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Hell is freezing over

What do you think it would take for me to buy a blaster of a Panini product? My dog being kidnapped and a Panini blaster the demanded ransom? A lifetime supply of cheese with the purchase of just one Panini blaster?

It turns out it's nothing that dramatic.

All it takes is an unappealing year from Topps, a week in which nobody wants to read anything on this blog that's not NEW, and a brand that looked mildly interesting last year but was unavailable to me (i.e. hobby only).

I found one box of 2016 Panini Diamond Kings at my local Walmart while on a high from an overwhelmingly positive doctor's visit. For the same price as the awful Panini Donruss blaster sitting right next to it, you could get these fairly fine-looking cards of legends and current day players. It was a done deal.

I decided most of these cards would go to supertraders -- and all the other traders I have -- because just because I bought my first Panini blaster in history doesn't mean I'm going to actually collect it.

Each blaster contains seven packs, six cards each. As you pull them out of the box, you come across this Twitter-themed message from Panini:

No, Panini. The question is: #What.

I collect "what," not "who." As in sets and a team. Those are "whats." Collecting "who," although player-collectors know what you mean, sounds vaguely disturbing and slave-tradery.

OK, lets get to the cards:


#124 - A.J. Pollock, Arizonas

The look of these cards appeals to me more than last year's set. These cards have backgrounds (semi-creepy impressionist backgrounds, but backgrounds). And the painted look reminds me of 2002 Topps Gallery, which I liked quite a bit.

I agree with this review of the set (you'll probably learn a lot more from reading that one) in that the cards do smell like the inside of a garage. But don't stick your nose too close to them and you'll be fine.

This set, like virtually every Panini set, suffers from substandard backs. The photo on the back is merely a repetition of the front. And, for the love of ophthalmologists everywhere, why is the type in 6-point in every last Panini set? It's a plot to make collectors go blind, isn't it?

#120 - Matt Carpenter, St. Louises
#41 - John McGraw, New Yorks (NL)

I placed them side-by-side because it illustrates the difference (to me) between current players and legends and the lack of logos. It bothers me much less that McGraw is logo-less than Carpenter.

#MF9 - Stan Musial, St. Louises, Memorable Feats insert set

Rather dull-looking insert set.

#185 - Frankie Montas, Chicagos (AL)

Montas is with the Dodgers now, which Topps has reflected in a couple of its sets. I guess Diamond Kings had to go to print earlier. Also that camo-pinstripe combination is just hideous.

#19 - Rogers Hornsby, St. Louises

This was a very St. Louises-centric pack. In fact, it's a very St. Louis blaster.


#116 - Prince Fielder, Texases

Perhaps I better address the card stock at some point. Like previous Panini Diamond King sets, these have a canvas card stock look and feel. Probably explains why the cards smell.

#35 - Chuck Klein, Philadelphias (NL)
#28 - Frankie Crosetti, New Yorks (AL)

As you can see, the legends feature noted players who don't appear in card sets that often. This is one of the most appealing aspects of this set for me.

#A9 - Carlos Correa, Houstons, Aficiaonado insert

Panini borrows from the name and look of a Pinnacle set from 1996, Aficionado. This looks a little better than that set, one of least favorite mid-90s sets.

#181 - Brian Ellington, Miamis

The fifth card in every pack of this box was a rookie card. I don't know if every blaster is like that. But if it is, that is a great way to prevent me from buying Diamond King blasters.

#9 - Joe DiMaggio, New Yorks (AL)

Can't be mad at a Joe D card. They don't come along that often.


#112 - Jorge Soler, Chicagos

#108 - David Price, Torontos

Now with the Red Sox.

#20 - Stan Musial, St. Louises

#HC11 - Gaylord Perry, San Franciscos, Heritage Collection insert

Apparently Topps doesn't have "heritage" copyrighted.

#178 - John Lamb, Cincinnatis

#99 - Stephen Strasburg, Washingtons

Not a lot to say about that pack.


This pack was noticeably thicker than the other packs. I'm usually a terrible judge of that kind of thing. But I was correct this time.

#11 - Lefty Gomez, New Yorks (AL)
#1 - Babe Ruth, New Yorks (AL)

Can't have a legends set without a boatload of New Yorks.

#LL-RM - Raul Mondesi, Kansas Citys, Limited Lithos, relic, #58/99

That's a sharp card. I admit when I first saw it, my hopeful eyes translated it as a card of the original Raul Mondesi, the Dodger great. But this is his son, who had one at-bat in the World Series last year, but is currently in Double A.

There is no Royals supertrader, so I'll either search out one of the Royals collectors I know or hold on to it until an offer comes along. I can also keep pretending it's the original Mondesi.

#58 - Anthony Rizzo, Chicagos (NL), red border

The Chicagos stepping up to the plate with this card. Try not to look a the squished faces in the background.

#176 - Elias Diaz, Pittsburghs

#90 - Miguel Cabrera, Detroits


#104 - Yadier Molina, St. Louises
#140 - Carlos Rodon, Chicagos (AL)

#46 - Kirby Puckett, Minnesotas

#E11 - David Ortiz, Bostons, Expressionists insert

This insert really makes this set seem like a Topps Gallery set. Not crazy about the photo choice. That could be anybody in that photo. I need faces.

#169 - Tom Murphy, Colorados

#82 - Jose Altuve, Houstons


#137 - James McCann, Detroits

#45 - Tom Yawkey, Bostons

Great card of the former longtime owner. As a kid, news of Yawkey's death was everywhere, and I'd see the same photo of old man Yawkey each time. It's good to get a picture of him when he was younger.

#39 - Jake Daubert, Brooklyns

Finally! A Brooklyn! These legends cards are great. If this was a set of all legends, I might actually collect it.

#DKO11 - Ken Griffey Jr., Seattles, DK Originals insert

Rats. I sent Junior Junkie's package too soon.

#165 - Jonathan Gray, Colorados

#75 - Giancarlo Stanton, Miamis

Stanton hits 900-foot home runs. Just ask anyone on Twitter.


#135 - Bob Gibson, St. Louises

Really like this card.

#131 - Mariano Rivera, New Yorks (AL)

See, this card bothers me, but the Gomez or Ruth card didn't at all.

#32 - Goose Goslin, Washingtons

#77 - Jake Arrieta, Chicagos (NL) mini
#196 - Willy Adames, Tampa Bays mini

Back-to-back minis. Don't know if that's customary.

#161 - Brian Johnson, Bostons

#69 - Evan Gattis, Houstons

Not a bad blaster. At 200 cards, it doesn't seem that difficult to collect, unless there are short-prints. I haven't read too much on the set.

But it's progress for Panini, putting a set like this in retail. Now if they'd only bring back Hometown Heroes. If Topps keeps making sets like 2016 flagship, I may turn into a Panini fan yet.

That's when hell will actually freeze over.


Tony Burbs said…
Gotta love a set that busts out names like Goslin, Crosetti, Yawkey, etc. instead of the umpteenth different card of Cal Ripken this year. As you said, the design on the set just blends so very well with the old-timey stars too. I might actually have to sample this product myself.
P-town Tom said…
Congrats on the positive doctor visit.
I must admit, you told us not to look at the faces on the Rizzo card and I looked immediately. Very creepy.
steelehere said…
Any plans to trek across the border this weekend? I have a feeling there's something going in Toronto (especially tomorrow) that would interest you.
Donruss was using Heritage as an insert series with the Studio product, and some other Leaf sets back in the early 90s.
Mark Hoyle said…
I agree it nice to see some different players on the legend cards
Nachos Grande said…
Way too many Cardinals for me to like that blaster.

I do (kind of) like the look of the set overall, even without logos.
capewood said…
I agree about the legends. It would be a great set of all legends. Also bring back Hometown Heroes
Yeah, I just don't get these sets that mix current and former players. And executives? WTF?
Josh D. said…
Hi Greg, I would love the Mondesi if you would please set it aside for me. I have a few things stacked up for you already. I was in Nebraska last week and found a card shop. They were mostly sold-out of Royals but had some Dodgers!
night owl said…
I haven't been in Canada since the government made you jump through hoops to cross the border. Too bad because I used to go up there for games, etc., all the time.
night owl said…
You got it, Josh. Send me an email so I know I have your address right.
JB said…
Man, Josh beat me. Well, if something happens and it comes available again I would be interested. :)
Beats Bowman that is for sure. And I actually like Bowman this year. Congrats on a good doctor visit.
Stubby said…
I know that Topps deal is that they ARE NOT ALLOWED (contractually) to do a set of just retired players. I believe its included in both their contracts...the one with MLB and the one with the Players Association. Certainly, the Players Association (the one group Panini does have a contract with) would probably insist on the same for the upstart company. Cooperstown is an exception in that, I believe, their contact for that set is directly with the Hall of Fame. And, FWIW, I like the occasional card of an executive. Give me a Joan Payson or a Bill Veeck card anyday...just not a whole set of them. There were cards of Marvin Miller and Theo Epstein in earlier Archives/Fan Favorites sets. Why the heck not? Would you say the same about cards of broadcasters? Would you say WTF to a Vin Scully card? You'd better not...not around here, at least.
Brett Alan said…
Man, by about pack 3 I was already thinking "Where are the Dodgers?" Only one--I feel for you, mostly because I just finished opening a blaster of 2013 Topps I got marked down at KMart, and only one Met, dag nab it.

Also, I agree with you that "What Do You Collect" would be better, but also it should be "WHOM do you collect?" #Grammar #PleaseThinkOfTheChildren
Fuji said…
Half full: for being a logo-less product, these aren't that bad.
Half empty: they're logo-less, so you won't see me busting any of these blasters unless they're heavily discounted.
Oh, so sorry that my opinion doesn't correspond to yours.
GCA said…
Logos are one thing, but they can't even mention the name of the team? Ugh. Made me think that the DiMaggio, Gomez, & Ruth cards were New York (AL - which stands for Azure Lid - 'cause those are some bright blue hats for being on Yankee heads).

I second BBHHeroes....and all legends sets for that matter. God forbid someone produces a set not chock full of rookies.

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