Friday, May 31, 2019

2019 Topps Big League Baseball Hobby Box

I really like this year's Big League Baseball and decided to go all in on a hobby box.  At just under $30 I'm happy I did.  The design with the flag and wood grain make for a really nice design.  Add in plenty of great and fun photos and this is a win.
The Caricature inserts are fun.
Great concept with the Wall Climber inserts.
The Nicknames inserts have the added bonus of the Player's Weekend jerseys.  Some of the photos show the back of the jersey with their nicknames on them.
I think I pulled every Yelich in the set which of course is a good thing.  Love the jersey he is sporting on this Blast Off insert of his.
These are the two numbered cards I pulled - an Artist's Rendition (#/50) and Rainbow Parallel.(#/100).  Parallels are OK but I don't overly excited about them.  Of course if either was a Mike Trout I'd probably be singing a different tune.
I really like the Award Winners subset though a photo of the trophy or the name of the award they were winning on the front of the card would be nice.  I love how the relievers on the Stats Kings cards are showing such emotion in their photos.  Alex Gordon bubble gum photo while sliding - awesomeness.
Some gold parallels and all three are cool photos with the excitement from Stephen Piscotty, the nice throwback Brewers uni, and some fun with the mascot and Ozzie Albies.
I really like the Highlights cards.  They point out cool happenings throughout the season.  The Brock Holt highlight is for him hitting for the first ever post season cyle last year.

I was happy with my pull.  This is a meaty 400 card base set so you won't get every big name but there's also a chance you'll see them in the inserts or subsets.  This was a fun rip thanks to the great photos and design.  I'll show off more cards over the weekend but this should give you a decent showing of the set.

Most have seen this Mookie Betts card in the Big League Baseball promotional material but it really is a good photo. 

240 – Total Cards
24 – Gold
16 – Stat Kings
14 – RC
10 – Highlights
6 – Award Winners
6 – Wall Climbers
6 – Blast Off
6 – Nicknames
6 – Star Caricature Reproduction
1 – Rainbow Foil #/100
1 – Artist Rendition #/50

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Random Wax: 2018-2019 Donruss Basketball

The NBA Finals start today so let's look at a pack of 2018-2019 Donruss basketball.  Definitely not the most exciting pack I've ever busted but it did include this great photo of John Collins, great young PF for the Atlanta Hawks.
 Not only is there an outstanding free agent pool this year that includes D'Angelo Russell but where Mike Conley ends up will also be a talking point this offseason.  Memphis could grab their PG of the future with the #2 pick while looking to trade Conley.  I'm hoping Victor Oladipo can come back from his injury and play well again for the Pacers.  He was a nice surprise for Indiana in the Paul George trade.
The Timberwolves weren't any good this year so you didn't hear Karl-Anthony Towns' name much but he was as great as ever.  My 2nd Moritz Wagner card after just pulling my first in last week's Hoops pack.  Jerry West was so good - the dude could score on a level that is just amazing.  I think he'd be on a whole other level in today's NBA.
More solid players in Dennis Smith Jr., now of the Knicks, and Jrue Holiday, soon to be teammate of Zion Williamson.  Zach Collins looking much more comfortable than he did on his Hoops card Saturday.
This is a very solid pack, just didn't have any of the top 10 guys that get ya excited when you open a pack.  Won't deter me though.  The design is solid and I'll probably grab more at sometime.

Tough seeing this all-time great leave the game.  I always liked him and how couldn't you like this guy?  Great player and a good guy.  Always liked what I saw from Dirk Nowitzki.

30 – Total Cards
6 – Rated Rookie
1 – Winner
1 – Retired Great
1 – Court Kings

Monday, May 27, 2019

NBA Finals Look - Golden State Warriors @ Toronto Raptors

Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals is a good match up to me.  I thought Milwaukee may be a little deeper but Toronto is an excellent defensive team and is as well on offense.  That said they'll play the juggernaut that is the Warriors.  Toronto does have have home court and we aren't sure where Kevin Durant is with his injury.  I love Kawhi Leonard and he's shown he is the beast we thought he was in this year's playoffs.  I'm not putting my money on Toronto yet but I really think they can give Golden State a good series which is all we can ask for.  And if a few breaks go there way maybe Canada sees their first NBA Championship.  I think the key will be the first few games when the Raptor will play at home and the Warriors may or may not have KD.  No matter how seasoned a team is, going down 2-0 in a best of seven is tough.  We just saw the Raptors recover winning four straight over Milwaukee but that isn't the norm.  Nor is Golden State.  They are so talented on offense and defense it is tough to see them losing.  They were down against Portland in game after game but just shook it off to come back in each game.  I'll take the Warriors in six games but would love to see Kawhi and Toronto take home the Championship.      

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Random Wax: 2018-2019 Hoops

Andre Iguodala on a "Get Out of the Way" insert seemed appropriate way of starting this 2018-2019 Hoops basketball post.  Golden State is headed to their fifth straight Finals appearance and it'd be hard to bet against them no matter who faces them from the East.  I've busted quite a bit of these cards and the design and inserts keeps me coming back.  
  I pulled a Trail Blazer!  Who is no longer in the playoffs...  Zach Collins doesn't look in his element dribbling the ball that's for sure.  I'm a fan of the Lights Camera Action cards and pulling a LeBron James is nice even if it is in an outdated uni he's wearing.
  My overall pull was OK.  LeBron was definitely the headliner though Wiggins, Beal and Gasol are very good players in their own right.  
Hard to root against a guy like Stephen Adams.  He's from Australia, has the tats and the hair bun.  My first Moritz Wagner (Michigan U.) card.  Whoo hoo!  Fun pack and I wouldn't bet against seeing more some time in the future.

30 – Total Cards
5 – RC
1 – Hoops Tribute
1 – Lights Camera Action
1 – Get Out of the Way
1 – Class of 2018
1 – Teal Explosion Parallel

Friday, May 24, 2019

Random Wax: 2017 Score Football

I haven't opened any 2017 Score football since they first came out so it was a nice surprise finding a discounted pack.  It was a fun break though I do have to say I was thinking it was a bit lackluster until I saw this Patrick Mahomes rookie.  He makes the pack though there is also a few good inserts.  
Again my pull was not overly exciting.  Adrian Peterson is definitely the best non-rookie base card I pulled and I'm always happy to see him in a pack.
I do really like the throwback Drive Team insert with PC guy John Elway.  That was a nice surprise.  I really don't like the Steelers' bumble bee unis but I like that Roethlisberger card for some reason.
Defensive backs don't get a lot of love on inserts so the No Fly Zone cards are a nice way of showcasing the defensive backfield stars around the league.
I get New Orleans wore all white for their color rush game but I would think the all color unis would be much better options for the Color Rush cards.  This card has too much white in it for my taste.  Overall a fun pack and I hope and I can find more of these.

40 – Total Cards
6 – RC
2 – Red Parallel
2 – Signal Callers
2 – Drive Team
2 – Big Man on Campus
1 – Huddle Up
1 – No Fly Zone
1 – Fantasy Stars
1 – Standout Numbers
1 – Hype
1 – Color Rush
1 – NFL Draft
1 - Retired Greats
1 – Scorecard Parallel

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Trail Blazers Swept by Warriors - Offseason Starts Now

As a fan of the Portland TrailBlazers the Western Conference Finals were so hard to watch.  As much as Portland struggled I do know that Golden State is just a elite team.  They showed it over and over on both ends of the court.  But even with that knowledge how Portland lost, losing big leads in three of the four games, is a hard pill to swallow.  Watching Portland and their stars start strong but fade in the second half, or in the case of last night the 4th quarter, you have to ask why.

No matter how poorly the series went the Trail Blazers did have a great year behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.  Getting better will be tough this offseason.  Enes Kanter, Seth Curry, Rodney Hood, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jake Layman (restricted) are all free agents and Portland will only have about $5.7M to spend which means they’ll be largely a non-factor in free agency.  They need scoring at forward but I doubt the money they’ll have available will be able to net them much of an upgrade.

So barring a trade of consequence it seems they’ll just need to get better internally.  This is possible.  When contrasting Golden State’s and Portland’s offense during the series the difference was jarring.  Golden State’s offense is constantly in motion and pushing the ball while Portland ended up with the ball in one guy’s hands trying to create while others did little.  And when the ball did get into the hands of players not named Lillard or McCollum they were tentative and indecisive.  Those things can be taught.  Many Warriors role players look really good – partly due to playing next to great players – but also because of the offense in my opinion.  Defense is also something that can definitely improve. 

We’ll see where the offseason goes but this really was a good year.  Portland was the #3 seed in the tough Western Conference and made the Conference Finals for the first time since 2000.  I’ve watched more of the Trail Blazers this post season than ever before and it has been fun.   I can’t wait to see what next year brings.  Maybe some of the young talent like Zach Collins, Anfernee Simmons or even Gary Trent can make a difference next season.  You just never know.      

Monday, May 20, 2019

Random Wax: 2018-2019 Contenders Basketball

The playoffs have not been kind to my Portland Trail Blazers who are on the brink of elimination at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.  I have watched a ton of NBA playoffs this year and it really has been fun to watch outside of this last Portland series.  That has put me on a NBA kick with cards so I grabbed another pack of the 2018-2019 Contenders basketball which is a brand I like.  My other team, the Atlanta Hawks grabbed Trae Young in a 2018 draft day trade with Dallas for Luka Doncic and draft picks.  Young started out slowly and I was worried this was going to blow up on them but he averaged 24.7 points per game and 9.2 assists after the all-star break shooting 44% overall and 34% from the arc.  Wow.  Atlanta has a budding star in this guy and I'm hoping with the 8th and 10th players in this year's draft this year they can do more to improve the team.
Fricking fracking Warriors! <simulated angry face emoji>
This set offers plenty of stars in each pack.  Khris Middleton and the Bucks look so good in the East.  Dirk Nowitzki played his final season this year.  Truly an all-time great and really changed how we look at big men in the sport.  Horford is a PC guy for me.  
Where Kemba Walker lands this off-season is huge.  He is a stud at point guard.  I hope he stays in Charlotte but it is so hard to say nowadays.  
J.J. Redick and Tobias Harris (traded to Philly) will be heavily regarded free agents in what will be a star studded 2019 NBA free agency period the likes of which the sport has probably never seen before.  We'll see how many players actually change teams but the names alone are enough to make any team or fan swoon.  Nikola Jokic (below) really had a coming out party during the playoffs this season.  For a big he has all the tools you want.  This was a fun pack and I'm sure I'll go back to it as opportunities allow. 
22 – Total Cards
1 – Winning Tickets
1 – Hall of Fame Contenders
1 – Lottery Ticket
1 – Game Ticket Green Parallel

Saturday, May 18, 2019

2019 Topps Big League Baseball w/Artist's Rendition

After seeing everyone else open packs of these 2019 Topps Big League Baseball I had to go out and grab a pack.  I really like these cards.  The design is so much better than the 2018 Topps Big League Baseball which I'm not fond of.  The flag and wood grain highlight give us a simple but cool front for the cards.  Honestly I could see this as a successful flagship look.
I did buck the odds and pulled an Artist Rendition #/50 of Ehire Adrianza.  While Adrianza is a journeyman I had never heard of it is still a fun card to pull.
 I think the photos are great and there are a few that aren't just the standard baseball shots.  I really like the Miguel Cabrera card.  He just looks like he is having fun and it shows him in the field.
The Stat Kings is one of the gold parallels in my pack.  Nice photo on the Kiko Goodrum card.
These inserts are all pretty nice.  The Wall Climbers is a great concept and the Nicknames cards are really fun.
This set has a 400 card base set which is twice the size of Opening Day which is also a good option for the low end of the baseball collecting spectrum.  So plenty more cards to pull here for those wanting more than just the stars.  I'm very happy with this this year's set and I'm very close to pulling the trigger on a hobby box.  

Another photo that stood out to me.  Between the alternate diamondback logos and non-jersey this is pretty cool.

30 – Total Cards
1 - RC
3 – Gold Parallels
2 – Stat King
1 – Blast Off!
1 - Highlights
1 – Nicknames
1 – Wall Climbers
1 – Artist Rendition #/50

Friday, May 17, 2019

Random Wax: 2019 Score Football

I enjoyed these 2019 Score football cards so another pack was in order.  I'm still liking what I see.  It'll be interesting to see how Kyler Murray does in Arizona.  After the whole Oakland A's reversal there is a lot of pressure on him and the Cardinals.  I hope he does well and this is a red parallel NFL Draft of his.
 I won't say my pull was packed with stars but it was solid.  There are 440 cards in the base set including 110 rookies so why those just looking for big names might be disappointed from time to time others will like the expansive checklist.
Thanks to MJ on Twitter for making me smarter on Epix cards and their Pinnacle history.  He shared some photos of Epix cards from years past and they were great looking cards.  Always fun to learn the history of cards.  While I liked the Captains insert from my first pack but this one isn't wowing me as much.  Jury is still out.
  Again - are those really Chargers' throwbacks anymore?  That's a great photo on Nick Chubb's All-Hands insert.  He's not a name that comes to mind with "All-Hands" but the photo tells the story. 
As always rookies are a big part of this set and love seeing players from Georgia and Michigan in their college unis on wax.  I begrudgingly added Duayne Haskins <shivers>. 
Another fun pack and I don't think this will be the last you'll see of this set on the blog.

40 – Total Cards
7 – RC
3 – Red Parallels
3 – NFL Draft
2 - Epix
2 - Captains
2 – Signal Caller
1 – Throwbacks
1 – All-Hands
1 – Celebration
1 – Fantasy Stars