Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Top Ten Tinos*

I’ve been meaning to enter Collecting Cutch’s contest about showing the top 10 Tino cards in my collection, but I’ve been crazy busy and just haven’t found the time. Now I have.

I’ve also been a little conflicted on what to show. See, last year I participated in Junior Junkie’s Best Binder Page, and I didn’t just want to re-hash that. I could have just chosen those nine plus one. But I felt like that’d be a little lazy of me.

So instead I gave myself an additional rule, hence the * in the post title. I’m going to show my Top 10 Tinos…from Pacific. I absolutely grow fonder of Pacific with each passing day, and some of my favorite Tinos come from this underrated brand. Brian, I hope it’s ok that I bent the rules a little bit. I did it in the name of new content, I swear.

I’m also going to cheat and show four honorable mentions. These are cards I scanned but didn’t quite make the cut. Man, bending rules left and right, eh? I hope I'm not disqualified.
Ok, now it’s time for my Top 10 Tinos from Pacific.  

10. 1997 Pacific Crown Collection #154
I’m starting off with a base card. While this might be too much gold foil for some, I’ve always been attracted to this set. I love the horizontal design in the instance, as it really captures Tino’s swing from a unique angle.

9. 1996 Pacific Crown Collection #404 Printing Plate
This is the only card where I’m allowing Tino to be featured as a Mariner. It’s also my only Tino 1 of 1. It also came from Brian of Collecting Cutch. Brownie points!

8. 1997 Pacific Prism Blue #52
I loved this set when it came out, and I remember the day that the base card arrived in my mailbox the summer between 7th and 8th grade. I had just started buying cards in the AOL forums, and this was one of my first purchases. This is the blue version I got a little while back on COMC. I’m a sucker for clearcuts to, and the area behind the headshot is acetate. Pacific loves acetate. I love acetate. Hence, I love Pacific cards with acetate.

7. 2000 Pacific Revolution #98
I had a hard time picking between 1998 and 2000 Revolution, but went with the slightly crazier Y2K edition. This was basically 1995 Fleer on more potent drugs. Think about that.

6. 1999 Pacific Crown Collection Checklist #10
These are hard to find! One thing I liked about Pacific was turning the team checklist card into an insert. This is diecut, to boot.

5. 2000 Pacific Prism #200
These had at least 13 variations, which is tough, and some were numbered. I’ve always like this drops one or whatever it’s called. Prizm was always a sweet set, going back to the early ‘90s.

4.  1999 Pacific Crown Royale #99 (Opening Day Issue)
This look is a classic from the brass knuckles set. I have a few different ones from different years, but it just reeks of an iconic Pacific look, so I’ll let this one represent them all.

3. 1997 Pacific Crown Collection Latinos of the Majors #LM13

There’s so much I like about this card. The big, block letters behind the player image is so great. Latinos of the Major Leagueswas a staple with Pacific due to the bilingual nature of the product, and while this one doesn’t quite read “Latino” like some of the others do, the in-your-face block letters seal the deal for me as one of the favorite cards in my collection.

2. 1998 Pacific Invincible Photoengravings #10
I’ve written about this card more than once. I love the design and texture of the card. It feels special. It feels premium.

1. 1998 Pacific Crown Collection In the Cage #11
This might be favorite Tino card of ANY brand. It’s a special card, both die-cut and laser-cut, and the design is just so awesome. Pacific always went wat out there with cards to resemble batting cages or foul poles or hockey nets. It also comes from a time where Tino was on the verge of stardom following his 44-HR effort, so it was an exciting year for me as a collector seeing my favorite player pop up in elite insert sets reserved for the game's biggest names. While he never quite made it to Griffey or Piazza or McGwire insert status, for a short time in 1998 card releases, he was right there.

Not a bad group of Tinos, if I say so myself. I’m sure I’m missing one or two amazing Pacific issues, but I’m content with this list.

Thanks for the contest, Brian.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

He was even a machine back then

One of my favorite This Is SportsCenter spots features Albert Pujols and his nickname "The Machine."
Albert has gotten lost a little bit in LA. Ironically, he left St. Louis for LA for more exposure. While still very productive, it's safe to say he hasn't replicated the success he had in St. Louis. Plus, the team has been mostly bad, and he just hasn't been as front and center as he was with the Cardinals. He still managed to hit 31 HRs and drive in 119 runs last year, but he isn't the feared bat that he was prior to signing his big deal.

Still, he currently sits just 4 HRs shy of 600. When the Hall calls, and it will, he'll certainly go in as a Cardinal.

I won this card in a mini contest held by Collecting Cutch. I feel bad. We had to guess how many hits McCutchen would have that night. I was a jerk and guessed zero. And I won. Ick.
The card is pretty cool - an Arizona Fall League 5x7. I agree with Brian that it would have been better if the player was in his AFL uniform. The best part is that his 2000 Fall League stats are on the back. Unsurprisingly, he hit .323 with 4 a 20 year old.
Brian was kind enough to throw in this AWESOME Dellin Betances All-Star card. I have never seen this! I believe it's from the All-Star parade. Very cool. No idea where or how this set was released.
Thanks Brian...and I swear I'm going to join your big contest. So should all of you - ENTER HERE.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Breakfast of Champions

In my attic, I have a few random boxes of Yankees stuff from growing up. I literally have nowhere to display it, so in the boxes it sits.

One of the more unique items found in one of the boxes is a mini Wheaties box featuring Lou Gehrig. I know I get this at a discount store at some point in the early 2000s for a few bucks. It's pretty cool, although the clam shell plastic case is just so bulky.

It even has a 24K gold facsimile signature!

What I didn't realize is that the mini cereal box (which is unopened) is actually in a plastic case of its own. So I guess I could free it from the clam shell.
One day, I hope to have a mancave to display these odds and ends, but for now, in the attic it stays.

However, if I'm ever looking for a morning snack to start the day off right, I know just where to look.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Crawling toward 800

My Tino collection is slowing way down lately. I haven't lost enthusiasm. It's quite the opposite.

I'm just rarely finding ones I need.

It still surprises me that there are base cards I need, but those are becoming fewer and fewer. In my last COMC order, I did snag a couple.

These two are from Pacific Invincible. The first is 1998 Pacific Invincible Gems of the Diamond. I definitely just bought the cheapest one on COMC and did not notice that it was off-center. I'm not a condition stickler, but it annoyed me that I didn't take a closer look.
Returning to Pacific Invincible for 1999, here's a base card I didn't own. The area behind Tino's head is transparent, which is kind of cool.
Lastly, I was missing this 2000 Topps Stars base card. Johnny recently sent me the metallic blue, and it made me realize I didn't even have the base.
With these three cards, I'm now at 789 Tinos. I'm getting there!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Topps NOW packaging undergoes some changes

I pick up most Topps NOW cards I want on eBay, although once in a while I'll order directly from Topps to support the company.

Last year, if I recall correctly (keep me honest if you remember differently), Topps NOW cards were shipped in a semi-rigid envelope, and the cards were in a soft plastic case without much more protection.

This year, a big bubble envelope arrived. I thought it might have been a redemption, but actually ended up being the latest Topps NOW I had ordered...Aaron Judge's shattering of the TV screen.
The card itself came in a bubble envelope, and within this smaller envelope. Props for presentation value.
Inside, the card was in a thick plastic case, with a piece of foam padding. It's actually TOO MUCH case. I would have been fine with a regular top loader.
Here's the card, front and back.

Topps definitely upped their shipping game, while keeping the price per card the same. That's a nice win all around.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My box of 2017 Topps BUNT

First off, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. I know many of our moms were instrumental in enabling us as collectors. Mine always seemed to bring a pack pack from the drugstore, or bribe me to babysit my siblings with packs of cards as payment.

Yesterday, my hobby box of 2017 Topps BUNT arrived, a day earlier than the tracking info told me! It looks like I've started a tradition, as this is the second straight year I've bought a box. It's hard to go wrong with 36 packs for around $30.
I was in the middle of painting my bedroom when it arrived, so I quickly cracked one pack and stashed the rest as a reward for finishing the job.

Just like last year, it was a blast to open. There are no major sick hits - at least ones that are attainable - but there are plenty of colorful base cards, parallels, and some sharp-looking inserts.

Here are the base cards:
Nice, simple design. Pretty different from last year. I think I like the base design more than the flagship. One additional thing Topps did was eliminate retired players from the base set, although they are well-represented in insert sets.

So colorful too!

I will say, I noticed the cards are exceptionally glossy and slippery, which I was bummed about. I received TTM autos on a few of these last year, as the surface was PERFECT for it. This one definitely is too glossy for a signature.
Here are the blue parallels, which fall one per pack.
There are also black parallels (one per box), green (1:32), orange (1:62), purple (1:125), and red (1:3,095). My one black parallel was Yoenis Cespedes.
 I beat the odds and got two green parallels, which are numbered to 99.
The insert sets also have colored parallels, so there are a lot of different variations.

Program inserts make a return, which is a really fun set. It was one of the best inserts of 2016. I liked last year's design a little more, but they still look good.
Here is 2016, as a reminder.
As I noted, there are also colored parallels of inserts, and I lucked out and pulled an orange program insert. These fall 1:414. Pretty decent pull! This is numbered to 50.
In most packs, you'll find either a Perspectives or a Infinite insert. Both consist of current and retired players.
Infinite look amazing. Such a simple, yet elegant design. The blank white space in the background looks awesome, and you can also see the player's stadium faded in the bottom of the card. I want to get one of these signed.

Perspectives are all horizontal. It took me a few packs to realize this was a different set than Infinite. It also features some players you don't see in insert sets very much, like Martin Prado. But there are big stars too.
And, as promised by the odds, there were 12 of these BUNT code cards.
There are some really tough-to-pull inserts like Splatter Art and Galaxy, but I didn't snag any of those.

Regardless of your view on digital cards, this box of tangible, physical cards is an awesome bang for the buck. I really enjoyed busting the box, and will definitely be buying another box next year.

A tradition has been born!

Friday, May 12, 2017


On Sunday, the Yankees are officially retiring Derek Jeter’s #2. It’s well deserved.

I grew up with Jeter. I was in 6th grade during his rookie year, so Jeter as the Yankees shortstop was all I really knew from the time I was 12 until I was past 30. He was a constant.

He finished his career with 3,465 regular season hits, good for 6th place all time. Say what you want about him or his abilities or if you think he was overrated, but that is a lot of hits. You can't luck into 3400 hits. On top of that, he had exactly 200 post-season hits because of course he did. His career batting average ended at .310. His post-season batting average? .308 in 156 games. He basically had another full season of post-season games, and performed exactly to his career norm. That’s interesting.

I attended many games in-person where Jeter played shortstop. Probably over 50 or 60. I wasn’t really there for a signature moment. No dive into the stands or walk-off hit. However, I’m sure he performed to his consistent, usual self, time and time again. It would have been normal to see him go 2 for 4 without doing something spectacular. And I’m sure I took it for granted, time and time again.

I look forward to the ceremony and seeing Jeter back at Yankee Stadium. Who knows, next time he’s there, he might be wearing a Marlins hat.