Tuesday, March 17, 2015

'Tis The Season To Be Zippy.

       I have declared this month the one where I settle all draft folder business.  I have finally (and mercifully) come to the end of my first tier of posts to close out, my unwritten trades.  It is a relief to have these out of the draft folder and into the world, if only to thank the kind souls who sent me stuff. 

This past Christmas brought me few glad tidings and fewer reasons for good cheer, but one shining exception was an unexpected package I received from Kenny, aka Zippy Zappy.  Kenny and I have exchanged packages since he started his blog two years ago and I must say, if we were keeping score, I would say he's winning.  This one was sent as a holiday gift in thanks for all our past swaps. 
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If you read his blog, you'll know that ZZ is a huge prospector and his love of rookies was my gain here, as I am now flush in minor league Mets.  One name really stands out here, L.J. Mazzilli is the son of Mets favorite Lee.  This was great to get in December but that joy has been slightly tarnished now that he has been suspended 50 games of the 2015 season.  Luckily, that tiny Dominic Smith card more than makes up for that.

ZZ sends off some major league cards too. 
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Better than jokes about my shiny Dickey would be mentioning my handsome little Dickey, right? Right?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

Back to the bread and butter of ZZ, the rookie prospects.  Here is a six pack of Extra Edition.  I have heard of two of these guys, so in that arena I am batting a cool .333.
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There was a bit of gratuitous junk wax, which is fine, but what makes these stand out is the immortal Kelvin Torve, the first Mets player since Willie Mays to wear #24 (the number is unofficially retired).  Hey, it's nice to have something to be remembered for.

Some more major league cards. I have a soft spot for that Topps Ticket to Stardom set from a few years ago, so it was nice to see more of those, including a Jose Reyes insert I didn't have.
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Seeing Luis Castillo going up for a pop-up is kind of a mean photo, Upper Deck.  Mets fans know what I am talking about. Lets move on before I get mad.

There was a few more older Mets cards, including a tremendous 1972 Tug McGraw card that I somehow didn't have. 
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He also included some New Jersey Devils cards.  I haven't bought much new hockey in the last decade or so, so these are always appreciated.  It would have been even more appropriate if they were in their green and red uniforms, given the time I got this package. 

Last but not least is the absolute highlight of all these cards:
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In our first trade, Kenny included a Japanese David Wright card and even translated it for me.  Here, he makes me a multiple David Wright Asian card collector with another oddball from the far east.  He also wished me Happy Holidays in Japanese.  So let me return the fond wishes here, on St. Patrick's Day mind you, and say thanks for Zapping me for Christmas, Kenny.  I should probably take down my tree, now that I think of it.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I have ended a long fallow period of blogging and declared this month the one where I settle all draft folder business so I can move on anew without dozens of unfinished posts hanging over my head.  This past week, I have concentrated on trade posts that for whatever reason, did not get completed. 

       In one week of August 2014, I received not one but two packages in return for my sending out unsolicited cards.  The first bunch is a perfect little pile from everyone's favorite chronicler, Fuji.  Apparently, I had sent him a little something in a fit of mass mailing and these are the cards he came back with:
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I must say, two game used cards and two autographs is tough to beat.  I especially love the Jorge Toca, one of my favorite Mets prospects that never panned out.  He was supposed to be the Cuban savior and he wasn't even as good as a Cuban sandwich.  Plus, it is hard to beat a shiny Dickey and an even shinier David Wright.  Allow me to extend a 遅ればせながら ありがとう to Fuji for these great cards I know I can use.

The other package that arrived in the dog days was one from Robert of $30 a Week Habit.  I had sent him a stack of gold numbered parallels I had found in a dime box over the summer for his Insanity Set.  Finding cards for this project of his has been one of my favorite altruistic distractions and he always returns the favor in kind.  This time, he outdid himself:
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First of all, more than anyone, Robert looks at and follows my want lists.  He sent me a half dozen 1983-84 OPC hockey cards for one of my pages.  And then, not to be out done, he sent a low numbered camo Mets card from 2013 and a Johan Santana game used Heritage jersey card.  Johan will always be a hero to us Mets fan, so this piece of cloth was greatly appreciated.
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I always refer to how endlessly polite Robert is, and his friendly note that was included in the package is no different.  Thank you, Robert.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

More PWE Goodness from Off-Hiatus.

I have declared this month the one where I settle all draft folder business.  After a nice little respite yesterday, I continue with this week's project, taking care of all the trade posts that did not get posted.

Here on the Ides of March, I will highlight a fun little swap I did with Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball.  Tony is one of the most organized collectors I have seen in the blogosphere.  He consistently posts trade bait and is very good with the turnaround.  I saw in that post he had some Goodwin Champions baseball cards I could use to complete the page I was making.  I only wanted those two cards, so we quickly came to an agreement, a couple Gary Carter cards for those two aforementioned Champions.  A simple plain white envelope exchange.  Here they are, vintage classics both:
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The PWE arrived well protected with a thick paper note and proper use of scotch tape, in this case, using it to support an easily removed post-it. 
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Thank you so much, Tony (even if it is three and half months later than your own post).

Ah, but really, all this is an excuse to showcase the Goodwin Champions page I put together, which is in and of itself just an excuse to showcase one of my new favorite cards of all time.
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See, Upper Deck doesn't have a MLB license anymore so they have to get creative in how they display baseball players in their sets.  In this case, they have done something amazing:
The Penguin dressed as a penguin. I can't even.
That is Ron Cey, one of my favorite players, nicknamed The Penguin, in a tuxedo.  There is no way that is an accident.  That is simply amazing and you are now looking at one of my top five cards of all time.  Upper Deck's attempts at issuing baseball cards have been hit or miss at best for the last 5+ years but this one makes up for all of it.  I am ashamed it has taken me this long to highlight this stroke of brilliance.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Easy as Pi.

If you know the words, sing along...
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Not enough for you?
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You can always go look at my breakdown of the classic Topps American Pie sets.  As for me, I am going to have a nice big slice of cherry pie for breakfast.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Break It Down For Me, Fellas.

Due to the copious amount of half-writtten posts therein, I have declared March to be the month where I settle all unfinished draft folder business.  This next week, I am bound and determined to get up and thank all of the kind souls who have traded with me and sent me cards. 

      Yesterday, I posted a contest winner and low and behold today I discovered another pile of booty I won from a generous blogger that had not been given proper showcase.  This batch comes from Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown, a fine blog I suggest highly (mostly because of stuff like this).  Last June, defgav held a One Year Anniversary contest where the prizes were lots and lots of lots of autographs.  And when he announced the winner in early July, the randomizer had given me the magic number of 21 which came up, so thank you random chance and Marquis Grissom for the following lot:
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I chose the lot with the nicest Mets autograph - shocker, I know.  The Ron Swoboda has found a happy place in my Amazin' auto collection; odd coincidence that this is the second mention of good ol' Ron this week.  The George Foster auto is also pretty cool, and as for Toby Harrah and Daryl Boston, well, they aren't bad guys, are they.  Heck, those Topps Retired autos are cool no matter what.  The other 5 cards here I think are in return for the aforementioned Marquis Grissom rookies I sent Gavin.  Or maybe he just threw them in because he's a nice guy.  I honestly can't recall.  Who knew that Jacob DeGrom would pitch so well and win Rookie of the Year?

Oh, but that's not all for this little post, look at this:
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You gotta love the use of old school stamps for the job they were intended.  When I worked at the baseball card store back in the day, we used to buy stamp collections for pennies on the dollar (since most stamps aren't worth more than what they are issued for, after all) and then used most of the stamps to just mail stuff.  It was a slightly ingenious/diabolical way to keep shipping costs down.  Lastly, take a good look at the note Gavin included...

He drew me a David Wright sketch card!
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As you can see, I cut that beauty out right away and believe me, it has since found a place of honor in my Wright collection as (technically) my first 1 of 1 of him.  Thanks Gavin!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Everything But The Verlanders.

This month, I settle all draft folder business.  This week in particular, I am clearing out all the trade posts that I began but for whatever reason, did not finish. 

This one is not so much a trade post as it is a contest winning post, but hey, stuff came in the mail from someone else, so it counts.  This pile of goodness came in June of 2014 from Dennis of Too Many Verlanders (née Too Many Grandersons, who currently patrols right field for my Mets).  Thanks to the magic of randomization, I came in 6th in his spring cleaning sweepstakes and got to choose from an array of prizes.  He was also just flat out giving away stuff and I chose a couple of lots from that booty as well. 
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Given that the best cards were gone, I decided to try my luck: behold a 100 card Super Value (re)Pack.  The lots I got were one of Mark McGwire (because why not) and the creative batch of "what's news" football cards: New York, New England, and New Orleans. 

Here are what I thought were the best cards from the first pocket of the repack:
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Most of these speak for themselves.  There is a Met, a trade line, a nifty photo, some vague 80s Fleer, The Penguin, a 1970's Expo, and a couple of Tigers, the last no doubt chosen because of the originator of the pack. 

I remember opening this repack vividly because of the second pocket of cards:
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Yup, someone down in repack central thought this collation was a good idea.  Dinged corners aside, this means some Big Topps oddballs are coming!

This repack was obviously meant for a Tigers fan because of the mass quantity of bengals there in.  There is also a nice Daniel Murphy in there too. 
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 Before there was such a glut of faux-vintage nostalgia cards everywhere, there was Big Topps.  They made the cards in the slightly larger size of 1950s cards and included funny little cartoons on the back.  They were so ahead of their time.  They produced these for three years to a very bemused and uncaring public.  They should bring these back.  Oh wait, they've done Heritage for 15 years now, never mind.

The McGwire lot included some wonderful shiny stuff.
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I think we all have a soft spot in our hearts for Big Mac.  I know I do.  I liked those late 80s A's teams against my better judgment and very few will say they hated the 1998 season at the time.  Unless you always hated Mark McGwire, I see very little reason hating him now.  The difference between McGwire and Barry Bonds is I always hated Barry Bonds from moment one; PEDs don't even come into either discussion.

There were some big cards in the package as well, bigger than even the Big Topps.  Dennis took special care to make sure I didn't think that sandwich of cardboard had cards in it and was not a spacer.  How nice. 
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Oh yeah, and that 1978 Expo was not just an old card, it was an O-Pee-Chee.  I cannot recall ever getting vintage Canadian goodness in a repack.  Just a great package all around.

Dennis also included a nice little note congratulating me on my win:
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Thank you, Dennis!  Your obsessive player collecting is an inspiration to us all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Trade with Dime Boxes.

This month has been declared the one where I settle all draft folder business.  This week I am focusing upon the trade posts that I scanned and set up, but for some reason, did not complete. 

Last July, I had a card overload, full of show trips, dog sitting, and sorting through a lot of new product that I had ripped but not collated properly. I had a great time doing nothing and as I read through blogs, I could go through want lists and help out.  Enter Nick and his blog Dime Boxes - The Low-End Baseball Card Collector's Journey (sort of the blog equivalent of How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). I am a huge fan of this frugal and eclectic approach to collecting.  When I posted Topps series two, Nick let me know he was building the set and would like to swap to get my cards since I was not.  I checked out his wantlists and saw he needed a bunch of other 2014 stuff as well and I sent him an email and after the usual back and forth, I sent off a metric fuckton* of cards from his lists.

In return, a few weeks later, I found a fat and heavy jiffy pack full of Mets cards. 
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That John Maine covers not only my love of Mets cards but one of my favorite collecting quirks. It is also impressive to find a Mike Piazza card I do not have.

This pack was loaded with oddballs and oddities.  I mean, when was the last time you got a package with two pitchers batting cards?  Not to mention a player taking photos card?
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Plus there was two vague shiny Mets I didn't have, that 3D Bonilla and that dufex Murray.  The early 90s were a black hole for the Mets, but the cards were pretty sweet.

And the oddballs keep coming fast and furious here.  Food issues, box sets, Ted Williams faux-vintage and...
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...SSPC cards.  How great is it when an Archives reprint is the least oddball of any card in a scan?

Speaking of faux-vintage, there was some Tom Terrific cards too.  And some Nolan Ryan on the Mets cards. I need to make a Nolan Ryan Mets page now that I finally have more cards of him in blue and orange than cowboy hats.
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And low and behold, it's one of my all time favorite card sets from the 1990s, that hot pink Classic update set.  I have the whole set somewhere - I recall buying a bunch of those on clearance at Bradlees back in the day - I just didn't have a single of that Julio Machado card. Machado was a pretty terrible pitcher but he is famous for eating iguana and randomly killing a woman after a car accident.  Seriously, I couldn't make that up if I tried.

Not only were there great Mets cards in the package, there were some cards straight off my want lists too.  He sent cards for my Mike Trout collection and my Jim Bunning and Jim Kaat pages.  I am still torn if I should start a Trout collection but I am accumulating his cards anyway.
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Also from my player collections were a couple of Jeff Bagwells and Reggie Jacksons, two of my faves.  That center Bagwell hologram is so beautiful yet so vague, I'd never even seen it before. 

There was so much in that package, I obviously ran out of patience for it and just did a Gilligan's Island "and the rest" on it.  Just from here, I see Diamond Kings, more food issues, more Classic, some 1985 All Star cards, 1990 Score Traded, a couple more Reggie Jacksons, and I wisely emphasized the 1966 Topps Dan Napoleon. That is a super card.
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Nick put a friendly little note in with the trade pack and yes, I can assure you these cards found me well.  I am just sorry it took me so long to post this awesome trade.  Thanks, Nick!

*it's an industry term

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mail Call: Wes is More.

Yesterday, I declared this month the one I settle all draft folder business.  This week, specifically, I am clearing out the forgotten trade post drafts that got lost along the way. 

The first one of these I did was over two years old (shame on me!), luckily, this one is only a year old.  Wes of Jaybarkerfan's Junk is one of the most generous and prolific traders I have come across during my blogging.  He straight trades, he holds contest after contest, he organizes card drafts that have quality stuff, and sometimes, he just plain gives shit away.  Back in the winter of 2014, he declared that if you sent him a SASE and a team, he would send you as many cards as he could stuff into it.  Pretty sweet deal and of course I couldn't resist because free stuff.
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He included a very shiny and see-thru Todd Hundley - one I didn't have - and a recent Gary Carter insert that I had yet to procure (and one that I have received a couple times since, but Wes was first).  There is some junk wax (Mookie is never junk, though) and some Mets cards from one of my all time favorite sets, the 1981 Topps.  All this for nothing more than .69 worth of stamps. 
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I really wish I could remember why I scanned the back of that Elliott Maddox card.  I haven't a clue, to be honest.  I do see he played for the Senators back in 1971, which to a six year old in 1981 would have seemed like some kind of dark age, but I digress.  I also see that Wes stuffed that envelope so full, the post office machines tried to eat it.  Damn you USPS but thank you, Wes.  It's nice that this post came up today since yesterday I mailed out the scratch off from 2015 Topps I pulled to Wes because he asked for it.  Enjoy!


Since this was designated a Mail Call, there is stuff from Listia as well.  I recall picking up these Mariano Rivera cards to finish off his page (or maybe to start a second?).  Mo is now long gone now;  these old posts are gonna make me sad.
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The other cards in this scan were an odd Mets lot, one with a Ron Swoboda card I had never seen before:
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Ron Swoboda would have been just another vague Mets outfielder, but he made the wise decision to make an amazing catch in the World Series.  Ask Sandy Amoros or Al Gionfriddo if this is a good idea or not.  Anyway, this oddball card commemorates the catch and I had to have it. 

Last but not least is a card that probably should have its own post, but it was included in this one and it is a shame but hey, I may as well cover it since it is here.  I do remember very vividly the odyssey of this card. 
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Yes, that is a brutally miscut 1994 Upper Deck card.  The front is half Frank Thomas and half Cliff Floyd and the back is all Alex Fernandez.  When I saw it on Listia, I immediately became obsessed with it.  I had to add it to my collection, both for the big error and the Big Hurt.  I watched it, I bid on it, I nursed the bids, and in the end, I won it.  Then began a two pronged issue.  One, right after I won the card I got an email from some other dude saying he wanted the card.  He really really wanted the card.  Would I relist it for twice as many credits?  I turned him down.  He offered me $10, then $20 for it.  I still said no.  He must has emailed me 50 times with different scenarios and reasons begging me for the card.  It got so bad, I eventually had to block him.  Then after all that, the card took weeks to show up.  The seller had an impeccable feedback rating, so I found this odd.  Turns out, though, he tried mailing it in a PWE in the screwdown you see in the scan.  Seriously.  Somehow, it found it's way to me in a mangled envelope in the (in)famous USPS 'oops' plastic bag.  Now that I think of it, that might be why I included it with this post since Wes' SASE got eaten by the hungry machines as well.  Let this be a lesson to you kids, pack your cards securely and wisely because those evil sorting machines show no mercy. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Altruism.

       I am going to settle all my draft folder business this month.  This week, specifically, I am going to post the half dozen or so trade posts that are languishing half-written or merely just scanned in.  You can't move forward with things half done. 

First off is a package I got in January of 2013(!) from the very generous Matt of Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius.  I had send him a Mars Attacks 1 of 1 sketch card I had pulled with no strings attached and while he promised reciprocation, I couldn't have expected the haul he would answer with just a few months later:

Three game used cards (that's Dwight Gooden, Jeff Bagwell, and David Wright - he read my wantlists, obviously), a Jose Reyes manu-patch, and a glorious vintage combo card?  Are you kidding me?  How could I have not posted this right away?  I am going to blame my swooning lightheadedness and the winter of two years ago for this oversight.  But, better late than never, thanks Matt!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Dark Knight (and this blogger) Returns.

       So the other day, while slogging through yet another long terrible winter day, something magical happened.  I turned on the TV and there was blue skies and green grass.  Even better, Matt Harvey was on the mound in a spring training game throwing pitches for the first time in 18 months.  I have had an awful go of it the last few months between the weather and health and death and car crashes and a dozen other things that seem to get to me this time of year every single year.  I haven't been in the mood to get out of bed much less focus on my hobby (and my complete lack of writing the last 8 weeks can attest to this) but like magic, the Mets show up in Florida and my brain suddenly snaps back into shape.  Sure, it doesn't solve all my problems or issues, but it sure as hell makes me feel better and look forward to spring.  Harvey was brilliant in 2 short innings and my mood improved ten fold, to the point where while I did some shopping, some new cards found their way into my basket.
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So while I am a little late, lets take a look at the new 2015 Topps.
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My blaster came with ten 10-card packs and a little manu-patch pack as well.  I had seen some previews and reviews of the new flagship offering, but I like to wait until I have them in my hands to formulate an opinion.
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Well, they certainly are colorful.  But even with all those bursts of color in the borders, there is a cleanness to the design.  No extra waves or flourishes like last year, just name, position, logo.  Sure, the little graphics in the color splashes looks like something out of Upper Deck circa 2002, but hey, what can you do?  It's not too boring and not too busy; Goldilocks would eat this design.

There was some parallels in there, of course, and I like them. They jazzed up the obligatory gold parallel a little for a change and though you can't see it from the scan, the one in the middle is called Snow Camo, certainly more than a little different.  The one on the right is a rainbow foil, sort of a discount refractor but reminiscent of the 1995 Cyberstat parallels that I am so fond of.  I'll need to put together a page of those shiny badboys.  They also seem to have eliminated the store-based rainbow of parallels, a most welcome addition by subtraction.
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The inserts are a predictable range, one with yearly highlights, creatively named Highlights of the Year, a then-and-now type set called Inspired Play, and some current and past stars mixed together in a set called archetypes. I am keeping the Frank Thomas/Jose Abreu card, but any of the others here are available for trade.

Let's go a little deeper into the base...
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I think this design actually works better horizontally.  It allows the texture in the color border to breath and opens it up a little. 

They expanded the base set to 350 cards, giving Topps more room to add players and concepts, and yet they seem to have stuck to the template they have used for a while in terms of subsets. 
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The leader cards are top-three across, the checklists have stars' seasonal highlights or milestones.  Plus, since I am picking nits here, I can see squeezing another last Jeter card into the set, but is 2500 hits something that deserves mentioning?  Garrett Anderson and Steve Finley didn't get cards when they recently reached the big 25-0-0.  Topps is weird.

Topps thankfully didn't include a theme as they have the last couple years, but they continued and seemingly expanded the Future Star designations from last year.  I noticed the All Star Rookie Cup cards all have the Future Stars logo on top and it clutters up the works, in my opinion.  I think the handsome little cup deserves the spotlight all to itself.
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The rookie logo celebrates it's 10th year on the flagship and Topps continues to release Bowman every year, making that logo completely useless.

Okay, one last thing before I go.  With all the color flying around on these, you would think Topps would mix up the photos a little...
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...and you would be wrong.  One thing I have noticed, at least from the 100 cards I got, is a bland sameness to the photography...lots of pitchers mid-motion from the waist up...

...and lots of hitters in their follow through from the waist up. 
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Lots and lots of them. It almost makes me long for a few goofy "candid" portraits with the cap off, or maybe I am just getting old and jaded.  Plus I can't tell if there is too much photoshop going on in the quality of the pictures or if the border just makes some of the presentation look too busy.  It's not quite the cropping and quality nightmare of the 2008 set, but this is definitely a step down from the last couple of years, picture wise.

Oh, and I got this thing.
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My manu-patch card, which is actually a manu-coin card, is a big bust.  It holds no appeal to me, and since Heyward was traded from the Braves late in the off season, it will probably garner little attraction to either Braves or Cardinals fans.  *sigh* some kid in Atlanta no doubt opened his blaster and got a David Wright and is just as pissed off as I am.

Last but not least, Topps is running one of their epic contests and I got a card for it.
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I haven't scratched this thing as I am not interested in such nonsense, but it anyone wants it, drop me a line and I'll send it along.  I think I can see enough of a chance of spring that I might even answer your email.