Preview: 2011 Score Football

Set collectors, low end collectors, team/player collectors, and children will rejoice on July 6th, 2011, when 2011 Score football hits the shelves. This $0.99 per pack retail product has always been a great buy throughout the years for people getting started in collecting or those looking for some cheap packs to open and build a set or find their favorite players. The hobby needs products like this and I’m always happy to see it on the shelves. My rule for these types of products is if they are coming off the shelves, there will be more new collectors to the hobby. That’s a good thing.

2011 Score, produced by Panini, looks like they have revamped the design a bit compared to past seasons and it definitely is looking great. In a regular retail box there will be 36 packs and it looks like it will be a rookie per pack as well as a glossy parallel per pack.  You will also find a few different inserts scattered around as well. I have to say I really enjoy the look of the inserts as well, especially In The Zone and Complete Players. This is all pretty impressive for a buck a pack but that’s not it.

What you won’t find is memorabilia cards. I’m actually happy there isn’t any in this product. It will keep the pack searchers away when I want to pick up a few packs at a dollar store or my grocery store. What this product will have is the occasional autograph though which is great. One per case of blasters and 5 per case of standard retail boxes and you will find current studs like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Adrian Peterson as well as rookie studs Julio Jones, AJ Green, and Jake Locker, amongst other players. This is a great autograph checklist if you’re lucky enough to pull one from these retail boxes. Again, this is a buck a pack.

One paper Washington. One pack. And you’ll get a shiny new penny in return (at least in Oregon with no sales tax). Can’t beat that.

Don’t forget to check out the Panini Peek for 2011 Score football!

Here is a picture of what a Tom Brady autograph looks like from this set. Is it just me or does it look like Tom took too many hits last year? His autograph is a little messy compared to other recent versions.

The Ethics of Pack Searching

Today I went to Fred Meyer to search for a blaster of 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen or 2011 Bowman. Freddy’s had neither but I saw an open retail box of Gypsy, loosys as many people know them as. They were all mixed up, turned around, sideways, obviously rifled through. When purchasing loose packs you always run the chance that someone had come by and tried to search them for the “hits”, game used or autographs. Needless to say, I opened 5 of the remaining 15 packs and didn’t get much.

Were these packs searched? I don’t know, I couldn’t tell.

Pack searching is the act in which someone goes to a retail or hobby store and molests the packs of cards with their hands or other devices in which to try and find the hits. I would estimate about 10-15% of collectors are known to do this in one form or another whether they admit it or not. I wouldn’t be surprised if that number was higher. But why do they do it? Greed is probably the most common reason. Self-esteem issues because their collections may not match that of others they know online or in person is another. Finally, maybe they don’t know what they are doing is wrong. Ethically, searching packs is wrong.

Hits are put into boxes according to odds, it says so on the back of packs and boxes. These searchers are the ones who try and defy these odds, therefore taking what is supposed to be random out of the equation. If some little kid or myself wants to go to the store and buy a pack of cards and receive the same odds as everyone else, we usually end up just buying a blaster or hobby box because we don’t know what has been done to those packs. The searchers create an atmosphere in which nobody is getting the same odds and is in effect, unfair to those who come later. Sure, you may say those odds will change by those who pick randoms themselves but those people are not trying to get 1:1 instead of 1:3500.

Also, the pack searchers often damage the cards in itself causing the monetary value of what is purchased to be lower. Now not only are the random odds being taken away, the money being spent is now going to a complete waste. Do you want to be the victim of such practices?

I avoid all cases in which I could possibly be a victim, except for last night. I should of known better, but every once and awhile I just like to open new packs for fun and just see what’s inside without worrying about what is actually inside. But how can one protect themselves?

  • Buy from newly opened boxes
  • Save your money and stick to just buying boxes from reputable dealers
  • Go to a dealer who is honest in themselves (shop owners are known to do this as well)
  • Buy loose packs from dealers who keep them behind counters

All of those points are ways to protect yourself to make sure you are getting the same odds as everyone else when buying packs. Why would you not want to get what you are paying for?

In all fairness, pack searchers are the bottom feeders of the hobby. They ruin the pack opening experience for both the young and the old, the newbies and the veterans. The card companies have taken some measures to counter their actions, but it seems like the searchers always find ways around it. The best stride I have seen companies take is just to put single packs inside clam shell packaging so people can’t molest the packs. This is not cost effective so it doesn’t happen as much as it is really needed.

In the end, the only protection you will get is the protection you will give yourself. You can help others too. Report pack searchers to the store employees as they are most likely damaging products. The stores won’t take too kindly to that.

Finally, I leave you with some words of wisdom. Wheaton’s Law states, “Don’t be a dick.” You should live your life by that motto, it may come back to…mess with you.

I Come Bearing Gypsy Queens!

I needed eggs. We finished up our carton last night and it was such a beautiful day today, I offered to drive over to the store and pick up the much needed protein. It takes me 10 minutes to find the eggs, meaning I probably shouldn’t be in a grocery store. But there is a great part of this grocery store. This store contains blaster boxes of cards.

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me post that I finally found 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen baseball. In actuality, I found 3 blaster boxes. I decided to take 2 and leave 1 for the next customer. Now I can finally see what all this hype is.

Box 1 featured 4 Red Sox cards:

Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Jimmie Foxx, and Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth is actually in a Red Sox uniform and is a short print! Of all my Red Sox cards, I don’t think I own one Ruth in a Red Sox uniform so that excites me. The other short prints pulled were Jay Bruce and a Brian McCann mini. I also pulled a mini red back of Matt Kemp.

My inserts in Box 1 were as follows:

Future Stars: Mike Stanton, Neftali Feliz

Sticky Fingers: Derek Jeter, David Wright

Home Run Heroes: Jose Bautista x2 (really Topps?)

Wall Climbers: Mike Stanton, Franklin Gutierrez

The Great Ones: Mickey Mantle, Robin Yount

Finally I hit a Gypsy Queen, Havalia. While at first I didn’t care about these cards, I must admit they can be quite entertaining. Have you actually read the biographies of these gypsies? Here is Havalia’s biography:

I also have had damaged goods. However, when she tried to turn me into a wild boar I left her.

Box 2 featured 3 Red Sox cards:

Kevin Youkilis, Lars Anderson (RC), and finally a Dustin Pedroia mini. Lars Anderson seems to be haunting my pulls in baseball recently. While not necessarily a bad prospect to have haunt you, his real rookie cards were a few years ago. Plus he’ll be traded eventually as he is sitting behind another guy I pulled, Adrian Gonzalez. My short prints from this box were Carlos Pena, Freddie Freeman (RC!), and a Brett Sinkseil Black Mini (RC). Why couldn’t it have been of Freddie? My red back in this box was BJ Upton.

My inserts in Box 1 were as follows:

Future Stars: Gordon Beckham, Ike Davis

Sticky Fingers: Jose Reyes, Brandon Phillips

Home Run Heroes: Johnny Bench, Carlos Pena

Wall Climbers: Franklin Gutierrez, Jason Heyward

The Great Ones: Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson

My Gypsy Queen is that hottie Oriana. With looks like those, I can imagine how many men she may have turned into wild boars. Let’s see:

Well that’s not very climactic. Although I wish she could rub some of her magic potion on some of these retail boxes I’ve received lately. I haven’t hit a GU or Auto in a blaster box in God knows how long.

I probably should of bought that last one too.

But in all, Gypsy Queen is Allen & Ginter without all the non-sports cards (except those Gypsies). The design is okay, but the photos of the players end up looking really good and like canvas. I’m just happy I didn’t pull an autograph of a Gypsy. I might buy some more boxes but odds are with hobby boxes around $150, it’s definitely not going to be hobby.

If anyone needs base to complete their sets, let me know.

A Nice Easter Surprise

Easter baskets are a great place to put little presents. Whether it’s your children, family, or significant other, it’s always nice to receive a little surprise in your Easter basket. But sometimes you truly do get a surprise inside your basket.

Let me preface this by saying that this year my fiancee and I agreed not to give each other Easter baskets. The fact that I am unemployed and we just had our 2 year anniversary is part of it, but I made sure we had verbal confirmation that neither of us would be giving Easter baskets this year.

Well we were eating dinner before she went to work for the night and she goes upstairs to finish getting ready. As she is coming back down both dogs turn and look at the stairs, so being the observer I am, I turn and see what they are looking at. I turn and see a bright orange basket. Oh crap, I thought we agreed not to give each other anything. This wasn’t one of those instances where the girl says she doesn’t want anything but really does. It turns out her co-worker was talking about getting an Easter basket and how happy he was so she changed her mind and made me one.

The basket had all the regulars. Starburst jelly beans, Reese’s peanut butter eggs, the always yummy chocolate bunny, but what is this little box? It appears to be a little blaster box (7 packs) of Upper Deck Series II hockey! Awesome! This hockey season has been one of my favorites for collecting. My two favorite teams have awesome rookies. Carolina has Jeff Skinner and Edmonton has Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi. So what’s better then trying to pull a Magnus Paajarvi Young Gun? I know it’s retail, but there’s still the chance!

Here’s how I did with the hits:
Victory RC Cam Fowler
Victory RC Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Victory RC Gold Mattias Tedenby
Young Guns Checklist Paajarvi/Seguin/Shattenkirk
Young Guns Korbinian Holzer
Young Guns 20th Anniversary Evgeny Grachev

Not bad at all for a retail box! I almost got the Paajarvi I was looking for. Well I can’t say I didn’t pull a Paajarvi Young Gun because I kinda did. The odds of pulling a Young Gun were 1:6 and I technically pulled 3 of them. The odds of a 20th Anniversary Young Gun were 1:96 which was a nice surprise too, especially since after opening 2 HOBBY boxes of Series I hockey I didn’t pull one 20th Anniversary Young Gun. Overall, this retail blaster was definitely one of the better ones I’ve opened in awhile. I never seem to get lucky with blasters. Perhaps I should let the fiancee pick out my retails from now on!

The mojo was lurking with me, and may the mojo be with you!