Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Topps Buyback Cards

1973 Topps - #43

The concept of buyback cards was foreign to me until I won on Sportlots a Series 2 lot of 2015 Topps.  Included in the lot were two Topps buyback cards.  I don't know when exactly Topps started its buyback program but I believe it's only been in the past couple years that Topps has stamped the cards.  

Since buybacks are not new topic there has already been plenty of digital ink spilled talking about these cards.  That won't stop me from giving my own $.02, though.  

In my experience so far, all of my buyback cards have been from the 1970s.  As I mentioned in my trade post documenting my first vintage basketball cards, the vintage cards have a classic look and feel to them. I don't need an all-star player to feel like I had a successful pull.  Any card is fine by me.

1979 Topps - #696

Some critics might argue that if collectors want vintage cards they should just go out and buy the originals and keep the buybacks out of the modern sets.  It's fair point but I personally wouldn't seek out these cards on my own.  I'm not at the point where I'm trying to collect vintage cards.  Any buybacks I receive I consider a special surprise.  

There is also the question of value.  Are buyback cards more valuable than the originals? I have not performed any comparison research but my gut answer would be no.  I don't think the stamp adds any intrinsic value beyond the original.  Or rather, the unstamped version.  

The downside to the buyback cards is that it is nearly impossible to put together a checklist.  Topps never releases a checklist of all the buyback cards they've inserted into boxes and I doubt Topps even knows which cards are shipped off.  Collectors don't even know how many different buyback cards are out there.

1973 Topps - #283

Another thorny issue is the matter of cataloging and sorting buyback cards.  At least on the Trading Card Database, with no set checklist the cards cannot be added to my collection.  I've resorted to cataloging the card under it's original set.  I then scan the front of the buyback and upload it to my collection.  That way the stamped version will show up in my collection gallery.  

When I sort the card I put it with the set that it was pulled from.  For example, the Ray Sadecki card was pulled from 2014 Topps Update.  Therefore, I will keep it sorted with the rest of my Update cards.  I also make a note in my collection on TCDB that it's sorted with Update so I can find it easier at a later date.

Topps 1978 - #217

Will Topps continue the buyback program for 2017 flagship?  Given that there is no shortage of cheap commons out in the world, my money is on "yes."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

July Loot Locker

Opening retail packs are fun because they provide instant satisfaction.  Yet as we all know, the odds of getting good cards in a retail pack can be astronomical. Hobby packs can be a much better experience as the odds are improved.  

For those who don't have easy access to a LCS to buy hobby packs, in steps in The Loot Locker. For $20 (+ $5 shipping), the Loot Locker sends out at least 3 hobby packs [UPDATE: I've been informed that some months there could be more than 3 packs] of your choice of baseball, basketball, football, and hockey.  The packs are voted on by their Twitter followers and from what I've seen the packs are all from recent releases.

After hearing about Loot Locker I purchased a baseball locker for July to see what it is all about.

What was in the box? Let's see.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Another Day, Another Basketball Post

After I posted about basketball cards during the baseball all-star game, Tony, over at Off Hiatus Baseball, asked me if I wanted his basketball cards.  Never one to turn down cards, I happily accepted his offer.  

Tony is a Milwaukee Brewers collector and unfortunately my Brewers collection is pretty slim outside of the base cards.  Nonetheless, I managed to scrape up a couple cards that Tony didn't have and sent them on their way.  You can see Tony's write-up on his end of the trade over on his blog.

He sent over a good number of cards, thank you Tony!  Here are some of the highlights:

1996 Upper Deck USA
In the spirit of the Olympics, I'll start with the 1996 Team USA cards.  Although this wasn't the caliber of the original Dream Team, the 1996 team was still stacked with greats like Grant Hill, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Scottie Pippin.  The above cards feature Glenn Robinson and Anfernee Hardaway.  This set even included the women's team, which is nice.  

I have two complaints about this set.  First, the small bump at the bottom of the card.  The bump makes these cards harder to store and as a design element it feels unnecessary.  My other complaint is that there are not any cards for The Glove, Gary Payton.  Maybe Payton was a late addition to the team or the team wasn't set at the time the cards went to print.  Either way, it's a small disappointment.  

Even if these were the only cards in the trade, I would have been satisfied.  

Top :1991-92 Upper Deck
Bottom Middle: 1992-93 Topps Gold
Bottom Right: 1992-93 Topps
Next up, a great set of cards.  The 1991-92 Upper Deck series is tastefully done.  UD didn't overdo it with the basketball border.  Two of the three top cards were Sonics.  I always appreciate anytime I can expand my Sonics collection.  Hersey Hawkins wasn't a Sonic at the time and wouldn't be until the 95-96 season.  I love seeing old school Dennis Rodman photos, before he became "The Worm." Rodman was my favorite player as a kid.  His play backed up his attitude too as he was an excellent rebounder.

The 92-93 Topps set might be my favorite looking basketball set and is one I hope to complete someday.  Great use of team colors in the name/team boxes.  The single-lined borders are subtle touch that are not too distracting.  

Despite living in Celtics territory as a kid, I was a big Bulls fan. Michael Jordan was responsible for that.  

The gold Topps cards, while nothing spectacular, do a good job of adhering to the base set look. Sometimes parallel cards aren't as good as the base but here the gold is just fine.

Craig Ehlo probably isn't a notable name for many people, unless you're talking about the time that Jordan burried a game-winning shot over Ehlo.  However, that's not why he sticks out in my mind. 

He graduated from Washington State University, which is where I graduated from undergraduate. Not many WSU players make the NBA so any time such a player does make the NBA, I root for them no matter what.  Ehlo also played one season with the Sonics, although he was hardly effective.  Lastly, Ehlo spent some time doing broadcasts for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, another team I support.  He developed an addiction to pain medication but appears to be turning his life around now.  

1992 Front Row Holograms
A very small three card set of holograms.  The scans do not do these cards justice.  The 3D effect of the cards works well in person.  

2014-15 Panini Prizm
I have to admit I was surprised to see a few modern cards in this trade package.  Almost every other card was from the 90s or earlier so to have essentially new cards was unexpected.  I don't have much to say about these cards as I don't care much for the Prizm brand.  Some nice players though in Paul, Stoudamire and Butler.

2005-06 Upper Deck
Another surprise and in the best way possible.  I've never submitted any cards for grading and I am undecided if I would do so in the future.  However, the presentation of a slabbed card is well done. This card received a high 9.5 grade so I'm sure I will be retiring soon with this Andrew Bogut rookie as my gravy train.  Seriously though, this is a unique card to have so thanks Tony for sending it along.

1975-76 Topps
Last but not these are a trio of vintage cards.  I believe these are the first vintage cards I have in my collection.  I didn't understand the appeal of vintage cards until I had one in my hands.  The design focuses on the player, who can get lost in today's cards.  They also have a nice feel to them as the cards are indeed made out of cardboard.  

That wraps up this trade, thanks again to Tony!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ken Griffey Jr. is in the Hall of Fame

One of my favorite posters
Two weeks ago, Ken Griffey Jr. became the first Seattle Mariner to be inducted into the Hall of Fame (HOF). Rightly so, many card bloggers posted their card tribute to Griffey during HOF weekend.  I had considered that but I wanted to add a local flavor to my post.

This weekend, the Mariners hosted their own induction ceremony for Griffey on Saturday.  I was lucky enough to attend the game and decided to share some thoughts from the game.

It's a bobblehead, alright.
The bobblehead was actually from Friday's game, which I did not attend.  Thankfully my brother-in-law went to game and scored the bobblehead for me.  As you can see, Griffey is holding his HOF plaque. Griffey will sit alongside my Dave Niehaus bobblehead, who was also inducted into the HOF but as an announcer.

The giveaway for Saturday's ceremony was a mini replica HOF plaque.  They had the real thing there that was available for a photo opportunity but the line to see it was very long.  I would have missed the whole game waiting to see it, which I'm glad I didn't as the game was an exciting comeback victory.  It's not as if this would be the only time to see the plaque as I could always go to Cooperstown.

The Mariners pulled out all the stops for Saturday's ceremony.  The giant banner, his number painted in center field, the number going up next to Jackie Robinson's.

I love seeing a sold out Safeco Field
It was a great ceremony.  Seattle legends came out to support Griffey, including Dan Wilson, Jay Buhner, Alvin Davis, Jamie Moyer.  Not only that but other Hall of Famers such as Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, Spencer Haywood, Tony Perez, Gary Payton, and Ricky Henderson showed up. WOW.  I mean, my god, the talent on that field.

There were also video messages from greats like Willie Mays, Kobe Bryant, Jeff Gordon, and Hank Aaron.  Mays had a funny story saying that he called Griffey when the official vote talley was announced.  However, Griffey didn't answer his call and never called him back.  In the video, Mays told Griffey to call him sometime, which Griffey did right on the field.  Great stuff.

Unbelievable that all these players come out

Now onto the cards.  I don't have many Griffey cards but according to my collection on TCDB I have 18 different cards.  Eighteen is good enough to be ranked #2 in my collection, only behind Ichiro. I'm glad he's ranked so high but for a player with so many cards, it could be higher!
1991 Score - 1990 Donruss - 1994 Fleer Sunoco
1994 Post Cereal - 1992 Donruss - 1991 Donruss

The bulk of my Griffey cards are from early on in his career.  I think growing up one of my favorite cards was the 91 Score card.  It's a great image that captures his sweet swing.

1997 Upper Deck Seattle Mariners Stadium Giveaway
This is from a full set of 20 cards that was given away at a Mariners game.  I wish teams did more card giveaways at games.

2003 Upper Deck Honor Roll
The only Reds Griffey card in my collection.  The Tribute to the Kid insert below doesn't count as those aren't base cards.

2015 Topps - Inspired Play

2016 Topps - Hallowed Highlights
A nice tribute card to Griffey's 1997 AL MVP season.

2016 Topps - Tribute to the Kid

2016 Topps - Tribute to the Kid
The Tribute to the Kid insert from this year's Topps celebrates Griffey's career.  It's a nice retrospective and it's a good sized set that isn't difficult to complete.

2016 Topps Now
The latest addition to my Griffey collection is the Topps Now card from his HoF induction.  I like the idea of Topps Now and the execution based on my one-time experience is satisfactory.  The card selection, however, is very hit and miss.  The player selections skew heavily towards teams you would expect like Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs.  The Mariners have had a decent number of cards but as of late they have been all but ignored.  Flame throwing rookie Edwin Diaz, called up from AA and striking out players at a high clip? Nah.  Mariners retire Griffey's number and Hall of Famers across multiple sports show up? Nope.  Mariners sweep the Angels? Forget about.  But don't worry, Trout got two cards this weekend.

Anyway, rant over.  The card is nice but at $10 a pop it won't be something I buy again.  I can't justify the cost for one card for an event that will be largely forgettable by the end of the year.  Unless the Mariners win the World Series, I'm done.

That wraps up this Griffey post.  I'm sure we will see new Griffey cards for years to come.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Adventuring in eBay: Quad Relics

Every day it seems like I'm adding something new to my wantlist.  Whether it's a new set to check out, a card to add to my player collection, or a new player to start collecting.  That is one thing I love about the hobby: there is always something new out there.

2016 Topps Museum Collection Four-Player Primary Pieces Quad Relics
Did Not Purchase This Card
With so many cards to collect, I try to be selective on what I'm going to pick.  While the two cards in this post were not on my radar I couldn't pass them up anyway.  I was browsing COMC and come across this quad-relic card.  It features all the essential current Mariners, Cano, Cruz, Felix, and Iwakuma.  You could maybe make an argument of  Kyle Seager over Iwakuma but I'm satisfied.

The above card has a couple awesome jersey pieces with the teal from Felix and the multi-color patch from Iwakuma.  However, the price for this one card was more than I wanted to spend.  Especially for a card I wasn't chasing.  Still, I liked the card concept and I checked out eBay to see if I could find it a little cheaper.  


Enter the above two cards.  An auction had the Mariners card for a few dollars more than COMC but, and this is a big but, it came with a second quad patch card!  I'm not a Tigers fan, and I don't dislike them either, but two cards is better than one.  The Tigers card is somewhat bland, except for the Carbrera piece. Although I thought if I wanted I could use it as trade bait in the future.

The Mariners card I won is just as good as the card I didn't buy.  It still has two different colored pieces plus it's a lower serial number.  The card layout looks nice and it was a good way to get four relic pieces from four of the best the Mariners have to offer.

Even though these cards were off my radar, they were a nice add to my memorabilia collection.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Box Break for the People: 2014 Topps Update Baseball

I think I've done 1 or 2 blaster breaks for the blog, either explicitly or not.  And I'll probably keep buying them  As such, I've decided to turn blaster breaks into a specific feature.  Every good blog needs named features, right?

Even though not everyone has a local card shop they can visit, they surely have a Target or a Wal-Mart nearby.  Hence, anyone can get one of these blaster boxes, making these breaks "for the people." I wanted to create a catchier title rather than a simple title like "blaster break."  

Today's box break is an EXTREME VALUE!  Seriously, that's what the sticker said on the box.  This just isn't any box, it's a blaster of 2014 Topps Update.  I was drawn to this box for a few reasons.  The price (discounted to only $13), the inclusion of a World Series patch card, the availability of All-Star Game cards, and that I haven't opened any 2014 Topps packs.

With 10 packs and 1 patch card, let's see what the blaster holds:

Pack 1

I picked this card because the image is unique and well timed.  Figueroa himself has bounced around the league since his debut in 2014.  I think this image might be from the May 23, 2014 game against the Red Sox when he batted in the winning (and only) run.  He didn't really do much else of note in 2014.

Wainwright had a solid year in 2014 going 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA.

The All-Star Game cards, which were just what I was hoping to get.

Pack 2

Normally Seth Smith would be a card I would quickly pass over but he's a Mariner now.  As such, I was give him is proper due and acknowledge him on the blog.  He's a decent hitter who can provide some pop and get on base.

I liked that some of the rookie cards also included the debut date.

Pack 3

Having previously lived in New England, I still root for Boston teams although they don't take precedence over Seattle teams.  The Ortiz mini replicates a 1989 design.  However, I'm bothered by the fact that this card uses a stat line from 2006.  That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works. 

It's a Trout card so I have to give my obligatory "Fuck Mike Trout."  Notwithstanding Trout, I still like the card. 

Pack 4

A pink card, huh?  Oh it's serial numbered to 50?  Sweet pull! And I've heard of Morneau before! These pink parallels run one every 253 packs.  I'm not ready to call this box a success but I'm getting there.

This card made me wonder how many cards out there haven't been pulled?  This box is 2 years old and there are only 50 of these cards in existence.  I image there has to be rarer cards that have never seen the light of day.  Of course the catch 22 is that we won't know what cards haven't been pulled.

Sadly, Taveras died in a car accident after the season ended in 2014.

Pack 5

Ellsbury got a lot of heat from Beantown after he left the Red Sox and signed with the Yankees.  Dude got paid though so good for him.

Springer is certainly impressing so far in his young career.  

Your 2016 Home Run Derby champion.

Pack 6

Pack 7

One of the few Cal Ripken Jr. cards I have in my collection.  That's not acceptable.

2014 was Seager's only year as an all-star so this is a great card to pull.

Pack 8

It's a numbered parallel, which I'm a sucker for, so I have to include it.  That makes 2 serial numbered cards out of this box.  

I would not normally highlight a Yankee but pulling this card was fortuitous as you'll soon see below.

I highlight this card because look at that kick! I am not that flexible.

Pack 9

I picked this red foil insert because....

Pack 10

..I pulled the base card in the same pack.  What are the odds?

I still wish there was a Topps Now for the Odor/Bautista punch.

Won the Rookie of the Year award in 2014.


The included patch is none other than Mariano Rivera.  I thought it was interesting that I pulled the Rivera World Series Heroes insert and patch card in the same box.

This was a great break overall considering the cost.  Two numbered parallels, one manufactured memorabilia, two current Mariners, and several All-Star Game cards.