Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Retail Repack Adventures #15

So last Sunday morning I was minding my own business watching TV and then, out of nowhere, boom, the power goes out. Most times, when my power goes out, it's only out for a few minutes and then comes back. Not this time. I reported the outage and got a text update back saying the estimated time for restoration is two hours from when I reported it (so roughly noon). I figured what better way to keep myself occupied than by organizing some cards and tearing into a repack.

Since the power was out, I had to take pictures of everything using my phone. While I've never been all that great at taking pictures of cards, I think I found a good way to do it. I took pictures for some other posts coming up soon and they turned out well enough that I might have a new preferred way to show off cards as scanning can be rather tedious, especially when there's a lot to do, and it means I have to hole up in the bedroom away from everyone. Anyway, I digress. Here's the contents of the repack and it looks oddly familiar, packs and all, as if it was a clone from the previous repack. There's two packs of the TeenyMates, two of the Panini Draft Picks, a Babe Ruth pack, and 2016 Topps Heritage, plus a 50-card bonanza.

First up, the TeenyMates packs. I looked over the back of the packs before opening and it mentioned glow in the dark figures. So guess what came out of the very first pack? Yep, a glow in the dark figure which I'll admit is pretty cool. I kinda like these little dudes but let's see what else is contained within.

Now the highlights from the 50-card mini box. Much like the other box, it started off with a Toys R' Us purple parallel, this time of Aroldis Chapman. Also, bonus points for the throwback uniform. 

A few 2016 Topps Red Sox cards of David Ortiz and David Price from the team set. 

And a few randoms from the mass of 89 Topps that made up about a third of the box. I'll admit, it was kind of neat getting a card of Terry Francona when he was playing for the Indians, long before he was managing them. Also, check out Oddibe's custom warmup jacket.

The contents of the two packs of the Panini Draft Picks. I'll keep exactly two of these, Nick Howard and Justus Sheffield. The rest will find their way into either the trade box or Goodwill donation bag. I didn't bother with the Babe Ruth pack as it has been set aside, unopened, for a new home.

Finally, the 9-card Heritage pack. The best card here is the Rod Carew flashbacks insert but the most colorful is definitely the Erick Aybar card.

This repack definitely felt like a dud, the same exact packs as the last repack, only a handful of redeeming cards from the 50-card mini box, but the TeenyMates figures were pretty cool at least. As for the power outage, it turns out it was caused by a squirrel that somehow found it's way into a relay box.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

April 9, 1994

You may have noticed a change around the blog recently, mainly in the background photo. I forget where I found the picture above (I think it was on Twitter) but when I saw it, I thought it was really neat. It's a view of inside old Riverfront Stadium, the place where I saw my first live baseball game. I liked the photo so much that I ended up making it the background of my laptop as well, along with a few other devices I use mainly because every time I see it, it bring back a warm feeling of nostalgia and being a kid again. 

A few days ago, I had the thought to see if I was able to find the game or the day on which this picture was taken. Since I couldn't make out any of the players on the field, I had to look other places in the picture for help. First, I noticed that those in the stands had rain gear and ponchos on. That's my first clue, the weather.

Here's a zoomed in portion of the photo focusing on the scoreboard. This is where I had to look to get most of my clues. First, look at the time on the clock. It reads 1:12, therefore telling me this is a day game. Next, look at the records of the pitchers, each one reads 0-0. Another clue is who the pitchers actually are. I know it's terribly hard to read (believe me, I did the best I could to enhance it) but the board to the left of the NBC5 sign reads "Starting Pitchers Smiley vs. Schilling". That's the biggest clue. So far, I've deciphered that it's an early season day game against the Phillies where it was raining. That should be plenty good enough to start some digging on Baseball Reference.

Oh, in case you are wondering, the text on the other scoreboard reads:
City of Cincinnati municipal code prohibits smoking in all seating areas, in restrooms, while in concession stand lines, and in all other posted "no smoking" locations. Stadium guests wishing to smoke may feel free to do so on any of the stadium concourses.

Once on Baseball Reference, I cross checked the years where John Smiley pitched for the Reds and Curt Schilling pitched for the Phillies. Smiley was with the Reds from 1993-1997 and Schilling threw for the Phillies from 1992-2000. Ok, so I know to look in Reds results from 1993-1997.

There's a nice little function on Baseball Reference where you can click the team abbreviation (example "CIN" for Cincinnati) next to a particular year and it will pull up the team page from that season. From there, if you click the "Schedule & Results" section, it will give you the results from every game that particular team played that year along with the box score. 

I just went year by year. I clicked 1993 first, nothing there. The Reds didn't play the Phillies at home that year until May 31. Ok, so I moved on to 1994. And wait, what's this?

Look at Saturday, April 9. The opponent matches up (Phillies), the starting pitchers match up (Smiley and Schilling), time of day matches up (day). I think we have a winner. The last thing to check is the weather at the bottom of the box score:

Bingo! The field condition was "wet" and it was overcast! There it is, this picture was taken on Saturday, April 9, 1994! Just for the heck of it, here's the rest of the box score from that day.

It's nice to see as well that the Reds won that day 2-1. That was their second win in a row as they had also bested the Phillies the prior night in extra innings. The Reds would continue on and ended up with a six-game winning streak, the first of three six-game winning streaks they would have that year. But, as everyone knows, the season abruptly ended in August with the players strike that cancelled the post season and lingered on into the beginnings of the 1995 season. Seeing this photo though, from a game so early in the season, really makes you wonder if the players knew what would lie ahead of them in that oh so troubled season.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

You've Got Mail #80: Two Surprise Envelopes

Last week must've been designated "card week" for me by the cardboard overlords because in addition to the 2018 Topps that I splurged on, I got two small, unexpected packages in the mail early in the week, followed by another mailing a few days later. The two unexpected ones were from Peter at Baseball Every Night and Matt at BWTP and since each one was fairly small, I figured I would just combine these into one post.

First up, Peter's envelope consisted of primarily Indians cards from 2018 Topps. I know I pulled some of these went I ripped into the 2018 Topps packs the other day but one card I know for sure I didn't pull was the Jay Bruce card. It's nice to see that he got a proper Indians card, even though Panini put one out in their Chronicles line last year. 

Also included, that appeared to be more for backing on the cards than anything else, was this 1989 Bowman Luis Aguayo card. After looking him up on everyone's favorite research site, Baseball Reference, it turns out this is a sunset card of Mr. Aguayo as he finished his career with the 1989 Indians in a bench role, appearing in only 47 games.

Matt's envelope contained only three cards but what three cards they were. First, there's this autograph card of Wladimir Balentien, a name of Reds past I haven't heard or thought of in years. He only played 40 games with the Reds in 2009, his final season in the majors. He spent the 2010 season in Triple-A Louisville and then signed with the Yakult Swallows in Japan, where he's been ever since.

Autograph cards are neat and all but I've always been a fan of relic cards more than I have been autographed cards and getting a bat relic card from one of the heavy hitters of the Big Red Machine is super cool.

This was the gem of Matt's envelope, a nice Tony Perez card from Panini's 2012 Prime Cuts line. Sure, the card looks a little bit plain but in person, it's really nice and a great piece to add to my collection.

A big thanks to both Peter and Matt for the surprise envelopes. I really appreciate it fellas!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018 Topps: The "Wave" of the Future

I'll admit it, I may have gone a bit overboard on 2018 Topps.

However, in order to stretch the cash my wife fronted me as a Valentine's Day present, I had to make the most of it so I got as much as I could so I could get a nice sampling. I bought five loose packs, the last two fat packs on the rack, and a blaster box. I'll break down the highlights the same way. First the loose packs, 

Here's my first card of the year, Tyler Flowers of the Braves. As far as the design goes, I think I like it more in person than I did from the scans and pictures of it I saw on other blogs. It's a nice full-bleed photo and the graphics at the bottom are clean and simple and the team logo looks as if it's either surfing a wave or going down a water slide. I definitely dig it and if Topps can keep the design for the base set clean like this every year, all will be good.

Here's a few former Reds who are Reds no longer, of these Todd Frazier has changed teams, going from the Yankees to the Mets and re-uniting with former Reds teammate Jay Bruce.

Speaking of Reds, here's a few current ones. I pulled three of the Billy Hamilton cards so the dupes will be going in the trade box.

The horizontal cards are really neat and work a lot better than they did the previous two years. I picked these because they had the best photography and I love the way the A's green and gold just pops on these cards.

A few more base cards, again picked mainly for photography than anything else. I dig the throwback Giants uniform on Christian Arroyo though.

There were also inserts, lots of inserts. I can't say I'm exactly thrilled with the insert sets this year although the 1983 style cards are pretty neat. It looks like buybacks and the first pitch inserts have sadly been dropped.

Moving on now to the fat packs (or jumbo packs, whatever you prefer to call them), here's a few guys  who are now on new teams, Cutch with the Giants and Cozy with the Angels.

A few more cards with nice photos.

More nice horizontal cards. I was pretty hyped to pull an Ian Happ card considering he's a University of Cincinnati product. 

More current Reds. Tyler Mahle was a nice late season call-up for the Reds last year and did so well that he's a candidate for a rotation spot this year in spring training. He was one of the few bright spots of the Reds pitching staff last year.

The first foil parallel of the break and it's Dellin Betances of the Yankees.

Two of the hottest young stars in the game currently, Rhys Hoskins and Dansby Swanson. I would've been happy just getting these out of the fat pack but then came this ...

The much heralded card #1 of the set, Aaron Judge. I'd say just based on those last three cards alone, the fat packs were more than worth it.

Finally, the blaster. I've shown a lot of base cards so far but here are a few of my favorites of the 10-pack blaster. 

Two foil parallels and a gold parallel were found as well. I really like the way the gold cards stand out this year.

More inserts. I'm not really sure what the point is of the Opening Day cards, maybe they should've just been left for the Opening Day product itself.

I'm not down on these Jeter inserts as much as most people are it seems. Sure, Jeter isn't exactly someone I actively collect but still, these are nice cards in person. However, I know a few Yankee collectors that might appreciate these more.

More of the 1983 style cards. I can't really get enough of these.

And here's the guaranteed commemorative patch card. Manu-relics for me are pretty cool and I've got a few in my collection. For blasters and retail, I think they're fine but they shouldn't be included in hobby boxes and count as a "hit". Anyway, I won't really complain about in being an Evan Longoria card either as he's one of the better players from the list.

So that's my first experience with 2018 Topps. It was fun to break into these but after a while, the buzz wore off. I'll probably buy a few packs here and there at the card shop if there's nothing interesting and I feel the need to buy something to rip. As I mentioned, I'm not exactly thrilled with the insert sets except the 1983 cards but overall the base card design is really nice, the photography is good and everything feels fresh and new.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Retail Repack Adventures #14

Rejoice! Spring Training has officially started! While I have been enjoying the hockey season this year, I'm ready for some baseball. Being that I haven't been able to pick up any 2018 Topps yet (that will probably change by the time you read this) what better way to start off the dawn of a new season than with another baseball repack. This time along, I've got the 4-pack, 50-card variety. 

If you're not familiar with these, then you get four packs, a 50-card mini box, and a "bonus". I tend to think of the "bonus" prize in terms of the prize you get from a cereal box, nothing spectacular but sometimes kind of neat. In terms of packs, there's a Babe Ruth Collection, 2016 Heritage, and two retail packs of the Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks. The Babe Ruth pack I've already earmarked for Dimebox Nick so I won't be ripping into that, but the others I will, at least the Heritage pack should be somewhat fun.

This was the bonus prize, a pack of Teeny Mates baseball figures. In the pack, there's two figures and two puzzle pieces. I'm not sure what good the puzzle pieces will do me but the figures themselves aren't bad. This particular pack had a Reds figure and a Mariners figure. 

Moving on to the 50-card mini-box. It's to be expected that there will be a bunch of commons from the late 80s and early 90s in these but a good 90% of the box was that. There was so much, in fact, that I had trouble finding cards from the box to scan, something that typically isn't an issue. I did manage to find a few gems, but not many. This was the top card of the stack, a 2013 Topps Toys R' Us Purple Parallel of Giancarlo Stanton, late of the Miami Marlins. 

The oldest card in the mini box, a 1985 Fleer Bruce Hurst. No, it's not some goofy rainbow parallel, my scanner just seems to hate 1985 Fleer.

Some recent and future Hall of Famers in Alan Trammell and Tim Raines. Good to see that Trammell is finally getting his place in the Hall. Now, if we can just get Lou Whitaker in there as well.

A few nice horizontal cards, including one of Juan Castro, who I'd completely forgotten about until I saw that card. Castro spent the middle eight years of his career (2000-2008) with the Reds as a utility infielder, playing mainly third and short.

Can't go wrong with this either, a Future Stars Billy Hamilton card with the Topps Rookie Cup on it.

Moving on now to the packs of Panini Prizm Draft Picks. These are a staple of these type repacks and never really do much for me.

Only four cards in each pack and nothing really here to write home about from either pack. Jack Flaherty is at least someone I've heard of. Some of these will be thrown into the trade bin, the rest, I guess, will reside in the collection for now or will be set aside for the Goodwill bag.

Finally, the Heritage pack. There's 9 cards here and since it's the 2016 version, that means it's the 1967 version.

There you have it, a few interesting cards but wait, what's that in the middle? Why it's a Chrome parallel of Mike Trout #'d to 999. Here's a close up of it ...

So yeah, I'd say that was a pretty decent pull from a Heritage retail pack. Anyway, that puts the bow on a another repack. I'd say this was pretty much a bust aside from what I decided to show. Hopefully the next one will be better.