Category Archives: Panini

Prizm…Yawn

I picked up a couple of packs of Prizm basketball and…well…I don’t have much to say.  As has been made clear I’m not a fan of chrome cards and this doesn’t change when you call them Prizm.  I find the design to be boring at best and kind of ugly at worst.  I believe it was Mojo Beardy who mentioned that they have a Topps Finest vibe, and I would agree.  However, my nostalgia for Finest, which I loved as a 9 year old precisely because it was shiny and new, is lost here.  Making a card shiny shouldn’t obviate the need for good design, but in most instances I think that card manufacturers thinks it does.

I do appreciate Panini limiting the number of inserts in the set and providing a solid checklist of on-card autographs which have a good mix of rookies, legends, and current stars.  However, the design is so boring and lazy that I can’t see picking this over Panini Threads.

As for my packs themselves I pulled a Kyrie Irving rookie and legends cards of Isaiah Thomas and Wilt Chamberlain.  I didn’t pull any inserts or autos and the rest of my cards were commons.

Recommended for chromies and auto chasers but no one else.  1.5/5 (almost completely because of a solid autograph checklist).

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The Best: Ha.

Rick Barry.

2010-11 Panini Prestige Old School Rick Barry

Ha!  What’s up with that stance?

Look at his face.

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Double ha.

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2012: Best Of.

I love lists.  That may be an admission of sloth or my simple nature, but I love lists.  They are so easy to digest and they save me from reading a lot of “words.”  Therefore, without further ado (adieu?), here are a few Pack a Week year end lists for your enjoyment.

Pack a Week Hits of the Year (aka my best pack pulls):

1.  2012-13 Panini Threads Anthony Davis Autograph

2012-13 Panini Threads Anthony Davis Autograph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  2012 Topps Archives Yu Darvish Autograph

2012 Topps Archive Yu Darvish Autograph

3.  2012 Topps Target Exclusive Red No-Name Error Mickey Mantle

2012 Topps Target Exclusive Red Mickey Mantle No-name Error

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Black Michael Wacha Autograph

Bowman Black.

5.  2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Aflac All-American Michael Zunino Autograph

Aflac.

Honorable Mention (not a pack pull but I love it):

1997 Bowman Derek Jeter Autograph

The best player. The best company.  The best autograph.  Definitive.

As you can see, my year was back loaded with hits.  Other than the Mickey Mantle error, all of my best pulls came in the last two months of the year.  That is not to say that I didn’t have fun the rest of the year, but the last two months reaffirmed my love of busting boxes.

Tops 5 Products of the Year:

1.  2012 Topps Mini Baseball

2012 Topps Mini Bryce Harper

Mini baseball, from a design perspective, is no different than the Topps base set this year other than the fact that they are about 1/3 smaller.  While I thought that the Topps base was fine this year, the design is not the reason that I give Mini the product of the year honors, it is the restraint, value, and fun that give it the top spot.  This product, reviewed here, contained a limited number of inserts and the parallels had very limited print runs, meaning that when you pulled an insert or a paralell it felt special, which is something that many products lack: a feeling that you pulled something special.  The product was also limited to, apparently, a few thousand boxes, making everything more valuable on the secondary market.  The limited print run also made pulling printing plates, numbered 1/1, a much easier task.  Boxes were available only through the Topps on-line store and cost, a reasonable, $50.  Mini seemed like a reward to the fans and the collectors and it was fun; I appreciate Topps for doing it.

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2.  2012 Topps Archives

1984

Archives is all about nostalgia and it delivered on nostalgia.  Topps split the base set into four separate, classic designs (the most pleasing, if you ask me, is the 1984), they brought back the fan-favorite autographs, including autos of super-hyped, super rookies Bryce Harper and Yu Darvish, and gave us box-toppers of Billy Zabka (sweep the leg!!!!!) and cut-autos of Vanna White.  What more do you want you greedy jerk?

2012 Topps Archives Oscar Gamble Fan Favorites Autograph2012 Topps Archives Carl Yastrmzeski

3.  2012-13 Panini Threads Basketball

2012-13 Panini Threads Blake Griffin

I’m a notorious Panini hater,  I usually think their designs are busy, the inserts are ridiculous and ugly, and the autos are sticker drops.  Threads fixed most of this.  The design was solid and harkened back to the classic Upper Deck designs of the mid-90’s and the autos were on-card (wood cards for that matter).  The inserts still suck (you can’t win them all).  The set also includes rookie cards from the last two draft classes due to the lock out, however all the rookie cards are autos and therefore super, ultra, mega chase cards (see Anthony Davis above).  While I haven’t had much of a return on these cards on the secondary market (sans Anthony Davis), I like these cards enough just to keep them.  Collecting for the sake of collectin, go figure.

2012-13 Panini Threads Bismack Biyombo Autograph2012-13 Panini Threads Kyrie Irving Floor Generals

4.  Left Field Cards

IMG_1361

Design-wise, this is my favorite product of the year.  These are hand made, letter-press printed baseball cards (though they double as postcards).  My review can be read here.  They can be ordered here.  Since it is my favorite design, you may be asking why they are fourth?  It is really only because they lack the chase aspect of normal cards because they are purchased in series and you know what you are getting ahead of time. (I’m a gambler at heart and love the thrill of the chase).  But don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited about these cards, especially to see what future series have in store.

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5.  2012 Bowman Baseball (+Draft Picks and Prospects)

2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Bryce Harper

What can I say: prospects, prospects, prospects.  Bowman delivers with another solid design, good crop of autographs, and some good inserts and paralells.  Nothing sets this apart from years past, but the product continues to be one of my favorites every year.  Kudos.

IMG_0669  IMG_0674

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David HasselHOF…or Jimmy HOFfa…or I’ve gone off the rails

I feel like I’m drowning in Panini lately.  Between basketball and black friday, they’ve had me posting Panini for what feels like a month.  Now they are getting me with Baseball too.  (Note: I should have some Bowman and Topps soon, for those who care)

2012 Panini Cooperstown is in the house.  Or the retail outlet as the case may be.  I grabbed a few packs, so I could bring you, my loyal reader(s), a timely and reliable review.

This product is exactly what it sounds like, cards of Hall of Famers.  A checklist can be found here and I’m sure you can find boxes on eBay or elsewhere which contain one Hall of Famer autograph and a few manufactured patch cards.  Boxes are running about $90, so I would recommend a purchase if you’re an HOF guy or a vintage autograph hound.  I am not either of those things, though I do appreciate the Hall of Fame and will take a vintage auto where I can get it.  As such, I purchased two packs.  Here we go…

Panini lacks an MLB license, so my first order of business when opening my packs of Cooperstown was to see how they handled getting the logos out of the pictures.  This was a hit or miss proposition.  About half the cards contained pictures where the player’s back was turned or had otherwise naturally obscured the logo, the other half cropped the pictures in a way to cut off the hats of players.  Fortunately for Panini older uniforms generally did not have a lot of text, so this limited the need to photoshop logos out which I appreciate, because nothing is worse than a doctored photo.  The cards that were cropped to obscure the hat logo seem off somehow, like the picture was accidentally placed off-center or something.

2012 Panini Cooperstown Harmon Killebrew

Good photo selection.

vs.

Distracting photo cropping.

Distracting photo cropping.

I have no qualms with the card design themselves.  The photos are nice action shots and are black and white, which is pleasing.  The tan borders adds a vintage feel, with a texture that resembles an old wool uniform.  The Cooperstown logo is present on all the cards, which is a nice celebration of the institution.  Panini does not burden the cards with their logo.  Overall a solid, understated design though I think they could have benefitted from a matte finish to enhance the vintage feel.

I thought the backs were where the cards shined.  Each one contains a thoughtful player bio and the statistics from the players best season and career.  It also shows the years the player played at the top and contains a photo that differs from the one on the front of the card, which is something Panini has been failing to do in alot of their other products (nothing screams lazy like the same photo on the front and back of the card).

2012 Panini Cooperstown Rod Carew

Unsuprisingly, my two packs did not contain an auto.  The auto checklist is solid, which could go unsaid considering its all hall of famers.  A slightly cheaper price tag (something in the $60 range) would likely lead me to purchase a box just for the off chance of getting a Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, or Nolan Ryan autograph.  I did get two inserts: an Induction and a Credentials.  The Induction card features a picture of the player on their induction day and doesn’t really improve on the base cards at all.  The Credentials cards are an abortion, they are god awful.  They don’t have a picture on the front, just a bunch of stats (which are fine…on the back).  I guess that is one way to avoid licensing issues.

2012 Panini Cooperstown Harmon Killebrew Induction

2012 Panini Cooperstown Juan Marichal Credentials

There is one insert set that I am interested in: The Ballparks set.  I love old ballparks.  They were quirky and interesting with their funny dimensions and odd design elements.  I could look at pictures of old ballparks as a pasttime, which is kind of sad but don’t you dare judge me.  You have no right.  I may try to track down the set on eBay.  I can’t imagine it costs too much.

Overall Panini Cooperstown is a solid product for vintage auto collectors and as a tribute to the institution.  Panini finds it in themselves to create an understated design and to serve a valuable niche.  I would have preferred less cropped photos, but I understand the difficulty in finding a good photo of each player with no logos so it is a minor gripe.  I don’t love it enough to buy a box, but I don’t hate it enough to tell you not too.  I’m guessing the people who want it already got it, so my opinion is probably moot anyway.  3/5.

While we are talking about Cooperstown, I did want to weigh in on this years ballot.  I have vacillated on whether or not any of the confirmed, or practically confirmed users, should get in.  However, I have mostly leaned towards having them included for a few reasons.   First, guys like Bonds and Clemens were, regardless of how they got there, the major stars of a generation.  They defined baseball for twenty years and posted amazing stats (go to fangraphs and look it up), to exclude them from the hall of fame is to leave part of the picture of baseball unpainted.  I believe the same is true for Pete Rose and Joe Jackson, so I’m not being inconsistent.  Those guys belong in as well, they were baseball and their displays should include the good and bad.  Same for Bonds and Clemens.  Second, steroids were part of the era.  While I understand that not all players took them, enough did that they changed the game, therefore the best players from that era should be given their due.  This is the same as a deadball era pitcher being inducted. Pitchers in that era had it a lot easier than current pitchers do, so rather than compare across eras just the best pitchers from the deadball era should, and have, been inducted.  Same goes here, just induct the best roid guys.  Juan Gonzalez and Mark McGwire may have made it twenty years ago on homers alone, but they should be held to the Bond’s standard, not the Carew standard.  Therefore, you take only the guys who truly excelled from 1988ish to 2005ish.  Finally, in the case of Bonds, like Rose, it feels wrong to exclude the all-time leader in a major statistical category.  How can the Hall be a record of baseball history without the leaders.

I hope that Bonds and Clemens make it in.  Do I think they will? No.  The BBWA is a funny organization, they thrive on these controversial figures to make a living, but then they refuse to honor them because they were not angels.  Que sera sera.

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Black Friday Recap

Black Friday.  That great annual celebration of consumerism where we all gather around the great mall and pay our respects to goods and services.  In all honesty, not my favorite day of the year.  For one, people act crazy, for two, it tends to only drive sales to large corporations rather than small business, and three, those line are long.  I do, however, appriciate a deal.  As a public employee I’m not exactly at the top of my earning potential, so I take a bargain where I can get it.  So here is my recap of my sports card-relevant black friday pickups.

Functional Friday Pickup

I finally purchased a printer with a scanner, so from this point on all of my images will be scans.  Let me just say taht I can’t believe I didn’t have one before.  It’s much easier than trying to find that perfect angle with the digital camera and the images are super sharp.  Also, I got it for $30.  Very nice.  I would recommend a scanner for anyone who sells cards on-line or blogs.

On to the cards….

I often purchase a few boxes on Black Friday, usually on-line at either dacardworld.com or blowoutcards.com.  Both have very good box prices and great selections.  I continued that tradition by purchasing a box of 2012 Topps Archives Baseball from blowout.  It was on-sale for an outrageous $59.  I’ve already opened a box of it this year, but I love retro stuff and I can’t pass up the chance at two more on-card retro autos.  Maybe I’ll get the Ken Griffey Jr. auto that I want so badly (wishful thinking).  I do not have this hand yet, so I’ll post again with my box bustin’ results later.

This year I switched it up a little and also visted my local card shop, Showtime Cards, for their black friday sale.  Normally, I only buy boxes on-line because they are so much more expensive at the shop, however I wanted to throw a little love their way this year because I truly enjoy having a good shop near my home.  While I don’t normally buy boxes from them, I do get packs and all my supplies there and they are always congenial and knowledgeable.  So I decided that it was time to fork over a little extra cash and I bought a box of 2012-13 Panini Threads Basketball for $108.  It goes for $96 on-line, so the difference wasn’t too extreme and I got to feel good about supporting my local card shop.  Let me say, it was well worth the extra money for peace of mind and also because of what I pulled.

First things first, my local shop was participating in the Panini Black Friday promotion, so I got my requisite pack of Panini Black Friday cards.  I pulled a Bryce Harper and a Cam Newton card, unfortunately no auto’s or inserts, but at least I got a couple bigger names.  The cards themselves are not my cup of tea, both are full of shine and cut out player photos. I’m sure they will be nice for collectors of these players and because of that they will be on eBay post haste.

On to the box.  As mentioned in previous posts, I am a fan of this years Threads product.  I like the simplicity of the design, I like the unaltered photographs, and I even think the wood card stock autograph idea is a good one.  Overall, I think Panini did a good job with this product and I would like to see it become the flagship.  It really reminds me, design-wise of the mid-90’s Upper Deck issues, which were always nice and understated.  While I will always prefer classic card design with white borders, unaltered player shots, and a simple aesthetic, I also have a soft spot for the borderless design that Upper Deck was using for a while.  For one thing, it helps cards grade higher, which is great on the resale market and for another it really takes away the potential for awful, busy designs (which Panini has a propensity for).  I was happy to open these cards.  Pictured below are a few examples of the quality design aesthetic at work.

While I do really like this design, with the copper flourish, the real reason I splurged on a box was because of the promise of three on-card autos.  The autos were to be of rookies of this years and last years class and they were to be on wood card stock, which is a gimmick that I like because of the retro feel and the connection to the basketball hardwood.  Opening the box created a lot of anticipation because of the breadth of the rookie class, guys like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis had me excited for what was in those packs.  Remember the only rookie cards in this product are these autographs, therefore this box, moreso than the packs I bought, had the promise of amazing hits.

Rookie auto #1 – John Jenkins – great shooter in college, promise as a role-player but with great upside.  Solid, but uninspiring hit.

Rookie Auto #2 – Bismack Biyombo – Interesting player with good defensive potential, though I can’t see him being anything other than limited minutes shot-blocker.  Cool name, little esle to be excited about.

Rookie Auto #3 – Pack a Week HIT OF THE YEAR – Anthony Davis – This is the first time I’ve ever pulled an autograph of a #1 overall pick.  Davis is poised to be a star, he has the defensive ability and the offensive potential to be an Olajuwon or a Ewing, and as long as he stays injury free I think he will get there.  This has been a rough year on autograph hits for Pack a Week, but this is the sort of thing that gives you hope that you can occasionally get the big one.  It also makes me glad that I spent the extra money for this box at the shop.

Fear the brow! Seriously, fear that thing.

I also got a number of inserts, some ok, some bad.  I pulled a David West gold card, which is numbered out of /25.  It is the base design but with a gold bottom border instead of a copper border.  Given my affinity for the design, I like it, I’m just bummed it wasn’t a bigger star.

Also pulled were a few Floor Generals cards (including Kyrie Irving, who should bring a few bucks on the secondary market), A couple High Flyers (including Kevin Durant), some Century Greats (Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler), and a couple Talente Twosome cards.  Overall the inserts are uninspired, though inoffensively designed.  Most, other than the Century Greats feature full action shots and unobtrusive designs.  The talented twosomes really reminds me of subsets from the 90’s featuring teammates, which is an ok idea but probably not worthy of a full insert set, though I do like the single photos featuring two players.  The other ones just seem to be reaching for a theme and a design.  I also pulled a few of the Team Threads Jersey Die-cut Cards, including a Lebron James.  I’ve mentioned before that I like these cards.  They are kind of like the team stickers of our day and they add a little diversity to the product.  Overall the only decent inserts are the Team Threads and the different colored parallels.  I’m guessing we’ll see some of the bigger star’s platinums versions going for $30 – $70 on eBay.

Can I call him Durantula, or will that other guy sue me?

Finally, I pulled one relic card, Anthony Mason, which is not pictured.  There was also a pack of Kobe Bryant Anthology cards packed in the box.  Kobe is my least favorite NBA player of all time.  Bold statement, I know.  But I just don’t like his smug demeanor and his selfish style.  You can tell me he is a winner all you want and that he has that killer instinct, but it doesn’t change the kind of player he is and it’s not the kind I like.  The cards are simply designed no borders and Kobe’s name at the bottom.  If you’re a Kobe fan then this is awesome, if not…well…not so much.

After buying a box, I still really like this product.  I like what they’ve done with the rookie cards.  Making them all autos helps increase the value and also makes for something much more interesting.  The experiment of using wood card stock seems successful and I can’t wait for more of the same.  On-card autos is a double plus.  While I don’t love the inserts, three autos per box makes up for it.  The design is simple enough to withstand the test of time and I’m happy that Panini has put a decent set together given the fact that they are the only NBA game in town.  Overall: 4.5/5

Finally, after entering probably 30 Golden Giveaway codes with Topps this year I only came up with one card, which I received this weekend.  It’s Derek Jeter, which I like.  I like nothing else.  It is a non-sense die cut (why the jagged edges, does that symbolize something?), it’s shiny with some design in the background, and the picture is a cut-out.  Bleeeech.

 

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Rethreads

I ignored my own advice and bought a few more retail packs of Panini Threads.  I really did like the design and I was excited about the rookie autographs, so I couldn’t resist.  I’m also waiting for the on-line black friday sales before I buy any boxes, so this seemed like the best way to scratch my itch.  Though I stick by my advice in my original Threads post, I’m glad I bought the packs because I pulled one of the “wood card stock” autographed rookies.

Pictured above is a Mike Scott autograph.  Though I am excited to pull an autograph out of a retail pack, I must admit that I don’t know who Mike Scott is.  Best of luck to him, but I don’t recall his college career, and I’m a college basketball fan.  As far as the card is concerned, I like it.  The design is nice, almost retro and the autograph is on-card.  The card stock itself is actually a hybrid, the back is normal card stock but the front is a thin wood veneer.  The texture is interesting and it adds to the retro feel because it is cracked and imperfect.  I like the idea, especially as a connection to the “hardwood,” however I do wonder how the cards will age.  When I say age, I literally mean physically age.  Wood cards are a bit of an unknown (please correct me if I’m forgetting about other wood cards), and I wonder if there will be any degradation of the photo or ink over time, or if the wood itself will begin to deteriorate.  The signature itself has already bled into the wood and has fuzzy edges, so I’m wondering if there may be any other long term issues.  Beyond those concerns, I like these cards and this idea.  It has reinforced my desire to buy a box, which I should do by the end of the week.

I also pulled a Floor Generals insert, which is mostly inoffensive, but does fall under the heading of Panini inserts that I don’t care about.

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Threads, success!

Here comes Panini again.  It’s Threads this time.  This is a product I’m usually not a big fan of, but I had to do my duty and pick up a few packs.

First a few interesting things to mention before getting into my packs.  First, all the rookie cards are autos in this set and I’m reading that they are on-card autos. Nice one Panini, you are continuing to move in the right direction.  Second, the rookies are all printed on “wood card stock,” I don’t what that is exactly but hopefully it’s not made from this:

Get it? Woodstock

Third, you get three autos and one memorabilia card per box.  Maybe a name change is in order: Panini Signature Edition?  Finally, following in the footsteps of the prior Threads issue, there are cards shaped like jerseys, which are a cool little touch.  They come in auto and non-auto versions. On to the packs. I will start off by saying that this is the best Panini base design of the year.  The cards have fantastic photography.  The pictures are big and unaltered.  The bottom border is made from copper foil, which is used subtly and adds a nice flourish.  The Panini logo is minimal and not intrusive.  The only complaint I have is the left border, which has a splotchy, faux wall design.  This is by far the nicest, most classic design of the year for Panini.

I absolutely love that angle with the arena as a backdrop. Need more of that.

While I like the idea of doing an all autograph rookie set, I did miss pulling rookies.  My two packs, not suprisingly, did not have any rookie autos, so all I got were a bunch of veteran cards and one insert (more on that in a second).  While making the rookie cards chase cards produces added value and excitement when you pull them, it also makes this a hard product to want to buy individual packs of.  Odds are that most packs from your local retail outlet will not have a rookie, so buying a box seems to be the only reasonable way to excited about opening the product.  With that said, I probably will buy a box of Threads; as I said it has the best base design this season, on-card rookie autos, multiple hits per box, and it costs less than $100 on eBay. Similar to the rookies, the inserts are tougher pulls in this product.  Threads shys away from the one insert per pack standard.  Out of my two packs I pulled only one insert: a Team Threads Jeff Teague card.  This is one of those forementioned jersey shaped cards that are returning.  While I’m not a fan of die cuts I do like these because they are not just a random shape, they actually represent something.  I also like basketball jerseys in general, especially classic designs like old Blazers jerseys or even the new Nets jerseys.

Overall, I think this is a solid product.  The base design is pleasing, on-card autos is a plus (but should be standard), four hits per box is a good thing, and there will be a lot of value on the secondary market because of all the chase cards.  On the down side the base checklist is all vets and some of the inserts reek of Panini trash (Floor Generals, High Flyers, etc.) This is probably a box buy for me and I’ll be generous and give it a 4/5 (subject to change after I see all there is to see).

See checklist here.

    

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Monopoly Jr.

The NBA has extended Panini’s exclusive right to produce NBA cards.  This is awful news.  First and foremost, Upper Deck has always been the king of NBA cards.  They just did it right and the last few years without them has been rough.  Secondly, Panini produces ugly cards, so this is much worse than Topps being the exclusive manufacturers of MLB cards.  At least Topps, and the Bowman imprint, produce solid designs.  Finally, with no competition there is no reason for Panini to improve their products, to create classic designs, and move away from the lazy sticker autos and non-sense insert sets.  The scary part is that details of the deal are sparse and we don’t know how long this arrangement will last.

More details here and here.

Very nice.

Hideous.

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Weekend Pickups

Part 1:  Accidental Purchases

I had to run some errands on Friday night, so I found myself at Target.  I am not capable of entering a Target without leaving with some cards, therefore I found myself in the card section.  I was contemplating getting a blaster box of Bowman Chrome but decided that it would be better not to spend $20 on a blaster, instead I decided on a few packs of BC.  I spotted a value pack (discussed herein) and figured that was the best bang for my buck.  Fast forward to the parking lot, I grab my pack out of the bag only to discover that what I grabbed was a value pack of Bowman Platinum.  I’m not a huge fan of BP this year (see previous post), so I thought about going back in and exchanging it but laziness got the better of me and I decided to open it.  Was I glad that I did.

Turns out that this value pack contained what I like to call a “retail superpack.”  A retail superpack is a retail pack that contains an autograph.  I suppose I could have just said I got an autograph, but why be simple when I can invent terms.  I got a Carter Capps autograph out of the pack, now I don’t know who Carter Capps is or if he is related to Matt Capps, but what I do know is that I got an on-card autograph of a Mariners prospect who threw 28 k’s in 25 innings with the big club this season and 19 saves along with a 13 k/9 in AA.  Seems like a solid performer and card worth holding on to.

Aside from a solid autograph I also pulled a few more interesting cards.  First, a Yu Darvish rookie card.  We all know about Darvish, so I’ll save any sort of analysis but i’m hoping to get a few bucks for it since I’m not a Rangers fan.  I also got a Wil Myers Top Prospect card.  Myers looks like he could go on to accomplish big things as a power hitting prospect in the Royals system.  Anecdotally, I watched him almost hit for the cycle in Tucson, putting solid contact on the ball every time he swung, statiscally he hit 37 bombs between AA and AAA along with an average over .300 and a 10% walk rate.  He’ll need to cut down on a high 20’s strikeout rate before he’s a star in the majors.  I also pulled a Troy Tulowitzki Cutting Edge Stars die-cut card.  This is another straight to eBay item given that I’m not a fan of Tulo or die-cuts, however as far as die-cuts go it’s fairly solid lacking the jagged edges that so often make them look stupid and horribly gimmicky.

The value pack also came with a bonus pack of Purple Refractor Prospect cards.  Nothing too exciting here, a couple of solid pitching prospects.  Hopefully something that will be interesting someday.

Shelby Miller

Matt Harvey

While it is still not favorite product, for reasons discussed previously, I can’t argue with good pulls, so overall this was pleasant mistake.

Part 2: Topps Update

I hadn’t purchased any packs of Update since it was released, so when  I found myself back at Target on Saturday I said to myself “no time like the present.”  I didn’t say that, but I wanted some so I got it.   The design is, of course, the Topps base design this year, so you know already if you like it.  I personally think it is solid as I mentioned in my Topps Mini post.  The draw of Update to me is always the rookies and the All-Star relics.  While I was disappointed on the relic front completely (I may have too high expectations for my two pack purchase), I did get a couple of interesting rookies.  First I got Trevor Bauer, who is a very exciting D-Backs prospect out of UCLA.  He has a crazy delivery and an even crazier warmup routine (look it up), but I’m afraid that his arm will explode ala Mark Prior in the next couple of years, so I’m prepared to enjoy watching him for the next couple of years because that is all we may get.

Don’t sleep on 174 k’s in 146 innings between the majors, AAA, and AA. Crazy numbers.

I also pulled a Jodany Valdespin rookie, not the most exciting player but, as I’ve said, the best name.  I do feel like I’ve seen this card before though…

Hmmm…

Maybe it’s because we have…

Reusing photos is bad form Topps, bad form.  Minus 3.

Aside from a few rookies, the rest of my interesting pulls were parallels.  One gold, one target exclusive red, and one gold sparkle.

Yadier Molina Gold

Rhiner Cruz Red.

Anibal Sanchez Gold Sparkle.

Finally, I just wanted to mention that the Oakland A’s yellow uniforms are the best in baseball.  I dare you to argue with me.

Part 3: Panini Prestige

My second target trip also resulted in a couple packs of 2012-13 Panini Prestige.  My dislike of Panini is well known, but I wanted to get a few packs of basketball because it’s basketball season and I’m starting to get excited.  Prestige, unfortunately, suffers from some of the normal Panini trappings, the cards are over-designed and they shift the emphasis off of the photography as whole and just focus on the player featured.  The base cards do use restraint in regards to logos and the bottom borders that contain the players name, so that is a plus.

The rookie cards, as always are the chase.  While the base design is tolerable, the rookie design is too busy.  I wish that Panini would have just used the base design for the rookies, having a different design destroys the continuity and makes it seem like a subset.  Subsets do not hold up over the years.  On a personal note, I was happy to get a Kyrie Irving rookie, while the second round picks have a place in the set, I’m tired of getting them.

Finally I pulled a couple inserts.  First was a Steve Nash Hardcourt Heroes.  I’ll never forgive Nash for going to the Lakers (if he wanted to win he should have gone to the Heat, at least they are not the Suns direct rival) and this card is ugly and it sucks.  Another generic, non-sense Panini insert.  Blech.  The other insert was a  Larry Bird/Magic Johnson Connections card.  This card, by all accounts, should be something I hate; the pictures are cut outs of the players and the card is busy.  But I like it.  The images are of younger Bird and Magic, the foil logo gives it a nice touch and they way the players are off-set is pleasing to the eye.  Another surprising design success by Panini.  Maybe there is hope.

Prestige boasts a solid checklist, featuring this and last years rookies as well as autographs of past, present, and future stars.  The design is tolerable but not special.  Panini needs to look at classic sports card design and get away from gimmicky, 90’s cards to really get it right.  Overall, 3/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Best: Awww Yeah

I finally got my Derrick Williams autograph.  Awww yeah.

Derrick Williams

2012-13 Panini Prestige Derrick Williams Autograph

I’ve been after his Hoops auto since it released, but the cards were selling for a bit more than I was comfortable paying.  In the meantime, Prestige released and with it, the above pictured card.  I ended up winning this card for less than any of the Hoops autos that I bid on, which was a bit suprising but made me quite happy.  It arrived yesterday and I was like a kid at Christmas.

The card features a decent photo on a shiny background on the top 2/3 of the card. The bottom 1/3 is white with Prestigious Picks in gold lettering and the autograph itself.  I’ll be honest the design is nothing special, my dislike for shiny cards is well-known and the white space is a little too much.  Furthermore, the auto is a sticker drop, which I usually loathe.  But this card is different.  This is the best sticker drop I’ve ever seen.  First, the sticker is not too obvious, it has a very faint hologram on it but otherwise is almost completely clear.  Second, and most importantly, there is a shadowed border around the sticker, giving it the effect of a cut auto bordered by the card.  I think all manufacturers need to adopt this for their sticker autos, it helps hide the fact that it is a sticker and is visually pleasing.  Though I’m not a Panini fan, I will give credit where credit is due and admit that Panini has at least figured out how to make sticker autos more palatable. However, Panini could just do more on-card autos and avoid this all together.  Que sera sera, I guess.

I should admit that I would have loved this card no matter what it loooked like.  It’s one of Derrick Williams first autographs, and it is a fine autograph at that.  I’ve been waiting for his autos to drop since he was drafted, and I’ve had to wait too long because of the lockout.  Williams is one of my top five all-time favorite Arizona basketball players.  His dunks in college, and the pros, were ridiculous and his skills around the hoop, finishing and drawing fouls, were without compare.  He is a beast on offense when he is given an opportunity, we have to remember that led the nation in free throw attempts in his final year at Arizona, evidencing his ability to draw contact, and was one of the leaders in true shooting percentage, which includes free throws and adjusts for the type of shot taken.   I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I hope Minnesota either gives him substantial minutes or trades him.  He deserves a chance on the big stage, he has the athleticism and skills to be a star.

I can legitimately say that I have not been as excited for an Arizona player in the NBA since Damon Stoudamire.  I also have not been as excited for any Arizona players cards since Damon Stoudamire.  Hopefully I can get a few more D-Will autos to go with my Stoudamire collection.  Maybe on-card next time.  You hear me, Panini?

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