Sunday, October 31, 2010

Late to the Party

My weekends have been ever busier than my work weeks due to trying to get a ton of stuff done at home when I have some free time.  I could take a week off and still not get everything done.  Luckily, I will be able to take a week off in February.  I hope to get the mancaveattic finished during that week.  Until then, here's my entry into the awesome giveaway going on over at Georgia Mindset.  I'd love to be able to open another box of Chrome to see what a real box looks like instead of a box of reject cards like the one that I got.  Good luck to all of you who enter.

Jon Lester Mojo

...and suddenly I've got an impressive Jon Lester collection, but that's getting ahead of myself. About a week and a half ago, I received an e-mail from Mojo letting me know that he really wanted my Kobe Bryant Rookie & Stars patch autograph that I had won in the Panini Adrenalyn photography contest. Always one to entertain an offer, I took a look at what he had to offer and what he had to offer was impressive. We exchanged a few e-mails and my end of the trade arrived in the mailbox on Friday. I'll start with some of the extras and work my way up to the meat and potatoes of the trade.

I didn't have any Jon Lester rookies prior to this, so these were welcome additions to my collection. Now I've got a great Jon Lester collection. What's that? These aren't all that impressive. Hmm, there must be something else in this package to prompt that first sentence up there.

Next up is a 2008 Donruss Threads Anthony Rizzo Diamond King. I haven't purchased any of the unlicensed baseball stuff that Donruss/Panini has done since losing their MLB license. So, it is safe to say that this is my first card from this set. This card is serial numbered 7/100.

Rizzo might have been king of the high school diamond, but at the time that this card was produced, he had yet to be crowned king of any minor or major league diamonds. The Donruss crystal Ball was working because he's currently ranked 3rd amongst Red Sox prospects after a season in AA Portland that saw him hit for power, but not much average. He was named the Sea Dogs MVP and the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year. Jon Lester got all of the press because he was in the majors at the time he battled cancer, but Rizzo defeated cancer himself in 2008.

Here's the Dice-K card from last year's Topps World Baseball Classic redemption cards. The terrible diamond cut on these cards would be a harbinger for many mis-cut, mis-printed, damaged and missing cards to come from Topps in 2010. It's a refractor and it's of a Red Sox player, so I'll take it. Whether or not Matsuzaka is a member of the Red Sox roster when Opening Day rolls around is under a lot of debate. He could be traded to lower salary, but if he's still around he'll easily be the best 5th starter in the league. I'd like to see him stick around.

Next up is a gold Aaron Bates from Topps Unique that's serial numbered 15/25. Bates doesn't currently rank amongst the top Red Sox prospects, but that doesn't take anything away from the coolness of this card. I like the design of the Topps Unique base cards, but I probably won't ever own too many of them unless I go digging through a singles box for them. The packs and boxes cost way too much for me for what you could possibly pull as hits. It was great for those who are only looking at the serial numbers, but a lot of the big hits were ugly looking cards.

Josh Reddick is part of the new crop of youngsters knocking on the door in Boston. We got to see a lot of these youngsters last season due to all of the injuries that plagued the Sox. Two-thirds of the starting outfield spent the majority of the season on the disabled list. Reddick currently ranks 8th in Boston's farm system and is on the 40 man roster.

This green foil parallel from TRISTAR's 2008 Projections set is numbered 16/50. This is a nice looking set. I've purchased a box of the special packs containing only Red Sox Prospects and liked what I saw.

To be honest, I don't even know what set this Carlton Fisk card is from. I thought it might have been All-Time Fan Favorites, but that doesn't appear to be the case. What I do know about the card is that it has Pudge's complete career statistics on the back which is very cool. The card is numbered out of 99 on the back and has the cool old-school Topps logo on the front.

As a Sox fan, you can only ask "What if?" when it comes to Fisk. What if management back then hadn't played games with Fisk's contract negotiations and he remained with the BoSox rather than signing with the ChiSox. For starters, I'd probably have no idea who Rich Gedman was.

Oh, here's another Jon Lester card. Is this the one that lays the ground work for a kick-ass collection? This is a relic card that's numbered to 102 from 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom. Here's a nice ticket stub from Fenway Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The ticket has a photo of Ramon Hernandez bunting the A's to victory over the Sox. On a Jon Lester card? This will be interesting to have in the collection in a "Topps really produced shit like this?" kind of way.

Jacoby Ellsbury had a really tough 2010. He missed over 90% of the season, stayed away from the team while rehabbing his injury and ended up alienating fans as well as teammates. He's an amazing talent on the basepaths even if he doesn't get there via walk as often as a lead off hitter should. Here's hoping that he can put a disastrous 2010 behind him and rebound next season.

This card is from 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects and features a jersey swatch from an All-Star Futures game-worn jersey.

On the other hand, Clay Buchholz had a brilliant 2010. He finished with a 17-7 record and 2.33 ERA. If not for an injury that wiped out 3 to 4 starts, Buchholz might also be mentioned as an AL Cy Young Candidate. As it is, I don't see too much difference between his stats and the players that are getting all of the attention. The only thing that Buchholz didn't do was strike out a ton of batters.

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while are probably sick of me mentioning that I was lucky enough to witness Buchholz no-hitter. Because of that, I've put together a little bit of a Buchholz collection. I've got an Allen & Ginter autograph, this relic card and now just need a Bowman Chrome rookie to complete the trifecta.

Here's another card from 2008 Donruss Threads. This is an autographed Lars Anderson limited to 474 copies. I'm not sold on using the Diamond King name with prospects, but Donruss was probably trying to cash in on the nostalgia of the brand.

Anderson is currently ranked 4th in Boston's farm system and once he's ready for the Majors it will give Boston the flexibility to move Kevin Youkilis back to the hot corner. It can't hurt to have two top prospects at first base and it'll be fun watching to see if Anderson or Rizzo ends up being the first baseman of the future in Boston.

When I started watching basketball, Bill Walton was a member of the Boston Celtics. So, even though I'd later find out that he only spent two years with the team at the end of his career, the fact that I first saw him with the Celtics on a team that would go on to win the 16th Championship makes me always associate him with the Celtics. So, when I saw this card I definitely wanted it in my collection.

Elite was yet another Donruss product that I never purchased any packs of. I got my fill of multi-sport sets in the 90s thanks to Classic. This is a cool card and one of only 100 copies in existence.

This Big Baby card is one that Mojo had let me know about a while ago, but until recently I didn't have anything to send off in order to acquire it. This is actually one of Baby's better looking autographs with the only flaw being that it slips off of the sticker a little at the bottom of the G. This card is the gold version and is numbered to 25 copies.

Davis has been huge so far for the Celtics this season. He is now the first person off of the bench which will be important in order to keep Shaq and Garnett rested for the playoffs. Davis has been playing the center position late in the 4th quarter of games due to Shaq's free throw problems and has been playing well. I wouldn't be surprised if his name came up at the end of the season in 6th Man Award conversations.

Here's the card that I've been teasing throughout this whole post. It's a Jon Lester 2007 Sweet Spot black bat barrel red ink autograph card numbered to 5. This is the type of card that you may not even see for sale let alone have the opportunity to own. So, that card alone lays the groundwork for a great Jon Lester collection that I think I shall now begin. I'll pick up one or two higher end rookies and then a nice looking relic and build from there.

Thanks to Mojo for the great trade. I didn't think I would end up trading the Kobe for a handful of cards, but then again most people don't have a collection full of cards such as these to draw upon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Refractory Goodness

I wanted to do a little comparison between the different amounts of refractors that I received out of the three 2010 Topps Chrome products that I opened. Since the "hits" were just about the only cards in my box that weren't damaged, I may as well get as much enjoyment out of them as possible. First up, the box.

It's tough to pass up Chrome for the price it is currently selling for. At $35 a box, you're paying just under $1.50 a pack. That also gives you two rookie autographs per box. Sure, the autographs have a tendency to smear, smudge or get wiped completely off of the card and most of the players are bums, but there are two of them in the box. While most of the time this will mean nothing, there are cards out there of Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg to be found.

I only pulled 5 base card refractors with one of those being a blue. Colored refractors are ridiculously tough to pull from this product which I think is another reason why people are having more fun opening blaster boxes. The purples look very cool and are a lot easier to find than the blues. My hobby box did also yield two insert card refractors which may have cut into my refractor total. You should get 8 refractors in each box according to the odds, but even with those two cards added to the total, I was shorted a refractor. Bastards!

Next up is the haul from the blaster box that I opened. Seven packs resulted in six refractors and one Heritage insert card. I was shorted one pack in my blaster. Bastards! There were three basic refractors, two x-fractors (both Yankees, what did I do to deserve that?) and one purple refractor. If the one missing pack had contained a refractor (although odds say that it shouldn't have) then I would have equaled the total number of refractors from my hobby box.

Last, but not least, is the "value" pack. I'm not exactly sure where the value is since you're paying $3 a pack. Yes, you're guaranteed the three orange refractors, but how much is that really worth? The odds say that you should get one other refractor in your three packs, but I got two. I added one more blue refractor to my collection as well as a second Nick Swisher X-fractor. I did alright on my orange refractors. They aren't favorite players or anything, but I did get "rookie" cards of Mike "Lost in the Strasburg hype" Leake and Brennan Boesch.

In a few months, once all is said and done and all of my missing cards are sent to me and all of my damaged cards are replaced, I'll really like 2010 Topps Chrome. That being said, my opinion of the company is severely dependent upon how they handle these requests. If the boxes remain this cheap or drop even lower, I'll probably purchase another box or two to chase the set. So, if anyone has any Chrome you don't want and would like to send them my way, I'm sure that I can find something here to make it worth your while.

Glutton for Punishment

So, being the fool that I am, I purchased a blaster box of 2010 Topps Chrome Baseball.  None of the cards were wrecked so that was a relief, but I was shorted my free pack that was advertised on the box.  Really Topps?

I've got to say, if you like refractors then blasters are the way to go.  I had a regular, x or purple refractor in every pack except one which had a heritage insert instead.  Unfortunately, retail of this product is actually overpriced since dealers are pretty much paying people to take 2010 Chrome off of their hands.  You can get this stuff for $1.50 a pack online when you buy it by the box.  It's $2.50 a pack by the blaster and $3 a pack (but you can call them 5 cards packs with the orange refractors) in "value" packs.

I've got to go now.  I've got an e-mail to send off to Topps.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trade Tease

Wow, I really hate composing posts on Blogger.  I need to find a good Mac client quickly.  Until then, I need to tease a huge trade that will probably show up on the blog some time next week.  If this were a sports trade, ESPN would do an hour long special about it.  Hopefully this gets me back into the swing of things on the trading front.  I've got a ton of stuff to trade away and hope to whittle away at my want lists and add some cool stuff to the collection.

Box Break - 2009-10 Panini Hall of Fame Basketball

I've been looking forward to busting a box of this product since I first heard about it.  Not only are there a bunch of great players in there due to the checklist only containing Hall of Fame members, but there are also a lot of players who have never previously had autographed cards in a product.  There are also beautiful looking nickname signature cards.  As a basketball fan, this is pretty irresistible now that it sells for about half of the MSRP.  If I had the cash, this is something that I'd definitely love to break a case of.

I lost my original box break, but here's a recap of what I got:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Box Break - 2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition

This wasn't the first box that I opened, but I thought it was one that was relevant to current baseball playoff events.  I love busting cheap, older Upper Deck products, but you'll rarely see me buying anything from them when it's brand new.

Box Break Preview

Here's my first attempt at a video of any sort.  This was after 2 of my 4 orders had arrived.  Not pictured here are boxes of 2010 Chrome, T206, National Chicle, 1998 Score Red Sox and Topps Super Chrome.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Disastrous Box Break - 2010 Topps Chrome

I want to make these box breaks look nice, but this one doesn't deserve the effort.  Just in case you were curious as to just how bad these cards looked.  The rest of the box wasn't bad at all, but I just couldn't enjoy it.  I think that I'm going to scan the worst of the cards before I ship them off because the defects are really noticeable that way.  Here's the video.  (Sorry about the video being flipped, I'm still getting used to the new computer and software.)

Disastrous Box of 2010 Topps Chrome Baseball from Michael Travers on Vimeo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

This is bullshit

I read all of the horror stories in regards to 2010 Topps Chrome, but since the prices dropped on boxes after the Strasburg injury I decided to take a shot.  I like the cards and all of the autographs are on-card.  It seemed like it was going to a great product.  Boy was I wrong.

The third and fourth cards in every one of my packs were disasters.  Whatever machine makes the indentations on these cards for the outlines around the players was not aligned properly on these cards.  It occurred to varying degrees as well.  There are severe cards such as the Mike McCoy in the picture and then others such as the Strasburg which I probably wouldn't have noticed if the other cards weren't so bad.

I don't know how anyone could enjoy opening a box such as this one.  It became more of a chore than anything else.  So, I've sent an e-mail to Topps Support.  I think that I'm owed more than just replacements for these cards.  Opening a box of cards is about more than just what you get in the box.  For me, opening a box of cards is the most fun that I have in this hobby.  This box was no fun to open at all.  It's not about value either.  Check out some of the boxes that I open.  I love oddball stuff that's never going to be "worth" anything, but it's got amazing value to me.

So, I've sent off an e-mail to Topps Support and will see what they say.  I'm usually a big supporter of Topps Customer Support, but as of late things haven't gone so well.  I think that's mostly due to them being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of damaged cards that are being packed out these days.  I'm also not sure if the people working in support know much about the cards they are dealing with.  That's the only reason I can think of why they would replace a card with an upside down autograph with another card with an upside down autograph.

Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A sampling of 2010 Topps Chrome Baseball

Went to the local (to work) card shop today on my lunch break to grab a little bit of Topps Chrome Baseball. Out of seven packs, I pulled a redemption for a Luke Hughes auto and a couple of regular refractors. Not too bad. Saw a lot of the curving of the cards that people are complaining about. My cards also seemed to be coated in something similar to baby powder. I don't know if this is so that they won't stick together years down the line or if someone spilled some of their stash at the Topps production plant. It would explain the recent level of their quality control. No pictures from work, but there really isn't anything of note anyway.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Topps Customer Support video

My thoughts on Topps and their customer service video (posted here:

While this is nice, it really only speeds things up for those missing hits. If you get shorted a hit then you're already screwed. There's no way that you're going to be sent a Strasburg auto or some 1/1 card as a replacement for that shorted hit. So, while you will get the hit you were promised who knows what it might have been.

The main issue is that Topps' quality control has been declining dramatically over the past couple of years. I love opening jumbo boxes, but after seeing the quality of the cards coming out of the last three that I've opened, I'm now hesitant. It sucks having to pick out the best 25 of the damaged cards to send in. Also, the rarer (and better) the card that is damaged, the greater the chances that Topps isn't going to have the exact same card available as a replacement. So collectors lose out again. I'm still annoyed about a great Dwyane Wade autographed mini that I pulled out of a rip card in terrible condition. I still don't feel like I got enough in return for the card, but no one in customer service could get solid numbers on the print run of the card (which I felt was a 1/1). I later read about other collectors getting replacement product while still getting to keep their damaged card and got even more annoyed.

So, kudos on making things easier, but the only way to solve this problem is to improve quality control. Until then, too many collectors will get screwed out of what the deserve.


It looks like the poll isn't designed to record who guessed what. That's what I get for not trying a test poll first. So, feel free to post either collection or wax box guesses in either of these posts. It'll lead to some fun discussions and once I finish busting open those 26 boxes, I'm sure that I'll have plenty of favorite players, teams and unwanted hits to send out. I'll look to those people first. To give you a hint as to what I may have purchased, the last box that I opened was 2010 Topps Series 2 jumbos, all boxes are either baseball or basketball with the exception of one non-sports box and none of the boxes are Allen & Ginter. I think I may just purchase a complete Ginter set this year so that I don't have another incomplete Ginter set in my collection.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Still Getting Up To Speed

I'm still transferring files from the PC to the new iMac. I've got to figure out how I'll be composing my posts in the future. On the PC, I used Windows Live Writer, but that's not an option now unless I also run Windows on another partition. I haven't ruled it out yet, but haven't given up on finding a Mac solution yet. In the meantime, I've posted a little poll to see if people can figure out some of the other things that I collect other than trading cards. I have a lot of other collections so don't be afraid to pick in double digits.

Other than that, I've got around 26 wax boxes on the way thanks to cashing out some vacation time. I think I may try out the iSight cam on the new iMac and try some video box breaks especially on the smaller boxes. Until then, I'd be interested in some guesses as to what you think I might be getting. Some is old and some is new. Some is stuff that I've busted before in the same type of box and some are retail versions of boxes that I've already busted, but am now trying to finish off the sets. I'll take a look at the guesses and who knows what may happen after the breaks are done. I don't want to announce a formal contest since I'm still getting everything together up here, but I'll definitely be sending some stuff out to the regular readers out there who have stuck around with little new content being written.