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.