Dwight Smith Watch: A Slow Start

If you didn’t read my post from a month ago, I’ve been keeping an eye on Toronto Blue Jays prospect Dwight Smith Jr. after pulling his autograph in a pack of baseball cards.

Unfortunately, Dwight hasn’t done much to make those hastily scribbled initials worth big bucks during his first couple months of professional ball, as he has struggled throughout the 2012 season with the Blue Jays’s Rookie League Affiliate, the Bluefield Blue Jays.

His stat line hasn’t been that impressive, as he is hitting just .226/.316/.393 in 21 games with three home runs and 11 RBI’s. After a paltry month of June where he hit .219, he has looked slightly better in July, hitting .231. Those numbers would be better, but after last night’s game, he is now in a 1-for-17 slump.

He also, for whatever reason, cannot hit at home, where he has posted a ridiculously low average of .160 as compared to .254 on the road. He also hasn’t excelled in situations where he can knock in runs, hitting just .190 with RISP.

There is no need to panic however, as young Dwight is just 19 years old playing against some competition that is older. It will be interesting to monitor his progress through the rest of the season, to see if he can begin 2013 at a higher level in the minors.

Summer of Nothing: Dwight Smith Watch

On June 9, 2011, something remarkable happened.

I had nothing to do.

No schoolwork, no articles, no meetings, nothing.

It was then that I officially dubbed the summer of 2012 the “Summer of Nothing”. I have a part-time job where I write articles from home for 12 hours per week. After that, nothing.

With this new-found freedom that has escaped me for the past two years, I need to find some things to do to pass the time. Going to Pirates games and watching Game Show Network can only get me so far.

I really want to ramp up content on this blog over the next three months, and I received some inspiration from a likely source.

I had gone to Wal-Mart this past weekend and bought a pack of baseball cards (imagine that). In my pack of 2012 Bowman Baseball, a product that traditionally spotlights the biggest prospects in the game, I pulled this. A card autographed by Blue Jays prospect Dwight Smith.

I had never pulled an autographed card in my life to that point, and it gave me a brilliant idea. I’m not one for “prospecting” when collecting cards, but those who do like to collect young ballplayers’ cards and monitor their rise through the ranks. I’d figure I could do the same during this “Summer of Nothing” and keep tabs on Smith, who was the second-round pick of the Blue Jays in last year’s draft.

So it’s official, you are on watch Dwight, and I will be posting your progress on this blog from time to time. The “Summer of Nothing” could be the beginning of your rise to stardom, or making that piece of cardboard worth, well, the price of a piece of cardboard.

 

 

2010 Topps Chrome: Impulsive Card Buying

Trips to Wal-Mart can no longer be made with making a stop at the sports card display at the front of the store.

Since I’m basically done with the Topps set for 2011, I strafed around looking for a good deal.

Those $20 value boxes with a bunch of packs from different years and brands looked good at first, until this caught my eye.

8 packs of a quality product on sale for just $12. I’ll take that.

If you are unfamiliar with Topps Chrome, it is basically a condensed version of the regular Topps (only 220 cards as compared to 660) that is printed on fancy holographic “chrome” stock. When the yearly design is good, the images pop off the cards and look amazing.

My box contained 7 packs plus one bonus pack, which really was just 8 regular packs (stupid I know). Each one has four cards. Since it’s retail, odds of getting something nice are low. This product is heavy on rookies and hobby boxes (24 packs 4 cards per pack) guarantee two on card rookie autographs. Given that this year’s class was loaded with young guns such as Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward and Starlin Castro to name a few the results could be nice.

I pulled some good rookies in mine.

Unlike the regular version of Topps, there aren’t many inserts in Chrome, but rather refractor parallels that add some extra life to the cards with a rainbow sheen in the light.

X-fractor cards look cool too.

The scans don’t do them justice. They have a kaleidoscope type stock that looks great on display.

Another gimmick is Chrome parallels of other products. I got this Carl Crawford reprint of a 2010 Topps Heritage.

The odds of getting one was 1 in 86 packs so I was happy to pull one here.

I do have a couple gripes though. For whatever reason a lot of the cards are warped.

Kind of makes them look bad, though keeping them in binder pages will fix that. The cards are not centered well either, which kind of takes away from their look.

Another thing I don’t like is how when the checklist gets cut down, a lot of teams get left in the dust. Take the Pirates for example. Only four players made the cut: Andrew McCutchen, Aki Iwamura (????), Zach Duke, and Daniel McCutchen. This came out in October of 2010. You would have thought guys like Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, or Neil Walker would have been included instead of bums like Duke and Iwamura. Plenty of great rookies make up for it however.

All in all, I can’t complain about this product. Since it got left in the dust thanks to the Strasburg-mania stir caused by Bowman it can be had on the cheap online, though it offers many of the same great young players. The cards are great for keeping in display, especially if you can get them autographed by players (my signed 2009 Andrew McCutchen rookie from this product will forever be my favorite). Some technical flaws keep it from getting my highest marks. I really hope Topps can straighten that out for the 2011 version.

Grade: B+

2011 Topps Series 2 Box Break

For those of you that don’t know already, I am a huge nerd. I take pride in the things I collect, whether it be Pittsburgh Pirate programs, baseballs, or ticket stubs.

One thing that I recently got into has been the long-time hobby of collecting baseball cards. I was never into it much when I was little, but about two years ago I really got into it.

Starting last year, I made it a yearly goal to get all 660 cards that Topps has in its yearly set. I did it last year, and after getting the first 330 cards in Series 1 for about $15 on eBay, I’m well on my way to doing the same this year (though I’m also going after the additional 330 cards in the update that comes out this winter).

There is nothing quite like busting through a box of cards and seeing what you get. So shortly before coming home, I ordered a 36-pack box of Series 2 and it came in the other day. Here is what I pulled.

Base Cards: 227/330 (68.8%)

Though the base card design isn’t as good as the 2010 version in my opinion, Topps still has a great look to it. The photography continues to be really good, going beyond the static images of guys in their stances and wind-ups. I also got only two doubles besides the parallels, so that is always nice. Now comes the fun of trying to get the remaining 53 cards I need. To give you guys an idea what they look like, here are the Pirate cards I pulled (Note most of the good players were featured in Series 1).

I’m only one short as the Josh Rodriguez rookie didn’t come up in my box. Probably worth a whole two cents.

As with Topps’ main card set, the packs feature a ton of insert cards. In recent memory, a lot of them are trash-worthy and overkill. I’d much rather have a larger checklist of players then all these flimsy sub sets that I won’t collect. Let’s see what they had for Series 2.

Gold Parallel (Numbered to 2010) 3/330

These cards are essentially the same as the base, though they feature a gold border. Since they are harder to come by, they are meant to be more of a challenge to collect all 330. I don’t have the time or money to do that, so essentially these are worthless to me.

Diamond Parallel 9/330

Since this is Topps’ 60th anniversary of making cards, there is a diamond theme throughout the set. These parallels of the base cards are awesome. They feature a holographic twinkle to them that really looks cool. Though I won’t get all 330 of these, I’m definitely going after the Pirate ones, as they would look even better autographed.

Kimball Miniatures 9/50

These inserts are modeled after the Kimball mini-cards that appeared a long time ago. Series 2 featured cards numbered 51-100, and all of the subjects are former players (Series 1 was 1-50 and were all current players). These cards are nice, but are a pain in the butt to keep nice in a binder.

Diamond Stars 6/25

These cards really have no point to them, as you would have to live under a rock not to know about the players on them. However, a great holographic sparkle design like the parallels save them from being a waste.

Diamond Duos 9/30

These cards are the same as the “Legendary Lineage” ones seen in the 2010 edition, however instead of an old player being compared to a new one, it’s two players with something in common. Really no point to these, however I’ll hang on to the Andrew McCutchen/Pedro Alvarez one that I pulled.

Before There Was Topps 2/7

These cards detail various brands of baseball cards that were around before Topps. Yawn.

60 Years of Topps 15/58

These cards are reprints that are to give an example of each year’s design and a little lesson about the set of that year. Not too bad if this wasn’t basically the same thing as “The Cards Your Mom Threw Out” from last year. Nothing like getting “vintage” reprints from 2008 and 2009! Other than the Dave Parker Pirates card for 1975 and the Chris Carpenter rookie reprint that also has the original back to it, the rest are trash.

Topps 60 9/50

This set is supposed to chronicle the various leaders in statistical categories over the last 60 years. Some of them are flat-out stupid (Such as John Lester leading AL left-handed pitchers in strikeouts from 2008 to 2010) and some feature guys that barely crack the top 10 in some. Another dumb insert set.

Topps Town 6/50

Unlike last year when they came in every pack (and ended up in my trash), Topps Town code cards were harder to come by and were featured on nice holographic chrome stock. They also feature players other than the usual New York/Boston/Philadelphia players, making it a unique subset.

Prime 9 2/9

Unlike in past years, where each box came with a redemption card for a special “Red Hot Rookie”, Topps changed it up by starting the Prime 9 series. Basically, for a specific week, one of these cards can be turned in to your local hobby shop for a special chrome card. Each card is also good for an entry for a trip to the 2012 World Series. Though my Jose Tabata Red Hot Rookie card is one of my favorites, I can’t ¬†argue against a system that gets you a nice card similar to that in your hand before January. I’ll have to wait to see how it goes before giving it a thumbs up or down.

“Hits” (Relics/Autographs)
1 (Mark Texiera Topps 60 Game Used Jersey Card)

My one “hit” in this box was a good one. Since this is the 60th anniversary, Topps has bolstered their relic checklist, and I got very lucky getting a Yankee. Though I wish it was a pinstriped swatch, I can’t complain about it as I’ve gotten crap in boxes in the past.

Final Grade: B

Though the design has come a long way from the mid-2000s when it was awful, Topps still lacks some features that make it a perfect card set to collect. Like EA Sports’ exclusive rights with the NFL for video games, Topps is the only licensed producer of baseball cards now. This has led to a declining product quality and the rehashing of the same ideas over and over again. But flaws aside, the price is right at just $2 per pack making it an easy set to get into. I just wish they would take some elements from Upper Deck before they were out of the baseball market, offering more hits and cutting down on mundane insert sets for a bigger base.

If there is anyone else out there into collecting I highly suggest getting in contact with me as I’m always up for trading!