Thursday, February 21, 2019

2018 Topps Heritage High Number Hanger Box

I'll be honest, I'm not looking forward to Heritage as much this year as I was the last few years. The past two years, Topps has done well with both the 1968 design (2017) and the 1969 design (2018) and those happen to be two of my favorite 60s sets as well. So when I opened the package that Ryan from the Sumo Cards blog sent over and pulled this out, I was pretty excited. I won't show every card, but here are some highlights.

Todd Frazier was a great third baseman for the Reds and him winning the 2015 Home Run Derby when the Reds hosted the All-Star Game that year. Despite the Reds having to trade him off, I still enjoy watching him play when the Mets are on MLB Network so therefore I still get his cards. Speaking of fun players, you can't forget about Bartolo Colon, who is pretty much ageless. To my knowledge, he hasn't signed a contract with anyone for 2019 but is the last active major leaguer to have both played for the Expos and to have played in the 1990s.

Here are a couple interesting specimens. Miles Mikolas came from out of nowhere last season to lead the lead the NL with 18 wins and a .818 winning percentage. This was after he was out of the majors for four years and had appeared in 37 games total with the Padres and Rangers from 2012-2014. He finished 6th in Cy Young voting and made the All-Star Team last year. Gift Ngoepe is the first major leaguer from South Africa and made it into 13 games with the Blue Jays last year. He's currently in camp with the Phillies as a non-roster invitee.

I found it interesting that the photos in both of these Giants cards were taken at sunset. 

There were also a few cool inserts starting with this Ichiro. I'm glad to see he was featured as a member of the Mariners.

Also, there's this Freddie Freeman deckle edge style insert. This I really dig with the black and white photo. I always hear about insert sets like this and the Topps Super style inserts in Archives a few years back but I never pull any. I'm pretty happy to have this.

All in all, a pretty standard hanger box of cards but still it's Topps Heritage and I'm not going to complain too much.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Finally ... I Found 2019 Topps

Finally! I finally found some 2019 Topps! 

As I was in Target getting a box of Valentine's Day chocolate for my wife, I saw that 2019 Topps was in stock. Naturally, I couldn't help myself. I figured a hanger box and a few loose packs wouldn't hurt at all. I considered a blaster but I didn't want to go all in on one box, variety is the spice of life after all. I finally had some time to open these up this weekend

My first card of the year, Jonathan Villar of the woeful Baltimore Orioles. My initial impressions of the 2019 cards are that I like them ... a lot. Topps really had to work at topping themselves from the 2018 flagship but I feel like they pretty much did. The design is nice and clean and *gasp* borders are back! I also really like the team logo in the corner and how the inner border works with the team colors. The photography is good too. All in all, I'd say this is a winner!

Moving on now through the hanger box, here are my first Indians cards of the year. Both Bauer and his rotation counterpart Corey Kluber were mentioned in trade rumors over the winter. It's nice to see the Tribe hang on to both of them though.

I'm showing this card only because I remember Touki Toussant being involved in a trade where the Braves got him and Bronson Arroyo for Phil Gosselin. A month later, the Braves sent Arroyo to the Dodgers as part of some absolutely insane three team mega-deal.

My first Reds card of 2019 and it's Eugenio Suarez. Here's the other half of the Indians pitching duo I mentioned earlier as well.

Two guys who were both Reds at one time. Bruce had a very brief stint with the Indians as well in 2017 before going back to the Mets. Cozart had another injury filled season with the Angels last year. Here's hoping he bounces back this year.

Let's pause for a moment and look at the backs. Just like the front of the cards, they are very clean and the borders are in the team colors. I also really like the fact that it's full stats on the back, just as a baseball card should be.

Knowing it's Series 1, I know that additions made late in the offseason won't show up in here. For example, the Reds acquired Sonny Gray in January, which means he's still shown here in a Yankees uniform.

It's card #1 of the set! I personally always think it's pretty neat when I get card number 1 of a set out of a pack, but that's just me.

One awesome additions that Topps did this year was axe the team cards in favor of stadium cards. This is honestly something I've wanted for a long, long time in a set. I think these may be something I have to chase after this year as they are just absolutely brilliant. I think next year, maybe we could get an insert set called "ballparks of yesteryear" or something like that to commemorate former ballparks (or maybe even use those as the team checklist next year).

Seeing that I bought these cards at Target, I got exclusive Gleyber Torres inserts. They remind me of 1986 Donruss with the top and bottom borders.

Finally, the inserts from the hanger box, there's a foil Jack Flaherty, and 1984 style J.T. Realmuto (who was the subject of much trade consternation), and a Bryce Harper reprint. Topps seems to be doing reprints in some form every year now and I'll at least give them points on these because they are reprinting not just Topps cards, but Bowman and from what I've seen, early Stadium Club stuff too.

Ok, that's it for the hanger box, I'd say that was pretty solid. Now, onto the packs.

One thing I didn't show from the hanger box were horizontals. I really like how the design works with the horizontal photos.

More base cards. Luis Castillo is a lock for the Reds rotation this year and may actually even be in the running for the Opening Day start. The Cesar Hernandez card is awesome for a number of reasons ... first the photo as he's in mid-air turning a double play but the thing that really grabbed me is that Phillies logo.

A few more cool action shots and another stadium card. I've got to add these to my want list.

I got a number of different inserts from the packs that I didn't get from the hanger. First is this Tanner Roark card with the "150 years" stamp. While I don't mind that, I think this year, especially with it being the 150th anniversary of professional baseball, would've been a great year to do buybacks.

Here's something cool, a blue Father's Day parallel card.

With these Father's Day cards, they're numbered to 50 each and I'd say that was a pretty good pull from a retail pack.

More inserts. The "Stars of the Game" cards were one per pack.

Here's something I really like, it's a "Cactus League Legends" insert of Cody Bellinger. Spring Training seems to get forgotten about on cards sometimes so it's neat to see Topps include an insert set devoted to the Cactus League. I would assume the Grapefruit League has an insert set as well.

Overall, I think we've got another winner here from Topps this year. I really enjoyed last year's flagship and I think I'm definitely going to be buying more of this. Probably more of this than Heritage this year.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Goodies from Across the Atlantic

In case you missed it a while back, I participated in an interview with Ryan of the Japanese Sumo Wrestling Cards blog. It was a very fun experience and if you haven't read it yet, please check it out here.

Anyway, as a thank you for participating in the interview he send me a wonderful package that arrived all the way from across the Atlantic Ocean.

As you can see there was a lot of wild stuff to be had in there! I'll briefly go over the items. Most of these will be saved in detail for their own posts.

First off, European chocolate ... and who doesn't love chocolate! These were immediately snatched up by my wife, since of course, she's from England and claims European chocolate is better than American chocolate.

Next, a hanger box of 2018 High Number Heritage. I haven't opened this yet but I will soon.

I'm a fan of all things spooky and weird. I watched the first season of Stranger Things on Netflix and while I enjoyed it, I think it suffered from a bit of overhype. That being said, I had no idea there were cards of the show being issued. I'll add these to my Halloween stash for the coming fall so it'll be a while before you see these being torn into (or maybe these will be my "halfway to Halloween" post for this year, not sure yet).

A couple packs of 2017 BBM Baseball cards. I've never opened any Japanese cards before so these will be quite the treat once I get to tear into them.

A couple random packs ... some LOL Surprise cards (which I gave to my six-year-old son) and a pack of handball stickers. I don't know much about handball and Ryan already wrote about these on his blog. I'm still curious about them though.

Oh yeah, there were cards also. First, old sumo cards ...

... then new sumo cards ...

... and a giant stack of miscellaneous cards.

Expect to see future blog posts on pretty much everything here, except the LOL cards as my son already claimed those. 

Thanks to Ryan for sending this awesome package from overseas. I appreciate it. Also, if you haven't signed up to do an interview with Ryan, I strongly suggest it. Besides, you might get some cool stuff like this for participating!