Saturday, September 21, 2019

2019 Bowman Chrome Hobby Box Break

It's that time of year! The time when I randomly get an email from UPS telling me that a package is going to be delivered to me in a few days, and I start to wonder what the heck it is. I ponder for a minute and then I remember that it's the box of Bowman Chrome that I pre-ordered months ago. It's become somewhat of an annual tradition for me: Sometime in the summer I pre-order one box of Topps Chrome and one box of Bowman Chrome, and it becomes a nice little surprise a few months later.

This year, Bowman Chrome took a different route with Hobby: 
  • A standard Hobby Box is referred to a "Master Box."
  • The Master Box contains two Mini-boxes (broken out in the two pictures below).
  • Each Mini-Box contains 6 packs, 5 cards per pack, one auto.
    • 12 packs total, 60 cards, two autos.

The cover artwork features a man who crushed his 50th home run last night. And Fernando Tatis' son.

On to the highlights:

Sam Hentges Chrome Refractor /499. Hentges is a 23-year old lefty who spent the year in AA with the Akron Rubber Ducks, the AA affiliate for the Indians. He finished the year with 5.11 ERA. 

(L) Tommy Wilson Purple Refractor /249. Similar story to Hentges. 23 years old, spent the year with the Mets AA affiliate, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. 4.96 ERA.

(R) Garrett Whitlock Purple Shimmer. #27 Prospect in the Yankees system. 

Brandon Bielak base auto. #11 prospect in the Astros system, and seems to have some good upside. 11th round pick out of Notre Dame in 2017. He was pitching in AAA this year, so his arrival may come sooner than later.

Blaine Knight Refractor Auto #/499. #16 Prospect in the Orioles system. This 23 year old weights in at a whopping 165 pounds, so he could certainly add to his 6'3 frame. He was a third rounder in the draft this year and from what I've read, a live arm.

So there we have it. Overall, this was a fun break. All of these cards will be going directly into storage and I'll revisit them down the road. Unless you hit a unicorn, that's the attitude you have to have with Bowman Chrome. Store them away and revisit in a few years. Patience is a virtue in collecting. I've learned that the hard way, like the time I flipped a Giannis rookie relic in 2014 just to reimburse the cost of the repack I found it in. Man... what I would give for a 5-year rewind with that one.

Monday, September 16, 2019

2019 Topps Chrome Group Break: Pirates

Last week I joined a group break for the first time in years. While browsing the cardboard blogosphere recently, I ended up on the Cardboard Connection reading a guide about the best group break sites. They mentioned Real Breaks, who is Facebook-exclusive family friendly group. They have an assortment of breaks with a little something for everyone - pick your team, random team, etc. I believe they do mostly case breaks. 

I started by just joining the group and not looking for any specific group breaks. Of course over time I started to get notifications, and one night I found myself checking out a 12-box case break of 2019 Topps Chrome, which will yield 24 autos. The Pirates don't have the greatest autograph checklist in 2019 - so my yield had a low ceiling - but that also meant that the price was right. For $30, I jumped in.

The whole break took about an hour which is a long time to tune in to hope for one or two good cards. You'll need some free time and some patience. If you're feeling social, the chat can certainly help keep it interactive. I should also mention that I received all of my cards within a week of the break! Speedy.

Aside from accumulating about five team sets, I did land three nice cards:

Two Nick Burdi autos. The one on the right is the base auto, but the one on the left is the gold parallel #/50. I'll take it! I guess Burdi shows up a ton in Chrome and sort of saturates the product. The break host was joking about "another dang Nick Burdi card." I'm not complaining.

Burdi carried a lot of hype into the season this year because he can creep into triple digits with his fastball. He won a spot in the bullpen out of spring training and was expected to work his way into meaningful late innings. That was cut short after just 11 appearances when his elbow acted up and he underwent his second Tommy John in three years. He's only 26, so here's to hoping he can come back strong some time next year.

Here's the card that I was most excited about, a Kevin Kramer Gold Wave #/50. There's something about gold parallels that really bode well with the Pirates. Yes, the Pirates colors are often referred to as "Black and Gold." In reality, it's black and yellow, but yellow parallels are generally impossible on the eyes. Gold parallels on the other hand... give me all the gold.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my return. Group breaks will always involve risk, but this one worked out. I'd definitely recommend Real Breaks to those looking for a taste of a break without buying a box.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Newman and Kramer: PWE and Some Random PC Adds

I've been a big fan of Sport Card Collectors for a long time. I'm a frequent reader and I especially enjoy the product reviews, which have often inspired (or discouraged) my hobby box purchases. 

I was browsing through the blog the other day and noticed a few late 90's Topps football cards on the wantlist. I have a handful of football cards from that era, so I dug through some of my football commons and was able to dig up two of the cards on there. I contacted Matt who runs the blog and in a few days we had a PWE swap lined up.

I had my eye on a few of his recent breaks after seeing Matt pull a few good looking Pirates.

First up, Matt sent me this 2019 Stadium Club Auto from Kevin Newman. I've never busted open any Stadium Club myself, and I'm not sure I ever will. The photography is great - we know that - but I find myself gravitating towards bordered cards. Therefore, it's awesome to get another Stadium Club Auto in my collection, especially from a guy who has been super impressive in his rookie season.

The other card I requested is the 2019 Topps Chrome Kevin Kramer Prism. I do love some me shiny! At this time last year, Newman and Kramer were projected as the future middle infield for the Pirates. "The Seinfeld Double Play." That hasn't gone exactly to plan as Kramer has been on a slower path of progression. 

Matt also threw in the 2019 Topps Heritage Gregory Polanco Purple Parallel #/175. A really pleasant surprise. Thanks, Matt!

Now for a few random PC pick ups:

Top left: 2018 Bowman Draft Chrome Oneil Cruz #10/50. This guy is super intriguing. First off, he was traded at the deadline in 2017 straight up for reliever Tony Watson, who went on to pitch very meaningful innings for the Dodgers in the playoffs that year. Need more? His dad named him after Paul O'Neil! Not enough for you? He's a 6'6 shortstop, who has a cannon for an arm and a ton of raw power. 

He's 21 years old and was promoted to AA in August. He probably won't stick at that position, but so far his pure athleticism has been enough to keep him there. This is my first Cruz card. I'd love an auto, but he's only signed one licensed product so far and the prices aren't reasonable. 

Top right: 2014 Bowman Chrome Francisco Liriano Bubble Refractor /99. I think the bubble refactors are sooo sweet and I don't know why.

Bottom: 2019 Topps Series 2 Steel City Slammers. I mean... Steel City Slammers. Only two of the players on this card are still Pirates, which sounds about right since it's September and I'm a Pirates fan. Sweet card nonetheless, and a really great way for me to remember Corey Dickerson in one card.

Thanks again to Matt for the awesome PWE swap, and thanks to you for reading!

Monday, September 2, 2019

"Released to a Join a Contender"

Life as a Pirates fan in September. The games are meaningless, the rosters expand and we're told we'll get a glimpse into the future.

This year we also get to reflect on the past, as one of the clubhouse leaders decided to move on from the NL-Central-bottom-dwelling Buccos. About two weeks ago, the Pirates released Francisco Cervelli so he could join a contender. His request. As a fan, you never want to hear those words.

Hell, I don't blame the guy. Why stick around for 25 more meaningless games, if you don't have to? I'm not saying he's a quitter. He's not. By all accounts Cervelli poured his heart and soul into his job. On the day of his release essentially every Pirates starting pitcher posted a thank you to Cervelli for helping them grow as pitchers. 

After seven concussions it's a miracle he's still playing. He's 33, and in an 11 year career he's only had about 2200 ABs. A healthy everyday player would get that in four seasons.

I've casually tried to collect some of his cards and I'll be the first to tell you that there's just not that much out there. There are bunch of dual autos of him and Buster Posey in 2009 Bowman Sterling -- with those heinous silver stickers -- and for the price, that's just not for me. Of the Cervelli cards that are out there, most of them are Yankees. My personal favorite of my collection is the black parallel from 2010 Topps Update.

I promise that someday soon I'll get a decent scanner. The good ol' point-and-shoot with my iPhone just really isn't cutting it when it comes to cards. Seriously, the pictures are pitiful. I know.

You'd never know unless and I told you: You're going to have to zoom like crazy to confirm this, but this card is serial numbered to 59. Bottom left corner on the back of the card, celebrating 59 years of Topps.

Best of luck to Francisco in Atlanta.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Farewell to Captain Luck

As you've heard by now, Andrew Luck announced his retirement last night. When you take into account his injury history - torn abdomen, lacerated kidney, torn labrum, his recent calf issue, and probably a host of concussions - it's hard not to respect his decision. Congrats to Andrew on a great seven years in the NFL, and congrats to him for his bravery and for making a decision that he feels is best for his life.

I have a sports card association with Andrew Luck, and it's not sunshine and rainbows. Is there a certain card, or cards, in your collection that you entirely regret purchasing, for whatever reason? So much so that you don't even looking at them?

Looking back at 2012, I can't recall an NFL draft where the #1 pick was so certain. From the last day of Andrew Luck's college career right to the minute that Roger Goodell called his name, the world knew who was going number one. Number two wasn't in much doubt either as Luck and RGIII went back to back. 

And that doesn't happen too often. As the card below says on the back: Luck and Griffin going 1-2 was the first time since 1999. It may have started a trend, as we've seen it twice since then - 2015 with Jameison Winston and Marcus Mariota again in 2016 with Jared Goff and then Carson Wentz. 

All of that hype is exactly why, in 2012, I found myself needing to add these two guys to my collection, and there was a lot of dual cards out there of these guys. Autographs were insanely priced, and memorabilia cards were still cool. 

So what did I do? Right when these cards started to come out I picked up a 2012 Topps Prime Dual Jersey /25 ... for an absolutely insane price tag. 

I wish I was kidding, but I can't even look at this card without smirking and shaking my head and muttering to myself, "You're such an idiot." 

Enough self-deprecating It is a nice card. It's fine. But you know the phrase "The one that got away?" Whatever the opposite of that is... that's what this card is to me. The one that didn't get away, but I sure wish it did. 

All in good fun. The collector's plight, I suppose. Again, congrats to Andrew Luck on a short, but excellent career.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Contest Over at Collecting Cutch

Brian over at Collecting Cutch is holding an awesome contest featuring a Troy Tulowitzki auto. It's for an excellent cause - a cause that is sadly close to many of us. 

Head over his page, check it out, and enter!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Collecting the Fantasy Team

Before I start - there are some questions at the end, and I’d love to hear from you.

This year a friend of mine from college invited me to join his fantasy baseball league. It’s my first time playing fantasy baseball in about 5 years, and I have to admit: I’m having a blast. I’m definitely a little rusty, and it took me a little while to get the hang of things. My team is sitting at 7-10-2 and I’ll likely miss the playoffs. The league had a higher buy-in than I’m used to, but I’ll admit, the investment alone has kept me... invested. It’s a 14 category league (7 batter categories, 7 pitcher categories). During the draft, I definitely over-valued relief pitching and under-valued starting pitching. I usually win saves and holds, but I rarely come close in K’s. I usually win steals and runs, but I’m short on HR and RBI, and so on.

I have experienced a completely unforeseen side effect from playing Fantasy Baseball: It gets me interested in random players from around the league because they’re on my team (I bet you’ve never seen a better Jason Vargas fan, at least this month). Not just that, but it makes me want to collect those guys. And I’ve started to do so. In the league, our rosters sit at 24 players total and about five of those spots consistently rotate different waiver pickups, spot starts, etc.

I consider myself to be somewhat of an autograph collector. I am by no means exclusive to autographs but I’m always looking to get my hands on them for an affordable price. I have some superstars on my team of course – Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Grienke – but for the sake of affordability, I’ve focused more on the middle-tier players on my team. When I can’t get an auto for a decent price, the next choice is a serial numbered rookie card – so there’s a mix here.

Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox – 2013 Bowman Chrome Rookie Refractor Auto

About the dude: This guy has been great this year, and man, he has flown completely under the radar. The White Sox being mediocre hasn’t helped. He missed about a month with an ankle sprain, but in 334 ABs this year, Timmy is hitting a cool .332 with 13 HR, 44 RBI, 14 steals, and has a .503 OBP. Oh, and he’s also insanely fun to watch. I drafted him late as backup/bench player, and his emergence and contribution allowed me trade my second overall pick, Francisco Lindor, for a huge haul. He’s now my every day SS and one of my favorite players in the show.

About the card: One thing that drives me crazy about 2013 Bowman Chrome is that for whatever reason, they didn’t add serial numbers to the auto refractors. I have a real fondness for gold #/# stamps. Either way, this is a beauty. Looks like Tim is about to unleash a 90 mph cross-body throw for a bang-bang play at first.

Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins – 2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects Blue Refractor /250

About the dude: Similar to Anderson, I would categorize Berrios as “under the radar.” He shouldn’t be. He’s the Twins best pitcher. 10-6, 150 K in 157 IP, 3.37 ERA and 17 Quality Starts. He’s currently hit the roughest patch of his season, giving up 15 ER in his last three outings. That should change tomorrow when he faces the Tigers.

About the card: This is right in my wheelhouse. Chrome, Rookie, /250. Picked up for the price of a hobby pack.

Side note – My desire for a Berrios auto drove me to do one thing that I really don’t love to do, and that’s get in a last-second bidding war on an eBay auction. I think this dude really could be a future Cy Young winner. I want his dang autograph! I was watching a 2013 Bowman Chrome rookie auto of his on eBay, graded 9.5. I ended up winning and…. had instant buyer’s remorse. I listed it on eBay for Buy it Now OBO, and actually sold it a few weeks later for more than I paid. I was thankful to recoup the cost and get a small profit in return, paying for the blue refractor.

Eduardo Escobar, 2B/SS/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks – 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor /799

About the dude: Would you believe me if I told you that this man just crossed over 100 RBI, just two RBI behind NL League leader, Freddie Freeman? It’s true. He’s also slugged 28 homers to go with them. Extremely productive numbers for a guy that gets little-to-no recognition.

About the card: More of my M.O. – Chrome, Rookie, Serial #. Nice little card picked up for a few dollars.

He doesn’t have any autos hanging out there from early in his career, but he has a ton of “buyback” cards popping up from 2019 Archives. They’re reasonably priced, look cool, and come encased and sealed. I don’t know much about these cards. Can anyone shine some light for me? What’s the story with these?

Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles – 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor /799

About the dude: Not that it matters because they’re a dumpster fire, but Baltimore is probably stoked about this guy’s performance. .278 BA, 17 HR, 28 Steals from a middle infielder… you’ll take that all day. He’s on pace to break his career highs in both HR and RBI while chipping in 30+ swiped bags.

About the card: Cost me a dollar on COMC. 

Three other players that I’d love to add, but are just too dang pricey right now:

Oscar Mercado, OF, Cleveland Indians 

Oscar has enjoyed a small breakout this year – .281 BA, 10 HR, 11 SB in 375 AB. He was a waiver pickup about a month ago when I was in need of steals. Bowman rookie autos of his start at $25… too rich for my blood.

Franmil Reyes, OF, Cleveland Indians

Broke onto the scene this year because of some early power in San Diego and was sent to Cleveland at the deadline. He’s currently sitting at 29 HR, but only 53 RBI. Sounds like a lot of solo shots. His Bowman rookie autos are starting around $15…. I’ll wait.

Domingo German, SP, New York Yankees 

Currently leading the MLB with 16 wins and only three losses – you can thank the Yankees murderous lineup for that. Give him some credit, though. He has struck out 131 in 121 innings with a 4.15 ERA, and is probably the best starter on the Yankees right now. Bowman rookie autos are going for around $50… nope.

Now, I’d love to hear from YOU! Do you play Fantasy Baseball? Have you the past? Has it ever inspired you to collect players you normally don’t?