Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pack Break - 2014 Topps Football Jumbo

My Braves have begun their second half of the season downfall and while I'm not completely giving up hope for the NL Wild Card spot just yet, this time of year also means that the new NFL season is right around the corner!  What better way to celebrate the start of the new season than with a fresh new pack of 2014 football cards?  The past 2 years I've really loved Topps' effort with their football set.  Will I feel the same about their 2014 cards?  Let's see!

Jumbo packs as they now call them (they are still rack packs to me) contain 36 cards and retail at your local Target and Walmarts for $4.99 each.  I grabbed one pack to see what was up this year and honestly I'm on the fence here.  Let's look at a base card for starters.

Is it just me or do these cards look extremely busy?  I can usually digest whatever Topps throws at me in terms of card design, but not this year.  Team colors are represented which I like, but there is just too much border.  BTW, I selected this card because my Carolina Panthers failed to represent in my pack, so my NC State alum Philip Rivers will have to do.

The backs have the same hot mess the front has, but at least I can look at the back without getting a migraine.  Notice the blue and orange columns?  Those are for Fantasy Football!  The blue represents Philip's position rank while the orange represents points per game.  I've gotten into playing fantasy football the past few years and found it to be a lot of fun so this is a nice little addition to the normal player stats.

It wouldn't be Topps if there wasn't a smattering of new inserts and parallels to chase after as well.  Here are some of the examples that were in my pack.

Gold parallels return yet again, seeded 1:3 jumbo packs.  They of course are serially numbered to 2014 in the tacky black foil we all love to hate.  A.J. Green here is #'d 1432/2014.

Continuing with the Fantasy Football theme, Fantasy Focus cards zero in on the player's 2013 fantasy rankings.  Design full bleed design and at least it's something different and new from previous years.  These are seeded 1:2 jumbo packs.

Fantasy Strategies...yup, more fantasy themed cards.  OK, now maybe Topps is pushing this angle a little too hard.  I guess if you could care less for playing fantasy football then here is another insert set you could pass on.  Seeded 1:2 jumbo packs.

Greatness Unleashed (ratio numbers not listed on the pack?) look pretty cool, but didn't they do something like this with 2013 Bowman football?  I'll be interested to check out the checklist to see if any Panthers are represented because this Dirty Bird just ain't cutting it for this Carolina fan.

Here is another insert set I couldn't find listed on the pack.  The card obviously is called 1000 Yard Club, but the pack says there is a 4,000-Yard Club.  I'm confused.  Nothing to write home about here.  The back of the card shows Michael Floyd's entire 2013 receiving stats broken down per game.

Not sure what these mini cards are called, but they have a distinct "old" look to them.  Very similar to what Topps has done with other products like Magic in the past.

Overall my feelings about this years football effort are mixed.  I'll buy a Panthers team set and any inserts they may appear on, but as for completing the base set or any of the inserts I'm taking a pass.  These cards shown here are headed to my eBay store since I don't have a lot of readers that ask to trade for football cards.  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Annual trip to Turner Field

Last weekend my wife and I drove down to Atlanta, GA for our annual Atlanta Braves trip.  I'd love to get down there to catch more than one game per season, but for now I'll just have to savor every minute.  The thing about Atlanta that can be trick is the weather, or the heat & humidity more specifically.  If I'm going to be sitting outside in Atlanta for 4 or so hours I'd rather it be in the Spring or in the Fall.  Going to a game in early August I knew would be a gamble, but the promo for last Friday night at the field was Zombie Night!

Initially my wife and I planned to buy the special Zombie Night ticket package.  This include being turned into a zombie by special make-up artists, an on field zombie walk plus an exclusive t-shirt and some other swag.  We ended up opting to buy tickets via Stub Hub to save some money, however it was still a blast to see so many undead fans at the field.

We opted to sit in right center field.  Last year we sat there and loved the view, plus it was fun listening to all the rednecks and drunk fans in our section heckle the right fielder (last year it was Hunter Pence).  We got tickets on row 13, which oddly enough is the front row.  Sitting right there at the wall is a lot of fun, plus we are right beside the Braves' bullpen so we can see Eddie Perez, bullpen coach (and one of the U.S.'s newest citizens!).  We also have a good view of when Craig Kimbrel comes running out of the gates to take the mound when called upon.  The Braves took on the Oakland Athletics on Friday, August 15th.  Initially I was excited to see Yoenis Cespedes play, then he was traded to the Red Sox at the trading deadline.  I really wasn't all that familiar w/ many of the A's players, but it was still fun listening to the fans heckle Josh Reddick...calling him JJ (Reddick of Duke basketball fame) and busting Coco Crisp's chops at his fielding blunders.

The view from our seats

Of course on of the things about sitting in the outfield is the chance of catching a home run ball.  There were 4 homers in the game, but all of them were to center or left center field.  Bummer.  At least I was pretty close to a few pop flies that Jason Heyward caught.  The Braves roughed up the starting pitcher, Sonny Gray, winning the game 7-2.  Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Freddie Freeman and Phil Gosselin all hit homers.  Gosselin's was the first of his career.

I wasn't aware of the starting pitcher until I checked my phone on the way down I-85.  When I saw it was Charlotte, NC native Alex Wood taking the mound, well that just made the day even better.  Wood pitched 6 strong innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 runs, while striking out 1 and walking 3.  Not the best numbers, but he won his 9th game of the year.  The only drawback to the big lead was not getting to see Kimbrel pitch in the 9th.  Oh well, I'll take a win over watching Kimbrel any day, especially with the way the Braves had been playing coming into the series with the A's.

Every game of the A's series had a different theme.  Saturday's theme celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Boston Braves World Series Championship.  Everything at the field had a throwback look, including the players uniforms and even the scoreboard on the jumbotron!  Peanuts and Cracker Jacks were a quarter, hot dogs were a buck.  I would have loved to stay another day for the game, especially since the Braves won again.  Sunday's theme was Father Daughter day.  I can't wait for my girls to get a little older when I can bring them with me to a ballgame.

The Braves ended up sweeping the 1st place A's that weekend.  My wife and I had a great time, but like all good things the weekend had to come to an end.  I hope to get back to Atlanta soon as the Braves only have a few years left to play at Turner Field before the team moves out to a new facility in neighboring Cobb County.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pack Break - 2013 Topps Magic

Here is another post that I typed back in February, but never posted!

Topps Magic, the Gypsy Queen set of football cards.  For the last several years I've been impressed with the look of these cards, but I've yet to chase building a set...and probably never will.  However I couldn't pass up buying one pack a few weeks back to see what 2013's set looked like.  Plus I hoped to pull a Cam Newton, Greg Olsen or a general Carolina Panthers card.

To me this is just more of the same...which for me at least isn't a bad thing.  I still don't know how Topps pulls off the look of the image, but I love it.  Design is simple and doesn't obstruct the player / action.  Seeing how I didn't really follow the NFL until the Carolina Panthers came into the league in 1995, I could care less for the older players included in the set.

The one per pack minis are still present.  I've never cared as much for these smaller parallels as I like the minis from releases like Allen & Ginter better.

My pack yielded two inserts, the first being Ground and Pound.  Seeded at 1:6 retail packs, this insert set just doesn't do much for me.  Maybe it's the pink?

Speaking of Gypsy Queen, these Rookie Enchantment inserts feature the same paper border that Topps first introduced in GQ a few years ago.  While my scan makes the foil look bronze, it is gold foil on purple.

All of these cards are available for trade for anything Carolina Panthers from this set.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Verse

Luke 12:6-7

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A surprise from my Mistress

It's no surprise that I've been out of the (cardboard) loops recently.  Life has just demanded more time so my hobbies have fell to the wayside.  I wasn't even able to afford a box of 2014 Allen & Ginter this year.  Yes I know, it's tragic.  When I've had spare time and the money I've picked up a few blasters and loose packs here and there.  Still not content w/ the amount of minis I've acquired, I searched out eBay.  I ran across a few listings by none other than fellow blogger, My Cardboard Mistress.  I placed a few what would be winning bids on some of his extra A&G minis.  But that's not what this post is about.  It's about Adam's generosity.  

When the cards finally came in the mail 3 additional cards fell out of the bubble mailer that I wasn't expecting.

The first card comes from Topps Pro Debut minor league baseball.  It's a "patch" card of the Charlotte Knights mascot, Homer the Dragon.  I've blogged a few times about the local White Sox AAA affiliate team before.  The team moved into uptown Charlotte this season into the beautiful BB&T Ballpark.  I've only been once and the game was rained out.  This was a very nice gesture and completely unexpected.

The next card falls into my NC State collection.  Tom Gugliotta was one of the first NC State basketball players that I followed for the entirety of their collegiate career.  He was probably one of the first basketball players I started collecting that wasn't a Charlotte Hornet too.  I love getting his cards, period.  Just a base card would have made me happy, but an autograph?!  What's going on here?

The third bonus card in the mailer happened to be this nice looking auto patch card of Carolina Panthers WR Joe Adams.  Granted Joe never did anything in the league or even made the Panthers final roster, I still love this card.  You've got a big patch, an auto and it's serially numbered.

You know if I had been more active at the time within the community receiving extra cards like this wouldn't have surprised me at all.  One of the best things about being apart of this card blogging community is the great people I've "met".  However my posting has been spotty at best.  All I can say is Thank You Adam for your kindness and make sure everyone else knows that you more than just My Cardboard Mistress!