2016 Stadium Club Hobby Box

I was fortunate to get my hands on a free box of 2016 Stadium Club thanks to the awesome folks over at the MLBPA and their twitter contests. I hadn’t busted any hobby boxes this year, that sort of thing just isn’t in my budget, so when I was notified that I won I was pretty excited. Stadium Club has always been about the amazing photography and, as a photographer, I’m deeply envious of every photographer who gets to do this sort of thing as a day job. It’s, literally, my dream job. I couldn’t imagine anything more awesome than combining two of my favorite things on the planet.

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I like it when the box doubles as a display. I always thought that was a fun way to display packs. The box has Correa on it too, so I might have to find a way to re-purpose it into something else.

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By rough box estimates, you get about 125-128 base cards from the 300 card set, per box. Here’s a few random ones I pulled off the top, just to get a sense of type of photography they’ve put together this year. I love the odd angles, I love the retro photos and the mix of black and white for the legendary players. I would seriously consider buying a set of all black and white photo cards if such a thing existed. The Craig Biggio card is one of my favorites this year. I just thought it was classy to show the HoF induction.

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Another random sampling, this time of horizontal cards. From a pure photographic perspective, I’ve always liked horizontal cards. I just think they make for stronger images. I’m not down with the “shoot it vertically” cell-phone generation.

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One of the other things Stadium Club has going for it is the shear amount of rookie cards. If you’re looking for a “nice” version of a players rookie card, Stadium Club is a solid option.

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Even more rookies. There were actually about 3-4 more I left off the scanner. I hadn’t realized as I was busting the packs just how many rookies there were.

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Ah, the inserts. According to the box, and the nice folks on the interwebs, each box is supposed to contain at least one ISO Metrics card. As far as I can tell there aren’t any hard numbers on the “Contact Sheet” inserts though. So, I’d say I beat the box odds, but ever so slightly. The Price card is a nice addition to the PC as it wasn’t something included when I bought myself the team set a couple weeks back.

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I also beat the box odds on the Legends die-cuts as well. These are nice and everything, but they kind of run counter to what Stadium Club is all about. I would have easily taken a couple more base cards over any of these. Not that there’s anything wrong with baseball legends in a product, but I could see something like a sepia toned “legend” that wasn’t chromed and die-cut fitting a bit more with the product stylistically.

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There are a few parallel variations in SC as well. Gold being the most common. I can’t really see the point on this one. They’re not numbered and changing the foil color doesn’t really do much for me. Foil stamping is nothing and the color of the foil is pretty arbitrary. That said, I think the Randal Grichuk card is easily one of the best photos in the set… I just have no earthly idea who Randal is.

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I also pulled a gold Brock Holt parallel, which is a nice PC addition I wouldn’t have to track down. See, I make fun of the parallels, then I would have bought them anyway. Oh the hypocrisy.

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I also pulled a black foil version of the Mark McGwire card. So. Yeah. That happened.

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Next, it actually called out the Beam Team inserts on the box as something you’re guaranteed to hit. I certainly don’t mind pulling a Bryce Harper, but I wouldn’t be heart broken to trade it for the Ortiz if I ever came across it. It is a very nice card though. One insert I don’t really mind.

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I also pulled this. I was pretty confused for a few minutes. I set it aside, finished opening the other packs and came back to it to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. Apparently there are buybacks in Stadium Club. Who knew? Cardboard Connections has no idea…

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The weird thing is that it’s not stamped, at all, with anything that would indicate this came out of a pack in the year 2016. Nothing. It’s not a reprint. It’s not stamped. It’s, as far as I can tell, a 1999 Bernie Williams Stadium Club card. Notice I said 1999. Not 1993, which were what the advertised buyback allegedly were. What the heck? What on earth is this doing in these packs? The crazy part is that its not really even worth having been bought back. It’s a common card…

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Whatever. Gift horse and all that jazz. Let’s move on.

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My final two cards were the guaranteed autos from the box. Piscotty isn’t too bad, even if he’s wearing a Cardinals uniform. He got off to a hot start but has apparently slowed down a bit. Still, he’s an interesting player to keep on the radar and a pretty good pull for an on-card RC auto. Colin Rea on the other hand, last time I checked, was actually returned to the Padres as “damaged goods” just after he was dealt in the days leading up to the trade deadline. I don’t know where that has him currently, probably rehabbing an arm somewhere. Still, two RC autos aren’t bad.

No major names or super lucky card mojo, but it was a pretty solid box. I’m not sure I would have been happy with the box at full retail price, but considering it was completely free, I’m elated. Free cards are always good, and Stadium Club is an excellent set purely from a basecard perspective. I’d love to finish all 300, but I don’t know if that’ll be happening any time soon. Excellent photography and excellent potential, another solid SC release, but just a mediocre box I’m afraid.

 

2016 Team Sets

Now that we’re finally deep enough into card season that releases are coming out every few weeks, I can catch up on my team sets. I know it’s not glamorous, a little boring, whatever you want to call it, but team sets are still my primary collecting goal. Not hits, not rookies, not individual players, but team sets themselves make up the bulk of my collecting. I also cheat and buy them rather than bust packs for them. A) I’ve never, in the history of ever, pulled all the cards I need for a set. Not once. I’m always chasing loose ends. B) It’s significantly cheaper. Buying a $12 team set and getting the exact 10, 15, 20 cards I need is considerably more economical than buying a $20 blaster and getting 2, or an $80 box and getting all but 3 (and then paying $3 each for those missing ones).

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From Sam

I’m sure most folks in the card blogging community have read that Sam, aka The Daily Dimwit, is taking a break from collecting. While many have left kind regards and well wishes to him on his blog (as well you should), I actually know Sam in real life, and can do that in person. Our wives have known each other since grade school and I met Sam, through that connection, after moving to Texas years ago. I credit him with my eventual return to the hobby. We try and meet up when we can, catch up, and usually exchange cardboard. He was in town a little while ago and, although we weren’t able to meet up this time, he left me quite the card package on my door-step. We’ll have to work out schedules and properly plan a time to hang out soon. So until I can thank him in person, a blog post in gratitude will have to suffice.

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To Sell or Not to Sell

So, per usual, this weekend we made a shopping trip to Target and per usual I’m standing in the card isle trying to find something worth buying. My Target’s card isle is usually pathetic, but this weekend they had two lonely blasters of Diamond Kings. I love Diamond Kings, I think they’re a brilliant merger of art and baseball, but $20 is a lot (for us) and I already have most of the Sox team set. I buy it anyways, because I’m weak, but we have other errands to run and I set it aside to open later. When I finally do open it, I’m suddenly glad I bought it. This was waiting for me in the first pack…

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Hey, a 3/10 isn’t bad. Duel relic, auto, but it’s for some random guy on the Diamondbacks that I’ve never heard of. Who the heck is Dansby Swanson? Meh. I put it in a top loader and go set the table for dinner.

Later that night curiosity gets the better of me. I text Sam and ask him if he knows who Swanson is. Sam is my go to baseball encyclopedia. He tells me he was the first pick in last years draft and that, “that kid is going to be a star”. Really? Hmm. Now this is getting interesting. I google him. Power position player at Vanderbuilt, star of the Collegiate National Team, drafted #1 by the Diamondbacks, signed for $6.5 million, traded to the Braves in the Shelby Miller deal. Damn. This is what I get for not paying attention to baseball news outside of my bubble.

Ok, so the kid is legit, but what is the card worth? What should I do with it. I search eBay…

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Holy crap.

Ok, so, umm, what about this Diamond Kings card in particular?

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That’s not terrible, but now I’m conflicted. $2k for a Bowman auto, which I attribute to “Bowman Mania”, and would expect to die down at some point, but only $70-ish, give or take, for a Diamond Kings auto? I guess people really undervalue those unlicensed cards, which is a shame.

So, clearly, while I would love it to be a $2,000 card, it’s not that. Although it’s 3/10, it’s not a Bowman and it’s not sparkly. At $75, give or take, it’s falling into that “Do I sell it, or hold on to it” category. For $2,000 I would have sold it in a heartbeat, I have car repairs and mortgage payments. $75 doesn’t get me anywhere in that category, and I’d just blow $75 on more cards.

The question becomes, does this card go UP in value if I hold on to it? Most cards don’t. I learned my lesson with my 1/5 Russel Wilson auto. No one wants it now, Russel Wilson is old news. Dansby Swanson however, is just starting his MLB journey. He’s playing Single-A in the Braves system and projects (according to Fangraphs) to be a 7+WAR player in the majors. He’s a shortstop with power, and we all know how rare those are. He’s easily the top prospect the Braves have, and they’ll most likely build a team around him in the coming years.

I’m at a loss as to what to do. $75 (estimate) doesn’t make me want to list this immediately and cash in. I wish the DK cards were going for more. I guess, if anything, it just removes the sense of urgency, and I can wait a little and see if an interesting offer comes around. Anyone have any advice on this one? What would you do?

How To: 2016 Topps Flagship

I should start this off by saying the easier way to do this is to take a scan of a card and simply cut out the “corner” design elements and paste them onto a photo. If you’re more inclined to do that, I’d recommend reading the first part of the tutorial and ignoring the later 2/3rds. However, if you’d like to know how to recreate the 2016 Topps design, vaguely accurately, read on.

Prerequisites: In order to complete this tutorial you’re going to need a few things…

  • Basic to moderate Photoshop knowledge.
  • Photoshop CS6 or CC (for the lens blur effects and stacking layer styles)
  • Several “grunge” and/or “water color” Photoshop brushes. Some free examples here, here and here.
  • Various metal textures and patterns, examples here.
  • A “metal hole” texture or pattern, good example here.
  • Team logo of your choice (good resolution)
  • A high-res photo of your favorite baseball player. Try Google, image search, “more options”, “larger than 4mb”.

Let’s do this!

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Tutorial Sneak Peak

It had been a while since I did a custom card tutorial, so I thought I’d break down 2016 Topps flagship and try and recreate it. I think this is a fairly accurate representation. I’m still writing up the tutorial, I’ll probably post it on Monday, but here’s what to look forward to…

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Five by Seven

I had purchased one of those oddball 5×7 cards in the past, a 1/10 Mookie Betts to be specific, but I guess I didn’t realize Topps was just going to run with the idea for pretty much every set and/or variation. They’re selling them online, usually in sets, and dealers are buying them and breaking the set into singles. Usually I avoid oddball stuff, but when a saved search comes up with something like “Mookie Betts, 10/10, 0 bids, $0.99, 10 minutes remaining” it’s kind of hard to ignore.

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There it is, 10/10 (lower left corner of the back – blue side), in all it’s “I’m never going to find a box for this” glory. Luckily the seller shipped it already in a 5×7 top-loader and inside a rigid photo mailer. Also luckily, he combined shipping…

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This one is from a “team set”, again an online exclusive. Numbered 21/49. I can actually appreciated that they didn’t go nuts printing this stuff. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a “baseball card” in the traditional sense, this is a “collectable”.

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I couldn’t help myself. I’m not even sure what set it’s from, I’m assuming it’s an “insert” from Heritage. It’s featuring Nolan Ryan, George Springer and Mike Foltynewicz. This one is #/99. All three of these were $0.99 with combined $3 shipping. Not a bad score. I figure with Nolan Ryan (and his museum where he signs things) being about a 10 minute drive, this might be a fun “card” to get signed. I wonder if I can get all three at some point. We’ll see.

Like I said, I usually don’t go crazy with things like this, but they seemed like solid pickups and the price was definitely right.

2016 Card Show – Round 2

To be honest, I had the remaining stack of cards from the card show (back in freakin’ February) sitting on my desk to be scanned until I moved them in an ill-fated attempt to “clean”. Never again. Organized chaos is my go-to from now on. Not that anyone was waiting with baited breath to see what pitiful collection of Red Sox and Astros cards I picked up two months ago, but I scanned them anyway. Organized, no. Completionist, yes.

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Two of the Big Ones

It’s not every day you get to cross two cards off your Most Wanted list. One of these is relatively new, but impossible to find. The other has been on my want-list from the very beginning.

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2016 Card Show – Round 1

Back on Valentine’s Day, my wife surprised me with a “let’s go to the card show!” day trip. We’re not big Valentine’s people, I don’t need a special day to tell my wife I love her, and the mark up on flowers is insane, so we usually keep it low key. Going with me to the card show is probably the best gift she could have given me. Not only that, she actually stood there, for hours, thumbing through dime boxes, looking for Sox cards with me. She was finding more random refractors than I was. It was really nice to have a second set of eyes (and hands) to cruise through the boxes. She’s awesome that way.

So, this is the first round of scans. I grouped them by player, just for my own scanning organizing. Round two is all the fun stuff (autos, rare finds, etc), but this is a good majority of “the rest”.

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