Friday, November 29, 2019

A Triangle of 2018 Panini Chronicles Blasters

Last year, Dave and Adam's had a sale on Panini Chronicles from the previous year, where you could get 3 blasters of Chronicles for a nice price. I did really well, getting some base cards, some awesome inserts, and relics of Miguel Sano AND Mike Piazza.

So, when the offer came around again, I jumped at the chance. Chronicles, while a little flawed, is still a very fun box to rip. The 2018 version may be my favorite so far, as it's got the best subsets, as well as the more impressive rookie class to pick from (Acuna, Albies, Torres, Ohtani). So, I figured I'd go with it.

15 packs per. For 12, we have 5 cards per pack, and for 3 packs we have only 3 special Revolutions inserts.

Let's dive right in:

 Box #1's Revolution cards, which TBH I did awesome with here, are of MVP Cody Bellinger, plus Yankee outfielder Clint Frazier and...LEGENDARY Yankee outfielder Mickey Mantle. Not bad at all.

 Pack 1- Already we see a Chronicles base card, of Jose Altuve. Thankfully this set isn't as base-reliant as the 2017 version, as these are only seen sparingly. Acuna's is a Prestige subset, and those are basic as well.

 This was an NL-West friendly pack at the end of the day, with Cody Bellinger as my Phoenix insert, and Corey Seager as my Prism card. Ryan McMahon's is a Status insert, which...looks awesome in this 2018 set, but not as cool in 2019.

 Pack 2- Aaron Judge's is a Limited subset, and I've pulled this in a previous break, as well as the Verdugo Crusade. Ozzie Albies' is a Studio subset, which means Studio pulled a Freaky Friday with Topps Gallery.

And here's some of the parallels that were...eerily absent from my 2019 blasters. Mookie Betts' Select card is a blue parallel, #'d to 149., Adrian Beltre's base card is a Press Proof parallel, numbered to 299. Not bad at all.

 Pack 3- Nick Williams' is a Prestige, pretty basic. Amed Rosario's is an Illusions, which I still love. We get the base version of Mookie's Select card, as well as a Contenders card of his teammate, Rafael Devers.

So, know how last time I got good hits?

...not the case this time.

Chris Flexen is the rare homegrown Mets pitcher that sucks donkey balls. The guy has had TWO STRAIGHT seasons of disastrous starting opportunities. And of course, he's my auto here. Terrific.

 Pack 4- Marte's is a base. Austin Hays comes in twice, first in a Classics card, very cute, and then in a Prism card.
Francisco Mejia's is my Optic insert, which is pretty shiny in person. And I got a Status of Rhys Hoskins, which sort of makes up for that shitty hit from the last pack.

 Box #2's Revolutions are relatively standard rookie fare for 2018- Victor Robles, Ronald Acuna and JP Crawford.
 Pack 5- Devers is the sleek, ultra-cool Limited for this pack, while Brian Anderson's is our...foily product passing itself off as Studio
 These ones are very similar in the 2018 version, but these are great star players to pull.

And we got another Chronicles parallel, with Corey Kluber, a guy I love pulling cards of, getting a Press Proof numbered to 299.

 Pack 6- Some pretty standard cards of heroes. Scherzer's is your standard Score, Rizzo's a Prestige.
 And the glossier stuff- Torres's Phoenix, Ohtani's Prism, and a much-needed Rhys Hoskins Illusions. Definitely speaks to me as a Yanks-Phils collector.

 Pack 7- Two basic Donruss/Prism rookies of Farmer, who finished 2019 in Cincinnati, and Scott Kingery, who finally has a role in Philly.
 AND HERE'S SOME BRYCE FOR YA! Rookies and Stars finally makes an appearance on the left, next to a Crusade insert as well.
And a Clint Frazier Status to close the pack out.

 Pack 8- Basic stuff here- Sisco, Verdugo, Sano. Nothing yells at you.

 Rizzo's is a Prism, and the now-ubiquitous Juan Soto gets the Optic.

Box #3's Revolutions: Jose Altuve joins two I've already pulled.

 Pack 9- Amed Rosario and Clint Frazier's are the boilerplate base-designs, and JP Crawford's is Studio. I know Crawford's Phils tenure is gonna be lost to his Mariners numbers, but I like that I'm still pulling cards of him from Philly.

And the guys who are all over this set, Ozzie Albies and Alex Verdugo, in Select and Prism sets respectively.

 Pack 10- A nice smattering of stars in here- Devers is a nice Illusions, we get a Clint classics, Trout looks awesome on Crusades, and Harper gets a lick in with Phoenix.

 And heck, let's throw in a Yankee parallel for good measure. Here's a Clint Frazier Score parallel, in teal and numbered to 199. Not bad.

 Pack 11- One more Verdugo for the road, a token Trout, and a Luiz Gohara card. The Braves dealt him to Seattle, I believe.

And seeing as the Yanks got in on the parallels last pack, the Sox jump back in, with a Rafael Devers blue Phoenix, #'d to 149. Not complaining here either.
And an Andujar Prism to balance it out.

 Pack 12- A few names we've been seeing a lot in this break- Andujar, Devers and Frazier.
And, seeing as it's a 2018 product, we end on two Ohtanis- a Chronicles base card, and a super-cool Status card. One as a batter, one as a pitcher. Cool stuff.

Not a bad break, despite the lack of a substantial hit. There's still enough cool subset and parallel action going on to make me feel satisfied here, which is nice. And lots of Yankees, which definitely helps.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

On the Intriguing Brewers-Padres Multi-Man Trade

Funny, I was just talking about the Brewers and Padres' new uniforms, and now they're doing business together.

The interesting part of this deal is that it comes on the heels of an initial move between these teams- Drew Pomeranz, who finished the season in relief for Milwaukee, signs with San Diego. And then this swap happens, and it just looks like Pomeranz was just involved in the trade. It was just cleanly executed.

The actual deal is, on paper, kind of a simple one- mid-tier starters traded for each other, Zach Davies for Eric Lauer. And rookie-level position players that don't have a spot in the 2020 picture traded for each other, Trent Grisham for Luis Urias. Both teams are kinda even at the end of the day, and no team feels like they're fleecing the other.

Honestly, the biggest piece of this deal, at least to me, is Zach Davies. Dude's been a solid starter for Milwaukee since before the come-up, and had a pretty good season in 2019, with a 3.55 ERA and 10 wins. I definitely foresee Davies becoming a big SD pitching asset, right there with Chris Paddack. Lauer will probably be a lower-key rotation guy for Milwaukee, and I'm guessing they're gonna make a major free agent move in that department.

The intriguing stuff is in the other two guys. Luis Urias is a high-caliber defensive performer, and can definitely be an upgrade from Orlando Arcia, who...might be finding his way to a bench spot. Urias does concern me in that he hasn't been hitting extremely well of late, but his fielding numbers are a lot better, and he had a 1.0 WAR in 71 games, which is...something.

And then there's Lewis Grisham, who was a great replacement for Yelich towards the end of the season, despite a defensive blooper costing the Brewers a crucial game. Grisham could factor into the Padres' outfield, despite a chance for Taylor Trammell to get in on the chase. It's looking like Wil Myers, Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe are the main players for that outfield, but seeing as none hit over .250 last year, a shuffle may be in the mix. So having Grisham as a steady young option could definitely help.

I'm kinda surprised as to how well all of this fit together, and am very impressed at both GMs who pulled this off. Padres might have gotten the best pitcher, but Brewers got the best lineup piece.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Box Break: 2019 Topps Gallery

 I did a thing.

I...haven't been the hugest fan of Topps' Wal-Mart exclusive Gallery sets, as they're a bit too rookie-centric for no reason, and have the weirdest checklist logic. But they're a modest wintertime seatfiller, so I deal. I kept coming back to Wal-Mart in order to see if the Holiday Boxes had finally hit my area. They hadn't, but the Gallery mega-boxes had. I got one, thinking it'd be the same price.

It wasn't. But...whatever, I have a birthday coming up.

This is pretty much a...traditional box of this. Like, it's patterned like a hobby box, with 20 packs, 5 cards per, two hits, and a box-topper.'s a Wal-Mart product. So because Topps can't sell hobby boxes in hobby shops because it's a retail-exclusive, they're selling the retail store?

Because in a retail store like Wal-Mart, people aren't exactly looking for hobby-box amounts of cards. Target did the same thing, presenting HOBBY BOXES of Fire. And back in the day, Upper Deck deployed a similar strategy for Sweet Spot, selling a 30-dollar tin of the product in Targets everywhere. The goal, I guess, is to get kids into the more competitive stages of the hobby through a simple climate like a retail store. But to established collectors, it looks...backwards.

 Like here. Here is a BOXLOADER I got out of a box of product I bought at a RETAIL STORE. Boxloaders don't usually come out of retail products. But here we are anyway.

It's Jacob deGrom, the now two-time Cy Young winner, and NY sports hero. Not a ton of complaints here.

 Pack 1- This is what the base design looks like this year. It's fancier, but it's the same ol Gallery as the last two years. Note that they continued the trend of getting multiple artists to cover the product, rather than getting Mayumi Seto to do it all, because Topps doesn't like nice things. Like Chicle, having incongruent art-styles allow for some, like Story's and McCullers', to stand out in the wrong way.
 Pack 2- Base favorites. Again, the checklist puzzles me. Domingo Santana and Lance McCullers found a way into this set. Thankfully so did Cavan Biggio.
 And here's an amusing insert, a 1965 style reprint of JD Martinez. These look nice.

 Pack 3- The Kyle Tucker overexposure tour continues. Nice to get a cool-looking Phils Harper, and a routinely cool Thor.
And here's our first auto. Good news is it's a hometown Philadelphia Phillie. Bad news is it's reliever J.D. Hammer, who had a 3.79 ERA in 20 appearances out of the pen. He's...fine. But I'd have preferred Adam Haseley as an obligatory Phils rookie auto.

 Pack 4- Good enough pack selection, with Hoskins, Yelich and Sevvy, but the emphasis on unneeded rookies brings this one down for me.
Pack 5- Topps heard me there, as this one is ENTIRELY made up of unneeded rookies. Which is one of the reasons I don't love this product. At least Harold Ramirez' looks cool.

These inserts I really like. They are called Master & Apprentice, and it's a well-painted shot of two team legends, a former and a current. Yount and Yelich sounds about right.

 Pack 6- I like all of these. The Yu is a bit crunched, but it works as a horizontal.
And another one for the Kyle Tucker overexposure pile. This one does look cool, though. Kinda jarring that the banner says 'Houston' rather than 'Astros' though.

 Pack 7- Some more triumphs. Getting Acuna and Albies in the same pack is pretty cool. I really hope Giancarlo comes back around for the Yanks.
And we've hit our first parallel- this Freddie Freeman green-border is numbered to 99, and that's a pretty solid pull, too. Freeman's pretty awesome.

 Pack 8- Standard stuff, though nice of them to include Voit.
Ken Griffey is our obligatory Hall of Fame insert. Surprising they went for a picture from his 2009-2010 tenure in Seattle, rather than his legendary 90s run.

 Pack 9- Solid lineup here- three team heroes and a star rookie.
 This is a pretty cool Masterpiece insert of Randy Johnson. Kinda wish the rest of the set was set-up this way.

 Pack 10- More rookie nonsense. Paddack and Newman at least made it this year. And a Miguel Andujar, because sure.
This pack's Master and Apprentice, regardless of my hatred of the Cardinals, is pretty cool- Stan Musial and Paul Goldschmidt.

 Pack 11- Freeland and Luciano are good early-season estimates as to how 2019 would go. Ohtani and Jimenez are a bit more accurate.

 And here's a 65T of Miguel Andujar. I'm not complaining that I'm getting Andujar stuff here, but considering that Andujar is looking less and less like a part of the Yankees' future, I'm not sure how much use I'll have for him.

 Pack 12- Standard fare here. Ichiro looks awesome. Freddie we've seen.

 Pack 13- Rookies, an awesome Devers, and a well-painted Lindor.

And our second auto. I was worried this would be my second Sean Reid-Foley auto of the box. Thankfully it's only Reese McGuire, a sharp catching rookie who might go for a starting job in 2020.


Even better, I pulled a blue parallel, which are numbered to 50. Now granted, it is a Red Sox player, but as evidenced by a box break from earlier this year, Pedroia is one of the few lawful Sox pulls I will allow these days. Ya can't help but respect the way he plays.
 Pack 15- NOLA! Goldy! Not a bad smattering here.

Regardless of blurriness, this is another cool Master & Apprentice card of Frank Thomas and Eloy Jimenez. Honestly, I would have gone for Jose Abreu instead of Jimenez, but this still works.

 Pack 16- Hader's looks really cool, but that Judge is damn near perfect.

And a 65T insert of a guy I love pulling cards of, Buster Posey!

 Pack 17- Two Giants rookies, but both did things this year- Shaun Anderson was a solid low-rotation man, and Mike Yastrzemski was awesome. Lester and Bieber ain't bad either

 A LEGENDS SP of the great man on the package, Willie Mays!
 Pack 18- Nothing too special here, though I love that Boagerts card.

 A second HOF insert of another guy I can't go wrong with pulling cards of, SANDY KOUFAX.
 Pack 19- Well, here's the Reid-Foley I was expecting earlier, only this one's not an auto. Kluber's looks good.

 My second Masterpiece insert, a really cool one of Johnny Bench.

 Pack 20- The last of the base, including that needed Tatis rookie, and an awesome Folty.

 Of all the Master & Apprentice cards, this is the one I truly wanted- Vlad Sr. and Vlad Jr. This one looks so damned cool, and does both justice. I love it so much.

There was one more parallel left, a private stock parallel, #'d to 250, of 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts. Yes, I got Sox again, but...not a bad one to get. much as I gripe about this set, it's not BAD. It commits no sins. It just does some annoying things that are indicative of Topps' current release strategies. Base design is fine, inserts are great, hits are...expectedly meh, and I didn't feel gypped. So, all in all, not a bad deal.