2011 Topps Jumbo - Pack 4

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in , ,

Best three cards (in reverse order):

#3 – Hunter Pence (#45): What the heck? Two Astros in my top three picks? Look, when a card's good, it deserves mention, even if it is an Astros card. In this case, Pence's leaping catch, his concentration, how he's following the ball into the glove with his eyes, and even how it almost looks like he ran out of his shoes (he didn't, by the way) all make for a top-three card. I'm even willing to overlook the tongue.

#2 – Chase Utley (#214): It should be fairly easy to pinpoint the day this picture was taken, it's a daytime interleague game at Fenway Park and the scoreboard could be used to figure out, via the other games, which day it was. Maybe someone can figure it out. As for me, I picked this card because it's proof that Chase Utley can levitate.

#1 – Magglio Ordonez (#181): Another picture snapped at the exact right moment. Magglio definitely didn't swing and miss on this pitch. A beautiful sunny day, the strip of green grass sandwiched between the batter's box and the warning track, and even the white ball contrasting with Mags's brown bat. A winner all around.

Worst card:
Mark Trumbo (#57). A heavily image-adjusted card that makes it looks like he's standing in front of a painted backdrop. It reminds me of one of those home-made baseball cards that you could get with your little league team photo package. I half-expected to flip the card over and see his season statistics printed with a dot-matrix printer, along with such nuggets as "Favorite Food: Ice Cream" and "Favorite Teacher: Mrs. Pinsky".

Jamie Moyer Award for best card back:
Chris Sale (#65). Not only for the use of the word "yeses" (ok, it was in a direct quote, but I'm still pretty sure that word doesn't exist), but also for Topps making a point about how Sale made it to the majors last season, yet only included his minor-league stats on the back of the card. Whaaaaa?

For the record, here's his big-league stats last year, which were much more impressive:
G: 21  W: 2  L: 1  IP: 23.1  H: 15  R: 5  ER: 5  BB: 10  SO: 32  SV: 4  WHIP: 1.07  ERA: 1.93

Insert cards:

Barry Larkin Topps 60

Ryan Howard/Jason Heyward Diamond Duos (The guy whose manu-glove I pulled, and someone who I'd rather have pulled instead)

1969 Tom Seaver 60 Years of Topps

Mickey Mantle 60YOT The Lost Cards (I'm enjoying this sub-subset more than I thought I would. Having three of the ten cards already probably helps with that)

Vladimir Guerrero Kimball Champions

Was there a hit? Is it available for trade?:
Yes, there was a hit. My third of the box. I guess that means I'm done.

Fausto Carmona, looking suspiciously like a Yankee in this card. I guess this was taken at some sort of turn-back-the-clock day, commemorating when the Indians wore navy blue and white and Chief Wahoo was but a gleam in some marketing director's eye. This card is available for trade.

Any Diamond Parallel cards?:


Yes! Cincinnati Reds team card (#192). Completely sparkly! No printing errors! A card I wanted all along! Which leads me to...

Card I was most happy to see: Cincinnati Reds team card (#192). I also got the Joey Votto base card, and that was going to be the card I posted here right up until I pulled this one. I'm just happy to have this card in great shape. Winner!

Card I was least happy to see: Eight-way tie for all the dupes I pulled, seven of which I got in the first jumbo pack. The doubles begin. Saying that, I'm still well ahead of completion schedule - let's hope that continues.

Overall thoughts:

Set Progress: 154/330 (46.7%) 
Lyle Overbay sightings: 1

2011 Topps Jumbo - Pack 3

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

Another 50 cards, or 48, or 46, or 44. At just over 25 percent of the set completed after two packs, I'm well positioned to weather the onslaught of duplicates that is no doubt coming. Of course, I've already found two of the three hits in the first two packs - will I make it three for three? And if I do, what do I have to look forward to for the other seven packs?

Best three cards (in reverse order):

#3 – Casey Blake (#158): You know the "God kills a kitten" meme? That's what this card reminds me of. Every time you masturbate, God kills a Casey Blake.

#2 – San Diego Padres (#126): Two words: throwback uniforms.

Collecting baseball cards is largely about nostalgia. We do it as adults to re-connect to when we did it at kids. That's why, I think cards featuring uniforms from the '70s and '80s, or reprint cards from those eras, are so popular. That's our time. If this card featured the players wearing old San Diego Padres PCL uniforms from the 1940s or '50s, it wouldn't resonate with me even half as much as the brown and mustard yellow.

And if you don't believe me, you probably haven't been paying attention, because just about everybody's baseball card blog as some sort of nostalgia-related regular feature. We may make fun of junk wax, and we may dismiss it, but we'll never stop loving it.

#1 – Brett Wallace (#329): What's going on here? An Astros card as my top pick? Well, yeah. This card is damn good. It's a night card, so the picture is sharper, and the lines are crisper. It's an action shot, and not one of those spring training staged action shots. This picture was clearly taken at Minute Maid Park. It's a snapshot in time - every single person in that photo is doing their job. Not a one is even looking at the camera, and they don't realise that the shutter snapped. And if all that wasn't enough, look at the baseball. The photographer snapped the shutter at the exact moment the bat hit the ball. That, my friends, is great timing. That's how good this card is.

Was there a diamond sparkle parallel of this card, with the twinkle replacing the baseball? If not, there should have been. If so, then that's the only one of these cards I'm interested in acquiring.

Worst card:
We have a tie! Melvin Mora (#286) and Chris Narveson (#92). Tongues have no place on the front of baseball cards. Didn't your second-grade teachers tell you not to stick them out?

The Jamie Moyer Award for best card back:
Trevor Hoffman (#277). The career statistics of baseball's all-time saves leader.

Insert cards:

Michael Young Topps 60

Rickey Henderson/Desmond Jennings Diamond Duos (A completely ridiculous statistical comparison in a set full of ridiculous comparisons)

1979 Eddie Murray 60 Years of Topps

Jimmie Foxx National Chicle reprint

Hanley Ramirez Kimball Champions

Was there a hit? Is it available for trade?: Nope, no hits this time, sorry.

Any Diamond Parallel cards?:

Yes, Cleveland Indians (#68). Another printing error, except this time it's the right-hand third that's missing its diamond foil. I'm seriously considering asking for some sort of replacement from Topps. I understand that printing errors happen, but a 1:3 success rate (so far) is unacceptable. We'll see what happens with the rest of the box.

Card I was most happy to see: Oakland Athletics (#204). There were any big-name cards in the pack, but this team card of one of my five teams but me in a good mood. The green, the fresh, crisp, white, and the beautiful sunny day - this card is what baseball is all about.

Card I was least happy to see: Zach Duke (#96) Gold Parallel (214/2011). First gold parallel, and it's a freaking Pirate. I am a Pirate gold parallel magnet. Does anybody know any Pirates collectors? Maybe I can bundle them together in an eBay lot and get like 50 cents for them.

Overall thoughts:
A workmanlike pack that served its purpose: to get me even closer to completing the set. Only one duplicate, and, again, it was a card that I got from my bonus pack, so it wasn't really a duplicate as far as the box itself is concerned. There were a few laughs (Casey Blake), a few tears (Zach Duke and the second broken diamond parallel) and a lot more cards put into the binder. I can't say that I'm overjoyed, but neither am I displeased.

Set Progress: 123/330 (37.3%) 
Lyle Overbay sightings: 1

2011 Topps Jumbo - Pack 2

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in , ,

Pack number two, and I'm starting to feel like I'm making significant progress on the set. So much so, that I'm even starting to get some doubles. I now have at least two base cards available for trade. Here's the highlights of the pack:

Best three cards (in reverse order):

#3 – Garrett Jones (#171): It's ludicrous. Dude is getting interviewed after the game, and they snap a picture of him wearing the big broadcaster noise-stifling headphones. And Topps decides that's the picture to use. I love it.

#2 – Koji Uehara (#164): Pure joy, with a little bit of a fist pump. Although I don't think that picture could have been taken last season.

#1 – Michael Saunders (#252): Another outstanding defensive effort takes out the big prize, but, for me, it's the Mariners logo in the background that makes this card stand out. Others might disagree, and call the logo distracting. Fair enough, but it's my blog. And yes, I'm biased.

Worst card:
Ubaldo Jimenez (#270). Topps sure didn't do him any favors with this card. Not only is his comically oversized jersey number stealing focus from the rest of the card, but the photographer managed to capture him with an awful look on his face, one usually reserved for constipation. No respect for the man's accomplishments last season.

Best card back:
As soon as I saw Jamie Moyer's card (#232), I knew who the winner would be for this round. You had to see that one coming. In fact, I should just name this award after him.

Insert cards:

Mark Reynolds Topps 60

Ryan Braun/Ike Davis Diamond Duos (Jews on parade! I should have seen this one coming - scroll to the bottom of that post)

1973 Carlton Fisk 60 Years of Topps

Bob Feller 60YOT The Lost Cards

Justin Morneau Kimball Champions

Was there a hit? Is it available for trade?:
Two-for-two on the hits. This is starting to shape up like my box of 2010 Ginter, where I found the hits in packs 1, 3 and 5. In this case, it's the top two packs in the box.

I found the glove card, which is available in every jumbo box. Ryan Howard. This is my second Ryan Howard pull from a Topps box (I have a bat relic from 2009 Series 2). It is available for trade, at the right price. Preferably, for a glove relic of one of the players on my PC list (Ichiro, Lincecum or King Felix).

Any Diamond Parallel cards?:

Yes, NL Home Run Leaders (#318). As you can see from the scan, this is one of those cards that is missing a third of its sparkle because of a printing error. Will Nachos Grande take it anyway?

Card I was most happy to see: Aroldis Chapman RC (#110). The first of three straight horizontal cards featuring Reds pitchers. Sadly, it wasn't a twinkle card. Wait a second, what am I saying? The twinkle cards are silly! But I am glad to get the rookie card of The Cuban Missile so early in the box. Maybe I'll get a second one now.

Edinson Volquez (#63) and Bronson Arroyo (#98) were the other two cards in the streak, in case you're interested.

Card I was least happy to see: Josh Johnson (#166). Nothing against Johnson personally, but this was the first dupe in the box, and in the second pack. I also got a dupe of Shin-Soo Choo, but that was a card I got from a loose pack so it doesn't count, somehow. Thankfully, those were the only two. In previous jumbo packs I could usually count on a run of about three or four dupes in a row (in the same order) so maybe this is a sign of improved collation.

Overall thoughts:
I'm running out of hits, and quickly. I personally am not excited about a Ryan Howard, but at least I know there are a few people out there who would be. I am definitely open for a trade and am even willing to package it with some other Phillies hits for a super blockbuster. 

Getting back to the cards at hand, the three Reds pitchers in a row was a fun little stretch. I hadn't gotten many Reds up to that point, so that couldn't have come at a better time. So far, I am enjoying this year's set more than last year's. It doesn't seem to have a lot of the technical problems that Topps got reamed for in 2010, aside from the Diamond Parallels with the missing third. And I like the way they designed the name and team logo. Completely unnecessary for the Michael Saunders card, however.

Set Progress: 84/330 (25.5%) 
Lyle Overbay sightings: 1

2011 Topps Jumbo - Pack 1

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in , ,

Is there anything full of more hope and promise than an unopened box of baseball cards?

Okay, maybe that’s a touch on the melodramatic side, but think about it: think of the feeling that you have when you hold a still-wrapped box of cards in your hands. The sense of excitment and expectation when you still don’t know the contents of what’s inside. Why, there could be anything in there! Relics and autos of your favorite player. A 1/1 case hit. Better still, a case hit of your favorite player. Maybe even a hot box. Even though your brain knows better, everything is possible, everything is on the table, when you haven’t opened that box yet.

My jumbo box of 2011 Topps (the first cards I received under my new incentive program) arrived in the mail yesterday. So did my DSL modem, but that’s not important (and it doesn’t work). I am exercising great restraint – that box of cards still sits, in front of the television, in its shink wrap. But not for long.

I have some clear expectations and hopes for this box. As we go through what’s inside, hopefully the expectations will be met. Even better, the hopes will be, too.

• I am able to complete the 330-card base set with this box. For the past two years, I have bought hobby boxes of Series 1 and Series 2, and, with the exception of 2010 Series 1, I am still roughly ten cards short of completing those sets. On the other hand, I bought jumbo boxes of the Updates and Highlights series, and I have complete sets, thanks to the jumbo boxes alone.

• I get ten ToppsTown code cards. No more. I’d prefer it to be zero, but ten is better than 36. (This one should be easy)

• That I have the promised three hits in the box. Because I’m going to be pissed if I have to chase up a missing hit. At least I’m already saving the wrappers for the redemption program.

• That my three hits are an Ichiro, a Lincecum, and a King Felix. A kid can dream, right?

• That I get ten 60 Years of Topps cards and ten Diamond Duos cards. I also hope I beat the odds on the 60 Years of Topps original backs.

• That my gold parallels are of teams and players I collect, or, failing that, teams that I can actually use in trades. This means no Pirates gold parallels. I always seem to pull Pirates gold parallels.

• That my Diamond Parallel/Bedazzled cards are from the teams I collect, or at least cards that Nachos Grande still needs. Hopefully he can trade them for Bedazzled cards I can use. Got any spare sparkly Ichiros, Chris?

• That I beat the odds on the Diamond Giveaway cards. I already have one. I’d like to get at least four more so I can get that free pack of “vintage” cards (I didn’t know 1987 qualified as vintage now).

• That it’s insanely fun opening this box.

Without further ado, here’s the first pack:

Best three cards (in reverse order):

#3 – Starlin Castro (#247): A nice shot of Castro turning two. Loses points because he made the play against the Reds.

#2 – Seth Smith (#301): At first, I thought it was a shot of Smith arguing with the umpire. But why would he argue if the ump called him safe? This will definitely make an appearance in the Uniform Back series someday. And probably Play at the Plate, too.

#1 – Omar Vizquel (#243): He will go into the Hall of Fame someday. But it’ll probably take the Veteran’s Committee to do it. A great picture of Vizquel making the play, full extension at age 43.

Worst card:
There weren’t any that were really bad, just a bunch that were bland. I’m going to give the award to Lucas May (#91) because it’s his rookie card and you can’t see the poor guy’s face. Nice work, Topps.

Best card back:
This award goes to Travis Hafner (#257) because of the references to both the Pronk Bar and Pronkville on the back of the same card. It's a shame they also couldn't work in a mention of Pronk Beef Jerky.

Insert cards:

Carl Crawford Topps 60

Justin Upton/Mike Stanton Diamond Duos

1977 Bruce Sutter 60 Years of Topps

Mickey Mantle 60YOT The Lost Cards

Jose Bautista Kimball Champions

Was there a hit? Is it available for trade?:
Yes, there was a hit. A Matt Harrison Topps 60 sticker auto. My excitement and faith in my brand new box was crushed in the very first pack.

You’re damn right it’s available for trade. Although what I can get for it, I’m not sure.

Any Diamond Parallel cards?:

Yes, Derek Lowe (#19). I hope Nachos Grande needs it.

Card I was most happy to see: The Chicago White Sox team card (#161). A nice scene, and it’s a night card. Although I swear it looks like they Photoshopped Michael Jordan’s picture in there.

Card I was least happy to see: The Harrison auto. Who’d have thought somebody would be so disappointed about a hit?

Overall thoughts:
I know I’m not the first person to say this, but...Topps, it’s time to give the whole Mickey Mantle/Card No. 7 thing a rest. And by rest, I mean STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!! There’s a place for Mickey Mantle cards – they’re called insert sets. Free up card No. 7 for someone who’s at least lived in this century, much less played in it.

The other thought is about the whole “hit” thing. Man, that bummed me out. Matt Harrison is not a guy who’s exactly on my radar so to get an autograph card of him was underwhelming to say the least. But maybe getting a hit so early in the proceedings means this is a hot box...

...There’s that optimism again!

Set Progress: 48/330 (14.5%)