2018 Topps is here! Yay, I think.

Let’s jump right in. Here is the first card of the 2018 season, for me, anyway…

Thumbs up to you too, Matt, though I’m not sure if you’re giving me the thumbs up because you did something in this game, because you got traded away from the Barves, because you figure there’s a good chance you’re gonna get paid a ton of money to sit on your ass, or because you just wanted a cool baseball card. Either way, this may be my favorite Matt Kemp card of all time (though it didn’t have a ton of competition).

Here are the card backs, for those curious…

They got me used to partial stats fairly quickly, in part because my vision’s taken a serious hit in the past year or so, but also because it sorta reminds me of Donruss. The fronts do, too. The designs are different, but something about the use of color and the full-bleed on the front reminds me of late-period pre-Panini Donruss, figure ’03-’05.

I am with all of you who think there was a better use of that dead space to the right of the social media and the factoids, but I don’t know if a QR code would’ve worked at that size, and there’d probably be some debate as to what site it’d go to, or what function it’d serve. Stats at mlb.com or Baseball Reference? If it gets you a Bunt card of the physical one, do they just give you white base, or is there some element of chance there? Speaking of, I don’t think the flagship design lends itself to the “10 parallels of the same base card” dynamic on Bunt, so we’ll probably see another season of divergent physical and digital flagship cards, bah. But yeah, if they’re taking away full stats, dead space is a bad idea. Even, from a graphic design perspective, if they’d widened the facts, and centered the social media box, I think it would have been better, but this reeks of “we were going to put something in that space, probably a QR code, and had to nuke it at the last minute”. Moving onto some more cards…

Springer was a lot of fun to watch in the Series. Not as much fun for me as Alex Bregman (who I think is gonna be an unbelievable player), but still a lot of fun.

Mookie looks like he’s simultaneously pulling a Carlton Fisk and dancing here. Mookie don’t care, though, because he won his arbitration case!

Well, I won’t have to worry about these being super-overpriced when it comes time to finish this set. Frazier’s got an RC logo on his card when he was first in Bowman in, what, 1994?

I won’t have to worry about these, either. Would you believe I got these back-to-back in my hanger box?

Here’s some ’18 base of other players I collect (I mostly limit my current players to my fantasy team, hence the Mookie above, but I have been buying Greinke’s cards forever, it seems). I really love the Realmuto card. It’ll probably be his last Topps Marlins card, but it’s a gem.

The box promised 2 Jeter highlights cards, and now that his name is mud, they gave me three! I’ll hang onto them, though. He may have a plan in Miami that doesn’t just make him look like a big jerk forever (one of the sports stories of the next decade’s gonna be seeing how that all plays out), and I have some good memories of watching him play. Plus, I finally live in a part of the country where people will part with Jeter cards without asking for vital organs.

Anyone want these?

The Arenado sorta-gold’s 755/2018, if that makes a difference. Really disappointed that they didn’t go with actual card stock for the ’83s, like they did with the ’87s last year. And yeah, I’m basically good on any of these insert sets, not building them. Pretty flat inserts this year, and for this, I am RELIEVED.

I should also mention, though they won’t be pictured here, that I got 14, count ’em, 14 horizontal base cards in a row in this pack. The reason they won’t be pictured is that they were 14 pretty uninspiring horizontal base cards, of players I don’t have much of a vested interest in. Still, that’s what they went with in this pack, after the inserts were done. Weird collation.

How do I feel overall about the pack and this year’s flagship? It’s a mixed bag, but a step up from ’16 and ’17 on the base design. I’ll be building it (damn it), so send me your base doubles. The inserts are pretty lukewarm, especially the ’83s, so I’m gonna pass on those and trade whatever I get that isn’t a player I collect. Still, I don’t feel like I actually wasted my time and money buying these, like I have for 3 out of the past 4 seasons (’15 was awesome, but it was the only truly awesome flagship set of the past 5 years).

So, here’s my want list for Series 1 base:

2018 Topps (Have 63/350): 2-3, 5-6, 8, 10-13, 15, 17-21, 23-51, 53-74, 76-78, 81-82, 84-86, 88-93, 96-104, 106-107, 109-116, 119-121, 123-126, 128-137, 139, 141-143, 145, 148-154, 156-160, 162-167, 170-178, 180-182, 184-192, 194-197, 199-202, 204-211, 213-220, 222-224, 226-233, 235-240, 243-247, 249-251, 253-254, 256-258, 260-262, 264-266, 268, 271-274, 276-285, 288-289, 291-304, 306-310, 312-316, 318-322, 324-325, 327-329, 331-333, 336, 338-346, 348-350

How’d y’all do?


Big-time “buy this and read it” heads up: BOOM! Studios’ Abbott #1 is a terrific, terrific book. Written by Saladin Ahmed (who’s been writing the terrific Black Bolt for Marvel over the past year), drawn by Sami Kivelä (whose other work I’m not familiar with, but I’m told he draws a book called Beautiful Canvas for Black Mask Studios, and the art in this preview looks equally terrific, so I’ll have to check that out), and colored by Jason Wordie (and yes, his colors are gorgeous).

If you didn’t end up following the publisher link above, here’s the elevator pitch they announced the series with:

“BOOM! Studios is excited to announce ABBOTT, a new, original comic book series launching in January 2018 from Hugo Award-nominated writer Saladin Ahmed (Marvel’s Black BoltThe Crescent Moon Kingdoms novels) and artist Sami Kivelä (Black Mask’s Beautiful Canvas) about a female journalist of color in 1970s Detroit named Elena Abbott who investigates a series of grisly crimes the police have ignored—crimes she recognizes to be the work of a dark magical force—the same force that murdered her husband 10 years ago. As she looks for clues, Abbott puts herself in the crosshairs of a mysterious power out for more blood, all the while navigating a harsh social environment that’s structured to protect the powerful, and prevent access to change.”

Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds, and then some. Go get it!

Some Recent Comics Stuff

As I’m sure some of you have noticed, I have a list of the the current comics I’m buying in my sidebar. It only tells part of the story, though, because it doesn’t include mini-series, one-shots or standalone graphic novels, all of which do play a role in my comics buying and reading.

Here’s a few of the books along those lines that I’ve been reading of late, all from DC, interestingly (though this is in no way reflective of my overall buying habits, particularly where mainstream DC books are concerned; I really don’t go near most of those, though I do read Batwoman because my partner picks it up).

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles

DC’s been doing some extraordinary things with their Hanna-Barbera properties in recent years, dating back as far as the first Ariel Olivetti Space Ghost series they did, but they’ve put a concerted effort into making a great line of books out of them for about the past 2 years. Mark Russell (who writes the Flintstones book that I’m sadly pretty behind on) is a big part of that, and his latest is the long-anticipated “Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles”. While the first issue is a very dark book (I’ll tell you very little about it beyond that, but it is grim), it begins a brilliant re-examination of the character, and continues on Russell’s path of poignant, biting societal criticism. Highest recommendation.

Wonder Woman/Conan
DC/Dark Horse

I’m really glad this one made the schedule before Marvel got the rights to Conan again. Gail Simone, who is a national treasure, it should be said, tells a terrific story here that’s faithful to both characters, and Aaron Lopresti’s art is gorgeous. They’re an issue from finishing (#5 came out on Wednesday), but if you’re a non-digital reader and have trouble finding single issues, or just prefer the collected format, the trade should be out soon enough.

Mystik U

Despite a lot of other attempts happening simultaneously, Mystik U is perhaps the most classic Vertigo-feeling and Chris Claremont’s X-Men-feeling book on the stands right now, and another nice re-imagining of some great characters. (We’re seeing a lot of that happening these days, including the next book I’m going to cover, but thankfully it’s more in the way of recontextualization, and less deconstructionism.) It’s nice to see Mike Norton art on this, too, as I enjoyed what I read of his Battlepug. 2 issues in (out of 3, I believe; it’s one of the few books in DC’s line that’s supposed to be a limited series, but doesn’t actually tell you how many issues it’ll be, I think because they may extend it if it’s selling well), so you may be able to get ahold of it in first run without paying SPACE GHOST RIDER prices for back issues. (Yes, if you missed it, Space Ghost Rider is a thing now. Don’t get me wrong here, a thing I enjoy, but a thing.)

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands

I’ve been reading Black Lightning (and, by proxy, his co-creator Tony Isabella) since perhaps the beginning, having bought at least one issue in first run at a very young age. (I’m on like my 3rd copy of Vol. 1 #1, and I *might* have gotten my first when it hit 7-Eleven in the ’70s.) This is a somewhat New 52-ish attempt to place Jefferson Pierce (who was very much a product of the 1970s, and has aged through other books in his fictional history) in modern continuity as a younger hero, with the issues of the modern world around him. That description makes it sound less appealing than it actually is, admittedly, and if you’re a long-time fan, don’t let it scare you off. I’m enjoying this, because Tony Isabella continues to write Black Lightning stories with a lot of heart, and you never feel, as you’re reading, that the character you’re reading is anything but Black Lightning (a problem that a lot of reboots, even sometimes ones by original creators, have). The stories are still being told in Jefferson Pierce’s voice, no matter how his surroundings or some of the details have changed. As issues with treatment of black people by police are so firmly on peoples’ minds in recent years, it’s a lot of the story here, just as it is on the television show that started airing this week (and while I don’t think the show’s perfect, and it ultimately does a different thing than this comic does, it should still be said that I am really excited that there’s actually a live-action Black Lightning television show). The handling of it isn’t ideal here, but I feel like Tony does his best, and with the best of intentions, on a tough subject for a mainstream super-hero book to cover. This isn’t genre-redefining stuff, don’t get me wrong (and I don’t need everything I read to reinvent the wheel, either; I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of Captain America and Catwoman in my day, both of whom ran in place for decades at a time on occasion), and it has its moments of awkwardness because both the lead character and the writer wrestle a bit with the subject matter, but for someone who’s been with a character for probably over 40 years now, it’s good to have my old friend, who still sounds like my old friend, around in any capacity. It’s a few issues in now, but for better or worse, it probably won’t be too much trouble to track down, even with the TV show having launched. If you report back to me that you can’t find it, I’ll be pleasantly surprised, and you can grab the trade when it comes out.

Recent Poster Acquisition

Picked this one up a couple of weeks ago at the same store I got The Enigma Variations at. (I’d give ’em a plug, but I don’t think they do mail order, and I gotta keep some sources private. Come visit, and I’ll take you!) I don’t listen to a ton of Nina Hagen these days, but she and especially this album were strong formative influences on me. (Does that explain anything?)

It’s on pretty thin paper, so it’ll have to be framed (I have a spot in mind for it already, once a room’s painted), but it’s in remarkably good shape for being likely legit 32, 33 years old (it doesn’t seem like a reprint).

(Good use of the mix tapes as paperweights here, right?)


Congrats, Hideki!

Hideki Matsui elected to Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame

This news makes me very happy. He was one of the last Yankees that joined the team while I was still rooting for them who I really liked (I liked Robbie Cano OK, too, but not as much as I liked Hideki Matsui), I saw his entire career with them, and I’m still collecting his cards when I happen upon them.

To celebrate, let’s look through some of my favorite Hideki Matsui cards from my player collection stash. (These aren’t all of my favorites, just the ones that are easiest to grab, because they’re not embedded in sets.)

This was definitely my first Matsui card. I got it during a period when I was slowly inching back into buying cards (that started with me trying to get Ichiros and Alfonso Sorianos in ’01, but hadn’t graduated to buying packs until Ben Henry got me hooked on ’07 Upper Deck Goudey…yes, Ben, this is your fault…) at the flea market I used to live near, and the seller, a Mets fan, gave it to me cheap while grumbling about the Yankees. I just checked, and the bottom border doesn’t have wear on it, I just really need to clean my scanner. Oh, the shame of it! Moving on…

I’m pretty hit and miss on Diamond Kings painted cards, but I like this one, and the borders are especially nice.

Man, all of these companies, as they were when these products came out,  are out of baseball cards now. Donruss *sorta* lives on in Panini, but Skybox is toast, Upper Deck’s outta baseball…

…Fleer? Gone as well. Love these borders, though, and our hero looks pretty intense on the cards, too.

More Upper Deck, and a cool, textured card with another fun picture on it.

Had a few “Hideki Loses His Hat” cards in my stash, but this was the best.

And, of course, a Yankee Stadium Legacy card. Have a few different Matsui picture cards (I cut bait on a lot of my YSLs a couple years back, but I kept one of every picture variation for the players I like and collect). This one’s also nice because he homered in the game.

That’s 7 modern cards, and no Topps! Looking at The Trading Card Database, I see (but have no idea how I’d never noticed previously) that he didn’t have a proper Topps license until ’05, and was only really in their products until ’10. No Rays cards outside of ’12 and ’13 Bunt, I don’t think (and I have the ’13 color one, but not the ’12 black and white there), and he was only in Attax in ’11.

Without ganking images from anywhere or burrowing through my stuff to try and scan any more cards (you’ll have to use either your imagination or a search engine), I’d say that my favorite Topps Matsui issues are probably…

’06: Allen & Ginter
’07: flagship
’08 Chrome, Heritage and Trading Card History
’09 Allen & Ginter
’10 Topps 206 and Chrome (though man, I wish they’d not destroyed that entire run of cards)
’11 Attax

Of those, I still definitely (and surprisingly; I had a monster box of ex-Yankees sold to me a few years back that had tons of Matsuis in it) need ’06 Ginter, ’08 Chrome and Heritage, ’10 Topps 206 and ’11 Attax (regular or foil), so if anyone’s holding on any of these, I’d be happy to take them off your hands.

I also don’t have any autographs (good luck with that, from what I can see) or relics of his, so I’d be up for getting those. (I probably don’t have the trade bait to get an auto, if I’m being honest, and I definitely don’t have the dough.) If I had to pick one relic, I’d aim for the ’06 Ginter mini relic (Ginter framed mini relics are kinda my go-to for relics now, if I can get ’em, though I like any of the Topps framed mini relics), but I’m not picky and will take whatever’s available.

And, finally, I am reasonably sure that I’ve got no cards of him from Japan. Ryan, how often do you come across those, and how affordable are they? I mean, I’ll take ’em from anyone, but Ryan’s actually in Japan these days, so he’s probably got the easiest line on them.

But yes, get in touch if you’ve got any of that stuff. I don’t do enough fun stuff toward my player collections, and a Hall of Fame election (probably the only one he’ll ever see, despite being a groundbreaking player) is as good a reason as any to do a little legwork on that.