Diamond Kings

When I saw the initial “preview” of Diamond Kings a couple months ago I thought I could safely ignore it as a product I didn’t really have any interest in. Then I saw the checklist. Then I saw it in person. Now I’m all in. I love these cards. They are awesome. Panini has done an exceptional job with these.

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Recently Acquired

I was going to say “What I’ve Been Buying Lately”, but that’s George’s thing, and I didn’t want to sound like I was ripping that off. Quite honestly, this spring has been absolutely boring. With the exception of Gypsy Queen, which I’m on the fence about, and Diamond Kings, which I’ve loving, there hasn’t been anything to really get excited about. Bowman is boring this year, I can’t actually find any USA Baseball or Prizm for that matter, and nothing else interesting gets released until Ginter in July. I was going to pick up some Americana, but then I saw the checklist was mostly hollywood stars and musicians and kind of tuned out. So, random single cards with combined shipping was the order of the spring.

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My Fantasy Team by the Cards

Last Saturday our Card Bloggers Fantasy League drafted. I thought it would be a fun little side project to try and put together a “team set” for my fantasy team this year, the Texas Penal League All-Stars, with cards I had sitting around. I’m short by one, but that’s mostly because I pulled these from stacks I have sitting around my office, and I didn’t dive into any boxes just yet.

So, let’s see how the ol’ fantasy team stacks up this year…

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2015 Series Uno

I don’t think I ever bothered to post my Series 1 team set, or my impressions on the design. To say I’m a bit behind is an understatement. Honestly, there just hasn’t been all that much to excite me this winter regarding baseball cards. I knew what Series 1 was going to look like back in the fall, when Topps previewed the design. It’s different, it doesn’t have a white border, it’s generally not terrible. Oddly enough I find myself looking for the “foil” versions and they’ve seemingly limited them quite a bit. No super shiny odd-colored parallels, which is a good thing. Just a “rainbow” version which is very lightly chromed. I think they’re going to exploit the ever living heck out of that fact for Chrome this year, but that’s to be expected.

I think what I was most put off by was that my team set wasn’t really complete. It’s not the fault of the seller I purchased it from, although they did the same thing for Heritage and it’s a bit more aggravating, but they compiled an incomplete set and peddled it as a “Master Set”. Again, it’s mostly Topps fault. You can’t really pre-sell something that you don’t know what the contents are going to be. In this case, it’s hard to sell a set when Topps doesn’t give you a checklist. My set was missing two inserts (one unannounced and one retail exclusive) that I had to hunt down after the fact.

Normally, hunting for a card is half the fun. It’s the “sport” of collecting. If something is hard to find it’s more of a satisfaction once you find it. In this case however, they’re just inserts, cheap ones at that. The “fun” aspect of tracking them down is replaced with frustration that I have to do it in the first place. “Have to” is also relative. No one forces us to find these cards. I believe there’s a little “completionist” in all of us that needs these cards, but even that little voice needs to occasionally shut up.

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It’s not a bad set. The design is interesting. I like the texture it has. It’s also has quite a few rookie cards. I don’t remember another year where there were five or more Red Sox RCs in Series 1. I guess that’s what happens when you blow up the roster at the trade deadline and bring up half of the AAA team. A lot of guys get their required games to be considered rookies.

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I love the photo on JBJ’s card. I have my doubts that he’ll start the year in the Majors, my money is firmly in the Mookie Betts camp, but it’s an awesome card regardless.2015_Topps_Series1_Boston_Set_04

Inserts time. I don’t quite understand how Cespedes is “Inspired Play” and was “inspired by” Jim Rice. The highlights cards are kind of plain, they’re just filler.

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Again, I’m not getting the “archetypes” cards. I could think of about 20 other players besides Cespedes who exemplify the Red Sox and who’s playing style is an “archetype” for others. Yaz, Fisk, Rice, I could go on. The “Gallery of Greats” was one that I had to track down. Hobby only. I would have assumed that it would have been in my “Master Set” seeing as how I’m paying for “All the Inserts”, but apparently I’m wrong. People need to work on their definition of “master set”. I like the idea of the “Free Agent 40”, but the explanation of the insert set is a little weird. “Free Agent 40 (15 cards, 1:8) looks at some of the biggest signings over the last four decades.” Ok, I get that, but “40” makes it sound like either the players are 40 years old, or there are 40 players in the set. I guess alliteration trumps logic.

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Here’s the last card I had to track down. Retail only. A little “ESPN” feeling with the “techno-border”, but a neat insert set in general. Like GQs “Glove Stories” in a way. This one was also not in my master set, despite the seller opening both retail and hobby cases. On the upside, these weren’t exactly hard to find. While I was at it, I also picked up a couple of the relics from Series 1…

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There’s a couple others out there as well, I forget if there are 4 or 5 on the checklist. I’m not terribly concerned with plain swatches these days, especially when they can be picked up for $0.99. I’m sure I’ll get some more eventually, but these two seemed like a good start.

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Lastly, from the same seller, they had some of the “Spring Fever” cards as well. I was able to pick up the Ortiz and the Pedey, but they were all out of the Hanley Ramirez card. I’ll have to track that down, begrudgingly.

 

Cards from AJ

Last week, right at the height of my fever and coughing, I got a package in the mail. I wasn’t expecting anything, my eBay bids had all run dry, it was completely out of the blue. AJ, the Lost Collector, had dropped me a package and it completely made my day. Out of nowhere, he sent me a whole collection of Sox cards, with an emphasis on the large father…

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Just look at that. Three refractors, two Chromes and MINIS! His note said “Hope you need a few of these”. Dude, I needed all of them!

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He even followed it up with another refractor, this time for ManRam, two Topps Flagship Minis and a sweet Yaz mini to boot.

AJ, these are awesome. They totally made my day when I was super sick. I don’t know when I’ll send it, but a return bomb of epic cardboard has your name all over it.

Traded

So, I’m a bit late with the Jon Lester pity party. Actually, there’s not that much pity to throw around. If the Red Sox were truly serious they would have offered him an appropriate contract last spring. They were looking to be cheap, thought he might take a discount, and misread the free agent market. It happens. I really liked Lester. He’s a solid pitcher, a top of the rotation guy, and he’ll be missed. There’s no ill will against the Cubs either. Theo threw “crazy money” at him and it worked. The Cubs needed someone. They desperately needed a face for the franchise and now they have it. I wish Lester and the Cubs all the luck in the world.

That said, we need to move on. Pitching needs to be acquired. As much as I want to believe in each and every prospect, you certainly can’t start the season with Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and 3 guys from AAA. There were also the other problems that needed addressing. Will Middlebrooks’ performance, too many outfielders, etc.

So far, Cherrington seems to be maintaining the trust of the Fenway Faithful. He’s made moves that, for the most part, have made sense. He’s bolstered the infield, added a few key bats, and started the rebuilding process with the rotation. Let’s take a look at the players who’ll be changing zip codes.

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