Guest Blog: Cardboard Therapy

(Editors Note: Please welcome COMC Member Jason1969 to the COMC Blog! This post comes to us thanks to the Call to Arms we put out earlier this month seeking guest writers. Jason enjoys writing about baseball and baseball cards for the SABR Baseball Cards Committee and on his personal blog. He can be found on twitter as @HeavyJ28.  His main collecting interest is vintage baseball, especially Hank Aaron, but he also boasts (and yes, that’s the right word) over 600 different playing career cards of Dwight Gooden cards, many of which he was able to obtain right here on COMC)

By Jason A. Schwartz

For my guest appearance on the COMC blog I will get personal. My hope is that most readers will never find themselves in my shoes, but I hope my experience can help any of those who someday do.

Just under five years ago I found myself in a near-empty apartment alone. In the basement was my guitar, in the kitchen was a coffee mug, and in my hands was a small cardboard box containing the top hundred or so cards I’d saved from when I was a collector back in the day.

For the first time in a decade I opened the box and flipped through the cards. The rush of memories was incredible. Sometimes it was of the player and how much I loved him (in a fan sort of way, please). Other times it was the recollection of where I was and who I was with when I bought the card. The one constant as I made my way through the stack of top loaders was joy, something I hadn’t felt for a while.

I hadn’t purchased a baseball card for 20 years, and I suspected a lot had changed in that time. Were the Beckett Monthly and the Kit Young mail-order catalog still around? (Yes.) Were there still local card shops in every neighborhood? (No.) Were my Jose Canseco rookie cards worth a lot? (No.) Had the Hobby moved to the internet? (DEFINITELY!)

By evening I had made an online purchase of three of the Hank Aaron cards I needed for his basic Topps run. There were important areas of my life where I felt powerless, but it turned out buying Hank Aaron cards wasn’t one of them. Ditto for completing my 1957 Topps Brooklyn Dodgers team set that had been one card short for more than two decades, and ditto for starting on the 1956 version of the same.

I may have gone a bit overboard at times, but man oh man did I love coming home to a #MailDay! Man oh man was it a thrill to frame my completed Hank Aaron run and hang it on my wall. And man oh man was it fun to become part of an online community of collectors who not only buy, sell, and trade cards but eat, breathe, and sleep cards as obsessively as me! (Okay, don’t take that last part completely literally.)

When we’re at low points in our lives we sometimes hear that “it gets better.” I’m here to bear witness that it does. There was a lot I did to get from there to here, and I won’t kid you that some of it—maybe most of it—completely sucked. However, one little thing I did that made a huge difference was getting back into the hobby I loved so much as a kid. In my case, pairing “cardboard therapy” with “real” therapy proved to be the perfect combination for rebuilding my collection as I rebuilt my life.

10 Baseball Rookies to Watch in 2019

Who doesn’t love rookie speculation? With the start of a new MLB season comes a fresh new crop of rookies who’s potential will spark the imagination of millions of fans. Who will walk away with Rookie of the Year honors? Who will make an immediate impact with their team? Will they be remembered among the greats of the game? Will they jump out of the gate at an unprecedented trajectory that looks to rival the record books?

Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge put on a spectacle in 2017, crushing nearly every pitch that came there in way. Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuna, and Juan Soto carried the rookie torch in 2018, dazzling baseball fans with raw talent that infused much needed youth and excitement to their respective teams. Now we turn to 2019, where the next wave of call ups will have to fill some very big shoes. Without further ado, here is our list of 10 prospects that we believe can live up to that hype and then some!

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3b, Toronto Blue Jays) – The number one prospect in all of baseball is expected to make his debut in Toronto in 2019. The son of a Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero (who knew a thing or two about hitting himself), Vlad Jr. has been revered as a generational talent, capable of winning MVP awards as a premier MLB hitter for years to come. He hit .381 in the minors in 2018 split between AA and AAA ball. When he arrives in the majors he will be 20 years old, and is expected to lead a youth movement in a city that is eager to compete with the titans of the AL East.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

2. Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox) – By utilizing his tall 6’4″ frame, Jimenez generates incredible power and bat speed through the zone, drawing comparisons to the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton from a power perspective. This 22 year old also hits for huge average, hitting well north of .300 in the minor league level. The White Sox may have missed out on the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but they have a superstar waiting in the wings in Jimenez.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

3. Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres) – While all eyes might be on San Diego’s newest Megastar Manny Machado, who inked a 10-year $300 million dollar deal with the club last month, Tatis should also be arriving to the team in 2019. Tatis is a player more than capable of posting a 20-20 stat line while hitting for high average.He’s touted as above-average in the field, bringing a blend of speed and athleticism to his game. With the revival of competitive baseball in San Diego, Tatis Jr. will not fly under the radar on a team that is expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2019 and beyond.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

4. Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros) – Even though Tucker struggled mightily during his ‘cup of coffee’ with the Astros in 2018, failing to impress in his 72 plate appearances, the Astros have high hopes for this 2015 first round draft pick. Praised for his hand-eye coordination and strong plate discipline, it’s only a matter of time before Tucker puts it all together at the major league level. Kyle has the luxury of playing for a World Series contender, which has allowed him more time to develop in the minors before cracking the big league starting lineup. The Astros expect Tucker to bring that progression to the major league level at 2019, and he should fit in nicely to an already stacked batting order once he gets acquainted to major league pitching.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

5. Austin Riley (3b, Atlanta Braves) – The hot corner in Atlanta belongs to Austin Riley once the time is right, and it appears that time will be 2019. His raw power combined with an above average arm and athleticism makes him a dual threat at the plate and in the field. Riley is not afraid to strike out at the plate, as his contact rate could use some work. With a little refinement, he should slot in nicely to an already power-packed Braves lineup. With so much protection around him, Riley could find himself in contention to deliver the same Rookie of the Year crown that Ronald Acuna Jr. brought to Atlanta in 2018.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

6. Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals) – Suffering an injury that took him down for much last season, this rare five-tool talent is expected to return to form in 2019. All was not lost for the Nats however, as Robles injury opened the door for the emergence of Juan Soto. Robles is expected to be the rookie to watch in Washington in 2019, possessing a blend of power, speed, and athleticism that make him a dynamic player. He should have no trouble getting on base often, and keeping opposing hitters off the base pace with his defense in center field.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

7. Nick Senzel (3b/2b/OF,  Cincinatti Reds) – Drafted second overall in the 2016 draft, Senzel should help boost the Reds infield in 2019. While the team will appreciate his versatility in the field, fans will love Senzel for his pure hitting ability, as he is a contact hitter who doesn’t strike out often and earns plenty of walks as well. The Reds have a good track record of developing similar players (see: Scooter Gennett), and with the Reds adding Sonny Gray and Yasiel Puig in the off season, Senzel could be the missing piece to help spark a wild card push in Cincinnati.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

8. Brendan Rodgers (infield, Colorado Rockies) – Great bat speed? Check. Mammoth home run power? Check. Playing all his home games in Coors Field? Check! All signs point to Rodgers being a shot in the arm to the Rockies offense in 2019, joining the likes of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon with his 30+ home run per season potential. Rodgers has improved his K:BB ratio over his minor league career, and is touted as an above average defender capable of playing multiple infield positions. He could be a late season call-up depending on how competitive (or lack there of) the Rockies are in 2019.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

9. Forrest Whitley (SP, Houston Astros) – The second Astro featured on our list, Whitley’s arrival at the major league level will bring much needed depth to a thin pitching rotation. Beyond Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the ‘Stros will need to find consistency, and could turn to Whitley early in the season. He posted a ridiculous 143 strike outs over 92 innings in 2017, but found his 2018 season shortened due to a drug violation suspension. Although his command could use a bit more work, he has multiple plus pitches, including a 12-6 curve and slider with late movement to compliment a 98 MPH fastball.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

10. Peter Alonso (1b, New York Mets) –  A power hitting first basemen who will play his rookie season in New York. That should be all the convincing that you need that Alonso could be the real deal. The Mets top prospect mashed 36 minor league long balls in 2018, while hitting .285 and drawing nearly triple the amount of walks he did the previous season. As long as he can improve and show consistency at the plate, he will be given a pass for his below average speed and average at best defense. At 6’3″ and 245 lbs, this 24 year old should be the talk of the town if he can live up to the hype.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

**Bonus** : Justus Sheffield (SP, Seattle Mariners) – A little home town bias before we wrap up, shall we? The Mariners acquired Sheffield as part of the deal that sent ace James Paxton to New York. The M’s believe they have their ace of the future in ‘Shef. He posted a 2.48 era over 116 innings between AA and AAA in 2018, while striking out 123 batters. With a wipe out slider and above average sinking fastball, Sheffield will play a pivotal role in the youth movement in Seattle and will find himself in the starting rotation in 2019 and beyond.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

What do you think of our list? Did we snub someone who you’ve got your eye on? Let us know in the comments below who you think will be a rookie force to be reckoned with in 2019!

Guest Bloggers Wanted! Write for the COMC Blog!

Hello COMC Nation!

We are putting out a Call to Arms…err…Pens…hmm.. Keyboards! We want you to write for the COMC Blog! We want to offer the talented writers of the COMC Nation a platform where they can share their experiences in the trading card card industry and be read by thousands of fellow collectors! We’re hoping that this initiative will help bring a wealth of diversity and different collecting backgrounds and points of view on the hobby to our blog.

Here are just a few ideas of the type of guest blogs that we are looking for:

  • Personal Collections: Do you have a collection that features a specific player, team, set or theme? We want to hear about and see your collection! Share your story and pictures of your collection!
  • How Do you use COMC?: Our team absolutely loves Customer Testimonials. How do you use COMC for your collecting experience? Do you have any good tips for buying or selling that you wan to share with others? Do you want to talk about your ‘flips’ and steals? Sound off and let us know!
  • Your Favorite Sets & Cards: Can you tell us why a card or two stands out the most to you? Does a particular insert set have a place in your heart? We want to hear about it!
  • Top 10 lists: Everyone loves lists right? Share with us your ten favorite cards in your collection, or ten favorite cards of a particular player!  You get the idea!
  • Expert Analysis: Do you know more about a particular set, theme, or niche in the hobby that anyone else does? Share you wealth of knowledge with us!
  • Your Hobby Experience: When did your journey into the trading card industry get started and where is it now? Share your history in the hobby with fellow collectors!

To Submit a Guest Blog: We ask that each guest blog be at least 500 words, and contain at least two photos and/or images of trading cards. Using images found on COMC is encouraged!  Blogs can be submitted via email body, word document, or any other standard file format. Simply send your content to Jamesgood@comc.com. In your email, please include a brief biography (1 paragraph or less) about yourself, so that our readers can have a little insight into who you are and what you collect!  Please include your COMC username as well! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

The Good Word: It’s in the Game!

One of the best parts about my job at COMC is the amount of collectors I get to talk with about the hobby on the weekly basis. Whether it’s at The National talking to our members in person, or retweeting personal collection pick ups on twitter, it’s fascinating to see what collectors enjoy collecting and how they build their personal collections. I was recently talking with one of the members of our Developmental Team who didn’t collect cards prior to joining the COMC Team, but is slowly carving out his niche in the hobby – collecting trading cards featuring dogs!

That conversation led me to the discovery of a set that I had never seen or heard of before – The 2006 Enterplay Nintendo Nintendogs set. Nintendogs is a real-time pet simulation video game that was released on the handheld Nintendo DS console almost 15 years ago. This would fall somewhere in the timeline after the rise-and-fall of Tamagotchi toys, but before social media and mobile games such as Farmville gained massive popularity. The game spurned a whole slew of spin-offs and imitation games that can be had for a buck or two at any used gaming store.

Furthering down that rabbit hole, I wondering what other video game themed trading card sets were out there that I didn’t know about. To my surprise, the answer is shockingly not that many. Before we go any further, for the sake of this blog post, I’m removing all Pokemon related cards from the discussion, as that is a video game that has transcended beyond gaming to pop culture status. My Grandmother can name far more Pokemon than just Pikachu, and she hasn’t played a single video game since the days of Atari in the early 1980’s.

The origin of video game related trading cards can be traced to the 1980 Fleer Pac-Man Stickers set. Each $0.30 pack contained 3 stickers, 3 trading cards, and 1 piece of gum, with each box consisting of 36 packs. The cards themselves even feature a cleverly designed rub-off game that is essentially the Pac-Man game built into a card. The price point is interesting at $0.30, considering a game of Pac-Man at the arcade would cost you $0.25 (or your whole pocket of quarters, because who only plays one game of Pac-Man?)

Nintendo appears to have initially been hot on trading cards as they began to make a name for themselves in the United States. In the late 1980’s, they released stickers and several trading cards sets that featured similar scratch-off games themed after popular video games such as Double Dragon, Punch Out!!!, Super Mario Bros, and the Legend of Zelda.

Perhaps the lack of retail success of these sets could be the attributed to the reason why Nintendo branded trading cards all but dropped off the face of the earth in the 1990’s. While there were a handful of food issue cards and promo cards included with video games, there are very few Nintendo trading cards from the 90’s. In fact, the only real video game set with any hobby relevance appears to be the 1993 Topps Sonic the Hedgehog set, a Sega-brand character, and even that is a set that COMC has seen very few cards from over our existence.

It strikes me as odd that the 16-bit and 64-bit eras of gaming in the 90’s are incredibly underrepresented in the trading card world. The Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 produced so many great series that would have translated well into  trading card sets, such as Kirby, Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong Country, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter just to name a few. Even Sony didn’t venture too far into the world of trading cards, with only a couple of sets released highlighting Final Fantasy, one of their flagship series at the time.

It wasn’t until Enterplay acquired the licensing rights to several of Nintendo’s most popular franchises in the late 2000’s that video game related trading cards would see any sort of consistency with products and releases. Along with the aforementioned Nintendogs set, they also released sets for Nintendo Wii games such as Mario Kart , Super Mario Galaxy, and the Legend of Zelda. While it appears that Enterplay still has a partnership in place with Nintendo, they’ve since shifted their focus almost entirely to the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, which now has over a dozen different sets since it’s debut in 2012.

My biggest issue with the Enterplay cards is that they’re emotionless, featuring very uninspired designs and characters ripped straight out the video games. These cards do a very poor job celebrating these beloved franchises, which have been well represented elsewhere through time by big named artists and fan-created artwork that put the Enterplay cards to shame. I understand that Enterplay is a relatively small player in the trading world, and probably needed to keep production costs down on these products, but even fan submitted artwork om these sets would have drastically increased the overall production quality. Give me an insert featuring painted landscapes of all of the locations in a Zelda game, or the tracks in Mario Kart. But don’t expect me to get excited over cards that come across as second-rate marketing material.

Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption. An incredibly complex character who struggles with morality and social stature of the life of turn of the century cowboy.

So where do we go from here? Video game sales topped $43 billion dollars in 2018, an 18% increase of 2017. We’ve come along way from the days of 8-bit side-scrollers and top-down racers. Gaming franchises are only becoming more beloved as their creators tell deeper and more complex stories, with characters displaying stunningly human-like ranges of emotions, motivations, desires, flaws and traits. I would argue that most story-driven video games do a better job with their narratives than even the very best Hollywood movies can accomplish. So why do we have so many non-sports card sets for  movies such as Doctor Strange, Aliens, and James Bond, but none of Final Fantasy 10-15, Red Dead Redemption, or Assassin’s Creed?  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock on movie cards , but rather a call to action for the gaming industry

Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins made nearly $10 million dollars in 2018 as Fortnite’s most popular streamer and gaming personality. He appeared on the cover ESPN Magazine, sparking a transition into full blown celebrity status.

Fortnite is the biggest video game on the planet right now. Children, teenagers, and even (or, especially) adults spend literally hundreds of dollars on a game that is free to play by purchasing cosmetic items that allow them to customize their character. These items have zero effect on competitive game play. With Fortnite’s publisher Epic Games making money hand over fist with their product (the company has an estimated value of $8 billion dollars), why aren’t card companies like Topps, Upper Deck, and Panini eagerly trying to acquire the licensing rights? There HAS to be a multi-million dollar market for these products just waiting to be capitalized on.

Imagine if a card manufacturer was able to sign some of Fornite’s top competitive players and popular streamers, offering chase cards that granted those who pulled a card the opportunity to play with some of these players? It doesn’t even matter what the quality of the product was at that point, that concept alone would sell insane amounts of product. Those unfamiliar with the concept of eSports and video game streaming culture may not understand why this would be a big deal. So imagine if you busted a pack of trading cards, and inside you won a trip that involved taking batting practice with Kris Bryant, or running routes and receiving passes from Patrick Mahomes II, or learning how to shoot threes with Steph Curry. For those ingrained in the video game world, who watch these players on a daily basis the same way we watch sports athletes, it’s the exact same concept.

Perhaps I’m just angling too hard for the cross-over potential of two things that I love and am passionate about. The history of video game related trading cards over the years paints a picture of repeatedly missed opportunities. There have been a lot of clever innovations over the years in the video game industry. Nintendo is among the those at the forefront of that effort, from utilizing NFC-technology in their Amiibo figurines to creating Nintendo Labo DIY kits that are functional robotics with just the technology of a Nintendo Switch controller. But aside from Pokemon cards, they don’t seem to have a desire or clue how to take their franchises, their most powerful asset, and capitalize on the beloved characters and stories they’ve created over the last 40 years. Maybe it’s time to pause and hit the reset button, because they’ve been playing the trading card game wrong for a really long time.

20 Rookies to Watch in 2018-19 Panini Prizm Basketball

Arguably the most anticipated basketball release of each calendar year over the last several years has been Panini Prizm Basketball. Panini’s stranglehold over the NBA trading card landscape over the last ten years thanks to an exclusive agreement with the NBA has resulted in the disappearance of once established key rookie sets like the Topps Chrome Refractor and Ultimate Collection Rookie Materials Autographs. In their place rose the new heirs to the throne such as the National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto and the Panini Prizm Silver Prizm.

Silver Prizms and their respective lower numbered parallels are the beck and call of NBA basketball collectors and speculators. We’ve seen meteoric rises of Silver Prizms of some of the game’s newest established stars in recent years. Jayson Tatum silvers were all the rage in 2017-18, while Ben Simmons set new heights in 2016-17. Kristaps Porzingis won collector’s hearts in 2015-16 Prizm, while others waited on Joel Embiid in 2014-15 Prizm. While Giannis Antetokounmpo proved everyone wrong when his 2013-14 Prizm skyrocketed, we can’t forget that the 2012-13 inaugural Prizm set featured a strong crop of rookies including Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving among others.

So now here we are in 2019 and the 2018-19 Panini Prizm market is truly starting to take form. There’s no doubt you’ve probably heard the names of the top rookies all making waves in the NBA this season. But what about the rest? That’s why we’ve got you covered with our list of 20 rookies to watch in 2018-19 Panini Prizm Basketball

Head of the Class

 

  1. Luka Doncic – Doncic established himself internationally before making the leap to the NBA and has not disappointed. Averaging nearly 20 points a game this season, his meteoric rise can be attributed not only to his stellar on-court performance, but also his charisma and personality. He has all the makings of an NBA Superstar and is easily the Rookie of the Year up to this point.
  2. Deandre Ayton –  The first overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft has lived up to the hype, with the big man posting over 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Phoenix Suns might be having a rough go at it this season, but a strong young core will eventually tip the scales the other direction.
  3. Trae Young –  The Atlanta Hawks Point Guard came out of the gate strong before cooling down, but still owns an impressive 15+ points and seven assists per game stat line.
  4. Kevin Knox – Thrust into the scrutiny of the Madison Square Garden faithful, Knox has delivered, posting over 12 points per game with a 35% 3-point percentage. A big market only means big potential for the 19 year old.
  5. Jaren Jackson Jr. – The fourth overall pick rose his stock tremendously with a 36 point performance back in November, and has elevated his game ever since.
  6. Marvin Bagley III – Prior to sustaining an injury, we loved the direction the Kings PF was headed in. That brief scope of work was enough to nudge him ahead of our #7

Rounding out the Top 12…

 

7. Michael Porter Jr. – Speculation is building on Porter, who missed the majority of the 2017-18 season at Missouri and has yet to play in an NBA game. With no timetable for his return, the five star recruit out of high school doesn’t have the stat lines to back it up, but that hasn’t stopped his Silver Prizm from reaching the $50+ mark.
8. Collin Sexton – Sexton suffers the misfortune of playing for a post-Lebron Cleveland Cavaliers team, but he has performed impressively so far, posting almost 15 points per game.
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – The Canadian Point Guard from ‘The 6’ has wasted no time getting acclimated to the west coast. Strong defense and the ability to score earns him a well deserved spot in our top 10.
10. Rodions Kurucs – The Latvian small forward has come on strong as of late, and has played well in limited time this season. He’s posted 24 points twice this season, earning him recognition among collectors and speculators.
11. Lonnie Walker IV – Suffering a torn meniscus in preseason was a setback, but the Spurs love what they see in the shooting guard from the University of Miami. Recently posted a 34 point performance in G-League action.
12. Mo Bamba – The Orlando Magic big man has posted decent numbers in his rookie campaign, logging 1.4 blocks per game so far. It also doesn’t hurt that a friendship with a popular rapper has resulted in off-court attention for Mo.

Don’t Sleep on These Guys..

 

13. Wendell Carter Jr. – Carter has shown flashes of brilliance mixed with inconsistency under center for the Chicago Bulls. Still, a 28 point performance is noteworthy enough to find his way into our favorite sleeper pick.
14. Miles Bridges – The 12th overall pick of the draft finds his way into #14 on our list as a strong sleeper pick. The versatile small forward has all the athleticism to either erupt into a play maker or carve our a niche as a solid role player.
15. Allonzo Trier – The Knicks shooting guard has garnered attention coming off of the bench, warranting play time as the Knicks look to get young. Suffered a small set back with a hamstring injury a few weeks back.
15.  Robert Williams III – Drew attention with two blocks on Anthony Davis in a game back in December.  Strong flashes of defense and playing for a large market earns him considerations for our list.
17. Mikal Bridges – Playing along side Deandre Ayton, the small forward from Villanova has performed commendably, posting nearly eight points per game.
18. Anfernee Simons – He has displayed phenomenal talent at the preps, and has the athleticism to boot, but has yet do anything of importance at the NBA level during his rookie campaign. Still, we have the optimism and Pacific Northwest bias to land Simons a spot on this list.
19. Kostas Antetokounmpo – The last name alone is going to draw him attention and speculation. The younger brother of Giannis was the 60th overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Let’s be honest, we all know what Giannis did, emerging from the ashes of mediocre stat lines to become a mega star.
20. Josh Okogie – Quickly becoming a T’Wolves fan favorite, Okogie has split time between starting and coming off the bench. We like the shooting guard’s potential.

One of the things we enjoy about these lists involving sleepers is that no one seems to want to tell us if they disagree for the sake of not drawing attention to the prospect they’re stashing! There are 53 rookies total in the 2018-19 Prizm base set, meaning 33 did not make the cut here. Who else deserves consideration? Let us know in the comments below!

The Good Word: Manufactured Blog Post

(Note: COMC Communications Manager James Good wears many hats at COMC, including Social Media Manager and Blog Editor. While he does a wealth of the writing and curating of other blog posts found on our Blog, ‘The Good Word’ is a new regular Editorial style blog series where he will more openly share his opinions and thoughts on sports and trading cards.)

It is rumored that P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. I’d like to think that there are no such thing as suckers when it comes to collecting, but that every single one of us has a guilty pleasure or two that other collectors might see as silly or downright foolish. Whatever you want to call it, I have no shame in admitting that I love manufactured patch cards. Manufactured patches are hit-or-miss among most collectors, and I like how polarizing they are. There is very little gray area when it comes to them, collectors either love them or hate them.

My fascination with them began in 2008 when I was getting reacquainted with the landscape of the card industry following a hiatus from collecting. Among the first Felix Hernandez cards that I bought for my personal collection were his 2008 UD Premier Stitchings manufactured patches. The logo inside these cards was very well designed, and in Mariners colors as well.

The first Seattle Mariners card I ever fell in love with was obviously the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.. The second was Alex Rodriguez’s 1994 Flair RC. The third card in that list is one from a set that most collectors are probably much less familiar with. When I first saw the 2007 Upper Deck Black Pride of a Nation set, I thought it was one of the most unique sets I had ever seen.  I was 22 years old at the time and didn’t have a lot of money, but I was able to strike a deal with a collector via a forum and in four $25 weekly paypal payments I was the owner of this beautiful piece of cardboard:

I think that when done right, a well-designed manufactured patch or logo card is better than most authentic game used swatch jersey cards. Don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for a sick patch, laundry tag, or logoman. But take a look at the below series of cards and tell me which one appeals to you more:

Ok fine, maybe don’t answer that last one, because as far as I’m concerned the Babe Ruth Jumbo from Tools of the Trade is the pinnacle of jersey cards. It goes without saying that most of the time we would much rather have a historical piece of the game over a manufactured patch, so my theory doesn’t exactly apply to legends and Hall of Fame players. Which creates an interesting question. I prefer the manufactured patches of Tim Lincecum and Peyton Manning shown above now, but what about fifty years from now? Will the overproduced jersey and patch cards of today’s greats be coveted or as remotely desirable as some of present day in-demand Hall of Fame memorabilia cards such as 1/1 bat knobs and the  Babe Ruth that I shared above?

Card manufacturers will need to continually innovate as they roll out new products, parallels and cards that are intended to draw the interest of new collectors. For some lifelong collectors, flagship Topps Series 1 or the Young Guns RC’s in Upper Deck Series 1 hockey is more than enough to keep them ripping wax on a yearly basis. But as long as the demand remains for unique cards, the rat race of latest and greatest goes on. I think that manufactured patches, rings, and relics offer a solid creative outlet for them to continue to produce some unique additions to the hobby.

To wrap up the first installment of ‘The Good Word’, I felt compelled to share some of my personal favorite cards featuring manufactured materials. Enjoy!

Best of 2018: The First 100: Ranking Our Favorite Cards from Topps Living Set

As we enter 2019, we wanted to take the month of December to highlight some of our favorite blog posts of 2018. In this blog post, our two resident Topps Living Set experts weigh in on their favorite 10 cards from the first 100 in the set. This blog was originally published on 11/05/2018 and is presented in it’s entirety in this blog as well

This year Topps released a very unique and welcomed product named ‘The Living Set‘. Each week, three new cards are released into the set, which should theoretically never end. Each particular week’s cards are only available for that week and then never reprinted again. Current players can only have one card in the set unless they change teams. All cards are stylized after 1953 Topps, can feature current or retired players, and are created around the artwork of legendary sports card artist Mayumi Seto. Card #100-102 (week 34) were released last week, with #100 reserved for Babe Ruth. 

From the moment this set was unveiled, two of COMC’s employees were hooked on the concept, design, and the execution. Our Communications Manager James Good and Senior Business Analyst Grant Wescott each own a complete set up to this point in time and plan to continue to collecting the set as new cards are released each week. We asked them to choose their favorite 10 of the first 100 cards released in the set and give a reason why those cards resonated with them.

Grant Wescott:

“I’d wished for years Topps would produce an on-demand baseball set with the same, consistent design year after year, featuring only one player to a card, no parallels, and a checklist to eternity. The day Topps Living Set was announced was probably the best of my collecting life. Not only did they check all the boxes – that consistent design? None other than the most beautiful Topps set of all time: 1953. All meticulously hand painted by the talented Mayumi Seto. “

James Good

“In an industry that tries to consistently innovate by making cards flashier and more complex, the basic card stock and classic design of Living Set, as well as the focus on artwork, is a welcomed breath of fresh air. While I would prefer that Topps would let me pay for Living Set as yearly subscription service, as opposed to buying each week individually, there is a certain charm to the current format that plays well to my nostalgia for simpler times in the hobby. Just like opening a pack as a kid, there is that rush of excitement that comes with heading to Topps website each Wednesday to see who this week’s subjects are. I thought that sense of satisfaction was long gone in our day and age. Bravo Topps.”

What are some of your favorite cards in Topps Living Set so far? Who would you like to see featured in the next 100 cards? Do you have a set of your own? Let us know what you think about The Living Set in the comments below!