Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Bucs Stop Here: Top 10 Cards of 2019

I’ve seen several of these types of posts on the blogosphere over the past few days and I have really enjoyed the recaps. It was tough for me to rank these, but I wanted to join the fun and highlight the Top 10 cards that I acquired in 2019.

It was hard to pick just 10 (let alone rank them), but I managed to make it work. Check out my top 10 below with some commentary included.

We'll start with some Honorable Mentions:

Number Ten:

2019 Topps Chrome Update Michael Chavis Pink Parallel
Acquired via: Secret Santa package from Jim (TCDB)

This card was the big find in one of the four 2019 Topps Chrome Update packs that were in included in my Secret Santa package from Jim. I absolute love when parallel colors blend well with team colors and logos, and pink goes great with the Sox. This card is a special to me because of Jim’s thoughtfulness when putting together a Secret Santa that he knew I’d love.

Number Nine:

2019 Topps Holiday Bryan Reynolds Metallic Snowflake Parallel
Acquired via: Trade with Matt at Diamond Jesters

My very first Bryan Reynolds rookie card came in a PWE thanks to Matt. I’m trying to get my hands on as much Bryan Reynolds as possible, so I quickly inquired about this card when I saw it pop up in Matt’s 2019 Topps Holiday Box break. He was generous enough to get in the mail to me quickly. 

Number Eight:

2015 Bowman Chrome Kevin Newman Auto Refractor BGS 9.5
Acquired via: eBay Buy it Now (Best Offer Accepted)

I picked this up on eBay way back in June when Newman started to get hot. It cost me a little more than the price of a blaster. It’s one of very few Newman autos that I have and I couldn’t be happier with it. He’s part of the young core for the Pirates that needs to perform in order for the team to contend.

Number Seven:

2019 Panini Contenders Oshae Brissett Auto
Acquired via: Trade with Doug at Sports Cards from the Dollar Store

A great add to my Syracuse basketball collection. Brissett was a very big part of Syracuse’s offense over the past two years before declaring for the draft this summer. I loved watched watching him in college and I’m hoping he’ll stick in the NBA.

Number Six:

2016 Topps Chrome Jose Berrios Auto Refractor #/499
Acquired via: eBay Buy it Now 

A few Berrios cards made their way into my collection this summer, and this is my favorite of them all. I started collecting his cards when he was having a ton of success for my fantasy baseball team this year. I really believe he could be a top-of-the-rotation, perennial all-star type of player. I look at him as a future ace, so I’ve been taking a buy-low approach with his cards and trying to build up a small collection.

Number Five:

2017 Bowman Chrome Shane Baz Auto #/499
Acquired via: eBay Auction

This was an interesting pick-up for me because I rarely/almost never outright buy former Pirates cards.

You may not have heard of Shane Baz yet (pronounced bozz), but you will. He’s the piece of the Chris Archer deal that is flying waayyy under the radar. The marquee players in the trade, Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow are major leaguers who have both made a splash with the Rays and therefore stole the spotlight. Meadows especially, making his first all-star game in July.

Don’t sleep on Baz. He was drafted 12th overall by the Pirates in 2017 and he’s only 20 years old. He’s the sixth ranked prospect in a Tampa Bay Rays system that also has the top prospect in baseball. I love Boz’s potential. This card hit the market over two years ago and has depreciated quite a bit, so I was happy to grab this for less than the price of a blaster.

Book this page for a nice “I told you so” in 2023. 

Number Four:

2018 Panini Prizm Minkah Fitzpatrick Pink Parallel Auto
Acquired via: eBay Buy it Now (best offer accepted)

The Steelers 2020 First Round draft pick! When the Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick I immediately wanted to add one of his autos to my Steelers PC. I picked up this Rookie parallel for under $10. Can’t wrong with Prizm.

Number Three:

2019 Topps Chrome Update Bryan Reynolds Blue #/150, Purple #/175, X-Fractor #/199, Refractor #/250.
Acquired via: eBay Auctions

I cheated here. #3 isn’t just one card, but a group of parallels.

I have yet to show these off, so here we go! These are the newest additions to my Bryan Reynolds PC. Reynolds had a breakout year for the Pirates, hitting .314 in just under 500 ABs as a rookie. He cooled off in the last two weeks of the season, but in mid-September he was in the .330’s and jockeying with Anthony Rendon for the NL batting Title. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite players.

Dare I say it – but I think I’m going to go for…. THE RAINBOW. (Well, kind of. It’s likely to be more of a poor man’s rainbow).

Topps Chrome Update didn’t go crazy with parallels. There are a lot, but it seems reasonably attainable: Super 1/1, Red /5, Orange /25, Gold /50, Green /99, Blue /150, Purple /175, X-Fractors /199, Refractors /250, Pink (Hanger Packs Only). 

Right off the bat, let’s punt on the Superfractor. It’s already been sold on eBay for $500 OBO, therefore it’s probably in the hands of super-collector. Either way, too rich for my blood. There are also four 1/1 printing plates which I’ll be skipping. So I’ve already got four of the nine parallels, plus the base to go. The red, orange, and gold could hurt the wallet a bit, but prices will drop over time. Wish me luck!

Number Two:

2019 Panini Flawless Collegiate Benny Snell Jr. Patch/Auto
Acquired via: eBay Buy it Now (best offer accepted)

This was by far the biggest add to my Steelers PC this year and possibility ever. This card was an absolute must-have for me after seeing the Citrus Bowl patch. Kentucky football fans will quickly tell you about the 2018 Citrus Bowl and how much it means to the fanbase. For a University that’s always been dubbed a “basketball school,” it was a HUGE deal to see Kentucky playing in a New Year’s six bowl. They also won – over Penn State nonetheless – for one of the biggest victories in program history.

When I saw that they put the Citrus Bowl Patch into cards, I knew I had to get one. This card checks all the boxes for me: Serial Numbered, rookie, on-card autograph. I also love how the patch is visible on Benny’s jersey in the picture on the card. I’m fully aware that this was undoubtedly an “event worn” jersey, but let me dream and pretend Benny was wearing this when he ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Number One:

2016-17 Panini National Treasures Malachi Richardson Booklet
Acquired via: Trade with Doug at Sports Cards from the Dollar Store

I’ll just let this beauty speak for itself. My first ever booklet and my first ever logo card. It’s not a star player by any means, but this card is just so sweet. It’s also ranked up high due to Doug’s generosity. I never expected him to send this my way via trade, and he didn’t think twice about it.’

That wraps up the highlights for 2019. Thanks so much for stopping by, and looking forward to another great year in collecting!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Busting Open Two 2019-20 Panini Prizm Blasters

In the past two weeks I’ve made several dedicated trips to my local Target to see if they’d gotten any 2019-20 Panini Prizm in, and all of my attempts came up empty. After a few trips I decided to give it up. Yesterday I needed to stop by Target to pick up some household items and of course I took a stroll down the card aisle as well. To my delight, Prizm had landed. I grabbed two blasters and went on my way.

For those of you who aren’t basketball collectors: Why are you even here? Just kidding (seriously, thanks for reading). For those of you who aren’t familiar with basketball card products, Prizm is essentially the Bowman Chrome. It includes both rookies and veterans. The most prized rookie cards for the year come from Prizm, very similar to Bowman 1st. There may not be a ton of immediate value in Prizm but it’s definitely the top basketball product to buy and hang on to.

The contents of the two boxes couldn’t have been more different, but let’s get into it. I’m not going to go card-by-card, just some highlights and hits:

Box one:

This box had great consistency, as I was finding great rookies in almost every pack. These are the base cards,  Culver and Edwards are solid, and Matisse Thybulle is very quietly emerging as one of the stronger rookies in the class.

It seems like each blaster box contains one of the green parallels. Ideally you’d love for this to be a rookie, but no complaints from me. I really like Whiteside’s game. He’s more of a classic big man, and you don’t get too many of those in today’s NBA.

Here’s a look at what one of the “Silver” cards looks like. Simply put, these are refractors – and just like in baseball, these are sought after, especially when it comes to rookies. Deividas Sirvydas was drafted at age 19 out of Lithuania by the Pistons. He’s super, super raw and he’ll be overseas for the next several years. Hopefully some day he’ll make it back over the pond.

Each blaster promises a hit in the form of an autograph or a memorabilia card, and here’s mine. Crabbe was very solid for the Nets last year before signing with the Hawks and assuming a bench role. Either way, a boring white jersey swatch covers any team he’s playing for. 

It’s my lucky day! The Vlad Jr. of basketball. I have my doubts about Zion. Not because of his ability but moreso because of his inability to stay healthy lately. I do believe he’s a generational talent, but I’m nervous he could be headed down the Derrick Rose/Blake Griffin route with injuries. I certainly hope I’m wrong. I’m on the fence about whether to sell or stash. I can’t remember a time when a base card was worth as much this, so I’m certainly tempted to move it.

On to box number two:

This box was much less exciting. Clockwise from top left: Kevin Garnett green parallel, Keldon Johnson memorabilia card, Cam Johnson rookie base card, Jalen McDaniels rookie Silver.

Not a lot to write home about. I’m a big fan of Keldon Johnson, although I’m not sure what his NBA ceiling is looking like. At least it’s not a plain white swatch – plain black is a tiny step up. The Garnett green parallel is cool, especially in the old Timberwolves jersey which is way better than a Boston Jersey. McDaniels is a late-second rounder that’s spent most of his year in the G-League. I’ll be stashing this way and hoping he turns into Jimmy Butler in three years.

So there we have it. This break was a lot fun – highly recommended for any basketball fans.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Secret Santa Has Arrived!

First off, let’s all take a minute to say a big thank you to Jon at A Penny Sleeve for Your Thoughts for hosting another successful Secret Santa. This was probably my personal highlight in terms of collecting in 2019. Waiting for my Secret Santa package to arrive admittedly gave me a the good old kid-on-Christmas feeling. I also had tons of fun putting together a package for my Secret Santa, Henry at Cardboard Greats. He recently posted a recap of what I sent him if you’re interested in checking it out.

I received my secret Santa package last week in the form of a bubble mailer. I didn’t recognize the return address, so I had a feeling this was the surprise that I had been waiting for. Upon opening the mailer I was greeted by a nice typed letter revealing my Secret Santa as Jim, who joined the fun via The Trading Card Database. Jim mentioned in his letter that our collecting habits didn’t exactly align so he didn’t have a lot to send my way. So what did he do?

Jim went out and bought something that he knew I’d love. HOW COOL! This really resonates with me. If you’re going to join a Secret Santa to voluntarily send a stranger a gift, I’d say you’re a kind and generous person. But Jim took it to the next level by going out of his way and spending some money to get send something that he knew I’d enjoy. No matter what was in the packs, I was already overjoyed.

I’ve opened several packs of 2019 Topps Chrome Update and I have yet to pull a base card from “THE guy” of 2019 baseball collecting. You know who I’m talking about:

There he is. 

I for one am not a believer of the Vlad Jr. hype – or least the level of hype that he’s getting. I think he’s going to be very good in the MLB, but I haven’t seen enough to merit the first ballot HOF acclaim that he’s been garnering and I certainly wouldn’t pay the sky high prices for his rookie cards. But to pull one out of a pack that was a gift? Now we’re talking! This will be archived with my other rookies and revisited someday.

Out of all the Topps Chrome Update that I’ve ripped, it’s been exclusively Mega Boxes which do not include the Pink Parallel packs. Those are exclusive to hanger packs.

This could have gone a whole lot worse! Chavis is an exciting rookie on a promising team. I don’t know much about this other dude – but it’s a chrome rookie parallel, and I’ll never complain about that.

Aside the packs, Jim also threw in a few Pirates and one awesome Steelers card:

I’ll be honest – These two names are new to me and I had to hop on Google to learn who these guys are... and wow, I'm glad I did. Both of these guys have some cool stories:

Dick Stuart enjoyed a 10 year career in the majors after serving briefly in the military. He had a handful of nicknames due to his subpar fielding abilities, such as "Dr. Strangeglove" and "Stonefingers," which was given to him by none other than Hank Aaron. At the plate, it was a different story. The slugger finished his career with 228 home runs. In 1963 on the Red Sox, he hit 42 home runs and led the majors with 118 RBI. 

On the topic of nicknames, Richard "Ducky" Schofield also enjoyed a great career. While his statistics wouldn't indicate anything special (career .221 hitter, 21 HR and 211 RBI in 19 seasons), he played for nineteen damn years! He must have been doing something right. In 1960, he took over at shortstop in September after the legendary Dick Groat broke his wrist, and Ducky batted .403 for the rest of the season. He was instrumental in the playoff run, any Pirates fan and most baseball fans can tell you how the 1960 ended. He's also got one pretty autograph.

To wrap it up, a beautiful 2007 Topps Chrome Hines Ward Refractor. I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again – Pirates and Steelers cards look sensational with black, yellow, and gold borders. This card is no exception. The black border matching with the black jersey is such a smooth combination.

Thanks again to Jim for this awesome Secret Santa package, and thanks to Jon for hosting. Until next year!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Trade with Sports Cards from the Dollar Store

I’ve gradually grown more interested in the NHL and the game of hockey in the past year, and I’ve become a big fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets and thus have started up a Blue Jackets PC.

As I get more into hockey, I’ve started to pay more attention to hockey cards on the blogosphere. If you’re into hockey cards, there’s no better place to check out than Sports Cards from the Dollar Store. Doug runs a great blog that covers all sports cards, and it’s great change of pace from the baseball-only card world. A few weeks ago I was browsing his blog reading through a post of his and came across this Pierre-Luc Dubois Card:

I shot Doug a note about trading for the card. I was thinking something simple, maybe a PWE swap. Doug replied with some additional Blue Jackets cards he had, as well as some Syracuse basketball and Knicks cards. With the exchange of a few emails, our potential PWE swap grew into a larger conversation. Doug was super generous with what he sent, spanning three professional sports:

We’ll start out by showcasing the Jackets cards. Lots of awesome stuff here. Top left is a really O-Pee-Chee Sergei Bobrovsky many patch. The Boone Jenner patch/auto is a beauty, especially because it’s multi-colored. It’s always great to see a patch that isn’t plain white. We’ve also got a sweet Oliver Bjorkstrand. He’s been a great piece of the Jackets offense this year. Doug was also gracious enough to throw in an auto from now-Predators alternate captain Ryan Johansen, who is one of the more talented players to ever wear a Blue Jackets Jersey.

Moving on to basketball, Doug threw in lots of Knicks cards from recent Panini releases. Two Mitchell Robinson Rookies, and the rest from Kevin Knox. Knox is one of my favorite players on the Knicks. I honestly expected much more out of him by this point in his Sophomore year but he’s still super young. One-and-done’s from Kentucky often take some time to develop – because, ya know, playing in the NBA at age 19 can be tough. I’m hoping that’s the case with the Knox and there are better days ahead. 

A pair of Pirates cards for good measure.

Back to basketball with some awesome Syracuse Orange cards. Oshae Brissett entered the draft this year after his Sophomore season and was chosen on draft night. His dreams came true soon after when he was signed by his hometown Toronto Raptors. He was lucky enough to earn himself a two-way contract out of camp. He made his debut on 11/18 and saw very limited action in four games before being heading back to the G-League. I absolutely loved watching him at Syracuse the past two years and I hope he can make a nice career for himself in the league. 

As for the MCW, that’s a bit of a different story. He was another two-and-done at Syracuse and another guy that I loved watching. It looked like his good fortune would continue when he was drafted #11 overall in 2013 and went on to win Rookie of the Year (in a very diluted rookie class) with the Sixers. 

Nowadays, when you Google “Michael Carter Williams,” the top two results under “People also ask” are:

  • Did Michael Carter Williams win Rookie of the Year? (as if so many people google it because they don’t believe it when they hear it)
  • What happened to Michael Carter Williams? (as if he was kidnapped or disappeared from planet earth)

Either way, another great additional to my Orange PC. But that’s not all. I saved the best for last…

My first ever booklet, in the form of a Nike Swoosh! 

This card is awesome, with two different pieces of memorabilia AND an autograph. Wow.

Malachi Richardson was also a first round bust – taken back in 2016 – and now he’s playing professionally in Israel. He only played one year at Syracuse, but it was super memorable. In 2016 he helped a #10 seed ‘Cuse team make it to the final four by dropping a career high on #1 seed Viriginia in the Elite Eight. I’ll never forget that game, and I’ll be forever grateful to Malachi for that magic.

Doug, I can’t thank you enough for the trade. Looking forward to many more in the future.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mini Mistake

Have you ever been shopping for clothes in a hurry an accidentally grabbed a Youth size when you meant to get an adult size? I'll admit it. I have. More than once in fact! And apparently, I'm prone to same mistake when it comes to baseball cards.

One type of card that I seek to collect - maybe more than any other - is Pirates gold refractors. They're so pretty.

I went hunting online the other day seeing if any new gold refractors had turned up on eBay for a decent price. Then I came across this:

I mean WOW! That gold background really pops with this card. Numbered #50/50 (eBay 1/1!). I had to have it.

Keller is the Pirates top pitching prospect, and one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. He pitched 11 games in the bigs this year and he was... brutal. There were flashes but overall... brutal. Which makes for a great buy-low! And I've been doing a lot of that with him.

I was absolutely pumped to get this card for a good price. But when it showed up in my mailbox...

It shrunk! 

Yep, I accidentally purchased a mini. I have no problems at all with minis, but they're just not for me. I prefer full-sized cards. It was right in the title of the listing too, so shame on me. 

Either way it makes a nice addition to the PC.

How do you feel about minis? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Indifferent?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Minkah Fitzpatrick is Really Good

And I'm happy he's on my team. For the first time in a long time the Steelers have a respectful defense. This is due to a variety of factors. Bud Dupree is emerging as a viable starter, T.J. Watt continues to look like a perennial Pro-Bowler, and the secondary has quietly done their part.

Most importantly the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick has really boosted the defensive unit. Simply put, Fitzpatrick has been a total game changer since his arrival. In just eight games he has: Forced a fumble. Recovered a fumble. Snagged five picks. 

Oh, AND he's scored TWO touchdowns. 

Upon hearing of the trade back in mid-September I was immediately looking to add a Minkah auto to my collection. Considering that he's only one year removed from being drafted #11 overall and has been a consistently good pro, I was pleasantly surprised to see that his autos were pretty affordable. 

I'm always hunting for numbered parallels so I was hoping find one for a decent price. The highest number out there for 2018 Prizm is #/199. This is for red parallels which were running $15+ and that's just too steep for me.

I settled for a Pink parallel for less than $10. Not numbered, but it's some variety past just the silver base card so I'll take it!

While we're here, I'll show off a Pirates PC pickup. Bryan reynolds had an incredible breakout season in 2019. His cards were few and far between until 2019 Topps Update. I'm still looking for his base cards (both Update and Chrome Update) and I'll wait to get those through trade. 

I can wait for the base cards, but I couldn't wait any longer to grab an auto. This is my second auto of his and the first one in a Pirates uniform. This cards also goes against a few of my collecting principles: It's not numbered, and it's a sticker auto. But this is the first Reynolds autograph card as a Pirate and I just couldn't wait.

Thanks for reading!

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 this 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!