Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pack Break: 2017 Topps Star Wars Rogue One Series 2

Series 2 offers up another 100 base cards featuring images from the movie. There are 3 levels of parallels: Death Star Black (1:2), Green Squardron (1:3) and Blue Squadron (1:6). Inserts include Character stickers (1:6), Heroes of the Rebel Alliance (1:14), Villians of the Galactic Empire (1:14), Prime Forces (1:3), Troopers (1:3), Movie Posters (1:48), Darth Vader Continuity (1:24), Autograph (1:4,424), Patch card (1:251) and Sketch card (1:1,272).

The various inserts in this set of cards is what steals the show in my opinion. The Trooper insert set offers up some great art featuring different Empire troopers. 

Each 6 card retail pack seems to yield 1 parallel and 1 insert and retails for $1.99. I'm currently working on getting my cards from series 1 and 2 in order so I can post a want list. Just something about the Rogue One movie that I really enjoyed and that carried over into wanting to complete this set as well.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pack Break: 2017 Topps Series 2 Toys 'R Us

(this post was originally posted on A Pack To Be Named Later)

I don't recall what year Topps and Toys 'R Us teamed up to offer exclusive purple parallel cards, but the trend continued in Series 2 this year. Unlike in past years, there is only 1 parallel card per pack now. The packs retail for $2.99 at TRU stores...I hope the included parallel is worth the extra dollar.

Nothing fancy or special here, just regular cards from Series 2. I need to check these against my own list to see if I need any of these for my set.

Rainbow parallel of Rockies catcher, Tom Murphy.

Memorable moments insert of Derek Jeter. Not a Yankees fan, but I can respect Jeter's talent. 3,000 hits...dang. Not sure though how I feel about this set though.

...and finally the purple parallel that I'm sure most are curious about. George Springer. Nice photo Topps. Appropriate that this card was pulled on the night of Game 2 of the World Series.

I was hoping to find packs of the new Update series while at TRU, but no such luck. Not sure of Topps even produced these special packs for Update. The Jeter insert and the parallels are available for trade if anyone is interested.

Well, now off to find me a purple parallel of Freddie Freeman.

Monday, October 23, 2017

I feel as if Panini is trolling me

After a horrible offensive performance by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, 10/22/17 against the Chicago Bears I was hoping some new football card therapy would help. I picked up pack of 2017 Panini Donruss football earlier in the week and held onto to open on Sunday...makes sense right? Well wouldn't you know...the first insert in the middle of the stack of cards would be Mitch his 4 for 7 pass completion glory. (by the way, I love the look and feel of these canvas like cards...I just can't believe of all the players I could pull this is the guy I get!)

It's so embarrasing for your defense to go out and hold the opposing team's QB to 4 of 7 pass completions, 68 rushing yards and to hold them from scoring a TD...and still lose the game. The Panthers controlled the clock, possessing the ball for over 38 minutes of the game. Bears had the ball for just over 21 minutes. Cam Newton completed 21 of 34 passes for 211 yards with another 50 yards on the ground. Panthers bested the Bears in the 1st down department too with 20-5. However the Bears walked away w/ the win with two defensive TDs.

The first defensive TD came off of lateral that was dropped by rookie Curtis Samuel. Eddie Jackson would run it back 75 yards for the TD. This particular play really made me upset because I don't see how they ruled that it was a catch/fumble. Samuel never had possession of the ball! I knew the Bears didn't have much an offense so I really didn't get to down...I knew that we would come back to tie it up and eventually take the lead...but that never happened.

Fans here in Carolina this morning are wondering who to point the finger at. In my opinion you need several fingers. 1) Offense Coordinator Mike Schula, 2) Head Coach, Ron Rivera, 3) Offensive Line, 4) WRs/slow developing routes, and 5) Cam Newton.

  • The play calling for years has been questionable at best under Schula. Remove the 2015 Super Bowl season and you have mediocre plays being called. I love McCaffrey, but the little dude can't run it up the middle of the field...yet the same play is called time after time. 
  • Ron Rivera is a good coach, but the dude needs to stand up and hold his staff more accountable.
  • The Offensive line yesterday was horrible. As soon as the ball is snapped, it seems as if the line is moving backwards and that pocket is all but gone for Cam. Does Cam hold onto the ball too long? Yes, but his guys are being backed into him so quickly its rediculous. 
  • The Panthers have two big WRs in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. I love to watch their physical style of play, however it seems to take them longer to get open than other WRs. I don't know if again its the play calling or what, but Cam is holding onto the ball so long because he's waiting for his guys to get seperation from their defenders and it's taking too long!
  • Lastly there is Cam. I like Cam and I get mad over a lot of the criticism that I think he doesn't deserve. However yesterday's performance was ugly. The Panthers had chances. I don't fault him for the pass to Benjamin that he tipped and landed in the hands of the Bears defender. It happens. However he over threw many players that would have kept a drive alive and possibly resulted in some points.

Overall it was a real ugly and embarrasing game for Panthers fan. The only good news yesterday was that Tampa Bay lost and the Patriots whooped up on the Falcons (again) late last night. The Panthers find them in 2nd place in the NFC South behind the Saints that have all the sudden won 3 in a row after starting their season 0-2. Hopefully we'll get Luke Kuechly and others back for the game next week against Tampa Bay and the Panthers can right the wrongs of this week. I hope

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Night Owl mail from...2015?!

I'm willing to bet most of us card collectors like to think we're organized...but when it comes to our desks we have stacks of cards sitting everywhere. Well apparently underneath said stacks of cards I had a few pieces of mail that essentially got buried. Good news is I previously opened this mail, bad news is I never got to give a proper shout out to the person who sent me the mail.

So I owe the great Night Owl Cards a huge apology. The letter he sent me was post marked April 02, 2015. No joke. I'm kinda embarrased even bringing this up. I know we all have lives outside or hobby, but dang...I gotta get my clutter picked up! I guess this is what happens when I try to run multiple blogs and put out constant content for them.

I can't remember if this was a trade or if Greg was just sending a few Braves my way, but finally...after 2+ years the cards finally made their way out of their legal envelope prison and onto my scanner.

I don't think there is any significance of the cards, just more Braves...and I'm fine with that. While I always have the intention of buying Series 2 of flagship Topps each year, I'm usually focused on working to complete my Gypsy Queen or A&G sets and end up ignoring Series 2 and subsequently the Update set as well. That said I don't believe I have this Maddux insert. Same goes for this insert of a young Freddie Freeman. 

I love non-baseball sets so this Steve Avery is the winner in the stack. The shiny chrome Postseason Heroes Smoltz is a close second (who doesn't like shiny cards?), but the Avery here stands out as being unique. Part of the 1992 Baseball Cards Magazine set (#BBC16), this one will go great along side my small Avery collection.

Sorry Night Owl it took me this long to thank you, but "thank you" none the less. Next time, I'll try to do better.

Go Dodgers! Need Alex Wood to represent us non-athletic types back home in Charlotte, NC!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Box Break: 2017 Topps WWE Women's Division

Last year Topps introduced us to the first all women's wrestling card set in a very long time with 2016's Diva's Revolution. The cards seemed to have limited distribution and may or may not have been exclusive to Walmart stores. I bought and opened one blaster box, but the supply seemed to dry up really quick.

Well Topps is back at it this year with 2017's Women's Division. Thankfully the WWE dropped the whole Divas label...something they should have done some time ago. Like last year's set, the cards focus on individuals under each brand: NXT, Raw, Smackdown and Classic WWE characters.

In addition to the cards highlighting the different wrestlers, there are cards that highlight certain events such as when they won a certain title or made their return to the ring. The hanger box I purchased had a few exclusive Finishing Moves inserts. The blaster boxes come with 1 guaranteed hit of some type. Shirt or mat relic, a kiss card or possibly an autograph. Last year's set was only offered in blaster boxes.

While I probably should and would enjoy watching the NXT brand, I just haven't paid them much attention. However with many of the bigger names making the jump to Raw and Smackdown, perhaps I should pay NXT more attention.

It's funny that the back of Emma's card actually acknowledges the botched attempt to rebrand the character as Emmalina...since that pretty much blew up in their face for some reason. I still remember Emma when she used to do that goofy dance with Santino Marella.

Becky Lynch was the first ever Smackdown Women's Champion...but since she lost the belt she seems to have faded into mid-card status. It's a shame because I like her ability both on the mic and in the ring. Plus I may or may not have a thing for fiery red heads!

Back in the early days of the WWE the women were more or less eye candy on the arm of fill in the blank wrestler. However Sherri Marte, or Scary Sherri as I remember her, was one of the more formidable managers during her time in the sport.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the set is also made of up "memorable moments", such as when Asuka debuted in NXT and defeated Dana Brooke. 

John Cena's fiance returned to the ring at Summer Slam in 2016 to the surprise of many. She had been missing from the ring for several months, recovering from next surgery.

Exclusive to retail hanger boxes is the Finishing Moves insert set. I thought this was a great picture of Sasha Banks delivering her patented Diving Double Knee Drop to Charlotte Flair.

There are also several different levels of serially numbered parallels to be found in packs in addition to the different relics and autos. I'm not sure how well the Divas Revolution set did last year or how well this set will be received. It's basically more of the same with a new name. I'm undecided if I'm going to try to go for the set or let this be a one time purchase.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2017 Atlanta Braves - The Year in Review (and what's next)

To say the 2017 season for the Atlanta Braves was a disappointment would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe most fans were expecting to win the World Series or anything, but I think most of us thought the season would go a little better than it did.

You can sum up many of the Braves problems this year with one word...pitching. I still don't believe the team has a solid ace on it's staff. It was supposed to Julio Teheran, but he struggled all year...especially at home in SunTrust Park.

Mike Foltynewicz showed some growth and promise at times during the season, but ultimately still was plagued with location trouble. I still think he will play an important role in the upcoming seasons and I'm personally not quite ready to write him off.

The other issue with pitching came in the form of the bullpen. Just like it's hard to name a #1 pitcher, the team didn't have a dominant closer. It was supposed to be Jim Johnson, but he blew so many saves and cost the Braves so many wins this year it's not even funny. I'm glad he doesn't get many cards because he's a guy I don't want to look at for awhile. I'm so upset with him...he's on Charlie Liebrandt level right now!

The Bartolo Colon experiement blew up in the Braves face...badly. Prior to the season I was excited about the signing, but it didn't take long for his performance on the mound to suck away that enthusiasm. R.A. Dickey had a pretty good season for the Braves. I really hope they re-sign him and he doesn't head off into retirement yet. He's been pretty vocal that he would like to remain w/ the team for another year. I wouldn't be against him taking a coaching role when he's done either. Class act guy and someone I need more cardboard of in a Braves uniform.

The offense this year had it's peaks and valleys. Not unusual, but it wasn't as consistent as it needed to be. It didn't help of course when the team lost Freddie Freeman early in the season. He was putting up Mike Trout like numbers (actually better than Trout) and would have easily made another All-Star team had it not been for his injury. In July, Freddie joined the 1,000 career hit club

Ender Inciarte was a bright spot in the outfield pretty much all year. I was able to take in two games this year at SunTrust Park and one of those games I sat in the first row in center field, just behind Inciarte. He dazzled fans with both his offensive at the plate, his speed on the base paths and with his glove in the outfield. In the last series of the year Ender also got his 200th career hit.

I wish I could say that the outfielders in the corners were that way, but Matt Kemp struggled to stay healthy and Nick Markakis just weren't able to provide as much offense as fans would have liked to see. Markakis did register his 2,000th career hit however, not an easy feat.

The infield however had plenty of bright spots. Dansy Swanson struggled for part of the season, was sent down to AAA Gwinnett, and came back swinging for the fences. Juan Carmargo, Ozzie Albies and Rio Ruiz also provided some flash in the infield and showed that the Braves future is still bright.

When A.J. Pierzinkski retired I wasn't sure what would happen w/ the catcher department. Tyler Flowers stepped up big and put up some All-Star like numbers. In fact, I think he was snubbed not being named to the NL team this year. Kurt Suzuki also came up huge for the team in his first season w/ the Braves. I was thrilled to hear he re-signed already. I'm still pissed at Topps for screwing up my Topps Now order of his card. I don't have many of his cards in a Braves uniform, but like with a few other players I will need to try and change that during the off season.

Besides the play on the field, much of the talk during the season was whether or not interim manager Brian Snitker would return in 2018 as the skipper of the team. There were many games that I scratched my head over some of his decisions, especially with Jim Johnson. There were other times the team made him look like a genius. It's hard to say what will happen with him. Even more so as of this morning, 10/02/17, General Manager John Coppolella has resigned effective immediately. Apparently there is now an ongoing investigation with John violating some sort of breach of  the international player market. Hmm...

The Braves finished the 2017 season 3rd in the NL East with an overall record of 72-90. Their last game was yesterday against the Miami Marlins and thankfully they broke their 6 game losing streak with a 8-5 win.

Where the team goes in 2018...well your guess is as good as mine. We have a lot of young talent that should get their opportunity next year, but who will be our GM? Will Snitker be allowed to be the skipper for another year? Seveal scouts and coaches have already been let go so the rebuilding continues on.

While I enjoyed most of the games I watched and really enjoyed the new SunTrust Park, I'm kinda glad the season is least for me. I'm not sure how much Playoffs I'll be watching. I'm not sure how many baseball card related posts you'll see between now and the end of the year. I'm not done collecting by any means, but I think it's time I focus at least a little more on the pigskin. Expect to see more Carolina Panthers related posts during football season. Beyond that, who knows that will happen w/ this blog.

Thank you to the Braves for an...interesting 2017 baseball season. Now go and get your front office in order as we have a lot of work to do before spring training next season.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Jonathan Stewart becomes the Carolina Panthers all-time leading rusher

On October 1st, 2017 the Carolina Panthers walked into Foxboro, MA and beat the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, 33-30.

While this is obviously a big win for the Panthers, there were also some other records broken and set during the game. For Jonathan Stewart, he didn't know until he got to the locker room after the game that he had surpassed friend and former teammate, DeAngelo Williams to become the all-time leading rusher for the Panthers.

Jonathan's numbers weren't flashy for the game, but they usually aren't. He rushed 14 times for 68 yards. He just quitely gets the job done. The one blemish on the day was his fumble in the red zone during the 3rd quarter as the team was driving for another score.

I've collected Stewart since his rookie year, not just because he's a Panther but because of who he is off the field. I haven't bought a lot of singles of him or other players I collect over the last few years, however I was compelled to collect his 2017 Donruss rainbow just a few weeks ago. Now that I have (I think) all of his cards from this set, now is a good time to share them.

* Edit - Turns out there are non-serially numbered green and red Press Proof parallels too. Green are exclusive to retail hanger boxes. Not sure about the red parallels. Oh well, the search to complete the rainbow continues!

I really like this year's base design for 2017 Donruss. Panini did a good job keeping the design pretty basic and unlike some of their other sets, the design doesn't detract from the image. I also like when the team colors are incorporated into the design such as this. 

The card backs aren't that flashy. I'm not sure what that white box is supposed to be for, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more stats than just the previous years.

The orange parallels are serially numbered to the players jersey. In this case, 03/28. The orange has a rainbow like sheen to it and the Donruss "d" is done in a deep purple foil. 

Most of the parallels are part of the Press Proof set. The blue parallel isn't serially numbered and seem to be easier to find in packs. In fact, the 40 card Value Packs at retail carry 4 blue Press Proofs per pack.

The black Press Proof parallels are serially numbered to just 10. Mine is 02/10. The whole card is printed on foil board and is prone to fingerprints. The Donruss "d" is done in a black foil.

The gold Press Proof parallels are serially numbered to 50. Mine is 04/50. The whole card is printed on foil board and is also prone to fingerprints. The Donruss "d" is done in a gold foil.

The silver Press Proof parallels are serially numnered to 100. Mine is 075/100. Like the other Press Proof parallels, the card is printed on foil board and a fingerprint magnet. The Donruss "d" is done in a silver foil.

I would be remiss to say that another record was made during the game. Quarterback Cam Newton (finally) came alive in the 4th game of the season and threw for 3 TDs and rushed for another. That rushing TD gave him 50 for his career, setting a new NFL record for rushing TDs by a Quarterback.

Cam Newton surpassed Steve Young for first on the list. Cam completed this accomplishment in just 79 games, while it took Steve Young 169 games. Cam also surpassed Young with his 32nd game with a rushing and a passing TD.

The Carolina Panthers are now 3-1 and go to Detroit to play the 3-1 Lions on October 8th.