Sunday, August 20, 2017

More Topps Bunt? I Think So

As I've reentered the hobby (sorta) and gotten back to into collecting (kinda), I've had quite the urge to bust some real packs. Alas, with my imminent move to NYC in just over a week, buying real cards is simply not in the cards (hehehe).

Once again, I've had to scratch this itch by turning to the digital realm, spending fake coins on fake cards for real pleasure.

I seem to learn more and more about how things operate in Topps Bunt every day, most recently discovering how awards work.

Users are awarded "Award Cards" for meeting certain collecting goals. The awards featured most predominately in the game are associated with collecting parallels of an entire team. There are ten parallels for each base card, each with a corresponding point multiplier for the fantasy aspect of the game: White (1x), Green (1.2x), Red (1.5x), Blue (1.7x), Orange (2x), Teal (2.5x), Purple (3x), Black (3.5x), Silver (5x), and Gold (10x). If a user collects all ten white, green, and red cards, they are give an award; awards are also awards for collecting blue and orange, teal, purple, black, silver, and gold. The way cool Steve Garvey card above is the award card for collecting all ten black parallels of Series One Dodgers, and it's limited to just 316 copies (at least until other users earn the award).

Cards are released in real-time along with their real life counterparts, and awards are given out for Series 1 collections and Series 2 collections.

Though collecting in the digital realm is not quite the same, I do enjoy the Topps Now inserts -- cards that are realized almost on a daily basis that recognize big moments and historical feats. I picked both of these guys up, numbered 848 and 500 respectively, in a pair of trades over the past week.

Kyle Farmer, a young Dodgers backstop, was called up a few weeks ago and got his first taste of big-league action against the Giants with the Dodgers down 2-1 in the bottom of the 11th inning. Farmer lined a double down the right field line for the win, his first big league hit, and this card (albeit digital) captures that wonderful moment.

Though I love myself some fantasy baseball, I'm not a big fan of the fantasy portion of the app. Scoring is heavily skewed in favor of hitters, and the scoring is a bit confusing. Still, I participate on a daily basis, choosing my nine best players in the hopes that I'll score enough points to win some prizes. Prizes offered range from a pack of cards to equipment tickets, tickets that can be traded in for limited edition cards. Case in point, this sweet faux-vintage Kershaw. I don't recognize the design, so I'm assuming Topps created it strictly for this set, but please let me know if I'm wrong.

Speaking of Clayton Kershaw, I also nabbed this beauty in a trade last week. I feel like I should recognize the moment shown here, but it's simply not clicking at the moment. The days of A.J Ellis feel so long ago, so it's weird to think he only changed jerseys around this time last year.

One of my newest additions came as quite a surprise, as I received a trade offer in which I received eight low numbered inserts and the sweet Duke Snider relic seen below.

I was irrationally excited for a digital relic (a plain one at that), but they aren't easy to get a hold of, so it's definitely a cool addition.

Shortly after I wrote my last post on Topps Bunt, I swapped my Paul Goldschmidt auto for this Corey Seager Jumbo Patch (again, very plain, despite the digital format that allows Topps to maybe throw in some color). In hindsight, I probably could have extracted more value from the Goldy auto, being that autos are more valuable than relics despite the card count, but I'm happy with the swap.

At the end of the day, I've found this app to be quite addicting, good fun, and a welcome alternative to traditional card collecting. I'll most likely continue to use the app daily, at least until real cards are once again a reality.

Bunt Username: ChavezRavinin

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The One Where I Pull A Corey Seager Auto...Redemption

I've long spoken about friendships on this blog, whether they have been virtual (Nick at Dime Boxes or William at Foul Bunt), virtual turned real (Matthew at Dodger Penguin or Greg at Plaschke, Thy Sweater is Argyle), or just plain real (my buddy Dikran, for instance). Card collecting is a wonderfully fun hobby, but it seems like collecting with friends makes it even better. Dikran and I have been collecting together for a few years now, and before I head off to New York in a few weeks, we thought it would be fun to go out and bust a couple of packs one final time.

And man. It was worth it.

After browsing the rather messy card aisle at Target, we walked away with a couple of hangar packs of one of my favorite products, Stadium Club.

Stadium club is well-known for its great photos and full-bleed design (though flagship has gone that way in recent years), and the quality of the cards makes a pack well worth the $5.99 price tag for 12 cards. SC differs from most other Topps products in that it is filled with non-action games shots, much like the Strasburg above. I love when the dugout serves as the backdrop for a card.

Of course, SC also features some past players, much like Dave Winfield here. I totally dig Winfield's pose, and everyone's gotta love those old-school brown and yellow Padres' unis. Here's to hoping Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown can successfully convince the Padres management to bring them back full-time.

I've been out of the card game for too long, and I cannot remember which blogger has a subset for 'desert cards,' but I certainly think this Adam Jones black parallel fits the bill. 

Inserts are also seeded every few packs this year, and I managed to score a pair of pitchers trending in different directions. Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in baseball a number of years ago, has been losing steam as he enters his mid-thirties; the back of the card points back to a pair of scoreless starts he had in 2007. On the other hand, Julio Urias, the 20 year-old Phenom, appears to be on the rise. That is, until the injury bug hit, wiping out the remainder of this season and possible all of next year as well. Here's to hoping his incredible talent makes some headlines soon.

Two cards into my pack I uncovered this gorgeous Beltre, the newest member of the 3000 hit club. Too bad the Dodgers let him walk after the 2004 season. #CrossingMyFingersForAnOffseasonTrade

The best card of the pack, however, goes to a slice of cardboard that isn't really a card at all: a Corey Seager Black Foil Autograph. 

These are numbered to just 25 copies, so its seems like the baseball gods were on my side after this purchase. I think this is just the second autograph we've ever pulled from a retail pack (I cannot remember the first), and it's definitely an exciting way to end my card collecting in California. 

Dikran is holding on to this bad boy until Topps sends in the real card, though we still haven't decided who is gonna keep the card after it arrives. I suggested we can share the card, with me keeping it on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays a la Bart Simpson's idea in "Three Men and a Comic Book", but Dikran didn't seem too enthused. Regardless, it's a hell of a pull, and a fun way to close out our random retail splurges. 

Though I've taken my collection digital in the recent weeks, there's nothing like busting open some real packs. Perhaps that Corey Seager auto was a reminder that I can't fully give up the real stuff. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

An Ode to Clayton Kershaw

#16: Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers

A (Crappy) Ode to Kershaw

Oh, Clayton!
How I miss Uncle Charlie
When the count's 0 and 2.
How I miss you on the hill
In that clean Dodger Blue.

And, Clayton!
When you no hit the Rox,
Boy that was great
And when you relieved Kenley
and racked up your first save. 

Oh, Clayton!
Now you're all broken,
You're on the DL,
But all of us fans
Need you to get well. 

(Seriously. I want you to win the World Series.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Topps Bunt: Digital Card Collecting is Quite Fun

So I've decided to go digital in my collection in an effort to save space and cash monies but also as a means to stay engaged in this hobby. Much of this blog's content moving forward will revolve around digital cards, mostly from Topps Bunt.

Topps Bunt seems to be the only baseball card collecting app on the market, so Topps has pretty much full control over the how digital card collecting market operates (Topps also has card apps for the other major sports).

The app is fairly simple to use and the app even starts out users with a free base pack. What was my first digital card?

That'll play.

This is the 2017 Topps Bunt Series Design, and it differs a bit from its tangible cousin. The design is clean and simple, and, in my opinion, looks better than this year's flagship. It sacrifices team names (leaving just the logo) and players' positions, but adds a multiplier that affects the amount of points a card can earn in the fantasy aspect of the game. 

Here are a few other cards I pulled in that first pack.

It featured an awesome red-haired rookie (#represent), an insert of the reigning NL MVP, and the former object of my love, Matt Kemp. I haven't followed Kemp much since A.J. Preller was swindled by #Fraudman, but I certainly wish him the best during the remainder of his career (just don't hit any big homeruns against the Dodgers, okay Mattycakes?) I'm not a fan of how the pictures come out in screenshot form, so I'll try to find a way to post just the cards in the future.

Inserts are some of the more sought after cards in the game, and there are a ton of them. Still, they aren't the easiest to acquire, though I did manage to pick up a few through a trade over the past few days.

This trio of inserts are fairly common, with card counts -- the digital equivalent to numbered cards -- ranging from 1,616 on that Bellinger on the left to 6,856 on the center Bellinger, and 5,224 on the far-right Turner. Bellinger seems to be a hot commodity, especially in the digital collecting community, and nearly every player wants to stock up on his cards.

Much of this frenzy over Bellinger cardboard (can I really call it that?) stems from his outstanding rookie year and the normal hype that goes along with it, but it also has to do with the fantasy element of the game. Topps Bunt users can select up to nine cards to enter into a contest that scores just like fantasy baseball; players earn points for hits, putouts, strikeouts, etc. The points system heavily favors hitters, and with the hot year Bellinger is having, it's no surprise users everywhere are hunting for his cards. Should users place in the top 250 of all users in points, they earn Equipment Tickets that can be redeemed for cool limited time inserts, much like the Sandy Koufax I nabbed below.

While inserts are great in the digital format, relics and signatures are a little less fun than their real-life counterparts. I somehow managed to pull a pretty rare Dellin Betances All-Star Game Cap Relic from one of my first packs, but I soon flipped it for the trio of inserts you saw above. In hindsight that was a bad trade. That Betances card was limited to just 141 copies, so I didn't extract as much value from it as I could have. Oh well. I pulled this a bit later that day.

Despite the digital auto, this is a great looking card. In fact, design is probably one of the strongest aspects of digital collecting. The picture quality on these cards is outstanding (the images lose a bit of their clarity here), and because Topps doesn't have to mass produce most of the cards it creates for the app, it can focus primarily on building beautiful digital designs. Here's to hoping some of these designs make their ways to a shelve near you.

Another strong facet of the digital game is the almost instantaneous ability to create cards based on the season's happenings. Topps Now Cards capture some of the biggest moments of the week, ranging from historical feats to walk-off winners, like the one below.

After their incredible run to the World Series last season, I have become a low-key fan of the Indians and their phenomenal young shortstop, Francisco Lindor. He might be one of the most fun players to watch for years to come.

Overall, I've enjoyed Topps Bunt quite a bit in the few days I've been using it. Users that spend money on the digital currency certainly have a leg-up on collecting some of the more rare and sought after cards, though I seem to be doing just fine as a free user.

I'd encourage you all to try the app if you have the time or desire. And, hey, don't forget to add me as a friend. My username is Chavezravinin (no 'G' at the end because it was already taken). Looking forward to seeing some friendly faces in the digital realm of card collecting soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Digital Revolution: Revisiting Some Old Cards and Planning for the Future

So I run a baseball card blog. Yet I kind of no longer collect baseball cards. So what am I doing?

Well, that's a good question, and one I hope to answer in this post. 

As I mentioned in my return post a couple of days ago, collecting is not really a viable option at this point in my life. I'm moving to NYC in a month, money is tight (as is space), and I'm not even able to take my current collection with me. But that doesn't mean I still can't have fun with baseball cards.

Before I took my sabbatical from the blogging community, I spent a ton of time working on my own digital baseball card set. Here are a few of my favorites. 

You may or may not remember these (I never did get around to posting all of the cards I created), but I definitely enjoyed making them. Of course, many of the cards I created are outdated (#trades), but that doesn't mean they're not cool.

Considering the ostensible move toward digital everything, digital baseball cards seem to make too much sense for me. Topps seems to be putting a lot of time and effort into the digital card market, with Topps Now digital cards flooding my Facebook timeline and ads for MLB Bunt (the digital card trading app) making a home alongside them. I previously used MLB Bunt a few years ago but spent most of my free time with real cards and ended up deleting the app, but I've re-downloaded while writing this paragraph. 

Digital cards are not as fun as the real, tangible cards you used to see on this blog and many others, but digital cards will help me reengage in this hobby and allow me to stay involved in the baseball card community. 

So what can you expect from this blog moving forward? 

For starters, I'll gradually post the custom cards I created a few years ago. That should be fun (and maybe nostalgic) and will help me provide content as I work on my new project for this blog -- a new digital card set

I plan on putting a ton of work into this (partly as an excuse to practice my Adobe skills), though I'm not sure exactly what this card set will include. It will probably be small in its first iteration (a handful of players from every team, probably voted on by you).  I plan on creating my own card design, but I will also throw it back to designs of old. Beyond that, the possibilities are wide open. I encourage you all to throw ideas my way if you have any, and hopefully I can get cracking on these soon. 

The new digital card set will be my primary focus, though I also plan on diverging into larger researched posts about the card industry, especially from a digital collector's perspective. And, of course, I'll do my best to post about any real cards that make their way into my hands. 

With this blog's renewed focus on digital cards, I'm feeling like the blog could use a redesign. Expect some small changes in the coming weeks and larger changes in the coming months. 

I may no longer collect (real) baseball cards, but that won't stop me from running a baseball card blog. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Two Year Absence? I'm Back...Sorta

Whew. So much has happened since the last time I posted here. I finished up school in California. I met an amazing girl and now we're dating. And the Dodgers won the World Series. 

Well. I'm still waiting on that last one, but I'm hoping 2017 continues to be good to me, and the Boys is Blue finally go all the way. I mean, at the time I'm writing this, the Dodgers hold the best record in baseball, they are on an incredible run (30-4 in their last 34 games) and their roster is filled with incredible young talent. 

But you all probably know that already, so let's talk about me. And baseball cards. 

So yeah. I've finally finished school here in California, but I'm still waiting on that degree. I won't have to wait too much longer, as I'm planning on graduating next Spring, though I'll be doing so on the other side of the country. I'm transferring to Hofstra University (stomping grounds to famous alumni like James Caan, Christopher Walken, and Bernie Madoff....welp), and I'll be graduating with a BA in English, Publishing Studies and Literature. 

I'm so incredibly excited for this change, and I'm incredibly grateful for being in a position to even pack up and zoom across the country. But I'm also incredibly scared and nervous of what's to come. I'm 24, but pretty soon I'll have to adult in every sense of the word and find a job, figure out how to live in an expensive city, and make new friends. I'm hopeful that it all works out, and I'd certainly love to hear any words of advice you may have. 

But this is a baseball card blog, so let's talk about that. 

Sadly, I've only opened a handful of packs over the past two years. Many of those packs have been Topps Flagship (no way I'm missing that), and I haven't been overly impressed. Still, I've thoroughly enjoyed ripping open the packs with the hopes of pulling a Dodger or an awesome picture (something Dime Boxes worthy). 

But it seems that my time in this hobby isn't bound to continue, at least in the short term. To put it frankly, cards are not just in the budget, and I can't foresee much free time over the next couple of years. I've already sold off many of my favorite cards -- bye-bye Parks and Rec collection :( -- and I'm still looking to move many more of my higher-end cards to help me build up my savings (feel free to message me if there are any cards on my blog you'd like to own). As much as I enjoy the cards, life has simply forced my hand. 

I'm optimistic though. Sure, I love my cards. I really, really do. But I didn't get into the hobby for the autos, or the relics, or the high-end stuff -- I found the joy in that part of the hobby along the way. I started this blog because I love to talk about the low-end stuff, the cardboard that is often glossed over by many, bound to boxes and bags, and attics and basements. The cards that sparked my interest in baseball in the first place. 

I can't promise that I'll post here regularly. And I can't promise that I won't have another two year absence after I start school in September. But I do promise to continue to read so many of the other fantastic blogs, and to continue to stay engaged in this community on Twitter. And I certainly promise to continue loving this hobby, and the people in it that make it so fun. 


I'd also like to take this space to do a bit of self-promotion. I have a new Twitter account you can follow @alexbmarkle. I'll use this as my personal/professional twitter, and you will find pretty anything non-baseball related their (probably a lot of books and publishing stuff tbh). You can also check out another blog I started recently, Markle's Musings: A Quest for a Better Read. I'll be posting reviews of most books that I read, as well as other bookish thoughts. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, or you simply feel like offering some support, I'd appreciate a follow. 

I'll continue to run @markle05, my baseball and card twitter as well. I'll see you all soon!

Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Topps Stadium Club: I Have To Chime In

Well, so much for that unplanned vacation from the blog. I'm pretty sure it has been less than a month since I posted my "good-bye" post, yet I'm back here checking in. I promise I won't make a habit of this, but I have some time to kill and I happened to pick up a pack of Stadium Club while I was at Target today. So let's get down to the contents of my first pack in a few months!

Well, I couldn't think of a better first card to pull than the one above. I'm usually bombarded by Giants and Yankees when I open packs, but it looks like the card gods were on my side today. 

As we all know (probably), Stadium Club is Topps' photo focused brand (that assonance!), and I think they did a wonderful job this year. The "name plate" -- or whatever you wanna call the whole name, position, etc... on the bottom -- is unobtrusive and allows the photography to shine. I don't have a problem with the foil "name plates" -- again, call them what you wish -- though they don't necessarily come through so great in pictures. Too bad I don't have my scanner anymore. 

Oh, and darn you Topps for figuring out a way to get that picture onto a baseball card. I spent a few hours trying get that picture onto the custom cards I was making at one time, but I could never figure out a way to crop it correctly. Meh, guess that's why I don't work for Topps. At least we both had the same game in mind...

The rest of the pack was rather unexciting in comparison to the Kersh on top. 

Meh. I like Tyson, but Padres cards are always just a little bleh to me. I think the organization should take Marcus' advice and revert to the brown and yellow unis. 

David Ortiz is a decent pull. I enjoy the image; there is just something about these low angle shots that grab my attention. Just to think, I used to PC Big Papi only a few months ago...

It feels a little weird to say, but I got a little unlucky with this pull. I'm not totally positive, but I think inserts are seeded every few packs or so. I'm not generally a fan of inserts, though I kinda like this design. I think it loses a little of its luster being mixed in with some fantastic photography, but I'll take it nonetheless. I think I may have liked this card better if I pulled it out of Flagship or something. Context. 

Finally, I happened upon the sunset card of one of the better (and probably a little underrated) sluggers of the past generation. It feels weird to see Dunn in an Athletics jersey -- okay, maybe not as weird as Will Ferrell in an Athletics jersey -- but it's a cool card nonetheless. 

Other bloggers are saying packs are a little overpriced, but I just think they under filled. I don't have a problem spending three bucks on a pack of cards as nice as Stadium Club, but I would like the dollar to go a bit further. Maybe seven cards a pack would be better, especially considering the 300-card set list. That said, I'm just glad these cards were available in retail this year. 

Overall, I think Stadium Club is one of the best products of 2015. The pictures are fantastic. The checklist has a good mixture of legends and current players. Oh, and I pulled Clayton Kershaw in my first (and probably last) pack of the product. That alone is good enough to crown it Set of the Year in my book.