Sunday, May 30, 2021

May Mail Roundup

Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day Weekend. I've been enjoying some quiet time off of work. I'm able to do that thanks to the brave men and women who fight to keep us safe, and I'm very grateful for that. 

With a quiet Sunday at home, I was able to get catalogue all of the cards I acquired in May - let's take a look:

Christian Pache - 2021 Bowman 1991 Chrome Throwback - Gold #/50

Readers of the blog know I have a soft spot for gold refractors. I'm also a huge fan of the 1991 bowman throwbacks, which I personally think look great in chrome. I picked this up through a Twitter sale. Christian Pache has the tools to be a star, but he's got a a long way to go to get there.

(L) Nick Gonzales - 2020 Bowman's Best Autograph
(R) Quinn Priester - 2019 Bowman's Best Autograph

In another Twitter purchase, I grabbed two Pirates prospect autographs in one deal. I haven't been collecting many autographs these days, so it was nice to pick up two top prospects at a reasonable price. This is my first auto from Gonzales - more to come on him...

Bryan Reynolds - 2016 Bowman Draft
Mitch Keller - 2019 Topps - Gold #/2019

I have several copies of Bryan Reynold's first Bowman card from 2016, and I'll take even more copies when I see them on TCDB. I might be weird, but I love having multiple copies of my favorite cards.

(L) Wil Crowe - 2017 Bowman Draft
(C) Travis Swaggerty - 2018 Bowman Draft
(R) Quinn Priester - 2019 Bowman Draft 

On the subject of first Bowman cards, I grabbed a several from the same TCDB trade in which I acquired the Reynolds and Keller cards. Wil Crowe is enjoying his first season in the majors as we speak. Several injuries in the rotation at the big league level expedited Crowe's timeline, and he's been so-so. The arm talent is there, but he's struggled with efficiency. 

(L) Nick Gonzales - 2020 Bowman Draft
(R) Nick Gonzales - 2020 Bowman Draft Chrome Refractor

Nick Gonzales, the #7 overall pick in the 2020 draft, is the Pirates top prospect. He currently sits as the #32 prospect in the MLB. It will be a another year or two before we see him, but his elite hands and bat speed have generated plenty of excitement among scouts and Pirates fans alike. 

I acquired the paper base card on the left from a TCDB trade, and the chrome refractor was another Twitter sale. The refractor scanned in a really cool way with that shimmer look - but it's just a standard base refractor.

Luka Doncic - 2017-18 NBA Hoops RC

Believe it or not, I actually pulled off a TCDB trade for this Luka rookie. I was sent a trade by a gentleman in Texas for a few Astros cards. I noticed he had this for trade (a rare sight) and we negotiated for a bit. I ended up sending him a great haul, including two Altuve rookies. It was a win-win, and by far by highest value TCDB trade. I'm really, really stoked to add this to my collection.

2019-20 NBA Hoops - Darius Bazley RC

My last TCDB trade piece is this Darius Bazley rookie. Bazley and I have a very rocky past, but we're on better terms now. He was committed to Syracuse back in 2018, and would have been one of our most highly-touted recruits since Carmelo Anthony. I believe he was #9 recruit in the country. 

Several months after his commitment, he decided to skip college and play a year in the G-League. He was one of the first players to do so, and blazed a trail for many young amateurs who are doing the same in his wake. It's been a few years and I'm finally starting to allow some forgiveness. Bazley has found a nice little role with OKC, and I'm happy for him. Maybe soon I can forgive him for good. 

2020-21 NBA Hoops - LeBron James Premium Stock #/199

2019-20 NBA Hoops - LeBron James Premium Stock #/199

LeBron James - 2009-10 Panini Studio Masterstrokes - Proof #/199

I've developed somewhat of a LeBron James PC of late - I've been trying to grab as many short printed cards of his as I can. After watching the boom of Jordan cards earlier this year, I started to wonder if the same thing will happen with LeBron in 20 years. If it does, it would be really cool to have a bunch of short printed, serial numbered cards in a dusty old box somewhere. 

Not to mention, I'm a closet LeBron fan. I say "closet" because I sort of just... admire him from afar. I was definitely annoyed by his move to Miami in 2012, but that was a long time ago, and we all would have done the same thing in his shoes. The number of LeBron haters that exist present day really surprises me. Then again, I think Jordan had his fair share of haters in the 90's too. LeBron, to me, is the ideal role model. The dude is seriously squeaky clean. He's not a criminal and he's not a cheater. He's a great teammate, a great family man, and he's done a ton for his community. He's also a winner.

Anyhow - about the cards -  I grabbed three LeBron cards, all numbered to 199. Anything that's a shorter print is likely out of my price range. All were bought on eBay. I'm not being too picky about the product or the year, I'd love to get a variety. I don't have a specific number of cards or a target I'm shooting for - I'll just keep grabbing these until I get bored with it. It's been a fun chase so far. 

Thanks for stopping by, Happy MDW!

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Knicks are in the Playoffs

It's been eight years since I've been able to say those words. It feels great. I was hoping to get this post up prior to the series start, but I'm a little late and the Hawks already have a 1-0 lead. Last night's loss was brutal, it really felt like the Knicks were in control starting in the middle of the third quarter. A would-be turnover eluded R.J. Barrett, and it turned into a momentum-swinging three pointer by Bogdan Bogdanovic with 55 seconds remaining. 

Despite the loss, it was still thrilling to watch the Knicks in the postseason. No one, myself included, expected the Knicks to finish over .500 or contend for a playoff spot. The Knicks truly are playing with house money, and I keep reminding myself of that. I'm also very optimistic about Game Two at MSG on Wednesday night. The home court advantage is very real, and I don't see them losing two straight at home. 

The blog crowd seems to be 75% baseball fans, so I try to keep my basketball posting to a minimum. This is a special occasion. My Knicks PC is pretty small, mostly because we haven't many players worth collecting. It seems like the leadership in place has a plan to win, and the team is becoming more collectible.

My scanner is jacked up, so we'll have to settle for cell phone photos today:

R.J. Barrett - 2019-20 NBA Hoops RC

Julius Randle is undoubtedly the star and the leader of the team, but I believe that the team goes as R.J. goes. Randle has been attracting a ton of attention from opposing defenses and it frees up a lot of space for other scorers. There are plenty of solid role players, but R.J. has star potential. 

The remainder of my R.J. rookie cards - I have at least one copy from most major releases, aside from Prizm.

I also have a few R.J. cards from 2019-20 Prizm Draft. The middle card is a Purple Refractor, and the card on the right is a Green and Yellow Prizm, #/249.

Immanuel Quickley - 2020-21 NBA Hoops RC

The jury is still out on the the Knicks first first-round pick in the 2020 draft - Obi Toppin - but it certainly looks like they hit on their second first-round pick, Immanuel Quickley. I watched every game this dude played in at Kentucky, and I was hyped when the Knicks grabbed him. He put together a stellar rookie year and finished fifth amongst rookies in scoring. 

There's no rhyme or reason from here on out - I'm just going to show off some cards at random. Alonzo Trier is out of the league, but he made a nice little splash with the Knicks in 2018-19, and Panini printed the sh*t out of his rookie cards. The Randle and Mitch-Rob cards are blue velocity parallels from 2019-20 Donruss Optic. They are sweet looking with the matching team colors. 

Some random rookies - the Shumpert is #/599. The Gallo card is cool - he got a nice start to his career with the Knicks, but he's made more of a name for himself elsewhere.

I pulled the Kadeem Allen autograph out of a retail pack last year, which was cool. I didn't love him as a player - he was one of those guys that probably belonged in the G-League, but stuck around the big league roster to help with the tank. 

I traded for the Toppin rookie on TCDB, and I've had the David Lee auto in my PC for a long time. He was a favorite of mine back in the late 2000's when he was a lone bright spot for the Knicks. One year, he averaged 20 ppg and earned himself an All-Star nod. I was happy for him when had sustained success with the Warriors and went on to win a ring in 2015. 

A selection of my childhood heroes - all of those are pack-pulled by me in the 90's. Gotta love the Allan Houston insert. 

I don't have much 'Melo - but here are a few. 

Finishing up with some more randoms. Looks like I got the wrong Antetokounmpo, but still fun to see that name on a card. 

Thanks for stopping by. Here's to hoping that the Knicks can bounce back on Wednesday night and make a series out of it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Box Break and Review: 2021 Bowman Hobby Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love these 1991 Bowman inserts. 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!