Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My Life on Bunt: The Autos

So I attempted to make a blogger comback in the summer, promising more posts about the digital world of cards, but that plan quickly broke down as soon as I set up camp in New York at the end of August (an update on that soon). Life got busy pretty quickly and the writing just never happened. I did, however, continue to collect on Topps Bunt, and today's post will feature some of the cooler cards I obtained over the past few months. I'll also have some posts in the coming week or so on some of the non-autos from my Bunt Collection, as well as some of the physical cards I've bought over the past three months. I'll probably put together a couple of care packages for some of my blogger buddies as well--stay tuned for that post and let me know if you are looking for anything in particular.


Though Bunt has a ton of downsides ("fake" digital cards, limited app capabilities, pricey currency for high-end cards) it has been a boon these last few months. Making friends has been a bit difficult at my new college, and, with the exception of chilling with my girlfriend on the weekends, my social life has hit an all-time low. Anybody in the blogosphere live in New York City or Long Island? Needless to say, I've spent a good number of hours entertaining myself on Bunt, and I've managed to build quite the collection. Oh, and I've done it without spending a dime.

Like most freemium apps, Bunt reserves their high-end cards for users who spend money on the app. Being poor and unwilling to spend money on my fake card collection, I have refused to do so. Still, I have worked to swing some deals notching me high-end cards, though many of my better cards have derived from award chases, a component of the app where users who collect a certain selection of cards by a certain date are given award cards. Take the Clayton Kershaw Laces Auto/Relic below, for example. Bunt ran a 12 Days of Bunt promotion a few weeks ago and released four holiday themed cards a day for its duration. Users who managed to collect all 48 cards by December 26th were awarded the beauty below.

Despite Bunt's numerous flaws, the chase component of the app provides a fun and unique aspect to collecting that we don't have in physical card collecting. Still, Bunt does like to screw over its non-paying users, often including limited edition cards that can only be purchased with diamonds near the end of the chases. Yes, I am speaking from experience. Yes, I am still a bit upset.

I'm slightly less upset about this sweet Bellinger auto that was given out as an award card, and is limited to just 74 copies. Though I wasn't awarded the card, I managed to pick it up in a trade. Bellinger was certainly a highlight in the greatest season of Dodger baseball of my life, and I'm excited to see just how high he can climb next season (World Series MVP would be nice).

Though Bellinger was great all season for the Dodgers, the great play by Austin Barnes in the second-half, coupled with Yasmani Grandal's big slump, pushed Barnes into the starting role throughout the playoffs. I've been a fan of Barnes since the Dodgers acquired him in the Dee Gordon deal a few years back, so I'm glad his potential is finally being recognized at the big league level.

Barnes only has a few cards available on the app, one of them being this signature which I acquired via trade shortly after it was released. I don't think my physical collection has any of Barnes in it, so I think I'll have to fix that when 2018 Flagship is released. 

This triple-auto featuring Bellinger, Turner, and Maeda was the highlight of my collection for a few weeks and remains one of the coolest cards in my collection. I'm still a bit confused by the trio of Dodgers they selected for this card though (I would have opted for Seager instead of Maeda and created a triple-sig of Dodger pitchers). Anybody know if there are any physical cards that resemble this one?

All throughout the past four months I've had my eyes set on trading for a Sandy Koufax auto, though I never had anything enticing enough to swing a deal with other collectors. That said, I finally managed to get my hands on some Koufax digital ink recently.

It's too bad this is in my digital collection rather than my physical one, but I'm happy to be its owner nonetheless. This card was one of my favorites from Stadium Club a couple of years back, so it was certainly cool to nab a signature version.

Though Bunt's downsides often make it frustrating to play, it does provide users with a simple and easy way to trade cards and share their collections. I doubt I'd be able to afford any of the autos above, so being able to collect them on Bunt is a fun consolation prize.

Be sure to check out my full collection on Bunt. I'd be happy to swing a deal with you and hook you up with some cool cards. My username is Chavezravinin (note: there is no 'g' at the end).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More Topps Bunt? I Think So

As I've reentered the hobby (sorta) and gotten back to into collecting (kinda), I've had quite the urge to bust some real packs. Alas, with my imminent move to NYC in just over a week, buying real cards is simply not in the cards (hehehe).

Once again, I've had to scratch this itch by turning to the digital realm, spending fake coins on fake cards for real pleasure.

I seem to learn more and more about how things operate in Topps Bunt every day, most recently discovering how awards work.

Users are awarded "Award Cards" for meeting certain collecting goals. The awards featured most predominately in the game are associated with collecting parallels of an entire team. There are ten parallels for each base card, each with a corresponding point multiplier for the fantasy aspect of the game: White (1x), Green (1.2x), Red (1.5x), Blue (1.7x), Orange (2x), Teal (2.5x), Purple (3x), Black (3.5x), Silver (5x), and Gold (10x). If a user collects all ten white, green, and red cards, they are give an award; awards are also awards for collecting blue and orange, teal, purple, black, silver, and gold. The way cool Steve Garvey card above is the award card for collecting all ten black parallels of Series One Dodgers, and it's limited to just 316 copies (at least until other users earn the award).

Cards are released in real-time along with their real life counterparts, and awards are given out for Series 1 collections and Series 2 collections.

Though collecting in the digital realm is not quite the same, I do enjoy the Topps Now inserts -- cards that are realized almost on a daily basis that recognize big moments and historical feats. I picked both of these guys up, numbered 848 and 500 respectively, in a pair of trades over the past week.

Kyle Farmer, a young Dodgers backstop, was called up a few weeks ago and got his first taste of big-league action against the Giants with the Dodgers down 2-1 in the bottom of the 11th inning. Farmer lined a double down the right field line for the win, his first big league hit, and this card (albeit digital) captures that wonderful moment.

Though I love myself some fantasy baseball, I'm not a big fan of the fantasy portion of the app. Scoring is heavily skewed in favor of hitters, and the scoring is a bit confusing. Still, I participate on a daily basis, choosing my nine best players in the hopes that I'll score enough points to win some prizes. Prizes offered range from a pack of cards to equipment tickets, tickets that can be traded in for limited edition cards. Case in point, this sweet faux-vintage Kershaw. I don't recognize the design, so I'm assuming Topps created it strictly for this set, but please let me know if I'm wrong.

Speaking of Clayton Kershaw, I also nabbed this beauty in a trade last week. I feel like I should recognize the moment shown here, but it's simply not clicking at the moment. The days of A.J Ellis feel so long ago, so it's weird to think he only changed jerseys around this time last year.

One of my newest additions came as quite a surprise, as I received a trade offer in which I received eight low numbered inserts and the sweet Duke Snider relic seen below.

I was irrationally excited for a digital relic (a plain one at that), but they aren't easy to get a hold of, so it's definitely a cool addition.

Shortly after I wrote my last post on Topps Bunt, I swapped my Paul Goldschmidt auto for this Corey Seager Jumbo Patch (again, very plain, despite the digital format that allows Topps to maybe throw in some color). In hindsight, I probably could have extracted more value from the Goldy auto, being that autos are more valuable than relics despite the card count, but I'm happy with the swap.

At the end of the day, I've found this app to be quite addicting, good fun, and a welcome alternative to traditional card collecting. I'll most likely continue to use the app daily, at least until real cards are once again a reality.

Bunt Username: ChavezRavinin

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The One Where I Pull A Corey Seager Auto...Redemption

I've long spoken about friendships on this blog, whether they have been virtual (Nick at Dime Boxes or William at Foul Bunt), virtual turned real (Matthew at Dodger Penguin or Greg at Plaschke, Thy Sweater is Argyle), or just plain real (my buddy Dikran, for instance). Card collecting is a wonderfully fun hobby, but it seems like collecting with friends makes it even better. Dikran and I have been collecting together for a few years now, and before I head off to New York in a few weeks, we thought it would be fun to go out and bust a couple of packs one final time.

And man. It was worth it.

After browsing the rather messy card aisle at Target, we walked away with a couple of hangar packs of one of my favorite products, Stadium Club.

Stadium club is well-known for its great photos and full-bleed design (though flagship has gone that way in recent years), and the quality of the cards makes a pack well worth the $5.99 price tag for 12 cards. SC differs from most other Topps products in that it is filled with non-action games shots, much like the Strasburg above. I love when the dugout serves as the backdrop for a card.

Of course, SC also features some past players, much like Dave Winfield here. I totally dig Winfield's pose, and everyone's gotta love those old-school brown and yellow Padres' unis. Here's to hoping Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown can successfully convince the Padres management to bring them back full-time.

I've been out of the card game for too long, and I cannot remember which blogger has a subset for 'desert cards,' but I certainly think this Adam Jones black parallel fits the bill. 

Inserts are also seeded every few packs this year, and I managed to score a pair of pitchers trending in different directions. Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in baseball a number of years ago, has been losing steam as he enters his mid-thirties; the back of the card points back to a pair of scoreless starts he had in 2007. On the other hand, Julio Urias, the 20 year-old Phenom, appears to be on the rise. That is, until the injury bug hit, wiping out the remainder of this season and possible all of next year as well. Here's to hoping his incredible talent makes some headlines soon.

Two cards into my pack I uncovered this gorgeous Beltre, the newest member of the 3000 hit club. Too bad the Dodgers let him walk after the 2004 season. #CrossingMyFingersForAnOffseasonTrade

The best card of the pack, however, goes to a slice of cardboard that isn't really a card at all: a Corey Seager Black Foil Autograph. 

These are numbered to just 25 copies, so its seems like the baseball gods were on my side after this purchase. I think this is just the second autograph we've ever pulled from a retail pack (I cannot remember the first), and it's definitely an exciting way to end my card collecting in California. 

Dikran is holding on to this bad boy until Topps sends in the real card, though we still haven't decided who is gonna keep the card after it arrives. I suggested we can share the card, with me keeping it on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays a la Bart Simpson's idea in "Three Men and a Comic Book", but Dikran didn't seem too enthused. Regardless, it's a hell of a pull, and a fun way to close out our random retail splurges. 

Though I've taken my collection digital in the recent weeks, there's nothing like busting open some real packs. Perhaps that Corey Seager auto was a reminder that I can't fully give up the real stuff. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

An Ode to Clayton Kershaw

#16: Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers

A (Crappy) Ode to Kershaw

Oh, Clayton!
How I miss Uncle Charlie
When the count's 0 and 2.
How I miss you on the hill
In that clean Dodger Blue.

And, Clayton!
When you no hit the Rox,
Boy that was great
And when you relieved Kenley
and racked up your first save. 

Oh, Clayton!
Now you're all broken,
You're on the DL,
But all of us fans
Need you to get well. 

(Seriously. I want you to win the World Series.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Topps Bunt: Digital Card Collecting is Quite Fun

So I've decided to go digital in my collection in an effort to save space and cash monies but also as a means to stay engaged in this hobby. Much of this blog's content moving forward will revolve around digital cards, mostly from Topps Bunt.

Topps Bunt seems to be the only baseball card collecting app on the market, so Topps has pretty much full control over the how digital card collecting market operates (Topps also has card apps for the other major sports).

The app is fairly simple to use and the app even starts out users with a free base pack. What was my first digital card?

That'll play.

This is the 2017 Topps Bunt Series Design, and it differs a bit from its tangible cousin. The design is clean and simple, and, in my opinion, looks better than this year's flagship. It sacrifices team names (leaving just the logo) and players' positions, but adds a multiplier that affects the amount of points a card can earn in the fantasy aspect of the game. 

Here are a few other cards I pulled in that first pack.

It featured an awesome red-haired rookie (#represent), an insert of the reigning NL MVP, and the former object of my love, Matt Kemp. I haven't followed Kemp much since A.J. Preller was swindled by #Fraudman, but I certainly wish him the best during the remainder of his career (just don't hit any big homeruns against the Dodgers, okay Mattycakes?) I'm not a fan of how the pictures come out in screenshot form, so I'll try to find a way to post just the cards in the future.

Inserts are some of the more sought after cards in the game, and there are a ton of them. Still, they aren't the easiest to acquire, though I did manage to pick up a few through a trade over the past few days.

This trio of inserts are fairly common, with card counts -- the digital equivalent to numbered cards -- ranging from 1,616 on that Bellinger on the left to 6,856 on the center Bellinger, and 5,224 on the far-right Turner. Bellinger seems to be a hot commodity, especially in the digital collecting community, and nearly every player wants to stock up on his cards.

Much of this frenzy over Bellinger cardboard (can I really call it that?) stems from his outstanding rookie year and the normal hype that goes along with it, but it also has to do with the fantasy element of the game. Topps Bunt users can select up to nine cards to enter into a contest that scores just like fantasy baseball; players earn points for hits, putouts, strikeouts, etc. The points system heavily favors hitters, and with the hot year Bellinger is having, it's no surprise users everywhere are hunting for his cards. Should users place in the top 250 of all users in points, they earn Equipment Tickets that can be redeemed for cool limited time inserts, much like the Sandy Koufax I nabbed below.

While inserts are great in the digital format, relics and signatures are a little less fun than their real-life counterparts. I somehow managed to pull a pretty rare Dellin Betances All-Star Game Cap Relic from one of my first packs, but I soon flipped it for the trio of inserts you saw above. In hindsight that was a bad trade. That Betances card was limited to just 141 copies, so I didn't extract as much value from it as I could have. Oh well. I pulled this a bit later that day.

Despite the digital auto, this is a great looking card. In fact, design is probably one of the strongest aspects of digital collecting. The picture quality on these cards is outstanding (the images lose a bit of their clarity here), and because Topps doesn't have to mass produce most of the cards it creates for the app, it can focus primarily on building beautiful digital designs. Here's to hoping some of these designs make their ways to a shelve near you.

Another strong facet of the digital game is the almost instantaneous ability to create cards based on the season's happenings. Topps Now Cards capture some of the biggest moments of the week, ranging from historical feats to walk-off winners, like the one below.

After their incredible run to the World Series last season, I have become a low-key fan of the Indians and their phenomenal young shortstop, Francisco Lindor. He might be one of the most fun players to watch for years to come.

Overall, I've enjoyed Topps Bunt quite a bit in the few days I've been using it. Users that spend money on the digital currency certainly have a leg-up on collecting some of the more rare and sought after cards, though I seem to be doing just fine as a free user.

I'd encourage you all to try the app if you have the time or desire. And, hey, don't forget to add me as a friend. My username is Chavezravinin (no 'G' at the end because it was already taken). Looking forward to seeing some friendly faces in the digital realm of card collecting soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Digital Revolution: Revisiting Some Old Cards and Planning for the Future

So I run a baseball card blog. Yet I kind of no longer collect baseball cards. So what am I doing?

Well, that's a good question, and one I hope to answer in this post. 

As I mentioned in my return post a couple of days ago, collecting is not really a viable option at this point in my life. I'm moving to NYC in a month, money is tight (as is space), and I'm not even able to take my current collection with me. But that doesn't mean I still can't have fun with baseball cards.

Before I took my sabbatical from the blogging community, I spent a ton of time working on my own digital baseball card set. Here are a few of my favorites. 

You may or may not remember these (I never did get around to posting all of the cards I created), but I definitely enjoyed making them. Of course, many of the cards I created are outdated (#trades), but that doesn't mean they're not cool.

Considering the ostensible move toward digital everything, digital baseball cards seem to make too much sense for me. Topps seems to be putting a lot of time and effort into the digital card market, with Topps Now digital cards flooding my Facebook timeline and ads for MLB Bunt (the digital card trading app) making a home alongside them. I previously used MLB Bunt a few years ago but spent most of my free time with real cards and ended up deleting the app, but I've re-downloaded while writing this paragraph. 

Digital cards are not as fun as the real, tangible cards you used to see on this blog and many others, but digital cards will help me reengage in this hobby and allow me to stay involved in the baseball card community. 

So what can you expect from this blog moving forward? 

For starters, I'll gradually post the custom cards I created a few years ago. That should be fun (and maybe nostalgic) and will help me provide content as I work on my new project for this blog -- a new digital card set

I plan on putting a ton of work into this (partly as an excuse to practice my Adobe skills), though I'm not sure exactly what this card set will include. It will probably be small in its first iteration (a handful of players from every team, probably voted on by you).  I plan on creating my own card design, but I will also throw it back to designs of old. Beyond that, the possibilities are wide open. I encourage you all to throw ideas my way if you have any, and hopefully I can get cracking on these soon. 

The new digital card set will be my primary focus, though I also plan on diverging into larger researched posts about the card industry, especially from a digital collector's perspective. And, of course, I'll do my best to post about any real cards that make their way into my hands. 

With this blog's renewed focus on digital cards, I'm feeling like the blog could use a redesign. Expect some small changes in the coming weeks and larger changes in the coming months. 

I may no longer collect (real) baseball cards, but that won't stop me from running a baseball card blog. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Two Year Absence? I'm Back...Sorta

Whew. So much has happened since the last time I posted here. I finished up school in California. I met an amazing girl and now we're dating. And the Dodgers won the World Series. 

Well. I'm still waiting on that last one, but I'm hoping 2017 continues to be good to me, and the Boys is Blue finally go all the way. I mean, at the time I'm writing this, the Dodgers hold the best record in baseball, they are on an incredible run (30-4 in their last 34 games) and their roster is filled with incredible young talent. 

But you all probably know that already, so let's talk about me. And baseball cards. 

So yeah. I've finally finished school here in California, but I'm still waiting on that degree. I won't have to wait too much longer, as I'm planning on graduating next Spring, though I'll be doing so on the other side of the country. I'm transferring to Hofstra University (stomping grounds to famous alumni like James Caan, Christopher Walken, and Bernie Madoff....welp), and I'll be graduating with a BA in English, Publishing Studies and Literature. 

I'm so incredibly excited for this change, and I'm incredibly grateful for being in a position to even pack up and zoom across the country. But I'm also incredibly scared and nervous of what's to come. I'm 24, but pretty soon I'll have to adult in every sense of the word and find a job, figure out how to live in an expensive city, and make new friends. I'm hopeful that it all works out, and I'd certainly love to hear any words of advice you may have. 

But this is a baseball card blog, so let's talk about that. 

Sadly, I've only opened a handful of packs over the past two years. Many of those packs have been Topps Flagship (no way I'm missing that), and I haven't been overly impressed. Still, I've thoroughly enjoyed ripping open the packs with the hopes of pulling a Dodger or an awesome picture (something Dime Boxes worthy). 

But it seems that my time in this hobby isn't bound to continue, at least in the short term. To put it frankly, cards are not just in the budget, and I can't foresee much free time over the next couple of years. I've already sold off many of my favorite cards -- bye-bye Parks and Rec collection :( -- and I'm still looking to move many more of my higher-end cards to help me build up my savings (feel free to message me if there are any cards on my blog you'd like to own). As much as I enjoy the cards, life has simply forced my hand. 

I'm optimistic though. Sure, I love my cards. I really, really do. But I didn't get into the hobby for the autos, or the relics, or the high-end stuff -- I found the joy in that part of the hobby along the way. I started this blog because I love to talk about the low-end stuff, the cardboard that is often glossed over by many, bound to boxes and bags, and attics and basements. The cards that sparked my interest in baseball in the first place. 

I can't promise that I'll post here regularly. And I can't promise that I won't have another two year absence after I start school in September. But I do promise to continue to read so many of the other fantastic blogs, and to continue to stay engaged in this community on Twitter. And I certainly promise to continue loving this hobby, and the people in it that make it so fun. 


I'd also like to take this space to do a bit of self-promotion. I have a new Twitter account you can follow @alexbmarkle. I'll use this as my personal/professional twitter, and you will find pretty anything non-baseball related their (probably a lot of books and publishing stuff tbh). You can also check out another blog I started recently, Markle's Musings: A Quest for a Better Read. I'll be posting reviews of most books that I read, as well as other bookish thoughts. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, or you simply feel like offering some support, I'd appreciate a follow. 

I'll continue to run @markle05, my baseball and card twitter as well. I'll see you all soon!