Thursday, May 18, 2017

Repack Bang or Bust #6

Today's edition of Repack Bang or Bust is, unfortunately a total bust. This was an 11-pack box from MJ Holdings I got at Walmart a few weeks ago. The box brags "Including one hobby pack in every box". 4 of the 11 packs were this.

2012 Triple Play. 

This was just an awful set. I did pull one of the generic relic cards but that hardly makes up for the 28 of the 72 cards this product represented in this box.

As I said, I don't like this set. The original Triple Play in the early 1990s was aimed at kids. I imagine that kids have even less interest in baseball cards today than they did then. And cards like this don't seem like they would draw kids back into the hobby.

Both of these examples would likely cause nightmares in impressionable youngsters. Especially the Strasburg card.

2007 Upper Deck Series 2

I guess Upper Deck was on its last legs in 2007. This dull offering was their flagship set.

Half of the 8 cards were of the horizontal orientation which I think looks worse than the vertical. I'd have been happy to have this pack when it was new, as 3 of the cards were Astros. But by now I already have those cards.

2015 Panini USA Stars & Stripes

It's always interesting to pull from a repack something I've never seen before.

Not a bad looking set. 150 cards of college baseball players. Some of the players I pulled have been drafted by major league teams, although Ober apparently hasn't. Two design problems. The large Stars & Stripes logo on the front makes it look like the player is straddling the logo on many of the cards I got. And why would you design a card back to have a large color photo just to repeat the front photo? As long as I collect cards I don't think I'll ever understand that.

This is a 150-card insert set featuring the same players, in the same order, as the base set, but with a different photograph. The card has the look and feel of Topps Chrome. 

2016 Babe Ruth Collection

I never saw this set live but it's been showing up in repacks since last summer. I've got about half of the 80-cards set now. There were two 5-card packs included in this box but there was only one I didn't have.

There were also two packs of this.

I opened them, looked at them and threw them away.

So, there turned out to be 27 cards of the 72 that I needed (needed being a very relative term when speaking of 2012 Triple Play). I usually like a repack to be around 50% productive to be satisfied. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Repack Bang or Bust Part 5

The last one of these I did was about a 250-card Fairfield box. Well, this is sort of part two since when I bought that box I actually bought two. I rated that last box a Bang! and this one also gets a bang. I needed 115 of the 250 cards. Not too bad.

These boxes advertise that every other box (on average) has either a relic or an auto. The other box had nothing but this one had an auto.

2011 Bowman Autographed Prospects
Havens was the Mets #1 pick in 2008 but never made it to the majors.

1980 Topps #575

This was the oldest card in the box. The Phillies won the World Series in 1980, which was before I started collecting. I'm on a slow motion quest to complete the 1980 Topps set so I'm always happy to get one. 

My last post featured the weird airbrushed 1987 Topps Mike Laga card. That card came to my attention because this card was in the box.

1986 Donruss #578

Nothing really special about this card except it's part of a trend I noticed about this box. There were a lot of cards in it which were near duplicates of cards in the earlier box. For example, this is card #578. The earlier box had card #587 from the same set. These were the only 1986 Donruss cards in either box.

1986 Fleer #380
I collect Lee Smith so was happy to get this even though it's a terrible looking card. The photo is out of focus and the dark blue borders do it no favors. What was with both Fleer and Donruss using dark blue borders in 1986?

1988 Topps Traded #30
This set had a few of these Team USA cards. Pat Combs was the Phillies #1 draft pick in 1988, so of course, I have to consider this as a Phillies card. From this card I realized that there were several Phillies cards in this set I was unaware of. I managed to find the whole 1988 Topps Traded set on eBay for much less than $10, so I bought it.

1990 Donruss #147
Say what you like about 1990 Donruss, but I like it and have about 2/3 of the set. I collect Gary Carter but was missing this one.

1990 Topps #784
This card raises the question "Why do so many baseball cards have light poles in the background?".

1990 Broder Rookies Superstars

I have another card of Ben McDonald with the exact same back, but numbered #1 of 12. It also has a different photo. lists the 12-card set but not the 7-card set. The other box had the Todd Zeile card from the 7-card set.

1990 Star #97
Another of the weird duplicates. This is a set I'd only had two cards from and both were Phillies cards I'd gotten in a trade. So I'd never seen one of these cards in a repack before I pulled #98 from the other box. Now I've also have #97.

1992 Triple Play
Zosky was the Blue Jays #1 pick in 1989 who never really made it. I didn't have a single one of his cards before opening this box. Now I have two. This one and his 1992 Ultra (#156) card.

1993 Donruss #276
The other box had card #277. Also featuring, I believe, the early season dead ivy at Wrigley Field.

1993 Topps Gold #319

These are a relatively rare finding in a repack. The other box had #318.

1997 Select Certified #40

Card #30 from this set (Paul Molitor) was in the other box. The only two cards from this set I've ever seen. I collect both players so I'm happy to have them.

2000 Upper Deck Ultimate Victory #54

I have a handful from this set, all of which I've gotten from repacks. It is a parallel to 2000 Upper Deck Victory but with a soft, thick coating on the front.

2001 Upper Deck Victory #590
This is another set which I've only seen in repacks. I don't know who this guy was but I didn't have this subset so it goes right into the reference books.

2002 Topps 206 #55
I like this set but bought very little of it when it was new. I pulled card #45 (Bud Smith) from the other box.

And finally, 2015 Topps Team Sets #PHP-8
The Phillies team sets don't seem to be available where I live in the Houston area. I'm lucky I can find the Astros set. The other box had the Phillies Maikel Franco card from the set.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

1987 Topps Air Brushing

Here's one of my favorite Topps air brushed cards. 1987 #321, Mike Laga.

Maybe the clubhouse guy accidentally put Mike's jersey in with the underwear and it got bleached.

Laga, after 5 unspectacular years with the Tigers (he appeared in 72 games in that time), was a throw-in guy when the Tigers traded Ken Hill to the Cardinals for Mike Heath in September 1986. I don't know when 1987 Topps went to the printer but apparently too soon for them to get a photo of Laga in a Cardinals uni.

So I have a couple of questions:

1. After doing a pretty good job turning his Tigers cap into a Cardinals hat, why did they throw in the towel on the jersey? I mean, here's what this card could have looked like.

2. Laga appeared in 18 games for the Cards in 1986, for a total of 90 games in 6 seasons. His lifetime batting average was hovering around .200. He did have a little pop in is bat, almost 20% of his 84 career hits were home runs, but clearly, he was a marginal player at best. Why did Topps decide to even include him in the 1987 set, especially since they had to doctor a photo?

One more fact about Mike Laga. According to Wikipedia, he is best known for once hitting a foul ball out of Busch Stadium (9/15/86).

Monday, May 8, 2017

April 2017 Reading List

I'm a little late posting this. I've been spending too much time with baseball cards the past week.

It's 100 years or so after some virus (mutated, man-made, who knows?) ravaged the world, killing many people but particularly women. And even now, the virus almost always kills a pregnant woman and her child. There seems to be 50 men or more for each woman. There is little technology and some, like Etta, scavenge for useful items. A small clan run by women called Fort Nowhere, operates within travel distance of St. Louis (hence the cover picture). The clan was founded by the Unknown Midwife soon after the crises. St. Louis is run by male slavers. Conflict ensues. This was pretty good. There seemed to be entirely too much backstory for a standalone novel, and sure enough, it's the second book of a series.

I wanted to read this before I saw the Scarlett Johansson movie. Apparently the movie is based on an anime movie which was based on this manga. The movie has not been well received but we liked it. To me, the movie seems to be an origin story, set prior to this manga. The manga was originally published in 1989-1990. The graphics are stunning. There are 6 interlinked stories in the volume. The author depicts a computer saturated world in 2029, where the main character, Major Motoko is a cyborg (a human brain and spinal column) in a manufactured body. She works for a government security division. The stories examine what it means to be human in a world where computer-brain interfaces are common.

If you were a fan of "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, you should read this book. It's consists of excerpts of interviews with numerous people involved with the show, telling the story of how the show came to be and how it grew. I started watching the show around 2004, and missed the early days, especially when Steven Colbert and Steve Carell were mainstays of the show. It is mainly about Stewart's reign on the show. The earlier version with Craig Kilborn is glossed over and there's really nothing about the current version with Trevor Noah.

This book is similar to Robinson's epic "Science in the Capitol" series, in that it deals with the consequences of man made climate change. This book is a bit more localized, focusing on New York City in the year 2140, a city where lower Manhattan is under water but life goes on. It has an enormous cast of characters. The story is mostly realistic, in my opinion. If you read and liked the "Science in the Capitol" series, you'll like this.

Did you know that many scholars consider James Buchanan, the last president before the Civil War, the Worst. President. Ever? Well neither did I. In fact, I probably could not have told you anything about Buchanan. This was an interesting read.

I generally like John Scalzi and was looking forward to reading this but I was a bit disappointed. The Empire of the story is a far-flung human space empire connected by spaceships able to travel through something called the Flow. The Flow is some sort of science fiction concept allowing faster than light travel, without actually breaking the light speed barrier. The Empire is ruled by large rich mercantile families, the richest family of which is the Emperor's family. But something is wrong with the Flow and a scientist has calculated that within 100 years, the Flow will move around, cutting off all the human planets from each other. Clearly the beginning of a new series by Scalzi.

This is Volume 2 of the Ghost in the Shell manga. It's sort of a sequel but the circumstances of the main character, Motoko are way different. She still works security but now for a giant company. The graphics are still stunning but the stories were hard to follow. Motoko seems to mostly live in the network, but able to inhabit various mechanical bodies at will. One reason the stories were hard to follow was that a lot of time she was operating multiple bodies at the same time, while also being represented as an on-line "body". The last 20 or 30 pages was composed of complicated but beautiful graphics but I had no idea what was going on.

This is the book that came before "The Book of Etta". Jane (not her real name) is the unnamed midwife of the title. She's a neonatal nurse in San Francisco as the unknown virus is ravaging the world. She herself gets the virus but survives. She begins a journey across the country, looking for safety, finally ending up at Fort Nowhere, the last ditch stand of the US government's attempt to fight the virus.  A pretty good read.

Friday, May 5, 2017

That Big Bowman Sun

Another full bleed set from Bowman this year. Really, the cards don't look much different from last year. For the base cards they mostly just moved the player name from a horizontal position on the side to the bottom.

They did some funny stuff around the team logo, similar to what they did on 2017 Topps Stickers. The backs are similar to last year, with a block of text and a line of stats. I kind of like the background more this year. The slanted parallel lines of last year were a bit disconcerting.

Is it my imagination or are these prospects gleaming in the light of the big Bowman sun.

I'm trying to come up with some Icarus reference for this last card but nothing is coming to me.

I did manage to pull one hit from the blaster, a Prospects Autographs Green parallel, serial numbered to 99.

Stephens was the Reds 18th round draft pick in 2012 and just made it to Triple A this season. So he's probably not going to be the next Cy Young, but still, an auto is an auto, even if it's a sticker auto.