(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 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.

5 lessons learned from 2015 All-Star Game

It’s funny to say that you can learn anything from the glorified exhibition MLB All-Star Game, but let’s say that we can. Let’s go down the road that there’s something that can be gained from seeing these players at the Mid-Summer Classic.

So what can we take away from this year’s event in Cincinnati? Well, a few things besides that the AL will have home-field advantage once again in the World Series.

Get all of your baseball cards here.

There are plenty of things we can claim to discover (like just exactly how popular Todd Frazier is in Cincinnati) or talk about the storylines (how does A.J. Burnett not get into the game when he’s in his first All-Star Game at age 38?). Instead, we’ll focus on five key lessons that we definitely, kinda, sorta, maybe learned this year.

1. The AL is STACKED with second baseman.

The fans voted the Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve as the starter, and while he’s still putting up very good numbers, he’s not even having the best year at his position. That would probably go to Jason Kipnis who bounced back from a rough 2014. Kipnis was then followed by Minnesota’s Brian Dozier, who promptly homered to center off of Pirates closer Mark Melancon. Dozier had a legit case to start this year with his 19 homers at the break.

When you take those three, plus the possibility of a resurgent Robinson Cano (I still believe!) it’s the AL that has the best second basemen in the league by a mile. In fairness to D.J. LaMahieu (an injury replacement in the starting lineup for Dee Gordon), the NL doesn’t have anyone who can compare to that trio. It used to be that Chase Utley and Brandon Phillips battled with Dustin Pedroia and Cano for title of the best second baseman. Now it’s just a battle between three from the AL.

2. Clayton Kershaw still doesn’t like the big stage.

We know just how dominant Clayton Kershaw is every day in the regular season. But the playoffs have been his bugaboo. While it’s foolish to draw comparisons from one inning in July, we’ll do it anyway. Kershaw was once again unimpressive under the brightest lights. In the fifth inning, he gave up three hits and two runs and was tagged with the loss. Kershaw has a 1-5 record and 5.12 ERA in the postseason so you know what, we’re going to knock the now five-time All Star for his appearance on Tuesday.

3. Mike Trout never fails to impress.

There’s no denying that Mike Trout is the face of the MLB. So how does he start off the biggest game of the summer? A leadoff home run against this year’s ace of the Dodgers, Zack Greinke. Trout has now hit for the cycle (done with just his first at-bat in each of his previous appearances) in his four All-Star Games, a pretty impressive feat for a 23-year-old in his fifth season in the bigs. He also won the MVP award this year, giving him the award in back-to-back years — the first time that’s ever happened. The only thing he really didn’t do well on Tuesday was his in-game interview with Erin Andrews but we’ll give him a pass for that. He still did a better job in front of a mic than Harold Reynolds (bazinga). 

Manny Machado's 2014 Topps.

Manny Machado’s 2014 Topps.

4. Manny Machado is back.

Remember when Manny Machado was the next big thing? He was the original Kris Bryant. Well, a rough 2014 pushed him toward the back burner. This year he’s proving that his rookie year was no fluke. He was first in line once starter Josh Donaldson was taken out of the game and had a big impact on the game. After Andrew McCutchen went deep to trim the AL’s lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Machado doubled home pinch runner Brock Holt for what would be the winning run. Pair Tuesday’s performance with his play during the regular season (19 home runs at the break) and it’s clear that Machado will be a mainstay at the hot corner.

5. Jacob deGrom is the best young Mets arm.

The Mets have a stockpile of young arms that would make any team jealous. Of course, we’ve seen that crash and burn before (Hello, Generation K), but as of right now, the Mets have a great future. The leader of that pack has to be Jacob deGrom and his great hair. Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year had maybe the most dominating pitching performance of the night by striking out the side in the sixth. Matt Harvey may have drawn the most headlines so far in his career, Steven Matz may be the new kid on the block, Zack Wheeler may steal the show next year when he returns from injury, but right now it’s deGrom who’s most dominating. Expect to see him in this game for years to come.

Don’t forget to also browse through all the baseball cardsfootball cards, and hockey cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.