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).

Saturday, May 25, 2019

2019 Topps Now: April 4th, 2019 - Nick Markakis

Finally found the time to post my first 2019 Topps Now card of season. When this season started I really didn't know what to expect from this Braves team. There were a lot of questions going into the season, especially with starting pitching and the bullpen. However there was one thing you knew you'd get out of Nick Markakis and that is consistency. It didn't take Nick long to show why he is still a valuable part of this team. April 4th he went 5 for 5 with 3 doubles and 5 RBIs against the Chicago Cubs.

Topps Now cards have been pretty slick looking since their inception and this year is no different in my opinion. However they cards look so much better in hand. I guess it's the rainbow sheen UV coating on the cards that make them hard to scan. None the less I will be picking up the other Braves cards commemorating on field highlights as they are released.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A first for this blog...

Growing up in the south I've never really been exposed to (ice) hockey so I've not paid much attention to the NHL before. When the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup awhile back, I did peek at a few games to see what the fuss was all about, but that was about it. Fast forward to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and I've watched several Hurricanes games and while I don't know what's going, I've enjoyed them immensely. So much so that I grabbed a fat pack of 2018-19 UD Series 2 last week while I was traveling for work. Let's rip it and see what I got.

32 cards for $4.99. Gotta admit it was fun opening an Upper Deck product again. It's been a long time since I've opened anything UD.

This wasn't the first card out of the pack, but it was the only Carolina Hurricanes player I pulled. Overall I dig the design. Full bleed photo with a a minimal design. The team logos are all silver foil so with me not being too familiar with the various teams I wasn't easily able to identify the teams because of the foil.

The card backs are also very clean. Bio, stats, write up, check. At the bottom of the cards I noticed the online code that Fleer first started. I guess you can still go online and redeem these codes for something? Of course the bottom of the card also has the familiar UD hologram.

303 Oliver Bjorkstrand (Blue Jackets)
439 Tom Wilson (Capitals)
409 Robby Fabbri (Blues)
403 Justin Braun (Sharks)
337 Drew Doughty (Kings)
393 Jack Johnson (Penguins)
433 William Karlsson (Golden Knights)

417 Alex Killorn (Lightning)

I'm guessing he's coming off scoring a goal or perhaps celebrating w/ his teammates?

266 David Pastrnak (Bruins)
408 Patrick Maroon (Blues)
316 Andreas Athanasiou (Red Wings)
388 Jakub Voracek (Flyers)
300 Tyson Barrie (Avalanche)
314 Connor Carrick (Stars)
370 Brock Nelson (Islanders)

P-53 Mathieu Joseph - UD Rookie Portraits

This insert was seeded 1:6 packs. Can't say the design does much for me. When I see the word portrait I think more of a posed shot and not a cropped action photo of the player.

259 Niklas Hjalmarsson (Coyotes)
357 Viktor Arvidsson (Predators)
421 Jake Gardiner (Maple Leafs)
251 Corey Perry (Ducks)
407 Tyler Bozak (Blues)
447 Adam Lowry (Jets)

347 Phillip Danault (Canadiens)

Nice horizontal action shot. Only saw a few a horizontal cards in the pack. I like these as it shows off UD's great photography.

376 Chris Kreider (Rangers)
310 Tyler Seguin (Stars)
342 Mikael Granlund (Wild)
405 David Perron (Blues)
424 Jake Virtanen (Canucks)
304 Zach Werenski (Blue Jackets)
446 Patrik Laine (Jets)

346 Charlie Coyle (Wild)

Here I can see a Carolina player getting taken out!

While I don't plan on starting a Hurricanes collection, I do think it would be cool to pick up a few cards from this years team. That said, if anyone wants any of the cards listed/shown just let me know. If you have some 'Canes you can send me I'll gladly trade for them.

It was fun opening the pack, reading the card backs and just soaking in the photography. Opening a pack of Upper Deck really makes me wish they still had a MLB license...but sadly I don't think we'll ever see that happen again.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did creating it. Now, back to our regularly scheduled non-hockey card posts...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Cards on Cards sends cards

I can't be the only guy out there collecting cards that gets the evil eye from the wife when I come back from checking the mail w/ bubble mailers in my hands. Kerry from Cards on Cards (@cardsoncards) got my wife going over the weekend when I pulled out a rather thick bubble mailer out of the mail box. I wasn't expecting anything from him so I was looking forward to seeing what was inside...

There were two large stacks of cards that were neatly stacked and stored insides team bags and a sealed package of NBA TeenyMates. With the exception of a line Braves TeenyMates someone sent me years ago, I haven't had any exposure to these. I'll showcase the contents of that pack later however as I want to get to the meat & potatoes.

For starters I received 82 cards from my 2018 Topps Big League want list! I haven't done much with this set since last fall so it was nice to put a big dent in the list of cards needed.

Off the top of the 2nd stack were two cards of Braves players that represent the future and the past. I have both of these cards, but I don't think I have them for my 2018 Allen & Ginter set. When I'm building sets I always keep the Braves for my team collection first and foremost.

I busted a lot of 2019 Donruss, but somehow the base cards of Ozzie Albies has escaped my grasp. The others were needed for the set and are much welcomed.

Couple more shiney Freddie Freemans for the collection and a Topps Archives RC insert of Ozzie. I believe this card will go in the Archives binder as I pulled one last year for my team collection.

I don't buy a lot of basketball cards and I don't know many who do, but I do know that Kerry is an avoid Portland Trailblazer collector so I can usually bet any package from him will include some basketball cards. Oh boy, he did not disappoint either as he sent me cards for several different collections.

In the heyday of my collecting I pretty bought anything and everything. I had many of these cards, but as the collecting itch faded away a lot of my early collection disappeared. I can't remember what happened to all those cards, but I'm so glad to get some of these back. 

I made a comment on @pennysleeves blog the other day about a Robert Parish card I saw that featured him in a Hornets uni...and then this Hoops card shows up in the stack! I still don't have many cards of Anthony Mason as a Hornet so even though this Hoops card has him in a Knicks uniform, I'll take it. Not sure how many fans remember Darrin Hancock. He was drafted out of Kansas in the 2nd round of the 1994 draft and went on to play 1 1/2 seasons in Charlotte before he was traded to Milwaukee. His career in the NBA only lasted until 1997 (in Atlanta) before he would finish his career in 2005 playing for several different D-League teams. He was however electrifying to watch when he played for Charlotte, executing several fast break plays that usually ended in some kind of dunk.

I love getting cards of Hornets players from that time period where I attended a lot of games. This Kendall Gill and Kenny Gattison cards are so much cooler (to me) than the base cards they are because of the memories I have attached to them.

Considered the "dark period" in Charlotte basketball now, the Bobcats never really caught on with the city of Charlotte or it's fans. I have several ideas why, however I still count them as part of my Hornets collection. There was one lone Bobcats card in the stack and it happened to be a RC of D.J. Augustin. I liked watching him play the short time he played for Charlotte. He's still going strong (for Orlando) and gave the Hornets a fit in the backcourt this season.

I knew of Roy Hibbert from his time spent in Indiana, but I hardly remember him suiting up in the team and purple for the Hornets. However Panini made a card of him for their 2016-17 Complete set. I love getting cards of players that had a brief stint with a team as it makes it more fun when looking back. Do you like getting cards of players like this?

Panini releases a lot of sets and it's hard to keep up with what is out there and what the cards look like. Their Element set has some nice looking cards, such as this base card of Michael Kidd- Gilchrist. I think this makes the 2nd base card from this set I now have. Dwight Howard's time with Charlotte was short so he doesn't have too many cards of him in an actual Hornets uniform, so this insert of him was a welcome addition.

With the exception of the Tony Parker, all of these shiny cards look much better in hand than the pics. I especially love the Optic RC of Devonte Parker RC. I don't know what type of Prizm parallel this is, but it's really sharp. The multi-colored Optic parallels aren't my favorite looking, but anytime I can get new cards of young players like Monk and Bacon...I'll take 'em. I believe both of them are just now starting to scratching the surface of their potential.

If all of the Hornets cards weren't enough, Kerry tossed in not one, but two autographed RCs of P.J. Hairston. I find it ironic that P.J. was yet another former Tarheels player that owner Michael Jordan paraded through Charlotte. I swear the Hornets have had so many Tarheel players that never did anything. Probably the best former UNC player that came through was Raymond Felton in the early Bobcats Jordan can't take credit for him.

In addition to the Hornets cards, I also got a new cards for my NC State Wolfpack Alumni collection. Nate McMillan was born in Raleigh, NC and was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2nd round of the 1986 draft. He went on to play 19 seasons for the Sonics before he went into coaching. While I believe I originally had all 3 of these cards, I don't have them in my current NC State Alumni collection so these will be nice additions.

My favorite card in the whole package though has to be this Courtside Draft Pix card of former NC State point card, Chris Corchiani. While Chris' NBA career may not have gone as he would have liked, he was magic in the backcourt during his college years. Watching Corchiani interact and play with Rodney Monroe was a thing of beauty. For some reason it kind of reminded me of watching John Stockton and Karl Malone play together. I don't have many cards of Corchiani period, and this card is a beauty. You probably can't tell, but the front of this card features ink that has a slight metallic sheen, something cards from 1991 just didn't feature that often.

Thank you Kerry for all the great cards. While I love getting new baseball cards, I also love getting new basketball cards from time to time and this package was a very nice surprise. I owe you one!!

Monday, April 22, 2019

2017-18 Panini Vanguard Kemba Walker High Voltage auto

Back in January I acquired a redemption off eBay for a steal of Kemba Walker. This was around the time where Kemba was freakin' unstoppable and was making his claim to be an All-Star in his home city of Charlotte in February. 

For such an electric player, his RCs and autos can be had for reasonable amounts online. I imagine if he were to sign elsewhere and get more exposure his cards would go for more. However I'm hoping that doesn't happen. He's a free agent now and all of Charlotte is wondering if he'll stay or if he'll go. he has said he loves Charlotte and wants to stay, but he also wants to complete for a NBA Championship. As much as I love my Hornets, I just don't see them being a real contender...ever? Professional sports leagues just aren't designed in a way where small market teams can really compete.

If Kemba does leave, it'll be a dagger in the heart of Charlotte. Perhaps knowing what may (or may not) happen I've been wanting to pick up a few autos of his. When I won the redemption card, I had no idea what the High Voltage cards even looked like. If the Vanguard name sounds familiar, it should as it was a piece of the now defunct Pacific Trading Card company that Panini acquired.

I don't know how much you can tell, but this is a shiny card. The whole front of the card is printed on foil board with a rainbow sheen. There is a small lightning bolt running down the middle of the card. At first I thought it was a crease in the card. There is a large area for the player's on card auto, however Kemba's auto is pretty small so it doesn't fill up the entire space.

The same photo is duplicated on the back of the card. As you can see, there are only 49 of this auto in existence and I have number 18. I redeemed the code on 01/14/19 and received the card on 04/18/19. Panini's turnaround time for redemptions has proven to be pretty quick in my experience.

Thankfully we have the NFL draft coming up to distract us Charlotte sports fans from the Kemba Walker saga. I feel it's going to be a long summer as we await to hear what his decision is.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Verse - Easter Edition

John 10:28-30

New International Version

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Read all of John 10

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Verse

Matthew 7:13-14

New International Version

The Narrow and Wide Gates ] “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Read all of Matthew 7

Sunday, April 7, 2019

2019 Topps WWE Road to Wrestlemania - The Complete Set

The biggest day for professional wrestling is finally among us, Wrestlemania 35 kicks off later tonight and should be an entertaining event as the company usually pulls out all the stops. Leading up to the big event Topps has been chronicling the previous year leading up to Wrestlemania, hence the name of the set.

2019 marked the first year where I grabbed a hobby box instead of trying to piece together the set with retail packs. I'm glad I did because my box yield me a complete base set and all but 2 of the Wrestlemania insert set. Earlier this week I collated the set, grabbed some pages and a small binder and went to town.

I wasn't sure if I was going to page the set, but the Road to Wrestlemania set isn't like other wrestling sets. This is a set that's fun to go back and look at, especially if you're a wrestling fan like myself that tune in each week to the weekly programs. Then I thought why not share the set here on the blog for others that may be interested, but not enough to purchase a pack. Keep in mind you can click on the images for a larger view.

The base set is only 100 cards so the final card, "Woken" Matt Hardy got a page all to his lonesome self. I hate that and I really wish Topps would've made this set 99 cards or 108 cards so it would've fit evenly in the 9 pocket pages.

I only need #30 and #39 to complete the 45 card Wrestlemania set. This is an insert set that had I not bought the hobby box and got 43 of the cards, I probably wouldn't have pursued it as the posed shots just seem odd in a set where the rest of the cards chronicled previous events.

I'm ready to sink into my couch with something cold to drink and something to eat and enjoy the marathon coverage of Wrestlemania this evening. This set has been a lot of fun, especially over the course of this week, reliving past events.