How Impressive Is 2013-2014 Immaculate Basketball?

I think its pretty easy to say that we can all appreciate certain things about the hobby, regardless of which sport it comes from. Nice cards are just nice cards. When it comes to Panini’s use of their NBA license, I feel as though they have been just as incompetent as they are in football. They completely misjudge the make up of the market, and have made poor decision after poor decision. Amidst the dumbassery, there has been one bright spot in my opinion – Immaculate Basketball.

Its easily their best looking product in any sport, regardless of one of the worst set titles in history:

2014 Immaculate Kyrie Irving Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Immaculate Allen Iverson Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Immaculate Shaquille O’neal Acetate Auto Patch

The thing I have never understood about Immaculate is the way the chase element persists over a set like Flawless, which costs more than double the price. When you hit it big in flawless, its nothing that really isnt available in other sets. When you hit it big in Immaculate, you HIT IT BIIGGGGG. The quality of the chase cards are impressive, to say the least. On the flip side, when you lose in Immaculate, its a blood bath, where flawless you dont really lose that often.

I think that the best product of the year, should have the best chase component, rather than just improved content. Basketball collectors function so much on the 1/1 big pull that it almost renders every product that doesnt have that element as irrelevant. Flawless only has contrived scarcity, which doesnt accomplish the same thing.

Now, its going to be different in football because the standards for each product are significantly different, as are the price tags. I think that Flawless could end up being a pretty tough sell if its done the way it has been in Basketball, only because the chase isnt as important in football.

In fact there are other sport autograph cards in this product, which is a bit confusing:

2014 Immaculate Peyton Manning Auto Patch

2014 Immaculate Greg Maddux Auto Patch

Immaculate Basketball is basically a carbon copy of Exquisite, a product that set the standard for high end, and still dominates the market today. Even though no licensed Exquisite product has been out in a long time, the cards still make Panini’s feeble attempts look silly. Immaculate is trying to force its way back into the consciousness of these collectors hung up on UD, and I think its an unreachable goal. Its not a bad start though.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Triple Threads Baseball

If you have been reading this site for long enough, you know about me and my feelings regarding Triple Threads. Its one of those sets that I would be celebrating if it never came out again, and yet, here we are for the umpteenth year with the same tired concept. In fact, the set has changed so little over the years, that I cannot understand how people still look forward to the lame cut out phrases that seem to be more and more facepalm every time it comes out.

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2014 Triple Threads Rickey Henderson Bat Knob Booklet

2014 Triple Threads Willie McCovey Bat Nameplate Booklet

2014 Triple Threads Hank Aaron Auto Triple Relic

2014 Triple Threads Albert Pujols Transparancy Auto Relic

The worst part about this set is the fact that it literally caters to the lowest common denominator of the hobby. Oversized relics, sticker autos, and terrible design. I mean, half of this set looks like it was inspired by fucking Khaki Pants. Yes, we all love modeling our collection after the most boring article of clothing ever invented! Now you AND your PC can both be business casual!

Regardless of the situations that Triple Threads never seems to fix, these cards just tend to get dumber by the moment. Really take a second to read through some of the die cut words on the card. If you have to google it to understand what the fuck is going on, the line has already been crossed.

Check out the worst of the worst for these die cuts:

2014 Triple Threads Jim Rice Auto Relic – Not sure what this is about?

2014 Triple Threads Cal Ripken Auto Relic – Just a stupid way to say he swings hard?

2014 Triple Threads Eric Davis Auto Relic – If I didnt know better, he is 2 lazy?

2014 Triple Threads Salvador Perez Auto Relic – I hope that is his nickname.

2014 Triple Threads Billy Butler Auto Relic – Topps is now commemorating “dad jokes.”

ANNNNNNND the winner for worst of the year!

2014 Triple Threads Mike Napoli Triple Relic

I also cant decide which I dislike more, the set itself, or the people that fight to the death defend how awesome it is. OMG DID YOU SEE THIS ROZDUCKYOULOUS MOJOZOZ I JUST PULLED?!?!?!?!!1111! That’s the type of people that go through cases of this stuff. The people who post maildays on youtube, the people that post retail pack breaks on message boards. Yup, them. If its shiny and rainbow colored, they love it, and boy do they love triple threads.

Either way, the venom I spew will make no difference what-so-ever, as this continues to be a polarizing yet popular product. People love folding out booklets of GIANT size patches, and they could literally give half a shit that the card looks like crap. That’s just the way it is. Ive come to accept it. Now in football, its odd, because things have actually gotten a lot better. I bought a few cards from Triple Threads last year. However, I have come to understand that Baseball will never change.

Feel free to light me up, I get that I am in the minority. I also understand that I am really generalizing here, but I fail to see sometimes why people like the things they like. One of those questions that I will never be able to answer, just like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.

On the Radar: 2014 Topps Five Star Football

Yesterday was a big day. Not only did we have some pretty sweet MNF games to watch, but we also got a huge preview of 2014 Five Star Football, which is easily the product I spend the most money on each year. Although there has been new on card content added to NT over the last few years, NOTHING touches what Five Star brings to the table in non-rookie autograph content.

For those of us who like good looking cards and hard signed autographs, there is NOT a competition:

2013 Topps Five Star Deion Sanders Auto Inscription /10

2013 Topps Five Star Andrew Luck Auto Patch

2010 Topps Five Star Brett Favre Triple Logo Patch Auto Booklet

2011 Topps Five Star Jerry Rice Auto Inscription /10

2013 Topps Five Star Adrian Peterson Auto Patch

In terms of the actual preview from this year, I think we are going to get some major upgrades to the set, which include some of the best looking cards I have ever seen from this product. After YEARS of pleading with Topps to make single logo autos, it looks like we are finally going to get our wish. I cant tell you how huge that is. This is one area where Treasures has always been more of a chase, although they were stickers until last year.

Secondly, following in the footsteps of Baseball, we are going to get the silver signatures and gold signatures. These cards, when done well, are absolutely stunning looking pieces. If there is one thing that Topps does well its make a checklist that is short and to the point with mostly top signers, and from the preview, that is exactly what we are in for in 2014.

The dual booklet auto with Favre and Manziel is very interesting, as I think there were a lot of comparisons between the two QBs. You can see that this is going to be a highly sought after card, as you know there are a lot of fans for both players out there. It may end up being the only combo auto card with the two guys on it. The additional cards from Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy are also great looking examples, although likely not the prime chase for this set based on previous years.

I think that Five Star has shown year after year after year that it is the pinnacle of autograph sets that are available in football. Nothing compares.

I look at this like the acclaimed movie that plays in the independent theater. Its not going to be Michael Bay’s Ninja Turtles (Treasures) in terms of the big explosions and stuff like that, but if you know how to appreciate the type of film, it can be the best movie you have ever seen. Its all substance, it looks amazing, and it makes all the right choices.

When you look at Treasures, and what it is every year, its easy to compare it to a Michael Bay movie. All big flash and flare, but in the end, there is just nothing there. It can look good at times, but when you really look past the initial glance, it can never measure up.

Hobby Temperature Ticker – NFL Week 1

Man, what a bunch of awesome games this past weekend, with a ton of reason to be happy that football is back. As expected we REALLY had some amazing performances, and ill try to put together a hobby focused recap as best as possible.

Allen Hurns – WR, Jacksonville

Temperature: Heating Up
Why: 2 TDs and 100+ yards in NFL Debut

Okay, here is the one guy that everyone has come out of Sunday looking to buy. Personally, im not all in after one game, especially when Allen Hurns’ dad didnt even start Allen Hurns in fantasy last week. Hurns had a GREAT pre-season and was basically on fire during the game, but its one game. Dont go nuts – we all know that WRs are a dime a dozen, and he plays in the black hole of hobby collecting. That being said, he has no cards and thus there is a huge demand and no supply – a la Jeremy Lin in basketball.

2014 SAGE Hit Allen Hurns Rookie Auto – SERIOUSLY?!?

2014 Bowman Allen Hurns RC Foil Lot of 3

2014 Bowman Allen Hurns RC Orange Refractor /299 – WOW.

Jadeveon Clowney – DE, Houston

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: Torn MCL

This is bad for the Texans as missing Clowney for 4-6 weeks will hurt their defense for sure. It will also hurt his hobby prospects for now, as he was clearly the defensive guy to buy this class for obvious reasons. Lets hope he comes back strong.

2014 Topps Jadeveon Clowney Rookie Variation Auto

2014 Certified Jadeveon Clowney Certified Potential Auto

2014 Inception Jadeveon Clowney Inscription Auto /10

Julius Thomas – TE, Denver

Temperature: Heating Up
Why: 3 TD Catches Sunday Night

Here is my question – if Manning wasnt the one throwing him the ball, would he still be on his way to another great season? Not sure. Either way, TEs never sell, and unless you are a Jimmy Graham rookie auto, its not a good person to stock up on. Thomas was quite the common scrub auto in 2011, but he still didnt have as many cards as some of the guys at the premiere. Either way, people are paying through the nose for his stuff, not understanding the comaparative value in Graham doesnt support the prices Thomas is getting at the moment.

2011 National Treasures Julius Thomas Auto RC BGS 9.5

2011 Contenders Julius Thomas SSP Auto Ticket RC

Ray Rice – RB, Baltimore

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: Indefinitely suspended and released by the Ravens

After the video was released, its clear that what Ray Rice did was despicable. Seriously, just a hard video to watch, and the Ravens were right to release him. People have been supporting him through this ordeal, but that might be on its way out with his card values. What a terrible situation.

2008 Exquisite Ray Rice Rookie Auto Patch – Proceeds Go To Charity – pretty much the only way you can sell these.

Cordarrelle Patterson – WR, Minnesota

Temperature: Heating Up
Why: 100 yards with a TD in drubbing of St Louis

Homer pick! Either way, Patterson has been commanding nice prices all off-season thanks to the Vikings hiring of Norv Turner. Because of Turner’s rep of being an offensive guru, Patterson was primed for a breakout year. When seeing that he had some moves yesterday, there were a lot of people who are getting confirmation that he might be one of the top guys out of the 2013 class. Watch out though, the Vikings have a horrendous schedule, and Patterson is still very unproven. I only bought in because I am a huge fan. Outside of that, I would probably wait. NOTE: STAY AWAY FROM NT “AUTOS.”

2013 Topps Chrome Cordarrelle Patterson Auto Camo Refractor

2013 Five Star Cordarrelle Patterson Jumbo Rookie Patch Auto

Eddie Lacy – RB, Green Bay

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: 2nd Concussion and dismal game against Seattle

Lacy struggled against a stellar Seahawks defense, and that is no joke. With the Packers losing their right tackle and a few other players, it doesnt look like Lacy is going to go as nuts as people thought he was based on this small sample size. Collectors like to knee jerk and overreact to things, so his cards have cooled a bit.

2013 Contenders Eddie Lacy Rookie Ticket Auto

2013 Exquisite Eddie Lacy Rookie Auto Patch BGS 9.5

Tony Romo – QB, Dallas

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: 3 picks in the first half against 49ers

Romo looked BAAAAAD yesterday, and its clear he is not all the way healed from his back injury last year. He had no arm strength and made horrible decisions. With Jerry already stupidly revealing that he wanted Manziel and passed because his son told him to, that’s not a good sign in big D.

2003 SP Authentic Tony Romo RC Auto BGS 9.5

2003 Contenders Tony Romo Rookie Ticket Auto

Check back for more as the season rolls on and let me know what your thoughts are on week 1 so far!

2014 NFL Kickoff – 5 Hobby Things to Watch Week 1

I am so excited for Kickoff that I cant even explain. Football is like a religion to me, and now that we are about to embark on another season, I could not have a better feeling right now. Of course, there are some major storylines that probably wont play out in week one, but also quite a few from the hobby that could. Here is what I would watch for.

Derek Carr on the Field Before Johnny Manziel

This is a surprise, and one that could add some really nice firepower to the hobby this year. Because Carr was generally thought of as the weakest prospect of the 4 main QBs, his starting before the other three is a VERY good thing for football cards. Collectors need someone to latch onto, and he has a great opportunity to be a lower tier guy that jumps clearly into the top tier. Look out though, because if he falls on his face, we could have another Geno Smith situation on our hands.

2014 Certified Derek Carr Mirror Black Auto Patch 1/1

2014 Topps Derek Carr Auto Variation RC

2014 Flair Showcase Derek Carr Gold Ink Auto

Other Rookies Making An Impact

The person I am most excited to see is Sammy Watkins, and I think there are many who feel the same way. Other rookies like Jadeveon Clowney are also poised to make a big splash, but its all relative to their teams’ confidence in their skills as a rookie. We have already seen guys like Brandin Cooks come alive during the preseason, and its going to be fun seeing what they have. If Manziel does end up getting some plays tomorrow, you can expect that everything else will shift to him. Just be aware.

2014 Topps Sammy Watkins Rookie Premiere Auto /90

2014 Topps Inception Jadeveon Clowney Glove Logo Patch Auto

2014 Certified Brandin Cooks Auto Patch Mirror Gold /25

Sophomore Slumps or Sophomore Utopia?

We already saw Eddie Lacy struggle and get hurt with a concussion on Thursday night, but I dont think anyone is counting him out. Other guys like EJ Manuel and Cordarrelle Patterson are ripe to step into big roles within their schemes, and its already clear that collectors are jumping on board as well. I think because the 2014 class is so hot, it might open up some buying opportunities within 2013 as a cheap alternative with big returns.

2013 National Treasures EJ Manuel Rookie Auto Patch /25

2013 Triple Threads Cordarrelle Patterson / Adrian Peterson Dual Auto Patch Booklet

2013 Platinum Eddie Lacy Logo Patch Auto 1/1

Nick Foles Gets His Shot

Everyone is talking about Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson (rightfully so), but I havent heard as much about Foles, who could end up having a huge year in a VERY weak NFC East. When all is said and done, it could be the Eagles going deep into the playoffs, and right now you can still pick up Foles relatively inexpensively. Now, he likely wont have the tremendous year he did last year, but he can still be a top collecting target for 2014.

2012 Topps Strata Nick Foles Shadowbox Auto RC

2012 Topps Chrome Nick Foles Auto RC BGS 9.5

2012 Contenders Nick Foles Auto Playoff Ticket BGS 9.5

Is Robert Griffin III Ready For Prime Time Again?

When it comes to deciding on targets, 2012 is running the show right now, and that’s fine by me. Griffin has made his way back after a rough go with Washington last year, and now that he looks to be back at full strength, there is a lot of questions as to whether or not he is capable of carrying the franchise. Of course, collecting trends favor the news, and he is not back to his 2012 dominance quite yet. If he gets back on track, look to see him back with his 2012 mates at the top.

2012 National Treasures Robert Griffin III Rookie Auto Patch BGS 9.5

2012 Triple Threads Robert Griffin III / Andrew Luck Dual Auto Patch Booklet

2012 Topps Chrome Robert Griffin III Auto Prism Refractor BGS 9.5

Again, hopefully you are as happy as I am that football is back, and definitely add your own things that you are watching too. Lets have a great season and take advantage of a great class.