Friday, January 31, 2014

A beginner's guide to damage

I may be on the younger end of the collecting spectrum, but I sure feel like a veteran when it comes to digging through discount boxes.

Dime, 5/$1, quarter, etc. bins are usually made up of cards that most vendors simply don't want. You're bound to find quite a few forgotten heroes in a dime box. I can't tell you how many Scott Podsedniks I've landed for loose change.

Vintage discount bins are a bit different. Most of the cards you'll find are ones that could have some so-called value to some people, if it weren't for one or multiple mutilations that make them flawed in the eyes of many.

Those "flaws" come in a variety of different forms. I won't say I've seen it all, because you literally never know what you're going to find next in the world of discount vintage. But I've seen a lot.

Many of the flaws you'll see flash back to a simpler time, a time where no one saw any kind of future cash value in their baseball cards. Kids would tape their favorite cards to their wall or a binder without a second thought.

That's probably what happened to the '65 Koufax you see above. At some point in its lifetime, a brave soul tried to pry the tape from the wall or binder to which it resided. The bottom two corners still have that vintage tape residue, but the top two weren't as lucky. Those suffered some paper loss in the process.

Such history adds quite a bit of character in my eyes. And it certainly makes things more budget-friendly.

Did I mention my '65 Koufax only cost me three bucks?

Two questions pop into my head whenever I see this card.

Why would someone rip a 1969 Topps Rico Petrocelli in half?

Maybe the person in question was a Yankees fan. Or maybe he or she really hated Rico Petrocelli. Or both.

To me, the second question is far more puzzling.

Why would someone tape it back together?

I've never been able to come up with a good answer for that one.

Your guess is as good as mine.

No, this isn't a faulty scan job.

My '56 Bobby Thomson is a special borderless parallel.

Okay, that's not entirely true. Someone just decided to lop off the edges at some point. I'm guessing it was an attempt to trim it down to the "standard" proportions that Topps started using in 1957.

I have a few other borderless vintage cards in my collection as well. It's neat to see how collectors in past generations sought to customize their cardboard.

I don't know if I could ever bring myself to do something like this, though.

Collectors in the early days of baseball cards didn't have Traded or Update sets that were released at the end of the year.

The dreaded high-numbers were as close as it got, but even those didn't cover all the bases. As a result, some decided to take things into their own hands.

An eager fan scrawled "Chicago White Sox" at the top of this '57 Ray Boone to reflect the former infielder's trade to the Windy City, even scratching out the logo on Boone's Tigers cap.

Since the swap was made in 1958, I'm guessing the "update" was made at some point during that season 56 years ago.

That's a whole lot of history right there.

A couple of my cards, for one reason or another, have holes on them.

Some look as though they were customized for pinholes, but I'm not so sure about this Brock. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what demonic fate it had to suffer through in its past. That's not where pinholes usually go.

It seriously looks like someone took a BB gun to the Hall of Fame speedster.

I don't want to know why.

This one looks downright mint compared to the other "flawed" cards I've shown thus far.

It wasn't ripped in half at one point. Its borders are fully intact. And there's not a hint of writing on it.

Still, many condition sticklers would point out Mr. Adcock's dinged corners. (Also known as "soft corners" to some.)

I can't tell you how many heavy discounts I've received on cards that have a corner flaw or two. They're really not even that noticeable.

I'll certainly put up with a few soft corners if it gets me a great "sunset" card like this one for fifty cents.

Damage isn't limited to just vintage cards, however.

A few of my more modern pieces have some fairly significant flaws. The card you see above was in a binder that I got in a garage sale lot I bought last year. (A few other cards understandably overshadowed Mr. Wilson, though.)

This fantastic "double dip" and "tatooine" piece happens to have some dreaded creasing on its surface, including an especially significant one on its right-hand side. (There's also a mysterious bit of gunk near the right hand of Carlos Baerga.)

I'm sure a lot of kids from the '50s and '60s folded up their favorite cards and put them in their pockets at some point. Hence, the creases.

That said, I'm not too sure how a 2004 Topps Jack Wilson suffered such a fate.

How could something like this happen?

I mean, how could someone let one of their cards go through the wash? What kind of feeble-minded, moronic, idiotic person would...

Oh, wait.

This one was my fault.

I've mentioned my "washer-used" 1975 George Brett rookie quite a bit on this blog. That one was a secondhand pickup from a fifty-cent box a few years ago. It's one of my most prized possessions.

However, I'll admit that I played a role in creating a few "washer-used" cards when I was younger. I think I picked out a few cool cards to show my friends at school one day and simply forgot they were in my pocket when I went to bed that night.

At some point, they went through the wash. That's probably when I discovered what I'd done. A perfectly nice "throwback" shot of Frank Thomas was now mangled.

Despite that, I still keep it in my White Sox binder to this day.

It's a great final chapter in "The Beginner's Guide to Damage".

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Repacks anonymous

I've often wondered what a baseball card addiction meeting would look like.

I always envision a dimly-lit room with a bunch of longtime collectors sitting in a circle, clutching empty rack pack wrappers and barren hobby boxes.

When it's my turn to speak, I'd get up in front of the group and introduce myself. Then the "therapy" would start.

Why are you here, Nick?

Well, I think I'm starting to develop an addiction to repacks.

Why do you get such a thrill from them?

Where do I begin?

I love peeking into the front window of a repack, getting that first sense of what might be ahead. I noticed this neat Ripken reprint staring out at me from a familiar 100-card repack at my local Target. It's a terrific oddball that hails from a limited edition set of the "Iron Man" from 2001.

I was instantly rendered powerless.

That thing had to come home with me.

Repack oddballs in general give me quite a rush.

I'm still on the fence on whether or not I consider Leaf an oddball set. I was lucky enough to pull the French-themed single of forgotten hero Dave Henderson from this repack.

For now, I tend to classify them in the oddball realm.

Part of the thrill of a repack is the number of different eras that are usually represented.

Though you're bound to pull an ungodly amount of 1988 Topps and 1989 Fleer from these things, you might just find a few cool new '80s cards for your collection.

I know these were both treasured new adds to my Dodger binders.

Perhaps you might get a few from the largely forgotten Upper Deck releases of the mid '90s.

Speaking of which...

There's a certain thrill in pulling hilariously over-the-top mid 1990's inserts as well.

The repack gods can be quite generous in this regard. Designs like these are about as '90s as it gets.

Repack gods?

Yes, there is such a thing. Didn't you know that?

After seeing cards like these, I can't help but wonder how many more wacky insert sets are out there waiting to be discovered.

Repacks always seem to result in a few new mini-collection hits as well.

Mini-collections? What the hell...

It's too long to explain. Basically, I collect any cards that feature double plays or plays at the plate. And a whole lot of other things.

I might discuss that at the next meeting.

To me, the big thrill of a repack is knowing that you can never truly know what you'll find.

Maybe, just maybe, you'll find something for your team collections. Or perhaps one of your new player collections.

That's exactly what we have here with Mr. Neshek. In a move that was far overdue, I made him a "binder guy" not too long ago. And I somehow hadn't tracked down his 2010 Topps issue yet.

The repack gods were with me.

Again with the repack gods?

I already told you.

They exist.

Did I mention how much I enjoyed oddballs?

I don't think I've told the group this yet, but I'm a Hall of Fame collector as well. You can imagine, then, how excited I was to pull this spectacular Yogi Berra, courtesy of the Nestle brand.

It's the perfect combination of Cooperstown and oddballs.

So, Nick, are you ready to tell us how much this addiction set you back last week?

Well...four dollars.

Laughter ensues.

Four dollars?! The other people here threw away thousands in the span of a few hours! One guy just opened a box of Five Star in the alley a few minutes ago! And all he has to show for it is a Shaun Marcum autograph!

Are you sure you belong here?

I guess not.

Repacks may be an addiction, but they're one I'm proud to have.

I'm out of here.

Death to the dozen

I'm not the type of person who writes a lot of things down.

Planners, appointment books, and things of that nature have never helped me. For the most part, I'm able keep and organize all my homework assignments and other various plans in my head. The ol' noodle has worked perfectly for me over the years.

Blogging has forced me to change my ways a bit. Though I used to just wing it during the early days of this blog, I now jot down future post ideas whenever they come to me. When a semi-interesting concept strikes, I don't want to forget.

Another thing I've been doing recently is writing down the names of people who have sent me letters and/or packages as of late. I do this in order to know who I need to hit with "return fire" at some point. It's my own personal hit list, if you will.

One of the more consistent assassins during my tenure here in the blogosphere has been Douglas, author of the fantastic blog "Sportscards From The Dollar Store". He recently dropped a couple PWEs on me, sparing no punches in the process.

Luckily for me, Douglas had a spare copy of this spectacular 2001 Stadium Club Pete Harnisch to donate towards my frankenset.

I think this is one of those cards that simply speaks for itself.

In one of his emails to me, Douglas asked if I needed this one.

Mr. Murray is one of ten colorized short-prints in the 2013 Panini Cooperstown checklist. I hadn't planned on chasing the SPs with too much vigor, but I'm certainly not going to pass up such an opportunity.

You gave it a good home, Douglas.

Like virtually all of his past cardboard gifts, Douglas mixed some hockey takes on a few of my mini-collections into these PWEs.

This Jeff Carter is one of the most modernized "interview" shots you'll see. I love all the different digital devices, especially the video camera in the foreground that gives the collector an odd sense of deja vu.

In fact, I count only one real, actual microphone in that shot.

Just as in baseball, hockey players also sign autographs and collect awards.

It's too bad I didn't have mini-collections during my brief days of hockey card collecting.

Douglas managed to slip in a few baseball mini-collection hits as well.

In fact, he got me to do something that I try to avoid on this blog by showing a Roger Clemens card.

To put it lightly, I'm not a fan of "Rocket". That said, I welcome this one into my collection with open arms. It is, after all, a rare example of an American League pitcher at the plate.

Even if it is Roger Clemens.

The advent of my "Dime Box Dozen" list has forced me to write a few things down recently.

Anytime I see or hear about a cool card that I don't have, I jot it down for future consideration. I have quite a long list of future "Dime Box Dozen" candidates as we speak.

Thanks to the efforts of many of my fellow bloggers (and a few impulse buys), I've had to consult that list quite a bit lately. I'd have to go back and check, but I think Douglas (a.k.a. "The Assassin") has hit more "Dime Box Dozen" needs than anyone else.

Exhibit A is the Al Leiter you see above. Upper Deck managed to take something as mundane as a sacrifice bunt and make it beautiful. That's a big reason why I made it a "Dime Box Dozen" need.

It's one of the better "pitcher at the plate" specimens I've come across in some time.

Number two on Douglas's "Dime Box Dozen" hit list was this '84 Topps All-Stars Manny Trillo.

When I initially put this one on my sidebar, I didn't have any cards of the former infielder as an Indian. I now have two, as Trillo's 1983 Topps Traded issue recently found its way into my collection as well.

Douglas didn't stop there, though.

His third and final "Dime Box Dozen" hit was this '82 Topps Gary Carter.

It lasted all of about a day on my sidebar before Douglas knocked it out.

While doing a little research, I noticed that I had every solo Topps card of "The Kid". Every one, that is, except his 1982 Topps issue. So, when Douglas hit this need, he completed my Gary Carter "Topps set".

Though I've mentioned it on this blog before, a "Topps set" is getting one of every Flagship card a player had issued during his career.

Multi-player cards, like Carter's rookie (which I don't yet own) are optional. As are "in-action" issues or any other subsets. Traded cards, however, are needed for my official "Topps sets". And I have all of Carter's.

One of these days, I'm going to go through my binders and see just how many "Topps sets" I've completed thus far.

Hey, that's not a bad idea for a future post.

I should probably write that one down.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hello, 2014: The top ten

I hope you're not sick of 2014 Topps yet.

This will be the last post on them for a while, I promise. 

What I featured yesterday was just a general overview of the latest and greatest product. Tonight, we'll be taking a look at my top ten pulls from my 2014 Topps extravaganza.

I should note, however, that I did end up taking a trip to Wal-Mart yesterday to pick up four more rack packs of the stuff. The purchase was almost entirely covered by a Christmas gift card I received. 

Let's just say that I was really glad I didn't have to put much of my own money into those rack packs. Someone in Topps's quality control department needs to get it together. 

I pulled some nice inserts and an obnoxious number of parallels (though the green Puig you see above is a nice keeper), but almost all the base cards I got were doubles. 

Between Target and Wal-Mart, I bought a total of three hanger boxes and five rack packs yesterday. And I counted at least 44 sets of doubles, triples, or quadruples. That's not a typo. Fourty-four. Quality control, my ass.

Given that debacle, I still need a whole bunch of base help. I recently posted my 2014 needs on the sidebar if anyone wants to cook up a trade. I also have quite a bit of extras available thanks to the so-called "quality control".

Enough about that, though.

Let's get cheerful.

#10 -- 2014 Topps #301 Shane Victorino

We start off with the "Flyin' Hawaiian" himself, Shane Victorino.

I noticed quite a few acrobatic shots from the cards I pulled, but this one was my absolute favorite. I've come to love the "crowd factor" on cardboard, as looking at the number of different reactions on the fans in the backdrop is becoming an enjoyment of mine.

Plus, we don't get to see "Pesky Pole" territory too often in this hobby.

#9 -- 2014 Topps #185 Howie Kendrick

As I mentioned yesterday, 2014 Topps features a whole bunch of neat celebration shots.

Some would argue that it's simply been too much of a good thing with these types of cards during the last couple years.

Personally, I don't think it's possible to overdose on celebrations. They've resulted in quite a few jaw-dropping singles lately. I pulled quite a few good ones, but this Kendrick was my absolute favorite.

Maybe I'm just easy to please, but I will fully support any future celebrations Topps chooses to produce.

#8 -- 2014 Topps #224 Michael Saunders

Mr. Saunders is the lone non-"binder guy" to make this list.

In fact, he beat out a beauty from last year in one of the toughest frankenset decisions I've ever had to make.

Like a lot of other bloggers, I'm a sucker for dugout shots. This is one of the better ones I've seen in years.

Granted, I'm not exactly sure what's going on here, but it looks like Saunders and his Mariner teammates are enjoying themselves.

#7 -- 2014 Topps #72 Michael Young

If you're looking at aesthetics alone, this was probably one of the worst cards I pulled yesterday.

It's not a particularly pleasing shot of Michael Young, and it's not much different from a number of cards that have been produced over the years.

However, this is a prime example of when the uniform takes charge. Young was dealt to the Dodgers late in the 2013 season, too late to have a card in Update.

He's currently a free agent, and there have been rumblings about a possible retirement. I was starting to worry that we'd never see a card of Michael Young as a Dodger.

Thankfully, 2014 Topps saved the day.

If it doesn't wind up being a "sunset" card, it'll most certainly feature a wildly unfamiliar uniform from Young's Rangers-dominated career.

#6 -- 2014 Topps #14 Yoenis Cespedes

Though I didn't get the one A's card I really wanted, this Cespedes was a nice consolation prize.

A quick glance at the 2014 Topps checklist reveals a ton of sweet, sweet throwbacks. I was quite ecstatic when this one fell out of my hanger box.

I'm no uniform expert, but I believe all MLB teams wore those logo patches to commemorate baseball's centennial in 1969. What we're seeing here, then, is a blinding 1969 Oakland A's throwback. I'm all for the A's bringing these back full-time in 2014.

Was it the best throwback of the bunch, though?

#5 -- 2014 Topps #183 Darwin Barney

Not quite.

I have to give the nod to my Cubbies here. They sported these awesome 1909 throwbacks in a midseason game against the Mariners last year. (Luis Valbuena is also featured in throwback mode in 2014.)

Like celebrations, I'm not sure I can ever be fed up with throwbacks.

#4 -- 2014 Topps #274 Jonny Gomes

People dropped big bucks on the uber-short printed "Boston Strong" cards in 2013.

Topps did us tight-budgeted collectors a favor this year, though. The "Boston Strong" jerseys make an appearance on Jonny Gomes's terrific horizontal 2014 Topps single.

And, yes, it's a regular ol' common. No more of that short-printing business.

Speaking of the Sawx...

#3 -- 2014 Topps #259 David Ortiz WS

I think it's safe to say that David Ortiz is a Boston icon at this point.

His 2013 postseason was one of the baseball's better playoff efforts ever. I don't know that I've ever seen a more dominant performance.

Backed by "Big Papi", the Red Sox won it all last year. In a World Series-clinching celebration shot, Ortiz is seen here sporting a huge army-like helmet that made quite a few appearances in the 2013 postseason.

You're still the man, Papi.

#2a -- 2014 Topps #17 Todd Helton
#2b -- 2014 Topps #253 Todd Helton HL

I couldn't help but cheat here.

Topps gave Todd Helton not one, but two cards in this year's Flagship checklist. Since I couldn't choose between them, both made the list. I didn't think he'd get any, to tell you the truth.

While I'm not usually a fan of a player making multiple appearances in a single set, I can make an exception for Mr. Helton.

His standard base card (appropriately at #17 in the checklist) features full career stats on the back, something that's a huge plus when it comes to the world of "sunsets".

As an added bonus, Topps also gave Helton a spectacular "Highlights" issue, one that shows his final farewell from the National Pastime.

What could top those?

#1 -- 2014 Topps #42 Mariano Rivera

I think we have an early candidate for "Card of the Year" here.

When I'm opening a pack of cards, I don't usually linger. I zip through my pulls fairly quickly, waiting until after all is said and done to really start absorbing what I landed.

With this one, though, I stopped and stared for a solid minute or so. That's pretty much unheard of with my pack-busting rituals.

Then again, "sunset" cards as great as this one are pretty much unheard of in this hobby.

Like Helton, I didn't think Mariano Rivera would be featured in 2014. But, lo and behold, here he is with full career stats on the back.

In a staggeringly awesome horizontal shot, "Mo" is seen here doing what he did better than anyone else in his career. Coming in from the bullpen to save the day.

I guess it's fitting that he goes out that way.

I can honestly say that this is one of the better "sunset" cards in my collection.

You knocked this one out of the park, Topps.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 Topps Series 1: Changing strategies

The dawn of the new card season is here, my friends.

No matter your feelings towards Topps, I'm sure most of us will admit that it's nice to see 2014 products hitting the shelves. It's one of our first reminders of the fast-approaching baseball season.

Me, I'm admittedly still a Topps devotee. I may not agree with everything they do, but when all is said and done, I still get excited over quite a few of their products.

Flagship is by fair their most consistent source of pleasure. To me, there are few better feelings than seeing those new cards hit the shelves at the beginning of every year. Even wind chills in the deep negatives couldn't stop me from making that walk across the street to my local Target.

I think I was the first one in my area to get a glimpse of these things. All the rack packs, blasters, and hanger boxes appeared to be fully stocked. In a purchase that was largely funded by a Christmas gift card, though, I changed my strategy a little bit.

Last year, I went a little blaster-crazy with Flagship. After looking at the numbers, however, an epiphany hit me. If you're mostly in this thing for the base cards (which I am), then you're really not getting the most bang for your buck out of blasters.

The five-dollar rack pack (36 cards) and three 10-dollar hanger boxes I bought (72 cards each) kick the tar out of what I would've gotten with a blaster. (Blasters contain eight 10-card packs and a special manu-patch.)

So, for thirty-five bucks, I netted a grand total of 252 cards. For five dollars more, two 20-dollar blasters would've landed me a total of 160 cards, plus two manu-patches, which I honestly don't care much about anyways.

It looks like I may be abandoning the world of blasters for good.

Hanger boxes and rack packs are great for your first buys of a given product.

Yes, they're mostly comprised of base cards, but they also give a nice sample of inserts and parallels as well. Perhaps not as many as you'd get from loose packs or a blaster, but a good mix nevertheless.

Let's begin with the parallels.

Things picked up right where they left off in 2013 with these Target Red parallels.

Nifty, but not as great as last year.

The serial-numbered golds are back in 2014, as usual.

Those neat ruby parallels appear to have taken the place of last year's emeralds. I'm always open to a nice dosage of shiny.

Again, though, I think I liked 2013's emeralds better.

And then there's these.

If you didn't believe it before, I don't think there's any denying it now.

Topps is officially overdosing on parallels. They added not one, but at least two new borders in 2014. Neither are serial-numbered, and I have a suspicion they're both retail-exlcusive.

This is just overkill, Topps. Do we really need green parallels? Do we really need ye...

Okay, I didn't want to admit this, but I actually think the yellow parallels are kind of cool. They bring out the '91 Fleer in me.

They're still overkill, though.

But cool.

But overkill.


I don't know what to feel.

I figured I'd get this out of the way now before we look at the inserts.

I pulled a jersey card from my rack pack.


Speaking of overkill, let's take a look at these.

The theme of 2014 Topps appears to be some sort of "The Future Is Now" campaign, which explains the Miller.

While it's hard to see with the foil-drenched Fielder, Topps also launched a very Upper Deck-ish "Upper Class" series in this year's Flagship. I think it's just a way to give the big names even more cards, which, of course, is what we all want.

Or at least what Topps thinks we all want.

Between parallel overkill and throwaway inserts, I'm sick of being negative.

Let's take a look at the upside of 2014 Topps, shall we?

I'll admit, I was skeptical when I first heard about the concept of these '89 minis late last year. I didn't think they'd be able to compete with the '87 or '72 minis that Topps has produced these last couple years.

After pulling a couple of these in-person, though, I'll hold up my hand and say that I was wrong for assuming that these would be inferior. They're not. They're rather neat.

Heck, they're not just neat. They're awesome.

It might be a little tough to tell from the scan, but these aren't your basic minis. They're actually die-cut minis. The little ribbon at the bottom juts out beyond the card's standard rectangular borders.

I was lucky enough to pull a couple good ones with "cover boy" Mike Trout and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Tom Glavine.

I'm definitely looking forward to picking up more of these throughout the year.

I think Topps has another good thing going with these "Super Veteran" inserts as well.

They're an obvious homage to the 1983 subset of the same name, though this year's edition is just different enough to make things interesting.

Much like Topps did in '83, I enjoy the black-and-white/color split photography. The 2014 renditions, however, have a nice glossy finish to them.

Understandably, we get caught up in a lot of the All-Star, MVP, and Triple Crown hype that guys like Miguel Cabrera get.

Sometimes, we forget that they were once starry-eyed rookies, just like everyone else.

Now, though, let's get to the real meat of the Flagship bone.

The base cards.

They're the reason I made the switch from blasters to hangers, after all. Above all else, I wanted to sample more of the base cards.

Yes, there is something to be said about busting open an actual pack, as opposed to the plastic-wrapped brick that comes out of a hanger box. But, in the end, it's all about the cards. And you simply get more of them out of a hanger.

Had I went the blaster route, perhaps I wouldn't have pulled this laughable "made you look" Jayson Werth.

In accordance with just about every other review I've read about 2014 Topps, I'm not huge on the base design.

It's almost perfectly average, and perhaps a little too Bowman-esque for my liking. I think it's a big step back from the stellar 2013 design. Kudos to Topps for fitting "Diamondbacks" into that teeny-tiny allotted space, though.

Still, that doesn't mean these don't have their high points. I do like the fact that Topps included positions on the fronts, something that they haven't done since 2011.

In terms of overall designs of the decade, 2011 and 2013 are at the top of the mountain for me.

After getting good look at this year's Flagship, I'd put 2014 ahead of 2012, but just behind 2010.

Overall, it's hard to tell one Flagship back from another these days.

But, if you look hard enough, you'll find something that sets 2014 apart from the rest of the pack. Check out that stat column on the far right.


Topps actually included WAR (Wins Above Replacement) on their card backs this year. I remember hearing rumblings about this a couple months ago, but I'd completely forgotten about it until I checked the back of this Beltre.

I don't know how to feel about this. It reeks of gimmickiness, but, then again, it's a worthy effort to cater to the sabermetric baseball fan.

It'll certainly piss off the "traditionalists" in this hobby.

Update is usually where the latest and greatest rookies are found, but Series 1 has a few good ones to show off.

That's Xander Bogaerts's first Flagship card, I believe. I recently added him to my list of "binder guys". With a name like Xander, I didn't really have a choice.

I also like that Topps brought back the "Future Star" label, even if it does come in the form of unscannable silver foil.

It's a nice flashback to the late '80s, a time when many of today's collectors were first getting into the hobby.

I get the feeling that I've seen these before.

That's because I basically have.

Fellow blogger Johnny beat Topps to the punch by including both of these terrific shots in his spectacular "2013 Quarry Unlimited" checklist.

I like them a lot better on Johnny's design.

Topps has certainly upped their game in the photography department these last few years.

I'm happy to report that the trend is continuing here in 2014. I found great shots all over the place, and a bunch of them fit snugly into my many mini-collections.

These are a couple nice "double dip" and "throwback" hits. About half of the White Sox cards I pulled featured those 1980's softball-ish throwbacks.

I have a soft spot for the whole "jersey number on the pant leg" thing.

I'm rather fond of that "play at the plate" shot on the McCann.

I can't help but wonder if the placement of the Topps logo on that one was intentional, as it appears right where the nameplate would be on Gregor Blanco's uniform. That is, if the Giants' home jerseys had names on the back.

Like last year, there are celebrations abound in 2014 Topps.

The "Gatorade shower" fad might be wearing out its welcome, but I'd be lying if I didn't say they made for neat photos.

While it might not be on par with last year's release, there's still a lot of reasons to celebrate 2014 Topps.

Although I rather enjoyed a lot of the cards I showed tonight, I will say that none of them were amongst the top ten I pulled from my initial 2014 breaks.

More on that coming soon.

Until then, I can definitively say that I'll be buying more in the future. Heck, I still have a Wal-Mart gift card burning a hole in my pocket as we speak.

After all, Flagship is still the cheap, fun product we've all come to know during our hobby careers. 

I don't see that changing anytime soon.