Sunday, October 18, 2015

2015 Topps Heritage (Minor League)

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I continue to buy and collect the minor league products of the major companies.  Heritage ML, Pro Debut, Razor, Tri-Star Prospects Plus, Classic Best, Classic 4-sport (remember those?)...good lawd, if there is a minor league product out there, you can be damned sure that I'm gonna find it, buy it, and immediately regret it.

So, I went to the LCS for some rigid photo top loaders.  You see, I have been salvaging autographed books from some horrible places and then rescue the autographed pages from said books.  Before you can call me a blasphemer you should see this Rudy Giuliani that I found with mildew...yuck.  I am attempting to perform a service to the collecting community in my own way...saving autographs that would be tossed into landfills and the like.  So, anyway, I go to get my toploaders.  That was my goal, my mission.  The LCS owner got me sidetracked and I left with a box of 2015 Heritage ML. Dammit.

So, now that I own it and have opened it...I suppose it is my duty to tell you all about it.  First off, it's a minor league product so don't get too fucking excited.  Minor league stuff, even if that stud (Mike Trout, for instance) becomes a stud down the line, doesn't seem to hold the same value as the MLB stuff.  For example, I have a Pro Debut card signed by Mike Trout.  I do, and it's awesome.  But, is that card worth the same as a Bowman Chrome?  Fuck no.  It's minor league tries to hold up to the big boys but just can't.

Ok.  So let's get down to the 2015 Topps Heritage ML.  The base set is 200 cards.  Great for set builders.  But...there's like a bunch of variants.  They are:  Blue, Gum Damage (WTF?), Orange, Black, and Printing Plates.  Also, there are 25 short-printed variations.  So, that 200 card base set could explode if you really got into it.  You can find the checklist HERE.

What about the hits.  Each hobby box (which retails for between $65 and $75 bucks) will have two autographs and one relic.  Which leads me down this side path...why the fuck are relic cards being made anymore?  Do people really still care?  So...two autographs.  Which are, as far as my research can figure, always stickers.  No on-card signatures.  That's bullshit, Topps.

I'd like to sit here and tell you that the set rocks, has tons of killer autographs, and hits galore.  But, I can't.  Because none of that is true.  I would never lie to you people.

The autographs are what's to be expected.  Young guys, no history in the majors, with promise.  So, you may not know if your hits are worth a damned thing for another three, four, or more years from now.  It's a waiting game.

There is one minor subset of 2015 Heritage ML that intrigues me.  It's the Looming Legacy mini-subset.  From the looks it has autos from the past minor league players that made it big time: John Smoltz, Nomar, Chipper Jones, Vlad Guerrero and others. Looks kind of cool.

2015 Topps Heritage Minor League.  That's all folks.  Stay away.

What did we hit?

Color variants:

  • Foster Griffin, Jordan Betts, Grant Hockin - Blue
  • Nick Kingham - Orange


  • Josh Bell - Black jersey


  • Wes Parsons
  • Joe Gatto
*A big thank you to Sports Collectors Daily for the info on this dud.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Contributors Wanted

Can't Hit The Curve has done this before and have had no takers.  But, I shall not give up.

The blog is looking for a few contributors to give the blog a different voice other than mine. I do like my voice but...well, variety is the spice of life, right?

So, here's the rundown.

Let's start with the negatives:

  1. Can't Hit The Curve is NOT monetized (yet).  Therefore, I can't offer writers anything in the form of cash money.  It sucks, I know.  But, if you are a part time writer that wants to get things of his/her chest, I can offer you that opportunity.
  2. Can't Hit The Curve has a limited readership (for now).  However, new voices bring new readers and higher Google rankings and if you know anything about analytics...well, this is a good thing for future monetization.  
That's the negative side.   No cash is a biggie.

But, the positives are astounding!
  1. Can't Hit The Curve is open to ANYTHING.  I mean anything.  As long as what you have to say is relevant to collecting and memorabilia and baseball...well, the gloves are off.  You can say whatever you want.  And if you use the word "fuck" like I do on occasion (often), that's okay!
  2. You can be in on the ground floor.  Look, I want this blog to be a big one in the hobby.  Doing it alone...well, it's gonna stay about the same size.  That's just being honest.  But, new voices can bring a fresh vibe and the sky is the limit.  If money starts to be made off this venture...I take care of my peeps.
  3. Creativity is welcomed.  From site design to topics to the color of socks I can have a say into what is created.  I'm open for all kinds of ideas.  For reals.
  4. Submit as much or as little as you would like.  Bottom line is there is NO pressure.
  5. There will be little in the way of editing on this side.  Unless what you write is totally jacked or was written after about 8 Natural Lights, I'm pretty hands off.  If you have images you want put up...okey dokey.  No worries.  
  6. You can get some writing experience.  Believe it or not, I can write one hell of a reference letter.
There are more positives, I'm sure.  But...the way my elbow is resting on this table is telling me it's about time to wrap up.  Ouch.

What I'm looking for (this is simple):
  1. You can write.  I'm not looking for a John Updike-talent writer (although that would be rad), just someone or someones who can string words together coherently.  Simple as that.
  2. You know a bit about baseball, collecting, and memorabilia.  Experts?  Yeah, that'd be nice.  But, seriously just a regular old collector would do.
  3. You're cool.  By that, I mean easy to get along least through email.
  4. You know social media a little.  It helps to be able to push this mofo on Twitter and the like, you know?  I do my best but that shit takes time.
That's it.  So, this is perfect for individuals who collect who got shit to say.  Students?  Sure, come on aboard.  Aspiring bloggers/writers?  Yeah, buddy.  Bored out-of-work welders with a slight limp and a speech impediment?  Hell Yeth.  Come on folks, take a shot. 

What's the worst thing that can happen?  

You might actually have a little fun doing it.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2105 Topps Chrome

I'm a Topps Chrome fan.  Although I do admit this, there are times when I really hate that I actually like this product.  For one, the cards curl.  This infuriates me and it always has.  Before a fan can get a pack of these things open...bam...they're curling up on you.  Man, this sucks.  

Also, Topps Chrome is one of those 'middle range' products that lowly collectors can actually afford. It's not quite Museum or Tier 1 quality...but, it ain't Topps Total, either.  Therefore, I have had very little luck in the hit department with Chrome.  

But, for some reason I stick with it.  Maybe it's the price point.  Ok, it's definitely the price.

So, when word hit the interwebs that Chrome was coming, I began saving them pennies.  Then, just yesterday, I hit the old LCS and got me a box.  Let the disappointment begin.

The look of the cards is fairly ok.  It looks like shiny regular old Topps.  So, it's colorful and all that jazz.  The base set is also only 200 cards.  This should make set collectors happy.  I can also testify that in my box there were a few, but not overly so, duplicates inserted.

Refractors.  Oh my, are there refractors.  Purple, orange, green, red, and the ever-elusive 1/1 superfractor are all present and accounted for.  My box turned up two...a green Nolan Arenado and a purple Melvin Mercedes (who the fuck is that?).

Your autographs pretty much stick to the stars of the game.  Meaning, you're only gonna see today's rookies and star players represented.  If you are looking for a Manny Ramirez auto...well, this ain't the product you are looking for.  But, there are some pretty tasty autos to be had, if you are lucky. Me?  No luck.  Hell, in all my years of buying Topps Chrome my best auto pull was a RC Johnny Cueto...non-refractor.  The rest have been ho-hum.

Yes, there are little subsets.  But, not like you would expect in a big release product.  Nothing really to get all that excited about.

One pet peeve.  Topps decided that it would be fun to package the cards FOUR to a pack.  This resulted in ripping open 32 packs just to get a gander at four cards.  Give me sixteen packs of eight any day of the week.  It got old after the first stack.

If you like Topps Chrome, like me, then you will not be disappointed in this year's release.  If you don't care either way about something else (Allen & Ginter, for example).  

Topps's just ok!

How CHTC did with our box?
-  The aforementioned Arenado green and Mercedes purple refractors.
-  Gallery of Greats Tulowitzki (black) and Anthony Rizzo (gold /50)
-  Future Stars Soler and Steven Moya
-  Kevin Plawecki auto and Jason Rogers auto (#'d to 499)

*As always, a special thanks to Cardboard Connection for not getting pissed when I swipe your images!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

2016 Topps Sneak Preview: Everyone's a Critic


So.  Topps gave the fans a sneak peek at their flagship line's new design.  The collector world has suddenly become burdened with a glut of "experts" and "critics" out there.  Now, just to be clear...this was the ONLY image that was released.  No other info.  Nothing about inserts, hits, or what have you.  There have been so many people expressing their opinions and giving a thumbs up or thumbs down on the entire design of a card set based off of ONE image.  ONE.  Dammit, the internet is a strange place.

For all the haters out there, I toss at you the following images.

1992.  Blue and orange, baby.  Remember how bad this set looked?  Remember?  Yeah, it was pretty bad...but it gets worse.

1996.  The futuristic design was pretty cool, right?  Right?  Hello?...Is this thing on?

2003.  Where my critics at?  Anyone out there?

2007.  Good luck finding an oh-seven Topps in good shape.  That black was awful...and it chipped easily.

Bottom Line:  The 2016 Topps design could be MUCH worse.  It HAS been much worse.  Before casting stones, let's look at the history of Topps designs.  In retrospect, this one looks pretty dang good.

Cheers, haters!

BTW...Cardboard Connection has a killer timeline of all Topps baseball card designs from 1950 until now.  Very worth going back to see how the company has evolved.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Is TTM Auto Collecting a Dying Art?

Over the years, I have had spurts of sending out autograph requests through the mail.  There have been many successes and many lost stamps and cards.  But, I have noticed there has been a noticable tail off on returns over the past four or five years.  Simply put...I feel like the art of TTM is circling the drain.

There is one main culprit to the decline of TTM successes...eBay.

As it turns out, players dislike seeing their signatures bringing dollars online...if people can get cash for their signatures why shouldn't they be getting the money themselves.  It's human nature to think this way and I totally understand that.  But, it just kills the chances for people like myself who don't really intend to sell off their collection gained through the mail.  As a TTM guy, I hate this.  eBay is to blame.  Sort of.

Another problem I see with TTM autograph collecting's staying power is the player's themselves.  Actually, it's kind of a society problem.  Think about it, how many players in the league right now grew up WITHOUT email?  Those same players have never put an autograph request into the mailbox and waited months, and even years, for a return.  So, knowing that many of the league's players have never taken part in the TTM experience it's understood that they just don't get it.  They don't understand the appeal...not like the old timers did.

Players can interact with their fans in a number of ways.  Whether it be Twitter or any other social media outlet, the novelty of getting an actual letter is missed.  Hell, many players talk to fans all the time.  Why would a letter be special?

Another big culprit in the demise of TTM are the ball clubs.  I know for a fact that a number of teams (ahem...looking at you Rockies and Tigers) will only pass on TTM autograph requests to players if a small fee for charity is received.  The clubs are collecting for charity, which is cool.  But, TTM guys and gals collect this way because money is tight.  A buck or two will complete a TTM request...we don't have the extra 20 it will take to get a return from a Tiger.

Maybe it's just a sign of the times that through the mail autograph collecting is dying out.  Social media, eBay player attitudes, and the clubs themselves are all players in the demise of a once fantastic hobby.  We can, of course, play the blame game all day long.  But, it just makes me sad that TTM is dying off.

Also, I haven't gotten a return in almost a year and I send out a few requests a month.  But, I likely won't stop trying.  I'll do my best to keep this small section of the hobby alive.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

AROD 3k + Zack Hample

Alex Rodriguez.  Much vilified and, probably, rightly so.  But, we must remember that A-Rod is a gifted ballplayer...PED's or not.

So, a few weeks ago Alex hit his 3 thousandth hit...a home run.  Still an awesome feat even under the circumstances of his meteoric fall from grace over the past few seasons.  That ball flew out of the stands in Yankee Stadium and into the hands of...Zack Hample.

Don't know Zack?  Well, by now, most of you do.  But, Zack Hample is a professional baseball-snagger. Over I don't know how many years, Mr. Hample has collected over 8 thousand(!) baseballs.  These have come from player and manager toss ups, foul balls, batting practice hits, and...well, historic...home runs. Personally, I find what Zack does to be fascinating.  It takes dedication and skill to amass that many baseballs in professional ballparks.  It really is amazing.

To be truthful, I was unsure even to write this particular entry.  But, it does have to do with baseball and, it fits here.

Back to the story.  Zack hauled in A-Rod's historic homer and security and the like mobbed him.  But, that young man was now faced with a huge decision:  What to do with the ball?

I wish that I was as famous as that friggin' baseball.  It made the rounds all over New York, has been on talk shows, radio shows, and national television.  Of course, it was all in the presence of it's owner, Zack Hample.

Zack was bombarded with social media messages and emails and phone calls from the famous (the Yankees) and the not-so-famous (insert neckbearded Yankee Tweeter name here).  Many of these communiques were amazing.  Zack got messages that he should "do the right thing and give A-Rod the ball", "not be a douche" and was called a litany of names that would make a construction worker blush.  But, Mr. Hample took it all in stride while taking his time about what to do with the baseball.

Let me say write now, for the record:  Zack Hample is a saint.  Let me tell you why.

Zack decided to have the Yankees give $150,000 to his favorite charity (Pitch In For Baseball).  The only thing he would walk away with is a couple of signed bats.  The Yankees, and Alex Rodriguez, got of CHEAP!

If this were me?  Old J. from Can't Hit The Curve would have CASHED IN.  For real.  My house would be paid off and I would be working full time on my more work for this sucka!  Of course, I'm sure that makes me evil and a pariah in NY.  However, I dare any of you Yankee fans that say you wouldn't do the same thing.

But, no.  Zack Hample turned and gave what could have been a huge payday to a worthwhile charity.  He, himself, got peanuts.  So, that qualifies for sainthood in my non-religious opinion.  But, what do I know?

So, now Alex Rodriguez has his baseball back.  The Yankees are out 150 grand (like it even bothers them). A charity has funds to do great things.  Zack has a couple of bats.  I have usual.  So, all is right in the world.

The outpouring of hate towards Zack Hample during this whole situation bothered me.  I'm sure it did him, too.  What we all need to remember that baseball is a GAME.  A game, folks.  Zack is a person and did his best to make the most of a weird situation for him.

So, Zack, I say kudos.  You seem like a stand up dude and I respect that.

But, like I said, this guy would not have been so saintly.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

2015 Topps Stadium Club

From inception back in the early 90's, Stadium Club has been a product that has prided itself on the quality of their images.  The photography has always been a bit unique, covers the entire card, and is always outstanding.  This variation of Stadium Club is absolutely no different.  It's all about the photos, man.

Each hobby box comes has a two autograph guarantee, which are both on-card (which is awesome).  I'm usually not a snob when it comes to on-card signatures...but, as I get older I am being more selective about on-card vs. sticker.  But, that's just me.

The set itself is a respectable 300 cards with multiple variations of each.  Gold foil, black and white foil, black foil, foil board, Members Only, etc...  Basically, there are variants upon variants in this one.  You'll have to do some digging to see which foil variants are numbered to what.  This was not made clear at the outset.

Seriously though, I came back to Stadium Club for the photography.  Rarely do I like to go back through a box of cards just to look at the pictures.  But, for this one...I can see myself doing just that every couple years or so.  The photos are just rad and unique.

The autograph selection is predictably strong.  It is Topps, you know.  So, the usual subjects will all be represented:  Longoria, Ortiz, Kershaw...blah blah blah.  They are all there.

Stadium Club has inserts galore.  Die Cut, Crystal Ball (WTF?), Triumvirate, True Colors, and 1992 autograph buybacks.  There is a little something for everyone in this set.

Can't Hit The Curve bought a box just for you all.  Broke it open and was pleasantly surprised.  Here's the break down.

2 On Card autos (Marcus Stroman and Arismendy Alcantara black foil #'d to 50)
2 die cut cards (Ted Williams legends, A. Rendon Triumvirate)
11 foil variants (9 - gold foil, 2 -black foil)
Plus...VERY few duplicates, which is nice.

Overall, I have been very pleased with this set.  Great photos (of course), good selection of players, and a wide variety of hits in each box.  In my opinion, you could do much much worse when selecting a box of product to buy.  The price isn't bad, either.

All in all, a good buy.

2015 Panini DIamond Kings

It's really been too long since I have enlightened readers on Can't Hit The Curve.  For that, I apologize. Writing a blog on a regular basis can be hard when life and stuff takes center stage.  Not an excuse; just reality.

To break the info freeze, I will delve into the 2015 edition of Panini Diamond Kings.

First off, Diamond Kings is a super short set...only 150 cards in the base set with an additional 50 rookies.  So, right off the jump let's just say that for set collectors this one should be really easy.  But, every card in the base set has a variant, as well.

The variants:

  • Framed red, silver and framed blue are #'d to 99
  • Gold are #'d to 25
  • Framed green are #'d to 5
  • Black and Framed black are 1 of 1's.

The hits are there too, folks.  Autographs of many top tier rookies as well as memorabilia cards are all represented.  My personal favorite sub-set of hits would have to the the Hall of Fame Heroes.  Pedro, Randy, Murray, Fisk, and Ripken, Jr. (among others) are represented.  It's a nice looking card although the autos look like they are affixed with stickers (boo).

The look of the card has the flair of an "arty"-type set.  Each card pops with color and the images (drawings) of each player tend to be pretty solid.  So, the cards look good...not superb, but pretty decent.

In all, I would say for the price, this seems to be a fairly good buy.  Small set, lots of hits, and many variants should keep all types of collectors interested for a while.  Somehow, I don't see this particular brand of Panini carrying on for a long time.  It could be a one-hit-wonder kind of like the ill-fated T206 set from a few years ago.

I really like this card...and I'm not even a Hosmer fan.
I did buy two packs for research purposes.  Here's what I got:  not much.  Just a base Mike Trout card and an Also Known As Lou Gehrig card.  But, hey, it was only two packs, right?

Thanks again to for the image hookup.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Topps 2015

Well, it's that time of year again (or it has been for a few weeks).  But, it's the time for the Topps Company's flagship line has hit the shelves again.  This is an exciting time of year for baseball card collectors.  I bought a few packs of the Topps 2015 (jumbos) and the verdict, at least the verdict of Can't Hit the Curve (for whatever it's worth) is in...

Topps 2015 Baseball is...wait for it...out-freaking-standing.

While Topps normally does a fairly decent job (at the low-end...think 2008) to pretty good, this year I think the company has outdone themselves.  The card design is beautiful.  A little bit flashy, but not overdone.  Great images.  A HUGE set.  This is a good one folks.

Normally, I'm not really a Topps flagship collector.  This particular year...well, my bank account may take a hit.

The set itself is 350 cards for Series I.  This is likely to clock in at over 700 by the time that series 2 is added sometime later.  So, set collectors should be prepared to purchase many boxes if you are going to be building the set on your own instead of just buying a pre-packaged set (that's boring).

There are the normal variations and some of them are:
Gold:  #'d/2015
Snow camo:  #'d/99
Black:  #'d/64
Pink:  #'d/50
Printing Plates:  1/1
Platinum:  1/1

So, many variants are involved in this set.  My only gripe is that the traditional stamping method used by Topps (basically, just black printing on back) is a little bit old-school and cheap.  Come on Topps. Let's go with the foil stamping for those variants, huh?

Moving on.  Hit chasers will have a tough time.  The hobby boxes have one guess that this will likely be a Game Used card for the most part although autographs can be had.  The jumbos have one autograph per box...that's kind of low for a jumbo box.  But, that's ok.  Just be forewarned hit hunters, you may get a bunch of game used.

The autograph selection is typically strong.  You'll see the likes of young stars like Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, and Yasiel Puig.  So, pretty good.  But, there are some older timers in there, as well.  Mariano Rivera, Mark McGwire, Rickey-being-Rickey Henderson, and Hank Aaron all make an appearance.  Pretty good stable of autos out there somewhere.

But, what I think is exciting is the possibility of hitting cut autographs (which are predictably very rare...but there is a chance!) of:  Bill Clinton, Ted Williams, Gerald Ford, General Eisenhower, and Steve Wozniak.  A very interesting and historic lot of cuts.

The checklist is huge.  So, here's a link over to our friends at Cardboard Connection and you can view the entire thing there.  CHECKLIST.

Overall, we think that Topps has stepped up their game on this year's set.  Gone are the lame white borders, the lame black borders (which chipped horribly) and new colorful but tasteful borders have been introduced.  The photos are typical Topps-quality.

Kudos, Topps.  Now, go buy a box.