Sunday, November 15, 2020

Busting a 2020 Topps Update Blaster

One of my favorite product releases of the year looks a little different this year. Update will deliver us rookie cards of some mid-season call-ups and other fun additions thanks to the expanded rosters and the postseason. This year, the checklist is definitely unspectacular due to the compromised season, so I wasn't sure that I'd be buying any Update this year.

On top of that, it’s impossible to find baseball cards in retail stores these days due to flippers. I don’t think Update is going to generate any massive resale margins for anyone… yet I’m sure there are hundreds of idiots out there giving it a go.


As I’ve said on this blog before: "Sports Card Twitter" can be a dodgy place. Although for every con, it has some pros, one of which being that it's a great to place to get “breaking news” on new products. There was a generous soul out there who pointed out that Walmart was selling 2020 Topps Update Blasters online. I must have seen it at the right time, because they were still in stock when I logged in. Walmart also offers free shipping so I was really happy with the deal. 

On to the cards:


What do you do when you’re desperate to fill a checklist? Make a million cards of the best player in the game, of course! Granted, these are “Active Leaders” cards, and Mike Trout is the active leader in a whole lot of things.


Due to the fact that there was no All-Star game this year, and in what appears to be another checklist-filling technique, Topps went back through some semi-recent All-Star games and honored some past All-Stars. I pulled the McCutchen in my first pack, I was delighted to see my man Cutch in a Pirates uniform. I’ll be honest, seeing him in any other jersey still looks odd to me. 


On the subject of the Pirates, these are my two Pirates pulls. Jarrod Dyson was horrible failed experiment replacement for Starling Marte. He hit maybe .150. He’s lightning fast and all that, and yes, it was fun to watch him track deep fly balls to the warning track. In September he was traded to the White Sox for international pool money, which the Pirates have already used to sign a teenage prospect. That’s actually a big win. 


Some more inserts.


As far as I can tell, these are Walmart blue parallels. They’re not serial numbered; I’m a little confused because they’re two different shades of blue.  It looks good – the Montgomery card has a royal Blue to match KC’s colors, and Arroyo’s card has the navy blue to match the Indians colors. They’re undoubtedly different than the base cards which have the plain grey in that side panel, but I'm not entirely sure what's happening here.


I ended up with seven Turkey Reds.


I pulled one rainbow parallel. I’m very lucky that it’s Bo Bichette’s Rookie Debut.  I’ve had a real knack for pulling Bo this year. This was my only pull that went straight into a sleeve and toploader.


Every blaster promises an exclusive player coin card:


A first-time Gold Glover! Joey Gallo is known primarily for hitting dingers. This year, the converted first baseman was the American League’s Gold Glove Winner in right field. He had 12 defensive runs saved, and he trailed only Nolan Arenado for the league lead. Pretty cool for a guy that’s known strictly for his power bat.

I’m not one for manufactured relics, memorabilia cards, commemorative coins, etc. This card is cheesy (and bulky) as heck. 

In what’s been a bizarre year, it felt good to rip a blaster of good ol’ Topps Update. Aside from the Bichette, all cards here are for trade. I also have 70+ base cards available. Feel free to drop a comment if you’re interested.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 12, 2020

September Mail Roundup

How many times have you read this on the blogosphere: I've been slacking on here over the past month. No excuses, just haven't gotten around to posting much. Despite my journalistic failures, I've made plenty of purchases and a few TCDB swaps. Time to show off some the highlights from September:


Derek Jeter - 1993 Topps RC

A good friend of mine was cleaning out some old possessions and came across a small card collection from his childhood. He hasn't collected in a long time and has no intentions of getting back in. He's an experienced eBay seller - so he was able to liquidate and make some money. While doing so, he gave me a good deal on this Jeter rookie. It's not an expensive card by any means - I think there are about a million copies of this card out there - but I'm super pumped to add this to my collection. It's my first Jeter rookie. I feel like it's almost a must-have for any baseball collector. 

 Eloy Jiminez - 2019 Topps Chrome RC Refractor

My first eBay pickup of the month. The White Sox were tons of fun this year,  and their young nucleus of players is firing on all cylinders. Their "window is open," and they've got a few great years ahead of them. Hitting in the middle of the lineup you'll find slugger Eloy Jiminez. His career is off to a blistering hot start. After hitting 31 homers his rookie year, he followed it up by hitting 14 homers and hitting .296 in 213 at bats. 

Eloy was the hot prospect last yearbut has since been eclipsed by fellow CWS outfielder Luis Robert. He's already been slept on, so I felt it was a great time to grab a nice rookie of his.

(L) Ke'Bryan Hayes  - 2015 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects - Chrome 
(R) Ke'Bryan Hayes  - 2015 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects - Chrome Purple Refractor #/250

Ke'Bryan Hayes joined the Pirates big league roster this year, and as one of their top prospects, he did not disappoint. In just 24 games, he hit .376, played Gold Glove caliber defense, and had a WAR of 1.8. I really should dedicate an entire post to his season and I have plenty of his cards to show off. Hayes has the potential to be one of the best 3B in the league, although I fear his prime may be wasted with the Pirates inability to contend over the next several seasons. 


Gavin Lux - 2020 Topps Turkey Red

Acquired via TCDB trade. Lux is another exciting young rookie. I was able to add this in a counter-offer and my trade partner agreed.


Kyle Lewis - 2017 Bowman - Prospects Silver #/499

Also acquired via TCDB trade. Lewis was a surprising rookie this year and I was happy to pick up a cool prospect card of his.


Javier Baez - 2015 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autograph Refractor #/500

As a Pirates fan and Cubs-hater, this one pains me a little bit. When Baez first came up, his demeanor was a little triggering. After developing into a well-rounded and popular ball player, he's earned my respect. "Real recognize real," I suppose. Doesn't mean I'll root for the Cubs. 

Now onto some basketball...

Bam Adebayo - 2017 Donruss Optic Bam Adebayo RC Lime Green #/175

I had a blast watching the NBA finals, specifically watching the Heat make a really special run. I've been following Kentucky basketball closely since 2015, almost never missing a game. I liked Bam's game at UK, but I'll be honest, I didn't predict this kind of early success at the NBA level. In college he was very much a traditional big man, but he's done an exceptional job of adjusting his game to the NBA style. He's developed a great dribble-drive, a reliable jumper, and he's a good inside-out passer.

I actually acquired this card via a Twitter sale. For the record, I don't endorse buying cards on Twitter. I've been part of the Twitter-card community for a while now, so I have a decent eye for red flags and such. Even so, there are no real buyer protections and you could easily get burned. There are definitely some dodgy characters on there. The upside is that you can find some really great deals. Sellers love it because they can avoid the fees. I've made a handful of purchases via Twitter (less than 10) and never had a problem, but I hold my breath every time.


(L)  Ja Morant - 2019-20 Panini Contenders Draft Picks School Colors Insert
(R) Ja Morant - 2019-20 NBA Hoops RC

These two were part of one eBay sale. I went on looking for the just the Hoops base card, but the lowest priced BIN included the Contenders insert so I jumped on it. I think Morant is the best player last year's draft and I'm adamant that he'll have a better career than Zion Williamson. I don't want to spring for any of Ja's other rookies, so Hoops is a great middle ground.


2003 Skybox Autographics - LeBron James/Kobe Bryant Rookies Affirmed Insert

Saved the best for last. This was also acquired via Twitter, but not blindly. I had already traded with the seller through TCDB and I was very happy with our trade. The cards were sent quickly and packed well, and the purchase of this card was no different. This was a bigger purchase for Twitter and I probably wouldn't have done it if I wasn't familiar with the seller. 

This card is awesome. Two of the greatest players on one card . It's also from 2003, LeBron's rookie year, so we'll call it half of a rookie card. My only gripe is the gigantic Skybox logo across the middle of the card which doesn't make a ton of sense to me. We would have been way better without it.

 I have a nice little collection of both LeBron and Kobe and this will fit right in.

Thanks for stopping by.


 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

"Set" Complete - 2017 Topps Chrome Purple Rookies

A long time coming. When I returned to blogging in July of last year, I set out several collecting goals -one of which was to put together a complete set of 2017 Topps Chrome Purple Parallels. These particular parallels are numbered #/299.

I actively pursued the set throughout the summer last year. I targeted rookies first as they're usually the toughest to find and most expensive. By October, I was feeling a little fatigue from chasing down the cards and decided to pivot and chase only the rookies.

Also last year, I wrote about chasing and eventually completing the 220 card 2013 Topps Chrome Blue Parallel set, with all cards #/199. Completing that set is, by far, my biggest collecting accomplishment to date. 2013 Topps Chrome is my favorite set ever. 2013 was the first year I got deep into collecting and the set has become sort of keepsake for me and a symbol of my love for this hobby.

As fun as it was... here's the rub: The 2013 project took me six years (granted, I had 219 out 220 cards in hand for over a year while I waited for the last card to surface).

Now, while I don't pursue these projects as an "investment," (HOBBY JAIL WORD!!) I'd be lying to if I said there isn't a degree of "prospecting" involved with this. By no means I am building these sets with the intention letting them appreciate and then selling. However - if one of these guys is the next Mike Trout, that would be awesome, and might help pay for my kids' tuition some day. Who knows. The point I'm making is, I'm more eager to collect the rookies than the vets, as those could really hold some value some day. For example, the 2013 set has rookie cards of Gerrit Cole, Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado. It also has Topps Rookie All-Star Gold Cup cards for Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. All short printed to 199. The Trout one is particularly valuable. 

I remembered collecting the 2013 set, and how I shelled out at least a dollar or two for every card. It was usually more than a few dollars, even the vets and no-name rookies. Alfredo Marte, Mike Kickham, Donald Lutz, Paco Rodrguez - any of these ring a bell? I probably paid $10 total for those four cards for the 2013 set. Multiply that across a 220 card set... that's a lot of money. Hence my decision to target just the rookies for the 2017 set.  Out of the 200 cards, only 44 are rookies. Much more doable!

I think setbuilders would agree that there's always that one elusive card. That was certainly the case for me - I have been sitting on 43 out of 44 cards for a year, almost to the day. I was able to gobble up a bunch of these quickly through COMC. But for damn reason, #59, Kyle Freeland, was no where to be found. Maybe there's a Kyle Freeland super-collector group that I don't know about. Nothing against him - he's put together an average-at-worst MLB career thus far - but not seeing his card surface for 365 straight days drove me bananas. 

Thanks to an eBay saved search, my heart skipped a beat when I finally laid eyes on the unicorn last week:


I was a little nervous because it was a .99 cent auction. But I set an alarm, dropped in with 30 seconds left in the auction, and dropped a max bid that was absurdly over market value. The card itself is probably worth a dollar or two, so the seller was probably pumped to get $6 for it. Paying 3-6x value isn't a habit of mine, but this card has quite literally become priceless to me.

Before checking out the cards, let's discuss the motivation behind the set:

Why Topps Chrome? It just happens to be my favorite release every year. I like that it's flagship but with a smaller checklist and a shiny finish.

Why 2017? *I'm going to sound like the dreaded card investor again for a minute* I really believe in this rookie class. Furthermore, I believe the timing is perfect. It seems that there is always a big lull in value somewhere between one to three years after a product release. The product launches, people pay crazy prices to jump all over the hot new rookies and the next Babe Ruth (whomever it might be that year), and then the price starts to slowly and steadily decline. Then, five or so years after the release, the players that actually pan out are getting into their late 20's, the prime years for a baseball player, and values jump again as they become perennial all-stars. 

Why Purple? This may surprise you a bit - but aside from orange (gross) and canary yellow, I don't think there's a worse color parallel for a baseball card. Give me red, blue, black, gold, pink, hell, even green - but purple usually looks silly unless it's a Rockies card. 

The draw for me is the short print to 299. The notion of knowing exactly how many copies of a card are in existence is such a fun concept to me. The purple #/299's are the highest short print that was offered in 2017, so I rolled with it. I looked into the blue #/150's, but they're a little too rich for my blood. What I'd really love is for standard refractors to be numbered #/500, or even #/1,000 and I'd go for those, but I don't make the rules.

Here's a look at the 44 card "complete set." Straight from my phone camera because I'm too lazy to scan them all:


And now let's talk about some highlights. When looking through each of the cards, I separated them into two different tiers:

Tier 1: Potential Hall of Famers:


#169 Aaron Judge
#79 Cody Bellinger
#9 Alex Bregman

Relax - I said potential Hall of Famers. I know it's early, but the tools are there.

Tier 2: Potential perennial All-Stars:


#47 Trey Mancini
#8 Dansby Swanson
#75 Yoan Moncada
#100 Benintendi

There's definitely room for debate here. Trey Mancini had a huge year last year, and flew largely under the radar because he plays in Baltimore. He was gearing up for another big year this year before being diagnosed with colon cancer in March. He recently finished chemotherapy and is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the 2021 season. God bless! If there's a lesson to be learned here - his cancer was discovered due to low iron levels found during a routine physicals. Get a damn physical!

Dansby Swanson, I think, has highest ceiling out of anyone in the group due to his offensive presence and gold-glove caliber defense. Moncada's ceiling is right there with him, but his strikeout problem is, well, a problem. After setting an MLB record for strikeouts in 2018, he progressed beautifully in 2019 and hit .315, before taking another step back in 2020. Next year will be very telling for him.

Speaking of regression, how about Benintendi's 2020? Sheesh. He was awful for 14 games and then ended up injured. He'll need to have a big year in 2021 to remain relevant, but the raw talent is there.


#158 Josh Bell
#189 Tyler Glasnow

Of course you can't stop by The Bucs Stop Here without some Bucs stopping here. Both of these cards probably belong in Tier 2. Glasnow is, in my opinion, the single most exciting young pitcher in the MLB. He's 6'8, built like a catapult, throws 100+ and has a curveball that falls off a cliff. Sadly, because he plays in Tampa, he's terribly under-appreciated. There is a handful of of former Pirates that I still collect. He and his teammate Austin Meadows are part of that handful.

Josh Bell is also in the regression category, having a pretty weak 2020 after an getting an All-Star nod in 2019. I could go on about his poor mechanics, lack of defensive ability and so on, but I'll spare you today. I'll hope he returns to form in 2021 and all will be right in the world.


There you have it. 44 cards, each with their own story. It was fun to build a set with my own rules - now I see why so many bloggers love Frankensets. I don't have any immediate plans for another parallel set, but I'll wager I get another one rolling soon. 

I had a blast building this set, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCED!


The MLB regular season has concluded and the first ever 16-team playoff is about to get underway. At the start of the MLB restart, I posted the contest asking fellow bloggers to predict all 12 playoff teams. Then, within a week, the MLB announced the expanded playoff format with 16 teams and we had to do it all over again.

That was a rocky start, however we had 16 different contestants enter which was a terrific turnout. There was also a lot of fear that the MLB season wouldn't make it to completion, so the fact that we're at this point and ready for postseason baseball is a big win for all.

So, without further ado, let's see the results! 

(The picture below has all the picks, click to enlarge).


Congrats to Fuji at The Chronicles of Fuji for correctly picking a whopping 14 out of 16 playoff teams correctly!  Fuji - this is pretty damn impressive. Congratulations on the win, this will be headed your way:


I hope you end up with a Jasson Dominguez autograph! Please email me your address.

Some key takeaways from the contest:
  • The team that was incorrectly chosen most frequently was the Angels, who were selected by 15 of the 16 participants.
  • The team that made the playoffs but was chosen the least frequently was Toronto, who was selected by only 2 of 16 participants. 
  • The AL East was correctly predicted by 14 of 15 participants
  • Two contests chose the Pirates to make the playoffs which I appreciate but also makes me curious what year you think we're living in..?
Thanks to everyone for your participation. I had a ton of fun hosting this and I think I'd like do something similar to this again next season. Now let's sit back and enjoy the playoffs!






Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Busting a 2020 Topps Chrome Blaster

Yesterday I had to take my car in for service, and afterwords I was planning to grab some groceries. While I was waiting at the auto shop, I chugged down my morning coffee, while drinking a whole bottle of water. The coffee ran right through me and I was hit with the need for a restroom before grocery shopping. I was passing a Target, so I decided to pop in to use the facilities... and take a quick stroll down the card aisle. 

I live in a metropolitan area, and there are probably five or so Targets within 20 miles of me. All of them are almost always dry on retail products, although I've had some luck at this particular store before. Upon arriving in the card aisle, I was met with one of my collecting fears: It appears that the card aisle is being phased out. The amount of self space that was reserved for sports cards was smaller than usual. Pokemon cards and Magic the Gathering cards encroached on the left side. Toys crept in on the right side. 

I've read some rumors on hobby-Twitter that claim retail stores are going to stop stocking cards, primarily because the product is becoming more hassle than it's worth. Flippers clearing shelves, grown men acting like children, phony returns, etc. I'm not sure if there's any truth to these claims, but I will say, it does appear that my two go-to Targets are phasing out cards. The display spaces have shrunk in the past few weeks and have been replaced with non-sports cards and tchotchke toys. 


Depsite all of that bad news, I was very fortunate to find a Topps Chrome blaster yesterday. I swear - when you go to the store to specifically look for cards, you don't find them. If you pop in for a different reason and swing through the card aisle, you'll strike gold. I hope this isn't the last time I'll be able to buy baseball cards at a retail store like Target, but I fear it may be my going-away present. Time will tell.

On to the cards...


Here's a look at the base cards. I was pretty indifferent about the 2020 flagship design but I think it translates really well to chrome. Chrome does a good job of blurring the background and putting a singular focus on the player, and they look great in hand.

Dustin May definitely has some great hair. It kind of reminds me of Pennywise the clown... and that freaks me the hell out. His young career if off to a great start this year.


I pulled three refractors, one of which is a prism refractor. Happy to see two rookies here, which will be stashed away. Civale will have plenty of opportunity to prove himself as a solid starter - you have to think that the Clevinger trade shows some confidence in him to step up. 


A cool Bo Bichette rookie.


My guy! This is the only Pirate I pulled but I couldn't have asked for better. This card was on my wantlist, and I plan to target some of the parallels of this card for the PC. 


When I felt my finger fall into the gap of a die-cut, I was surprised. I didn't know that Chrome had any die-cuts in it this year. This is a pretty goofy and unneeded card in my opinion. 1950's wool jerseys don't exactly blend well with the modern "X" die cut design.


A nice pair of 1985 inserts. 


We finish up with the sepia refractors. You'll find a pack containing four of these cards in a blaster, making them retail-exclusive. I'm not crazy about sepia parallels. They're... fine, however I like the look of this year's sepia parallels over past years. In older releases, sepia cards were short printed, I believe to 75. 

There you have it! All around a very successful and fun break. Aside from ripping a few packs of Series 2 and a few packs of Bowman, it's been a slow year for ripping packs so this felt really good. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

He Was a Pirate? Part 7

The Pirates, like all MLB teams, experience a multitude of transactions throughout the year. And, you know, since it's the Pirates... no one really knows or cares about those moves. As a Pirates fan growing up in New York it was rare that I would come across anyone who shared my love for the black and gold. My Yankee-supporting counterparts were never aware of the frequent changes occurring a few hundred miles west in Pittsburgh. Oftentimes during friendly baseball-themed conversation, the question “He was a Pirate?” would arise. I’ve decided to honor this ever-occuring inquiry on my blog...

You definitely know the leg kick. But did you know he was a Pirate? Drafted in the third round of the 1995 out of high school, Bronson Arroyo is today’s subject.


Bronson’s career with the Pirates was very unspectacular. He was with them from 2000-2002 and he appeared in just over 50 games - about half of those being starts. He was shuttled back and forth between AAA and the majors to be used as a spot starter and a long reliever. His career ERA with the Pirates sits over 5.00, and frankly there’s not a whole lot in the history books regarding his time in Pittsburgh as he spent much of his time on the Disabled List.

Despite the tumultuous start to his career, his story is one of persistence as we went on to have a long and notable career. In 2003 the Red Sox signed him off waivers, and in 2004, he was an important part of the Sox rotation that went on to win the 2004 World Series.  Prior to the 2006 season, he was traded to the Reds in exchange for Willy Mo Pena. He went on to have the best year of his career at age 29. He led the majors in starts (35) and innings pitched (240 2/3) and was named to his first and only All-Star team. He continued on with the Reds for eight more seasons, making at least 32 starts a year and proving to be one of the most durable pitchers in majors.

In 2011, Arroyo placed himself in the record books for all the wrong reasons - He surrendered a whopping 46 home runs across his 199 innings pitched. Quick math tells me that’s roughly one home run every four innings… and that’s a lot. It’s just four shy of the MLB record (50) held by Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven.

Despite his affinity for giving up the long ball, his career numbers are those of a very solid MLB pitcher: 419 appearances, 383 stars, win-loss of 148-137, and a career ERA of 4.28. I know a lot of modern-day MLB teams that would jump all over a guy with a guaranteed W/L of .500 and a sub-4.30 ERA.

As for the cardboard, I don’t have a ton to to show, but I do have a pair of his cards.


Bronson Arroyo - 2001 Upper Deck


Bronson Arroyo - 2002 Upper Deck

Sadly, neither one captures the signature leg kick. 

Thanks for stopping by for this edition of "He Was a Pirate?"




Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Mailday Roundup: August Pickups

"Mailday." A term that we use daily in this hobby and probably take for granted. The US Postal service is crucial to exchanging cards. USPS isn't perfect, and we have all have our gripes - but 51 cents seems like a small price to pay to swap some cardboard across several hundred (or several thousand) miles. Here's to hoping that political greed won't interfere with our hobby.

Thankfully I haven't experienced any drastic changes in my USPS service yet. My latest big purchase arrived in a timely manner...

I'm excited to announce that I was able to add a second superfractor to my collection last week:


Bryan Reynolds - 2020 Topps Finest The Man Insert Superfractor #1/1

The love for "The Man" inserts in 2020 Topps Finest has been well documented, and with good reason. I was especially pleased to see that my favorite player, Bryan Reynolds, was lucky enough to be featured in the set. I keep my eyes peeled on eBay for most things Reynolds-related, using several saved searches and checking daily. This card went up on a .99 cent auction and I made sure to be there when the bidding closed. I won it for what I think is a reasonable price. Not cheap, but it could have been my only chance to own this card. It still cost me less than a hobby box of Topps Chrome, and I'd certainly rather have this than some mystery cards.

Due to the colorful artwork on this card, you're not seeing much of the superfactor-y chrome finish. It's only really evident in the space by his name and by the Topps Finest logo. The bigger standout to me is the color of the text at the top. The base cards fill in the text at the top with a pink/magenta color. This isn't my card, but here's what I mean:


Bryan Reynolds - 2020 Topps Finest The Man Insert 

Nothing wrong with the base cards, they're sweet too, but I'll take the white on the superfractor all day.  And of course, there's a 1/1 stamp on the back!


The seller threw in some extras which was really cool of him to do. Aside from the 2016 Bowman Draft, I didn't have any of these, so I netted 4 new Reynolds cards for my collection in this deal. 


Bryan Reynolds - 2017 Bowman Chrome - Prospects Gold #/50

Another eBay pickup for the gold collection. This was Reynold's last card in a Giants uniform before being traded. With these additions, I'm up to 31 unique Bryan Reynolds cards.



Thanks to a generous Free Stuff Friday from Kerry at Cards on Cards, I was able to grab these two inserts in a PWE. Speaking of, Kerry, I owe you another PWE - I'll get one out soon. 

I still root for and collect Tyler Glasnow, and due to some early success in Tampa, he's showing up on quite a few baseball cards. 

Lonzo Ball sure isn't playing like a #2 overall pick, and any spotlight that may still be on him will quickly shift to his younger brother. Lonzo's only 22 and I think he's got a pretty ideal situation in New Orleans. Only time will tell if he'll pan out, but thanks to Kerry I'm lucky to have a Lonzo rookie in my collection.


Robert from $30 a week habit and I pulled off our first TCDB trade last week, and it was a good one. I've been a huge champion of TCDB on here - and I'm telling you - if you're not on there, you should be. If it were not for the trade tool on the website, I don't think this trade would have happened. Although Robert didn't have too many Pirates that I needed, he had lots of great cards on his For Trade list, and I was able to build up a nice little stack of eight cards and we made it happen.

The highlights are above. Robert was kind enough to part with a rookie card of the hottest young rookie the game. Not to say I stiffed him - I sent him some pretty nice cards too. 

Believe it or not, I'm more pumped about the Eduardo Escobar rookie. Gold border and serial numbered #/2012. To me, Escobar is one of the most underrated players in the game. He 's not young (31) and he's not flashy, but he had 35 HR and 118 RBI last year. Those were all career highs by a long shot, so hopefully it wasn't a flukey year. 

Thanks for the cards, Robert!

All in all, it was another great week of visits to the mailbox. As much as some of us will declare otherwise, it's in our nature to enjoy gifts and surprises - and it's certianly in our nature to enjoy giving to others. Opening up the mailbox to find a PWE will always be a fun little feeling. I won't take it for granted.