Chrome Dead Redemption

Damn, life’s been a bit hectic recently. Between work, the house and the family there’s not been much time to write in these ‘hallowed’ pages 🙂 In fact the seven days between my last post and this one today has been the my longest absence since I started the blog!

However I couldn’t resist as 2013 Topps Chrome is now upon us – and so are some old friends!

In an effort to prepare for the oncoming storm Topps has already come clean about the number of redemptions that can be found in this year’s Topps Chrome Baseball! And let’s be honest – it’s quite a list!

Aside from an assortment of what appear to be autographed inserts, there are a number of key rookie cards that collectors won’t be finding in their freshly sealed packs, including the following names (many of whom I’d love to be getting my own hands on) –

  • Yasiel Puig
  • Gerritt Cole
  • Manny Machado
  • Jurikson Profar
  • Anthony Rendon
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu
  • Nolan Arenado
  • Nik Franklin
  • Jose Fernandez
  • Adam Eaton
  • Avisail Garcia
  • Paco Rodriguez
  • Tony Cingrani
  • Jedd Gyorko
  • Oswaldo Arcia
  • Tyler Skaggs
  • Shelby Miller
  • Manny Machado
  • Jackie Bradley Jr.
  • Kyle Gibson

Topps have advised that a number of these cards were received back shortly after the rest were sent to the packagers, so certain ‘lucky’ redemption recipients shouldn’t have too long to wait for their cards! And starting with 2013 Topps Chrome, Topps will be keeping their valued collectors up to date with their redemptions through Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr every Friday!

Gotta love the originality of THAT idea! Blazing a trail there Topps!!!! Couldn’t you have come up with another day other than the one that Panini does their redemption updates??

Now I have to confess that I like Topps Chrome! It always comes across as the distant cousin that no-one likes to talk about. Not quite there with the mass appeal of the base set and not quite there with the prestige of Bowman Chrome, Topps Chrome seems to sit uncomfortably between the two!

However this year’s superlative rookie class may well just elevate the product to near classic status, with a great base card design coupled with the allure of the Chrome finish!

Sadly the multitude of redemptions will certainly harm the long time value of this set, especially the appeal of sealed boxes once the redemption expiry date has passed! I mean, who’s going to want to buy a sealed box of ’13 Topps Chrome with a chance of pulling a ‘dead’ redemption card of Manny Machado or Yasiel Puig?

Not me for sure!! So my advice will be get the Chrome autos while you can of those that have already been redeemed, as I imagine that they’ll become pretty scarce in the long term!!

So, does Topps Chrome float your boat? or will you be getting your Chrome rookie fix with Bowman Chrome?

My special thanks to the guys over at Sports Collectors Daily for reporting on this story! Now I’m off to think of some more ‘Redemption’ related puns for blog post titles!!

The Admiral and The Worm

Since the start of August Topps has released previews for six of their 2014 Baseball card products. I spent a few minutes last night looking over the sell sheets and reviewing what I’d written about them, and all I got was an overwhelming feeling of “Meh”!!

Been there, done that!!

There was nothing that really jumped out at me as new or innovative. Nothing that showcased Topps really ‘pushing the boat out’ in terms of new ideas or designs! With the exception of Heritage, each product looks pretty much the same as what we’ve been treated to these past two years, but with a bit of spit and polish and a couple of new inserts thrown in to ‘spice’ things up a bit! I exclude Heritage here because it’s the one product that you can rely on to change it’s base design with each release, although there aren’t often any huge surprises around its other content!

Maybe this is what Topps’ long-term plan is – to solidify their card product lines over the coming years by giving us pretty much the same thing year after year with a few add-ons around the edges to fool us into thinking that it’s different enough from the previous release that we’ll go out and buy it.

With the exception of whatever plans they have for their Football (Soccer) licenses, Topps really isn’t getting me that excited or invested in the future of their Baseball card lines. There are certain aspects of each new product that do stand out, that I do like the look of, but I find myself interested more and more in seeing what retro-themed release Panini has up its sleeve, like Panini Cooperstown or National Treasures.

So it’s at times like these that I get all retrospective, and start thinking back to the early days of my sports card obsession. As regular readers will know that started with Basketball cards in the very late 80’s and into most of the 90’s! This period in my life was brought home recently when I unearthed these two rookie cards – the last remnants of my old Basketball collecting days –

BK_Robinson BK_Rodman

It’s at times like these, while I’m wallowing under the general malaise and apathy brought on by my waning interest in the immediate future of Baseball card products, that I start to hanker back to those old Basketball card days.

I often think that I’d love to take another stab at building a collection from that era, especially with the resources that are available to us now that weren’t around back then – eBay, COMC, Collector Rev. To this day I still don’t know how I managed to build a 100+ collection of Jason Kidd cards, given how difficult it was to gain access to the cards over here in the UK in the first place!

There are a number of players from back then that I’d jump at the chance to build PCs of – Karl Malone, John Stockton, Dennis Rodman, Grant Hill, Eddie Jones, to name just a few – and now that a veritable ocean of these cards are available from the various online sources I mentioned above, the opportunity is even more enticing!

How does everyone else out there feel about the current state of Topps Baseball products? Does anyone else think that there’s a certain ‘staleness’ to what’s being released at the moment and what’s just around the corner? Or do you think that things are moving along nicely and all is good?

I can appreciate that there’s a tendency for us — ahem — older collectors to take these nostalgia trips every once in awhile, but if the future of collecting isn’t looking that exciting anymore, what other way is there to go?

Teaser Gallery: Panini America Cracks One Early Box of 2013 Cooperstown Baseball

Man, this seemed to come around quickly!! We’re only a few days away from the release of this year’s iteration of Cooperstown Baseball from Panini and Tracy has been kind enough to provide us with a look at an early break! Firstly, I absolutely love the packaging, especially the packs! Nice classic look which fits in perfectly with the type of product we’re dealing with! And then, as with last years product, there’s a huge array of base cards, parallels and inserts!! You can’t argue the value for money that appears to be on show in these boxes, but the cherry on top for me always comes in the form of the on-card autograph of a Hall of Famer, the design of which looks simple, elegant and incredibly classy!! More on this set as soon as it hits!!!

The Knight's Lance

Panini America 2013 Cooperstown Baseball Teaser (7)

Simply put, there’s a refreshing old-meets-new dynamic within each box — and almost within every pack — of Panini America’s 2013 Cooperstown Baseball that makes the first pack as entertaining and educational to open as the last. And after just ripping through all 24 packs of an early hobby box, we can say for certain that there’s also an abundance of hits, too.

Our particular randomly selected box — detailed in the gallery below that takes you pack-by-pack through the experience — yielded 24 Colgan’s Disks, 13 Cracked Ice parallels (and four levels of scarcity), four Induction inserts, four Historic Ticket inserts, three Museum Pieces inserts, two Numbers Game inserts, two Cooperstown Lumberjacks wood cards, two Colorized base-set SPs, one International Play and one splendid Cooperstown Signatures on-card autograph.

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I Heart COMC

Yesterday saw me receive a Bob Gibson relic from my buddy James Ruffin over in Alabama! That’s a pretty cool start to the day if you ask me! I mean, how can you really top that?

Well, you can always arrive at work and find yourself a new package waiting for you from COMC – that’s how!!!

And now that my fledgling Bob Gibson collection has almost doubled in size, I feel as if I can finally and justifiably call it a ‘collection’!!

Here’s what I got!


From top left to bottom right –

2012 Gypsy Queen #237 – Blue Border Parallel #’d 010/599
2012 Gypsy Queen #237 – Brown Border Parallel
2013 Gypsy Queen #80 – Blue Border Parallel #’d 012/499
2013 Topps Museum Collection #5
2013 Topps Museum Collection #5 – Copper Parallel #’d 038/424
2013 Topps Museum Collection #5 – Green Parallel #’d 068/199


2011 Gypsy Queen #44
2011 Gypsy Queen #44 – Green Border Parallel
2011 Gypsy Queen #44 – Brown Border Parallel #’d 440/999
2012 Topps Tribute #23 – Blue Parallel #’d 046/199
2012 Topps Triple Threads #86
2013 Topps Tribute #81


2012 Panini Prizm #137 – Prizm Refractor Parallel
2012 Leaf Memories #556 – #’d 04/99
2012 Allen & Ginter’s #311 SP
2012 Gypsy Queen #237
2012 Topps 1987 Mini – TM-86
2011 Topps Kimbal Champions – KC-65
2011 Gypsy Queen #44 – Mini
2013 Gypsy Queen #80 – Mini
2012 Topps Archives Deckle Edge


You know there’s no better feeling than receiving a whole load of cards in the mail that will end up going straight into your PC!!

Now I’ve got to build my PayPal funds up once again before I can go shopping for more 😦

And that’s the flip side I guess, that once you’ve acquired a taste for receiving packages of cards in the mail it’s pretty hard to shake the feeling, and you’re just left wanting more!!

And more!!

And more!!

Like cardboard crack!!

2013 Panini Cooperstown Baseball Preview

Over the months since starting this blog I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of Panini’s old school Baseball products. A BIG fan!

No-one else out there makes ball cards in a similar way. Sure, Topps has its retro-themed products such as Heritage, A&G and Gypsy Queen, but they don’t produce any sets that specifically deal with the players from the Dead Ball Era or that are themed around the denizens of Cooperstown. You know the sort of thing that mean!

Last year’s Panini Cooperstown Baseball was one of the best kept secrets in the card release calendar, with a great base set, a multitude of inserts and an exemplary on-card autograph set (including the incredibly popular and hard-to-find sig of Dodgers veteran broadcaster – Vin Scully).

With their 2013 release I’m hoping for much of the same, and from early release information it doesn’t look as if I’m going to be disappointed.

Click here to view the sell sheet for a more detailed breakdown of the product and here for some early shots of some of the cards themselves, courtesy of Tracy Hackler over at The Knight’s Lance!

Personally I can’t wait for this one!!!! The base design and the selection of players is fantastic, and those autos – well, what can I say? It’s sets like these that will make people sit up and take notice of what Panini has to offer.

And that can only be a good thing as far as I’m concerned!

Look for 2013 Panini Cooperstown Baseball in the middle of August!


Why I Love Evan Gattis

First off I’m not a Braves fan!

I don’t hate the Braves, far from it!! If I wasn’t a Cardinals fan then who knows? I may well have been drawn to the Braves in a different life! As it stands I’ll leave it to my buddy Chris Mays to spread the Braves love!

However, many months ago I read an article about Evan Gattis.

At the time I had no idea who he was – but his story intrigued me! I couldn’t help but be drawn in to what had happened to this guy and how he’d gone about his journey to the majors!

The notion of a ‘journey’ is a somewhat overused cliche these days, especially in the world of celebrity. Anyone who’s anyone has to go on some sort of ‘journey’ – some sort of voyage of self-discovery. To suffer for one’s art, to toil, to know sacrifice, only to come out the other side stronger and somehow transformed!

The thing is, this idea of a journey is something that perfectly sums up the life of Evan Gattis! One long, incredible journey!

Here’s the main part of a great little article from back in April by Monte Burke, a feature writer for Forbes Life, that provides us with a succinct insight into the man that Evan Gattis was, and the man he’s become –

The best story in the early stages of the 2013 baseball season is, to my mind, the odyssey of Atlanta Braves catcher, Evan Gattis.

Gattis, a very large man at 6’4” and 230 pounds, made the Braves big-league roster this year primarily, it was believed, to keep the seat warm for Brian McCann, the team’s All-Star catcher who is on the disabled list until later on this month. But Gattis has done much more than that: He has started the season batting .333, with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs. He is a big reason that the Braves are off to an 9-1 start, despite the fact that two of their stars—Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton—are off to horrid starts (.097 and .091 batting averages, respectively), and another (Freddie Freeman) is on the disabled list. The Braves clearly want his bat in the lineup as much as possible: He played at first base last night, a bit shakily at times.

But his production alone is only a small part of the story. Gattis, 26, is baseball’s spiritual wanderer.

At age 18 Gattis was a hot college baseball prospect in his hometown of Forney, Texas. He signed to play at Texas A&M, but never showed up, the result of an early-life existential crisis. Gattis, at the urging of his mother, entered a rehab facility to help kick a developing habit for marijuana and alcohol. He then played a season with Seminole State in Oklahoma, but got hurt. He quit baseball. Then he set off on his journey.

He went west, initially to Boulder, Colorado. He worked odd jobs, as a cart boy at a golf course, a ski-lift operator and a janitor (he uses his janitor ID as his Twitter avatar). He sought out various spiritual advisors, and after consultations, felt like he was back on track and done with his wanderings. “I was just done looking for whatever it was I was looking for. I was done with it. It cleared up in kind of a final way where, without a shadow of a doubt, I just knew I didn’t have to do that anymore,” he told USA Today.

And then in 2010 he decided to give baseball another try. He played a season at the University of Texas-Permian Basin, where his stepbrother was a pitcher. He mashed the ball. The Braves took him in the 23rd round of the MLB draft. He didn’t make the team that year. He lost weight (he had ballooned to 270 pounds). He played winter ball in Venezuela, where the fans called him “El Oso Blanco” (the white bear).

Then he came to the Braves camp this spring. McCann, the team knew, would be out for an extended time. The Braves brought in a veteran catcher, Gerald Laird. But Gattis refused to be ignored. He batted .357 with 6 homers and 16 RBIs in the Grapefruit League. He made the big-league roster. He hit a home run in his very first major league game, as the TV announcers were interviewing his father. Right now, he’s a bargain for the Braves, with a salary of $490,000.

There is no way to know how this will all play out. Sluggers come and go quickly in the majors. Pitchers find a weak spot and exploit it ruthlessly. Gattis could be a flash in the pan, despite suggestions that he could take McCann’s spot for good. Or, just maybe, his unlikely odyssey could continue. Either way, we should enjoy this story while it lasts.

My thanks to Monte Burke for that piece. It was far better than anything I could have put together and perfectly encapsulated how great Evan Gattis’ story is!

If Gattis does indeed end up being a flash in the pan then so be it! If that’s what the great tapestry of life has in store for him then I guess he’ll just start on his next journey all the richer (metaphysically speaking) from his time spent with the Braves!

Personally I hope he succeeds beyond measure! I’m sure in his own eyes he already has.

Tales such as Gattis’ don’t come around all that often, but when they do they just enrich the great game of Baseball ever further. Gattis’ story serves as a great reminder to us all in the power of self-belief, self-reflection and especially in second chances!

And that’s why I love Evan Gattis so much!

Reviewing the Review Hub

A few months ago I started to post a series of Review Hubs that were originally designed to collate all the online reviews I could find for new Baseball card products.

I was growing really frustrated with having to scour the internet for these types of reviews and thought how great it would be to have them all in one place. And with the first few releases this was pretty easy to set up and maintain. However as more and more sets hit the market I hadn’t quite anticipated the logistics and time involved in maintaining these Review Hubs!

In the last couple of months I’ve not updated the blog as much as I’d have liked to have done. Keeping up a schedule of a post every day, or every other day, has gotten more and more difficult, especially when all those external responsibilities such as family and work keep getting in the way 🙂

So I’ve decided to scale back the Review Hubs and only put them together for some of the bigger and more popular releases, such as the base Topps, Heritage, Bowman, etc! These are the types of products that more people are likely to buy, break and review, and so it’s much easier to find reviews for them.

Hopefully this shift will free up a bit more time to concentrate on other blog posts!

So I’ll bypass some of the recent and upcoming stuff like Tier One and the Topps Tribute WBC Edition, and the next Review Hub will be for 2013 Allen & Ginter’s (which has now been pushed back from its customary mid-July release to an August date) – I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of A&G?? However if there are any particular products that you’d like me to pay particular attention to then please let me know and I’ll put something together on a more ad hoc basis!

Thanks for your time!!

Return to the Golden Age

Yesterday I highlighted an insert from Panini’s latest Golden Age Baseball set that really stood out from crowd as something new and innovative. The particular insert set in question was a collection of beautifully designed and rendered playing cards containing images from the base set and featuring ball players, entertainers, historical figures, and all other manner of weird and wonderful things that Panini has thrown together for this release!

But this set isn’t just about the ‘oddities’ of the collecting world! There’s also a throwback to a card set from the 30’s – Delong Gum Baseball!

I’ve said it on numerous occasions before I’m a bit of a sucker for these old-school card sets, and the Delong set really stands out as something quite eye-catching!

Definitely one of the more attractive sets from that era, 1933 Delong Baseball was the only set ever produced by the gum company. It only consisted of 24 cards but since a number of the players depicted went on to become join the ranks in Cooperstown the original cards have become highly collectable in their own right!

Check out this one of Lou Gehrig that’s currently doing the rounds on the ‘Bay!

Here’s a few of the cards you’ll find in Golden Age Baseball –

delong_lajoie delong_musial delong_wood

Cool, eh?

This 30 card set is seeded at roughly two cards per box, so it’s a little bit more challenge to put together than some of the insert sets that Golden Age Baseball has to offer. But if you’ve got a taste for something a bit more old-school then you can’t go far wrong with Panini’s version of Delong Baseball!!

Of course, if you’ve got a few thousand $$$$ spare then you could have a go at putting the original set together!

What fun is life if it doesn’t have its challenges? 🙂

It’s In The Cards

This week saw Panini’s latest Baseball release hit the shelves!

Panini’s Golden Age Baseball is another in a long line of ‘hybrid’ products that have steadily trickled onto the market over the last few years. Containing a mixture of sports stars, entertainers and historical figures, alongside numerous other famous faces from the last 100 years of Popular Culture, Golden Age Baseball is certainly one of the more eclectic sets you’ll ever get your hands on!

Which is part of its charm!

Alongside a 150-card base set there are a vast number of inserts for you to have fun with!

And it’s one of those insert sets that I wanted to bring to your attention now, an insert set that has got to be one of my favourites of the year so far. I might even go so far to say that it might be one of my favourites of all time!

Seeded one in three packs (eight per box) are a series of beautifully designed playing cards, each depicting images from the base set!

Playing cards!!! Genuine playing cards!!! How come no-one has ever thought of this before??

To me it seems like something that naturally lends itself to Baseball cards, yet something that (as far as I’m aware) we’ve never previously been treated to in a card set!

Here’s a few of the cards for your viewing pleasure –


We’ve got ballplayers from the Dead Ball Era all the way through to the 1960’s! A great selection of old school players, lovingly presented on a ‘functional’ playing card!

As well as the Baseball players we’ve also got other figures from the ‘Golden Age’ –

How cool are these???

I’ve got to tip my hat to the design team at Panini in honour of what they’ve done with this set! They look great and at 54 cards (there are two jokers as well) it’s incredibly easy to put together!!

So if you’re after something a bit different to whet your collecting taste buds then look no further than 2013 Golden Age Baseball! It looks like a massive amount of fun is to be had from each 24-pack box and, with all the history on display, you may even end up learning something new in the process 🙂

The Road To Redemption(s)

Although not officially released until Wednesday 3rd July some folks out there have already been breaking boxes/cases of Topps’ inaugural Bowman Inception Baseball, and cards have already started to trickle out onto eBay over last 24 hours!

When I previewed 2013 Bowman Inception a few months ago I couldn’t help but question the need for another prospect-based product, and I also had some concerns about the overall look and design of the cards. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was I didn’t like, but I wasn’t anticipating Bowman Inception to be top of my 2013 ‘must have’ list!

However having seen a few of the cards I may be willing to partly change that stance and may look at picking a few individual cards up!

Here’s a few examples of what the cards look like!!

inception_taveras inception_odorizzi inception_dahl inception_miller inception_soler

I’m loving that Oscar Taveras, if I have to be honest!!

However while scouring eBay for some of these cards I also noticed a number of listings that were slightly more concerning!

Let me ask you a question – What do all these players have in common?

Yasiel Puig
Ryu Hyun-Jin
Corey Seager
Manny Machado
Xander Bogaerts
Jurickson Profar
Bubba Starling
Mike Olt
Casey Kelly
Anthony Rendon
Lance McCullers
Barrett Barnes
Billy Hamilton
Nick Franklin


Anyone at the back???

Well, as crazy as it might sound (or perhaps not), all of these players have redemption cards inserted into Bowman Inception!! And these are the only ones that I’ve found so far! There may be  more that appear as more boxes get busted!

That’s 14 different names so far!!! 14!!!

Now I know that redemptions are a necessary evil! Especially in the case of Yasiel Puig whose recent appearance in the majors has set the Baseball world on fire and collectors clamouring for his cards! Topps had to rush them in somehow and a redemption card is the only pertinent solution!

But surely this number of redemptions is a bit of a joke?

Come on Topps!!! Collectors don’t want to see these damn things!

It’s not as if some of these players are insignificant either! There’s some big names on that list, and as a collector I’d be concerned if I’d spent a decent amount of coin on a box of Inception only to find redemptions inside! It’s not as if there’s a guarantee these redemptions will be honoured either, especially given Topps’ recent change in policy with regard to currently outstanding redemptions and the re-issue of replacements!

And I know Topps aren’t the only company that issues redemptions. Panini is also cursed with this problem as well but at least Tracy Hackler sends out updates every Friday through The Knight’s Lance blog with regard to what redemptions are being processed in a particular week! Seems a bit more organised if you ask me!

So, I guess there’s another question out of all of this.

Would you, as a collector, go out and purchase a ‘not cheap’ box of Inception Baseball knowing that there’s a pretty good chance you might be pulling a redemption of a not-insignificant player?

Personally it would be a big NO for me. As I said earlier I’d much rather pick up the individual cards that I was after and leave the box-busting (however much fun it might be) to others!

And in the meantime I’ll go on living in my self-contained little collecting dreamworld where redemption cards have flown away with the fairies and all boxes contain just good, old-fashioned Baseball cards!

— sigh —

Good times!!