2012 Topps Blaster 1, Part 2

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in , , ,

In case you missed it, here's the first half of the first 2012 Topps cards I've opened this year. So far, my response has been tepid. Perhaps it's because I've been building it up in my mind for more than two months, to almost obscene levels of anticipation. Or maybe it's because Topps put out an average set this year.

Here are my thoughts on packs 6 through 10, plus the unavailing of the manupatch card.

Thoughts on Pack 6: I got a Brandon McCarthy, resplendent in gold uni top and white pants - Charlie Finley would be proud. I'm sure you know this already, but let me be the 865th person to name him as my top fantasy baseball sleeper...I finally found my insert set! I loved the 1987 Topps set (unlike almost everyone else), so I think the '87 minis are 97 kinds of awesome. I will happily take any and all 87 mini inserts you don't want...Seeing John Axford gives me an idea for an A&E show. They already have Storage Wars and Parking Wars and Shipping Wars, so why not Moustache Wars? First up, Axford versus Jason Giambi's 2004 porn 'stache.

Thoughts on Pack 7: You're looking at the only highlight. And really, "Joe with the Big Blow"? Couldn't have we come up with something better...I liked the Diamond Duos and Legendary Lineage subsets in the past, but Timeless Talents looks like something out of 2008 Upper Deck. I think I'll give it a miss...HAI TOPPZ! Y NO REDZ BASE CARDZ???!??!@!

Thoughts on Pack 8: Zack Greinke, as bland and inoffensive as the pose on his baseball card...There really isn't any better picture to capture the essence of Captain Tatt. It's too bad he'll probably slink back into oblivion regress to the mean this season...I love the look of sheer terror on Matt Kemp's face. I don't think it has anything to do with that fly ball, though. He probably just got a look at this season's Dodger roster.

Thoughts on Pack 9: What a bastard...How many Phillies can I get in an eight-card pack? Apparently three (Bastardo, Howard and Polanco)...My second '87 mini; I can definitely see myself collecting this set, but does UltraPro make pages that these cards will fit into?...Only one more pack until we find out what the patch card is.

Thoughts on Pack 10: My second gold parallel, and I got the base card, too...Oh the irony; Mark Trumbo and the guy the Angels are shipping out of town to make room for him...I'm not sure if card No. 59 is the Rangers team card or a post-season highlights card, since it's the only one of either that I pulled in the box (did that make sense?)...STILL no Reds base cards - I'm very disappointed.

Thoughts on the Manupatch: I'm very disappointed. Not only was it a "Historical Stitches" card instead, but it was a damn Yankee! Sorry, Dodgers fans, but Mattingly is still a Yankee, and always will be. The best part of this card is that it gives us a contestant for the second episode of Moustache Wars. Besides, as awesome as the retired number patches are, the concept of the historical stitches is that amount of lame. A card "featuring stitched designed to replicate his vintage jersey"? WTF?

That patch is most definitely up for trade. I'm sure you can figure out what to offer (hint: a retired number manu-patch)

Thoughts on the set: Overall, the set design is okay. It's not bad, but it's nowhere near as good as 2011 (or even 2010). That's okay, we can't hit a home run every time up, and neither can Topps. I love the whole idea of the retired number patches, and will try to get my hands on some more blasters, because they're fun to open and I need to collect two sets this year.

I'm going to start opening jumbo packs now, and save the final blaster for last.

And away we go...

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in , , ,

What's the cure for getting up at 3:30 in the morning and spending an eight-hour shift at the filling station? Opening a box of baseball cards when you get home, of course. I decided to go with one of my blaster boxes because I would open slightly more cards than a jumbo pack, plus I'm really intrigued about the Retired Number patches. I hope a get a good one.

I'm going to break this down, old school. Pack by pack, with the highlights and the interesting cards. It will take a while and make for a long post, but I view this as my triumphant return to the world of baseball card blogging. Like the title of the post says, away we go...

See, I really do have the cards. In the background you can see the binder, all loaded up with 37 plastic sleeves and ready to store some cards.

Here's the patch card. I think I'll save it for last. One year ago today, I pulled the ol' hidden patch trick. I promise I won't do that this time. No April foolin'.

No lie, the first card staring me in the face was a freakin' Yankee. Not only that, it was a Yankee who's not even a Yankee any more (Jesus Montero). This is not a good omen.

If these are representative examples of the insert sets, I won't have any problems not collecting them. Color me underwhelmed with Golden Moments and Classic Walk-Offs. Still, it's nice to get a Votto in the first pack.

Also, I'm not too impressed with the Photoshopping techniques used to blur out the other players in these two cards. They look really, really sloppy. I'd just as soon Topps didn't retouch the photos. I understand wanting to put the focus on the player whose name in on the front of the card, but there are better ways to do that than this.

Thoughts from Pack 2: The Chris Sale card was the first one I was really excited to get...Nice to see that Topps got the new Marlins logo on the front of the cards, even nicer to see they didn't feel the need to airbrush everyone's hat and uniform to reflect the change...Are Golden Moments and Classic Walk-Offs the only insert sets? Once again, I got one of each...Randy Wells really needs to get more fiber in his diet.

Thoughts from Pack 3: Nice to see Joey Bats get the coveted #100 for his card...Just when I thought the insert sets couldn't get any worse, I pulled a Gold Standard card. Worse yet, it was A-Fraud. I refuse to scan it on the grounds that doing so would violate the Geneva Convention...I think I like the gold parallels more than last year's diamond parallels, but I wasn't aware that the 61st anniversary was the Golden anniversary...I also pulled an Austin Romine card. If you're scoring at home, that's two Yankees catching prospects in three packs. Who says there's a New York bias in the checklists?

Thoughts from Pack 4: FREDDIE!!!...You can imagine my excitement when I opened the pack to see an Angels logo and the word "Albert", followed by my disappointment when I saw "o Callaspo"...I got my first Golden Giveaway card. I assume the principle is the same as the Diamond Giveaway and the Million Card Giveaway. Is the gimmick as least good? I liked the virtual rings for some reason...I forget; is R.A. Dickey called "The Thing," or is it his weird off-speed pitch, or his freakish, ulnar-ligament-free pitching arm?

Thoughts from Pack 5: I got my first Oriole (Alfredo Simon) and first Athletic (Andrew Carignan), so I'm just waiting on my first Reds base card...The one exception I have to my staunch anti-Yankees on baseball cards stance; anything that involves Jason Giambi's porn stache (RIP). Not even A-Rod's second appearance in the blaster can ruin that...Casey McGehee's 2012 card may have the best picture used for a baseball card in the past decade.

Time for a mid-blaster break. So far, I have pulled only three insert cards that I deem worth keeping. The Votto card was one. Above are the other two.

You know what? I just looked at a preview of this post. It's already pretty long, and adding the other five packs is just going to make it longer. So I'm going to split it up into two posts. See you in a couple of hours with part two.

Product Review: iOOTP

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

For a few years now, Out of the Park Baseball has killed, many, many hours for me. Which is to say that I have had lots of fun playing the game! Unfornately, my computer doesn't travel well, and my laptop died a few years ago. Having an OOTP game for my iPhone would a great way for me to get my fix when I'm not at home (it's ideal for travelling on a plane, for example).

Thankfully, OOTP has done that - it's called iOOTP, and the company was kind enough to let me review a copy.

While the PC version of Out of the Park comes with every historical MLB season, the limitations of the iPhone mean that iOOTP comes with only three historical seasons: 1923, 1965 and 2004. However, 1965 just happened to be a very good year for one Mr. Sandy Koufax, so of course I had to play that one. Once I loaded it up and selected the Dodgers, I saw that Koufax was scheduled to pitch on Opening Day against the Mets (as you'd expect). The result? A two-hit complete game shutout, with 13 strikeouts! That hooked me. I had to play the entire 1965 season.

One thing I didn't like, from a historical perspective, is that historical seasons such as 1965 are played with the current contract rules, such as free agency. This obviously didn't exist back then. In the desktop version of OOTP, you can choose what free agency rules to use. In the smaller iPhone version, this option was clearly left out to conserve memory and space. An understandable decision, but it seems to me it would have made more sense to program the game with the actual rules in the historical seasons.

One final word about the historical seasons - if the three that are offered aren't your cup of tea, you can now purchased more seasons, and you don't have to go to the iTunes store to do it. The latest upgrade of iOOTP allows for you to purchase bonus historical seasons in-app. They come in theme packages and are being released as they are completed.

My verdict:  I look at iOOTP the same way as I do the Football Manager Handheld application for the iPhone - it's not as good as "big brother", but it's an acceptable substitute. Am I going to play this game for hours at a time? Probably not. Is it a good way to kill an half-hour or so? Certainly.

My grade: B (a solid achiever, very good at what it does, but low customisability, mostly due to the limits of the iPhone platform, keeps it from superstar status)

(Very) Preliminary thoughts on Topps 2012

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

I'm sure you all have gotten the 2012 base set out of your system, since it's two months since you all busted your boxes. You've moved on to Heritage or Tribute or whatever great new thing is next on the release calendar, but stuck behind everyone as I am, 2012 Series 1 is still news to me. Heck, I'm still opening packs of 2011 Update Series.

I got my jumbo box of Series 1 today, along with two blasters. (How did they come so quickly? Well, I might have cheated and ordered them the day after I found out that I had gotten an interview for my new job, rather than when I found out I got the job itself. Still, it's a nice way to celebrate my success.)

Obviously, I didn't know much, if anything, about 2012 Topps due to my self-imposed exile from blog reading. I don't even know what the base card looks like. But one thing I was really curious about is what the theme of the blaster manu-patches would be. Two years ago, it was World Series patches. Last year, it was retro team logos. I definitely enjoyed last year's more - due to the fact that they're team-specific. The one blaster patch I pulled from 2010 was Tony Perez and the '76 World Series, so I can't complain. But what would Topps do this time around?


This, my friends, is awesome. And looking at the checklist, which is helpfully printed on the side of each blaster, there are a lot of solid options, including site namesake Frank Robinson and awesomest pitcher ever Sandy Koufax. I should have skipped the jumbo box and just ordered 8 blasters. But the shipping would have been a nightmare.

Unfortunately, I can't open any cards today because I have to get up at stupid o'clock to go pump some gas (the new job doesn't start until late April). Maybe when I get home. Thankfully, the filling station is in the same shopping center as a Big W (think Australian Wal-Mart, but not evil) so I can purchase a new binder. If only they sold baseball cards, too... ;)

Opening Day #2

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

I opened a pack of cards today, for the first time in more than two months.

It felt good, even if the biggest card in the pack was a Yankee:

I also got this card, which I already had. Heath Bell's slide from the bullpen was, to me, the iconic image of last year's All-Star game. In a (sadly rare) case of getting-it-right from Topps, they managed to immortalise the image, which is great.

Yoenis Cespedes didn't take long to show he belonged today. I'm sure it's too late for him to be included in 2012 Series 2, we'll probably have to wait until the Update Series for his rookie card. By then it might be worthless.

Opening Day

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

It's been a rough couple of months here at RGB Manor. Financially speaking, things weren't going too flash. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say, I didn't really have the funds to purchase any 2012 cards, and rather than read about all the sick pulls you all were getting, and feeling like I was missing out, I just withdrew from the blogging community.

I also didn't feel like writing about old cards. I had three jumbo packs of 2011 Update just sitting on my shelf, unopened. I didn't want to touch them because I didn't know when I would be able to purchase any more cards, and I didn't want to use up what little I had. Strange, I know, but I blame my grandfather, who grew up during the Great Depression, for passing that particular little mental viewpoint on to me.

It may not be the Great Depression, but the Great Recession sure hit hard. We moved back down from up north with only one guaranteed income (my wife's). We thought it wouldn't be too hard for me to find a job, but that turned out to be untrue. Apparently, at least 35 other teachers were looking for full-time employment down here. I know, because every time I applied for a job and got knocked back, I got the same story: "You had a very strong application, and we appreciate the time you put into it, but there were 35 other applicants for the same position."

Teacher shortage, my ass.

Sure, I picked up some relief teaching, but it wasn't consistent (as substitute teaching is wont to be). And while I did get a job teaching phys ed, and it was a great little school, it was only one day a week. Not enough to bring in. I also got a weekend job at a gas station. It's not like I earned rest on the weekend, anyway. We could use the money.

But today is opening day. The Mariners are 1-0. And Ichiro leads the majors in batting, with a crisp .800 mark. So all is right with the world.

Not only that, but I got a good little piece of news today. Along with a full-time job. I'll be teaching science to students from Grades 1 to 7, starting next term. Plus, I have relief teaching lined up for the rest of this term. I finally feel like a real teacher again.

The box of 2012 Topps has been ordered, and it is making its way to RGB Manor as we speak.

Ahh, the magic of Opening Day.

What's in a name?

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

So I'm listening to spring training baseball this morning, thanks to the awesome MLB At Bat app for my iPhone. There is nothing better for keeping track of my teams or baseball in general. At any rate, I was listening to the only game available, the Washington Nationals versus the newly re-christened Miami Marlins. But that wasn't the only name change in the stadium.

Listening to the lineups, I noticed the announcer didn't call the Marlins' left fielder "Mike." Instead, he announced Giancarlo Stanton. Although, with the sound of the final syllable of the first name and the initial syllable of the last name, at first it sounded like John Carlos Stanton. But still, when did this happen?

It turns out that Mr. Stanton has always been name Giancarlo, but started using Mike, one of his middle names, in high school for ease of pronounciation. That I can totally understand - I went to high school with a guy whose first name is Bilal, but who we all called Mike (now that he's an adult, he reverted back to his real name, too).

But what I don't understand is, when there were already two other Mike Stantons in the big leagues, why Giancarlo didn't start going by his first name sooner. Because not only is he the first Giancarlo Stanton in the big leagues, he's the first Giancarlo, period. Talk about branding!

Oh, and one more thing. Mike Stanton, the former Braves reliever and All-Star? His first name is William.