Monday, January 1, 2018

A look back at 2017

Here I thought the winter months would bring me more downtime to blog and take care of other hobby related things and my last post was 3 weeks ago. So much for "downtime"! I did however want to take advantage of my last day of vacation before heading back into the work week to look back at the previous year like I usually do.

Before I look back at the year that was, let me take a moment to share my card related gifts from Christmas. Now I have to be honest here and say my wife bought and wrapped for me the rack pack of 2017 Topps Update. I bought the clearanced box of 2016 Topps Update, 2017 Topps Gallery and one pack of 2017 Panini Playoff Contenders and put them in my own stocking! I grabbed the other pack of Contenders while in Charleston, SC with my wife as we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.

2017 was a great year for me. I got to take in several professional games, something that I don't always have the chance to do. Back during the summer my wife and I got to take in two games in one weekend at the Braves new home, Sun Trust Park. What a beautiful ballpark to visit and soak up a few games.

Too bad the Braves on field performance fell short (of the Playoffs, not expectations). I did feel that going into the new season that the Braves would have performed better, after all they signed a few veteran starters in the offseason (Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey) to help anchor the rotation that had a lot of question marks. Dansby Swanson struggled and was demoted to AAA at one point, however Ozzie Albies got the call up late in the season to make it interesting to watch none the less. Then of course there was the scandal with the Braves front office that led to a shakeup with the general manager and other moves. I guess I'm more concerned about hte future of the team with the players they lost because of the rules they broke. None the less, we should see the young phenom Ronald Acuna in Atlanta, very, very soon!

Back in November I attended a business conference and trade show in uptown Charlotte and my employer treated us to the Panthers vs. Dolphins Monday Night football game. I hadn't attended an NFL game in many, many years so even though it was cold and I was sitting in the nose bleed section, it was a great time. The NFL regular season is over and my Panthers have limped into the Playoffs as a Wild Card. We were swept by the Saints during the regular season, but have a chance to get our revenge against them this upcoming Sunday. If they can make it past the New Orleans, an injured Eagles team waits in the 2nd round. So far this has been a good season for the team, despite the ups and downs we've had with injuries and Cam Newton's play at times.

On the card front, I don't feel as if I accomplished as much in 2017 as I have in past years. I pulled back on some of the set building I've done in the past, only focusing on the flagship Topps set (even though I slacked with series 2) and somewhat with Allen & Ginter and Stadium Club. This marks another year I didn't buy even one hobby box, choosing to stick to retail for my card needs.

I even ignored Gypsy Queen for the most part, something I haven't done since it's inception. I find this odd/funny because when it was announced that 2017 GQ was going to be less expensive and have less "bells & whistles" I was all jazzed. Then it was released and I only mustered up a few retail packs.

I did noticed that from a post count, 2017 makes the most I've blogged since 2013...and here I thought I dropped the blogging ball this year. I am behind on getting want lists created for sets I am working on, as well as actively looking to help others fill their holes in their collection with trades and what not. I did receive a few surprise packages from fellow bloggers over the last few weeks. A huge thank you to those who sent me cards. I always try to post and share what others have sent and I do plan on doing so when time allows.

While my single card purchases decreased during the year, I have a ton of 2017 Topps Now cards that I never got around to scanning and posting about. At this point I question if I should even bother putting them on the blog. Does anyone care at this point now that 2018 Topps flagship is right at a month away from being released? I did have some fun w/ the Topps Bunt (and Huddle) app and have routinely posted new digital cards of both sports to my Facebook page. Like others though, I'm still behind on scanning other new card purchases and getting that overall organization down. I hate all the random stacks of cards on my office desk. I bought a lot of stuff from BCW last Christmas to get myself organized and while I made some headway, I still have a lot of work to get totally organized.

All in all 2017 was a pretty good year to me. I do look forward to 2018 and what it holds for me and my teams (Panthers in the Super Bowl again?). I haven't researched much of what Topps and Panini have planned for the new year so I guess I'll just have to wing it moving forward. I hope that the blog can remain just as alive (if not more) in 2018. Thanks to all my fellow bloggers for the comments, trades and continued support.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Pack Break: 2017 Panini Playoff

The other day while at Walmart a noticed a new rack pack of football cards that didn't look familiar...Playoff. While I'm very familiar w/ the Playoff brand, I didn't realize Panini scooped up that brand name or had released this set of cards.

I grabbed two rack packs, plus a few singles off eBay after I opened these packs, so this post is more or less to showcase what the base cards, parallels and some of the inserts look like.

Eack retail rack pack contains 40 cards for $4.99. I think Panini does a good job at giving the collector a decent bang for their buck. The packs feature Marcus Mariotta and my Panthers' Christian McCaffrey. Each pack contains 3 exclusive blue parallels.

What I didn't know going into opening this pack (or knew from the pack itself) was that the base set includes a good mixture of many past players, including Hall of Famers. I like it when older players are mixed in from time to time. I mean, who doesn't like pulling a new Bo Jackson card?

Speaking of past players, here are a few that I randomly pulled to scan. The card design is rather plain, but at least the horizontal stripes on the side mimic the team color. The card back gives a decent write up about the player, but it uses the same photo from the front. Come on Panini, that's lazy! I was particularly happy to pull the Panthers card of Kevin Greene.

A small selection of two QBs that I just happen to love to hate! I did notice as I sorted through the stack of cards that the photography was average. I didn't come across any cards that made me do a second look. Most of the photos are your standard fare football photos.

Goal Line are the included retail exclusive parallels. The name is replaced with a blue foil and the words "Goal Line" are placed on each side of the team logo. At least I got a decent parallel of a future HOF player.

Rookies must be short printed as I only pulled one per pack, though I did get a few RCs in the parallel set. Despite this set coming out late in the 2017 NFL season, Panini seemed to use photos from the rookie photo shoots prior to the season beginning.

The only insert I pulled from the two packs was this Momentum card of Larry Fitzgerald. Cool design, but again the same photo is used on the front and back. Overall odds for the inserts seem to fall around 1:3 packs.

I purchased this Rookie Stallions relic card of Christian McCaffrey for a few bucks off eBay. I love the painted front, but I mistakenly thought the card had a canvas like look/feel. The foil used for the names on the front is green. I don't know if this is a parallel or not, but I don't care for the gree foil as it looks out of place. Since it has the words "Hail Mary" underneath the Rookie Stallions logo, my guess is this is some sort of parallel.

The same Rookie Stallions card of Curtis Samuel has silver foil and is numbered 029/149.

I also grabbed an auto off eBay. This one too has the "Hail Mary" words on the front so I'm guessing it's a parallel. It's a sticker auto, but ever since Samuel went down for the year, his cards have remained fairly cheap...which is good for my wallet.

2017 Panini Playoff is a mixed bag. I like the value (at least with these rack packs) and the mix of veterns and current players is nice. The design is average, but it looses a point for using the same photo on the back of the card. The inserts appears to be pretty nice, but had I not resorted to a few eBay purchases I would have had to base my judgement off the one insert I found in my packs. Panini could have done better, but they could have done worse as well. Not sure if this set is worthy of the Playoff name.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A long delayed public Thank You

Some months ago I ran across a post on the blog Baseball Every Night with some cards that were being given away. I think he had bought a random pack just for fun, but didn't have any desire to hold onto the cards. None the less, I grabbed the 3 cards above and he was gracious enough to send them to me free of charge.

Then the dreaded thing happened...the mail got buried, literally, in my home office. I've been trying to dig myself out over these last two months and just the other day I found these 3 cards. I hate it when I do this because I always like to publically thank fellow bloggers that I trade with or in this case, send me free stuff.

Thank you Peter for the cards. I'm sorry about the long delay!! If you haven't visited his blog, I encourage you to do so. Good stuff.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Verse

Romans 8:1-2

New International Version

Life Through the Spirit ] Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Monday, November 13, 2017

New goodies from the Collector's Crack (just in time for MNF)

When the colder weather starts to set in it usually brings with it some illness and that illness found me last week. For the most part Friday was pretty good, but shortly after I went to bed it hit me. Let's just say that for most of the weekend I spent hovering the porcelain throne...two ways. It was not the best weekend I've had.

Right before I fell ill, I did receive a little package in the mail all the way from Alaska. In it was filled with new Braves goodies from my good friend Mark who runs the Collector's Crack. I had inquired about a Freddie Freeman card he posted several months back so I knew he had sent that, but I had no idea what else he had included.

I don't really have a good card shop locally anymore so I missed out on the National Baseball Card Day promotion, luckily Mark set aside this Freddie Freeman for me. I also got a shiney Freshman Flash RC of Dansby Swanson from this year's Topps Chrome set. The Saber Stars card of Andrelton Simmons I'm not familiar with, but I'll take it!

I don't buy much of any Bowman product these days so I didn't have any of these Bowman Platinum cards. Of course its always good to pick up a new Freeman I don't have, but I was glad to see the Dansby RC. Max Fried was pick up in a deal w/ San Diego a few seasons ago and while he hasn't made a huge impact on the Braves pitching staff yet, I do hear that there are good things to come from him.

There were many other Braves cards in the bubble mailer, but here are 3 of them that I grabbed to scan. I haven't had much luck pulling those Rediscover Topps cards, but now I've got one. Brandon Beachy was a guy I really enjoyed watching, then he messed up his elbow, was shipped off to the Dodgers and then just disappeared sadly. None the less, this is one of those Power Players redemption cards and not an easy card to come across. Speaking of fun players to watch, Furcal was amazing in the infield w/ the leather. I've got a few nice cards of his and I'll always take a new relic.

Mark is also one of the few baseball card bloggers that I know that buys/collects football cards too so I can't say I was completely surprised to find a few Carolina Panthers cards in the stack. Couple of Cam Newtons, jersey card of the now free agent DeAngelo Williams and a few others that I didn't have time to scan.

I really appreciate the kind gesture Mark and I plan to return the favor soon. Now I need to get off this computer and finish packing as I'm headed up to Charlotte today for a 2 day self storage sonference (sounds riviting, doesn't it?!). At least I get to go to the Monday Night Football game tonight with the Panthers vs. the Dolphins.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Batting Pitchers: 2016 Topps Now Adam Wainwright

It's been a really long time since I've found another card to add to my small themed subset collection I have of batting pitchers. This 2016 Topps Now card beautiful captures the Cardinals pitcher smacking a double in the top of the 12th inning on June 10, 2016, scoring runners on first and second. The Cardinals would go on to win the game 9-3.

I don't normally buy Topps Now cards of players other than Braves, but for me this was an easy decision despite the $9.99 price tag. 1) the card meets all the guidelines for my batting pitchers collection and 2) he's yet another outspoken athlete that isn't afraid to share his faith with his fellow team members and the fans. Great all around guy (who ironically enough was drafted/traded by the Braves) and a great card commemorating him helping w/ his bat win a game.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Verse

Colossians 4:5-6

New International Version

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.