Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Cards

2018 has been another year for me. My blogging activity has taken a hit, although I have tried to be active on Twitter (@flywheels) with other card bloggers. The number of trades or care packages I've sent out compared to past years has also been down. However that didn't stop Dennis of Too Many Manninghams and Too Many Verlanders from sending me the best kind of Christmas card(s)!

Even though I haven't been as active, I instantly recognized Dennis' name from the return address on the bubble mailer. Funny how I made the connection so quickly. I honestly didn't know what to expect inside so I quickly opened the package that just happened to arrive on Christmas Adam!

There were two card bricks in the package carefully sealed w/ painters tape. A large portion of the first brick I opened was a stack of Mariano Rivera cards. I was happy to see these because when he was active, I just couldn't collect a Yankee player!! Even though I respected his baseball ability and what he accomplished on the field, I couldn't find it inside myself to collect his cards. I know that may sound silly, but it's true. I'm sure I had many cards of his at one time too that passed through my hands. Later on after he retired from the game I started to learn more about the man that wore the jersey. Learning of his faith and the things he did for others made him more appealing and eventually he found himself as apart of my Faith Brothers collection. Problem was, I didn't have many cards of his. Well Dennis took care of that and gave me a nice start.

The other part of the first brick was full of Braves cards, particularly of Tom Glavine. Always love getting Glavine cards I don't own, or in this case of this Skybox EX Century card of Glavine, a duplicate. This card will go in my Batting Pitchers sub-collection. By the way, just in case you weren't aware these were printed on clear acetate, so the wood grain you see isn't some undiscovered parallel, but my kitchen table instead!

Also buried in those Braves cards was this jersey relic of former Braves catcher, Johnny Estrada from Topps Pristine. I don't have many cards of Estrada in a Braves uniform period, much less a relic!

The second brick of cards started off w/ a Score RC of former NC State QB, Jacoby Brissett. I thought that would be the beginning of an NC State trend, but then it went to cards of my Carolina Panthers. It's been a tough year for the Panthers, especially after yesterday's 7 consecutive loss of the season. However a smile was on my face as I continued to thumb through the cards and this Jonathan Stewart Printing Plate was looking back at me. Seriously Dennis?! You shouldn't have! A printing plate?! This is really cool for a couple of reasons. 1) Because he's a former Panthers player and 2) He also is a member of my football Faith Brothers collection and a guy I still actively seek out to collect.

I read over the weekend that someone said card blogging was dead. Even though the amount of active blogs may have dwindled a bit over recent years, this is a great example of the awesome people still going at it in the blog-o-sphere of card collecting. I can't think you Dennis enough for your generosity and for these awesome cards. This helped set the tone for what I think will be an awesome Christmas this year.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Hobby_Legends 2018 Panini Rookie & Stars Group Break

After having good success with eBay seller Hobby_Legends in a group break where I grabbed my Charlotte Hornets, I decided to see what else they were offering up. I found a whole case break of 2018 Panini Rookie & Stars football (I still want to call it Leaf instead of Panini!) and I grabbed the Carolina Panthers.

I missed watching the live break so I just decided to wait for the package to arrive and be surprised than to search out the video on his YouTube channel. I didn't know much about this years Rookie & Stars product, but it's one I've liked in the past so why not? In the end, I think I did alright for myself.

It appears the base set for the Panthers is small at only 3 cards...but when those 3 cards are of Christian McCaffrey, Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly is that really a bad thing?

Remember the old Action Packed brand? Too bad these cards aren't embossed like their former namesake. There is some red foil that did photograph too well. Nice looking card and subset.

On the RC side of things I ended up with 3 players. Ian Thomas started to get some playing time at the TE position after Greg Olsen went down for the year. DJ Moore also started to get more reps once WR Devin Funchess' play started to decline. If I'm being honest, I've never heard of Marquis Haynes!

What modern set isn't complete without various levels of parallels? Ended w/ with two parallels for rookie TE Ian Thomas. True Blue is numbered to /49 and the Red parallel is numbered to /25.

One shiny chrome Airborne insert card was pulled for my team, that being of Cam Newton. Beautiful card in hand. I also bought a similar McCaffrey card too. Call me a sucker for shiny cards.

I'm not sure how I ended up with three Year 1 jersey cards of DJ Moore, but I'll take 'em! The blue piece of jersey if you look close enough appear to be different. The one on the right has more noticeable lines if you will in the fabric. These aren't game worn either, which is a bummer, but still nice additions to the collection none the less.

The seller also tossed into my package a pack of Ultra Pro penny sleeves and two older sealed football packs - 2015 Panini Prizm and 2017 Panini Donruss Optic. Just another reason I gave him my business again and will probably do it again in the future. Overall I'm very happy w/ my pulls. I haven't bought a lot of 2018 football product so this was a fun and easy way to bolster my 2018 Panthers stack of cards.

By the way, I used a new app on my phone to take these do you think they turned out? Another card collector told me about the app, CamScanner, which has turned out to be a life saver for work...but I really haven't tried it too much w/ cards. It was a lot easier and quicker than taking a picture with my phone, then having to edit the photo. I may have to make this app the new default way of sharing card photos moving forward.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Secret Santa

If you read many sports card blogs then I'm sure you may have seen over on A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts agreed to run this year's Secret Santa card swap. Over the weekend I had many bubble mailers appear in the mailbox and one of them just happened to have the contents wrapped. Whomever my Secret Santa was chose not to reveal themselves, which is OK, and I really have no idea who it was. I do appreciate the gesture and I love the cards.

So, what did they send me? Well, let's take a look! First off I have to say the glittery silver paper used to wrap the cards reminded me so much of those Topps Diamond Anniversary parallel cards from a few years ago!

I ended up with a sampling of the 3 major teams I collect. Let's start with baseball. From top to bottom, left to right: 3 new Maddux cards - Finest, EX and a Topps insert. Followed by a Dan Uggla Topps insert. Bottom row had current players - Acuna and 3 different Albies. I'm pretty sure the only card I had in this lot was the Albies Topps RC.

Only two Carolina Panthers, but both are cards of Cam that I didn't own. I don't care what the critics say about Cam, he's my QB and stand behind him. Glad to add these to my Panthers collection.

Last but not least are 6 new Charlotte Hornets cards. I've been on a big Hornets kick of late so I was thrilled to see these included. I've been tempted to try a pack of Panini Essential cards, but so far I've held off. Seeing the cards in person, like the Dwayne Bacon RC (upper left corner), I really like what I see. If I had more people to send basketball cards to I may be more inclined to buy basketball cards, especially during the baseball off season. However I have too many cards as-is sitting there so I'll just stick to my bread & butter (baseball).

Thanks again goes to Jon to putting all of this together. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Pack Break: 2018 Panini Rookie & Stars

I'm still waiting to find a football set in 2018 that really captures my attention. Panini's Donruss brand has filled that desire for the past two years, but I didn't care for the design (although I'm building 2018 Donruss baseball) so I decided to save my money. Will the old Leaf product, Rookie & Stars get me excited for a non-super premium football set? I grabbed a 10 card retail pack from Target to give it a try.

First card out of the pack was Detroit Lions' WR, Golden Tate III. While the borders do eat up a lot of the card's real estate, I actually don't mind the design. At least the cards appear to use the team color on parts of the border. Thankfully Panini went light with the use of foil stamping, opting to only use silver foil on the Rookie & Stars logo. I like this because when the players name is foil stamped it can be hard to read at times.

I will ding Panini for taking the lazy route and using the same picture, just cropped for the back. Lack of any stats is also puzzling. Could we not even get 2017's stats?

After this past weekend's game, I'm NOT a fan of Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns for continuing the Carolina Panthers' losing streak!

These Action Packed cards sadly aren't embossed like the Action Packed of old. However at least we get a horizontal action shot, a nice change from the basic card design.

Standing Ovation is another insert set. Those "scanlines" in the background makes the card look like an old CRT television!

Rookies seem to come two per pack and feature a similar design to the base cards. This Packers RC is being set aside for one of my few regular football traders. The rest of the cards are available if anyone wants them.

Overall I like the small sampling from this pack. Not enough to build the set, but enough for me to get in on a group break of Rookie & Stars where I grabbed my hometown Panthers. Be on the lookout for a post with my haul.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Thanksgiving Surprise

The week of Thanksgiving I was receiving a few bubble mailers each day as I've been grabbing cheap autos and RCs of various players lately, however one of the mailers was noticeably thicker than the others which I wasn't expecting. Then I saw the return address and I instantly knew who it was from...Cards on Cards.

2018 hasn't been an overly great year for me in terms of blogging. My activity across all my blogs is down and as a result so is my trading activity with fellow collectors and bloggers. I blame this on wanting to spend more time doing other things and of course work...gotta blame work. For some reason Kerry at Cards on Cards had been putting aside cards of Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets for me. I always love to see what people send me and I always appreciate what I'm sent, regardless of what era it's from. Let's take a look at a small sampling of what he sent me.

One of my favorite cards is this shiny Freddie Freeman from 2018 Topps Chrome. I sat Chrome out this year so I have very little Braves from the set. This International Affair card has a simple design, but looks beautiful. This is one of those inserts that works better for Chrome than flagship in my opinion. 

Next up is a small sampling of players from what I call my "Faith Brothers" collection. Fitting that all of these are from Cardinals players, but hey, that's OK. Personally I love the Jaime Garcia Bowman and Bowman Chrome cards.

Following up on the baseball edition of "Faith Brothers", I got a few more cards for the football version of this sub-collection. Of these 5 cards, my favorite hands down is the 1992 Score Sam Mills Dream Team. I've never seen this card before, so cool. I don't have many Sam Mills cards either so I love finding new things. For those of you outside the Carolinas, Sam Mill is the basis of the team's "Keep Pounding" mantra/slogan thanks to his battle with cancer he fought as a member of the Carolina Panthers. 

I also really appreciate the other cards too, especially the cool Domino's Pizza issue of Rodney Peete and the silver parallel of the Minister of Defense, Reggie White.

I never collected a lot of basketball cards, but I absolutely loved Upper Deck's inaugural NBA set. However I never had a chance to pick up packs of the sophomore release and I still only have a few random cards. Upper Deck had some great photography as shown in the Kendall Gill card. One day I'd love to pick up a box or two and sit down and try to build the set. The early to mid 90's NBA was a lot of fun in my opinion.

With all of the off season moves the Charlotte Hornets made, combined with some early success has me watching more NBA than I have in a very long time. It's been really fun watching the Hornets and their young players play. I've been wanting to pick up RCs and other cards of some of these younger players, but I typically don't buy packs of basketball cards. Kerry came to the rescue with RCs of Malik Monk from Elements and Dwayne Bacon from Donruss Optic. These were the Hornets first and second round draft picks from a year ago. Neither got much of a chance to play last year under coach Steve Clifford, but with the staff changes both young guns are finally getting a chance to show their skill. Even though the team moved on from Dwight Howard, I still find it cool to have a few cards of his in a Hornets uniform.

Lastly we have a few cards of Kemba Walker. If you haven't had a chance to watch him play you are missing out. He's one of the best point guards in the NBA that nobody talks about. He is consistent night in and night out and is the face of the Hornets. He is already quickly becoming one of the best Hornets players statistically as his play has improved year over year. There have been a lot of trade rumors surrounding him, but it appears he wants to remain a Charlotte Hornet and bring the city their first NBA title. How can you not root for a guy like that? The NBA All-Star weekend is being held in Charlotte, NC this upcoming February and I fully expect to see Kemba representing "Buzz City".

Huge shout out to Kerry at Cards on Cards for the surprise package...I owe you one buddy!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Welcome Home Brian

I was on my way home earlier today from working in Spartanburg, SC when I got a notification on my phone from MLB's At Bat mobile app that the Atlanta Braves had signed Brian McCann to a 1 year deal. Of course there had been a lot of talk in Braves Country of what we were going to do after Kurt Suzuki signed w/ the Washington Nationals. Sure, there was some talk of bringing back McCann, similar to how everyone had been talking about re-signing Craig Kimbrel too. However I'm not sure how many fans actually believed we'd see either of these guys in a Braves uniform again.


I can certain tell you that this Braves fan is very excited to have a familiar face returning to the dugout. I am tempering my expectations however on what he'll be bringing to the know outside his veteran presence. I hated seeing Suzuki go, I really did. This signing however takes away the sting.

The Braves didn't stop here however with the signings as it was also announced that Josh Donaldson had also been signed to a one year deal pending a physical. Of course this raises the question of what are the Braves going to do w/ Johan Camargo?

Well right now I'm just going to sit here, smile and just look forward to the 2019 season that much more now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

On the Receiving End of a Group Break

I'm often on the hosting end of group breaks and even though I usually claim my team in the break, it's different than being the participant watching the packs being busted. Recently I decided to jump in a very cheap 2018-19 Panini NBA Hoops group break, claiming the Charlotte Hornets. I'm not a huge NBA fan, but I've followed my hometown Hornets since their inception. The changes made in the off season has resulted in some exciting games in  this young NBA season. This excitement has carried over to cardboard and my desire to pick up some new Hornets cards. What better way than to claim them in a group break?

I went with Hobby Legends, bidding on a half case break they had listed on eBay. Not surprisingly I won the Hornets slot for just a few bucks. I missed part of the live video on YouTube when the packs were busted, but I saw a good bit of the cards pulled. It was fun holding out that hope that my team would get one of the 3 autos from each box. It never happened, but it did keep me hanging on during the video!

I'm not going to bother sharing the base cards, outside of these two RCs of Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham. I was happy to get cards of these early rookies. Panini did a good job w/ the Hoops brand this year. I particularly like the wood court background and how it extends past the white border onto the right side of the card. The team color is also a nice touch.

What modern set would be complete without a smattering of parallels? I ended up a with a purple foil parallel of Marvin Williams and a holofoil parallel of Malik Monk, numbered 21/25! The purple foil looks great for a Hornets player, but not so great for other teams. The holofoil is really nice in hand, however I don't think I would've bothered buying either card.

Two inserts were pulled for my team, Amplifiers and We Got Next. Any new card of Kemba Walker is welcomed and this foil Amplifiers, while odd, was a welcome sight while I watched the packs being ripped. The We Got Next Miles Bridges insert doesn't do much for me if I'm being honest. Glad to have the card, but another theme I would have passed over.

I do want to mention that when I received my group break cards in the mail, the guy that runs Hobby Legends included a few extra random basketball cards as well as a pack of UltraPro card sleeves. Cards were well packaged and he shipped them the day after the break. I was very impressed overall w/ the service I received and for that reason, I may give them more business in the future.

The other break I joined was for 4 boxes of 2017-18 Panini Cornerstones from a different YouTube breaker. I must not have read the description very well because apparently it was just for the hits. I hate breaks like this and I think they are a scam. I ended up with one card...which is better than nothing...but I was hoping to flesh out my Charlotte Hornets collection with some newer cards - even if they were base cards.

Thankfully this non-numbered Michael Kidd-Gilchrist jersey card was pulled for the Hornets and represented the lone card for my team. The jersey looks more navy blue than teal or purple and it makes me wonder if this is a hold over piece of jersey from Charlotte's Bobcats years.

This ended up being a lot of fun as I'm always looking for ideas on hosting breaks. Once the holidays settle down I may have to try this again and if I do, I'll share the outcome here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2017 Topps Now: Brandon Phillips #262 (172 print run)

I was thrilled when I heard the Braves had signed Brandon Phillips to play 2nd base alongside Dansby Swanson and on June 17th he made an impact that I'm sure the club was hoping for. In the bottom of the 10th inning Brandon singled up the middle and allowed Johan Camargo a chance to score the winning run. Thanks to Christian Yelich's botch trying to field the ball, Johan was able to score and the Braves won the game 8-7.

This game took place two days before my birthday so it was an early birthday present to myself. Brandon would go on to continue to flash the leather and brandish his bat in a big way in June. Stay tuned...