Royals

OK then!!

Favourite thing I’ve seen today has to be this picture of New Zealand teen songstress Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (or Lorde to the rest of us) meeting up with former Kansas City legend, Hall of Famer and overall bronzed adonis, George Brett!

royals

My initial thought was “WTF?!?!?! Random!!!”

However what I first considered to be a completely fabricated PR stunt designed to get two individuals together who had absolutely no idea of who the other was, tenuously linked only by a song and a baseball team, was soon put to bed when I read this story from the Kansas City Star

George Brett, who inspired the song ‘Royals,’ finally meeting Lorde

So there you have it!! Who’d have thought it?!?

Consider me schooled!

I would like to add that I hope I look as good as Brett does when I turn 60… Although somehow I doubt it!

brett

lorde

Coming Soon… Topps Aluminum?!?!?!

OK…

Mmmmmm… Where do I start?

Just over an hour ago Topps posted this image on Instagram with the tagline – ‘Topps Aluminum. Coming Soon’

aluminum

Now I’m assuming we’re looking at another new set maybe? A metal set??? Perhaps a limited release? Or online only? Reprints?? Who knows?

I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say about this one to be honest. It all feels a little bit out of left field, and given the material that the card seems to be made from I’d envisage that it’ll be another high-end product. Something we’re all clamouring for I’m sure.

Well Topps, you’ve piqued my curiosity so far… Lets see what else you’ve got!!

Review: 2014 Topps Heritage Baseball

Ever since returning to the Hobby a few years ago I’ve been constantly on the search for a set to collect. My fickle and ever-changing moods have made this a far more difficult task that it’s needed to be, but a couple of years ago I set my sights on a specific set-building goal.

1965 Topps Baseball is my favourite vintage set from the 60′s. I can’t really put my finger on why this is, it just think that it’s one of the intangible things that is, simply because it is! I think that there are better looking vintage sets out there – 1957 Topps being top of my list (somewhat controversially, maybe) – but from the 60′s the ’65 set has always stood out.

So when I knew that we were only a couple of years away from Heritage’s take on the ’65 set I decided that was the one I was going to aim for. It looked as if I was finally ready to take on the Heritage challenge, with its 425 card base set and several dozen SPs!! Bring it on!!

Now, I may have told you before that I have a very limited budget for cards. This is one of the things that’s always frustrated me about being a baseball card fan, this inability to buy a constant stream of up to date product! So with a huge amount of patience I started putting away my pennies from various eBay sales and started stockpiling my Heritage fund. About a month before the official release date I pre-ordered two boxes off eBay and then settled down to wait for the release itself… and wait… and wait… and wait!

When the product was delayed it didn’t go down too well with Patricia Bates’ favourite son, but eventually the boxes did arrive on my doorstep… Heritage Day was finally here!!

This was a bit of a first for me as I don’t recall ever opening more than one box of the same product in the same sitting (negligible budget, as I said), so I was going to make a big deal out of it – milk it for all it was worth. You know? Make the moment last… Stretch it out as looooonnngg as I could… Savour every… single… moment…

15 minutes after starting, I’d finished! Sigh…

Here’s a breakdown of what I got from the two boxes -

Box toppers : 2 Advertising Panels (not opened yet)
Base (1-425) : 233/425
High number SPs (426-500) : 16/75. No dupes
Action Image Variation SPs : 3 – Bryce Harper, Derek Jeter, Matt Kemp
Logo Variation SPs : 0
Chrome Parallel (#’d/999) : 4 – Giancarlo Stanton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yadi Molina, Patrick Corbin
Chrome Refractor Parallels (#’d/565) : 1 – Alfonso Soriano
Black Chrome Refractor Parallels (#’d/65) : 1 – Michael Wacha

Black Back : 1 – John Danks
New Age Performers Inserts : 6/20. 0 dupes
Then and Now Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
Baseball Flashbacks Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
News Flashbacks Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
1st Draft Inserts : 2/4. 2 dupes (both the Johnny Bench’s)
Hits : Clubhouse Collections – Bryce Harper, Wilin Rosario

In terms of the hits I’d say I punched well above my weight with some nice Action variations; a black refractor that any Cards fan would be happy to own; a very rare black back parallel and an awesome Club House collection jersey card of Mr Bryce Harper! Was I happy with those inserts?? That’s a clown question bro!!

Here’s a better look at some of the goodies -

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x_harperrosario

As I said, VERY happy with the inserts!! But I was never in this for the inserts to be honest… Nope, for me this was all about the set building! Get as many base as I could and then pick up the rest through trades and such-like. It’s helped a lot that there’s been a pretty high level of interest for this set over here amongst my fellow UK-based collectors, so it looked as if things should be pretty straightforward!

Shouldn’t they?

Well take a look at this next picture!

IMAG0970_1

The stack on the right are the unique base cards while the stack on the left are the duplicate base cards! 147 base dupes to 233 unique base! Can you maybe see where I’m heading with this?

I’ll come straight out and say that I love the product, nothing changes there. Great fun to open and a great range of inserts! Lovely looking cards and a decent quality card stock! But those dupes?? Man… those dupes!!

I never laboured under any illusion that two boxes would have netted me a full 425 card base set, but 233 unique base?? Come on!! That’s only just over half!! (54.8% if you wanted to be specific). I managed to pull the same cards at a ratio of almost 2 dupes to every 3 unique base! 2:3!!! Is that right? Is it acceptable from just two ‘random’ boxes?? My friend from north of the border, Glenn Codere, opened two boxes of Heritage just before me and ended up with 79.3% of the 425-card base set! Now that’s more like it and what I’d have liked to have seen myself.

However I guess the boxes weren’t that random after all. I went back over my packs and noticed that some of them were almost identical, except for the inserts. Same seller and I assume (although I haven’t verified) the same case! So what happened?!?! How did I manage to get cursed with such lousy collation?

I immediately went to my go-to-guy on Twitter, case-breaker extraordinaire Mr Brent Williams, who verified that this can be quite a common occurrence, with roughly every three boxes often being the same in terms of content. Another Twitter user advised that Topps don’t randomize their packing sequence, so that when dupes come they come in droves! So maybe it was just my bad luck that I ended up with two boxes that had similar content? If it happens, it happens, but I can’t help thinking that I somehow got the raw deal here.

The thing is boxes of baseball cards aren’t cheap these days. I’d saved for a good while, letting other desirable cards that I would happily have picked up just pass me by… Steadily building up the excitement for the release of this years Heritage! Only to be faced with a high number of dupes that I wouldn’t have expected to get from such a small sample of packs!

The aftermath of breaking down these two boxes has pretty much soured my whole experience with this product. I’m incredibly wary about buying another box, just to chance my hand at filling the gaps. In some ways the enthusiasm I’ve had for 2014 Heritage over the last couple of years has all but evaporated and has left me with a really bitter taste in my mouth. Yeah, I guess I was just unlucky and yeah, maybe I should quit bitching about it and appreciate the cool inserts that I pulled. But as I said earlier, it was never about the inserts in the first place. It was always about the base, about the set itself, and in that area Heritage has come up severely lacking!

Please Topps, do something about the way those boxes get packed to avoid something like this happening to other collectors. To get this level of duplication from just two boxes is woefully unacceptable and simply shouldn’t happen. It creates bad feeling and adversely affects those individuals who invest their hard-earned time and money into you and the Hobby!

I know that it’s too late now but I really wish I’d held off the this year’s Gypsy Queen, although potentially the same thing could have happened there too I guess! The worst thing is it looks as if I won’t be going back to Heritage again anytime soon, and to me that’s a lot sadder then any stack of dupes ever will be!

In Defence Of… The Relic Card

With the recent release of the ‘game-used’-heavy 2014 Topps Museum, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time mulling over the relative merits of memorabilia cards.

Let’s face it, you can’t avoid them as they’re one of the standard insert sets that you stumble across in pretty much every sports card product that’s released these days. From the heady days of the late 90′s when Upper Deck first cut up ‘game-used’ jerseys of Griffey Jr, Tony Gwynn and Rey Ordonez to seed in random boxes of 1997 UD Baseball, to a year later when they committed the cardinal sin of sawing up a bat used by the Sultan of Swat himself, game-used memorabilia cards have become part of the sports card DNA over the last decade and a bit.

Of course, once upon a time these inserts were crazy hard to find and many of those early cards still fetch high premiums on the secondary market. However today’s game-used inserts (or ‘relic’ card as it’s started calling itself today) are virtually two-a-penny, and can easily be found littering pretty much every box of cards that gets produced. Such a high proliferation of these types of cards on the market has resulted in a laissez-faire attitude amongst collectors, and very few relic cards (apart from the incredibly rare short-printed versions of HOF’ers and superstars) seem to carry any kind of weight in the Hobby.

Naturally memorabilia cards have evolved over the years. Alongside those ‘pioneering’ jersey and bat cards we now have patches, buttons, laundry tags, bat barrels, bat knobs, gloves, and so on, and so on! Companies still seem to be pushing the boat out with regard to how they present these items in card form, but is the concept becoming tired after all this time? Maybe just a little bit stale?? Does anyone really care anymore when they pull a small piece of jersey once belonging to <insert the name of any semi-star you like… I’m going with James Loney only because he was the first to pop into my head> that’s cut up into a centimetre square and embedded in a 2″x3″ piece of card??

I’m guessing the answer is a big fat NO (unless you happen to have a James Loney PC)!

Certain news stories over the last few years have cast further doubt over the lowly relic card as a viable form of collectible memorabilia, as it has emerged that a number of different parties have been accused of passing on fake items to the major card companies as the genuine game-used article. Just Google the name ‘Bradley Wells’ for an example of what I’m talking about!

So where does that leave us now with the relic card?

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know any collectors out there who exclusively pick up game used cards! Maybe there are the odd one or two who will chase them down to supplement their own PCs, but as a collectible in it’s own right the relic card just doesn’t seem to be near the top of anyone’s list as far as I can tell. In fact I know of a fair number of you out there in the Hobby who positively detest them, and avoid them at all costs!

Now, I guess it’s time to let you into a little secret… Are you sitting comfortably? Cool! Here goes…

… I have a little bit of a soft spot for game used memorabilia cards!

BOOM!! There we go… and it’s out there!!

I gave up many moons ago thinking that game used cards were a ‘link’ to the player depicted on the card. I dismissed the notion of ‘game used’ as being the overriding factor behind these cards existing in the first place and learned to start accepting them as a regular old insert, just like any other. Once I did this I felt like I’d made my peace with relic cards and became much more appreciative of them. After all, just look at what Topps has done with this year’s Museum Collection and you’ll see some absolutely stunning looking cards!! The same can be said year-in year-out with Triple Threads! I won’t bring Tier 1 to the table as I think it’s one of the most unnecessary sets of cards out there… Damn I loathe that product!!!

I’ve even gone down the route of considering collecting game-used relics of players in Cardinals uniforms but, as with most of my grand collecting schemes, the idea was aborted early on as I moved on to another fad!

So that’s what they are to me now – a quirky insert set. Certainly not my favourite in the pantheon of baseball card heaven, but certainly not the derided and under-appreciated card that they appear to be to many of my collecting brethren!

Let’s spend a few moments to have a think about the ‘lowly’ relic card then, eh? Is it really that bad? Can it be redeemed in the eyes of even the most vehement anti-relic collector?? Personally I think we should all give the game-used memorabilia cards another crack of the whip – another chance! Given the general feeling towards these types of cards there are often some real bargains to find on eBay and such like.

So the question is now – how do you all feel about relic and other game-used memorabilia cards? Do you collect them yourself? Maybe just a few of your favourite team or player? Maybe you even have a secret love for them just like I admitted to above? Or do you avoid them like the plague?? Worst baseball card idea ever? And if you really, really hate them – why do you hate them?

Feel free to leave your comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

And The Winner Is…

Some folks may well remember that I started a little competition a couple of weeks ago – a caption competition based on the following image from an advertisement shoot for ‘Booster Juice’ with none other than your favourite Blue Jays outfielder and mine, Mr José Bautista.

I asked you good folk to come up with a comical caption for the following photo and thanks to everyone who took part…

josegolf

Well, I’ve decided upon a winner, one that made me giggle the most, and up until the end I thought we had a clear winner with this from Sports Card Collectors (@SportsCardCollec) with -

“They call me Joey Bats in baseball, they will soon call me Joey Strokes in golf. Wait… I think I should change that, it doesnt sound quite right… Joey Swings it is!”

‘Joey Strokes’ indeed :)

Now that one would have won if not for a last minute entry from fellow Brit and Rays fan, Mr Lee Phillimore (@PlayoffRays) who went with -

“Where am I, who is this man and why are my hands tied behind my back? I swear, this is the last time I go out drinking with Melky Cabrera…” 

I hadn’t spotted the “hands tied behind back” scenario, the thought of which made me giggle for a fair while, then add in the prospect of a night on the town with my man Melky and you have all the ingredients for the winning entry!

So congrats Lee! You get first choice on whichever Harper card you’d like, and the remaining card goes to my good friend over at Sports Card Collectors.

harper

Well done both and hope you like the cards!

“Hey! Did You Know Jose Bautista Follows Me On Twitter?”

To be perfectly honest, who the hell doesn’t José Bautista follow on Twitter??

Yep, well known Blue Jay, third baseman-turned-outfielder and soon-to-be free agent José Bautista is a pretty prominent player from the world of baseball on Twitter.  As I write this his account – @JoeyBats19 – is followed by over 470,000 of you good folks out there. More interestingly ol’ Joey Bats himself actually follows over 180,000 on Twitter (including yours truly).

Now, what possible interest could this Dominican born, Canada playing baseball giant have in what I have to say? Or any of the others that he follows for that matter? ‘Very little’ would be my best guess!

And I know I’m not the only one to have noticed Joey’s Tweeting antics. He recently drew mucho derision for his ridiculous attempt to become the #FaceOfMLB for the upcoming season. Read all about that here…

Players and fans get heated over ‘Face of MLB’ contest

Others have been looking into Jose’s Twitter antics, my particular favourite being this post from Jake Mintz at the Cespedes Family Barbecue

Jose Bautista’s Most Outrageous Follows

The popular opinion out there is that it’s actually a marketing team behind Bautista’s account, and that the big man himself has little input/interest in what gets tweeted. Now I’m not bashing Joey Bats in the slightest, after all I’m sure he does his bit for the betterment of humankind. Nope, what does irk me is the way in which he’s pimped out through the world of social media, and this, in my happy opinion, makes @JoeyBats19 (the Twitter account) fair game for public derision.

Last night saw this tweet from some wine maker that’s using Bautista in an upcoming advertisement for ‘Booster Juice’?!?!?! Mmmm… (taps side of nose)… ‘Booster’ Juice, eh José??

jose

I just love this, and following it’s posting I got involved with a lively bit of Twitter banter with my collecting comrade and A’s fan Ben Wilson (@ourtradingcards) as well as a few others, where we discussed José’s propensity for ‘retweeting and following’, Free Agency conspiracies and the delicate shade of egg plant that is the colour of José’s shirt!

I happened to think that this image was perfect for a caption competition, so guess what… We’re having a caption competition!!

Here’s a better look at that image!

josegolf

Here’s the rules

  1. Please don’t take this too seriously, it’s just for fun
  2. You need to come up with a caption for the image – this can be a caption for the overall image, or a quote from one of more of the golfing participants
  3. The judges decision (i.e. mine) will be final, and will be based upon which caption made me smile or laugh the most (not the most scientific of yardsticks I’ll grant you)
  4. The winner will receive a Bryce Harper RC or Prospect card from one of the 2012 Bowman products. If I’m feeling generous it might be both :)
  5. Leave your answer in the comments section below this post so we can all have a giggle at @JoeyBats19′s expense
  6. Closing date will be next Tuesday 18th March at 6.00pm EST/11.pm GMT and I’ll announce the winner at some point the following day

So lets do this people!! Lets all flex our comedic muscles at the expense of our favourite MLB Twitter star!

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favour!

Pot… Kettle… Black…

First off, I don’t really consider myself to be a malicious or vindictive person… Never have been, never will be. I don’t find it easy to bear grudges or lapse into foul moods if I’m ever criticized or slighted in any way.

I don’t have any time to wallow in that type of negative self-pity, preferring instead to concentrate on the humour and incredulity of any given situation or happenstance. Must be a product of my good old English wit I suppose, which lets say borders on the ‘mostly dry’ side.

And the only reason I tell you this in advance is because I don’t want you to think that the following anecdote is meant in a mean-spirited kind of way. It isn’t! I just wanted to share the somewhat karmic irony involved, an irony that brought a very wry smile to my face.

Yesterday I posted about the excitement I was feeling about the upcoming release of 2014 Topps Heritage, a post that has so far received 167 views and still counting – a pretty high number for this modest little blog. This number was helped considerably by a retweet from those good folks over at Topps, so thanks for that and thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to stop by so far!

However after I’d turned in for the night I was woken by a low buzzing that indicated a tweet had appeared on my phone, a tweet that read as follows -

tweet

D’OH!! There I go again! Getting my months wrong!! I do this all the time, particularly when we’re in the first few days of a new month. I guess we all make mistakes, I definitely make my fair share of them! To err is human, and all that! So I made a quick edit to the post, changing the 14th February to 14th March, and off to sleep once again.

It wasn’t until I revisited the tweet the following morning that something jumped out at me about the message from Twitter user @ToppsHeritageNz. The eagle-eyed among you may well have already spotted it, if not go and give it another look.

So @ToppsHeritageNz, the irony of your message certainly wasn’t lost on me!

I’m not adverse to having the error of my ways pointed out to me, but wouldn’t a simple word to one side have worked just as well? You know, something like “Hey Andy, you’ve gone and put the wrong release date down!”. But that’s not good enough in this instance I guess.

The thing is @ToppsHeritageNz, if you’re going to call someone out, AND go to the trouble of doing it in a public forum like Twitter, it’s always best to try and avoid running foul of the same issue that you’re leveling at your intended ‘victim’. Maybe you should try and get your own proof-reading house in order first, otherwise you just mind end up looking a bigger tit than the person who made the original mistake ;)

Just saying!

I did try and reach out to my new Twitter friend -

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So far I’ve had no reply, which may well speak volumes by itself. If I’ve missed the point, and your message was laced with heaps of intended irony, then you have my apologies!

Right then – back to the ‘proper’ baseball card related business next time!