Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Box Break and Review: 2021 Bowman Hobby Box

It is tradition for me to buy one box of Topps Chrome and one box of Bowman Chrome each year.  We'll see if that tradition holds up again this fall, because this year I decided to jump early and grab a box of Bowman. At this moment, you can buy one of these for $275 on eBay. $275 would have sounded insane 5+ years ago, but the hobby boom of the past year has driven prices up across the board. 

For those of us that have been in the hobby for a while, this might sound insane... but relative to what other hobby boxes are, $275 is not unreasonable. I realize that many collectors won't pay that - or anywhere close to that - for a hobby box, and I understand completely. This was a bit of a treat for me, however I've been opening a few hobby boxes each year since I started collecting in 2013 and I'm not ready to give that up just yet. I'm also pretty certain that I won't find any retail... so considering all of those factors, I felt comfortable coughing up the money. I have no regrets - I believe there is a lot of value to be found in this product and I had a blast opening it.

24 packs per box, 10 cards per pack gives you a total of 240 cards total, so I'm going to stick to the highlights. 

Starting out with rookies. This year's Bowman boasts what I feel is a very strong rookie class. For whatever reason, these rookies have very little value compared to Topps flagship, but's still a fun way to add a bunch of rookies to your collection.

Above we see a quick selection of some 1st Bowman's of top prospects in their "paper" versions. Austin Martin is the premiere name in this bunch. He's the #2 prospect in the Blue Jays system, and currently in the top 20 in the MLB.

This box had a great selection of chrome prospect cards, including many 1st Bowman cards. Lots of good names here. It's great to get a chrome version of Martin. Blaze Jordan is the #10 prospect in the Red Sox system, and seems to be another popular name. Mick Abel projects to be a strong starting pitcher some day. 

Each box promises one autograph. I landed a refractor #/499 of Jeremy De La Rosa, a 19 year old outfield prospect in the Nationals system. Skimming some write-ups about him, De La Rosa is described as "toolsy" which is apparently a modern-day way of saying he's talented in many areas.

This box had some color, and I landed two parallels in the chrome department and two paper. The Perdomo blue is #/199. The Yusneil Diaz atmoic refractor is by far the prettiest... atomic refractors are just awesome. Both of the paper stock parallels are fuchsia parallels, #/299. I'm excited about the Mountcastle rookie. The pink parallel wouldn't be my top choice, but it's always great to have a short print of a top rookie.

I love these 1991 Bowman inserts. 

Here's a look at two other inserts on the checklist: Rookie of the Year favorites and Futurist. Both of these look great. I really love the Futurist design, although I find that specific shot of Bobby Witt to be rather unflattering. Classic situation of "That's the best you can do, Topps?"

To round it out, we must see the Pirates! This is a Pirates blog, after all. The fact that Nick Gonzales is being featured on multiple inserts is good news, and I was excited to pull the Futurist insert with him on it. His photo is cooler than Bobby Witt's, at least. I was also lucky to pull two Ke'Bryan Hayes rookies. These mark the first "official" RC-stamped rookies Hayes' that I own.

I haven't mentioned this yet but I really wanted to make mention: I didn't receive a single duplicate card in the entire box. I've seen some complaints about dupes before. I'm not sure if those were Topps products or not, but I was pleased to see no dupes in this box.


Overall Design: I'm very indifferent on the base card design. It's a little busy, but they have borders and that's always a huge plus for me. The inserts, however, get a big thumbs up. I think the 1991 Bowman and Futurist inserts are absolute slam dunks. The Top 100 and Rookie of the Year Favorites look clean as well.

The Hits: One autograph per box might be a little light, but there's value to be found in other areas. The 1st Bowman cards, specifically the chrome ones, are becoming a hot commodity. To give some perspective, the Austin Martin chrome is going for about $30, and the "paper" stock is going for $10. I have a copy of Ke'Bryan Hayes 2015 1st Bowman, and it's value peaked around $70. This was in April, when he hit a homer in the Pirates opener after a strong (yet abbreviated) 2020 campaign. Fernando Tatis' 1st Bowman Chrome is going for just shy of $200 right now.  I didn't buy the box strictly to invest in cards, but I want to make the point that YES, the price is high for this box - but there is value.

Positives: No dupes, beautiful inserts, nice mix of parallels, strong rookie checklist.

Negatives: Light on hits, smaller base checklist (100 cards). 

Rating:  9/10. I think I got lucky with a pretty good box, and that probably helps the cause, but I really enjoyed tearing through these 24 packs. 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Pirates Don't Suck (Yet)

Baseball season is underway. Somehow - by the grace of god - the Pirates aren't doing nearly as poorly as expected. With this afternoon's win over the Twins, the Pirates have raised their record to 10-11. Pre-season projections had the team winning 60 games - so some quick math tells me that 10 wins in 21 games projects to 77 wins in 162 game season.

We will actually win 77 games? No shot. The rebuild is full swing, and we'll be sellers at the trade deadline. After we ship out some of our consistent role players for prospects (I'm looking at you Adam Frazier), I imagine August and September will be rough.

Regardless, this has been a fun start to the season, and I am elated to have baseball back on my television. To celebrate, let's check out some of my recent Pirates pickups:

Bryan Reynolds - 2020 Topps Allen & Ginter Chrome Gold Refractor #/50

After a miserable 2020 campaign where he hit below the Mendoza line and looked like a shell of the player we saw in his rookie year, Bryan Reynolds is back to his old self. With this add, I'm now up to 38 unique Reynolds cards.  Not only was this a nice addition to my Reynolds PC, it's also another great add to my Pirates Gold Room. I know many collectors are experiencing "chrome fatigue" and aren't thrilled bout Ginter chrome. I didn't buy any boxes of it but I think this gold parallel is a beauty. 

Tyler Glasnow - 2017 Topps Chrome Rookie Debut Gold Refractor #/50

Speaking of gold parallels,  I was able to add this Tyler Glasnow card to my old PC for a reasonable price. As he continues to dominate, I'm not sure how many more of his cards I'll be able to snag. 

Nick Gonzales - 2020 Bowman Draft Paper

Nick Gonzales was the Pirates first round pick in last year's draft at #7 overall. He's a big time prospect, so collectors of all types are clinging to his cards. I was able to acquire this through a TCDB trade. This is my first Gonzales card and I hope it's the first of many. 

Phillip Evans - 2018 Topps Stadium Club Autograph

(L) Phillip Evans - 2018 Topps RC
(R) Phillips Evans - 2018 Topps Rainbow Foil RC

The Pirates have a handful of new faces in the everyday lineup, one of whom is Phillip Evans. Evans made a quick debut with the Mets in 2017 and 2018 but it only amounted to about 50 plate appearances. He spent all of 2019 in the minors before making his way back to the show with the Pirates last year. Across four seasons, he's still only played in 63 games, making him a widely unknown name. I was able to trade for all three of the cards above on TCDB. 

David Bednar - 2020 Topps Foilboard Rookie #/264

While this certainly isn't the flashiest of my recent pickups, it might be my favorite. Bednar, a Pittsburgh native, was part of the trade return for Joe Musgrove. Bednar isn't a big name but he's pitched very well for the Pirates and has earned himself a look in high leverage situations. He's a Pittsburgh native and has quickly become a fan favorite. The foilboard parallels were added exclusively to Wal-Mart complete sets, and they're one of the prettier parallel finishes that I've seen. 

Joe Musgrove - 2018 Bowman Chrome RC Refractor #/500

When Joe Musgrove was dealt to San Diego over the winter, I let go of several of my Musgrove cards, including most of my autographs. I had too many, and his cards were fetching a decent price right after the trade.... Fast forward to last week when he threw the Padres first ever no hitter. I had immediate seller's remorse. Nostalgia washed over me, and I hopped on eBay to see if I could find a cheap rookie. For $6, this is what I came up with. It's nice to have a shiny Big Joe rookie back in my collection. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Random Card Post: 1984 Topps Glossy Mike Schmidt

Nothing to see here,  just a blue collar guy from Dayton, Ohio posing for a baseball card photo.

1984 Topps Glossy - Mike Schmidt

"Philadelphia is the only city, where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day." 

-Mike Schmidt

"Pete Rose  is the most likable arrogant person I've ever met." 

-Mike Schmidt

"If you're associated with the Philadelphia media or town, you look for negatives. I don't know if there's something about their upbringing or they have too many hoagies, or too much cream cheese." 

-Mike Schmidt


Monday, March 29, 2021

March Mail Roundup

Another month has flown by. I stopped today to take a look at all of the cards I acquired in March, and it was another great month of grabbing singles. The sports card market is still blazing hot, and I'm still taking full advantage of that by continuing to sell cards that I'm ready to move on from. The eBay Standard Envelope mailing option is, in my opinion, one of the greatest things to happen to our hobby in the past decade. It's really enticed me to list some PWE-ship cards that I never would have considered listing. 

As I send cards out, I'm able to bring cards in. 

Tiger Woods - 2001 Upper Deck RC

I wish I would have grabbed this last year when it was a $10 card, but better late than never. This rookie card is almost one of those "must haves" for any collector. Tiger is consistently ranked amongst the greatest athletes of all time. I wanted to grab one in good condition, and paid a little extra for that luxury. If all goes according to plan, this will be the next 1987 Fleer Jordan and it will pay for my kid's college tuition some day. 

Nolan Arenado 
2013 Bowman Draft Base
2013 Bowman Draft Chrome
2013 Bowman Draft Chrome Refractor

Is it just me, or has Nolan Arenado become one of the most under-appreciated players in baseball in the last year or two? Playing in Colorado probably hasn't help him. That should change when he's a big time factor in the middle of the lineup for the Cardinals, who will try to contend with the Cubs for the top spot in the NL Central. 

Just in case you've forgotten about this dude, from 2015-2019, he never had less than 37 HRS and 110 RBI in a season. In that five year strech, he led the NL in HRs three times, and led the entire league in RBI twice. 

Oh, and he's won a Gold Glove in every single season that he's been in the majors. Yep, eight for eight. He's only 30 years old -- and aside from the 2020 season that was fluky for so many top players -- he's showing no signs of slowing down.

You can have your Sotos and Acunas - I'll take my Arenados, thank you very much. I grabbed this lot of three cards for $27 total. 

Jared Oliva - 2019 Bowman Draft Chrome Refractor Autograph #/499

The 25 year old Jared Oliva was looking to have a shot at the major league roster this year. The Pirates are lacking depth in the outfield and I thought Oliva had a chance to grab a backup spot. After collecting only a few hits in spring training, he was optioned to the minor league camp last week. The former 7th round pick will try to prove himself in AAA. 

Sydney Crosby - 2005-06 Upper Deck Trilogy Rookie Premiere #/999

Casually sliding in one of the largest single card purchases I've ever made. As I watch more hockey, I'm really starting to appreciate the greatness of players like Sydney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Connor McDavid. I've had the privilege of watch Sid in person a few times and it doesn't take long to understand that you're watching a master of his craft. 

I was really hoping to land a card with a serial number on it, but it can get pricey. I've been keeping an eye on a few Sid rookies for a few months, and finally found one I was comfortable pulling the trigger on. 

This one was in my price range. It's super clean - great surface, sharp edges and corners. There is one flaw on the card, which the seller was kind enough to highlight so it wasn't a surprise. Check out the pictures below and you can see the chipping right along the bottom center of the back. I decided it's a flaw that I can live with, and the price reflected it.  

Like I said - very minor, and I can definitely live with it. The rest of the card is nearly flawless. 

Immanuel Quickley - 2020-21 NBA Hoops 

My little Knicks PC barely ever makes it on the blog, but it's been picking up some steam now that we're becoming a competitive team again, and there are actually some players worth rooting for. As a pseudo-Kentucky fan, I watch nearly every one of Immanuel Quickley's games at the collegiate level. I'm definitely biased, but I was pumped when the Knicks drafted him. He's already looking like a late-first-round steal and potentially one of the top five picks in the draft. I let the Hoops craze die down for about a month after it's release and then grabbed this for $4.

2020 Prizm Draft Prospects - Elijah Hughes Auto

Speaking of $4 pickups, I grabbed this Elijah Hughes auto. Hughes was the catalyst for 'Cuse's success last year. A lanky 6'6 shooter, his game is built for the NBA. He was selcted by the Jazz in the middle of the second round. He's bounced between the G-League and the big leagues and I hope he'll be able to stick at some point. 

Kevin Durant - 2007-08 Topps RC

The last pickup is another beauty. This is considered Durant's "true" rookie. The Nets are going to be NBA Finals worthy this year, and I wanted to grab a Durant rookie before they make their run and the prices skyrocket. If all goes according to recent events, we may be looking at a Lakers-Nets final... and it would be one for the ages. If the Nets can pull it off, Durant would be the odds-on favorite for MVP. Each of those steps falling into place might be a long-shot parlay, but this would be a hell of a card to own if it happens. 

It's a classic 2000's rookie card. You have to love the old baggy Sonics jersey. I really do miss Topps basketball cards. I have a lot of gripes with Topps, but it would be fun to see them produce licensed hoops cards and give Panini a competition. 

Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully I'll get another post up before the April Mail Roundup, but no promises!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

February Mail Roundup

I feel like the sports card trading hobby is in a great place right now. It's not perfect (it never will be) and I know a lot of collectors have their gripes. Prices are on the rise, and you can't find retail. And yes, that sucks. 

But lot of great things are happening too:

  • TCDB trades have picked up
  • The market has more buyers than ever, and I've been able to sell cards that have no place in my collection - and historically had few buyers.
  • One of my friends who hasn't collected since he was a child is getting back into cards and it's been fun to chat with someone about cards without using the internet as a medium.
  • I believe many "dormant" collectors are resurfacing to sell some old cards that are becoming valuable again, and that means options for buyers.
  • With all the activity surrounding the hobby, I've also felt more engaged than usual. In the past, it was just us bloggers in our little corner of the internet - some us just writing, some doing some trades, and maybe some buying and selling on eBay, COMC, and SportsLots. It seems like the hobby is more integrated with society now, if that makes any sense.

I think my February Mail Roundup is a great representation of these trends. I bought some singles on eBay, traded on TCDB, traded with a blogger, and even traded with a non-blogger who contacted me because of my blog - miracles do happen!

Let's start with eBay pickups: 

Andrew McCutchen - 2010 Topps Chrome Refractor

Starting off with my favorite pickup of the month. I'm no Collecting Cutch, but I do have a nice little stash of Cutch cards. His 2010 card is one of my favorites, and there are still several variations of this card that I'd like to get my hands on. This purchase ran me a whopping $4, and if you're asking me, that's absurdly low for a second year refractor of a player of his calibur. Lately, I'm really loving the Topps All-Star Rookie cards with the gold cup. More on that to follow.

Stan Lee - 2015 Topps

Although it's technically a sports card since it's part of the Flagship set, here's a rare non-sports add for me. This card is a must-have for any Marvel fan.

Juan Soto - 2019 Topps

As I write this post, I'm learning that I'm becoming more and more of a fan of the Topps Rookie Cup. It's a classic logo, and like the "RC" logo, I think it does add some value to the card. As card prices soar, the price of star rookies are soaring as well. I'm fine with that trend, but it means I seldom own any star rookie cards. Second year cards are the next best thing. I grabbed a few of these for $2 each. I guess that's my version of "investing."

Alexandre Texier - 2019-20 Upper Deck Artifacts RC #/999

A small pickup for the Blue Jackets PC.

Trade with TCDB member Leftydunc:

Josh Anderson - 2015-16 Upper Deck Young Guns

A small PWE trade through TCDB netted me this Josh Anderson Young Guns. I sent off two 2020 Bowman prospect cards, and in return I was fortunate to see this in my mailbox. Anderson was one of my favorite Blue Jackets over the past two years. Sadly he was dealt this offseason, but I still plan on collecting him. Young Guns cards can be tough to come by, so this was an exciting add for me.

Liam Foudy - 2020-21 Upper Deck Artifacts #/999

(L) Seth Jones - 2018-19 Upper Deck Ice Green
(R) Sergei Bobrovsky - 2020-21 Upper Deck Artifacts - Threads of Time Relic

A pattern is developing where I see a nice Blue Jackets card on Doug's blog, I inquire about it, and then he sends me the card along with some other awesome stuff. That was the case here, with me inquiring about the Foudy card. The Jones parallel and the Bobrovsky relic were bonuses as well as some other base card that I didn't photograph.

 Thankfully I had a good handful of Raptors cards to send Doug's way to return the favor. Thanks, Doug!

Trade with Oren, a nice man who reads my blog:

Seth Jones - 2014-15 Upper Deck Canvas
Sergei Bobrovsky - 2017-18 O-Pee-Chee OPC Mini 

Malachi Richardson - 2016-17 Donruss Optic Orange #/199
Michael Carter Williams - 2014-15 Panini NBA Hoops Blue #/349

(L) Jerome Bettis - 2015 Donruss 
(R) Trevor Williams - 2021 Topps Gold Foil

I had the rare opportunity to trade with a blog-reader who does not have a blog himself. I got a nice email from Oren, who had some cards that he thought I might like. He had a great assortment of items for my PC, sending something for my Blue Jackets, Syracuse Alum, Steelers, and Pirates PCs. He sent me a list of players he collects, and we were able to work out a PWE swap. Thanks for the trade, Oren. It's nice to know someone out there reads the blog!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

2021 Topps Series 1 Blaster Box Break

Baseball season is around the corner, and that means Topps Series 1 is beginning to hit (and hopefully stay on) the shelves.

Last week I randomly logged on to Twitter at about 8:30 AM for absolutely no good reason. I saw two posts announcing that Target had 2021 Series 1 Blasters on their website, and I was lucky to grab a few. I think they were live for about 20-30 minutes before selling out. Considering the state of the card market that's basically an eternity. I don't make a habit out of getting on Twitter early in the morning so I feel lucky to have seen the deal. I've noticed some other collectors have had luck finding some on shelves, so hopefully this is not a product that retail flippers will target. I don't know why they would. 

The package arrived to me yesterday and I busted open a blaster.

Here's the base design. The tiny nameplate is catching a ton of heat and rightfully so. I don't love the diagonal name, and I really don't like the blue graphic coming from the left side of the card. I have no problem with the logo and accompanying banner in the bottom right, but the addition of the nonsense on the left side is totally unnecessary. 

On the plus side, I really like the white border. I'm a BIG border guy. I also like the Topps silver 70th anniversary stamp. 

To conclude my thoughts on this year's design: It's more of the same from Topps. Some good, some bad. 

A quick look at the backs.

Now on to the packs. 7 Packs, 14 cards in each: 

Pack One

The first card I pulled in 2021 is a Pirate! Maybe it's a World Series omen. Highlights in this pack are the Luis Robert Rookie Cup and the Buster Posey 1952 Insert. Based on this box, you're going to find two inserts per pack. 

Pack Two

This pack opened up with yet another Bucco, so this is an undeniable sign that the Pirates will in the World Series this year. Jokes aside, this was a great start to a team set. This was a great pack. The Mattingly 1986 design is a beautiful card. I love the black and white theme. Joey Bart is a bigger-name Rookie, and the Deivi Garcia rookie is a great pull too. 

The Bucco streak ends, but this packed yielded another three rookies, as well as an Acuna Home Run Challenge card. I've never actually submitted one. Maybe this will be the year.

Pack Four

The (former) Buccos return with both a Josh Bell base card and a 1952 insert. I'm sad to see Josh leave Pittsburgh, but I am fully onboard with the rebuild. His best years could have been wasted in Pittsburgh. I will continue to collect him, even in Nats gear.

The other insert is part of the "70 Years of Topps" set. This pack also had a Joey Bart base rookie. 

Pack Five

Pack five contains my favorite insert that I've seen in Topps flagship in quite some time: Chrome 1952 Topps Redux. In terms of blogger-collectors, I think I'm in the minority here - but I love retro designs redone in chrome. Turkey Red Chrome, Allen and Ginter Chrome, give me all of the chrome.

I pulled one 1952 Chrome, and it's Max Scherzer. I don't think my picture does it justice. It's pretty. It has the refractor-shine, but it isn't overdone. 

Pack Six

Another Pirate, Colin Moran makes an appearance. Another 1986 insert with Christian Yelich, and a 1952 insert of Javy Baez. 

Pack Seven

One last (former) Pirate, Chris Archer. I was excited to pull a Rainbow parallel of Rookie Jesus Sanchez. I don't know a ton about him, but I do know that he has been in the Marlins top prospect rankings for a few years. I didn't realize he had debuted in the majors. It looks like he had only 25 ABs last year. Maybe he'll be a bigger part of the Marlins outfield this year. I'll definitely be holding this one in hopes he takes off soon.

Commemorative 70th Anniversary Patch Pack

Each blaster guarantees one of these. There are only 25 in the set. The whole set consists of Hall of Famers and a few soon-to-be HOFers (Kershaw, Trout, Miggy, etc.). I loathe manufactured patch cards for several reasons - the main reason being that they're a pain to store. I don't have any toploaders that fit them naturally and you can't squeeze them into a penny sleeve. I usually just list my patch cards on eBay right after getting them and consider it a $5 rebate on the box. It's always great to see Ken Griffey Jr., but his fate will likely be the same as his predecessors. 

I'll be cataloguing these into TCDB today, and aside from the rookies everything here is for trade. 

Thanks for reading.