Monday, July 30, 2018

First Impressions: 2018 Topps Big League

I had read enough reviews about Topps Big League that I finally decided I needed to see these cards first hand. Fortunately, my local Wally World had them available. I decided to buy a pack and make note of my first impressions:

#37 J.D. Martinez

Alright! A Red Sox All-Star card right out of the gate!  That's a good way to start off. Now that I have the cards in hand, I like border design - it's simple and clean. The photographs are a step below what we currently get in the base set, but better than what I grew up with. The BL logo is unobtrusive and doesn't take away from the rest of the card. This is a pleasing looking card.

#86 Ken Giles
#156 Mike Leake
#81 Jonathan Schoop

Let's take a look at the back, shall we? Topps go old school with graphics free backs, and uses a two color contrast based off the team colors, which works well on cards like the Orioles, less much so if you're a White Sox fan (See below). What the backs lack in graphics, they make up with text. Unlike the base set, there seems to be little wasted space. Two bars of facts and trivia sandwich the truncated stats.

#125 Alex Wood
#155 Steven Souza Jr.
#332 Roger Clemens

One of the great things about having legendary players on modern cards is now we can see these players' WAR among the stats. Clemens had over 10 WAR in 1997! That's crazy! I wonder what his WAR was when he won the MVP award in 1986? Wait a minute... If you are one of those collectors that don't like Topps' penchant for only showing the past 5 years of stats, then this ups the annoyance factor up a bunch. Legends get expanded - but still incomplete - stats! Why, Topps, why?

#176 Lucas Duda
#336 Cal Ripken Jr
#382 Adeiny Hechavarria

One thing I noticed was that for the most part, the pictures are neatly framed within the border. A few, like Adeiny here, break the mold and have a part of the picture extend beyond the box. I'm not sure if this is inconsistency in design or intentional.

#340 Jim Plamer
#75 Garrett Richards
#398 Andrew Triggs
#236 Luis Castillo
#76 Aroldis Chapman
#387 J.T. Realmuto
#189 Tyler Saladino

The Did You Know? feature is one of the great things about these cards. Saladino wins the award for having the best one of the pack!

#109 Yoenis Cespedes
#371 Christian Villanueva (RC)
#33 Scooter Gennett
#308 2017 AL Doubles Leaders (Ramirez/Lowrie/Betts)


I've always had a fondness of League Leader cards, especially when it shows the top 3 players. All 3 players made the All-Star team this year!

#94 Jean Segura
#343 Alex Rodriguez
#34 Dominic Smith (RC)
#354 Home Run Apple (BL)

Beyond baseball players, the stadiums they play in have their own unique personalities, and when you're lucky enough to go to a game, you see firsthand how the venue adds to the overall enjoyment. Cards like this are fun.

#MI-5 Rhys Hoskins (Ministers of Mash insert)

Meh. Not really a fan of this insert. The color splash is too sloppy and the nameplate does nothing for me. I will say Hoskins impressed me at the Home Run Derby, so I'm glad to have his card at least.

#300 Kris Bryant (Players Weekend short print)

I like the idea of a short print being different in design! I don't have to look at at a microscopic number to tell this apart from the base card. 

#400 Eduardo Rodriguez (Gold)
#267 Kevin Gausman (Gold)
#114 Marcell Ozuna (Gold)

The standard parallel in the set is gold borders, which in my opinion doesn't separate itself a lot from the standard tan color. I suspect one of the other darker colored borders will look better.

Final thoughts:
I paid $5.24 with tax for 30 cards, which comes to less than 18 cents a card - For a set designed towards kids, this is a good way for them to get a lot of cards for their money. The overall product is good too - attractive without being too flashy. At 400 cards, set completion is a reasonable goal.

Overall, this a good first attempt in the new Big League line.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Top 5 Hall of Fame: Vladimir Guerrero

Next Sunday, the Hall of Fame will induct an amazing 6 new members into its hallowed halls. In honor of this event, I'm going to do a daily series this week showing off my 5 favorite cards in my collection for each player.

We finish off the week with Vladimir Guerrero. The reason I put him last is simple: I have a grand whopping 2 of his cards in my collection, and one of them kind of sucks. I wasn't sure how I wanted to proceed with a Top 5 list when my collection was 3 cards short. I eventually decided to pick a few favorites to fill out the list. Here they are in chronological order:

1995 Bowman #90 Vladimir Guerreo (RC)

I might as well start off with his rookie card (which I don't own).  The card design is a little weird. It looks like they put a green tinted mirror next to him...

2001 Upper Deck Victory #401 Vladimir Guerrero/Dustin Hermanson (CL)

The first of the two cards of his I actually own, and the one I think sucks. Vlad looks bored and Hermanson looks creepy. That thin goatee makes him look like he has a chin butt!

2007 Topps Heritage #485 Vladimir Guerrero (AS) 

I wanted to pick an All-Star card of his, and this Heritage throwback was an easy choice, even with the red hat blending into the red background...

2012 Topps #424 Vladimir Guerrero (RB) 

I like record breaker cards, and I found this one particularly interesting. There's no secret that the Dominican Republic has had an amazing number of hitters born there - Papi, Manny, Sosa, the Alou Brothers. That Vlad became the all-time hits leader from his country (since surpassed by Albert Pujols and Adrien Beltre) seems like a huge accomplishment.

2016 Topps Archives #192 Vladimir Guerrero

The second of the cards I own. If I didn't have this card, I would have purposely searched for a card showing off his trademark dreds. They were that awesome.

Welcome to the Hall of Fame Vlad!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Top 5 Hall of Fame: Chipper Jones

Next Sunday, the Hall of Fame will induct an amazing 6 new members into its hallowed halls. In honor of this event, I'm going to do a daily series this week showing off my 5 favorite cards in my collection for each player.

Today I'll feature one of the All-Time great Braves, Chipper "Don't Call Me Larry" Jones. This is the one Hall of Famer from this year's class I got to watch a lot of on TV (Thanks TBS!)

1991 Score #671 Chipper Jones (FRDP, RC)

Does any Hall of Famer have a worse rookie card than Chipper? The red shirt with the sunset background is bad enough, so I'll spare you the squinting sweaty Chipper picture on the back...

1994 Collector's Choice #152 Chipper Jones

I'm showing the back of this card because it has my favorite picture of him in my collection. You can never go wrong with a player signing for kids!

1994 Score #572 Chipper Jones (RP)

A great card where the border compliments the team colors. It also has a good action shot of Chipper about to scoop up the ball.

2012 Topps Opening Day #134 Chipper Jones

Topps seems to like this photograph a lot. They also used this exact same shot in the 2016 Archives set, only zoomed out more.

2017 Topps Update - Storied World Series #SWS-11 1995 Atlanta Braves

It's still amazing that throughout Atlanta's decade of dominance, they only won the singular World Series.

Cheers to Chipper! You are unquestionably one of the greats!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Top 5 Hall of Fame: Trevor Hoffman

Next Sunday, the Hall of Fame will induct an amazing 6 new members into its hallowed halls. In honor of this event, I'm going to do a daily series this week showing off my 5 favorite cards in my collection for each player.

Today, I celebrate the great Padres closer, Trevor Hoffman. It's fairly easy to pick a Top 5 of a player when you only have 6 of his cards!

1994 Collector's Choice #494 Trevor Hoffman

Alright, not a rookie card, but 1994 was his first full season with San Diego as their closer. It was also the year he switched to his signature uniform number, 51.

1997 Topps #70 Trevor Hoffman

Topps' green borders in 1997 are slightly underrated in my opinion. The best thing about this card is the dirt cloud really sells the action of the card.

1997 Topps Gallery #130 Trevor Hoffman

Probably my favorite card of the lot, I picked this one up recently in a repack. The gold frame really adds a nice touch to the card, very classy.

2008 Upper Deck First Edition #453 Trevor Hoffman

I'm often amazed by pitchers because of their windups. If I tried to lift my leg that high I would probably pull something.

2010 Topps #364 Trevor Hoffman

Hoffman spent his final two years as a Brewer, making the All-Star team in 2009. Although he still looks weird wearing anything but a Padres uniform, I really like this close cropped shot.

Congratulations on making the hall, Trevor Hoffman!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Top 5 Hall of Fame: Jim Thome

Next Sunday, the Hall of Fame will induct an amazing 6 new members into its hallowed halls. In honor of this event, I'm going to do a daily series this week showing off my 5 favorite cards in my collection for each player.

I continue today with my week long tribute to this year's Hall of Fame class. Today I'll list my Top 5 cards of slugger Jim Thome.

1991 Bowman #68 Jim Thome (RC)

This is my third straigh rookie card! if I had a dedicated collection to Hall of Fame players' rookie cards, I'd be quite happy! I'll be honest, I never thought of Thome as a Hall of Fame player early in his career. Once he started approaching 500 home runs, I had to take a closer look at his resume. The man was consistent, and often it's easy to overlook that.

1992 Pinnacle - Team 2000 #37 Jim Thome

The Pinnacle Team 2000 set was such a cool little set. This picture is great! I love the look of concentration on his face, the crouched stance, even the stray lace protruding from his glove!

1992 Upper Deck #5 Jim Thome (SR)

This card cracks me up. He looks like a high school jock posing for a yearbook photo in his letter-man jacket! "Stay cool! Have a great summer! Keep in touch!" - Jim

2001 Upper Deck Victory #82 Jim Thome

Jim sees you. He see what you're doing, and it's worthy of recognition.

2012 Topps - Golden Moments #GM-44 Jim Thome

The Golden Moments insert set from 2012 Topps was fantastic! I love the short recaps of the games mentioned. "The excited slugger fired his helmet so high when he reached home that the umpire had to backpedal to avoid it."

Welcome to the Hall, Jim!

(Be sure to check out the special Jim Thome haiku I posted earlier today!)

Repack Haiku #61 (Jim Thome)

Much respect for Jim
Over six hundred home runs
Welcome to the Hall!

1994 Donruss #523 Jim Thome

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Top 5 Hall of Fame: Jack Morris

Next Sunday, the Hall of Fame will induct an amazing 6 new members into its hallowed halls. In honor of this event, I'm going to do a daily series this week showing off my 5 favorite cards in my collection for each player.

Today, we look at Alan Trammell's long time Tiger teammate and fellow Veteran's Committee inductee, Jack Morris. These cards will be listed in chronological order, so you may appreciate the steady growth of one of baseball's great mustaches!

1978 Topps #703 Rookie Pitchers

We of course have to start out with Morris's rookie card. Look at that wisp of a mustache - so young, so much promise!

1982 Topps #556 Jack Morris (AS)

Flash forward four years, and young Jack has himself an All-Star mustache! The shape is set, although it's still a little on the light side...

1988 Topps #340 Jack Morris

That's more like it! This is a crumb-duster worthy of greatness! Jack can just lean back and let the hirsute magic do all the work.

1992 Score #798 Jack Morris (HL)

Like the biblical Sampson, Jack's 'stache was the source of his power! John Smoltz and the Braves were at the mercy of his follicle fury during the 1991 World Series!

1993 Topps #185 Jack Morris

We wrap up this tribute to Jack's amazing flavor-saver with undeniable proof that the man had great hair on top in addition to above the lip!

Congratulation Jack! You and your mustache are truly Hall of Fame worthy!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Top 5 Hall of Fame: Alan Trammell

Next Sunday, the Hall of Fame will induct an amazing 6 new members into its hallowed halls. In honor of this event, I'm going to do a daily series this week showing off my 5 favorite cards in my collection for each player.

We'll start the series with a player that was long overdue, Alan Trammell. I'm presenting these in chronological order.

1978 Topps #707 Rookie Shortstops

I've posted about this card before. Now that Trammell is in the Hall, this card holds the rare distinction of being the official rookie card of two Hall of Famers!

1989 Fleer - All-Stars #11 Alan Trammell

When I was a kid collecting, there wasn't the wealth of information we have today. They way you knew if a player was good was by their appearance on an All-Star card. Alan Trammell always seemed to be the American League shortstop of choice. This well done insert set by Fleer is my favorite.

1991 Bowman #154 Alan Trammell

This card just has the look of a vintage card from the 50's or 60's. The pose, the background, the uniform - it all just looks right.

1992 Upper Deck #273 Alan Trammell

Here we have a great photo of Trammell playing his position. He's fully in the air, about to make the catch, while a base runner is sliding to mess up the play.

1997 Upper Deck #75 Alan Trammell

I wish Topps would do something like this. A final tribute to a great player who wrapped up his career, complete with full stats on the back. The proper sunset card.

Congratulations, Alan Trammell!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Payday Pack - Gone Platinum

There they were, all alone in their little display box. A single pack of Bowman Platinum. Normally, I pass on Bowman. I'm not a prospect hunter, and I don't like how Bowman divides its set with different numbering for the prospects. Still, this was their Platinum line, and to be honest I haven't seen any of the product on the blogs yet. In fact, I knew nothing about the product - when it was released, how it looked. Did I mention there one just one pack available? If I passed it up, chances are I'd never see any again. I couldn't resist, and let me tell you: These cards are just flat out pretty. I can't remember the last time I bought a pack without knowing what it looked like. It was worth it. Without further ado, here's my Top 3 favorites!

3rd Place

2018 Bowman Platinum - Top Prospects #TOP-62 Bo Bichette

As the son of former Rockies' star Dante Bichette, Bo was one of the few prospects I had actually heard of. He's currently in the Top 10 on MLB's Prospect List, so he's got skills to boot.  All the prospects have this same swirl design, which is borderline mesmerizing.

2nd Place

2018 Bowman Platimun #46 Kevin Kiermaier

The Major League portion of cards were equally beautiful. I love that color swirl, and Kiermaier's jersey color compliments the design very well!

1st Place

2018 Bowman Platinum - Prismatic Prodigies #PPP-9 Jay Groome

My one insert card, and it's a Red Sox prospect! Unfortunately, Groome had Tommy John surgery earlier this year and is out for the year. He's still young enough that this hopefully won't push back his development too much.

Others Not Appearing On Stage:
#16 Robinson Cano
#28 Manny Machado
#56 Gregory Polanco
#84 Dee Gorrdon
#87 Adam Jones
#TOP-63 Riley Pint
#TOP-73 Brayan Hernandez
#TOP-84 Colton Welker
#TOP-94 Bubba Thompson

I must say, this is my favorite looking set of 2018 so far! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Repack Haiku #60 (John Candelaria)

Who can help Pirates
Win a World Series title?
The Candyman can!

1987 Topps #630 John Candelaria