SCU Go Live Report: 2015 Immaculate Baseball

I think its a good idea for Panini to try to use products like Immaculate to continue using their MLBPA license. It has potential to work well, especially if the cards look as good as they have in other sports. However, if the product quality slips, even in the slightest, we will continue to see the enormous drop off that happened with last year’s product. Bottom line, Immaculate has huge potential to be a winner, but Panini’s consistent decisions to use low cost methods on a high end product is a terrible idea. Lack of on card content, horrible sticker replacements, and points in the product as hit replacements are horrendous ways to devalue the brand in a another sport where you are gum on Topps’ shoe.

For instance, these cards looks great, but think of how much better they would be if done with quality in mind:

2015 Immaculate Kris Bryant Auto Patch Jersey Button /6

2015 Immaculate Jose Abreu / Miguel Cabrera Dual Tag Auto 1/1

2015 Immaculate Jameis Winston Auto RC /10 – Funny that the only good looking football card of the year from Panini is in a Baseball product!

2015 Immaculate Carlos Correa RC Auto Patch Logo

2015 Immaculate Cal Ripken Jr Quad Patch Auto 1/1

These, on the other hand, are straight visual diarrhea, and are laughable attempts at making high end cards:

2015 Immaculate Anthony Rizzo Black Paper Scrap Auto 1/1

2015 Immaculate Kris Bryant Black Paper Scrap Auto

The best cards in the product, in my opinion, are the shadowbox silhouette patch autos and the base shadowbox autos. They look cool and sleek, and can easily stand up against most of what Topps puts out. However, when you decide its a good idea to do 8 boxes per case, the checklist gets relatively watered down. They definitely have that situation here, which is only devalued further with the lack of MLB logos in play. Either way, they are the best cards in the set.

Additionally, many of the auto patch cards, and other autograph cards look really good. The non-baseball autographs look tremendous, and should be some of the biggest draws of the product. The problem is that in every other sport they are all on card, and here – a product that really has no excuse for NOT being on card, 90% of the autos are stickers or sticker replacements. Panini could literally produce these cards at any time with no logos, and have no issues completing the signings as the year progresses. Instead, they are taking the stupid way out and using stickers in all the baseball products. Even cards that were hard signed en masse last year, are stickers this year. Not a good precedent to break at all. These could have been humongous.

The worst cards in the set are easily the nauseatingly terrible black construction paper autos, which are quickly becoming Panini’s new signed manupatch autos. These cards are some of the shittiest cards Panini makes, using the black construction paper as either a sticker replacement (disgustingly bad), or on card (which defies all fucking logic as to why you would use a black area on a white card). The contrast between the white background and the black signature area is bad enough, but to think that someone at Panini believes these to be worthy of being in so many of their products is fucking horrifying. Some of these cards are so bad, I dont even have words. There are people who will come on here and say, “WELL I HAD A GOOD BOX OR TWO! This whole product is awesome!” Yeah, go watch some youtube videos and see if that holds true.

Without a doubt, the main draw of the product are the jumbo 1/1 relics, which feature enormous swatches of some pretty unique items. The issue is that the player picture is relegated to a tiny part of the card, and the rest of the design is basically a foil embellished border. This is where I dont get the hobby. These days, people seem to care more about the content of a relic than the way a card is designed, and it could not make me more frustrated. These would be incredible cards as booklets or as silhouette style cards with a larger player picture, but Panini chooses to save that cost instead making the top cards into true PC centerpieces. Booklets cost more money than a stupid border, so they feel that they can avoid investment instead of making a lasting impact. This product seems to be plagued by this approach in so many ways.

Think about it this way. Look at the way Immaculate is produced in Basketball and Football. Now look at what Panini is trying to sneak through the infield for a dribbling single. Its no wonder the secondary market value took such an enormous hit last year. Similarly, there is no Harper, no Trout, no Puig, and none of the really big name guys that draw huge value. The only two big autograph subjects in the product are Correa and Bryant, both of which will likely be unavailable come next year thanks to exclusive deals. Bryant may not be sewn up yet, but if I had to guess, its coming soon. We also see that guys like Kershaw and company, who were in the product last year, are not making a return appearance. The diluted checklist is responsible for some really bad box breaks, and thats even if you hit one of the bigger things on the checklist.

Then we come to the points. There are points as replacements for hits in this product, which should be borderline illegal. Because Panini doesnt share the hits that the points are replacing, we cannot verify that they actually replaced any missing signers. It could just as well be a way to stretch the run from 6 boxes per case to 8 boxes per case, without producing any cards to fill those slots taken up by points. Sneaky sneaky sneaky.

Overall, Immaculate is a product that singles can produce some really nice cards. That being said, there are so many gaping holes in play that it makes you wonder how anyone at Panini can feel proud of the set as a whole. Thus, this is the problem with Panini all through their entire brand portfolio. The flash is there in a few areas, but when you put the spotlight on things, it showcases the true shit that lies beneath.

On the Radar: 2015 Topps Supreme Football

First let me state how happy it makes me that Topps previews their products so far in advance. It gives a lot to be excited about, especially with higher end products like this. Supreme is usually one of the final products of the year, and also a product that has gotten considerably more popular each year. Sad thing is that in 2015, it might be one of the last products Topps will make under the current license with the NFLPA. Regardless of the pending loss of license, they seem to be going out with a bang, something collectors should be pretty excited about.

Here are some of the bigger hits from years past:

2014 Topps Supreme Barry Sanders / Emmitt Smith Dual Patch Auto Logo Booklet 1/1

2014 Topps Supreme Tom Brady / Peyton Manning Dual Patch Auto Booklet

2012 Topps Supreme Andrew Luck Jumbo Patch Auto RC

2013 Topps Supreme Joe Montana Quad Patch Auto

Ever since the product's theme changed back in 2011, I have been a huge fan of what it brings in terms of cool looking high end hits. If you hit something nice in Supreme, you are going to hit it BIG. It will be one of the best cards in your collection. Although its extremely disappointing how much of the product is sticker autographs, the cards are well done to the point that it really doesnt matter all that much.

The top draw for Supreme are the jumbo oversized rookie booklet cards, that feature a few different programs that are all awesome. There are nicknames, drawn plays, and other stuff, and the oversized presentation makes it that much more impressive. The other booklets are also a huge draw, including the jumbo logo 1/1s, of which many contain some absolutely fucking ridiculous patches. I own two of them, one of Teddy Bridgewater and one of Adrian Peterson, and they are some of my favorite cards in my collection.

Check these out:

2013 Topps Supreme Drew Brees Jumbo Logo Auto Booklet 1/1

2013 Topps Supreme Marshall Faulk Jumbo Logo Auto Booklet 1/1

Last year, they added on card rookie content for the base cards, which was a huge improvement over the typical stickers of 2009-2013. They are back this year, and they look really, really good. From what usually happens, these cards should have some new rookie signers who made an impact over the year, with a drop of some guys who havent panned out. They are nicely done to boot.

With 2015 just getting on the tracks for the upcoming start of the season, its bittersweet to see that we are already talking about what is going to happen around January/February for the release of Supreme. I want this year to be as slow as possible, especially with the wholesale changes coming in 2016. Panini has never been able to consistently deliver in the way Topps has and will, and its sad that we wont have the same level of competition next year. We need more, and this set showcases some of the main reasons why.

SCU Go Live Report: 2015 Topps Football and a Fond Farewell

I cant believe we have reached this point. This is really the last time we will have a Topps Football set in this format for the foreseeable future. Although its still possible that a set can be built with non-current players in the future, this is really the end of the set that has existed in some format for the last 60 years. Starting in 2016, Panini will own an NFLPA exclusive, which prevents a big base set of current players. Although giving Panini the rights to the NFLPA makes about as much sense to collectors as Tim Tebow on an NFL roster, it is what it is.

This situation leaves us to enjoy the final year in bittersweet happiness:

2015 Topps Jameis Winston Mini Auto /25

2015 Topps Ameer Abdullah RC Auto SP

2015 Topps Lawrence Taylor 60th Anniversary Auto

2015 Topps Phillip Dorsett Rookie Premiere Auto

2015 Topps Dorial Green-Beckham 1987 Retro Auto

2015 Topps Bryce Petty Rookie Auto SP

This year’s set is definitely a different approach than we have seen in previous years. It has a much more industrial/mechanical feel with the borders, devoid of any real foil embellishments. The base set is definitely something to be excited about, as the photos of the players continue to be some of the best in the game. Cards with full game shots and no real backdrop rarely exist anymore, and I love that Topps continues to make that a part of their flagship sets.

As for the autograph content, I have mixed feelings. Ill start with the stuff that looks REALLY good. Over the last decade plus, Topps has used the Rookie Premiere as an opportunity to get cards hard signed for their base product. As if they didnt already blow Panini out of the fucking water with Inception, they have added even more content to this set with signed retro cards that look awesome. They also have their basic contingent of hard signed other cards that look similar to Inception. The only draw back seems to be a relative SP list that is in play for the first time ever – something that could be a big issue for wax breakers.

In terms of the sticker content, this is where I have my issue. I hate that the base autos and other cards have frames around the stickers, one of my biggest pet peeves. I dont think the autographs need the box at all, and it actually takes away from a design I really like. The retro sticker autos are amazing with a great checklist in contrast, and should end up being VERY sought after.

Topps has a winner on their hands in terms of the look and feel of this set, and I believe that any discrepancies created in SSP rookie autograph content will be offset. It blows that the product has no concrete future, as the heritage of this product is a treasure of the hobby. It remains enormously popular, and the fact that Panini is now the only company that can produce cards is beyond enraging. Bottom line, this set needs to be made each year. End of story. I could give a fuck about league licensing. Obviously, my feelings mean as much as Tajh Boyd’s NFL career, so take it as you will.

 

Chew it Back – 2015 Spectra Pics Are Here!

Let me start by saying that 2014 Spectra was easily one of the ugliest sets I have ever seen. The cards were fucking disgusting, and made for some vomit inducing moments for the product. My opinion must have been the common feeling, as Panini literally couldnt give the shit away. Distributors had so much trouble moving their stock that they made people order cases of Spectra FB if anyone wanted to order Immaculate basketball. Want the good stuff? Buy this trash first. Leave it to Panini to bring it back again.

Here is how bad Spectra was in 2014:

2014 Spectra Russell Wilson Leading Men Auto Relic

2014 Spectra Sammy Watkins Rookie Auto Relic Blue

2014 Spectra Teddy Bridgewater Auto Relic

2014 Spectra Bruce Smith Auto

Here is how they made Spectra “fresh” for 2015: They took out all the rookie on card autos and replaced them with stickers. Not just any stickers though! Stickers signed in neon colors that correspond to the “seizure friendly” stock patterns. When you see these cards, its tough to believe that there was a person who thought this looked good. Not only did that person believe it looked good, but that it was worth trying in a set with terrible performance. Then its also tough to believe that there was another person who felt the same way, maybe more. Yes, there were multiple sign offs that green lighted this shit show. Sorry, NEON green lighted this shit show!

CNLy-rBUYAAT-oB

Either way, the main designs with the GIANT boxes behind the stickers was bad to begin with. Then to add in everything on top of that makes this a legendary fuck up. Panini even had the balls to rip off Topps’ Superfractors, and then cheapen them by putting them in a set with no backbone. After reading the message board threads, its clear that using the pattern has blinded people from how shitty the cards look, but I have lost faith in the collector base long before this happened. I mean, people bought Clear Vision with a straight face, right?

I have honestly given up on Panini’s potential to ever turn their ship around. They do nothing but churn out visual diarrhea like its not a big deal, and that scares the diarrhea out of me. Football cards are doomed if they think this is a good way to go. I hope everyone loves Spectra 2015, because you will need to buy it to get next year’s top basketball product. Have fun with that.

2015 MLB Pennant Chase: Hottest Rookies Playing Major Roles

This season has been literally epic for rookies in the major leagues. It seems that its a weekly occurrence for a top rookie to be called up to the team, and I am sure that baseball prospectors are licking their chops over the pending September call ups that will be happening shortly. There are a few rookies that are poised to make a big impact as the season comes to a close, some of which are relatively under appreciated. To think how many of these guys are on playoff teams is just crazy, which only makes this year that much better.

Kyle Schwarber – Cubs

I dont think there has been a bigger surprise in baseball than Schwarber’s success so early on in his MLB career. He has undoubtedly outshined the other big name on his team in Kris Bryant, putting up some really nice power numbers. As the Cubs make a final push, both Bryant and Schwarber will need to play extremely well, and that will mean some big bumps for their cards if they do. Right now, he is much cheaper than Bryant, but that could change if he continues to play like he is.

As with many of the guys on this list, his prices are climbing:

2014 Bowman Chrome Kyle Schwarber Auto RC BGS 9.5

2015 Bowman Inception Kyle Schwarber Auto Gold Parallel

2015 Bowman Kyle Schwarber Auto Gold Refractor /50

Carlos Correa – Astros

As a former #1 pick, his ceiling should be high. That being said, the hobby seems to think he is the second coming of Mike Trout, pushing his value into the stratosphere. He has been a big part of the Astros continued push for the playoffs, which is shocking considering where they were last year. I think if you are looking to pick up a prospect, Correa is reaching his ceiling very quickly. However, if the Astros go deep in the post season, he could see even higher prices.

Insane prices for him since he hit the bigs:

2013 Bowman Chrome Carlos Correa Auto RC BGS Raw Review 9.5

2013 Bowman Victory Carlos Correa Gold Auto

2013 Bowman Platinum Carlos Correa Green Refractor Auto PSA 10

Miguel Sano – Twins

In less than 40 games, he has hit 11 HRs, which is nuts. The guy is pretty much a hulk when standing at the plate, even more impressive when you see he is only 22 years old. He may have seen time at the big leagues last year if it werent for Tommy John surgery, but that obviously hasnt phased him. For someone mashing the ball like he is, his autographs go for basically nothing. This is a perfect time to pick up his stuff.

Underrated value all around:

2015 Bowman Inception Miguel Sano "Inceptioned" RC Auto

2010 Bowman Chrome Miguel Sano Auto RC

Jung Ho Kang – Pirates

To be completely honest, I had no idea who he was prior to the start of the season. Now he is one of the front runners for NL ROY. As an international player, his prices are going to be inflated above the normal situation for a player of his caliber, but he is worth a look if the Pirates can stay atop the wild card race for the NL. He doesnt have the power numbers that some of the other guys on this list have, but he is a solid player.

2015 Topps Chrome Jung Ho Kang Purple Auto /250

2015 Bowman Inception Jung Ho Kang Auto Blue

Noah Syndergaard – Mets

Thor has had himself quite the 2015 campaign, and the Mets are on pace to win the division for the first time in a while. He is definitely in the mix for ROY, and that should help his cards out a lot. He has some electric stuff when he is on point, and playing in NY doesnt hurt at all. With pitchers, injuries are always a huge concern, which is maybe why his values arent as high as some of the big hitters.

2015 Topps Chrome Noah Syndergaard Orange Auto RC /25

2010 Bowman Chrome Noah Syndergaard RC Auto Refractor

Joc Pederson – Dodgers

One of the only rookies that made the All Star team, he has cooled off at the plate considerably since his hot start. He still put up 23 HR so far, and the Dodgers in the playoffs makes for great TV. They are only a tiny bit ahead of SF for the West lead, and that could prove pretty interesting. Pederson has been one of the top guys of the class all year, and I would love to see him turn it back on.

2012 Bowman Chrome Joc Pederson Auto PSA 10

2015 Gypsy Queen Joc Pederson Auto Patch Booklet

Kris Bryant – Cubs

He is the face of the 2015 class. He is the top valued guy in the group, and his potential seems to be pretty high. The issue is that, like Pederson, he hasnt been that productive as of late, seeing his average and power numbers drop considerably since making the All Star roster. His early call up in the season helps for him to be a top contender for ROY, and it will be quite the sweet experience for Cubs fans who have been dying for a playoff run for years.

Prices are still high:

2015 Allen & Ginter Kris Bryant Framed Auto

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Black Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

This is going to be a fun chase over the next few weeks, best to get stocked up now. If one of these guys goes off in the playoffs, the values will be white hot.