Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset Bracket: Bevacqua Region

Last week's votes are in!

#9 (Page 23) -- 1960 Topps #204 Ryne Duren (26 votes)


#16 (Page 49) -- 1996 Upper Deck #434 Al Martin (13 votes)

#12 (Page 55) -- 1991 Upper Deck #492 Geno Petralli (24 votes)


#13 (Page 16) -- 1998 Topps #140 Jay Bell (14 votes)

#3 (Page 13) -- 1989 Upper Deck #117 Gary Pettis (19 votes + tie-breaking vote)


#11 (Page 38) -- 1973 Topps #334 Freddie Patek (19 votes)

#2 (Page 45) -- 1993 Pinnacle #404 Bob Zupcic (21 votes)


#7 (Page 30) -- 1997 Topps #266 Eric Owens (17 votes)

Because the Alvarado region has been nuts so far, it makes sense that one of these battles would end in a tie.

The other three matchups went about as expected (and thus gain entry into the Sweet 16), but, as you can see, Pettis vs. Patek ended in a deadlock, 19 votes a piece. As is the usual tie-breaking procedure, I ask those who care to comment on this post to leave their choice between Pettis and Patek. The first card to receive three of these tie-breaking votes will move on to the next round.

I'll update this post once we have a winner.

EDIT: Pettis wins!


And so we turn back to the Bevacqua Region, whose namesake needs no explanation.

Let's check out this week's matchups.

#1 (Page 51) -- 1973 Topps #456 Dick Green


#9 (Page 34) -- 1995 Collector's Choice #299 Chuck Carr

#4 (Page 22) -- 2017 Stadium Club #197 Tyler Skaggs


#12 (Page 61) -- 1983 Fleer #543 Ron Gardenhire

#6 (Page 12) -- 2017 Stadium Club #104 Ryon Healy


#14 (Page 42) -- 1992 Stadium Club #376 Greg Gagne

#2 (Page 57) -- 1994 Topps #511 Devon White


#7 (Page 31) -- 1973 Topps #273 Chris Speier

That's it for this week's round of matchups. The polls are now on the sidebar -- and don't forget to help break last week's tie!

Happy voting!

Monday, March 30, 2020

A blaster of 2020 Donruss, for some reason

Why did I buy a blaster of 2020 Donruss?

That's an excellent question...and one I really don't have an answer for. Donruss has no logos. Donruss doesn't excite me. Donruss has brought up the rear in every Set of the Year countdown I've ever done. It's not a set that invokes much passion. And yet -- there I was the other day, throwing a blaster of the stuff into my basket of quarantine supplies (aka groceries) during a recent Target run.

I'll attribute it to a couple things. One: being cooped up around the house really starts to trigger that pack-busting itch. Two: I figured I'd get a blog post out of it, if nothing else. It's true: I sometimes buy cards just to write a blog post about them, and I hope I'm not the only blogger who does this. (If only we had expense accounts.)

And so now, in all its bland, middling glory, I present to you my blaster of 2020 Donruss.

Pack 1:

#175 Blake Snell


Panini managed to make a few of the recent Donruss sets at least semi-interesting by including nods to classic Donruss designs, which was nice because I think that should really be the point of present Donruss. This year's version has none of that, as far as I can tell.

Just a dull tornado of a design, full of guys in plain caps and jerseys playing for their company softball team.

#180 Kris Bryant
#75 Xander Bogaerts
#24 Bryce Harper (Diamond Kings)
#118 Clayton Kershaw (variation)

#R-1 Yordan Alvarez, "The Rookies" (rapture parallel)

A point in favor of Donruss: you really get a lot of variety out of a blaster.

A point against Donruss: maybe even a little too much variety. Even out of a measly $20 blaster, I felt like I needed some kind of pocket guide to all the inserts and parallels and variations and colors. It took me a good few minutes of Internet sleuthing to determine that this uber-shiny card of uber-rookie Yordan Alvarez is something called a rapture parallel, which are exclusive to blasters (I think?).

Sometimes I wonder if Panini is trying to get us to ignore the boredom of the base design by throwing in lots of bells and whistles and shiny things.

#224 Cal Ripken Jr. ('86 Donruss - variation - holo purple parallel)

Case in point: this is a subset variation holo purple parallel (deep breath).

#259 Yu Chang ('86 Donruss)

Pack 2:

#181 Rhys Hoskins

Question 1: Is an airbrushed throwback still a throwback?

Question 2, and forgive me if this sounds odd: Does anyone else notice that Donruss cards smell different than most cards? I know cards aren't printed on good ol' cardboard these days, but Donruss seems to reek of high gloss and chemicals to me.

#184 Keston Hiura
#133 Josh Hader

#264 Luis Robert (Rated Rookie)

It's not often I put a guy in my binders before he's played a major league game, but I think I'll make an exception here.

#50 Logan Webb (Rated Rookie)

#AS-6 Vladimir Guerrero, "As Seen" (rapture parallel)

Remember what I said earlier about Panini trying to distract us with bells and whistles?

Sometimes it works, because this thing is awesome.

#154 Eugenio Suarez (holo purple parallel)
#226 Jim Rice ('86 Donruss)

Pack 3:

#206 John Means
#200 Luis Arraez
#90 Javier Baez
#27 Josh Bell (Diamond Kings)

Never been a big fan of Diamond Kings, and 2020 Donruss isn't doing anything to change that.

#121 Eloy Jimenez (variation)

One advantage I'll give to Donruss is that they make it easy to tell the variations apart from the base cards -- the variations (like this one, which features "The South Side" instead of "Chicago") have a clearly different Donruss logo in the top-left corner.

See, Topps? It's not so hard.

#52 Anthony Kay (Rated Rookie)
#123 Max Scherzer (variation - holo purple parallel)
#241 Yonathan Daza ('86 Donruss)

Pack 4:

#192 Jack Flaherty
#187 David Peralta
#147 Nolan Arenado
#29 Nolan Arenado (Diamond Kings)
#83 Fernando Tatis Jr. (nickname variation)

Easy to decipher or not, most of the Donruss variations aren't anything exciting -- but I do like these nickname ones if for no other reason than they stand out in a binder page.

#D-1 Max Scherzer, "Dominators" (rapture parallel)


#82 Joey Votto (holo purple parallel)

#229 George Brett ('86 Donruss)

This year's Donruss does continue the trend of a subset paying tribute to a vintage Donruss set -- the 2020 version goes back to the '86 design (easily the most '80s look in the Donruss catalog).

While '86 Donruss is close to the bottom on my list of all-time Donruss designs, it's kinda cool seeing these bizarro world versions of actual stars of the time period like George Brett here.

Pack 5:

#195 Giancarlo Stanton
#194 Yusei Kikuchi
#105 Jorge Polanco
#39 Aristides Aquino (Rated Rookie)
#16 Rafael Devers (Diamond Kings)
#83 Fernando Tatis Jr. (Career Stat Line parallel /500)

I pulled a nickname variation and this numbered stat line parallel of Fernando Tatis Jr., but not the base card...oy.

#199 Christian Vazquez (holo purple parallel)
#244 Joe Palumbo ('86 Donruss)

Pack 6:

#189 Brandon Crawford
#197 Willson Contreras

Donruss should really look into making an all-catcher set.

#63 Michael Conforto
#259 Yu Chang ('86 Donruss - variation)
#148 Francisco Lindor (nickname variation)

#H-5 Trevor Story, "Donruss Highlights" (rapture parallel)

Donruss Highlights are among my favorites from the bonanza of '80s oddball box sets, so this is cool to see.

#51 Randy Arozarena (Rated Rookie, holo purple parallel)
#249 Edwin Rios ('86 Donruss)

Pack 7:

#203 Matt Carpenter
#207 Eduardo Escobar
#121 Eloy Jimenez
#41 Justin Dunn (Rated Rookie)
#3 Cody Bellinger (Diamond Kings)
#162 Juan Soto (variation)

Since I'm trying to find nice things to say about Donruss here, I do appreciate the quantity of cards I get out of a blaster, even if most of the cards themselves aren't all that exciting.

So often when I buy a pack or a blaster or whatever of cards these days, I kinda feel shorted even though it says how many cards are in the thing right there on the wrapper -- given that, 2020 Donruss's ratio of 11 packs of 8 cards per in a blaster isn't bad.

#211 Barry Larkin ('86 Donruss - holo purple parallel)

#216 Kevin Mitchell ('86 Donruss)

I was way too giddy about pulling a card of Kevin Mitchell in a 2020 product (and a Mets one!).

Pack 8:

#183 JD Martinez
#178 Kyle Schwarber
#79 Hyun-Jin Ryu

One notable thing about Donruss is that it's often the first to feature offseason signings in their new duds...kind of.

Given that all the cards are airbrushed, all Panini really has to do is slap the new team name on the card and voila -- though in this case it at least partially works since the Dodgers' and Blue Jays' color schemes are similar.

#43 Trent Grisham (Rated Rookie)
#5 Christian Yelich (Diamond Kings)
#AP-22 Nick Frasso/Stephen Strasburg, "American Pride" (rapture parallel)

#139 Tim Anderson (holo purple parallel)

A fine addition to my brand new Tim Anderson collection.

#219 Rickey Henderson ('86 Donruss)

Pack 9:

#171 Starling Marte
#162 Juan Soto
#102 Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Still get excited about pulling Vlad Jr. cards.

#170 Ronald Acuna Jr. (nickname variation)
#60 Matt Thaiss (Rated Rookie)
#13 Nelson Cruz (Diamond Kings - holo purple parallel)

#234 Dale Murphy ('86 Donruss)

For some reason, this pack only contained seven cards -- which I wouldn't have even noticed if I didn't record every card for this post.

Pack 10:

#166 Trevor Story
#173 Noah Syndergaard

The latest Tommy John victim.

#159 Jose Altuve
#7 Pete Alonso (Diamond Kings)

#219 Rickey Henderson ('86 Donruss - nickname variation)

Not sure how much I like the nickname variations on these '86 tributes -- a bit too jarring for me.

#E-2 Javier Baez, "Elite Series" (rapture parallel)

I don't have a prayer of owning most of the early '90s Elite Series originals, so this'll have to do.

#96 German Marquez (holo purple parallel)
#239 Josh Rojas ('86 Donruss)

Pack 11:

#164 Rafael Devers
#168 Brandon Lowe
#117 Madison Bumgarner

If this is a Diamondbacks card, then I'm a baboon's uncle.

#111 Aaron Judge (variation)
#47 Patrick Sandoval (Rated Rookie)

#97 Yu Darvish (Independence Day parallel)

An Independence Day parallel of a Japanese star, because America.

#191 Sandy Alcantara (holo purple parallel)
#254 Aaron Civale ('86 Donruss)

And that's it for my first-ever Donruss blaster. I will say this -- given that most of my recent Donruss experience has been limited to going through base card after dull base card in dime boxes, it was at least a tad more exciting to open up actual packs of the stuff and see how the set gels together in that format. But overall: I'll probably end up sticking most of these in the appropriate places in my binders, never again taking a closer look at them...which really isn't the point of collecting baseball cards. Thus, Donruss fails.

So if you ever see me at Target, about to put another blaster of these in my cart, do me a favor and slap it out of my hands, would you?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Are base cards going extinct?

So many times last year I asked card show vendors Do you have any Topps Big League?, and so many times I was met with replies of No or Yeah but I didn't bring them or What's Topps Big League?

To me, 2019 Big League was a symbol of a larger trend I've been noticing in the past couple years. I loved last year's Big League, a low-end brand that (predictably) isn't all that popular among the breakers and the other bigwigs of the hobby. But even as recently as 2018, I was able to secure most of the base cards I needed from Big League and other lower-end sets at card shows, without much difficulty.

Lately, different story. My 2019 base want lists -- which are normally all but taken care of by year's end -- are still kinda bloated because a lot of vendors chose to leave their base at home. Sets popular with breakers (Flagship, Heritage, etc.) were still easy enough to locate in the wild, but conversely, I found maybe a dozen 2019 Big League singles I needed in dime boxes all year (that's across maybe six or seven card shows, mind you). Also there was only one vendor who had 2020 Topps base at the card show I attended earlier this year -- inserts, parallels, and hits, sure...but almost no base cards.

And so I'm forced to ask the question I hoped I'd never have to ask: in today's money- and breaker-oriented hobby, are base cards really going extinct?

I sure hope not.

Inserts and parallels and whatever else are fine and good -- and sure I even prefer the inserts to the base in some sets -- but the real core of why I collect at all lies in the base cards. I buy packs for the base cards. Which is why it pains me when I hear stories of people buying boxes of cards and leaving the base behind, or even throwing them out (gasp!). No, no, no, no, no! Base cards are more than protection for the inserts and hits: they're why we should be opening packs in the first place.

Luckily, most bloggers seem to understand this, which is why I thought it apt to showcase a package I recently received from longtime trade partner Kerry of "Cards on Cards" -- a package that included some A&G and, yes, even Big League(!) base still collecting dust on my want list.

I rely on base cards being accessible because I only have the budget and sanity to open so many packs -- eventually I'll run out of money or start pulling doubles and triples and quadruples.

In the past, most of my want lists eventually get whittled down to stars like Trout, rookies like Eloy Jimenez, or other non-dime box stuff and/or SPs -- though thankfully Kerry helped take care of some of those, too.

It's been particularly painful seeing gobs and gobs of cards from sets I don't care about available at shows over the past year or two.

I saw blasters of Leather & Lumber in the Target card aisle so many times last year, and I never bought a single one. The cards themselves aren't horrible -- these from Kerry are actually the first two in my collection -- but I was never really tempted to buy any. I think the $20 blasters only had like 23 cards in them (or something close to that) and were much more geared towards the "hits," which when you put it all together is a blaster I'll never buy because what did I just say about wanting base cards?

But with the amount of this stuff I saw at shows in 2019, you'd think it was the Set of the Year or something.

Player collection needs from more sets I never planned on buying -- it scares me that people could lose their minds so much over less-than-stellar sets like Optic and Update Chrome.

I enjoy getting more recent hits for my player collections (like that Ichiro reprint from 2019 Archives), but I get much more excited about stuff I need from sets like Donruss Classics and Pacific Aurora because it's not like packs of those are waiting for me at Target anymore.

Oh, and see? I still like inserts!

I'm not so much worried that card companies will stop producing base cards anytime soon. I'm more worried that the people who have access to most of those base cards (i.e. breakers and people who have enough supply to put them in dime boxes at card shows) are treating them more and more as filler, more and more as stuff no one wants. But I know that's not true. Because while it's easy to be blinded by all the patches and autographs and superfractors making the rounds in bigger hobby circles, those aren't the only cards people want.

I know what I want, and I want base cards.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset Bracket: Alvarado Region

Last week's results are in!

#1 (Page 68) -- 1972 Topps #611 Rich Reese (18 votes)


#8 (Page 37) -- 1996 Stadium Club #333 Jay Buhner (16 votes)

#5 (Page 58) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #522 John Smiley (18 votes)


#4 (Page 62) -- 1973 Topps #555 Bill Hands (16 votes)

#6 (Page 6) -- 1999 Fleer SI Greats of the Game #53 Joe Rudi (24 votes)


#14 (Page 32) -- 1998 Stadium Club #284 Sean Berry (10 votes)

#2 (Page 10) -- 1992 Studio #86 Jose Lind (22 votes)


#7 (Page 29) -- 1977 Topps #255 George Scott (11 votes)

Two blowouts, two nailbiters, but in the end no real surprises last week.

Even in the early stages of the tournament, Rich Reese just barely avoided being the second #1 seed to be sent packing -- he'll squeak into the Sweet 16. Also a second straight drubbing at the hands of Joe Rudi leads me to believe he might be a Cinderella story to watch as the bracket rolls on.

As usual, only time will tell.


And so we move on to the Alvarado Region -- with all the early upsets and general madness (including the #1 seed being knocked out in the first round), it's easily been the zaniest section of the bracket thus far, which makes sense given the card it's named after.

Let's check out this week's matchups.

#9 (Page 23) -- 1960 Topps #204 Ryne Duren


#16 (Page 49) -- 1996 Upper Deck #434 Al Martin

#12 (Page 55) -- 1991 Upper Deck #492 Geno Petralli


#13 (Page 16) -- 1998 Topps #140 Jay Bell

#3 (Page 13) -- 1989 Upper Deck #117 Gary Pettis


#11 (Page 38) -- 1973 Topps #334 Freddie Patek

#2 (Page 45) -- 1993 Pinnacle #404 Bob Zupcic


#7 (Page 30) -- 1997 Topps #266 Eric Owens

That's it for this week's matchups -- the polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!