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.