Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I've opened my last packs of 2013 Topps Series One.
Since I pretty much have all my base needs taken care of by now, the justification for dropping a couple bucks on a pack of the stuff just isn't there.
Plus, the people of the blogosphere have been nothing short of fantastic in helping me knock out my insert and parallel needs from Flagship.
I've recently had a few fellow members of the blogosphere volunteer to send me some of my Topps needs. They've been arriving on my doorstep all week. Almost inadvertently, those mailers have introduced me to a new type of "pack" from 2013 Topps.
Lately, I've been calling them "blogger packs".
So, what exactly are these "blogger pack" thingies?
Well, they're trade packages that are pretty much Topps-centric...but with an added hint of surprise.
As has become par for the course in the blogosphere, many of the recent mailers I've received have contained an extra little bit of extravagance.
Still, the contents this first package was one hundred percent centered around 2013 Topps. Yet it still had that element of surprise that has become commonplace during my blogging travels.
How is that possible, you ask?
We'll get to that later.
The above Clemente comes courtesy of a trade I made with Brian, author of the famous blog "Play at the Plate".
Needless to say, I think we're all happy that Brian is back and blogging at a semi-regular basis these days. I'm always excited to see him pop up in my blogroll.
I pulled the foil version of this "Chasing History" insert of Mr. Clemente in a standard retail of 2013 Topps a few weeks ago. Now, thanks to a terrific "blogger pack", the regular "base insert" version now sits happily in my binders as well.
No, I'm still not a fan of the unnecessary variations with these things.
I just find it hard to pass up anything of Roberto Clemente.
It's that simple.
The rest of Brian's "blogger pack" consisted of a few beautiful blue parallels I'd requested in the past.
From what I've seen, it seems like every other blogger besides myself lives within walking distance of a Wal-Mart. As a result, these blue-bordered beauties have become fairly plentiful around here in the blogosphere.
I've been snapping them up at a blistering pace lately. I just can't help myself.
Although Will Middlebrooks isn't that high on the list of my many player collections these days, I absolutely had to have the blue-bordered variation of his "Web Gem" 2013 Topps card.
A stunning piece of work.
In my opinion, these blue-bordered parallels work best with teams whose primary colors involve a shade of blue.
Clubs like the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Rangers, etc.
And, of course, the Cubs.
The blue frame works extremely well with Mr. Rizzo here.
So, what was it that made this "blogger pack" so special to me?
Well, to give a brief history lesson, Brian's blog was one of the ones that introduced me to the blogosphere. His posts helped inspire me to start writing stuff of my own.
Trouble was, until this package arrived on my doorstep, I'd somehow never traded with the guy.
Now, I can finally say that I have completed a swap with one of the "legends" who convinced me to join this wonderful community.
Hopefully, it's the first trade of many.
Brian's "blogger pack" proved to be my initial "break" from this past week.
I recently participated in an always-welcome "reader trade" that netted me a few of my 2013 Topps needs.
Jeff, an avid blogosphere reader and fellow Cubs fan, recently contacted me about a possible swap. If you're reading this, Jeff, I'll have your cards in the mail soon.
It was fun to dig through all my extra North Side material. Strangely enough, I hadn't made a trade with any of the Cubs collectors in the blogosphere until Jeff contacted me.
Much like Roberto Clemente, I'm not one to turn down anything of Reggie Jackson for my collection. Even it involved these "Chasing History" things.
From what I can tell, this is my first piece of the "Gold Foil" variety. If anyone out there cares about the needless variations, these come exclusive with retail hanger packs.
Me, I'm just happy with the one.
Slowly but surely, my insert needs are being whittled down by fellow members of the blogosphere.
Bloggers and readers alike.
Jeff noted that the Stargell was "a great looking card" in the email he sent me. At that point, I hadn't yet seen what all the fuss was about.
After seeing it in person, well...
I definitely concur with Jeff's statement.
You'll just have to get one for yourself if you don't believe me.
While the inserts are all fine and dandy, the real meat of the package from Jeff consisted of more awesome blue-paralleled goodness.
Although they totaled eleven in all, these were easily my two favorites.
Remember what I said about blue-bordered parallels of teams with blue-centric colors?
That's pretty much why these were my personal favorites from the bunch.
Still, while die-cut inserts and blue borders may be terrific pulls from any "blogger pack", Jeff slid a very special "insert" into his.
I am always looking to build up my oddball collection.
While it's a dream that will probably never come true, one of my pipe dreams is to acquire at least one card from every oddball set ever released.
Of course, I'm a long, long ways away from that right now.
Still, this neat Squirt issue helped me move closer to that unreachable goal. Before Jeff came along, I'd never seen or heard about these before.
Apparently, Topps issued these by way of the Squirt brand back in 1982. This magnificent card of "The Hawk" is a bit smaller than your everyday baseball card.
Now that I think of it, I can't even remember the last time I drank anything related to Squirt. It had to have been at least eight or nine years ago.
I rarely even see it around these parks.
In fact, I kind of want one now.
Well, I guess that method of product placement sure worked.
I'm not sure what the odds of pulling one of these Squirt cards in a "blogger pack" are, but I'm certainly happy with the results.
The last and final "blogger pack" I'll be featuring today comes from Mark, the mind behind the terrific blog "This Way to the Clubhouse...".
As an unquestioned "friend of the blog", Mark's name has been popping up in my trade posts at a blistering rate lately.
According to him, Mark sent this latest batch of cards as a little "birthday gift" to me.
Here I was thinking that by birthday "goods" were all but done with.
In his "blogger pack", I found a few 2013 Topps cards I'd recently requested from Mark.
From he's written lately, it sounds like both Mark and I have the same crap luck when it comes to pulling these emerald parallels of guys we collect.
Luckily for me, Mark keeps getting ones of guys I like to collect, like Mr. Isringhausen here.
"Izzy" has long warranted a spot in my binders. Because of that, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to snap up a parallel of what may go down as his "sunset" card.
At the same time, I just had to have the Aaron Hill emerald parallel that Mark recently pulled.
I'm still on the fence about whether I should slap the "double play" label onto it.
All the makings of a double dip are there. The sliding runner. The shortstop in the background. The feeble attempt by the fielder to get out of the way.
Through all of that, though, the ball is still in Aaron Hill's hand here. I'm not sure that could ever make it a true double play shot.
During the process of opening Mark's mailer, I knew there was a pretty good chance I'd see the emerald Hill inside.
The blue parallel, on the other hand, caught me completely off-guard. I'll now be able to place this pair and the base card next to each other in my Diamondbacks binder, a true moment in the sun for any binder-centric collector.
And, while the topic of blue parallels are fresh in my mind, I'd like to remind everyone out there that Mark is on a quest to build the 2013 Topps Wal-Mart set.
Hop on over to his blog and see if you can help him out with anything, will ya?
I promise you.
By no means did I search or feel or do anything to improve my odds of getting something good inside of this one.
I guess I just got a "hot pack" or something.
Because, as has become the norm with anything from Mark around here, the awesome "inserts" sure were plentiful.
Here, we have Charlie Hayes lending further credence to my "underrated" claim for 1994 Topps.
Somehow, Topps managed to turn an otherwise bleak shot of a frowning ballplayer into an absolute classic.
I don't know how, but they did.
Some people might take up a claim with "quality control" on this one.
After all, a good chunk of the cards Mark sent me were made up of a random assortment of minor league issues.
But not me. I absolutely love 'em.
The minimalist quality of most minor league cards I've seen over the years actually makes them stand out, in a way.
Often times, they feature cities that have never been mentioned on a big-league baseball card.
Besides, I am absolutely ecstatic to have a Niagara Falls-themed card in my collection. For whatever reason, I can't help but think of the old Three Stooges bit whenever I hear about Niagara Falls.
No matter what, that otherwise innocent card of career minor-leaguer Joshua Neese will always remind me of the Three Stooges.
And, if you need another reason to love minor league cards, they feature some of the greatest names you'll ever see.
If I hadn't have held the card in person, you'd have a tough time trying to convince me of Dusty Wrightsman's existence.
What the heck kind of a name is that?
Only in the minor leagues.
Again, I can't tell you what these "bespectacled ballplayer" or "pitcher at the plate" inserts are seeded at in "blogger packs".
I've had fairly good luck with pulling them recently, though.
I hear that Henke is a part of the special "psychedelic" variation series.
A few years ago, Topps featured a "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" insert set.
From what I understand, these 2013 "blogger packs" include pieces from the "Cards Your Idiot Teenager Self Traded Away" series.
I know for a fact that I had this card in my collection during my middle school years. I remember showing it off to my lone card-collecting friend at the time.
Neither of us had ever seen a card that showed a guy getting hit by a pitch before. Much less a record-setting plunking like this one.
Still, for whatever reason, I must've dealt it in one of my many forum trades back in the day. I'd assume the swap came during my brief memorabilia-crazed years, because my more recent self wouldn't have ever dreamt of letting this one go.
Thankfully, Mark allowed me to reclaim a lost part of my collection with Mr. Biggio.
He's here to stay this time.
Between the "blogger packs" from Brian, Jeff, and Mark, I'd say I did pretty well with my breaks.
The "base" 2013 cards sure were sweet, but they certainly delivered on the surprise "insert" side of things as well.
So, for all my fellow traders out there, keep an eye out for these blogosphere-exclusive "blogger packs" in the future.
They're coming to a mailbox near you.