Sunday, July 21, 2019

Blaster Box Break: 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter

July means several things for me. 1) It's hot. 2) It's humid and 3) Topps Allen & Ginter release month. In past years I had a hobby box already paid for in advance of A&G's release, but this year I wasn't able to do so. My family and I have traveled so much since they got out of school on May 31st that it's been all I could do to keep up w/ other 2019 baseball card sets I'm working on. When I realized I was going to be down at Myrtle Beach, SC this weekend visiting my mother for her birthday, I knew there was a good chance the near by Walmart would have some A&G to help me "scratch that itch". I wasn't wrong. They had the 14 card value packs, the 3 packs w/ gold mini parallels and of course blasters. I grabbed one lone blaster as I'm trying to be a financially responsible adult right now...or at least until I get paid!

Late last night (or was it earlier this morning?) I finally laid down in bed and opened the blaster. I really didn't know what to expect out of A&G this year as I had fully researched the sell sheets, but it's a set that I look forward every year so I really didn't care. I know a lot of collectors like to crap on this release and I simply don't get it. If you don't like the non-baseball inclusions and inserts, then skip the set. I personally don't care that much for Heritage so I don't buy it.

But whatever, let's dig into the contents of my first packs of 2019 Allen & Ginter! First off I have to say that I love the look of the base design this year. I wasn't as fond of the last few years, but I'm really enjoying the look and feel of the 2019 set so far.

My first Atlanta Braves card from the product was none other than Dansby Swanson. This kid is having a heck of a year, posting career highs in HRs all before the All-Star break. I enjoy watching him play so much this was a great way to start off.

The first mini that fell out of the pack was this A&G back Tony Gwynn. While I never got to watch many of his games living on the east coast and all, I've always respected his game and his character off the field. Sucks that baseball lost such a great guy so early and I love the fact that he still gets new cards from time to time. This one will be going into my Hall of Fame PC collection.

The History of Flight cards are beautiful in hand and I look forward to completing the 15 card set. It's kinda perfect too that this home grown NC guy would pull card #1 first as it features Orville and Wilbur Wright.

I feel as if this type of set as been done before, but these are also the types of sets that I really like. Rest assured that I'll be tracking down the rest of the Incredible Equipment cards in the set.

One of the other minis I ended up with was a SP. I don't build the mini sets so this one will be up for trade. Eventually I'll get everything I have for trade listed both on my trade lists here on the blog as well as on The Trading Card Database.

Speaking of SPs I also pulled 4 from the main set. This made me happy because in previous years I swear it seemed like I only pulled a few from a whole hobby box. I'm just starting to build the set and I've already got 4 SPs from one blaster.

I'm not into Astrology and reading horoscopes, but I do like the overall look of these cards. I'm still on the fence whether or not I'll bother building this insert however.

Ginter Greats are another full size insert that I'm on the fence about. In past years I wouldn't have a second thought on whether or not I'd build this set, however this year I'm going to focus more on the non-baseball sets.

Another mini in the box turned out to be my second A&G back, this time of Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. I'm sure I can think of a Cubs collector or two who may be interested in this one.

Speaking of Cubs, I got a retail hit! Full size relic of Kyle Schwarber. Kinda of a boring jersey relic, but aren't most of these days? I wonder how much longer Topps and other card companies will continue to produce boring cards like this?

I've never been much of a horse person so these cards don't do much for me, but just for the heck of it I'll probably go for the set. At least they seem to be easy pulls.

Jealous yet? Seriously, I don't understand this card. Period. Can anyone shed some light on this card for me? Anyone?

These Look Out Below! minis are awesome. I had no idea these fell 1:50 packs. This just made this particular blaster that much more fun. I'd love to complete this set, but I have a feeling this will be a little tougher challenge to complete.

I'll round out the box with two more mini inserts. First we have Collectible Canines. I'm more of a cat person now, but I had several dogs growing of which was a black Labrador. His name was Casey and he was a good dog. Still have some great memories of him and now thanks to this card I have a visual reminder of him of sorts.

The New to the Zoo minis look great. While I've yet to see any other cards from this set, this set is one that I'm sure I''ll enjoy collecting.

I really am looking forward to picking up some more A&G soon. Once I get back home from this weekend beach trip I plan on gearing up my eBay store with the hopes that my sales will help fund the purchase of a hobby box before the prices go up. For me at least this is one of the highlights of the summer as far as this hobby goes and it appears from my sample that Topps has released another great Allen & Ginter set.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

One of those "Better late than never" posts...

I've been meaning to get some real organization in place for my cards and various cardboard collections (no pun intended) and after a trip to my local LCS to pick up some supplies, I can finally start cataloging all of these stacks of cards on the corner of my desk.

It didn't take too long into one of the stacks before I came across two team bags with a index card from Dennis of Too Many Verlanders / Too Many Manninghams. This gift has been sitting here for at least 6 months. Perhaps you can better imagine the mess I have on my hands that I'm now trying to work through! In these stacks were lots of great cards for several different themes I have in my collection.

Of course there were plenty of Braves cards, including several Tom Glavines and a Johnny Estrada Topps Pristine relic.

Remember when Topps made football cards? I know you're super jealous of the super hot Dwayne Jarrett RC you see peeking out from underneath Steve Smith.

My favorite Carolina Panthers card in the stacks was this dufex infused Zenith team card. Jake Delhomme may not be well known outside of Charlotte (or Louisiana), but he is a "legend" in this area. Same goes for Julius Pepper, though this is from his first tour with the team. DeShaun Foster may not be the best well known Panthers RB in the history of the team, but they needed a third player so there you go.

I saw that there was a smaller card in one of the stacks, but never in my wildest imagination would I think it was a printing plate. Combine the fact that this is a Jonathan Stewart printing plate and I was/am over the moon! JStew is one of my favorite players of all time and I've got a nice little PC of his, but nothing this cool. Thank you so much Dennis!

Also included were cards of two players for what I call my "Faith Brothers" collection...Albert Pujols and Mariano Rivera. It's not that often I acquire cards of either of these players unless I'm at a show digging through nickle and dime boxes, so this was a nice surprise. As I sat down to catalog these cards it turned out that I didn't have about 95% of them. I guess this Braves guy just had a hard time keeping cards of a guy that killed our pitching or of a stinking Yankee!

Thanks again Dennis for your kind generosity and I apologize it took so long to share these...but as the post title says "better late than never".

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Annual Trip to SunTrust Park - with bobbleheads, lots of HRs & even a Topps Now card

Living in the upstate of SC it takes a little bit of effort to get down to Atlanta, GA to see a Braves game, however my wife and I try to make it a point to take in at least one game each season. Back in the spring when we decided we'd catch a game we hit the schedule to choose when we'd go. Usually we try for a weekend game as it's easier for us to find someone to watch our girls, however this year I wanted to try to go to one of the games where a bobblehead was offered. Looking over the 2019 promotional schedule there was no shortage of games that were offering bobbleheads, but one stood out more than the others. It was none other than "Swanberson". Tuesday, June 11th it was. We purchased front row tickets in left centerfield for something like $22 each, booked our hotel that was within walking distance and then waited for the game.

Danby Swanson and super star utility player Charlie Culberson look like brothers that were separated at birth. Someone had the great idea to merge the two together to create this interesting looking bobblehead. This was limited to 15,000 and to be certain I got mine I was lined up outside the gates 3 hours before the game. I wasn't going to drive nearly 6 hours to this specific gate and miss out! My wife was very patient with me, even though I believe she was bored out of her goard waiting.

Assuming my wife doesn't want to keep her bobblehead, I'll have an extra to offer up in trade.

Even though I've been to SunTrust Park on several different occasions now, I still love walking through the area with all of the team's history displayed. At the center is this awesome bronze statue of Hank Aaron with a giant '755' made of bats. Above is a constant loop of the video of 755 as well.

While I would prefer sitting a little closer to the action, ticket prices in the outfield are just too good to turn down, so we selected tickets in left centerfield. We were wedged in between Ronald Acuna Jr. in center and Austin Riley in left. My last game I sat over the Braves bullpen and I didn't have a very good view of the scoreboard, but this time that wasn't a problem.

I had no idea the Braves would be this good this season. I was hoping of course last year wasn't a fluke and so far in the first half of the year they have turned out to be on the best teams in the National League if not the whole league. It was so fun sitting in the stands at SunTrust, feeling the electricity in the air. I can only imagine what it would be like there during a pennant race or playoff game. It also excites me for the 2021 All-Star game in Atlanta. I'm going to do my best to get tickets for that weekend.

The Braves hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates. Early on the game was to Pittsburgh's favor behind NC product Chris Archer. However the fireworks would start early for the Braves as Josh Donaldson would lead off the inning with a solo home run. Nick Markakis would follow up with his own solo shot. Next up was Austin Riley, however he wasn't able to muster a hit. Then Brian McCann stepped up to the plate with his solo shot, followed by Ozzie Albies. Two back to back home runs in the same inning. Unfortunately most of the HRs hit were to the right side of the field, but it made for an awesome game. Topps would commemorate this game with a Topps Now card the next day - limited to just 315 copies.

The Braves would go on to win the game 7-5. Josh Bell did his thing and made the game close with a late inning home run. Then the clouds rolled in and it quickly began to rain in the middle of the 8th inning. We found some shelter and hung around for about 45 minutes waiting to see if the game would resume. It was a pretty big storm and it was getting late so we decided to make our way back to the hotel. Thankfully we found some janitors that gave us each a big black garbage bag that we made into makeshift ponchos for the walk back. Not one of my finest moments, but at least I stayed (mostly) dry.

It was a quick trip to Atlanta, but it was a fun time. Depending on my work schedule and my wife's schedule, I would love to try and squeeze in another game in the 2nd half of the season. I don't know if it'll happen, but if the schedule allows I have a feeling that those same seats I had won't be as cheap if the Braves can keep up their current winning pace.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Pack Break: 2019 Topps Bowman

(this post was originally assembled in late April while I was traveling for work...and I'm just now getting around to posting it.)

While the masses seem to be hitting every Target from the east coast to the west coast in search of the Bowman Mega Boxes, I was happy to pick up a few retail packs earlier on. It's not that I don't like the look of Bowman, but I'm that much into "prospecting". Over the years I've turned into a set builder and find my joy putting my time and energy into sets that I plan to build. Yes, it's fun buying a pack of Bowman and hoping I'll hit a card or auto of that hot prospect, but I don't really sale cards so that card will go in a box, I'll forget about it and by the time I've re-discovered it they turned out to the be the next Todd Van Poppel.

I may cave and buy a Mega Box just to see what the fuss is all about, but for now I'm happy just sharing the contents from a rack pack I picked up at Walmart a few weeks ago.

The design of 2019 Bowman didn't wow me when I first laid eyes on it, but it's grown on me with each subsequent pack I've opened. I was happy to see the young Braves hurler Kyle Wright early in the first pack.

The first pack ended with more players that I was unfamiliar with, including the Chrome cards.

Pack two yielded a few cards that would go into various collections of mine, including another young Braves player I anxiously await to be called up in Cristian Pache.

As I was thumbing through the pack I could see a shiny green card. I immediately got a little excited...then I got to the card and had to do a Google search on the player. Well at least it's numbered 99/99. Still looking to find a trading partner for this card.

This Justus Sheffield card may have been in pack 1, I can't remember, but I like the overall design.

The draw of the retail rack packs is the inclusion of a 5 card pack of Camo parallels. They don't look camouflage at all to me and I don't plan on keeping any of these.

Like with most of my Pack Break posts, most of the cards you see are available so if you're interested, please drop me a line and we'll work something out.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Thank You Kemba

Thank you Kemba for 8 great years in Charlotte. Drafted in 2011 with the 9th pick by the then Charlotte Bobcats, Kemba would go on to become one of the best point guards, if not players in the NBA over the next 8 years that no one ever talked about. Playing in a small market like Charlotte, NC, Kemba was overshadowed by the likes of Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and the likes.

Kemba's time in the teal and purple came to an end this evening as the Charlotte Hornets finalized a sign and trade with the Boston Celtics. 

Kemba Walker finishes his time in Charlotte with some impressive career numbers. He averaged 34.1 minutes, 19.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists while shooting 41.8% from the field and 35.7% from the 3 point arc. In 8 years, Kemba only missed something like 6 games.

I've been a fan of the Charlotte Hornets since the team's original inception during the '88-'89 season. At times it's been awfully hard to be a fan as the team has never really been able to compete against the upper caliber teams. Attracting free agents to Charlotte has been virtually non-existent so the team has had to rely on building through the draft. The Hornets had some early success in the 90's by drafting Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Kendall Gill and Baron Davis. However the team has had a lot of strike outs prior to drafting Kemba in 2011. 

The Hornets would only have a handful of players (7 to be exact) that would go on to be All-Stars. Kemba was named to 3 All-Star teams, tying the team record previously held by Glen Rice. 

Needless to say that Kemba was the face of the Charlotte Hornets. He is the team's all time leading scorer and holds many other of the franchise's records. To see him in another team's jersey will be odd, however I'm honest enough with myself to know he will have a much better chance to win a Championship in Boston than he ever did in Charlotte. As a Hornets fan it's hard to swallow mediocrity, but it's time to rebuild and that means a few seasons of bad basketball. This is the not to say basketball with Kemba was great. He literally had very few pieces around him to work with. Thanks to bad draft choices and the challenges to lure free agents, Kemba had to shoulder it all. 

I hope Kemba does well in Boston. He won't be soon forgotten for many Hornets fans, but for now the Buzz has turned around and stung the city of Charlotte and it's fans.

Monday, June 10, 2019

2019 Topps Now: April 7th, 2019 - Dansby Swanson

One of the things I was hoping for in the 2019 season was for Dansby Swanson's bat to wake up. He's so much fun to watch defensively, but let's face the plate was another store. Last year he struggled to find his offense. I had heard he was working on this in the offseason so I was eager to see if it would transition to the regular season.

On April 7th he walked off the Braves to a 4-3 win against the Marlins with a single in the bottom of the ninth inning. While Topps hasn't rewarded Swanson with multiple Topps Now cards (yet), he is off to a great start. In fact through the first quarter of the season he is in double digit HRs, matching his total for all of the 2018 season. The Braves' future looks bright with the wealth of young talent and I'm glad to see that Dansby is settling in and being mentioned outside of Atlanta.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Verse

Galatians 5:13

New International Version

Life by the Spirit ] You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Box Break: 2019 Topps Gypsy Queen

Several months ago when Topps released 2019 Gypsy Queen, I found myself with enough eBay sells to afford a hobby box from my LCS, Grand Slam Cards and Comics. However due to work and well, life in general I haven't been able to sit down and really break down the box. I've been off all week for vacation and I'm trying to make the most out of these last few days so I grabbed the box, a new binder and some Ultra Pro pages and went to work.

While I did share the highlights on Twitter the night I opened the box, I still like to do these Box Break type posts. Gypsy Queen is a set I look forward to every year and build yearly asd well. This year's design is one of the best since the set's inception in my opinion. The colors really pop and look nice in hand. If I have one critique it's that the card number font size is way too small for my old eyes. I'm sure if you're over 40 like me you've noticed this too! Other than that, it's a beautiful set and one I look to put more of a dent in this summer.

As a Braves fan of course I was hoping I'd hit some of my guys and some of the first Braves pulled were Johan Camargo and Kyle Wright. Camargo was relegated to being a utility player and pinch hitter with the signing before the season of Josh Donaldson, but he has so very few cards that I was happy to see he was included in the set none the less. Wright had a few opportunities early in the season to show his stuff and looked mostly good. Perhaps he'll be recalled in September?

I also ended up pulling base cards of Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr, Ender Inciarte and Sean Newcomb of the Braves.

I have a love/hate relationship with SPs being part of the base set. I love pulling them, but I hate how difficult it makes completing the set. By now you'd think I'd be use to this practice in Gypsy Queen since Topps does this every year. My hobby box yielded one lone SP, but at least it was a good one in Jackie Robinson. Now to find the other 19 SPs...

I really don't care for the various parallels in GQ, such as this GQ Logo Swap of Met's pitcher Zack Wheeler. 

The Missing Nameplate parallels don't do anything for my neither. Who thinks up this stuff? The Wheeler from above and these two parallels are available for trade by the way.

The colored parallels, like this blue version of Joe Panik look good in hand. The card fronts are already colorful and the colored border just adds a little extra flair.

The red parallels were 1:563 packs so I beat the odds with this box. Numbered to just 10, I would've thought I'd found a trading partner by now. Then again, I guess I haven't "shopped" this card around much either. The red looks nice, but I think the blue parallels blend in better with the other colors used.

I forgot to photo the Fortune Teller inserts before I put the cards in pages earlier today, but I ended up with 4...the other was from a blaster. These are annoying in 9 pocket pages, but I like the idea behind the theme so I keep on collecting them.

The Tarot of the Diamond inserts from 2018 were nicely done and were a lot of fun. This year's version is more of the same, but with more color. Ended up with 3 from the hobby box and 1 from a blaster.

Each hobby box is supposed to yield two on card autos and I did pretty good. The Khris Davis auto is still available for trade (or sale?), but the Brad Keller has since been traded.

The GQ on card autos always look nice and this year is no different. I still don't understand why Topps insists to use sticker autos so much with other product when the annual GQ set shows they can pull off some beautiful on card autos.

The other bonus of buying a hobby box is the inclusion of a box topper pack. This time I pulled three Chrome cards. It wasn't long before I found a trading partner on Twitter and set them off to their new home. Beautiful cards...reminds me that I still need to track down at least the Freddie Freeman card in this set.

I ended up with 179 base cards (17 dupes), 1 SP, 1 GQ Logo Swap, 2 Missing Nameplate, 1 Blue, 1 Red, 4 Fortune Teller and 3 Tarot of the Diamond.

I finally got a Want List (added it to my Trading Card Database profile too) made for this set as well as adding everything I'm not keeping to my Trade List. If you think we can help each other out please leave a comment or better yet hit me up on Twitter (@flywheels).