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.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, and soccer cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

Advertisements

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.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, and soccer cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

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.

Search the 2017 Topps cards I have for sale here

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.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, and soccer cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

(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.

Search the 2011 Topps cards I have for sale here

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.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, and soccer cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

Box Break: 1999 Topps Baseball Series 2

I got to admit, the late ’90s were a bit of an odd time for Topps cards. It’s past the junk wax era, not yet at the big-hits era, and there were a ton of brands/variations out there. Their baseball set sizes were about half what they are nowadays — about 450 cards, compared to about 750 among Series 1 and 2. And looking back at the rookie crop, there are very few that stand out.

But me being the baseball card addict I am, I still love them.

So when I stumbled upon a box of 1999 Topps Series 2 retail box for a whopping $15, I had to pounce. And I’m glad I did, but more on that for later.

Let’s see what this box turned up.

Base: 

The set starts with card No. 243 (Tom Glavine) and goes all the way through the checklists at 463. Card No. 461 is a Sammy Sosa with 66 variations, one for each home run he hit in ’98. My box had all of the base cards in it (most of them had duplicates, too), and two variations of the special Sosa card. Get ready for a bunch of doubles if you get a box.

Need some base from 1999 Topps for your set? I have some listed here.

Condition:

Not bad for being stuck in a package for nearly 20 years. As expected, some of the gold foiling flaked off of the player names, but nothing too noticeable. I was worried when I saw the pack fronts were faded, and all the cards kind of stuck together when opening the pack, but all in all, not too bad on the front. A few had bad dings or other markings, but overall a solid stack. Most of them had some fading on the back, but that’s not really a big issue for me.

Rookies: 

Matt Holliday’s rookie card, with a cameo by Jeff Winchester, the Rockies’ first-round pick in ’98 who never got above AA.

There are some recognizable names, but definitely nobody going to the Hall. Closest one would be Matt Holliday. But you also have familiar names like Brad Lidge, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jason LaRue, Austin Kearns, Gabe Kapler, Adam Everrett, Pat Burrell, A.J. Burnett, Billy Koch, and Vernon Wells in the group on rookie and prospect cards.

Inserts:

Inserts were pretty limited in this box. The most common were the Record Numbers. Cool design, but were obviously miscut. Oh well, these are just for my collection, anyway.

A little bit harder to hit are two foil-heavy sets, All Matrix and All-Topps Mystery Finest. Both sets carry a pretty decent listing price on COMC if you hit the right one. I had no such luck, but again, I’m not opening the box to make a profit.

The final insert set in the box was the big one, the Nolan Ryan reprints. Ryan had been out of the game for a few years at that point, but Topps decided to feature him, going with its pitching theme (the box/pack design featured Roger Clemens). There are two types of the reprints, the base and refractor. I forgot to look at the pack odds, but the refractor is a pretty big hit if you can find one (as an aside, I remember a trip to Wildwood, NJ, one summer growing up, I had enough tickets at an arcade to get a pack of ’99 Topps. I pulled an awesome Nolan Ryan 1987 refractor).

This box delivered two normal reprints and one refractor. The base reprints are of his 1978 and 1981 cards, and his refractor is… his rookie!

When I pulled it, I thought it was a nice hit, but nothing crazy. Then curiosity got the better of me, and I started looking at its prices. COMC has a pair (at the time of writing) between $5 and $15. A recently sold one on eBay got up to $40, but a PSA 10 one sold for a whopping $250! The one I pulled looks a little off center, but everything else looks pretty good. I’ll get it graded one day and hold onto it. But if I wanted to sell it, I could probably pay for the box with just that one card.

All in all, a very solid box. If it weren’t for all the duplicate base that I don’t want sitting around my room, I would be tempted to open another box just to see what hits I could pull, and maybe flip a few. But for what it is, I’m very happy with my purchase.

As a note, I plan on doing more and more of these box breaks, spanning all years and sports, now that I have a bit more disposable income. So stay tuned!

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, and soccer cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

The Best Topps Baseball Rookie Classes Since 2007

A lot has changed in the world of baseball since 2007. Players using PEDs have (mostly) gone away — or at least have masked them better — and the players who thrived in the steroid era have retired. Home runs and strikeouts have gone way up, and analytics have taken a stranglehold on the game.

The world of baseball cards has changed, too. There’s been a proliferation of parallels, autos, relics, etc., that have taken over the industry. Topps has a monopoly (sorry, exclusive license) to produce cards with team logos But what hasn’t changed is the good old fashioned rookie.

Get all your baseball cards here.

Cards nowadays have the rookie shield to denote their standing. You can debate which set — Chrome, Heritage, Stadium Club, flagship — is your favorite, but I’m still partial to the main set.

With that in mind, I decided to take a look at Check Out My Cards to take a look at all the rookie cards from Topps dating back to 2007. I’ve come up a ranking of the best rookie class years based on that information. There’s no definitive way to rank them so feel free to disagree in the comments.

And just a note before we begin, these lists encompass cards from Series 1, Series 2, and Update in them. So if this inspires you to buy some packs/boxes to find the cards, make sure to look them up to make sure you buy the right product.

11. 2009 Topps

Key Rookies: Elvis Andrus, Rick Porcello, Chris Tillman, David Price, Mark Melancon, Francisco Cervelli, Jordan Zimmermann, Pablo Sandoval, Josh Reddick, David Freese

Get your 2009 Topps cards here

The group is highlighted by a pair of Cy Young winners (Porcello and Price) but Porcello was a controversial pick and looks to be a career-best year, and Price has run into some troubles in Boston. Elvis Andrus is a solid shortstop but his career has its ups and downs. The rest are solid players, but nothing to get too excited about.

Andrew Miller’s 2007 Topps rookie.

10. 2007 Topps

Key Rookies: Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew Miller, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, J.A. Happ, Joba Chamberlain, Carlos Gomez, Joakim Soria, Cameron Maybin, Daisuke Matsuzaka

Get your 2007 Topps cards here

This group would have been a few places higher had injuries not derailed Troy Tulowitzki’s career, but unfortunately, his career has been put on halt the past few years. Andrew Miller is one of the most dominant relievers of the 2010s and is currently the best of the group. The crop also includes a pair of big-time AL East flameouts, Dice-K and Joba.

9. 2014 Topps

Key Rookies: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jacob deGrom, Masahiro Tanaka, George Springer, Marcus Stroman, Rougned Odor, Jonathan Schoop, Jose Abreu, Macus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Gregory Polanco, Billy Hamilton, Jose Ramirez, Kevin Kiermaier, Taijuan Walker, Tanner Roark, Travis d’Arnaud

Get your 2014 Topps cards here

Make no mistake about it, there are a few big names in this class. In fact, it’s a big jump up from 2007. But still, someone has to be No. 9, and it’s 2014. Mookie and deGrom are the best, but there are plenty of others are worthy of your attention. This group could move up in a few years.

 

8. 2013 Topps

Key Rookies: Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Corey Kluber, Marcell Ozuna, Gerrit Cole, Christian Yelich, Didi Gregorius, Yasiel Puig, Jose Fernandez, Anthony Rendon, Jackie Bradley Jr., Avisail Garcia, Jeurys Familia, Trevor Rosenthal, Danny Salazar, Wil Myers, Michael Wacha, Alex Wood, Khris Davis, Cody Allen, Marwin Gonzalez, Yan Gomes, Aaron Hicks, Dylan Bundy, Evan Gattis

Get your 2013 Topps cards here

This class has a pair of third basemen that could go down as two of the best in the game in Arenado and Machado. A third, Anthony Rendon, is a very good starter for the Nationals. Corey Kluber is nearly unhittable. Ozuna and Yelich are overshadowed in the Marlins outfield but are very good players in their own right. Didi Gregorius keeps getting better and better in New York. Wacha was a big playoff star in 2013 but injuries have hampered him recently. Puig has settled in as a good, but not great, outfielder despite his huge rookie year. And of course, tragedy cut down Jose Fernandez’s career.

7. 2010 Topps

Key Rookies: Buster Posey, Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton, Madison Bumgarner, Kenley Jansen, Jake Arrieta, Stephen Strasburg, Josh Donaldson, Starlin Castro, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Jason Heyward, Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, Jonathan Lucroy, Wilson Ramos

Get your 2010 Topps cards here

This class received a big boost this year with Giancarlo Stanton challenging for the single-season HR title. Moving forward, the big question will be if he can stay healthy and keep it going. Buster and Madison have already made their marks with three World Series titles, and look to be on the way to the Hall of Fame. Kenley Jansen is quietly one of the best closers in the game. The rest of the crop has won awards, be it a MVP (Donaldson) or a Cy Young (Arrieta).

6. 2012 Topps

Key Rookies:  Bryce Harper, Andrelton Simmons, Dallas Keuchel, Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Matt Harvey, Starling Marte, Dellin Betances, Kelvin Herrera, AJ Pollock, Sergio Romo, Greg Holland, Hisashi Iwakuma

Get your 2012 Topps cards here

Bryce Harper has rounded back into his generational form before a serious knee injury. Andrelton’s offense has exploded, and developed into a dark-horse MVP candidate. Dallas Keuchel is pitching like a Cy Young candidate again. The rest of the class is solid, especially in the reliever department with Betances, Herrera, Holland and Romo. The class would have been better had Jesus Montero or Brett Lawrie lived up to their expectations.

5. 2017 Topps

Key Rookies: Aaron Judge, Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Josh Bell, Jeff Hoffman, Trey Mancini, Tyler Glasnow, Reynaldo Lopez, Yuleski Gurriel, Carson Fulmer, Tyler Austin, Chad Pinder, Koda Glover, Mitch Haniger, Jharel Cotton, Ty Blach, Adam Frazier, Matt Olson

Get your 2017 Topps cards here

This group will only go up once Update comes out with Cody Bellinger’s rookie. Even without him, still a great class, despite Judge’s second-half struggles. His first half set the industry in the craze, but it’s cooled off some since then. The rest of this class still features a lot of projections — which is why it isn’t higher — with Moncada, Swanson (who’s been much better recently), and others. Benintendi’s been great for the Sox and could steal the Rookie of the Year Award if Judge continues to scuffle. Bell has had a sneaky good rookie season.

4. 2008 Topps

Key Rookies: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Joey Votto, Evan Longoria, Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce, Hiroki Kuroda

Get your 2008 Topps cards here

The depth in this class isn’t great but its top end is great. Kershaw is looking like one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball history. Votto is looking like he’s on his way to Cooperstown. Scherzer is one of the more dominant pitchers in the game. Kuroda had a brief, but very good, run in the U.S. Longo, Cueto, and Bruce have all been All Stars.

3. 2016 Topps

Key Rookies: Corey Seager, Gary Sanchez, Trea Turner, Miguel Sano, Luis Severino, Kyle Schwarber, Aaron Nola, Julio Urias, Michael Fulmer, Trevor Story, Willson Contreras, Jose Berrios, Blake Snell, Michael Conforto, Nomar Mazara, Greg Bird, Jameson Taillon, Raul Mondesi, Jose Peraza, Max Kepler, Lucas Giolito, Tyler Naquin, Tim Anderson, Stephen Piscotty, Chris Devenski, Edwin Diaz, Zach Davies, Carl Edwards Jr., Kenta Maeda

Get your 2016 Topps cards here

This is a well-rounded class. Two great, promising shortstops in Seager and Turner. Some great power in Sanchez, Sano, and Schwarber. The pitching looks very good with Severino, Nola, Berrios, and Fulmer. Conforto, Contreras, and Mazara look to have sealed their places in their teams’ long-term plans. There’s still some projections to be done with the rest of the class, but they have great potential.

2. 2015 Topps

Key Rookies: Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Noah Syndergaard, Addison Russel, Carlos Rodon, Javier Baez, Byron Buxton, Jake Lamb, Joey Gallo, Travis Shaw, Justin Bour, Christian Vazquez, Ender Inciarte, Odubel Herrera, Raisel Iglesias, DJ LeMahieu, Maikel Franco, Mike Foltyniewicz, Joc Pederson, Steven Souza Jr., Randal Grichuk, David Peralta, James McCann, Daniel Norris

Get your 2015 Topps cards here

It’s hard to beat those first four names on the list. Bryant is the face of the Cubs. Correa and Lindor look to be the future at SS in the AL. Syndergaard, if he can stay healthy, has some of the best stuff in the Bigs. Buxton is finally capitalizing on his potential. Of course, there’s still some unkowns and untapped potential in that list, but guys like Inciarte, Baez, Lamb, Shaw, and Bour have already become everyday players on their clubs.

  1. 2011 Topps

Get your 2011 Topps cards here

Key Rookies: Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Sale, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Charlie Blackmon, Zach Britton, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Kyle Seager, Dee Gordon, Jason Kipnis, Jose Iglesias, Julio Teheran, Todd Frazier, Kyle Seager, JD Martinez, Brandon Crawford, Yonder Alonso, Brandon Belt, Mark Trumbo, Michael Pineda

How can you beat this class? It has a player who could go down in history as top 10 or 5 in Mike Trout. Jose Altuve and Paul Goldschmidt could win MVPs this year. Chris Sale is a frontrunner for the Cy Young. Freeman and Rizzo are two great first basemen in the NL. This list goes on and on. There’s a (good) reason why prices for Update are crazy.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, soccer cards and Marvel cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

Why this 2009 Topps Robinson Cano baseball card is special to me

My dad recently reminded me of a something I said when I was much younger. See, I’m a Yankees fan, and on our way home from one game when there were rumors that the Yankees were going to move to the “West Side Site” during the late ’90s, my dad asked me my opinion on the move. I was 7 or 8 at the time so I don’t remember being asked this, but my answer was nothing positive.

“I’ll never go to another Yankees game if they do move”

That was supposedly my answer to my father.

Of course, the Yankees did tear down the old stadium and move right across the street. I miss the charm of the old place, but I still get to games when I can and I’m still a Yankees fan. So I guess that makes me a bit of a liar.

That story is integral to why this 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom card that I bought for $3 on COMC is my most cherished card in my collection.

But first, let’s turn the clock back to Sept. 2016. Upper Deck e-Pack is still going strong and I’m poking around more and more on COMC. Thanks to some (OK, a lot) of purchases of Marvel Masterpiece packs on e-Pack, I sell a portrait on COMC and have some credit on the site. I decide to search the cards of one of my favorite Yankees, Robinson Cano, when I stumble upon this card.

And I kid you not, I’m pretty sure I let out an audible ‘woah.’

The piece of bat is pretty neat but what really drew me in was the ticket stub. A neat addition to the card for sure, but it was the game that really caught my attention.

Earlier that summer on a visit to my childhood home, I came up with a spreadsheet of all the games I’ve ever attended. It was a fun little project to do, including looking up the box scores on baseball-reference. So I couldn’t believe it when I saw the date on the ticket stub and then cross-referenced it on my spreadsheet.

Yep, it was the last game I attended at the old stadium, just weeks before leaving for my freshman year at college.

(And in case you’re wondering, Cano went 2 for 5 that day as the Yankees pounded the Royals, 15-6.)

I couldn’t believe it. What were the chances of having my favorite player featured with a ticket stub of one of the more meaningful games I attended? I mean, I pretty much cried watching the final game of the 2008 season at the old stadium. Like most Yankees fans, I really cherished that place. I knew I had to buy this card.

Thankfully, it was only $3 so that was an easy purchase. It could have been upwards of $50 and I probably would have bought it. Does that make good economic sense? No, but the hobby isn’t always about the bottom line. For me, it’s also about the memories. It’s about what the card means to me.

Since that day in September last year, I’ve bought more and more cards on COMC than I originally set out to do, but yet none were more special than this one.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, soccer cards and Marvel cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

Blaster Box Break(s): Three Boxes of 2017 Topps Series 1

There’s no better omen for a good baseball season than a good Topps flagship set. That’s what the 2017 version of Topps delivers.

A year after having a design that I wasn’t too crazy about (it cut off way too much of the photo), Topps let them breathe this year. So I’ve decided to buy three blaster boxes at various times — along with my usual spate of packs from Target and Wal-Mart — and share the results.

Get all of your 2017 Topps baseball cards here.

I’ll share the hits later, but first a few notes on my favorite base.

One of the first base cards to strike my eye was the Craig Kimbrel. There’s nothing too special about the photo itself, but the story behind it is special to me. Take a look at it:

Based on my detective work, I can tell that the photo was taken when the Red Sox played in Detroit. My initial reaction was that I at that game, and it looks like my quick research confirms that. The Red Sox played a four-game series at Detroit — Kimbrel didn’t pitch in the first two games, and the final game was a day game. That left only the Saturday night game as the only one Kimbrel appeared in. That’s the one I attended, and waited through two hour-plus rain delays.

Related: My photo review of my trip to Comerica Park

Overall, there’s nothing special about the photo (although it does feature his distinctive bend) but it’s always cool to see a card featuring a game you attended. The only other one I can think of that features a photo from a game I attended was the 2012 Topps Juan Nicasio card.

But on a larger sense, I’ve been very impressed with the photo selection in 2017 Topps. I might get more into it if I do a more detailed review of the set, but let me just say it’s been great. A lot of great action shots, especially among outfielders making catches (like this Jacoby Ellsbury card). Combine that with a cool border, and that’s the perfect elements for a great set.

Now onto the hits. Let’s start with the guaranteed Jackie Robinson Logo Patch card. It’s one per blaster box, and 50 different patches. Here’s the best one I got — the Carlos Correa.

I also pulled a Sonny Gray and Nolan Arenado ones. Overall, not a bad trio, but still kind of disappointing when they carry the box.

On the base parallel front, it’s worked out to about one gold and one silver foil per blaster box. There was also one Rediscover Topps buyback in the three-box lot, a silver 1993 Kevin Brown.

First Pitch also makes a return, as you can see in the first of the two above photos. It’s about one or two per blaster box for me, and some of the people featured I had never heard of. But it was cool to pull the Stephen Colbert — love that guy.

Topps also has a different type of Rediscover Topps, as you can see by that George Brett 1975 in the photo above. Sadly, it’s not an original. It’s just a reprint on the front and features an ad for Topps on the back. It’s about one per blaster.

Related: 2001 Topps Series 1 hobby box break

The heaviest insert is definitely the Salute/Jackie Robinson Day cards. Take a look at the ones I pulled from three boxes. You can see how much they are featured.

That’s 23 of these in three boxes, or just a shade under 8 per box. With such a large set, it will take you a while to build it all.

The other prominently featured set is the MLB Awards. It features everything from Rookie of the Year to MVP to Gold Glove winners, and even Comeback Player of the Year. Of course, the NL version features Jose Fernandez, who I had forgotten had died.

Other assorted inserts included Bowman Then and Now (2 out of 3 boxes had one), a look at MLB Network personalities (1 out of 3), and 5 Tools (2 out of 3). My favorite was definitely the 5 Tool, especially pulling an Andrew McCutchen (since I’m a Pirates fan).

But of course, the biggest draw insert-wise is the 1987 Design. Prices have started out pretty high for them (compared to your average insert) I’m guessing because of the popularity of that set. Based on my experience, you’ll get two or three per blaster box meaning you have to go through a ton of boxes to get the full 100-card set.

Overall, these boxes were OK, nothing too special. There weren’t any short prints among the base set, and still wasn’t able to complete the 350-card base set. That makes sense since there were 10 packs of 10 cards in the box, and most of them featured two inserts. Let’s say you average about 85 base cards per blaster box (since not all packs have two inserts), so it would take at least five boxes to get the full set, assuming you don’t get too many duplicates. So maybe a hobby box and a blaster would be a better bet.

But hey, for $20, this is a pretty good buy for the base alone.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, soccer cards and Marvel cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

Blaster Box Break: 2016-17 Panini NBA Hoops

For whatever reason, this year I’ve started embracing NBA cards again. I don’t watch the games — or at least maybe until late in the playoffs — but the allure of the cards has been calling my name.

I’ve picked up a few packs of Prizm, opened a few more of Panini Complete, but took the big plunge on NBA Hoops. Then again, when you pick up one pack at Target and this is your hit, it’s hard not to get the bug again.

So when I had a gift card to Amazon, I decided to place an order for a blaster box of NBA Hoops. The box had a promise of a autographed card or relic, and was hoping for another auto. So did I get the second auto? Read on to see what else I pulled — I’ll get to it at the end.

Click here to browse through all the basketball cards listed on my eCrater store.

But first, I want to comment on the base set. It contains a total of 300 cards, with 40 of them dedicated to the rookies. It’s been a rookie class that’s been less than impressive (from what I’ve heard, anyway), but I did pull a couple of nice rookies — Brandon Ingram and Malcolm Brogdon.

I was also glad to see Kevin Garnett in the set. Even though he retired before the season (and would therefore be usually a weird thing to see in a set), as a KG fan growing up, I was glad to get it. If only there was a Tim Duncan in the base….

Now onto the inserts. The box brought three unnumbered blues — Ish Smith, Jeff Green (I didn’t realize either was still in the league) and Gordon Hayward. It also had one red parallel, numbered to 49, of Udonis Haslem.

The blaster box also had seven other inserts of the non-parallel type.

The Lights, Camera, Action pair were pretty darn cool, showcasing some great photography. That’s always a plus in my book.

I also like the Double Trouble and Faces of the Future. Obviously the Chris Paul-Blake Griffin pairing on the Double Trouble is worth being highlighted on a card, but honestly, I had never even heard of Miles Turner before, and wasn’t sure he was worthy (for lack of a better word) of being featured in that set. But NBA fans, feel free to chime in if I am wrong.

The End 2 End cards are nice, but really don’t grab my attention too much. But they’re still better than the Kobe 2K Hoops insert. I’m really never a fan of those video game cards. But c’est la vie.

Now onto the big(ish) draw — the guaranteed auto or relic. It was clear looking at the packs which one had the big hit, a clue that it was a relic. I opened it and saw it was a relic of…

Tyler Ennis! Woo! I recognized the name from his time at Syracuse, but I had no idea how he was faring in the NBA. I looked him up and soon learned that his career hasn’t exactly gotten off to the best start. He was acquired by the Lakers at the trade deadline this year, which makes it his fourth team in three years. He’s been a bench player for his whole career, and his stats aren’t that impressive.

It looks like his NBA career will be short lived, but hey, a relic card is a relic card. I’ll never complain about getting one of those.

For $20, you could do a lot worse than a blaster box of NBA Hoops.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cards, basketball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, soccer cards and Marvel cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.

Seven undervalued baseball rookie cards since 2014

When you think of rookie cards from the past three years, a couple of big names come to the forefront. Xander Bogaerts. Mookie Betts. Jacob deGrom. Noah Syndergaard. Carlos Correa. Francisco Lindor. Kris Bryant. Javier Baez. Luis Severino. Gary Sanchez. Trea Turner. Corey Seager. Miguel Sano. Kyle Schwarber.

Even guys like Gregory Polanco, Aaron Sanchez, Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Abreu, Marcus Stroman, George Springer, Joc Pederson, Joe Ross, Addison Russell, Byron BuxtonJoey Gallo, Blake Swihart, Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Devon Travis, Michael Conforto, and Aaron Nola have had their rookie cards come out in the past few years. And that list doesn’t even include any from the 2016 Topps Update set.

Tip: Click on a player’s name to see their baseball cards

With a class that big and top heavy, it’s easy for a few players to go under the radar. And that’s exactly what has happened.

Some of these seven cards listed below are the result for a player not getting a chance yet. Others have been slowed by injuries. Heck, even some have been overshadowed by newer, bigger prospects.

Now, not all of these players will ever make it truly big — with so many young players already superstars, it will be hard for them to crack that realm — but adding their cards would be a nice boost to your collection without breaking the bank.

Get all of your baseball cards here.

And in no particular order, here are the seven:

Steven Moya, OF, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are reportedly listening on trade offers on anyone and everyone. While some guys like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera might be harder to trade with their large contracts, someone like J.D. Martinez may be on the move. That would open up an everyday spot for Steven Moya.

Moya, MLB.com’s No. 100 prospect prior to the 2015 season, has faired decently in some cups of coffee with the Tigers the past few seasons. Last season, Moya played in 31 games with Detroit, hitting 5 home runs in 100 at bats and slugging .500. For comparison’s sake, Martinez checked in at .535 in the slugging department last season. Where Moya struggles though is getting on base. His .255 average is livable for someone with his power but he only walked 5 times (compared to 38 strikeouts) and had a paltry .290 on-base percentage. He also checked in negatively on defense, worth -0.7 dWAR, according to baseball-reference.

Moya will be 26 in early August next season, so this is the time for him to claim a full-time spot in the Tigers lineup.

Greg Bird, 1B, New York Yankees

Last season can only be described as a wash for Greg Bird. He entered the season in a timeshare at first base with Mark Teixeira, but was ruled out for the season even before Spring Training ended with a shoulder injury. While rehabbing, Bird saw fellow rookies Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin (himself a first baseman/outfielder) make their mark in pinstripes.

So what does Bird’s 2017 outlook look like? Well, a lot of it obviously depends on his health. But assuming he’s back to 100 percent, it’s pretty positive. Remember, as a rookie in 2015, Bird slugged 11 home runs and had a .871 OPS in 46 games with New York. On the other hand, Austin “only” put up a .758 OPS in 31 games in the Bronx last year. Bird is also a year younger than Austin, and will play the season as a 24 year old in 2017.

Even with Teixeira’s retirement, the Yankees can afford to take it slow with Bird. But don’t be surprised to see Bird take over the first base job in the Bronx by midseason.

Carlos Rodon, P, Chicago White Sox

The White Sox have a quality front-end of the rotation. Everyone knows about Chris Sale. Jose Quintana is always mentioned as one of the most underrated players in the league (aka, Ben Zobrist Syndrome). Lost in the shuffle is Carlos Rodon.

Rodon was the third overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft after a stellar career at NC State. Less than a year later, Rodon made his MLB debut. He’s since pitched the past two seasons with the South Siders, Rodon has gone 18-16 with a 3.90 ERA in 51 starts (54 games) with the Sox. Those overall stats aren’t anything impressive but there’s room for more optimism. In his final 11 starts of 2016, Rodon allowed three earned runs or fewer in 9 of them — eight of those, he didn’t even give up three. He had back-to-back blowups in September, giving up six earned runs to each the Indians and Royals, but then responded by throwing 8 shutout innings against the Indians on Sept. 25, striking out 11 and walking 3. It’s those types of starts that could become the norm for the 6-foot-3 left hander.

With the Sox contemplating a fire sale, both Sale and Quintana could be moved. That would leave Rodon as the ace, a role he looks ready to fill.

Ketel Marte, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

It’s hard for players on the West Coast to get their proper due, especially in the Pacific Northwest. I’m sure most casual baseball fans probably think that Robinson Cano is still overpaid, and had no clue how close the Mariners were to making the playoffs this past year. Those factors, plus a down 2015, have kept Ketel Marte under the radar.

If you look at Marte’s final line for 2016, it’s not pretty. He only hit .258/.287/.323 with 1 home run in 437 at bats. That has the makings of a career utility player, at best. But you have to keep one thing in mind. Marte missed about a month from mid-July into August due to mono, which caused him to lose 22 pounds. Listed as 6-foot-1, 165 pounds to enter the season, that’s a lot of weight to lose. So it should be no surprise that he wasn’t the same hitter down the stretch. Before the illness, Marte was batting .273/.299/.358, which isn’t that bad for a 22 year old in his first full season in the majors. A stint in the minors to start 2017 may be in the cards for Marte, especially if the Mariners finally get Zack Cozart.

Marte will never be a big power threat, but neither was a guy like Rafael Furcal, who had a productive long career. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Marte carve out a similar career. And now that he’s been traded to the Diamondbacks with Taijuan Walker, he gets his a fresh shot to make his mark.

Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers

Most baseball fans know Rougned Odor‘s name for either its uniqueness, or his personal rivalry with Jose Bautista. Or both. But what they may not know is the historic start he’s gotten off to in his career.

Odor’s calling card is his power, and he’s used it wisely in 2016. Last year, he became the first second baseman in history 25 or younger to top 30 home runs (he finished with 33). Oh, and he was only 22. Only five others since 2000 have hit at least 30 homers when they were 22 or younger: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado. Through 2.5 years in the bigs — he played a half year with the Rangers as a 20 year old in 2014 — Odor already has 58 home runs. He also cranked out 33 doubles and stole 14 bases, keeping him from being a one-dimensional slugger.

Of course, there are things for Odor to work on. He still strikes out a good amount, his defense can be questionable, and doesn’t walk much. Oh, and he has to keep his anger in check. But if he can keep up the pace he’s at, Odor’s stock will only continue to rise.

Mike Foltynewicz, P, Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves have been, well, not good the past two years. They did show signs of being competitive again down the stretch of 2016 after Dansby Swanson was promoted, and if they keep that going into 2017, a lot of that will be due to the pitching staff.

A key part of that staff will be Mike Foltynewicz. I debated about giving this spot to either Folty or Matt Wisler, but went with Folty due to his higher potential. He’s a 6-foot-4, hard-throwing right-hander who was a first-round pick of the Astros in 2010. He was one of the first pieces of the Braves’ rebuild, coming over in the deal that sent Evan Gattis to Houston. Since then, there have been questions about whether Folty’s future would be in the rotation or the bullpen. He finished fairly strong in 2016, and looks to have a spot in the Braves’ 2017 rotation fairly secure, despite the signings of Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey. Overall his 2016 was encouraging, cutting his WHIP to 1.297 and walk rate to 2.6 per 9 innings, both career bests.

One other sign that he’s part of the Braves future: the Yankees have been asking for him in return for Brian McCann, and have repeatedly been denied. It’s not hard to see why.

Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins

Max Kepler was one of the most intriguing rookies in 2016, not because of his potential, but because of his backstory. Kepler is one of the best prospects to come out of Europe, ever.

Kepler was a promising youth soccer player growing up in Germany, but decided to just focus on baseball at age 15 (BleacherReport shares a good story of his journey). That worked out as the Twins gave him a $800,000 signing bonus to sign with them, the largest ever given out to a European player. He made it pay off, reaching the bigs for 3 games in 2015 before carving out a permanent role in 2016. After a slow start to the season, he was sent back to AAA before getting another opportunity in June. He ran with that, and finished the season with 17 home runs and a .734 OPS as a 23-year-old rookie. He may have worn down at the end of the season though, as he only had one home run in 92 September at bats. Kepler turns 24 before Spring Training, and looks destined to join Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton as cornerstones of the Twins franchise.

When you combine his potential and the fact that he could be an international sensation, Kepler’s stock looks like it will only rise.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, soccer cards and Marvel cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.