Blaster Box Break: 2004 Score

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There are certain years that define your youth. For me, that’s 2004. I started high school. The Curse of the Bambino came to an unfortunate and painful end. I got my first complete set of baseball cards (2004 Topps). It was a big year for me.

That was the year I also became a big NFL fan. I had always watched and seemingly rotated favorite teams but finally settled on the Eagles a few years prior. What took me to the next level of fandom was ESPN NFL 2K5, aka the greatest video game ever. It was affordable (only $20!!) and was a lot of fun to play and run teams as a GM. I had a franchise mode for every single team. My social life was virtually non-existent in high school, so I made up for it with that game.

All that’s to say that early 2000s football holds a special place in my collecting heart — especially 2004. Cards from this year are a bit tougher to find and can run pricey with rookie cards from Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. So when I found blasters of 2004 Score available for $30 a box, I bounced on a few… then a few more… then a few more. It may be 3X the original asking price but I had to do it.

Get your 2004 Score singles here!

In total, I think I’ve ordered eight boxes. With still two more boxes to sort, I have 260 of the 440 cards in this set with about 109 doubles. I may buy more (probably will) but for now, here’s my best box:

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Two Hall of Famers in Randy Moss and Jason Witten… and a rookie Larry Fitzgerald! The Nick Barnett is a glossy.

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Again, a pair of Hall of Famers in the base with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Corey Dillon was a huge part of the Patriots ’04 team. Can’t beat a Philip Rivers rookie! And Devery Henderson was one of my favorites in NFL 2K5, so glad to pick up a glossy rookie.

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Only one Hall of Famer in this pack in Aeneas Williams (who I’m not sure is talked about a lot). This pack did feature two players whose lives were cut short — Steve McNair and Sean Taylor. The Urlacher is the glossy.

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Another Brady card emerges! Torry Holt was a good receiver, and Peter Warrick was…. supposed to be good. Will Smith played for a long time with the Saints (and was also murdered…. geez). The Andre Davis is glossy.

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A Hall of Famer in Rod Woodson…. and two solid players back in the early 2000s in Jeremy Shockey and Stephen Davis. Tommie Harris looked like he was going to be a stud as the 14th overall pick and making the Pro Bowl in 3 of his first 4 years, but he fizzled out quickly. Takeo Spikes is the glossy.

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Oh, LaMont Jordan. He was…. decent. Reggie Wayne was good, and so was that Brett Favre guy. Ben Roethlisberger’s had a Hall of Fame career. And Ben Troupe is the glossy.

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I liked Aaron Brooks as a QB. He brought the Saints up from a mediocre existence into playoff contention. Ickey Woods was well out of the league but he’s still featured in this set as the only ‘legacy’ player. And I wasn’t expecting to pull an auto out of a box so that was a nice surprise. Michael Clayton had a great rookie season but then got hurt. Rashaun Woods (another 49ers’ first-round WR bust… he was supposed to be Terrell Owens’ replacement) is the glossy.

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Another rare pack with no Hall of Famers. It does feature a MVP in Shaun Alexander. Trent Green was also good. Robert Gallery was projected to be a Hall of Famer as the 2nd overall pick in 2004 but was a huge bust. The normal base Alexander is actually the glossy one.

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We might be back on the Hall of Fame train with Hines Ward, though he’s still on the border of making it. Daunte Culpepper put up some huge seasons but didn’t last long. D.J. Williams had a solid NFL career. And Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez is the glossy parallel.

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In the penultimate pack, we get a trio of great receivers in Anquan Boldin, Tim Brown (Hall of Famer!), and Plaxico Burress. Jonathan Vilma is another linebacker who played for a long time and was a key piece of the Saints 2009 Super Bowl-winning team. And A.J. Feeley (whom the Eagles traded for two 2nd-round picks after the 2003 season) is the glossy.

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Last pack, one more Hall of Famer in Terrell Suggs. Darren Sharper was a monster off the field in the worst way possible. Lee Evans had a few solid years but is best known for his drop in 2010 that helped send the Patriots to the Super Bowl. And Eric Parker is the glossy… if you haven’t caught on to the system yet.

So in total, 88 cards in this box, with three key rookies and an autograph. Can’t beat that! It’s also refreshing to see a simple set with just three variations of the base — glossy, Scorecard (/625) and Final Score (all low numbered). This box didn’t have any of the numbered, but in other boxes I’ve pulled two or three.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the styrofoam box topper in all of the blasters. There’s nothing notable to it other than you’ll never see that big block in a blaster again. Just funny to note.

Overall, this is a great set and brings back a lot of good memories and names for me. I’ll definitely be buying this again.

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Blaster Box Break: 2019 Topps Gypsy Queen

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From a financial standpoint, ripping blasters probably doesn’t make sense for me. I go through so many that a hobby box or two would probably guarantee me more hits. But it’s time like this (plus their lower prices so it doesn’t feel as “heavy” right away) that makes ripping into blasters fun.

I recently picked this blaster up online during one of Target’s baseball cards sales… so let’s dig into the 8 packs in this box!

Get your singles from 2019 Topps Gypsy Queen here!

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I’ll start with the blaster-exclusive green parallels…. I like Sandy Alcantara and Starling Marte but otherwise, a not-too-exciting pack.

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Pack 1: Oh, hello again, Alcantara and Marte. Solid trio in this pack of Yadier Molina, Mike Trout, and Mookie Betts.

20191103_141251Pack 2: Tarot of the Diamond Corey Kluber…. yeah, that’s a cool card. Nice card of World Series champ (and all-around goofball) Sean Doolittle. And I wish Carlos Rodon could have stayed healthy — dude’s got great stuff.

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Pack 3: Missing nameplate Byron Buxton (again, another player who would be better if he could stay healthy). Last year’s World Series makes an appearance in Chris Salve vs. Cody Bellinger. And I got an auto from Corey Dickerson last season at a Pirates game — seemed like a good dude.

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Pack 4: The big draw in this pack…. Chris Archer! Sorry, as a Pirates fan, I have to believe that’s true (please bounce back next season). But the real hit was the Mat Chapman auto. This card was actually already on my extensive watch list on COMC so I was thrilled to pull it in person. Sure, I’d wish the centering was better. But hey, you still can’t beat pulling a PC card from a blaster!

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Pack 5: Fortune Teller Mini Ronald Acuna Jr…. dope. He’s so much fun to watch. I was lucky enough to get an auto from him in his minor league days. Also nice rookie from a Pirate… although I can never keep him and Kevin Newman straight. And Victor Robles is a good young outfielder. And it should be a law that Andrelton Simmons is only featured in the field on cards.

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Pack 6: Glad to see Max Scherzer finally win a World Series… and make an appearance in my pack. Also I have high expectations next season for Miguel Andujar — the dude can hit.

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Pack 7: This pack might not contain the biggest names, but I do love the photos in the first four cards in this pack. As a Yankee fan, I had moderate hopes for Chance Adams. After watching him pitch…. I’m not so sure now.

According to my TradingCardDB log, I only have about 50% of the base set in my collection so I’ll probably buy more blasters over time. Will I get another auto? Doubtful. But it’s still a fun set to collect.

Support this blog by browsing through all my cards I have for sale. I’m on COMC here. You can check out my baseball ones here, while football, basketball, hockey, and soccer are located here. For entertainment and various sports ones, check out this eCrater site.

 

Box Break: 1995 Upper Deck Series 2 Baseball

Funny story about this box: I didn’t mean to buy it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I meant to buy it… but I thought it was a different design.

I’ve always been a big fan of the 1996 and 1997 Upper Deck sets. There’s just something about the gold that draws me in. And funnily enough, 1995 never did much for me. But when I was online shopping and purchased a few mid-1990s boxes as a reward for myself, I thought this was one of the gold sets. Lesson learned — always double check yourself, especially if buying cards at 3 am.

Get your singles from 1995 Upper Deck here!

But you know, this box turned out pretty great… about 25 years ago. I’ll get to why but first a quick overview:

You’re gonna get a lot of base and a few inserts. This hobby box had 12 card per pack (36 per box) that usually broke down to 11 base per pack and one silver Special Edition card per pack. Generally they have good distribution but I did end up with three doubles in the box. As expected, you will get a good amount of base duplicates in the set but I fell short of getting the full set.

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The pile of duplicates from this box

One thing I noticed with this box — a lot of the rookie-type cards were close to miscut or were too bottom heavy. But hey, it was the 90s. Things happened.

On the insert front, there are only a few — a far cry from today’s insert-heavy sets. (A side tangent… I do miss when inserts were something more special and not just like pack-fillers. Tangent over.) Besides the one-per-pack silver Special Edition, there’s a gold variation that based on my very limited first-hand experience fall one per hobby box. You will also pull a few (obviously since-expired) predictor cards that were a cool idea. There are also base parallels from that time — Electric Diamond. I didn’t pull any but they’re out there. Somewhere.

One cool insert I did pull was a Babe Ruth Baseball Heroes card. I think I had this one as a kid but had no idea where it came from… and where it is now. I was pleasantly surprised to see it sell for a couple bucks on COMC. It’s not a world-beater hit but I was happy with it:

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The real surprise came toward the end of the box. I pulled a card and thought it was just a promo until I started reading it. Wait, did it say… yes, yes it did. Turns out this product had redemptions. And it turns out that one of the redemptions was for a Willie Mays auto. Woah.

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As expected, it expired a long time ago and despite a half sarcastic, half pleading tweet to Upper Deck, they had no intentions of honoring it. Hey, gotta shoot your shot (can’t go any worse than Gendry, right?). I was gonna throw it out but when I posted it to Reddit, I got informed that people buy these expired redemptions so off it went to my COMC account where it currently sits waiting to be processed.

Overall, I was happy with the box. I didn’t mean to bust this set but hey, it turned out to be pretty fun. And it would have been a world beater if I had a time machine. Maybe in a few years I’ll get some loose packs or even another box to see if I can’t finish the set.

But until then, I’ll remember to check the design of the base before buying. At least it wasn’t an expensive mistake.

Support this blog by browsing through all my cards I have for sale. I’m on COMC here. You can check out my baseball ones here, while football, basketball, hockey, and soccer are located here. For entertainment and various sports ones, check out this eCrater site.

 

Blaster Box Break: 2018 Score Football

I’m currently dog/apartment sitting for my Kansas City Chiefs-loving friend. Keep that in mind as you go through this post.

But since I’m away from home I figured I’d stop by the local WalMart to pick up some groceries… and of course check out the card selection. Nothing good was discounted so I picked up some 2018 Score since it’s been a while since I’ve opened any. Upon getting back to the place, I didn’t waste any time ripping in to it… with the pup eyeing me as if I was opening up some treats for him.

Get your singles from 2018 Score here!

Pack 1:

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Call it the kicker pack with Justin Tucker and Greg Zuerlein. Nice NFL Draft card with Calvin Ridley and can’t go wrong with a Brady card. The rookie highlight was Derrius Guice, despite him missing all of this past year.

Pack 2:

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The Josh Allen rookie is the big draw here. I’m still not sure how good he’ll be in the NFL, but he had some moments this past year. Could be a big card in a few years… or he’ll be another Ryan Tannehill type.

Pack 3:

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Sorry, Raiders fans. This pack contained two Khalil Mack cards — Raiders certainly could have used him this him this year. None of the rookies stood out to me.

Pack 4:

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Call this the almost pack. Wrong Georgia offensive player. Wrong Auburn running back. But I do love the Jake Elliott card. He’s the underrated hero of the Super Bowl. That kick at the end was CLUTCH.

Pack 5:

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A nice group of inserts here. Roquan Smith is a defensive beast. Todd Gurley is the best running back in the league. And I think OJ Howard is gonna be one of the best tight ends in the game in a few years. Rookies were pretty meh.

Pack 6:

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Second pack in a row with a parallel, and another Brady insert. I do like the Scoreboard inserts, too. Rookies, again, weren’t great.

Pack 7:

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Can’t beat that DeAndre Hopkins photo choice. Granted, he makes one of those catches per game. But still hella cool. I’ve heard of Hurst among the rookies, not sure of the other two.

Pack 8:

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Another three-insert pack. Gold Julio Sidelines is pretty cool. Courtland Sutton is doing… something. Honestly don’t know how he did this past year. I like the Josh Adams rookie. I think he’ll be a good piece in the Eagles backfield the next few years.

Pack 9:

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Yay for a JJ Watt Scorecard parallel. I thought the Cooks Celebration card was a parallel too — but it’s not. Pretty good crop of linemen, too, among the rookies.

Pack 10:

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Nice crop of rookies here. Sam Darnold had a great end to his season. Sony Michel played well when healthy. And the Russell Wilson Color Rush insert is pretty cool with the green.

Pack 11:

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I could tell this pack had the guaranteed hit relic in it so I intentionally held it for last. I wasn’t expecting a jersey relic of one of the best young QBs in the game — Patrick Mahomes! Love watching him play so I’m gonna add it to my collection, despite it probably not being a game-used relic (I miss those days. I don’t care for the “player-worn” stuff). An added bonus were the rookies — I’m a UR grad so love seeing the Lauletta pop up (even though I wish it would have the Spider logo). And the Baker Mayfield rookie made this pack hands-down the best in the box.

It was a fun box to break, even if it wasn’t on sale. Score is one of my go-to brands, so I’ll definitely be breaking more in the future.

Support this blog by browsing through all my cards I have for sale. I’m on COMC here. You can check out my baseball, soccer and hockey ones here, while football and basketball are located here. For entertainment and various sports ones, check out this eCrater site.

Box Break: 2016/17 Panini Threads Basketball Hobby Box

Basketball is an odd one for me — it’s my least-watched of the major sports but still one of my favorites to collect. (Who am I kidding? I love to collect all.)

So when Blowout had a hobby box of 2016-17 Panini Threads on sale, I decided to take the plunge. I had purchased one a while back and was happy with the results so I figured it was worth the shot.

Get your singles from 2016-17 Threads here!

A bit about this box — 20 packs are in it, 6 cards per pack (I could only find 19 though when going over it. Not sure what happened there). One autographed card is guaranteed, along with one memorabilia.

Was it worth it? I’ll let you be the judge. Check below for the packs.

Pack 1: Bunch of recognizable names on the base, and a KD insert. Good start.

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Pack 2: First hobby hit, a leather rookie of second overall pick Brandon Ingram. Jury’s still out on how good of a NBA player he’ll be, but still a good one. Also like Horford.

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Pack 3: Century red parallel numbered 33/199 of Malik Beasley (no idea if he’s still in the NBA). Can’t go wrong with a Giannis card, too.

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Pack 4: Base of a pair of HOFers – Anthony and Gasol – and a top young guard in Booker. Plus a card of TNT’s Kenny the Jet Smith.

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Pack 5: Hardwood Pioneers card of Magic. Future HOFer Dirk. And rookie of Caris LeVert, who will hopefully come back 100% soon from his horrific leg injury.

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Pack 6: A Century Red Hardwood Pioneers non-numbered parallel of Elgin Baylor. Otherwise, not a whole lot of note here.

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Pack 7: My favorite is the Steph Curry card. I’ve never been a fan of cards without the player on them, so while the Team Threads is a cool concept, not my favorite execution. This one is of Jordan Clarkson.

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Pack 8: Pretty easy to tell the best card in this pack — the autographed Kyrie Team Threads, numbered 88/99. Didn’t even know that they had autographed versions of this insert set so took me a minute to process it all. I’m not a Kyrie fan so honestly I’ll probably sell it, but still a great hit!

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Pack 9: KD base, Murray rookie, KAT Front-Row Seat insert… solid pack. Plus, Aquaman aka Steven Adams.

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Pack 10: There’s out box friend Brandon Ingram again. Plus a base of MVP James Harden and ESPN’s Mark Jackson Floor Generals insert.

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Pack 11: Jamal Murray looks like he’ll be a player so his rookie was a nice get. Two John Walls in this pack, including a Front-Row Seat Century Red parallel.

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Pack 12: The base alone is good — KAT, AD, Marcus Smart, The Klaw, and rookie of The President. Oh, and a Debut Threads prime patch — numbered 1/25 — of Diamond Stone. He never panned out in the NBA but his name is the stuff of legends.

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Pack 13: Pascal Siakam is a key piece to the East-topping Raptors so his rookie is a nice get. Otherwise the pack was dull. I know the name Gail Goodrich (Hardwood Pioneers) but I know nothing about him.

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Pack 14: I like the inserts in this pack. Gobert is one of my favorite players. And the Wilt Chamberlain Hardwood Pioneers Century Proof Holo is a pretty cool card.

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Pack 15: There’s Diamond Stone again. The second guaranteed leather rookie is of Juan Hernangomez, who’s taken a step forward in his third year. And I like Chris Paul so I’m happy with that insert.

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Pack 16: There’s another Team Threads insert, this one the normal, un-signed one. This one is of our friend Ingram again. The third and final card of his in this box.

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Pack 17: Chris Paul, Paul George base. Boogie Cousins Front-Row Seat insert. That’s all.

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Pack 18: Another Century Proof Red parallel, this one of Darren Collison. Saric is a pretty good rookie card.

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Pack 19: Dwyane Wade base. Damian Lillard insert. Diallo was a big recruit at Kansas but hasn’t done anything in the NBA.

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So the box tapered off at the end but still a great box overall. Heck, would probably get the price of it back on the Kyrie card alone. I would definitely consider getting another box, especially if I find it on sale again.

Support this blog by browsing through all my cards I have for sale. I’m on COMC here. You can check out my baseball, soccer and hockey ones here, while football and basketball are located here. For entertainment and various sports ones, check out this eCrater site.

In Praise of the Oakland Coliseum

I get it, the Oakland Coliseum isn’t the best place to watch a baseball game. There have been sewage leaks. The stadium is surrounded by parking lots, chain-link fences topped with barbed wire, and no place to hang out before or after the game. The seats are far away. Nothing about it screams like a good place to watch a game.

But there’s no accounting for the novelty of it. And the people there are second-to-none.

I went to my first game at the Coliseum in May of this year. I came in with zero expectations, and the BART ride through Oakland did nothing to increase that. Hoping off at the Coliseum stop left me wondering what the heck I was doing. To get to the stadium, you have to go down and out of the station, back up some more stairs to an open-air concrete skywalk topped by a chain-link fence to the grey Coliseum. Combine it with an overcast day and well, you get no visual stimulation.

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The only break you have from grey are the green and gold banners as you make your way to the stadium.

But along that walk to the stadium, I had my first encounters with A’s fans. In front of me, a couple were bringing their two young sons — who were all clad in A’s garb — to the game. Halfway through the walkway, a picnic table was set up by a local Little League team selling baked goods to support their organization. $2 for a cupcake designed like a baseball? You better believe I bought one (and it was darn good).

I went through security, which was a breeze considering it was still a couple of hours before the game, and shared a joke or two with the ushers and guards who were there.

My seat was behind home plate and I entered through centerfield, so I decided to do a lap of the stadium before heading to my assigned spot. The walk takes you through all the various stages of the 52-year-old ground. There was the old with the wide ramps and blocked off concourses. More modern were some of the suites and restaurant that provided a nice view of the field. They even had a social hangout spot for my fellow Millenials to grab a drink and chat while at the ballpark.

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For whatever reason, the view down the right-field line really struck me.

After I got my fill of the different views, I went to my seat — Section 217, Row 4, Seat 5. Right away, I was struck by how good the view actually was. I didn’t feel too far away from the action. Sure, Mt. Davis isn’t a great but hey, in a way, it’s become iconic.

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The views of the hills would have been better, but in a way, Mt. Davis has its own charm.

Seeing the monstrosity that is Mt. Davis awakened something in me. Yes, it isn’t going to help the Coliseum’s case as the best place to catch a game. Yes, there is way too much foul territory down the lines. But looking around at the field, it all hit me — this is the home to so many successful Oakland teams. I’ve watched countless playoff games from there on TV (with most involving my Yankees). There was a sense of history that you can feel that is hard to get with the newer stadiums.

Read more: My trip to Comerica Park

You walk around the stadium and it feels like you’ve traveled back to the ’80s. There’s something to be said about walking around in those concrete halls and the large seating sections that can’t be found at other stadiums. It’s really become a novelty and part of baseball history.

Maybe it was because I watched ‘Field of Dreams’ on my cross-country flight to the Bay Area, but once I was out there, I had nostalgia for ’80s baseball even though I’m a ’90s kid. And really, there’s no other place in baseball where you can get that. And what’s baseball without a sense of history?

Now, I’m not saying that the Coliseum should be the A’s permanent home. I would venture it’s not a great place to go for 81 games a year. But if you’re a baseball fan, especially a younger one, it’s definitely a place you need to go before it closes for good.

By capacity, it’s the seventh-largest stadium in the MLB with 47,170 seats, but can hold more that would make it the largest in the league.

It’s also the fourth-oldest park still in existence and second oldest in the MLB. And while it was built in 1966, it’s the ’70s and ’80s that still live nearly 40 years later. Heck, even the PA system still has that echo-y tone that makes you feel like you’re at a small high school football stadium. There’s just something neat about that.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give some of the credit to the A’s fans, too. Their wackiness from the horns you’ll hear throughout the stands to the giant waving flags in the corner outfield is something that I haven’t seen to that magnitude at other places. A majority of them were wearing some sort of A’s sweatshirt and/or jersey with a fine mix of current and former players. I’ve always considered them among the best in the MLB and going to a game just cemented that notion in my mind.

For their sake, I do hope the A’s get a nice, smaller ballpark sometime soon. As an Atlanta resident, I’ve seen the improvements that a new stadium can make to a gameday experience.

But the notion that the Coliseum is just a dump and has no place in baseball is just wrong. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there, but I certainly will always appreciate my trip there.

Support this blog by browsing through all my cards I have for sale. I’m on COMC here. You can check out my baseball and hockey ones here, while football and basketball are located here. For entertainment and various sports ones, check out this eCrater site.

Blaster Box Break: Topps The Walking Dead Season 7

I’ve never really thought about buying non-sports cards until I started dabbling in The Walking Dead Season 6 cards. But that, plus seeing some of the hits posted online (mainly the bullet relics), got me interested in starting up my collection this year.

Boy, am I glad I did.

This was only the second blaster box of the cards that I’ve ever bought, and if they’re more like that, I’ll definitely be in the market for more.

Get singles from Topps The Walking Dead Season 7 here

Basics:

Each box contains 10 packs, with six cards per pack. There are usually 2 to 3 inserts per pack, including one rust parallel per pack.

The rust parallels from this box.

You’ll also get a hit per box, in its own separate pack, giving you a total of 61 cards for the $19.99 you spend on the box.

Inserts:

Walkers: A set of 10 of the best walkers from that season. In this box, I pulled three. Crazy to see the level of decay the the makeup and costume departments were able to pull off.

Allegiances: A set of 7 of the show’s best partnerships that are only found in Wal-Mart boxes. My box had five, and my favorite was definitely the Ezekiel and Jerry. Such a great duo.

Rivalries: A set of 4 of the show’s best hateships. My box had two, including the great Rick and Negan one. Can’t top that combo in this season.

Characters: A set of 19 highlighting some of the main cast of characters on the show. This is one of the bigger insert sets, and my box only had three. But as a fan of Abraham, that was definitely a hit in my book.

Chop: A set of 9 cards again highlighting characters on the show. This set has been a staple in previous releases, but it’s still a nice look.

Numbered Parallels: There are five different parallels of each card, both base and inserts. In each of the two blaster boxes I’ve opened this year, there’s been one of them. This one was a rust (03/99) Rivalries of Negan and Spencer — such a short rivalry.

Hit: This is the big draw, of course. Wal-Mart boxes are probably in bigger demand because of the ability to get a shell casing relic. But most common from Wal-Mart are the walker relics (only found from Wal-Mart) which are still pretty darn cool — and was pulled from the first box I bought.

This box, I knew I didn’t get a relic as the pack was too thin and light. I was excited about the prospect of hitting an auto and saved it for last. Turns out some more patience is required on my part.

A Melissa McBride rust parallel on-card auto (numbered out of 99)! Definitely my best blaster box hit, especially since she’s a character from the start of the show. Not my favorite character, but she’s a bad ass and definitely will never complain about it.

Funnily enough, there were plenty of duplicates from my first box to this one. But this hit more than makes up for it. It’s definitely looking forward to blasting another box or two.

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Blaster Box Break: 2017 Topps Series 1 (The Rookie Special)

I’ve got to say, 2017 Topps Series 1 is my most-opened product, ever. I don’t know how much I’ve opened, but I previously profiled a three-box blaster break, and opened about three others that I haven’t posted. Add that to all the retail packs I’ve bought… and it’s quite a lot.

The funny thing (or maybe the sad thing) is I still don’t have a full base set. So while I’ve gotten about 10 Aledmys Diaz cards, I’m still searching for some.

Search the 2017 Topps cards I have for sale here

But that doesn’t discount from my favorite box of the product I’ve opened. I affectionately call this one the rookie special. You can probably guess why, but the results are here.

Let’s start with the medallion card. There’s one per box, and I pulled Kris Bryant from mine.

Now let’s get to the normal packs. The box basics, 10 packs of 12 cards each. Each pack has one or two inserts each.

The first pack yielded a top rookie, Yoan Moncada, and was supported by players like Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, Addison Russell and a Bill Shatner insert. Moncada hasn’t exactly gotten off to the best start in his big league career, but he’s shown flashes for the White Sox. Still too early to write him off yet.

Pack 2 sees our first of the blaster-box exclusive Jackie Robinson Day inserts, which look exactly like Salute. Speaking of that insert, here’s a Robin Yount one. Base highlights include Jacob deGrom, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Archer, and Gary Sheffield’s favorite player, Jason Heyward.

Pack 3 gives us another Jackie Robinson Day card, this one of Joe Mauer. We also have an award winner of the since retired David Ortiz. Base hits include Jose Altuve and Corey Kluber.

Pack 4 is a special one. Turns out it had 13 cards in it. Sweet. I’m going to assume that the Andrew Benintendi rookie is the extra one. Double win. The Luke Weaver rookie is also intriguing, and good to see my old friend Aledmys Diaz there. Inserts include a Rediscover Topps (Don Mattingly) and a Joey Votto 5 Tool (sweet card).

Pack 5 boasts a rookie card ofone of the breakout stars of the playoffs, Alex Bregman. Other base include postseason heroes Jake Arrieta, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jon Lester. Inserts include a Cal Ripken 1987 design and Buster Posey Bowman Then & Now. In the words of Larry David, pretty good. Pretty, pretty good.

Pack 6 should be called the Joe Musgrove pack — a normal base rookie and a Salute rookie of him. We also have our third JRD insert, this one of Mookie Betts. Other than that, a Matt Harvey base and Yankees team card.

We finally get our first parallel in Pack 7 — a rainbow foil of Danny Salazar. The pack also featured a nice 87 design of Hank Aaron. The base was nothing to note, but hey, at least the Aaron and parallel are nice.

As we get to the home stretch of the box, the base features three All Stars from this year — Stephen Strasburg, Justin Upton, and Craig Kimbrel. Inserts are another JRD of Todd “The Toddfather” Frazier and a Max Scherzer award.

The penultimate (love that word) pack featured just one insert — a 1987 design of Michael Conforto, including the ‘Future Stars’ branding. Bonus points to Topps for choosing a photo of him in his 1987 throwback uniform. The base had Nolan Arenado and Ryan Braun, and, well, other guys.

The final pack was, by far, my favorite for one reason — the Aaron Judge rookie! It’s my third copy, and as a Yankee fan, I wish I had more. Even the inserts were a nice touch with the Orlando Arcia Salute rookie, and, of course, another JRD card — this one of the great Mike Trout. Definitely a winner.

So in all, a great box break, especially considering it was on sale for $15 from Target. Three of those cards (Judge, Benintendi, and Moncada) I’ll probably get graded, and may do the same for Bregman depending on his progression. A definite win of a box.

I know I have duplicates of most cards — and most of them are at least triplets — but if I find more boxes on sale, I’d be very tempted to buy them. Hopefully they all go something like this.

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Hobby Box Break: 2017 Topps Update Baseball Cards

The 2017 Topps Update set continues to live up to recent history of key rookies appearing in it. This year is, of course, highlighted by Cody Bellinger and his three rookies (normal, rookie debut, Home Run Derby) and some more Aaron Judge ones (rookie debut, All-Star Game, Home Run Derby).

And while those ones are the big draws,  guys like Ian Happ, Christian Arroyo, Kyle Freeland, Derek Fisher, Jordan Montgomery, Bradley Zimmer, Josh Hader, Frances Martes, Daniel Robertson, Paul DeJong, Jacob Faria, and Sean Newcomb are looking like they could become stars in the league — or at least have the potential. You will need a few years to truly evaluate this rookie crop.

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So if you invest in a hobby box, what can you expect to get? Here’s what was in mine.

BASE: 

I wasn’t sure what to expect. It had been forever since I had opened a hobby box from a new set, so I didn’t know whether I would need to supplement it with a blaster box or two to get the full set. Turns out, I don’t. I pulled 299 of the 300 base set, including 20 doubles. Just need the Andrew Benintendi rookie debut.

What that means, though, is that I completed the dual quartets of Judge and Bellinger.

The one (major) disappointing factor in this set — a large swath of mid-season acquisitions are missing. That means there’s no Sonny Gray in a Yankees uniform, Yu Darvish as a Dodgers, Jay Bruce as an Indian, Justin Verlander as an Astros, or even Jaime Garcia as a Yankee (or Twin). It’ll be interesting to see if the pending free agents, like Darvish, Bruce, and Garcia, get a card with those teams in 2018 Series 1… or if it’ll be like they never were there.

BASE VARIATIONS: 

Like with the past few (many) years, there are plenty of variations to be found. The unnumbered rainbow foil returns, and provided me with three. The best of the lot was definitely the Alex Bregman debut.

Numbered cards are aplenty, too. Of course, the most common ones are gold (out of 2017), of which I pulled five. My box also had one hobby-exclusive black (out of 66) parallel of Charlie Blackmon. And you know what, it’s very cool. There was also a Mother’s Day Hot Pink parallel of Zack Cozart, limited to 50 copies.

I’m a sucker for numbered parallels, so yeah, these were all really cool, especially the Blackmon.

One thing I wasn’t expecting was the prevalence of short prints. I pulled a SSP of Roberto Clemente from Series 2 (from retail, no less), so I was expecting to maybe one. Turns out, they’re found at 1:4 packs for the “normal” short prints.

One twist to them, they also featured short prints of cards from Series 1 and 2. It’s pretty cool, I just wish they were a little bit harder to find.

BUYBACKS: 

Continuing its theme of buybacks in 2017, there are more to be found in Update. Same scale as before — red, blue, gold, silver, and bronze in descending rarity order.

My box had six of them. Three were bronze, including a 1979 Topps card of Sam Ewing. There was also a silver, gold, and one red.

INSERTS:

Just like the buybacks continued, so did the 1987 design. I do love the design, but feel it’s getting a bit overused. Still neat to see a mix of current and former players in one of the most iconic designs, and do wish I had gotten more than 4 of the 50-card set. And as a Yankee fan, getting the Montgomery is a nice touch (his stamping is the standard silver, not sure why it’s red in this photo).

Salute is also back for the third set this year. It’s one of my least favorite insets this year with its mix of focus, from rookies, to walk offs, to throwback uniforms.

There’s also the return of the MLB Network stars. Really not much to say about it, other than I hope Topps got some nice chunk of change for this cross promotion. Hope it doesn’t become a trend.

One new addition is the Topps All-Rookie Cup. It’s a reprinted card featuring some of the top Rookie Cup stars, with some info on the back. Not the most creative insert, but still better than some others.

What was strange was that all five in my box had some centering issues. Nothing too crazy, but I do hope yours are better than mine.

But what’s most cool is the Untouchables. Highlighting some of the game’s best pitchers — both currently and historically — is nothing new, but it’s such a sweet-looking card. Only got 4 of the 30 cards, but definitely tempted to get more.

HIT: 

And like all hobby boxes, there’s a guaranteed big hit, either a relic or auto. It took me until the 36th and final pack to pull mine, so if you’re in a hurry, maybe start with packs near the bottom of the box. I was definitely hoping for an auto, but turns out I got a relic featuring a piece of All-Star gear from none other than Clayton Kershaw. Definitely one of the best players to get a relic from, especially after his big performance in Game 1 of the World Series.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

I know I have all but one of the base, but I do miss some duplicates so I’ll probably get my hands on some more of these cards. Some of these inserts are just too cool, and well, the rookies are a promising bunch. I do hope that Topps reverts back to featuring in-season trades next year in Update, but still worth a purchase of a box if you get a good deal on one.

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(Hanger) Baseball Card Box Break: 2011 Topps Update

Normally, I reserve my blog posts for breaks of blasters and full boxes. This time, I’m going a little off script.

The 2011 Topps Update set could very well be the most in-demand/expensive set currently on the market. And you better believe card No. 175 plays a huge part of that. If you’re not familiar with the checklist, that’s the rookie card of a Mr. Mike Trout.

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While Trout is certainly the headliner of the set, with a raw condition card fetching about $125 on eBay (making the fact I sold one for $35 a few years back pretty painful), he’s not the only key one to have. Guys like Jose Altuve, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, J.D. Martinez, Charlie Blackmon, Eric Hosmer, and a host of other All Stars make their official cardboard debut in the set.

So when I found was able to buy a 72-card hanger box on eBay for $225 — the highest price I’ve ever paid for cards — I was quite eager to open it up. The ultimate goal? A parallel of the Trout rookie. While I didn’t get it, the box was a definite success, as you’ll see.

The box had some wear, but the good news was all the cards didn’t have any damage.

Normally, I’d start this review with a look at the base. But since the base holds the big prize, and the box itself contained very few inserts, I’ll save that for the end. In fact, the box only had two inserts, leaving 70 base + parallels available for the Trout.

One of the inserts I liked — the Topps 60 of Reggie Jackson. It’s a cool set, even if it is light on information on what exactly it’s highlighting. The other was a Frank Thomas Kimball Champions mini. It reminds me of an Allen & Ginter card (which is far from my favorite set), but the real problem for me is the size. I’ve never like mini cards. They’re just so hard to store.

The machine that sorted this box had to have been an A’s fan.

This update set introduced the concept of store parallels (i.e., Target reds). This box didn’t have any, but it did have a few of the cognac diamond. One unique thing about this parallel — it was only found in Update, but had cards from both Series 1 and 2 in them.  So out of the four that I pulled, two of them (Austin Jackson and Kelly Johnson) were from Series 2. But I did appreciate pulling the Carlton Fisk Legends SP cognac parallel.

The box also carried two more types of parallels — a Platinum Diamond and a gold parallel. The gold is, of course, numbered to the year (xxx/2011) while the Platinum isn’t. Love the look of both of these cards.

While the parallels and inserts were neat, the meat of the box comes from the rookies. It felt like there were fewer rookies in this set than in ensuing years, and there are plenty of guys who have since washed out of the league, like one-time top prospect Alex White. But out of the big names I listed before, I pulled two — the best two in my opinion.

Both of these cards will get graded some day. I don’t claim to be an expert in raw assessing conditions, but I gotta say, that Trout looks pretty darn good.

So was the box expensive? You better believe it. But all in all, I’m quite happy with it — and will definitely keep an eye out for more in the future.

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