Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Awesome night card, pt. 273: Reruns of reruns

I decided to read up on the next Topps set to hit card aisles this season. It's the annual Archives issue and it's scheduled to be released a week from today.

I've mentioned everything that distresses me about Archives so many times that I feel like I'm parodying myself. Even though it seems like this product is targeted toward me, I don't think I'm meant for this product. It's just too irksome. I should walk away and let it go.

But just one more thing.

I naturally wanted to see which past designs were going to be featured in the base set this year (I probably knew this information once before but my brain is full and facts and memories leak out all the time).

Like the previous two years, Topps is featuring only three past designs after featuring four the first three years of the Archives reboot. Here are the three designs for 2017:

1960, 1982, 1992.

Two of those designs are all right. One is definitely not. And the one that is not is freaking 1982 again.

Topps just featured the 1982 Archives design in 2013! I think Topps' memory is worse than mine! Seriously, guys, my junior year in high school is not worth rehashing more than once.

And this isn't the first time that Archives has done this. In 2014, it used the 1980 design after using it already in 2012. What the hell?

Here is the breakdown of the years featured in each set of Archives:

2012: 1954, 1971, 1980, 1984

2013: 1972, 1982, 1985, 1990

2014: 1973, 1980, 1986, 1989

2015: 1957, 1976, 1983

2016: 1953, 1979, 1991

2017: 1960, 1982, 1992

We're just six years into this product and two of the designs have been used twice already despite 60-plus years of designs.

As a set collector, one of the things that I most enjoy about collecting sets each year is that they are distinct from one another. There is no way in the world you could confuse 2015 Topps flagship with 2016 Topps flagship. This was almost always an advantage for Topps back when it was competing with other card companies, particularly Upper Deck.

I realize it's difficult to make Archives distinct with the mish-mash of well-known designs, but, geez, repeating the same design two to four years later certainly isn't helping.

I was thrilled to see the 1979 design show up in Archives last year. But meanwhile such well-known designs as 1956, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1975, 1978 and 1981 are ignored again so we can see the hockey sticks one more time.

I don't get it.

The 2013 Archives Josh Reddick night card will be headed to the night card binder, just so I can ensure that I don't confuse it with any 2017 Archives '82s that might work their way into my collection.

Same goes for these two 2013 Archives '82s as well.

It's very easy to confuse the old night owl these days. I need to take every precaution possible.


Night Card Binder candidates: Josh Reddick, 2013 Topps Archives, #56; Brandon Phillies, 2013 Topps Archives, #53; Edwin Encarnacion, 2013 Topps Archives, #96
Do they make the binder?: They're all in.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

They can't all be heroes

Just before Twitter bud (@grogg) and fellow namesake (Greg) took off halfway across the country for his new place of residence, he shipped me this big ol' box of surprise.

In the past, Greg has sent me all kinds of cards and in all kinds of formats. Once they arrived in a complete binder. But this package was a little bit different and didn't contain any hand-selected cards.

Instead, the surprise was in the opening:

Two boxes of the only Panini baseball set I've ever cared about, 2013 Hometown Heroes.

That's 24 packs-per-box, chums, all of which I got to open.

I rarely get to do this.

I've mentioned my intentions of completing this set on the blog a few times and Greg noticed. The tricky thing about this set, though, is that I've accumulated much of it already. Most of what's left are a handful of base needs and the almost impossible image variation cards that make up the final 40 cards in the set.

So I was interested to see what kind of damage two boxes could do. Also, the boxes advertise "on card autographs!" so there's high intrigue already.

That's what the first box looked like as I prepared to dig in.

I'm going to show only the cards I needed from each box, so most of the cards you won't see here. But, believe me, I have a bunch of extras. If anyone is collecting this set, and isn't down to the final 30 cards, let me know. I probably have something for you.

Box 1

Box 1 yielded just three base cards that I needed, which tells you everything you need to know about this set. Some of the base cards apparently aren't really base cards, because they're a devil to find.

But that's three off my want list so I can't complain for too long.

That was my image variation. These cards are one per box, which I already knew, and which explains why they're so tricky to find and also how many people collecting this set stop at card No. 260 and yell "COMPLETE!" I, on the other hand, am a slave to the numbers on the back.

Hometown Heroes contains some pretty ridiculous parallels. There are apparently four "state" parallels in a box. Let's forget the lameness of gold-foil parallels for a second and focus on the state theme. The state represents where the player plays, which is as close to being redundant without being redundant as you can get. Yes, I am well aware that Seattle is in Washington. If the states depicted where the player was from, that might be a bit more useful.

One zip code parallel per box. This is a pretty good one to get. Again, the zip code goes with the city listed on the front. I'm not sure why we're supposed to care about that.

Those are the inserts that fell out of the box. I'm partial to the Nicknames insert, of course. The rest are OKish. The Rivalry cards have photoshopped the logos so completely that Kingman could be playing for the Angels there and no one would know.

Inserts also come with border parallels. Those are the three out of box 1. The black parallels are far better than the gold ones.

I was able to pull an autograph out of Box 1. Here it is:

Yup, it's a Cub. Grogg is a Cubs fan. I have no idea how he was able to pull this off. I am amazed.

Box 2

I'll let you know right off that Box 2 didn't contain an autograph. Apparently there is no one-per-box rule with Hometown Heroes. There are no odds on the box or the wrappers so I guess it's luck of the draw.

But I was able to pull a few more base cards that I needed with this box. Combined with those from Box 1, I'm down to needing 10 base cards to fill the set. It's too bad that 48 packs couldn't finished it off, but I guess that's modern card collecting for ya.

My one image variation card was of perhaps the most polarizing former player alive today. I suppose it's appropriate that he's all by himself.

Bring on the foil state variations because it's still 1998 apparently! I'll probably hold on to most of the inserts but any of these foil parallels are definitely up for grabs.

The one zip code variation. Now you know the zip for The Bronx. Feel free to chant it loudly while seated at Yankee Stadium. They seem to like doing that stuff there.

Box 2 was much busier with inserts.

Two more.

And those are the parallel inserts.

Those two boxes were pretty fun to open even if I still find myself needing some more base cards. Obviously I'll be cherry-picking those remaining wants online.

In total, I needed 8 base cards, 2 variation cards and 17 inserts from the boxes. They can't all be heroes when you're this far into the set.

But I sure do appreciate Greg being my box-supplying hero.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blaster power rankings: 2017 Topps Bunt

I'm one of those people who was surprised by the early arrival of 2017 Topps Bunt. The debut version of the set from last year was barely seven months old and now we have a new set.

That's why when I last did one of these blaster power rankings posts, I said I wouldn't do another one until the end of the month or next month. I had no idea I'd be buying blasters again so soon.

But as you know, I picked up a couple of Bunt blasters last week, showed one, and saved the other for another Blaster Power Rankings post.

I've already ranked the first blaster to update the power rankings and the Tigers remain ahead with 14 total cards, followed by the Cubs and White Sox 12 each. The Rockies are at the bottom with just two cards.

This second Bunt blaster was very favorable to the Dodgers, which I mentioned in the last Bunt post. This happens so seldom to me that I'm pretty sure this will be the most successful box of cards I open all year.

So let's see the rankings for this second blaster of Bunt.

Blaster Power Rankings: 2017 Bunt

1. L.A. DODGERS (7 cards)

I was practically giddy by the end of opening this blaster. The green parallel (numbered to 99) was the last Dodger card I pulled, too. With a total of seven cards, that's the most of one team that I've pulled out of any of my Power Ranking blasters.

2. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (6 cards)

The White Sox have done pretty damn well in the BPRs so far, which makes no sense to me because who's paying attention to the White Sox really.

3. K.C. ROYALS (5 cards)

The only place retired players appear in the Bunt set this year are in the inserts. It'd be nice if every player for the Bunt Programs insert was a retired player.

4. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (5 cards)

The Dodgers are preparing for a series with the Cardinals this week. Which means someone from St. Louis will proceed to dominate the Dodgers like they're The MLB Stud Of The Year and two years later you'll wonder what happened to them (see: Wacha, Matt Adams).

5. ATLANTA BRAVES (4 cards)

I bet I could sell that Dansby Swanson parallel for $5 this instant.

6. CHICAGO CUBS (4 cards)

Just don't have much left to say about the Cubs.

7. N.Y. METS (4 cards)

Those Infinite cards really aren't working for me. It's getting to the point where I feel the need to get rid of them.

8. TEXAS RANGERS (3 cards)

I hear the Rangers are good. I guess I should pay attention to them.


Because I was a glutton for punishment, I watched the Giants-Cardinals game Sunday on the MLB Network, which was carrying the Giants' feed. I don't like the broadcasting of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow for obvious reasons. They're wildly popular in San Francisco, which makes sense because that's the same crowd that was rooting for Barry Bonds. Anyway, on Sunday, Krukow wasn't there. It was Kuiper and Jeremy Affeldt. And the whole time, while the Cardinals were beating the Giants' brains in, the two acted like the Giants were actually still good. ("Giants play the Cubs next, that will be some series!" Yeah, or the Cubs could very well sweep them). And just to reassure themselves, they babbled about recent Giants World Series teams, as if it was relevant to anything going on on the field. Broadcasting sycophants are very annoying.

10. OAKLAND A'S (3 cards)

The A's cards sure look pretty in this set. Not as pretty as the Kershaw green parallel though.

11. N.Y. YANKEES (3 cards)

At work, I am forced to have discussions on what Masahiro Tanaka's mound issues are. I couldn't care less what his issues are. Personally, I'd like him to give up four home runs every inning. Maybe I'll work that into the next "oh what's wrong with these Yankees" conversation that comes up.

12. DETROIT TIGERS (3 cards)

You can see that the Splatter Art card is numbered to 99. It's not very fancy for such a low serial number card. But there's also a Bunt code on the back that probably nets you some sort of rare digital image. It's lost on me though.

13. CINCINNATI REDS (3 cards)

A blue Red!

14. BOSTON RED SOX (3 cards)

The Bogaerts Perspectives card looks more like an A's card than a Red Sox card.


Yay, a new Ralph Kiner card!

16. COLORADO ROCKIES (3 cards)

The Rockies have not been well-represented in the Blaster Power Rankings so far, which doesn't jibe with my habit of constantly pulling Rockies. Also, this team needs to stop winning.


18. HOUSTON ASTROS (2 cards)

19. MIAMI MARLINS (2 cards)





24. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (1 card)

25. L.A. ANGELS (1 card)

28. MINNESOTA TWINS (0 cards)
29. SAN DIEGO PADRES (0 cards)
30. TAMPA BAY RAYS (0 cards)

After two Bunt blasters I've yet to pull any cards for the Brewers, Padres or Rays, which -- apologies to the couple of Brewers bloggers -- means that Topps is finally listening to our pleas to not make cards of teams that nobody collects! (This is a joke, but I really wish it was true).

These posts are written mostly to amuse me, but also I'm interested to see which teams I actually do pull most often (instead of merely suspecting it) within a given year.

So here are the updated Blaster Power Rankings:

1. White Sox - 18
2. Tigers - 17
3. Cubs - 16
4. Dodgers - 15
5. Pirates - 14
6. Red Sox - 14
7. Royals - 14
8. Braves - 14
9. Cardinals - 14
10. Yankees - 13
11. Mets - 13
12. Reds - 12
13. Blue Jays - 11
14. Astros - 11
15. Giants - 11
16. Mariners - 8
17. Nationals - 8
18. Rangers - 7
19. Twins - 6
20. Phillies - 6
21. A's - 6
22. Marlins - 6
23. Brewers - 5
24. Orioles - 5
25. Rockies - 5
26. Diamondbacks - 4
27. Indians - 4
28. Padres - 4
29. Rays - 4
30. Angels - 4

The Dodgers make their move! Yay!

I know it's very early in the rankings, but I'm surprised that some teams are so low. The Indians were in the World Series last year, you guys! Also, the Orioles are pretty darn good.

So there you are. Now -- for sure this time -- there won't be another of these posts until probably early June, or whenever I decide to buy some Archives.

Or, who knows, maybe I'll lose a few more brain cells and you'll suddenly see a blaster of Bowman on here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

When Kemp was king

Matt Kemp's been gone from the Dodgers for three years now. I barely pay attention to him, which would be surprising to anyone who read my blog five or six years ago.

I looked up his stats with the Braves this season and he's off to a pretty good start. But he's going to have to keep that going if he wants to match the year when Kemp was king.

That would be the year when the above card was issued. The year 2011.

Kemp put up the best numbers of his career that season and should have won the National League MVP award. Instead it was stolen by a PED creep and don't think that a lot of people have forgotten it. A lot of people won't. I know I won't.

The last couple of offseasons there has been discussion of Braun coming to the Dodgers. Wouldn't that be interesting? Kemp no longer in L.A., but the guy we Dodgers fans disliked so much in L.A? What would you think about that, night owl, hmmm?

I've gotten that question a few times. I won't answer it. You're asking me to talk about rumors. Rumors I don't want to hear.

Anyway, I dredged all this up because I received a few Kemp cards from when he was king, and otherwise, from Kin, who runs the blogs I Feel Like A Collector Again and Bean's Ballcard Blog.

I happen to own the 2011 Kemps already because I was collecting his cards vigorously at the time. But it's always nice to get a second Lineage stand-up card so I can stand one up! And who has too many Kemp first-year cards? Nobody, that's who.

The 2010 Bowman Platinum parallel card, however, is new to my collection. I really wish it did glow that glorious blue color, but sadly that's just the scanner's interpretation.

There were a few non-Kemps in the envelope, too, including several I needed.

You all know this Upper Deck SPX card of Alex Cora from 1999 is very foily and shiny because it scans like crud.

A 1998 Bowman Chrome card from the reprint series from that year. Good luck tracking down the year if you didn't collect then. There is no reference to when it was made anywhere.

And not one, but two 1997 Bowman Chrome Paul Konerkos. You'd think I'd have all the Dodger Konerkos by now. But that's silly thinking because Konerko happened to be a rookie in the late '90s.

Thanks for the cards, Kin!