2014 Opening Day – Hobby Stories to Watch This Season

Last year was a big year for baseball, especially when it comes to the hobby. Not only did you have the emergence of new stars across the board, but arguably one of the most popular teams won the world series. I am not a huge baseball fan, but I definitely know a bit about baseball cards, and here are a few things I would watch this season. Of course, there are a lot of stories to be had, but these ones are big news.

Yasiel Puig – Can He Follow Up His Rookie Campaign?

Its rare that a young player like Puig starts off with as much fire as he did in 2013, and this always begs the question of whether or not it can be followed up with something better. Puig trailed off as the season came to a close, even though his card values really never did. Now that he is back for his sophomore run, many collectors who invested big bucks for him are asking if they will make good on their investment. I think he has a good season, but nothing like 2013. Sorry Folks!

2013 Topps Five Star Yasiel Puig Auto Rainbow

2014 Topps Yasiel Puig Auto Patch – Postseason Set

2013 Topps Chrome Yasiel Puig Auto RC

Masahiro Tanaka – Import Dream or Just Another Pitcher?

There was not a bigger story this offseason than Tanaka signing with the Yankees, especially when you consider that imports from Japan ALWAYS sell well. Tanaka looks to be one of those pitchers that can change the face of a season, but its unclear what his true hobby impact will be until he gets some cards in a Yankees uniform. So far, his cards from the WBC have been selling through the roof, but his first autographs will be insane. I hope he does well, even though I hate the Yankees.

2013 Topps WBC Tribute Masahiro Tanaka RC

2009 Bowman Chrome Masahiro Tanaka WBC RC

Mike Trout – Will He Make A Third Run at MVP?

Trout recently signed a humongous contract to make up for the two years of playing out of his mind in Anaheim. The guy is a generational talent from all accounts, and deserves every penny he got. That being said, he has been the top guy in the hobby for that span as well, and its going to be clear that his cards will continue to be the best until he falls off. Considering that day may never come, it’s a very good thing for the hobby. I say he wins this year.

2013 Topps Five Star Mike Trout Silver Signatures

2013 National Treasures Mike Trout Auto Patch

Miguel Cabrera – Is He Worth the Money?

When I saw what the Tigers did, its clear they wanted Cabrera for the rest of his career. The problem is, he is already past the point in his career where a 10 year contract makes sense. Its obvious that he is one of the best players in baseball, but to lock him up past his 40th birthday rarely ever pans out. For some reason, Cabrera was never worth all that much in the hobby, which is odd with the seasons he has put up. He has won world titles, and a triple crown, and yet Trout outsells him frequently. This year I cant see him playing the way he did over 2012 and 2013, but he will still do amazing things barring an injury.

2012 Topps Tier One Miguel Cabrera Auto

2013 Topps Five Star Miguel Cabrera Auto

Bryce Harper – Can He Break Through for an MVP Caliber Season?

To say he has been on a bit of a roller coaster since his debut is an understatement. Harper has had more ups and downs than anyone of his stature, but many still remain confident that he will be the type of player that Mike Trout has turned out to be. His attitude and performance continue to be a question, but people in the hobby still love the hell out of him. Topps recently signed him to an exclusive deal, and I think it will be worth the price. I say he has a great year.

2013 Topps Finest Bryce Harper Orange Refractor Auto Patch

2012 Topps Archives Bryce Harper Retro On Card Auto

Opening day is still a fun time for me, good luck to everyone this season.

2013 National Treasures: Breaking Down the Main Attractions of the Product

National Treasures continues to truck along, and we are finally getting some of the bigger pulls online now that the group breaker’s customers are getting their cards in the mail. There is also a lot of people opening boxes, despite an almost sure thing of losing 50%-60% on each box that is opened. That is pretty crazy, but people continue to love this product. They should, as it is really getting some nice cards for people to chase.

Notable Nickame Autos

These are arguably my favorite cards of the product, as they feature inscriptions of player nicknames on some of the cards. Its awesome, and I am always a fan of added autograph content at every turn. Many of these have been previewed already, and some of the names they chose are a bit confusing, but many of these cards are incredible.

2013 National Treasures Drew Brees Nickname Inscription Auto

2013 National Treasures Gale Sayers Nickname Inscription Auto

2013 National Treasures Peyton Manning Nickname Inscription Auto

Century Jumbo Logo Patch Autos

I really like the Century auto patches, as the design is simple and showcases everything I like about a card. The major issue is that they are all stickers, which is BEYOND unfortunate. We have all said many times that stickers like this dont belong in NT, and though the checklist is deep, I would gladly trade a shallow checklist for on card. There cant be THAT many Nate Washington collectors out there.

2013 National Treasures Tyrann Mathieu Auto Nike Logo 1/1

Jumbo Logo Patch Auto Booklets

This is where I start questioning some design elements, as this is the PERFECT opportunity to get the collar in there with the new NFL logo patches. For whatever reason, Panini decided to die cut the patches, which means they were likely from Pants or someplace else. As we see with the Nike Logo books, they are much more extended out to see the whole patch. Its really too bad, because these are all on card, and look tremendous.

2013 National Treasures Peyton Manning Auto NFL Logo Booklet 1/1

2013 National Treasures Mike Glennon Auto Logo Booklet 1/1

Colossal Logos and Logo Autos

As we see EVERY year, the colossal autos tend to look great. They have had their hideous years of poor design like every Panini set, but these look AMAZING this year. I am a huge fan, and cant wait to see more of the logos to show up with ON CARD autos. Right now, only the rookies are showing up, but dont worry – the non-RCs will show up eventually.

2013 National Treasures Eddie Lacy Colossal Auto Logo

2013 National Treasures Cordarrelle Patterson Colossal Auto Logo

2013 National Treasures Andre Ellington Colossal Auto Logo

Rookie Auto Logo 1/1s

These are slated to be among the top cards for a 2013 rookie beneath the Chrome Super Autos, and to see the way they turned out is disappointing on the NFL Logo front. Instead of reducing the outline to fit snugly around the logo, they just filled in the existing swatch window with foil. It looks awful. The brand logos look a million times better, and hopefully people will see that they can pay a lot less and come out with a much better looking card.

2013 National Treasures Tavon Austin Auto NFL Logo 1/1 With Inscription

2013 National Treasures Zach Ertz Auto NFL Logo

HOF and Jumbo Logo Patches

When Panini first previewed these cards on their blog, I think we all collectively gasped at the quality of the patches they used in the cards. Logos galore, and tons of crazy patches we all can appreciate. These would be awesome with autographs, but the cards may not have looked as nice. Its good either way.

2013 National Treasures Robert Griffin III HOF Logo Patch

2013 National Treasures Chris Johnson Titans Anniversary Logo Patch

Dual Brand Logos

This is a cool idea, but I still have no clue why they wouldnt do these as booklets with autographs for each player. I also dislike the tiny pictures, as it would have been much more good looking with the logos stacked and full pics on either side. These will sell well regardless, but potential for greatness was missed.

2013 National Treasures Jamaal Charles / Alex Smith Dual Logo 1/1

2013 National Treasures Matt Ryan / Tony Gonzales Dual Logo 1/1

For 2013, Treasures has been beautiful with the exception of a few horrendous cards that we usually expect from Panini. If only the rest of the product carried the value that was needed for people to actually come out ahead when they pull a nice card. That’s not really their fault, as the rookie class is so fucking awful. Hopefully the progression continues next year.

2013 National Treasures is Looking Great, But Design Doesnt Pay the Bills

We are all in awe of many of the big hits out of National Treasures, as previewed by Panini and pulled over the recent breaks. As I have said over the last few weeks, 2013 NT is easily the best looking set of the run, and its not even a competition. With the exception of a hideous card design here and there, I am liking Treasures top to bottom this year. Its clean, stunning, and stays true to the original concept of the product released back in 2006. All that being said, is this the most worthless version of NT as well?

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2013 National Treasures Peyton Manning On Card Auto Colossal Patch

2013 National Treasures Tom Brady Century Auto

2013 National Treasures Jerry Rice Auto Patch HOF Anniversary

2013 National Treasures Andy Dalton Jumbo Nike Swoosh On Card Auto Booklet

The reason I ask, is because that collectors are almost guaranteed to take a bath with each box they open, as the top rookies in the class wont cover half of the box price, unlike previous years. With 2012, its clear that after the ridiculous price increases due to scarcity of unopened boxes, its also tough to break even. This is much different as the 2013 class is completely unable to support any type of value in this market. Panini made the right call in pushing for more veteran content, including a bunch of on card autographs. But, as we have seen so far, those cards dont pop up enough to save the non-group breakers from disaster. Add in that there is an inexcusable amount of stickers in this product, and it makes you question what could have been done to make this more like Five Star and Exquisite with all on card.

I actually like the fact that the group breakers exist, as it is MUCH easier to stomach a 100 dollar loss when buying a team you collect for a case than suffering a 450 dollar loss on a whole box. So far, I have bought two Adrian Peterson autographs, and an 80 dollar slot in a group break, and still not hit the price of a single box. THAT is saying something. This isnt really Panini’s doing either, its just the way things are. Topps is going to go through the exact same thing with Five Star on April 25th, and though that product also looks amazing, its not going to do much good with such a shitty class.

Please do not take this as a commentary on High End products as a part of the hobby these days, as so much of my collection is made up of the cards from crazy boxes. I love high end, almost to a fault, as I have been practically spoiled by the tremendous autographs and patches you can pull from Five Star, Exquisite and Treasures. That doesnt mean its for everyone, especially when you get up into the range of Panini Flawless, which I see as the most expensive average product ever created. If 1250 dollars MSRP is what it takes to get a box with autographs that arent scrubs, we need to reevaluate our strategy. Dont get me wrong, Flawless’ cards really did look cool, but they werent anything unique. The price tag was only reflective of the CONTENT in the packs, which shouldnt really happen. It was almost like Panini sold a product JUST because it was expensive. We all want an AMEX black card right? Same concept.

We all know that the football market is soft, but the market is derivative of the people who want to buy, and player collectors get their stuff way too early to sustain a product past 1 week from release. Once the guys get their card, things drop by 35-50%. Not a good thing, because it just goes to show that less and less people are buying because they like to collect. Its also not a direct correlation to the hobby dying, but its likely that the hobby is getting more focused and compact. Dont give me this crap about kids and stuff like that, because in all honesty, we need some help now – not 10 years from now.

When you look at the grand scheme of things, its easy to see that rookies drive the NFL, and without a good class, all boats sink. 2012 is a great beacon of hope for the hobby, and it shows that cards still matter in football when there is a big story. I hate Johnny Manziel, but hot damn do I want him to play well. I want him to break every record in the book and do it in the first game. I then want Jadeveon Clowney to play up to his talent and for both Bortles and Bridgewater to knock it out of the park. The more a rookie explodes the more attention the hobby gets. Maybe we were setting unrealistic expectations after one of the biggest years ever. If you remember back, 2006 was a similar feeling until we realized that Leinart, Young and Bush all were mediocre at best. Those years come along, but its all about what happens in between.

Panini has already announced that both Flawless and Immaculate will be coming to football, and I am very interested to see how they turn out. Lets just hope there is enough gas in the tank to make them worth the time to produce.

2014 Leaf Originals Continues to Build on a Strong Year

This time of year is the perfect chance for unlicensed companies like Leaf to go nuts with being first to market. With a product already out like Leaf Metal Draft, they have shown that 2014 is already looking better than a horrendous 2013. Today they released a second product in 2014 Leaf Originals, which is fashioned after some of the earliest leaf cards around. The product is all on card, and looks great, only to further capitalize on a young season so far.

2014 Leaf Originals Johnny Manziel Auto RC

2014 Leaf Originals Sammy Watkins Yellow Parallel Mini Auto /25

2014 Leaf Originals Jadeveon Clowney Yellow Parallel Mini Auto /25

2014 Leaf Originals Teddy Bridgewater Auto Mini RC

My only complaint is that the set does get a bit repetitive if you open a lot, but with 5 autographs a box, there is a big chance to pull something nice. Leaf is building off their very popular Originals Wrestling product, and I was excited to see how it came through with football. I had a chance to bust a box today and was lucky enough to pull two cards out of 25 (Louis Nix and a scrub), plus a crazy nice Johnny Manziel mini auto. I was impressed by the painted style approach that matches the original set from 1948 and 1960, and it transfered even better to the mini cards you get two per box.

Leaf has also included what looks like another mystery style card, in the Hot Rookie Memorabilia Redemptions, which is already garnering a lot of speculation on what they could be. Knowing Bryan Gray, they should be big hits, and possibly another card like the Manziel from 2013.

If I am an unlicensed company, this is my time to release all the big products I have in my arsenal. Because the values drop so drastically when the NFL stuff hits, I want to make as big an impact as I possibly can. Leaf has already announced that Trinity will be back for a second year, and I am happy to see that they are continuing their commitment to hard signed cards. Originals is a great idea to bring more of that type of content to the early part of the year, and we still have more to go.

2013 National Treasures Football is LIVE!

Today is a big day as we finally get to see how National Treasures ends up. We have gotten quite a few looks at the box content thanks to cases broken at the industry summit, but now we also get to see if super high end can exist in 2013.

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2013 National Treasures EJ Manuel Rookie Auto Patch /99

2013 National Treasures Bill Parcells Class of 2013 Auto – Love these cards

2013 National Treasures Geno Smith Rookie Auto Patch Gold /49

2013 National Treasures Tavon Austin Jumbo Patch Auto Booklet

2013 National Treasures Colin Kaepernick HOF Logo Patch /4

2013 National Treasures Giovani Bernard Rookie Auto Patch Gold /99

We are also getting first looks at cards that Panini has built around their exclusive with the pro football hall of fame, all of which look gorgeous. Although there are a lot of sticker autographs, the design looks great. I have to give them credit for finally figuring out how important this content can be.

That being said, I still feel as though we are being cheated out of autographs we deserve to have on card, and its clear the checklist may be to blame. So many people, so many autographs, I would much rather have a focused list with all on card autos, or even redemptions to ensure we get them. In a product that costs as much as this does, collectors deserve that type of commitment. Although Panini has stepped up the on card autos for non-rookies, its still disappointing that they cant figure out that hard signed is the most important thing for a set like Treasures.

Also, I have to say im disturbed that my favorite player seems to have given his cards to a friend to "sign", as in my opinion, the autos dont look to match previous examples. Its too bad, because I like a lot of these cards for 2013. Im still waiting on confirmation that I will never get, but I am going to have just stay away.

It looks like Panini is bringing back the event used swatches from the Pro-Bowl, which I CANNOT FUCKING STAND. This is a game that no one cares about, and the jerseys arent even game used. Its a double slap in the face, which I find to be completely counterproductive for a set of this caliber. These cards are a freaking joke, as they were in Topps’ Museum Collection, and I wish all companies would just give up on this game’s need to be a part of our football lexicon.

This is easily the best looking year of National Treasures we have seen yet, and its completely a shame that it is being wasted on a class as shitty as this one is. Even the base cards look their best, and Im not kidding when I say that its worth checking them out. Lets just hope this product isnt redemption laden with cards that should be live, and with the new rewards system looming, it can be quite the representation of how much a product like this might be affected. Just saying.