Thursday, December 6, 2018

Core Charge Cards

Last week I was running late for work.  I got up late and loafed about at a sloth's pace - it was just one of those mornings.  To compact matters, as I flew through the front door, trying to make up for lost time, I was met with a sneaky sheet of black ice and almost went down for the count.  Steadying myself, I realized that my face was already stinging from the chilly breeze in the air, as it was being pelted by snowflakes billowing down from a gray sky.  Needless to say, the weather matched my dreary mood.  All was not lost though - if I left then, I could make it to work on time...or at least close enough that no one could call me on it.

With that in mind, I shuffled through the parking lot and hopped in my car.  I gave the engine a crank and.... uh oh... nothing happened.  That's when I found out my battery was dead... and that I could craft a sentence of cuss words long and strong enough to make a pirate blush.

Long story short, the battery was so shot that I couldn't even jump the damn thing; so, after half an hour of fiddling with the portable jumper, I ended up having to burn some of my sick time which I had so stingily hoarded.  Needless to say, it was not the greatest of mornings for this blogger.

However, after securing a new battery for my ride, I was elated to find out that the receipt for the expired one had not yet been disposed of.  You know what that means -  I had thirteen bucks waiting for me at the local Walmart!  Sure, it's a pittance; but, after waiting in line at customer service for half an hour, I felt like a kid at Christmas time with that "free" money burning a hole in my pocket.

So, let's see if you can figure out what I did next - solve this equation:  Unsupervised card collector + holiday season + Walmart =

You shouldn't have to flip to the back of your text book for this answer.

When I saw that there were still a few of these bad boys sitting on the barren shelves of the recently pillaged card aisle, I could not fight the temptation.  Normally, this cheapskate would have a hard time plopping down a twenty dollar bill for a such a novelty, on the off chance that I might land a card or two that truly appeals to my collecting interests.  That said, with thirteen bucks worth of "house money," suddenly this becomes cheaper than a blaster of Opening Day with a guaranteed hit.

Thanks lousy car battery!

Sure, we can debate for hours whether or not a product as gimmicky as this parallel set is needed with the deluge of cash grab products Topps has flooded the market with lately; but, this is the third year that this blizzard has hit the card collecting community, so why bother?  I must admit, I much prefer my snow on cardboard than I do on the ground and these cards do put me in the holiday spirit.  Plus, I need a couple of cards from this flakey set - which shows what cards from S1, S2, and Update would look like in a snowstorm - for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection and I haven't ripped any new product in a long time, thanks to my recent hiatus.

As you can see, something good came out of my terrible, no good, very bad morning.  Or did it?  Let's see how I did with my "half price" holiday box, shall we?

The battery box flew right out of the gate with this Yu Darvish parallel falling out of the very first pack I opened.  You'll have to take my word that it's a parallel though, as the glitter effect (which really comes off looking and feeling like a third grade art project) found on the Metallic Snowflake Parallels doesn't show up too well on camera.  These special cards fall one in every two packs, so they aren't exactly rare - however, it's hard not to smile when you actually pull a parallel of a team you collect!

Yu was the only Cubs parallel that I ended up with, though I did uncover a healthy portion of the team's base checklist:

Three big pieces of the Cubs core were found in my "core charge" card purchase, as well as one now former North Sider.  This winter wonderland themed single represents Daniel Murphy's first pack-issued Cubs card, as the late-season acquisition was brought in by the Cubs too late to sneak into the Update checklist.  Of course, that means that this was a needed "Cubgrade" for my CATRC.  On the other hand, I've definitely not been secretive about my distaste for the second baseman, as detailed in the post I drafted about his initial arrival.  The Westboro-approved ballplayer is not one that I want representing my favorite team and I'm glad that he officially became a free agent after the World Series.

Simply put, my emotions about this pull are mixed - let's just say that I hope it's Daniel's ONLY pack-issued card as a Cubs player.

When it comes to the Cubs content, I ended up with one parallel, just under half of the team set, and one of the two cards I needed for my CATRC.  All told, that's not too bad for blaster box, I suppose.  It would have been a smashing success, in my eye, had I also come away with Cole Hamels' snowblind single (only his second pack-issued Chicago card)... but, I can't complain too much about this haul.  As for the rest of the box:

Here we have a couple of familiar faces in unfamiliar uniforms.  He's been gone for a few years now; however, I do believe that this is my first card of Starlin in any colors other than Cubbie Blue.  Additionally, "Jake the Snake" just looks wrong in a Phillies jersey - the dichotomy simply does not compute!

Even still, both of these previous Wrigley residents will fit nicely in my Cubs of Different Color Collection - a binder made up entirely of former/future Cubs featured in non-blue laundry.

With ten total packs included within the Holiday Box, I ended up with the appropriate number of metallic parallels.  Unfortunately, unlike the previously showcased Darvish, none of the other four really move the needle for me... much like the dead battery which funded their purchase.  Although, finding the AL Cy Young winner among the shimmery stack was kind of cool, even if I'll never be able to trade a Rays card.  And speaking of trades, the recently swapped out to Seattle, J.P. Crawford, gets to show of his slick glove in Phillies duds in one last set.  That's not a bad looking card to go out on.

Crawford wasn't the only player traded this winter to show up in the box either.  On that note, it's time to reveal what "one relic, autograph, or autographed relic card" I dug up out of this particular snow drift:

Ah, look, it's fate getting one last cheap shot in on me.  Not only does Paul Goldschmidt not fit into any of my collections, he happens to be a storied Cubs-killer who, just last night, was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cards lineup just got a helluva lot scarier with "Goldy" in the middle of it.  Ugh.  Why'd it have to be the Red Birds?

The race for the 2018 National League Central crown is going to be a heated one.

Anyway, let's close out this box review with the best of the rest - a pair of cards that just make me smile:

Starling is looking sterling with that sweet, 80's Pirates uniform kit; who doesn't love a good throwback shot?  And check out those flowing locks coming from under Jon Gray's cap - he must use conditioner!

While I probably still didn't get my true money's worth on this purchase, even after the core charge discount, it sure was fun to rip through and I did end up with some nice additions to my Cubs collections.  After that stupid morning, it was just the medicine I needed to fix my mood - well, that and getting a working battery for my automobile.

Before I got, I do have to ask, what are your thoughts about the 2018 Topps Holiday boxes?  Is this set just another disposable, gimmicky, carbon copy parallel set that serves no purpose.  Or, does it inject a little bit of fun and holiday spirit into this hobby that is often taken far too seriously?  I straddle that line, but definitely lean a little more towards the latter.  Also, I never expected to be able to trade a car battery for baseball cards; but, essentially, that's what just happened.  With that in mind, what's the strangest thing you've ever traded for baseball cards?  Am I only the only one who has parlayed a care charge into a blaster box?  Please feel free to leave your thoughts and stories in the comment section below.

In the meantime, here's hoping that my new battery lives a long and healthy life!


  1. I think these were kinda cool the first time they issued them but I've barely paid any attention to them this year or last. I seriously doubt I'll be running to a Walmart anytime soon -- so I'll most likely just wait till they hit the dime boxes.

  2. Sorry to hear about your battery... but glad it led to you finding this box of Topps Holiday. One of my car batteries is dead too. Just ordered a portable car battery charger since I don't drive that car very often. Hopefully it'll save AAA three or four trips each year.

  3. The Goldy relic is so much nicer than the relics from last year's Holiday box. Snowflakes are a little more detailed, too.

  4. I don't mind the Holiday boxes. Interesting that Murphy got a Cubs card in it. My son asked for one for Christmas so Santa will be putting one in his (and my) stocking this year!

  5. These are pretty much a quick and easy product to take another spot in the number of required products by their license. They make three sets out of one (flagship > Chrome > Snowflake) and call them separate products.

    Guess it could be worse. That relic isn't bad looking. I pulled a Goldy out of something this past year, but I guess it's not as sought after since he moved...