Underrated Talent On Display at the 2014 Home Run Derby

I rarely got into following baseball until this year, mainly because I am so caught up in the Topps Bunt app. After watching the games all year, and the power hitters on display last night, I couldnt help but feel that many of these young stars are pretty under appreciated. So much in baseball value is determined by age and team the players represent, that it is almost prohibitive to buy anyone who isnt a superstar.

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Last night, he easily hit the ball further than anyone has ever hit in Target field. The shot was an estimated 500+ feet, and looked like it might leave the park. Sure, its bascially BP, but its a national stage, and Stanton has done nothing but mash the ball this year. His cards are pretty easy to come by because of how much he has signed, but playing in Miami doesnt help. Unless you are Dan Marino or play for the Miami Heat, florida collecting is pretty much a black hole of despair.

2012 Topps Five Star Giancarlo Stanton Inscription Auto

2010 Topps Chrome Giancarlo Stanton Auto RC

2009 Bowman Chrome Giancarlo Stanton Auto RC

Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland A’s

Another player signed directly into the Minor leagues from Cuba, Cespedes has been a huge addition to a dominant As team over the last few years. His cards should be pretty expensive by standards set by other sports, but like Stanton, he has flown well below that situation.

2012 Topps Chrome Yoenis Cespedes Gold Refractor Auto RC

2012 Topps Finest Yoenis Cespedes Jumbo Relic Auto

Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

Another team with not many collectors, Tulo has been one of the best NL shortstops over the last five years. Power, speed and fielding are all in his wheelhouse, and he is frequently overlooked because he plays for a team that hasnt been around that long. He has been one of the only players that can be truly recognized as the face of this team other than Todd Helton.

2007 Exquisite Troy Tulowitzki / Derek Jeter Dual Auto

2014 Topps Tier One Troy Tulowitzki Jumbo Patch Auto

Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

Since being called up for good, Jones has been great by just about every standard. Great in the field, great at the plate, power numbers through the roof, all around talent. All that being said, he has been relatively overlooked in favor of guys like Manny Machado, who seem to have the same level of talent. Surprised people havent caught on.

2003 Upper Deck Prospect Adam Jones RC Auto

2013 Topps Five Star Adam Jones Auto Patch

Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies

This is a homer write-up, I know, as Morneau was the MVP of the AL for the Twins back in the mid 2000s. Due to a concussion, he fell off in production sharply over the last few years, leading the Twins to trade him to the Pirates, before he signed with Colorado in the offseason. He has had no value in the hobby since the start, and that is even with his unlikely MVP win. Joe Mauer has always been the guy in MN, and Morneau has always played second fiddle.

2001 Bowman Justin Morneau Auto RC

2001 Finest Justin Morneau Auto RC

Again, let me frame this in terms of other sports, as Baseball is practically a different world. Potential dictates value in combination with Team and College affiliation, where in Baseball, you literally have to be an MVP to have any high end value on a consistent basis. Maybe that’s why I have moved so far away from this and into a more high end friendly sport like Football. I just dont get it.

Detailing the Few Bright Spots in 2014 Prestige Football

Now that Prestige has been out for a weekend plus, we are starting to get a better look at the subsets that comprise the product. Although it has its small moments, I have yet to change my attitude about this crapfest that has further soured Panini's opening to the 2014 season. With a dud like Hot Rookies and Prestige leading off, Elite is going to need that much more oomph to get Panini off the schneid.

Road to the NFL Autos

I actually like these cards a lot, and the on card stuff always tends to make up for some of the design’s shortcomings. Although there is a small space to sign for many of these, the card still looks great.

2014 Prestige Johnny Manziel Road to the NFL Auto

2014 Prestige Jadeveon Clowney Road to the NFL Auto

2014 Prestige Tre Mason Road to the NFL Auto

Big Board Autos

Another set that uses the airbrushed NFL shots from the Hot Rookies Score Subset, but at this point we cant fault them considering the late draft. At least its not the abysmal sideline shit we got at other points of this set.

2014 Prestige Johnny Manziel Big Board Auto RC

2014 Prestige Teddy Bridgewater Big Board Auto RC

2014 Prestige Bishop Sankey Big Board Auto RC

Draft Pick Rights Autos

This would be my favorite subset if they were on card, but we couldnt do the RPS photos with on card at this point in the year. Another reason to wait to release NFL stuff? You betcha.

2014 Prestige Sammy Watkins Draft Pick Rights Auto

2014 Prestige Derek Carr Draft Pick Rights Auto

First Impressions Autos

Simple design with more RPS shots and stickers. I like these cards, but overall they are going to be just another sticker auto come four weeks from now.

2014 Prestige Blake Bortles First Impressions Auto

Again, Prestige is one of the worst this product has seen in a while, and that is saying something when going against 2011 and 2013 train wrecks. I would stay far away, but if you have to buy, these are the ones to chase.

Hobby All Stars: Topps Takes Big Advantage of Baseball’s Midsummer Classic

I have never been a fan of All Star games in sports, with the exception of one – the MLB all star game. Even before Selig assigned the asinine rule of World Series home field advantage to the winner, the game still mattered to many of the players. Not only did they take it as a sense of pride, and played hard, but the fans loved it too. This week, with the All Star game in my hometown of Minneapolis, MN, we are getting another dose of the fun times that surround this event. It is a very big deal for the hobby as well, as there are many collectibles that are created for the Fan Fest that happens during the whole week.

Here are some of the higher end all star cards from this year’s festivities:

2014 MLB All Star Fan Fest Derek Jeter Commemorative Patch /150

2014 MLB All Star Fan Fest Miguel Cabrera Foil Exclusive

2014 MLB All Star Fan Fest Mike Trout Wrapper Redemption

Here are some of the ways Topps will use the All Star game in upcoming sets:

2014 Topps Mike Trout All Star Logo Jumbo Patch Auto

2011 Topps Triple Threads Miguel Cabrera Logo Patch Booklet

2012 Bowman Chrome Manny Machado Futures Game Auto Patch

Although I despise the fan voting and the odd choices that casual baseball fans make, its always a great experience to watch your favorite team’s players compete in both the game and the Home Run derby. Topps has issued cards for anything and everything all star game over the last few years, some good some completely awful. Yet, because collectors value the circumstantial nature of the game only happening once per year, it provides a big spark whenever Topps chooses to celebrate it.

Its funny, because most of the jerseys that are used for cards commemorating the game are not used during play – rather in events and warm-ups all week long. Because many of the casual fans out there really dont realize this fact, there is a sense of inflated value for me. However, I know that some collectors would buy regardless if it were another event used card, as they love the game just as much as I do.

Added to the other cards that are given out at the fan fest itself, and its easy to see why there is so much money to be made. This is actually the start of a big few weeks with the national collectors convention coming in late July. Being that there are so many Minnesota themed items to collect, Im getting a bit overwhelmed in my player collection. Pay very close attention, as many of the players in this game will populate checklist for most of next year.

LeBron James: Coming Home Helps His Cards

Its rare I talk about basketball cards on this site, but today is a big exception. Not only did the biggest player in the hobby, LeBron James, sign with a new team, but he signed with a team he was with prior. As a result, a ton of cards that had lost some luster are now relevant again, which is a huge deal. Over the course of 2003 until the end of their license, Upper Deck produced close to 1000 different James autographs under their exclusive deal. Those cards just became the most important ones in basketball.

Check out the recent listings:

2005 Exquisite LeBron James Limited Logos Jumbo Patch Auto

2009 Exquisite LeBron James / Michael Jordan Dual Auto

2008 Upper Deck NBA Finals LeBron James SSP Auto

2007 UD Basketball Heroes Lebron James Auto SSP

2007 Exquisite LeBron James Auto Patch

Although James is about as controversial a player as there is in Basketball, he is easily the best. Aside from two rings, he also has 4 MVPs and a handful of reasons why no one else in the league is as valuable a name as he is. He became a hated figure for his decision back in 2010, but seems to have gained some of that back as of late. UD may have had an exclusive with James that ran throughout the time he was on the Miami Heat, they were prevented from making his licensed cards due to Panini's NBA exclusive.

Upper Deck Authenticated had produced some pieces that were NBA licensed, but nothing in terms of cards. Now that he is back on the Cavs, its almost like its okay to all those collectors who werent able to buy his Miami cards. They strived to find substitutes as we saw with prices on rare Panini issues, but nothing like autographs.

Dont get me wrong, I cannot stand exclusives in any way, shape or form, but Basketball suffers more than most because of all the major players signed to deals. James is an autograph only topped by Jordan, and collectors will be waiting to get his new Cavs stuff for a long time. Love him or hate him, James is the best of the best, and the hobby is happy to have him in the news. Trust me on that.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Allen & Ginter Still Captures the Imagination

There arent many sets today that are still worth the time it takes to put together. Allen and Ginter is still one of those epic undertakings that the few remaining set collectors still feel is worth the challenge, even though it has become quite the spectacle over the last few years. I have always said Ginter is a set collector’s paradise with the heart of a high end product, and this year’s product is no different. Although it doesnt have the same star power in the non-sports autos, it definitely has its moments.

2014 Allen & Ginter Bo Jackson / Ken Griffey Jr Dual Relic Auto Book

2014 Allen & Ginter Mark McGwire Box Loader On Card Auto /15

2014 Allen & Ginter Snoop Dogg Auto

2014 Allen & Ginter Yasiel Puig Rip Card /50

2014 Allen & Ginter Roberto Clemente Metal Mini 1/1

2014 Allen & Ginter Sandy Koufax / Jackie Robinson Dual Rip Card /5

2014 Allen & Ginter Jose Abreu Auto RC

Its almost ironic that one of the biggest baseball products of the year isnt about baseball completely, with the non-sport element being as much a draw as anything for everyone who buys in. However, the on card autographs and always beautiful cards never disappoint, and that draws in a secondary crowd that is rare in MLB.

Adding in content from a pretty solid MLB autograph checklist is only part of the draw, as the parallels and plethora of subsets can rake in dollars like no other. Rip cards, wood cards, metal cards, anything and everything make Ginter special, even when you consider that the type of card can create more value than the player on the front. Rip cards are fascinating to me, as so many people buy them and leave them in tact. Even though the cards hidden inside can be extremely cost heavy, the sealed card is just as much of a draw.

I dont collect much baseball, but I always get pulled into Ginter one way or another. Even after close to 10 years of this set, its still fresh in a lot of ways, as showcased by the number of people who chase it each year. That’s a big deal when you factor in how much of it really doesnt change.