June 9, 2014

Retail break: 2014 Topps Series 2 Baseball


Twitter sent me on a hunt for cards today. It was supposed to be football cards as I saw that 2014 Score hit retail early. Instead, I wound up at Target looking at a card aisle with nothing relatively new.

Then I looked behind me and saw several stacked, sealed cardboard boxes. I took a key and ripped the yellow seal to peek inside, and found 2014 Topps Series 2 baseball. The box was filled with rack packs, blasters and hanger packs.

I picked up two blasters and two rack packs for Dan and me to open. But I wanted to show off a few cards before I dig into the blaster fully later on – I’ll probably even scan more cards from the break.

Highlights from the rack pack (the Joe Mauer card pictured above is the commemorative patch that came in the blaster):


I got five inserts/parallels in the rack pack including this 1989 Die-Cut mini of Albert Pujols (you're welcome, Marie).

Jeff Bagwell Breakout Moments insert.

Denard Span Gold parallel.

Sonny Gray The Future is Now insert.

Cody Ross Green Camo parallel (1 in 35 packs).

Crazy-eyed Hunter Pence.

Kelly Johnson was the only Yankee I pulled from all the packs I opened so far

I did open a few packs from the blaster, but not all. That's where the Joe Mauer card above came from. Here are the highlights from the three packs I opened.

Saberstars is Topps giving credit to sabremetrics statistics. On this case, Chris Davis is showing off his WAR of 6.8.

Billy Hamilton The Future is Now insert

I am sure Gordon Beckham can throw it better than that.

Topps still working those Future Stars.

A Mets rookie.

Brian Wilson and his beard.

Chris Carter looking good with the shades.

That catcher does NOT look happy.

June 7, 2014

John Ryan Murphy finally gets it right


John Ryan Murphy apparently doesn’t like to be called JR.

I’m not sure who started the nickname for the New York Yankees backup catcher, but I noticed this season he’s constantly been referred to as John Ryan. When I asked about it, I was simply told he didn’t like it.

That kind of sucks since nearly all of his baseball cards refer to him as JR.



His first cards appear in 2009 in Donruss Elite Edition. His first Bowman cards are from 2010. They all say J.R. Murphy, and even his autograph looks like it's written as JR.



Why didn’t he tell anyone with the card companies that he wanted John Ryan instead of JR when he signed the cards? He still had cards coming in 2011 Topps Pro Debut and 2013 Topps Heritage Minors, which still list his name as JR. Even 2014 Bowman has it that way.

It wasn’t until 2014 Topps Archives came along that his name is finally the way he wants it with John Ryan Murphy completely written out for the baseball card world.


June 6, 2014

The steroid era is back ... on cards

Remember when everyone was crazy about steroids? We had to get those dirty players out of the game and clean up the wonderful game of baseball. Steroids have no place in sports!

OK, I’m being overdramatic, but many felt that way about PEDs back then and still feel that way now. I am not saying they’re right or wrong. Simply stating, they are there.

What’s interesting has been the latest baseball autographs offered in Topps release that feature a number of players from the steroid era. I noticed this while going through eBay listings for 2014 Topps Tier One. Autographs of Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro were there ready for someone reliving those years to snatch up the cards.

Personally, I don’t have an issue with these autographs being in sets. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa brought the country back to baseball after the 1994 strike. I was 18 during the memorable home run race. I watched every moment I could, tuning into SportsCenter to see if either had hit a home run that night. I was at work at The Sports Authority the night McGwire broke the record and immediately got a phone call from a friend to let me that he just passed Roger Maris’ record.

I was excited about the feat. Even though he knocked a Yankee from the top of the record book, I loved baseball so much and was thrilled to see someone break the record.

Obviously, we know how that all changed, but it doesn’t take away how I felt that night. So maybe it’s these memories – and the years in between – that makes it OK to collect these guys again.

Mark McGwire cards










June 5, 2014

Retirement hopefully brings more Mariano Rivera autograph cards to the market


Seeing one of your favorite players retire is not a fun thing to go through, especially when the player was one of the best at their position.

Mariano Rivera retired last season, now making me cringe anytime Joe Girardi makes a call to the bullpen. However, I did notice one advantage to Rivera hanging up his spikes – more autographs on the market.



Right now, Rivera is listed as having 297 autograph cards, according to the Beckett database. His first autograph cards appeared in 1996 Leaf Signature. He had a number of signed cards in the mid-2000s in sets like Triple Threads and Co-Signers. But there were just a handful of cards in 2011, and none from Topps in 2012 (but his signed cards did show up in Panini and Upper Deck).

Last year, he also had just a handful of signed cards hit the market – and only in high-end sets.



This year, Rivera has had cards appear in Donruss, ITG Past Present Future, Panini Prizm, Topps Gypsy Queen and Topps Tribute. They will also be in Topps Tier One, which comes out tomorrow. Yet, all these autographs have been limited, which makes it seem as though he is getting the Albert Pujols treatment – his autographs are limited and mostly appear in high-end.




Besides being Mariano Rivera and a New York Yankee, the other appeal of his autograph is his beautiful signature. He is probably in the top five when it comes to signatures in any sport. 

The real culprit in bringing more Rivera signature cards to the market seems to be Panini. It has included Rivera autographs in nearly all of its baseball releases. Even though some of the cards have been limited, something is still better than something.