Saturday, April 22, 2017

Box Break: 2016 Panini Diamond Kings (Part 1)

I grew up with a ton of admiration for Diamond Kings.

It was Donruss' way of taking legitimate effort and sketching and saying 'these are the real stars of the show'. '03 Diamond Kings is still a very classy, very well-designed set that I still love finding singles from. Now, '04-05 DK was a bit overexposed, with a bit too much emphasis on hits and not enough emphasis on design, but it was still welcome.

The new incarnation of Diamond Kings is...interesting, to say the least. It's only really Diamond Kings nominally- all the base cards feature action shots that have just been filtered over, rather than just having well-hired artists do sketches. The effort put into the early releases, even the subsets from the 80's, is gone. Now it's just a premium, hit-based product that's just an excuse for Panini to act artsy.

I still wanted to check out last year's issue, even if I knew what was coming. Here's what I got:

 Pack 1-
Each pack comes with 2 rookies. One of these two has done pretty well for themselves so far. The other hasn't really gotten much of a chance.

 These are the base cards, and while they're pretty cool, and well-textured, it's not really Diamond-King-esque. It's kind of the same photos Topps would use for Flagship, just with more filters and less logos. I do, however, dig the inclusion of Frank Chance, of 'Tinker to Evers to Chance' fame. Nice unusual HOFer creeds. Xander Bogaerts, however, looks like he's pitching.

 The Expressionists inserts are still some of the best in this set, because they're pretty original, and have some great photos- this one is no exception, as it's a fun shot of Addison Russell sporting some Rated Rookie creds..
 Parallels are still a thing in DK, and thankfully I got one of the base parallels TO GET in this set, the all-powerful Ichiro, probably in his last MLB season but still one of the greats. Even better...

 This one's numbered to 99. Which is pretty nice.

 Pack 2- Two rookies, two guys who still kinda classified as rookie-esque figures...I mean, to be fair, Piscotty didn't deserve the RC logo distinction as much as Joey Gallo did...

 Proper base. I dig the throwback uniform on Abreu, I just wish that Panini had licenses so we could see it completely. Backed by Goldschmidt and Upton, somehow both slumping so far this year.

 I think the Donruss-ness of it all makes it so refreshing to see non-Hall-of-Famers showcased like this. Pete Rose gets a nice spotlight in this DK Originals insert...can't say I won't be throwing it in my binder.

 Pack 3-
Two rookies who haven't made it yet.

 NL Central moment. Kang hasn't been playing due to personal issues. Adam Wainwright hasn't been pitching like himself in a while, which would be sadder if he wasn't a member of the Cardinals.

 Three insanely relevant MLB stars. I think so far, the guy in the middle is having the best season.

 Again with the non-HOFers rocking the 'retired' portion of this set- Memorable Feats insert of the great Gil Hodges, a true power-hitter and a guy that led the New York Mets to their first World Series.

 Pack 4-
Two semi-unknown rookies. Also, some packs come with Minis because Panini's trying to rip off Allen and Ginter. This one's of Carlos Correa.

 Keuchel won an Cy Young, Harper won an MVP...both are currently on pace to repeat, even if the season's not even a month over yet.

 Two legendary, likable Hall of Famers. Griffey's is pretty gorgeous. Rickey's is a bit too blurry, though.
 Proof that maybe the guys who put this box together were mocking me- I get an insert of a St. Louis Cardinal...alright, even if it's Adam Wainwright, it's still a Cardinal.
Sidenote...why couldn't this be the base design???
Pack 5-
Two Rockies rookies...both are injured currently. Gray's probably gonna have some more nice seasons.

 Two AL standouts- Chris Archer needs to land on a roster that can win games. Correa, meanwhile, has been on fire so far.

 Retired Yankee moment: Huggins and Turley are nice, unusual picks. Of course, the DiMaggio can't be ignored, especially how cool the uniform looks in the colorization.

 And, a pretty sweet Heritage Collection insert of Greg Maddux. Can't not make a good card of him.

 Pack 6-
Two pretty underwhelming rookies.

 ...And some pretty unusual retired players. Averill I almost never see in sets these days.

 Two personal favorites- cover boy and MLB Icon Roberto to hometown hero and power-hitter Maikel Franco.

And now...we've gotten to our first hit. And it's a surprisingly nice one. Again, Hodges is a New York legend, great hitter and all-around great ballplayer.

(clears throat)


That swatch is suspect. Hodges never played for a team that used a full-on orange color scheme. He played for, and managed, the Mets, but they never used orange as a base color. Soo...unless Hodges wore a orange uniform at some other point, I'm not entirely sure this swatch belongs to him. So...I'm not sure what to think about this.

I'll post the last half of this tomorrow, with a less suspect hit in there.


  1. For a logo-less product, this stuff isn't too bad. Congratulations on pulling some solid cards. That Ichiro is sweet! And the Hodges isn't too shabby either.

  2. I was thinking the orange swatch could have come from a dugout jacket or other piece of over clothing. But without any kind of provenance who knows.

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