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  1. If you haven’t seen the news in recent weeks, retail-giant Fanatics has made massive waves in the card collecting world, and while we’re still sorting through the details, change is coming. A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Fanatics would become the exclusive licensee for baseball cards. It wasn’t there where things stopped, though. The NBA and NFL also joined in the venture. That means over the next few years, it will no longer be Topps or Panini that produces sports cards, but instead this new brand entering into a completely new venture. Specifically looking at baseball, Topps is the only player to be considered. Their current deal with Major League Baseball runs through 2025, but the license with the MLB Players Association expires following the 2022 season. Whereas Panini can produce unlicensed cards with big-league players, Topps would no longer have rights to major leaguers for their cards. The lone SKU they’d be able to make in 2023 would be the Bowman line featuring minor leaguers. The blow to Topps is substantial, and the impending public merger with Mudrick Capital was called off following the news. Also notably, Alex Rodriguez’s intentions to buy Topps’ competitor Panini were also called off. For the New York-based card company, the exit from MLB leaves Topps holding only soccer as their notable sport-based license. Rob Manfred is looking out for the almighty dollar here. Fanatics' purchase price is reportedly ten times larger than any previous deal agreed to by the union. It also directly benefits Major League Baseball and those within the MLBPA. The league owns equity in Fanatics and effectively allows all parties to further capitalize from one another. A recent report from CNBC suggests that Fanatics' interests span far more than just cardboard. The retail giant is looking to create a whole new pillar within its company. From grading to selling, the company wants to have avenues for every aspect of the lifecycle of card collecting. Based on the report, it appears that the new giant entrant will explore any potential opportunity within the hobby. The rub is that Fanatics and the leagues themselves seem to be betting on the popularity and collectibility residing with the product rather than the brand. Topps and Panini have done themselves no favors over the years. Poor customer service, slow redemption turnarounds, and dated websites are just touching the surface of current problems. What they do have, however, is an established identity. Topps is celebrating 70 years of baseball cards this season, and the iconic offerings being paid handsomely for are as much because of the subject as they are the established desire rooted in the brand. Vintage cards have soared due to their scarcity. Key rookies have experienced a boom because of the sets Topps included them in. Lesser competitors such as Leaf and Onyx have seen little success in driving desire to the same levels despite similar subjects and chase offerings. Fanatics will have to buck that trend. We’re still months, and potentially years, from understanding how this all will look. For the sake of Topps and Panini, being bought and allowing their brands to be used under the Fanatics umbrella seems like a promising avenue to pursue. Maybe that’s not one the new head honcho will be agreeable to. I find it hard to get excited about an entirely new offering from my collecting seat, no matter how much of a draw the shiny feeling may bring. Topps is iconic with baseball cards, and while I enjoy the hobby, it’s an unnecessary venture into disposable income. Years down the road, some may consider this era vintage, so maybe I just shifted my focus. I’d love to be surprised by Fanatics and find myself drawn in, but for now, I’m more than comfortable sitting on the sidelines and working through the bewilderment of what just took place. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Fanatics would become the exclusive licensee for baseball cards. It wasn’t there where things stopped, though. The NBA and NFL also joined in the venture. That means over the next few years, it will no longer be Topps or Panini that produces sports cards, but instead this new brand entering into a completely new venture. Specifically looking at baseball, Topps is the only player to be considered. Their current deal with Major League Baseball runs through 2025, but the license with the MLB Players Association expires following the 2022 season. Whereas Panini can produce unlicensed cards with big-league players, Topps would no longer have rights to major leaguers for their cards. The lone SKU they’d be able to make in 2023 would be the Bowman line featuring minor leaguers. The blow to Topps is substantial, and the impending public merger with Mudrick Capital was called off following the news. Also notably, Alex Rodriguez’s intentions to buy Topps’ competitor Panini were also called off. For the New York-based card company, the exit from MLB leaves Topps holding only soccer as their notable sport-based license. Rob Manfred is looking out for the almighty dollar here. Fanatics' purchase price is reportedly ten times larger than any previous deal agreed to by the union. It also directly benefits Major League Baseball and those within the MLBPA. The league owns equity in Fanatics and effectively allows all parties to further capitalize from one another. A recent report from CNBC suggests that Fanatics' interests span far more than just cardboard. The retail giant is looking to create a whole new pillar within its company. From grading to selling, the company wants to have avenues for every aspect of the lifecycle of card collecting. Based on the report, it appears that the new giant entrant will explore any potential opportunity within the hobby. The rub is that Fanatics and the leagues themselves seem to be betting on the popularity and collectibility residing with the product rather than the brand. Topps and Panini have done themselves no favors over the years. Poor customer service, slow redemption turnarounds, and dated websites are just touching the surface of current problems. What they do have, however, is an established identity. Topps is celebrating 70 years of baseball cards this season, and the iconic offerings being paid handsomely for are as much because of the subject as they are the established desire rooted in the brand. Vintage cards have soared due to their scarcity. Key rookies have experienced a boom because of the sets Topps included them in. Lesser competitors such as Leaf and Onyx have seen little success in driving desire to the same levels despite similar subjects and chase offerings. Fanatics will have to buck that trend. We’re still months, and potentially years, from understanding how this all will look. For the sake of Topps and Panini, being bought and allowing their brands to be used under the Fanatics umbrella seems like a promising avenue to pursue. Maybe that’s not one the new head honcho will be agreeable to. I find it hard to get excited about an entirely new offering from my collecting seat, no matter how much of a draw the shiny feeling may bring. Topps is iconic with baseball cards, and while I enjoy the hobby, it’s an unnecessary venture into disposable income. Years down the road, some may consider this era vintage, so maybe I just shifted my focus. I’d love to be surprised by Fanatics and find myself drawn in, but for now, I’m more than comfortable sitting on the sidelines and working through the bewilderment of what just took place. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. If you’ve followed my work here or on Twitter over the past couple of years, it’s become evident I’ve dove full steam into card collecting. While I’ve dabbled in basketball (hi, Anthony Edwards), and will grab my first hockey card soon (Kirill Kaprizov is in Upper Deck Series 2 out later this month), baseball is obviously the sweet spot. I’ve gone through a bit of a collecting lull in wanting to refocus my efforts and make sure I’m enjoying my collection for what it is. I’ve kicked around similar versions of this idea over the past couple of seasons and am now going to write it into existence. With the way cards have exploded, I want to notate a few players I think are worthy “investments” for the 2021 season. Here’s the deal, this isn’t a get rich quick type of situation, and I also shy away from the notion of prospecting. Bowman cards are often exorbitantly priced only to come cascading back to earth when prospects don’t pan out. No, my goal here is to identify a few undervalued players that will turn a nice ROI in the next 12 months. Before coming forward with the names let’s outline a couple of ground rules. No single card can cost more than $20. With that intention, it rules out grading any raw cards. Even at the lowest value submission level a card would be pushed beyond that threshold. The goal would be for nothing less than a 50% growth rate by March 2021. Alright, let’s get into it. 2018 Topps Jack Flaherty #93 PSA 9 - $12 Coming off his worst season in the majors, Flaherty is maybe an odd pitcher to target as the only non-hitter of this group. His 4.11 FIP suggests the 4.91 ERA maybe wasn’t that unfair, but I’m bullish on his 25-year-old season being his best yet. Coming off a 2019 that saw him finish 4th in the NL Cy Young voting, the 2020 3.42 xFIP tells a better story. He was bit harder by the longball than in any other season, and the strikeouts are still elite. I think the division is going to be awful, and the addition of Nolan Arenado raises the water level for St. Louis across the board. Another top five Cy Young finish wouldn’t shock me at all, and I think he’s a dark horse to win it. Pitchers aren’t great investments, but this isn’t a long hold and at $12 I want to capitalize on what I expect to be a good year. 2018 Topps Update Shohei Ohtani #US1 PSA 9 - $19.99 There’s clearly a theme here in that the value of 2018 Topps baseball product remains untapped. Yes, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto are the headliners right now, but there’s a reason the boxes are at astronomical prices. Shohei Ohtani won the 2018 Rookie of the Year and has since been seen as slipping. While there’s no denying his 2020 was poor, 2019 featured an .848 OPS and 18 longballs in a season where he was kept off the mound. He’s back to pitching, looked great in his Spring Training debut, and remains the only player in history capable of both throwing 100 mph on the bump and launching balls over the fence with 100 mph exit velocities. If he’s anything close to what he was in 2018 or 19 at the plate, and even a middle of the rotation starter, his cards should rebound nicely. 2018 Topps Rafael Devers #18 PSA 9 - $19.99 Another 2018 entrant includes one of the young stars in Boston. I don’t expect the Red Sox to be any good in 2021, but Devers still seems entirely too slept on. He’s a year removed from a .916 OPS as a 22-year-old and plays in a premium market. Mookie Betts is gone, Andrew Benintendi is gone, and Jackie Bradley Jr. is gone. Devers gives the BoSox a face-of-the-franchise type hope and a rebound at age-24 should surge his cards upwards. ZiPS projects him for 3.2 fWAR and 32 dingers this season. He whiffed well above career norms in 2020 and getting back to a stronger level of plate discipline should aid his offensive game nicely. 2015 Topps Kris Bryant #616 SGC 9.5 - $15 There’s a lot of belief here, but there’s also an opportunity that I saw an undervalued offering given the slab it resides in. PSA 9’s of this same card goes for between $25-30 right now and despite SGC being more well known for vintage offerings, the 9.5 is a superior grade. Bryant is in his final year with the Cubs, one Chicago angled for by manipulating his service time all those years ago. He recently turned 29 and is coming off an injury plagued 2020. Throw out what took place during the pandemic and the Vegas native owns a career .901 OPS and posted a .903 mark in 2019. He should surpass the career 200 home run mark (needing 28) this season, and he’s playing for his first big payday. Health, most notably the back, remains a key question for him but otherwise the talent remains through the roof. Honorable Mentions: I was intentional in targeting quick flips with these players, but I think the shortstop class for 2022 is an equally appealing proposition. Unfortunately, graded copies of rookie offerings for Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez already fall beyond the rules for this exercise. I do also like Trea Turner quite a bit, and Gleyber Torres may be my favorite long term hold right now. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  4. We’re now less than a week away from the release of 2021 Topps Series 1 baseball. Earlier this week I attempted a video Q&A session; it didn’t go well. Given that medium isn’t my forte, I’m hardly surprised. Looking to provide value and accomplish a similar goal, the focus turned to a mailbag instead. Sourcing questions from readers and followers on Twitter, there should be a very good sample of talking points here. Without delay, let’s dive in. If you aren’t interested in ponying up for a player’s 1st Bowman card (autograph or otherwise) the next best thing value wise would be considered their first Topps Chrome autograph. Kirilloff isn’t going to be in Series 1 Flagship, instead debuting in Series 2. He should have Chrome autos in 2021, so waiting for those to drop would be the next best thing. Obviously the most economical route will be his Series 2 base card (or any number of the parallels). Hobby shops, along with a handful of online breakers, were how I got back into cards. Luckily, we have a handful of options in the Twin Cities area. My go to is Pal’s in Andover, but Real Breaks in Champlin has emerged as a new favorite as well. There’s a store in Golden Valley, and an option down near Woodbury. 2Bros is in Northtown Mall in Blaine, and Three Stars has locations in Bloomington and Little Canada. Hobby shops have the allure of immediate product, and many also sell singles for you to peruse through. There’s also the excitement or joy of just being in that type of environment with like-minded collectors as well. I have started to downsize my collection for a more focused approach. I only collect Twins, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani. Rather than stockpiling a bunch of base cards I rarely look through, I wanted to make sure I could appreciate what I have. That process worked backwards too in that I had some very nice cards I didn’t display, and them sitting in a box wasn’t desirable to me. I have a new space I am going to be outfitting soon, so we’ll see how things display when I’m done. Checking for retail has literally become a crapshoot. Pretty much any time I walk into Target or Walmart I’ll look and anticipate finding nothing. People have connections with distributors or simply wait for product to be put on the shelves. Wax isn’t that important to me since my PC is so narrowly focused. When I open, most of what I pull gets sold anyways. If I’m jonesing to rip something, I typically hit up a hobby shop. That’s tough as I’ve not heard of water getting into a slab before. However, it’s probably a good reminder about buying the card rather than the grade. In this situation it’s free so you win either way, but not all examples of cards at the same grade have the same appeal. I’ve kicked around buying a 1986 Fleer Jordan in a PSA 1 for a while but wanting the right one to move me before I actually make the purchase. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  5. Let’s get this out of the way from the jump, I’m by no means an expert. I, like many of you, remember picking up packs of cards at the local department store as a kid. The hobby has evolved a ton since then, and having gotten back in full force during 2017, I have often shared my passion on Twitter. Now, it’s time to provide an outlet for knowledge. A couple of days ago I put out a tweet asking if it would be helpful to answer questions about all thing’s baseball cards. The response was overwhelmingly positive and given the amount of direct messages or inquiries I receive, I thought this may be a fun avenue to share my passion for the hobby and connect with fellow Twins baseball fans in the process. Maybe you want to know what products to start with, how to value your cards, if it’s all a huge money pit, or if grading pieces of cardboard is really a worthwhile venture. No matter what your interest level, or experience in the market, there should be good information and questions both shared and asked. I’m hardly a savant, and I have plenty of things I’m sill learning. That said, I do have a firm grasp on the way in which I’ve approached my collection and have a good handle on my focus going forward. So, here’s the particulars: When: Wednesday February 3, 2021 Where: Twitter Live @tlschwerz Time: 8:30 pm central time Whether you are planning to participate with questions through Twitter Live, or simply tune in for new information, there should be something for everyone. The video will also be recorded on Twitter, and then uploaded to this space should you miss the discussion while it’s taking place. Hope to see you there! For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  6. During this global pandemic one thing that has seen a massive boost in the sports world is collectibles, or trading cards, affectionately categorized as The Hobby. With something for everyone, and fans of every sport, your bound to find a way to pique your interest. In the modern baseball world, the Angels outfielder is king, and Mike Trout did it again over the weekend. As the unquestioned best player in the game today, Trout holds a special place at the top of the modern baseball card collecting ranks. His base cards transcend “common” status, and his rarer pieces fetch exorbitant prices. It’s the 2011 Topps Update that has become his iconic rookie issue, but some of the prospect cards, namely the 2009 Bowman Chrome Autograph, have driven the market bonkers. Back in 2018 the eccentric Dave “Vegas Dave” Oancea grabbed Mike Trout’s 2009 Bowman Chrome Superfractor 1/1 autograph for a cool $400,000. He noted having turned down offers near $1 million and said he was sitting on it until a $5 million offer came through. You’ll have to excuse his crass nature in the video, but it appears his statements aren’t nearly as outlandish as one may have assumed. On Sunday night a 2009 Bowman Chrome Red /5 Autograph of Trout’s wrapped up through Ken Goldin’s auction house. That card brought in $525,000 and obviously doesn’t reach the same height as a 1/1. Assuming the red that was sold wasn’t Oancea’s, he too owns one of those cards as well as a handful of the orange version numbered to 25. To say the man is sitting on a mountain of Mike Trout moola is probably putting it lightly. This explosion isn’t just in a single card though. ESPN’s The Last Dance brought tons of buyers for Michael Jordan cards out of the woodwork. Trout’s standard base issue 2011 Update has gone from a $500 card last February to a $3,000 card today. Topps has been rolling out limited print to order Project 2020 cards with different artists and the early offerings are now in such demand the price exponentially multiples on the secondary market before each card even gets into the hands of collectors. You should never view pieces of cardboard as an investment similar to that of a stock or bond. However, classifying trading cards as pieces of cardboard is also severely missing the point if you know what you’re looking for. The return is not there for every purchase, but it’s become more than clear the hobby has a place in today’s current culture and it certainly looks like it will be here to stay. Only a select few people are interested in buying a baseball card selling for north of $500,000, but you can bet that number grows in multiples as you back off the buy in, and there’s lots of fun to be had at any level. Mike Trout, Michael Jordan, or whoever is the next big thing, you can bet their faces on cardboard will attract plenty of fans. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  7. Baseball has been shelved thus far in 2020, and while we eagerly await the resumption of America’s greatest game, fans have been clamoring for other outlets. With MLB The Show 20 driving additional PlayStation sales and Topps cornering the card collecting market there’s been some decent alternatives. It wasn’t until Project 2020 though that turned one of those other avenues into an event.Traditionally Topps has released product on a scheduled basis throughout the calendar year. With the season itself being postponed, and production facilities being shuttered, the New York-based card company has had to get creative. Although this initiative was already underway prior to this global pandemic, Project 2020 has turned the noon hour into a mad dash on the internet for weeks. In an effort to blend baseball cards with artistic liberties Topps reached out to 20 different artists in hopes of having them reimagine 20 iconic rookie cards. Each day two new offerings become available until the entirety of the 400-card set is unveiled. They can only be purchased on Topps.com and are available for just 48 hours. Whatever number is bought are the exact number that is printed. Mike Trout’s cards have paved the way thus far, but it is one artist that I specifically have latched onto. Blake Jamieson, who himself resides in New York, did not debut until card number 18. His Nolan Ryan immediately set this thing on fire though. After only the initial Mike Trout and Ken Griffey Jr. cards topped the 2,000 print run plateau, Jamieson’s Ryan became the second-best selling card in the set. It was filled with color and was extremely appealing to the eye. From there his Don Mattingly and Jackie Robinson (appropriately dubbed card 42) have done awesome numbers as well. Instead of just observing from afar, I wanted to get to know Blake and find out a bit more regarding his connection to cards as well as baseball as a whole. He did an awesome interview with Beckett recently, and took the time to answer some questions for me here at Twins Daily. Twins Daily: Start from the ground up. As an artist you obviously draw inspiration from a handful of different sources. What describes your style and what are you hoping to portray in your pieces? Blake Jamieson: I am inspired by all different types of art (and things that are not art). But I think the biggest inspiration on my style is street art and graffiti. I find the magic in what other people might think are mistakes. In graffiti, we see that a lot because people are painting something in a hurry so to not be caught doing something illegal. I don't paint in the streets but try to take those same "imperfections" and apply them to my work on canvas. As for what I hope to portray, I guess I am trying to capture a moment and show a little more emotion or energy than you could get from a photograph. This is great for my work in sports portraits, where I am re-creating an iconic and important moment. Rather than an exact visual replication of that moment, from a certain perspective (photograph), I am trying to capture and show the energy from a ton of perspectives at one time. TD: How did you get connected with Topps, and specifically regarding baseball what drew you to the Project 2020 endeavor. BJ: About 6 months ago, I saw some work by an artist I really admire (Graig Kreindler) working with Topps. I thought that brand specifically (I grew up collecting Topps cards) could be a great partner to take my brand to the next level. Until then, I had done a ton of athlete portraits, but just 1/1 originals for the players themselves. I reached out to a few friends trying to find an introduction to someone at Topps. Those efforts came up completely dry. But later that week, Jeff Heckman (who is leading the Project 2020 efforts) sent me an email, asking if I'd like to chat about an upcoming project we could potentially work together on. That was Project 2020, and the rest is history now. Crazy how the universe works - with Topps reaching out to me the same week I became determined to work with them. Download attachment: Blake-Jamieson-In-Studio-05-HIGHRES.jpg TD: What does your baseball background look like? Who is your team, and what have been some of your best experiences with the sport? BJ: I grew up just north of San Francisco, in Marin County. My dad had season tickets to the Oakland A's, and I grew up idolizing Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. I could identify players and teams by sight well before I could read. So my dad would take me into card shops when I was SUPER young (2-3 years old) and I was pointing at all the players listing their names, or the teams, and people thought I was some kind of prodigy. Rather, I just grew up with my dad showing me the ropes. We built a solid collection, which includes about 70K cards (every card between 1985-95). Then I kind of fell out of the hobby for a long time. But now with Project 2020, I am back in the game and it feels like I never left! Fortunately, my mom didn't throw away any of our collection, and it's super fun to dig through those old boxes now. It's a trip down memory lane, for sure! One of my favorite stories my dad likes to tell, is about how when I was young and we were at games, I learned very quickly that if I told a player he was my favorite player, he would usually give me a ball. Every time we came home from a regular game or spring training, we would have a whole bag of balls from everyone I talked to. I would also ask the players if they want MY autograph, after receiving theirs. They would always say yes, and I would write out BLAKE on a ball or something to give back to them. Man, if any of those players had a signed ball today still, that would be a trip! (and probably very valuable, haha) TD: Having created a few cards thus far, what has been some of the most difficult challenges in re-imagining iconic cards? What piece(s) are you most proud of and why? BJ: I think the Mariano Rivera card has been my biggest challenge (mentally) so far. Just because of the pose, I guess. I was having a difficult time visualizing what I am going to do with it. Mo was such an epic player, and there are so many great action shots that showcase that. But using the pic from the 1992 Topps card has caused me to think of other ways I can bring some energy to the card. I think I finally came up with a cool way to make that happen, but time will tell! TD: Looking at the Project 2020 offerings as a whole, how do you feel about the set and what do you hope is established between the art community and those interested in the baseball card hobby? BJ: I love everything about the project and the set. Mad respect for all the artists, and props to Topps for coming up with the concept. I think it will be the product of the year because it's bringing new life (and new attention) to a hobby that has not taken a ton of risks in recent history. It's so cool to hear people say things like "Blake, I love your art and have followed you for a long time. I haven't bought a baseball card in decades, but I just got yours... and now I am digging through old cards and taking a trip down memory lane!" And even for people who have never given up the hobby, I feel like as the set progresses, more and more of them are starting to get really excited. It was tough to visualize when only a few cards were out. But now that each artist has multiple releases, and you can start to see what an artist set of 20 could look like, it's gaining steam. I expect PRs to continue to climb, and these first 50 cards are going to be the SP an SSP of the entire set! Download attachment: DonMattingly_1984-Blake-Jamieson-WEB.jpg TD: Is there a particular card you have yet to put out that you're overly excited to work on or one specifically you have some great ideas in mind for? BJ: Trout is going to be epic. I have a few Easter eggs I am working in, that I think fans (who notice) will really appreciate. Also, my Mark McGwire is going to be nuts. The "Easter egg" is far less subtle in that one, but I think card collectors are going to flip out when they see it. TD: How has being quarantined throughout this process impacted your creative mindset? Have you found different outlets to draw inspiration from or is a sense of isolation generally how you work best? BJ: Honestly, I love working in isolation. I do miss occasionally having other artists over to my studio to collaborate, but I have filled that void by joining the card community online. I do live-streams every night from my studio at 10:23pm on YouTube (YouTube.com/blakejamieson). It's been something like 9 days in a row now, and it's what I look forward to most every day. The community there gets to help me choose colors, gives feedback and input on creative decisions, and it's literally like a giant collaboration that turns into art. The people on that stream have impacted the actual cards that Topps ends up printing, and that is just insane to think about. And for that reason, I feel more creatively stimulated than I have in a long time. TD: Finally, what is the greatest takeaway you want baseball fans to have in connecting with your art? BJ: Man, that's the hardest question on the list - to narrow it down to just one thing. I guess the greatest takeaway I could leave anyone with (baseball fan, or otherwise), is that it's never too late to take control of your own life and do what you love. I was 30 years old when I decided to quit a very lucrative corporate job to pursue my passion for art. I never went to art school, and I have no formal training in art. I am 35 now, and I've "worked" longer hours in that time than I ever did before, but as cliché as it sounds, it never feels like work. And in a short five-year span, I've managed to now be working with a company like Topps that I grew up only dreaming about. That's not because I have some God-given talent for making art. It's because I found something I loved doing so much that I was willing to spend long days and late nights teaching myself how to do it better than I could yesterday. Rinse and repeat. As of right now Topps has just surpassed the 50 card in the Project 2020 set. Two cards will continue to drop each day, Monday-Friday, until all 400 have been unveiled. There’s so many different way to collect or enjoy these offerings, and even just tuning in to look at the latest creations is a must. Blake is also giving away signed copies of his Jackie Robinson offerings on Twitter. Head here to enter. You can check out more of his work on his website here. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  8. Traditionally Topps has released product on a scheduled basis throughout the calendar year. With the season itself being postponed, and production facilities being shuttered, the New York-based card company has had to get creative. Although this initiative was already underway prior to this global pandemic, Project 2020 has turned the noon hour into a mad dash on the internet for weeks. In an effort to blend baseball cards with artistic liberties Topps reached out to 20 different artists in hopes of having them reimagine 20 iconic rookie cards. Each day two new offerings become available until the entirety of the 400-card set is unveiled. They can only be purchased on Topps.com and are available for just 48 hours. Whatever number is bought are the exact number that is printed. Mike Trout’s cards have paved the way thus far, but it is one artist that I specifically have latched onto. Blake Jamieson, who himself resides in New York, did not debut until card number 18. His Nolan Ryan immediately set this thing on fire though. After only the initial Mike Trout and Ken Griffey Jr. cards topped the 2,000 print run plateau, Jamieson’s Ryan became the second-best selling card in the set. It was filled with color and was extremely appealing to the eye. From there his Don Mattingly and Jackie Robinson (appropriately dubbed card 42) have done awesome numbers as well. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1247626042136641536 Instead of just observing from afar, I wanted to get to know Blake and find out a bit more regarding his connection to cards as well as baseball as a whole. He did an awesome interview with Beckett recently, and took the time to answer some questions for me here at Twins Daily. Twins Daily: Start from the ground up. As an artist you obviously draw inspiration from a handful of different sources. What describes your style and what are you hoping to portray in your pieces? Blake Jamieson: I am inspired by all different types of art (and things that are not art). But I think the biggest inspiration on my style is street art and graffiti. I find the magic in what other people might think are mistakes. In graffiti, we see that a lot because people are painting something in a hurry so to not be caught doing something illegal. I don't paint in the streets but try to take those same "imperfections" and apply them to my work on canvas. As for what I hope to portray, I guess I am trying to capture a moment and show a little more emotion or energy than you could get from a photograph. This is great for my work in sports portraits, where I am re-creating an iconic and important moment. Rather than an exact visual replication of that moment, from a certain perspective (photograph), I am trying to capture and show the energy from a ton of perspectives at one time. TD: How did you get connected with Topps, and specifically regarding baseball what drew you to the Project 2020 endeavor. BJ: About 6 months ago, I saw some work by an artist I really admire (Graig Kreindler) working with Topps. I thought that brand specifically (I grew up collecting Topps cards) could be a great partner to take my brand to the next level. Until then, I had done a ton of athlete portraits, but just 1/1 originals for the players themselves. I reached out to a few friends trying to find an introduction to someone at Topps. Those efforts came up completely dry. But later that week, Jeff Heckman (who is leading the Project 2020 efforts) sent me an email, asking if I'd like to chat about an upcoming project we could potentially work together on. That was Project 2020, and the rest is history now. Crazy how the universe works - with Topps reaching out to me the same week I became determined to work with them. TD: What does your baseball background look like? Who is your team, and what have been some of your best experiences with the sport? BJ: I grew up just north of San Francisco, in Marin County. My dad had season tickets to the Oakland A's, and I grew up idolizing Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. I could identify players and teams by sight well before I could read. So my dad would take me into card shops when I was SUPER young (2-3 years old) and I was pointing at all the players listing their names, or the teams, and people thought I was some kind of prodigy. Rather, I just grew up with my dad showing me the ropes. We built a solid collection, which includes about 70K cards (every card between 1985-95). Then I kind of fell out of the hobby for a long time. But now with Project 2020, I am back in the game and it feels like I never left! Fortunately, my mom didn't throw away any of our collection, and it's super fun to dig through those old boxes now. It's a trip down memory lane, for sure! One of my favorite stories my dad likes to tell, is about how when I was young and we were at games, I learned very quickly that if I told a player he was my favorite player, he would usually give me a ball. Every time we came home from a regular game or spring training, we would have a whole bag of balls from everyone I talked to. I would also ask the players if they want MY autograph, after receiving theirs. They would always say yes, and I would write out BLAKE on a ball or something to give back to them. Man, if any of those players had a signed ball today still, that would be a trip! (and probably very valuable, haha) TD: Having created a few cards thus far, what has been some of the most difficult challenges in re-imagining iconic cards? What piece(s) are you most proud of and why? BJ: I think the Mariano Rivera card has been my biggest challenge (mentally) so far. Just because of the pose, I guess. I was having a difficult time visualizing what I am going to do with it. Mo was such an epic player, and there are so many great action shots that showcase that. But using the pic from the 1992 Topps card has caused me to think of other ways I can bring some energy to the card. I think I finally came up with a cool way to make that happen, but time will tell! TD: Looking at the Project 2020 offerings as a whole, how do you feel about the set and what do you hope is established between the art community and those interested in the baseball card hobby? BJ: I love everything about the project and the set. Mad respect for all the artists, and props to Topps for coming up with the concept. I think it will be the product of the year because it's bringing new life (and new attention) to a hobby that has not taken a ton of risks in recent history. It's so cool to hear people say things like "Blake, I love your art and have followed you for a long time. I haven't bought a baseball card in decades, but I just got yours... and now I am digging through old cards and taking a trip down memory lane!" And even for people who have never given up the hobby, I feel like as the set progresses, more and more of them are starting to get really excited. It was tough to visualize when only a few cards were out. But now that each artist has multiple releases, and you can start to see what an artist set of 20 could look like, it's gaining steam. I expect PRs to continue to climb, and these first 50 cards are going to be the SP an SSP of the entire set! TD: Is there a particular card you have yet to put out that you're overly excited to work on or one specifically you have some great ideas in mind for? BJ: Trout is going to be epic. I have a few Easter eggs I am working in, that I think fans (who notice) will really appreciate. Also, my Mark McGwire is going to be nuts. The "Easter egg" is far less subtle in that one, but I think card collectors are going to flip out when they see it. TD: How has being quarantined throughout this process impacted your creative mindset? Have you found different outlets to draw inspiration from or is a sense of isolation generally how you work best? BJ: Honestly, I love working in isolation. I do miss occasionally having other artists over to my studio to collaborate, but I have filled that void by joining the card community online. I do live-streams every night from my studio at 10:23pm on YouTube (YouTube.com/blakejamieson). It's been something like 9 days in a row now, and it's what I look forward to most every day. The community there gets to help me choose colors, gives feedback and input on creative decisions, and it's literally like a giant collaboration that turns into art. The people on that stream have impacted the actual cards that Topps ends up printing, and that is just insane to think about. And for that reason, I feel more creatively stimulated than I have in a long time. TD: Finally, what is the greatest takeaway you want baseball fans to have in connecting with your art? BJ: Man, that's the hardest question on the list - to narrow it down to just one thing. I guess the greatest takeaway I could leave anyone with (baseball fan, or otherwise), is that it's never too late to take control of your own life and do what you love. I was 30 years old when I decided to quit a very lucrative corporate job to pursue my passion for art. I never went to art school, and I have no formal training in art. I am 35 now, and I've "worked" longer hours in that time than I ever did before, but as cliché as it sounds, it never feels like work. And in a short five-year span, I've managed to now be working with a company like Topps that I grew up only dreaming about. That's not because I have some God-given talent for making art. It's because I found something I loved doing so much that I was willing to spend long days and late nights teaching myself how to do it better than I could yesterday. Rinse and repeat. As of right now Topps has just surpassed the 50 card in the Project 2020 set. Two cards will continue to drop each day, Monday-Friday, until all 400 have been unveiled. There’s so many different way to collect or enjoy these offerings, and even just tuning in to look at the latest creations is a must. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1253000722481926144 Blake is also giving away signed copies of his Jackie Robinson offerings on Twitter. Head here to enter. You can check out more of his work on his website here. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. The annual release of Topps Heritage is upon us. While fancy cards and chrome recreations are all the rage nowadays, there’s no great offering for set collectors than the yearly unveiling of Heritage. A throwback to the 1971 design this year, Topps has collectors looking to add the best new rookies in a nod to yesteryear. Specifically, for the Twins, Topps Heritage is somewhat of a mixed bag to start 2020. There wasn’t much in the way of big-league debuts last season, and Luis Arraez is no longer a rookie chase card. After seeing his first rookie card in 2020 Topps Series 1, Lewis Thorpe gets number two in this set. Heritage is home to the first rookie of former pitcher Brusdar Graterol, and although he’s now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it should still be a neat opportunity to collect the fireballer. There’s a handful of usual suspects among the base set checklist, and the Twins land four players (Gonzalez, Rosario, Sano, and Kepler) within the 100-card high number short print group. Last season we saw Byron Buxton appear as an action variation card, and until those trickle onto the market within the coming days, we won’t know what to fully expect. Although the point of Heritage is set collecting and nostalgia, there’s always the inclusion of chrome versions for a select number of cards. That checklist is again 100 deep and includes five different parallels. Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco make up the Twins chase cards there. Chrome exclusives can be found in Spring Mega boxes as well, and that expands Twins players to Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Willians Astudillo, Jose Berrios, and Miguel Sano. Hits rarely drive a Heritage product aside from key rookies, and there’s nothing of note for Minnesota fans here. There are two throwback autos in Sal Campisi and Tom Tischinski. Worn out subjects Bert Blyleven and Rod Carew also provide some in, while a 1/1 Harmon Killebrew cut can be had. There’s a couple of relics, both jersey swatches and mint coin types to chase as well. As a whole, Heritage is a must rip product for new and old Topps fans alike. I’d have preferred to see a better autograph subject for Minnesota in the set, but maybe there’s an intriguing inclusion or two in High Number later this year. You can find Heritage at hobby stores for roughly $100/box or in multiple retail formats beginning on February 26. Checklist here For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  10. While we’re still a few days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to their respective Spring Training homes, baseball season gets underway with the release of 2020 Topps Series 1 on Wednesday. The first offering of the hobby for the 2020 season means baseball is around the corner. Kicking things off in a big way this year, Topps is hosting the Million Card Rip Party today at Jerry World. As group breaks have become more prominent within the hobby, the card company sought out a handful of popular breakers and gathered them all at AT&T Stadium. They’ll showcase the event live, and collectors will get some of their first looks at the new cards. 2020 Series 1 has a chance to go down as the best initial flagship offering ever. While it’s normally Series 2 or Update that highlights the sport’s best rookies, this season is somewhat unique. American League Rookie of the Year winner Yordan Alvarez will get his first rookie card, and the class also includes young stars like Gavin Lux and Bo Bichette. Deep and with plenty of star power, this group could have staying power for quite some time. Specifically, from the Twins, Lewis Thorpe is the lone rookie card in the set. However, Marwin Gonzalez gets a Minnesota card, as do Nelson Cruz and Taylor Rogers. Autographs are aplenty from the Twins, and they include everyone from Luis Arraez to Bert Blyleven. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Jake Odorizzi have some pretty big chase cards to search for, and there will be some chrome offerings of former Topps line Turkey Red littered into retail. Given Thorpe is the only rookie for Minnesota, and he’s not seen as a desired commodity in the hobby, it would really only be the hits that drive a decent return from Twins subjects. However, the manufactured relics including the Sleeve Patch and Rookie Retrospectives sets could wind up being some of the best-looking manufactured offerings we’ve seen in years. Another takeaway from Topps’ early season checklists is that the Twins will have some new names making signing appearances in 2020. It appears Trevor May, Mitch Garver, and Jorge Polanco will all be autographers in Topps product this year. With so much Rod Carew and Bert Blyleven focused content in the hobby of late, new names generating hype for Twins fans is a must. Hopefully more Joe Mauer cards will filter back into production at some point, but the Bomba Squad putting Minnesota back on the map is a great start. You can find hobby boxes of 2020 Topps Series 1 at your local card shop, and blaster boxes as well as other retail configurations will be available at Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  11. While covering the Minnesota Twins this season, I’ve also made sure to include a brief foray into some additional was the game of baseball is enjoyed. Posted typically at Off the Baggy, or accessible in the Twins Daily blog section, a series on Topps baseball card offerings has been a long running topic. Gone are the years of the junk wax era in which cards became overproduced and less valuable than the cardstock they were printed on. We now are in a place where “The Hobby” as it’s affectionally known, is as much an investing market as it is a booming collectors haven.Twins Daily contributor Jamie Cameron sparked this discussion when he tweeted something that caught my eye last week. Baseball cards have expanded into a much larger industry than simply going into your local retail store and grabbing a wax pack. With someone genuinely curious and questions at hand, it seemed a great opportunity to dissect where the industry is as it stands today. Timing for this piece couldn’t be better either. Starting Wednesday and running through Sunday, The National (The National Sports Collectors Convention) is taking place just outside of Chicago, Illinois. A yearly event each summer (that swaps between Chicago, Atlantic City, and Cleveland), The National is the epicenter of the collecting universe and offers an endless supply of cardboard dreams. Setting the stage for Jamie’s questions, he denotes his background being born and raised in the United Kingdom. Having been in the Twin Cities for roughly 15 years now, baseball has always been a passion of his. He doesn’t have the childhood memories of card collecting however, and as stated earlier, the game has changed significantly since then. Here’s what he wanted to know. How did you get into collecting? As a kid or an adult? I found myself collecting cards as a kid, seeing it as an inexpensive way to connect with athletes I enjoyed. My parents would often be ok with a pack or two from the local retail store when we stopped in on occasion. By my teenage years I had a couple binders full of early late 90’s and early 2000’s sports cards that I no longer cared about. Eventually they were parted with at a garage sale I would imagine. Getting back into the hobby in late 2016, I found myself stumbling into what is known as a “break room” (where groups of people buy into a product and split cards). Having always enjoyed decorating and displaying memorabilia in my basement, cards represented an avenue to capture moments and collect objects of a bit smaller physical footprint. How do you purchase products? Packs from a store, direct from dealers, or something else? The two main avenues are your retail stores such as Target or Walmart, and hobby shops. Hobby shops are designated by the term LCS (local card store). They aren’t nearly as plentiful as they may have been years ago, but many larger cities have one. Whether specializing in cards, comics, or some other collectible, they get what is known as hobby products. These boxes and packs may have different offerings in them to incentivize consumer from buying there. Retail options include more cost-effective offerings. While hobby boxes at an LCS can run from $50 all the way into the $1,000’s, smaller blaster boxes, fat packs, hanger boxes, and single packs can all be had at a retail store for $20 or less. If there’s no LCS in sight retail becomes the lone option. It’s a great place to dip your feet in. Just be aware that the individually wrapped packs could be picked over like the best offerings in the produce aisle. What are the best brands? What determines that? There are really only three baseball card manufacturers, and only two of them are the major players. Topps is the lone company with an MLB license and that makes them the premium product. Panini is a football first company, and while they are licensed with the MLBPA, the lack of MLB license means there’s no logos or team names on any of their cards. Leaf is another offering while being unlicensed as well. Although Panini does make some very visually appealing cards, value is always at its highest with Topps. How much time and money do people put into collecting? As with any hobby this is going to have a ridiculously wide range. Collecting anything is obviously a personal adventure. Some people collect single players or teams, while others look at cards as an investment vehicle. Those investing typically trend towards prospects or vintage cards, and the time is a large component as you must study the market and make sure you’re targeting the players with the best present and future ROI. A player or team collector may simply want each card of whoever they’re after, and sites like eBay and Comc (Check Out My Cards) provide a very quick way to grab and go. From a monetary standpoint, you can land all over the board. Topps alone puts out something like 25 different products each year. You can find a new release calendar at a site like Cardboard Connection in order to keep track. The bulk of those products cost $200 or less, while a small minority can get over $1,000. Each product has significant “hits” or desirable cards that, on the secondary market, can fetch hundreds to tens of thousands. The level of buy in is again up to the collector. What’s your favorite card? Why? Too difficult to chose just one, so I’ll go with two. I collect Minnesota Twins cards and have smaller collections of both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. There are some really nice cards in my Twins PC (personal collection, which you can view here), but it’s two Trout cards that stick out for me. The first is a 2018 Topps Heritage Relic Autograph /25 that I pulled from a blaster box. Purchasing a $20 retail offering from Target and hitting something like this is like winning the lottery. I was stunned and it’s a card I’ll almost certainly never sell. Having been back into collecting for roughly three years now, I have added some higher end cards of the players I really like. Mike Trout is trending towards the greatest player baseball has ever seen, and his rookie card market is reflective of that. A non-descript card few thought twice of seven or eight years ago, it’s now the must have subject of the modern era. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator- a third party grading company) graded copies of the card in a Gem Mint 10 went for roughly $500 as recently as this winter. They are now worth near or over $1,000 and continue to rise. My wife surprised me with one for our five-year wedding anniversary in February. Download attachment: Capture.PNG What do you get from it? Overall, why is this a hobby for you? Personally, I find it as a connection to differing passions. I have always been artistically inclined, and love looking at the photography and designs these companies continue to put out while tying in a sport I enjoy. The thrill of pulling an autograph or hit, as well as the fun in buying the next cool card to hang onto is something I’ve gotten behind. I’m not interested in the investment side of the hobby or looking to make money, so grabbing what I like is much easier without worrying what the return or loss may be. I find myself continually going back to look through cards in my collection. Reminiscing on players or events that were depicted is fun, and not looking through them on a consistent basis lends to a thrill of excitement each time I peruse what I have. Displaying some of my collection has made for neat memorabilia showcases in my house, but a further connection to the game of baseball is really what it’s about for me. This is obviously far from all encompassing, and there’s certainly more nuanced questions about the hobby, and collecting in general, to be asked. Do you have a collection to show off? Do you have questions to ask? Anything else you’d like to know? Feel free to share in the comments below. Click here to view the article
  12. Twins Daily contributor Jamie Cameron sparked this discussion when he tweeted something that caught my eye last week. Baseball cards have expanded into a much larger industry than simply going into your local retail store and grabbing a wax pack. With someone genuinely curious and questions at hand, it seemed a great opportunity to dissect where the industry is as it stands today. Timing for this piece couldn’t be better either. Starting Wednesday and running through Sunday, The National (The National Sports Collectors Convention) is taking place just outside of Chicago, Illinois. A yearly event each summer (that swaps between Chicago, Atlantic City, and Cleveland), The National is the epicenter of the collecting universe and offers an endless supply of cardboard dreams. Setting the stage for Jamie’s questions, he denotes his background being born and raised in the United Kingdom. Having been in the Twin Cities for roughly 15 years now, baseball has always been a passion of his. He doesn’t have the childhood memories of card collecting however, and as stated earlier, the game has changed significantly since then. Here’s what he wanted to know. How did you get into collecting? As a kid or an adult? I found myself collecting cards as a kid, seeing it as an inexpensive way to connect with athletes I enjoyed. My parents would often be ok with a pack or two from the local retail store when we stopped in on occasion. By my teenage years I had a couple binders full of early late 90’s and early 2000’s sports cards that I no longer cared about. Eventually they were parted with at a garage sale I would imagine. Getting back into the hobby in late 2016, I found myself stumbling into what is known as a “break room” (where groups of people buy into a product and split cards). Having always enjoyed decorating and displaying memorabilia in my basement, cards represented an avenue to capture moments and collect objects of a bit smaller physical footprint. How do you purchase products? Packs from a store, direct from dealers, or something else? The two main avenues are your retail stores such as Target or Walmart, and hobby shops. Hobby shops are designated by the term LCS (local card store). They aren’t nearly as plentiful as they may have been years ago, but many larger cities have one. Whether specializing in cards, comics, or some other collectible, they get what is known as hobby products. These boxes and packs may have different offerings in them to incentivize consumer from buying there. Retail options include more cost-effective offerings. While hobby boxes at an LCS can run from $50 all the way into the $1,000’s, smaller blaster boxes, fat packs, hanger boxes, and single packs can all be had at a retail store for $20 or less. If there’s no LCS in sight retail becomes the lone option. It’s a great place to dip your feet in. Just be aware that the individually wrapped packs could be picked over like the best offerings in the produce aisle. What are the best brands? What determines that? There are really only three baseball card manufacturers, and only two of them are the major players. Topps is the lone company with an MLB license and that makes them the premium product. Panini is a football first company, and while they are licensed with the MLBPA, the lack of MLB license means there’s no logos or team names on any of their cards. Leaf is another offering while being unlicensed as well. Although Panini does make some very visually appealing cards, value is always at its highest with Topps. How much time and money do people put into collecting? As with any hobby this is going to have a ridiculously wide range. Collecting anything is obviously a personal adventure. Some people collect single players or teams, while others look at cards as an investment vehicle. Those investing typically trend towards prospects or vintage cards, and the time is a large component as you must study the market and make sure you’re targeting the players with the best present and future ROI. A player or team collector may simply want each card of whoever they’re after, and sites like eBay and Comc (Check Out My Cards) provide a very quick way to grab and go. From a monetary standpoint, you can land all over the board. Topps alone puts out something like 25 different products each year. You can find a new release calendar at a site like Cardboard Connection in order to keep track. The bulk of those products cost $200 or less, while a small minority can get over $1,000. Each product has significant “hits” or desirable cards that, on the secondary market, can fetch hundreds to tens of thousands. The level of buy in is again up to the collector. What’s your favorite card? Why? Too difficult to chose just one, so I’ll go with two. I collect Minnesota Twins cards and have smaller collections of both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. There are some really nice cards in my Twins PC (personal collection, which you can view here), but it’s two Trout cards that stick out for me. The first is a 2018 Topps Heritage Relic Autograph /25 that I pulled from a blaster box. Purchasing a $20 retail offering from Target and hitting something like this is like winning the lottery. I was stunned and it’s a card I’ll almost certainly never sell. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/971119224080003073 Having been back into collecting for roughly three years now, I have added some higher end cards of the players I really like. Mike Trout is trending towards the greatest player baseball has ever seen, and his rookie card market is reflective of that. A non-descript card few thought twice of seven or eight years ago, it’s now the must have subject of the modern era. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator- a third party grading company) graded copies of the card in a Gem Mint 10 went for roughly $500 as recently as this winter. They are now worth near or over $1,000 and continue to rise. My wife surprised me with one for our five-year wedding anniversary in February. What do you get from it? Overall, why is this a hobby for you? Personally, I find it as a connection to differing passions. I have always been artistically inclined, and love looking at the photography and designs these companies continue to put out while tying in a sport I enjoy. The thrill of pulling an autograph or hit, as well as the fun in buying the next cool card to hang onto is something I’ve gotten behind. I’m not interested in the investment side of the hobby or looking to make money, so grabbing what I like is much easier without worrying what the return or loss may be. I find myself continually going back to look through cards in my collection. Reminiscing on players or events that were depicted is fun, and not looking through them on a consistent basis lends to a thrill of excitement each time I peruse what I have. Displaying some of my collection has made for neat memorabilia showcases in my house, but a further connection to the game of baseball is really what it’s about for me. This is obviously far from all encompassing, and there’s certainly more nuanced questions about the hobby, and collecting in general, to be asked. Do you have a collection to show off? Do you have questions to ask? Anything else you’d like to know? Feel free to share in the comments below.
  13. Each year there are certain products from Topps that collector's circle on their calendar. While there's products that come in all across the pricing spectrum, it's the flagship design that typically draws the most interest across the board. Making an appearance with a shiny finish is the allure of Topps Chrome, and the slight border should provide plenty of unique looks for the 2019 offering. From a checklist standpoint, Topps Chrome is traditionally about the big name rookies. These are some of the cards you'll want to hold in hopes of rising value down the line. Unfortunately for Twins fans neither Jake Cave or Willians Astudillo represent that contingent, but on your search you could certainly land a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Fernando Tatis Jr. Typically in this space there's an avenue to break down base, insert, and hit offerings targeted towards the Minnesota Twins. This time around there's not an opportunity to do that as the checklist is extremely light. Nabbing seven different base cards the subjects include rookie cards for Astudillo and Cave, with the veterans being Kepler, Polanco, Buxton, Berrios, and Rosario. Just four insert sets are included in the product, so it's not a huge change of pace. No Twins make it into any of those groupings however, so it's simply base and hits. From an autograph standpoint Cave, Astudillo, and Stephen Gonsalves are all signers in the rookie autos checklist. The one other hit inclusion is an interesting one. At one per case the Debut Gear Relics are somewhat of a chase card. Limited to 140 total cards plus an assumed four printing plates, Brian Dozier appears in this checklist. Now with the Washington Nationals, the chrome offering of what should be something to do with his 2012 memorabilia could be a nice little offering. Releasing during the first day of the 2019 National Card Collector Show, 2019 Topps Chrome Baseball will again be a product to seek out. Simple yet attractive design makes rainbows in this product some of the most attractive to go after. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. Each year the Stadium Club line is one to circle in the Topps Baseball release calendar. A product with strong affordability and not driven by extraordinary chase cards, the allure here is the stunning visuals. There’s short prints and photo variations across a plethora of Topps products but it’s Stadium Club that showcases images on the most beautiful level. Stadium Club is not a massive product and boxes include 128 total cards. The base checklist is 301 cards and there’s only a handful of insert checklists in the product. Boxes will retail around $80 and include two autographs along with three guaranteed insets. Minnesota has a few noteworthy cards to check out as well. Base In that 301-card base checklist the Twins find themselves with nine different subjects. Stars include players like Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario, while veterans Miguel Sano Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz also make appearances. Willians Astudillo has a rookie offering and Harmon Killebrew is a legend representative on the checklist. Hits Despite not having a base card Jake Cave does have autographs in the product. He is joined by Astudillo who has certainly become a popular signer for Topps in recent products. Each of these cards have parallel versions as well. Inserts While not incredibly extensive, there’s more than a few insert checklists to collect in Stadium Club. Unfortunately for Twins fans, the only player included in any of them is Byron Buxton. He gets a single entry in the Warp Speed set. Even with the photography and base cards being the main draw of this product, it certainly feels like a missed opportunity not to include more Minnesota flavor in this section. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  15. This week Topps will launch the latest entry to the Museum Collection line of baseball cards. The 2019 set continues along the path of previous offerings presenting a mid-high end offering composed of multiple packs and big hits. The box contains 20 cards and checks in right around $200. Split between base cards and hits, there’s a gamble that could pay off in a big way here. Unlike the previous upper tier product, Definitive, Minnesota is well represented in Museum Collection. There’s a handful of chase cards and Twins fans should be able to find excitement in one of the best-looking products each year. Base Set- The base checklist runs 100 cards deep, but unfortunately there are zero Minnesota Twins inclusions. With subjects consisting of past and present stars, this would’ve been a great opportunity for a nice image of Joe Mauer, but Topps passed on putting anyone in this checklist. Relics- Museum Collection hits are split heavily between swatch relic cards and autographs. Although there isn’t a base inclusion for the Twins, they’re well represented in both categories. Byron Buxton has a quad relic card with multiple parallels, as well as having a jumbo patch offering. Six Twins are found in the Meaningful Material checklist including two different Joe Mauer cards. Each of these offerings have five different parallels with a 1/1 chase card per player. The limited 1/1 Museum Memorabilia checklist also includes the same six Twins (Buxton/Kepler/Sano/Rosario/Berrios/Mauer) providing some very big hits. Autographs- Minnesota is a bit light on autographs, but many of these come in the form of sticker signatures. Rod Carew and Torii Hunter are both included in the Archival Autographs checklist with Carew being the sole representative in the Framed Autograph offerings. Both Rosario and Berrios have dual relic autograph cards to be had. Short of reintroducing Joe Mauer as a signer or expanding to guys like Justin Morneau, many of the same names Minnesota has had sign in products all year, will remain constant. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  16. Baseball collectors of yesteryear remember when the full set of cards were offered in one large grouping. For years now, Topps has expanded the players covered by introducing their full yearly sets in three installments. January pumps out Series 1, with Series 2 coming in June, and Update covering the rookies near the end of the Major League season. Now Series 2 is upon us, and this could be one of the best releases in recent memory. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is getting his first flagship card in this set, despite being a shortprinted offering. There’s also Eloy Jimenez and Fernando Tatis Jr. cards to be had here, so with the expected career paths of the three premiere rookies, you can bet this is a set that will be chased after for years to come. Looking at Minnesota Twins cards specifically, there’s plenty to get excited about here. Let’s dive into what fans in Twins Territory should be on the hunt for. Base Set- The Twins base set consists of 14 different subjects. Rookies include Willians Astudillo, Jake Cave, and Stephen Gonsalves’ first standalone flagship card. There’s some reliever love with both Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger being depicted, and The Boomstick himself has a card to collect. Arguably the most interesting inclusion is Ronald Torreyes, who has never played a game for the big-league club but is on the team’s 40-man roster. Each of the rookies, as well as Cruz, are chase cards in the extremely limited (to 10) clear acetate parallels. Inserts- Continuing with the Series 1 theme, 1984 is the throwback year here. Twins rookies are depicted on throwback cards, while Stadiums and Franchise greats give nods to that era as well. Bert Blyleven is depicted as an Iconic Card reprint, and some of Killer’s career feats are displayed on cardboard as well. Hits- None of the flagship products are driven heavily by hits. With autographs generally being of the sticker variety and relics being small swatches or manufactured patches, it’s more about the cards themselves than the added flair. That said Minnesota is well represented in the hits category. Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios are among the veteran signers, with all three rookies offering up their penmanship as well. There’s a Killebrew cut auto to chase, and four Twins (Buxton/Sano/Rosario/Kepler) are all worked into the 1/1 ‘In The Name” checklist. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  17. One of the first premiere products of the 2019 season, Topps Definitive Collection releases at hobby stores May 29th. The one pack box, containing eight cards, will set you back just over $1,000. While the price tag is certainly steep, the contents inside can absolutely match that shock value. Unfortunately for Minnesota Twins fans the checklist leaves a bit to be desire. There are no true base cards in this product. A base autograph relic set is where your “standard” cards fall, and it’s composed of 46 subjects all serial numbered to 50 or less. This is a product heavy on game worn memorabilia and it’s displayed in many different forms. Minnesota’s first offering comes in the Defining Moments Autograph subset. Rod Carew, one of Topps longstanding Twins signers, is in the 37-subject set. These cards are also serialed to 50 or less. Carew lends his signature to the Legendary Autograph Collection as well, and these are a bit more limited at 25 or less. In total that gives Carew collectors roughly 75 totals cards in the entire product run. From there things get sparse for Minnesota as the final seven cards are all of the 1/1 variety. A Harmon Killebrew cut signature can be had, as well as two separate Joe Mauer offerings. Joe has a single patch card as part of the Definitive Patch Collection, and then lands his namesake in the Nameplate Collection. Each letter represents a 1/1 offering and could entice someone to put together what would be an expensive five-card run. Every year Topps Definitive Collection is one of the most visually appealing sets put onto the market. For the Twins to only have three subjects, and only one that contributed anything, it’s a tough checklist to get behind. Carew has autographs in almost every product, while Killebrew cuts are the only thing we’ll obviously be able to see going forward. Not getting Joe, Torii Hunter, or some other signer in the product is unfortunate. One of the toughest things about any high-end set for Topps catering to Twins fans is in wondering where they turn. Carew is all but played out, but Minnesota’s two biggest names have both since passed. Mauer could come back to be a regular signer, Hunter is cycling in more, and Morneau may even be an interesting get. In any big product though, would the return of Buxton, Sano, Rosario, or some other current player be satisfying enough? Going into the season that answer was probably no, but the tides are turning. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  18. While sports trading cards have been a long-standing cardboard commodity, Topps previously introduced the digital collecting craze. In football it’s known as Huddle and in baseball its coined Bunt. Although there’s a digital aspect to these products, Topps used to produce a physical counterpart. In recent years the baseball Bunt brand has died off physically, and it’s been replaced by Big League. A cheap rip focused on subjects and child-sized fun, Topps has executed something everyone can get behind. As sports cards have seen resurgence in popularity there’s no denying the lucrative aspect of collecting. For products like Big League though, it isn’t about the almighty dollar and instead provides an affordable avenue for the avid fan or new collector to participate in the longstanding hobby. With the Minnesota Twins being well represented in 2019, this is a product you should definitely check out. Base Set There are a total of 403 cards in the 2019 Big League base set. That’s a whopper in and of itself, but Minnesota’s cards are more manageable with 13 entries. You’ll find plenty of familiar faces in this group, but the standouts include C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and a Willians Astudillo rookie card. The Twins don’t have any players in the three base variation set checklists. Inserts As mentioned above, Big League is not about inserts or autographs. While both subsets are included, neither is the goal of buying into the product. For the Twins however, there is an entry in each of the three insert checklists. The Player’s Weekend Nickname, as well as the Star Caricatures set, includes Jose Berrios. Max Kepler represents Minnesota on the 10 card Wall Climbers group. Hits Just 52 autograph cards show up in total across the entire checklist, but Minnesota lands three participants. At the low price point, you can expect each of these to be of the sticker variety. Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios find themselves on the Big League autograph set, with each offering producing parallel cards as well. Willians Astudillo lands his first Topps RC auto in the 17 card Rookie Republic portion of the product. If you’re looking for something to rip in bulk, a cheap item to enjoy the imagery, or a card offering that will appeal to younger generations, then Topps Big League is certainly a good bet. Make sure to look for it at your local retailer or hobby store on May 15. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  19. After a couple of weeks off from Topps pumping out product, a new offering is ready to hit the collecting market in 2019. Tier One has been a product with a longstanding hobby presence, and it’s most notable for chase cards including bat knobs and barrels. Including game used pieces of lumber from some of the biggest names in the sport, it’s generally been a set that the big cards are void of Minnesota Twins. In 2019 that isn’t the case. Autographs With a suggested retail price north of $120 for a three-card product, there’s no traditional base cards to be had here. The main set in the product is the “Tier One Autographs.” With single player images, and on card signatures, the design has a few different signing parallels. Given his youth, Fernando Romero is an easy inclusion into the “Break Out Autographs” checklist. He has been a popular addition to Topps products over the past few years, but this will be his first Tier One offering. Torii Hunter finds himself in the “Clear Ones” checklist, and a host of Minnesota players make appearances on the “Prime Performers” list. Many usual subjects can be found in this product for Twins fans, including Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler. Hunter has been signing more in 2019, and he’ll be joined by fellow retiree Bert Blyleven. The single card only dual autograph of the product for Minnesota is a good one. Featuring both Byron Buxton and Torii Hunter, serial numbered to 25 or less, the Twins pipeline in centerfield gets recognition. Buxton and Rosario are both depicted on a Tier One Relic book card as dual signers. Relics Offering a lower end hit, there’s a 91 subject relic checklist in the product as well. It’s nice to see Joe Mauer continue to be included among 2019 Topps products, and he’ll have a game used swatch in this group. Rosario and Kepler help to round of the trio of Twins available here. Chase Cards Two of the biggest cut signature subjects in recent Minnesota memory have been both Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew. Numbered as a 1/1, Puckett is a part of the 25 card Cut checklist in Tier One. Over the entire lifecycle of Tier One, the grails come in the form of game used bats. For the first time in a while the Twins land an offering on the checklist. Limited to one copy each, both Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer make an appearance here. Buxton has both a bat knob and a “Limited Lumber” card, which is normally the nameplate of his barrel. Each of these offerings will be autographed. Mauer’s bat knob and barrel cards are also both 1/1 but will not be signed. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  20. Once a standalone competitor of the Topps Company, Bowman was acquired following the 1955 Major League Baseball season. Fast forward to 1989 and Bowman has become a staple in the card collecting space. Focused on delivering minor leaguers or up and coming prospects, the yearly offerings are gobbled up like candy by those interested in the hobby. Bowman Baseball 2019 hits shelves on April 17, and this new offering is not expected to be any different. For each mainstream Bowman offering, the collecting focus is placed on a few key areas. First and foremost, the cards producing the highest level of desire are those designated as a player’s “1st Bowman” card. Chrome holds more value than paper base cards, and colored parallels generate an even higher level of scarcity. Obviously, the autographed cards carry the highest premium, and the collector’s focus is to view the product through the lens of a stock market. With many unproven players, holding until a certain level of production creates the most value is where Bowman draws most of its allure. The Twins have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but many of their top prospects are already beyond “1st Bowman” cards. At any rate, there’s plenty to be excited about here for Minnesota fans. Base Set Split into base sets featuring both prospects and big leaguers, Minnesota is well represented in Bowman Baseball 2019. On the big-league side, there’s rookie cards of Willians Astudillo and Jake Cave. The veteran duo includes Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario. Looking at prospects, Minnesota touts Brusdar Graterol, Brent Rooker, Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Ryan Costello’s 1st Bowman card. Each of the prospects also has a chrome version to chase. Inserts Bowman isn’t a checklist focused on inserts, but there’s a handful of subsets to be made from the master. The Top 100 and Talent Pipeline inserts are mainstays, and Sterling Continuity returns this year. You can find Kirilloff, Lewis, Graterol, Rooker, and Nick Gordon represented among these offerings. Each of the insert cards should be of the chrome variety. Hits Bowman is traditionally a hit driven product, with the chrome prospect autographs carrying the biggest premium. There’s no relics in this product, and everything will be signed on card. You can expect a couple of players to be offered through redemptions. The Twins have two cards in the chrome prospect autograph checklist. Costello debuts his 1st Bowman autograph, and Andrew Bechtold joins this group with his 1st as well. Royce Lewis will have signed versions of his Top 100 card, and Brusdar will offer up his signature on the Bowman Sterling set. With just four total autographed cards in the entire product, group breaks should have you picking up the Twins on the cheap. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  21. This week Gypsy Queen hits the market as the latest baseball offering from Topps. While it’s not a product that should be expected to produce massive hits, there’s plenty of excitement coming out of these boxes. Continuing with a consistent theme, the throwback to tobacco cards is present, but it’s also supplemented with a good deal of popping color. Available at both hobby and retail stores, there’s a few different avenues to rip into this product. If you want to go the route of guaranteed hits, expect to drop something near $100 on a hobby box. For the more budget conscious collector blaster boxes and gravity feeds will be present at local Target or Walmart’s. Getting your hands on the product shouldn’t be tough but knowing what you’ll want to look for from a Twins perspective is where we’re really focused here. Base Set Featuring a 300-card base set, the Minnesota Twins have 11 cards to account for. You’ll see many of the regular suspects, with nice appearances by Addison Reed, C.J. Cron, and Tyler Austin. Rookie cards include Jake Cave as well as fan favorite Willians Astudillo. There’s also a few short prints and variation subsets, and while Minnesota is not represented in all of them, both Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios show up in the 20 card Player’s Weekend variation checklist. Inserts Gypsy Queen doesn’t do a ton of insert subsets, with just four in total. No Twins are featured on the Tarot of the Diamond, Power Performer Portrait, or Fortune Teller cards. Going away from the Glassworks oversized box topper cards of previous years, the product introduces a 100 card Chrome checklist for 2019. Minnesota lands three players (Rosario, Berrios, and Max Kepler) in this set, with an autograph version for former great Torii Hunter. Hits With booklets, unique relics, and on-card autographs, Gypsy Queen truly has some great hits to offer. From a traditional autograph standpoint, it’s Rosario and Hunter that appear on the checklist for Minnesota. This makes another product Topps has Torii in for 2019, and it appears he’ll be a key focus for the year ahead. The auto/patch booklet set has Berrios showing up with 20 cards and a 1/1. Both Rosario and Byron Buxton have auto/relic cards in the Bases Around the League checklist, and those cards are both serial numbered to 20. With the already mentioned Hunter chrome auto rounding out the group, that wraps up the 22-card offering for Twins fans. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  22. Each baseball season Topps kicks off the card collecting calendar with their flagship offering of Series 1. The product is designed to unveil the new look of cards for that season, and sets the stage for players in new uniforms, as well as the unveiling of new rookie cards. A few weeks later, Opening Day follows up as a more affordable, and kid friendly product. With hobby boxes selling for just $29.99, and single packs available at retail stores for a buck, Opening Day is designed to get younger collectors excited about the hobby. It is an easy sell as an impulse product, and while there’s a lot of crossover from Series 1 here, there’s plenty of new inserts to make the set worth checking out. For Twins fans, there’s a couple of specific draws that will make ripping some packs more than worth it. Base Set Minnesota has eight cards in the 200-card base set. Jonathan Schoop gets his first flagship style offering in a Twins uniform, and stars like Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario are present as well. The most notable card here is #153. Willians Astudillo will be presented on his first licensed rookie card in which he does not share the cardboard. In 2019 Topps Heritage, Astudillo has a rookie offering in which both Kohl Stewart and Stephen Gonsalves appear as well. If his personality and alluring image are to be trusted, this should be a card to check out. Inserts Attempting to distance itself a bit from the traditional Series 1 set, Opening Day brings its own unique inserts to the table. Staying in the kid-friendly vein, a mascot set is typically one highlight. TC Bear is among the most recognizable figures in the baseball world, and he is one of the 25 entertainers depicted in this set. Max Kepler gets a card in the Rally Time insert offering, and Jose Berrios makes an appearance on the Sock it to Me! checklist. In total, Minnesota has offerings in three of the seven insert sets. Hits No matter the year, Opening Day is not a hit driven product. Keeping the autographs and relics to a minimum helps to drive down the price of the product. Although there are patches, autographs, and dirt relics to be had in the product, it’s the mascot avenue in which Minnesota is represented. TC Bear is once again an autograph subject, and he also has a relic offering. Given the short print status of mascot hits in the product, these cards typically command a pretty penny on the secondary market. Given the cheap entry fee, 2019 Opening Day should once again be a fun rip. Don’t expect anything big out of a pack, but there’s plenty to enjoy here. The highlight for Twins fans is going to be Astudillo’s rookie card, and if you happen to pull a TC relic along the way, it’s all gravy. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  23. On January 30 the 2019 Major League Baseball season officially gets underway. While the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Craig Kimbrel all remain unsigned and on the free agent market, Topps is ready to role out their first cardboard offering of 2019. Always a fun kickoff to the new year, ripping some wax and seeing new faces in Minnesota uniforms is a time-honored tradition. In 2018 the exclusive rights owner for production of licensed baseball cards had plenty going for them. While Ronald Acuna, Shohei Ohtani, and Juan Soto wouldn't burst onto the scene until later in the year, the rookie crop was flush with talent. To start off 2019 the same can't be said, but seeing as how guys always bust out of nowhere, card collectors will need to decipher who may be the diamond in the rough for the early part of this season. For the Twins, the first offering is flush with hat tipping content. Base Set- The Twins base set to open 2019 is chock full of familiar faces. Logan Morrison is an odd inclusion given that he had his contract option declined quite early in the process. If there's an omission in this group, it's that fellow rookie Stephen Gonsalves has been held back. Outside of those realities, the rest of the group is made up of players either currently playing long term roles or one that was bought out of a final contract year. Kohl Stewart is Minnesota's lone rookie in this cycle. Inserts- With the 2019 Flagship product Topps has decided to change up the configuration a bit. Cutting down on the amount of packs, while putting a few more cards in each, those familiar with how this product breaks will be in for a new challenge. The base set becomes tougher to put together, and the inserts no longer fall one per pack. For the hometown nine, inserts are filled with offerings highlighting players like Rod Care, Harmon Killebrew, and Bert Blyleven. Current players do make their way into the subset offerings, and collecting them all will be a much more difficult endeavor this time around. Hits- As with all Topps Flagship product, the hits are hardly the draw. From manufactured relics to sticker autographs, it's more about the parallels and short prints in this set. That said, the hits are where recently retired Joe Mauer really shines. He is the benefactor of multiple manufactured relics, as well as a couple of game-used jersey offerings. Easier than some of the insert cards, the hits will be plentiful when attempting to land one on the secondary market, and there couldn't be a better player for Topps to Target. Arguably the most notable chase card of the Twins set is the "In the Name" patch. A staple for the Flaship series, a game-used letter off the back of a jersey is a notable 1/1 piece. The honor has been given to players like Mauer and Max Kepler in recent history, but Jose Berrios takes over for the first time in his career with this checklist. Coming off his first All Star nod, it's definitely an earned honor. You can pick up 2019 Topps Baseball Series 1 product at your local Target or Walmart, as well as local hobby stores, and an number of online distributors. Boxes range from $20-$90 and carry multiple different pack odds throughout. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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