right side of the building were condos. How awesome would it be to walk out on your tiny patio/balcony and watch a baseball game on a cool evening?! At first I didn't notice Greenville's version of the Big Green Monster, but I would see it better once I got to our seats.

The view was so cool that my wife insisted we take a selfie after entering the stadium. That of course is my wife on the left.

Unfortunately I was given one of the programs for the evening so I really was flying blind. I really had no idea who any of the players were and had to rely on the Public Announcer guy and the info placed on the scoreboard. I did notice that the left fielder was none other than Jordan Wren, son of former Braves General Manager (and current front office executive for the Red Sox). If nothing else we had a great view of the mini Green Monster in left field!

The Drive were playing the Hickory Crawdads that evening and I was pretty much clueless as to who those players were as well. However none of that stopped me from hitting the team store during the 7 inning stretch to see if they had any baseball cards for sale. After all, this is a trading card blog so I have to tie in cards in some way!

At first I didn't see anything outside of hats, t-shirts, foam fingers and mini bats...then on the counter right by the register I saw approximately 3 or 4 2018 team sets left. I grabbed one for $10 and made my way back to my seat. I didn't end up opening the plastic wrapped stack of cards until I returned home. The design is rather nice and at 30 cards I felt it was a good deal. Who knows, perhaps one of these players will be the Red Sox's next Mookie Betts? I may eventually do a post just on this team set if I feel there is enough interest.

Overall it was a great evening of fun. The weather was beautiful with low humidity, it was a new experience for my wife and I, the food was good and everything was pretty affordable. I end up in Greenville several times a year, but I'm usually by myself and so busy with work that I often don't have time to do much else. I'm glad for at least this once I was able to carve out a little free time while on the road and what better way to be entertained than by taking in a baseball game?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Charity Group Break 2nd Team Randomization

Now that all the slots have been claimed and paid for, it's time to take the remaining 15 teams that went unclaimed in the first round and randomly assign those to all of the participants.

To jog your memory, here is a list of the initial sign ups and teams claimed:

01) Braves - @flywheels (pd)
02) Reds - Jason German (pd)
03) Astros - @thedimwit (pd)
04) Pirates - @thedimwit (pd)
05) Red Sox - @thedimwit (pd)
06) Diamondbacks - @awmckenz (pd)
07) Random Team (Mets) - @awmckenz (pd)
08) Cardinals - @cardsoncards (pd)
09) Cubs - @communitygum (pd)
10) Yankees - @madglavsmoltz (pd)
11) Random Team (Padres) - @awmckenz (pd)
12) Tigers - The Sewing Machine Guy (pd)
13) Dodgers - gcrl (pd)
14) Angels - @DionSoskin (pd)
15) Mariners - @workoutbaseball (pd)

And here are the results (as shown in my Twitter video):

01) @flywheels - Marlins
02) Jason German  - A's
03) @thedimwit - Blue Jays
04) @thedimwit - Royals
05) @thedimwit - Nationals
06) @awmckenz - Rockies
07) @awmckenz - Rangers
08) @cardsoncards - Giants
09) @communitygum - Brewers
10) @madglavsmoltz - Rays
11) @awmckenz - Indians
12) The Sewing Machine Guy - Orioles
13) gcrl - Twins
14) @DionSoskin - White Sox
15) @workoutbaseball - Phillies

Pack Break: 2018 Topps Stadium Club

This post has been sitting in my que for longer that it should have been, however better late than never, right? Ever since Topps brought back the Stadium Club brand, each year's effort has been top notch. I usually end up trying to build the set, but I tend to stick to retail so with each year I end up with a lengthy want list!! This rack pack represented my first Stadium Club pack of the 2018 season so let's see what I ended up with.

Alright, we're off to a great start a Strawberry card as the first card! I haven't always been a Strawberry fan, however with his turn to embrace his faith being such public knowledge in the last few years, I've drafted him into my "Faith Brothers" collection. I'm glad he's starting to show up more and more in modern card sets because I rarely come across his older stuff.

Part of the attraction of TSC each year is the photography. Year Archie Bradley is caught showing some strong passion for what I can only assume was a good play on the field.

The Beam Team insert has been associated with Stadium Club for many many years, but I always associate the insert set with basketball more than baseball. This year (and last year's) Beam Team design just doesn't do anything for me.

Veteran player, check. Good action shot, check. Only thing that could have made this card better was if it was in black & white.

The rest of the bunch...that I couldn't come up with anything specific to mention. I'm loving this year's design and most of the photos have been great. I still haven't bought a lot of Stadium Club because it seemed to drop when I didn't have money and when I did, Allen & Ginter came out! I guess that's the problem with so many sets is that they aren't spaced out and it makes it tough on set builders such as myself.

I realized at the time of this post I've still yet to really collate the cards I have acquired so I can create a want list and update my trade list with doubles I have. Guess I should get to that, huh?

Friday, August 3, 2018

First Ever "Charity" Group Break - Let's Help a Fellow Cardboard Addict

08/07/18 UPDATE - The break is FULL!! Thank you so much to everyone participating. Boxes have been ordered and should arrive Wednesday, 08/08/18. I've got a previous engagement this Saturday night, so I'm planning on going Live on Twitter around 9 PM Eastern this Friday, 08/10/18. I hope you can be there. I'll do a separate post of the highlights pulled afterwards. See you Friday!!

08/05/18 UPDATE - We are only one slot away from filling up the break. I'm going to go ahead and order the boxes this evening so we may be able to move up the break a week from 08/18 to 08/11. I've already purchased a blaster of 2018 Topps Chrome and it'll be added once the last spot is filled. Thank you all that have signed up and to those of you that have donated extra to the cause. Stay tuned to the blog as well as to my Twitter feed for updates.

I've been given a platform (so to speak) and I've been led to do something good for someone else. I'm hoping that you'll stop long enough to listen to my idea and I hope that I can find others that are willing to support this endeavor.

Everyone, meet Nick. Nick is an Orioles fan and a fellow baseball card collector. You may have seen his name claiming the Orioles in several of my previous Affordable Group breaks since I started that up earlier this year. Nick and his wife are in the process of trying to adopt a child from China to add to their family. When I read his story on his GoFundMe page, I was shocked to see how much it costs to adopt. I did some missions work in Kenya, Africa years ago and the adoption topic came up while we were there. I knew adoption was expensive, but $20K+?! Nick and his family have already secured some financial backers that are willing to pay one half of the cost, so he only has to raise $11,250. Easy right? Well not really...but that's where I'm hoping we, the cardboard community, come into play.

In lieu of this month's Affordable Group Break, I'm going to host a Charity Group Break where the proceeds of the break go directly to Nick's GoFundMe campaign. My goal is to give them as much money as possible. The entry price of $10 will include a small donation to the cause. Any amount over $10, 100% of the additional funds will go directly to the campaign. While extra donations are appreciated, they are not required. Simple enough, right?

The product in this break include 2 Hobby boxes (2013 Pinnacle & 2013 Prizm) and 1 Retail box (2012 Topps Opening Day). For more information about each product, please click on the name.

2013 Pinnacle 
Box will include 2 autographs and 23 inserts including 2 Artist's Proofs and 3 Museum Collection. Possible RCs: Yasiel Puig, Manny Machado, Jose Fernandez, Evan Gattis, Gerrit Cole and Jackie Bradley Jr. If you like acetate cards, this product is for you!

 2013 Prizm
Box will include 2 autographs and 3 Prizms (Refractor). Hobby exclusive orange die-cut Prizims #d to 50. Possible RCs: Yasiel Puig, Manny Machado, Zack Wheeler, Nolan Arenado, Gerrit Cole, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jose Fernandez.

2012 Topps Opening Day
Possible autograph or Printing Plate (though not likely). Inserts include: #'d Blue parallels, lenticular Opening Day, Fantasy Squad, Elite Skills & Mascots.

BONUS: If we can fill the entire 15 slot break by Monday morning, 08/06/18 at 12 PM Eastern, I'll throw in a blaster of 2018 Topps Chrome!

SKUNK PROTECTION: If any one of your teams don't receive any cards, I'll dip into my own stash and provide you with base cards/inserts. (I'll probably add a few cards to everyone's stack...just because!)

This will work in similar fashion to previous Breaks I've hosted. We'll have 15 slots, each slot contains two teams. You'll get to pick your first team and once all 15 slots are full, I'll randomize the remaining unclaimed 15 teams and assign them to each claimed slot. The entry price will cover the cost of the product (which I've been given a discount on) and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Nick Dusenbury's GoFundMe campaign. I'm going to rely on you, the reader, to help spread the word so that not only can we fill up this break as soon as possible, but that we also can generate as much money for this great cause. Last question, are you with me?!

* $10 entry price per slot - while not necessary, if you want to up your pledge it will greatly be appreciated.
* Please add $4 for shipping for each slot claimed. Cards will be carefully packaged and shipped in a bubble mailer.
* Because this is for charity, there won't be any multi-slot/team discounts.
* All cards ship!
* Payment (Goods & Services please) -
* When sending your payment, please include the team(s) you chose
* If there are cards with multiple players, the card will go to the team with the least amount of cards from that product.
* Boxes will be opened live on Twitter.
* I don't have a schedule date/time for the break as the boxes will still need to be ordered, but I'll post updates on my social media channels (Facebook & Twitter). Aiming to get started Saturday, 08/18/18...if not sooner.
* Questions? Please let me know. You can message me on Facebook Messenger or send me a Direct Message on Twitter.

01) Braves - @flywheels (pd)
02) Reds - Jason German (pd)
03) Astros - @thedimwit (pd)
04) Pirates - @thedimwit (pd)
05) Red Sox - @thedimwit (pd)
06) Diamondbacks - @awmckenz (pd)
07) Random Team (Mets) - @awmckenz (pd)
08) Cardinals - @cardsoncards (pd)
09) Cubs - @communitygum (pd)
10) Yankees - @madglavsmoltz (pd)
11) Random Team (Padres) - @awmckenz (pd)
12) Tigers - The Sewing Machine Guy (pd)
13) Dodgers - gcrl (pd)
14) Angels - @DionSoskin (pd)
15) Mariners - @workoutbaseball (pd)