Sunday, November 10, 2019

Busting three Mega Boxes of 2019 Topps Chrome Update

I have been itching to get my hands on some of these boxes ever since they began to emerge a few weeks ago. Topps Chrome Update is a retail exclusive to Target - which theoretically would be great for me. There's a Target about a mile from my home and it's on the way to and from work. They do a great job of stocking cards there as well, so I felt like my chances would be decent. I stopped in often but it was to no avail. 

I started to lose hope. How many times can I stop in a Target for baseball cards? In addition to stopping in to the store, I also stayed tuned to the Target App. I finally got lucky and some boxes popped up late last week. Not only that, they were on sale for $17.99 each. Being a RedCard member gives me free 2-day shipping. I wasn't planning on grabbing more than a box or two, but the killer price inspired me. I pulled the trigger on three, totaling $55 delivered to my door.

I'm not going to go pack-by-pack here. Just the highlights. I only hit one Pirate - #87 Josh Bell ASG. I was really hoping to hit #29 Bryan Reynolds. I'd love to trade for it if anyone has one.

I was fortunate and hit on most of the top rookies. #38 Keston Hiura, #22 Carter Kieboom, #86 Pete Alonso ASG, and #54 Fernando Tatis Jr. Rookie Debut.

More rookies, #42 Cavan Bigio, Vlad Guerrero Jr. Family Business Insert, and #62 Keson Hiura.

Now, on to the "hits," if you will.

On the left is a Griffin Canning x-fractor, #/199. x-fractors fall 1:93 packs, so I beat the odds here and was fortunate to pull this. On the right is Lane Thomas refractor #/250. Refractors fall 1:74 packs so I beat the odds here too. Interestingly, you have the best odds on hitting an autograph, which fall 1:40 packs, which are awesome odds for retail. 

I also hit pulled beauty. Walker Buehler x-fractor #/199. I really love this card. Buehler is a super likable guy and already one of the best pitchers in the game. Add in the ASG graphic and the All-Star Rookie graphic - icing on the cake!

Overall, this was tons of fun. I'm big on Update and I'm a chrome guy so this is one my favorite releases of the year. I really love that refractors and x-fractors are serial numbered. I'd rather pull one of these for a decent player than a no-name auto. Lots of great stuff to stash away to re-visit in a few years.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

My First 1/1

I should clarify – my first 1/1 that isn’t a printing plate. Printing plates are great, but I’ve been hoping to own a card with that pretty gold 1/1 stamp. Thanks to 2019 Topps Archives Signature Series (Retired Player), the time has finally come. 

Now, we know that Topps Archives Signature Series is essentially manufacturing as many 1/1s as they like. All cards are encased buybacks. They have the player sign an original card, they stamp it 1/1, throw it in a case, and stuff it in a “Hobby Box” and charge $40. I’m not saying this card isn’t a true one of one – technically it is – there just happens to be a few dozen other one of one’s from the same set. In fact, there are 15 other 2019 TASS A.J. Burnett 1/1’s on eBay. Seven active and eight sold. However, out of those 15, only three had him in a Pirates jersey.

Alright, I’m done ragging on Signature Series. Let’s look at the bright side: This is a really cool way to create some unique cards that turn out to be pretty affordable. I purchased this card for less than the cost of a box, and I didn’t have to roll the dice and risk ending up with a CoCo Crisp or Mike Lieberthal auto. So that’s a win.

A.J. only spent three seasons with the Pirates so there aren’t a ton of Burnett cards out there where he’s in Pirates jersey, and none look better than his 2013 Allen & Ginter Card. When it comes to on-card autos, I’m a firm believer that no card is better than A&G. They were my go-to back in my TTM days. The white background usually sets up for a beautiful signature, and that’s definitely the case here. The blue ink looks fantastic and I love that Burnett includes his number 34 in his signature.

I’m really excited to add this to my collection!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Bowman Chrome X

Earlier this week, Topps stirred up some news by partnering with a company called StockX to bring a new product offer to baseball card collectors: Bowman Chrome X. In this post, I’ll try my best to break down what it is, how it worked, and I’ll also share my thoughts at the end.

The Product: Bowman Chrome X – What is it?

Box Chrome X is essentially a “hobby box” that contains one baseball card. All cards are:

  • Green X-Fractor parallels.
  • A rookie or prospect.
  • Numbered to 31
  • Pre-graded a 9 or a 10 by PSA.
  • NON-Autos.
  • Cases are also offered. Cases have five boxes, but also an added incentive – one of the five boxes will include a hit off a special checklist:

OK. Now we’ve got the product down. Now, how were they sold? This is where it gets interesting. Bowman Chrome X was offered through a website called StockX, who sold the product through an IPO (Initial Public Offering). This model is loosely based off the stock market when a company “goes public” - when a company goes from a privately held company to publicly-traded company. The IPO gives investors the chance to be the first to buy stock.

So how does this come into play with Bowman Chrome X? How does a StockX IPO Work?

  • StockX IPOs are a blind auction.
  • Customers place anonymous bids on items – they can bid whatever amount they’re comfortable spending.
  • Once the auction has ended, the top bids that match the quantity in stock for that specific size will win the item.
  • For example, if there are 100 boxes available, then the top 100 bids will win the boxes.
    • However, all winners will be charged the same amount - this is what is called the 'Clearing Price'.
    • The Clearing Price is the lowest winning bid of the 100 mentioned above. This means that even if you had the highest Bid at $1,000, if the Clearing Price is only $200, then you win the box for just $200.
    • Think of it this way: Using the example above, the bids are ranked 1-100, highest to lowest, and the clearing price is whatever #100 bid.
  • Bidders are notified within 24 hours if they won or not.

If you’re still confused on the process, I highly recommend checking out this 90-second YouTube video from StockX that explains it very well.

OK – Now we’ve got this down. So what happened?

  • The IPO for Bowman Chrome X went live last week and closed on 10/30/19, 8:00 PM EST.
  • The quantities offered in the IPO were 1,100 individual boxes, and 400 5-box cases.
  • After bidding closed, the StockX website stated that over 2,100 bids were received for boxes. I did not see a bid number for cases.
  • According to what I’ve found on Twitter – which I believe to be legit due to tweets from multiple winners – the clearing prices ended at $50/box, and $300/case, plus $12-15 shipping.

My thoughts?

1) I tried to get involved. I’ll admit it. I bit! This a brand new concept, and it was something I couldn’t help but get involved with. I like Chrome and shiny new things… so I thought I’d give it a spin. I put in a bid for one box and one case, hoping that I could throw in a low-ball offer on each and get involved at a decent price. For better or worse, my bids were under the clearing price. I didn’t miss the box price by a ton but I was way under on the case price. No Bowman Chrome X for me.

After seeing the clearing prices, I’m glad I’m not spending that kind of money on 1 or 5 baseball cards. And I guess that's the beauty of this - I wouldn't be comfortable paying $50/box plus shipping... and, I'm not paying that! I submitted my bid, and my bid wasn't high enough. 

2) I'm not sure I trust the results and the clearing price. It's interesting. If the clearing prices are truly $50 and $300, those seem to be strangely round numbers, no? If you have over 1,100 people bid on something, and the 1,100 highest bidder is the one that sets the price - don't you figure it would be some obscure number? Like $48.78? I have a hard time believing that they happened to land cleanly on $50 and $300. 

Furthermore, I've read rumors on Twitter that StockX has notified box winners that they can buy more boxes. But... If there were 1,100 boxes, and over 2,100 bids, how the heck are there more boxes for sale? 

To add another layer, now the StockX Bowman X webpage is still showing that there were 1,013 bids. So, wouldn't that mean that the clearing price should be at whatever #1,013 bid? And since that's the lowest bid, we know that bid is the guy who put in $.01. 

3) The IPO concept is definitely cool - if it's legit. As stated above, I certainly question the validity of this. But if it's actually a legit offering, it's really cool in the sense that it empowers consumers to set the market price.

4) I will be watching these cards closely when they hit the market. And you know that won't take long. There are already boxes and cases listed on eBay for ridiculous prices, and thankfully, none of them have sold yet. Eventually they will sell, but I'm hoping they don't sell too high above the clearing price. This would only encourage flippers. As for the boxes that are opened - you can bank on the Vlad Jr. and Bichette PSA 10s going for a good price. Beyond that, I'm interested to see what these cards sell for. 

If you've made it this far, I'm SUPER curious to hear your thoughts. Did you consider getting on the Bowman X action? Did you bid? How do you feel about this type of product offering?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Pirates PC Adds, and Two New Trades

Yep, the World Series is going on and I'm just over here talking about Pittsburgh Pirates cards. No Juan Soto cards to show off here, sorry. Just lots of mediocre Pirates.

Lots of new stuff to debut, lets get to it!

Jose Osuna is a guy who's been buried pretty deep in the Pirates system for quite some time. Not for a lack of talent or skill, but more so because of outfield depth in AAA. Osuna for three years, Osuna has been one of the last guys cut from the big league roster in Spring Training, and one of the first guys called up once injuries strike. He has some real pop in his bat, and considering that he's "average athleticism" for a major leaguer, he's pretty versatile defensively - able to plug in at 1B, 3B, and both outfield spots.

In 2019, Osuna enjoyed a new career high in ABs with 261. Seeing him play more often inspired me to check out some of his Rookie cards. He may never be an everyday player, but I love this dude.

Oh! And I got a new scanner, so enjoy some awesome pictures that really pop.

2017 Topps Update Gold Parallel #/2017

2012 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor #/500

2017 Topps Heritage High Number Chrome Variations Refractor #/568

Next up, I grabbed a pair of 2014 Bowman Chrome Bubble Refractors #/99:

Our old buddies Cutch and Cole. I'll admit it, I have a strange fondness for these cards. They're super unique looking, and look really great in the scans when they get some light bouncing off them. These additions will join Fransisco Liriano as I build a Pirates team set.

Next up, two awesome cards that I received in a PWE swap with Matt at Sport Card Collectors. I was able to knock some 90's football cards off of his wantlist, and he was generous enough to send back a card that I've had my eye on.

Matt threw in a few other cards, this being one of them: Chris Archer 2019 Topps Heritage Chrome Refractor.

But here's the real prize:

2019 Bowman Sterling Travis Swaggerty Sparkle Parallel #/99.

What a beauty! Swaggerty was the Pirates first round pick in this year's draft. This is not only my first auto of his, but my first Swaggerty card. I couldn't be more pumped. This card is so sweet. One last plug for my new scanner... it certainly made this refractor jump out. Thanks for the trade, Matt!

I also completed my first trade with Trevor of Bump and Run Football Card Blog. Trevor took part in an Optic group break and ended up with the Pirates, so he had a nice stack to send my way:


Aside from the Optic stuff, I also hand-picked two cards off of his trade list:

2017 Topps Update Jose Osuna

2018 Topps Heritage Austin Meadows RC

You probably know this guy by now. Sadly, I didn’t really collect much of Meadows when he was in the Pirates system. He was a little too blue of a blue chip prospect and the price tags on his cards were too high. I can’t imagine they’re about to go down any time soon, so it’s great to pick this up through trade. Thanks for the cards, Trevor!

Lastly I’ll showcase a random eBay pickup from last week:

2019 Donruss "The Rookies" Benny Snell Auto #/299

How sweet is this refractor? 

I haven’t blogged about this yet – it’s a conversation for another day – but over the past three years I’ve become a big University of Kentucky football fan. My fandom hasn’t spilled into collecting yet bu maybe this will open the floodgates. When the Steelers drafted Benny Snell in the fourth round this year I was ecstatic. I had enjoyed watching this guy will Kentucky to several wins over the past two years, so it was a dream-come-true to have him join my NFL team.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

2019 Topps Update: Ripping (4) Hobby Packs

This weekend I was able to slip away to the LCS and suppress my burning desire to grab some Update. They had some hobby packs in stock for $4/pack, so I was happy to walk away with four packs. 

It poses an interesting question: Would you rather buy a blaster, or five hobby packs for the same price?

There's no right answer. I'll typically go the Hobby pack route for a chance at an auto. I also prefer to support local business when possible. 

Here's what I needed up with:

Pack One

Alberto Hanser #30
Lane Thomas RC #227
Alex Colome #76
Braden Bishop RC #125
Miguel Castro #163
Adam Ottavino #236
Ken Griffey Jr. "Est. 1869" Reds Insert #EST-13

A.J. Pollock #70
Brad Boxberger #191
Zack Britton #214
J.T. Realmuto ASG #58
J.D. Hammer RD #27
J.D. Martinez #134
Joe Biagini #292

Pack Two

Cal Quantrill #23
Mike Zunino #239
Cole Tucker RC #197

Adam Jones #242
Walker Buehler ASG/All-Star Rookie #8
Kyle Bird RC #80
Michael Brantley 35th Anniversary #84-46

Wilmer Flores #203
Pedro Avila RC #115
Jose Abreau ASG #160
Matt Chapman #157
Ty France #129
Tommy Kahnle #161
Luis Alvarez RC #247

Pack Three

Nathan Evoldi #282
Michael Chavis RC #170
Marwin Gonzalez # 110
Skye Bolt RC #211
Sergio Romo #164
Kevin Plawecki #225
Hunter Pence #86
Carter Kieboom 35th Anniversary RC #84-14

Gary Sanchez ASG #4
Melky Cabrera #21
Curtis Granderson #187
Carter Kieboom RC #109
Yasiel Puig #106
Josh Donaldson #257

Pack Four

Mitch Keller RC #218

Junior Guerra #64
Tommy Edman RC #84
Avisail Garcia #188
Matt Wotherspoon/Braden Kline Rookie Combos #264
Hyun-Jin Ryu #297
Soaring in the Six #241
Sandy Koufax "Inconic Card Reprints" Insert #ICR-13

Jake Odorizzi #36
Mike Moustakas ASG #49
Mike Trout ASG #146
Xander Bogaerts ASG #144
James McCann ASG #15
Chris Paddack RC #207


Two Pirates rookies! Considering I only purchased four packs, I'll certainly take that. I'm still hunting for Bryan Reynolds. There were some other good rookies in here, with Tommy Edman, Chris Paddock, and Carter Keiboom (2x) showing up. I also gave myself a shot a an autograph, which always adds a layer of fun. 

Aside from the Pirates, everything here is available for trade.

Curious to hear from others: Did you rip any Update yet? Do you have any desire to? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Holding Oneself Accountable

When I returned to blogging four months ago, I wrote a "back from hiatus post" and laid out several collecting goals. At the time I felt like this would be an important way to hold myself accountable. Like any hobby, collecting cards has to be meaningful and it has to have a purpose. That’s something that we can never lose sight of. We’re all guilty of chasing hits and hoping to rip a pack and pull the card that’s going to net us $1,000 on eBay, but we need to remember the score reasons about why we collect and cling to those principles.

Coming back to the hobby in July was kind of a “reset” for me, and I put my goals down in writing. Let’s revisit those goals and see how I’ve done:

Goal 1: Continue to grow the Pirates PC, specifically certified autographs:

I’ve done pretty well here. I’ve put a focus on collecting the team I cheer for and my Pirates PC has continued to grow. Some highlights are adding two Kevin Newman autos, my first Oneil Cruz SP /50, a Kevin Kramer Gold Wave /50, a Kramer Auto, and Nick Burdi Auto. I’ve also picked up lots of base cards and parallels through trades.

I’d be remiss to not mention the monster trade with Brian over at Collecting Cutch, who sent me a massive haul of Pirates autos and memorabilia cards (small sample below).

Goal 2: Get a Twitter up and running:

Done! Authored my first tweet on 9/11. Follow me @BucsHere.

Goal 3: Post at least once monthly:

Two posts in July, six in August, five in September, and this is my third in October. Maybe I should have shot higher.

Goal 4: Build a set of 2017 Topps Chrome Purple Parallels #/299:

I happened to casually slip in this goal of collecting 200 short printed parallels. Since I wrote that in July, I’ve altered that goal quite a bit. Rather than shooting for the entire set of 200 cards, I decided to pivot and collect only the Rookies which total 44 cards. I’m excited to say that I’m just ONE (very elusive) card away from completing the Rookie set. Hopefully I can run that final card down soon and have post up showcasing my newest completed set. This is one that I’m really excited for. A lot of chasing involved with this set and there are some awesome names in here.

Goal 5: Send some trade packages out:

"I Got My Eleanor" - Trade with Collecting Cutch
"Trade with The Bucs Stop Here" - Trade with Topps Cards That Never Were
"Delivery Time! The Bucs Stop Here!" - Trade with Nachos Grande
The Snake Stops Here - Trade with Sport Card Collectors

Goal 6: Connect with some new collectors:

We’re getting there for sure. The trades with Sport Card Collectors, Topps That Never Were, and Collecting Cutch were all firsts. I imagine my venture into the Twitterverse will open some new doors, although building a following has been slow going so far. I’m hoping to continue to slowly build a following and drop a contest at a certain point. Maybe 100 followers or a similar milestone.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

So It's Time to Dig Into the Gerrit Cole Collection

The things Pirates GM Neal Huntington would do for a time machine. Especially when it comes to Gerrit Cole. I guess that's true of any MLB GM. For the record, I'm a big fan of NH, and I really liked the Cole trade at the time. 

Let's rewind to January 13, 2018. The Pirates are coming off a disappointing season where they won just 75 games. They still have a competitive roster with a good amount of young talent. Andrew McCutchen has been in a steady decline and has been openly shopped in the trade market all off season. The infield positions were looking average, but with outfield of Corey Dickerson/Starling Marte/Gregory Polanco, and a rotation of Cole plus Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Trevor Williams, and Chad Kuhl - things didn't look all too bad.

This put the Pirates in a tough in-between. Enter Gerrit Cole, the Pirates first-round, first overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft. He's coming off what is likely his worst season in the bigs with a 12-12 record and a 4.26 ERA. He's two years removed from his 19-8, 2.60 ERA season where he made his first all-star team. 

Cole is 26 years old and has two years left on his rookie deal. It's a foregone conclusion that when the deal runs out in two years, the Boras-represented Cole will be commanding a hefty price tag. GM Neal Huntington has a tough choice. Does he ride Cole out? Or does he trade a prized starting pitching gem while the price is high? 

Neal selected the latter. The return haul was three major-league ready players and one prospect. 3B Colin Moran, RP Michael Feliz, SP/RP Joe Musgrove, and OF prospect Jason Martin. It's still too early to fully access the trade. Moran has evolved into a serviceable 3B, Musgrove has been inconsistent but is fantastic when he's on. Feliz is looking like a lost cause. Martin is still progressing in AAA. 

So, here we are in 2019. If wasn't for the brilliance of his teammate, Gerrit Cole would probably going to the Cy Young award, which he deserves entirely. He's blossomed into exactly what he was projected to be as a high schooler and a draft prospect. I'll go on record and say that I truly don't believe Cole would have ever been THIS type of pitcher in Pittsburgh. He needed a fresh start and some change.

When Cole WAS a Pirate, I collected him pretty heavily. I still pick up Cole cards when possible, but I imagine the price tags are sky-rocketing or about to. 

Check out some of Cole collection below.

2013 Bowman Chrome Base RC

2013 Topps Chrome Base RC, Refractor and Base

2015 Topps Opening Day Blue Foil

2013 Topps Update Emerald Parallel RC

2013 Topps Chrome Blue Parallel #/199

This card is part of the complete set of 2013 Topps Chrome Blue Parallels #/199 that I finished recently.

 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen 3-Color Jersey Patch #/5 

I acquired this baby through my Epic Trade with Brian from Collecting Cutch

2013 Topps Chrome Blue Autograph #/199.

Best for last. I actually picked this up back in early July for about a third of what it's going for now. Thankful for that likely timing, 'cause this card is a beauty.