Saturday, August 12, 2017

Going Clubbing (Part 2: Hits)

Here it is National Baseball Card Day again, and like last year, I have a stack of Stadium Club to write about. I had a pretty good batch of base cards in the blaster I recently purchased, but the insert cards and parallels didn't disappoint.

2017 Stadium Club Scoreless Streak #SS-FH Felix Hernandez
Leading things off with a card that looks like a die-cut but isn't is King Felix, whose Mariners are in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. Felix Hernandez has been toiling away for a team that's been out of contention for his entire career, despite being a stellar pitcher. He even threw MLB's most recent perfect game back in 2012, which this Scoreless Streak insert card neglects to mention. Rather, it tells us about his 2007 Opening Day start just before his 21st birthday, the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher that baseball had seen in two decades. In his very next start, he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. 

I like the Mariners as much as the next guy, and it would be nice to see an ace like Felix Hernandez get to play some October baseball. If Seattle gets that far, hopefully Felix returns from the disabled list by then. With Hernandez and now James Paxton out for a few weeks, the Mariners will need some magic to fend off everyone else in the hunt.

2017 Stadium Club Power Zone #PZ-CS Corey Seager
Corey Seager, whose brother Kyle plays third base for the Mariners (and isn't afraid to remind everyone who his brother is), is basically guaranteed to win the NL West as a member of the Dodgers this season. The bases-clearing, lead-changing double he hit as I write this is part of the reason for their historic success, even giving the Dodgers a shot at breaking the season wins record. As this card tells us, Corey and Kyle became the first set of brothers to each hit over 25 home runs in the same season, a feat they could both repeat this season. And with a swing like this, that's hardly surprising.

Seager and his Dodgers are clearly in the Power Zone right now. That full extension of his home run swing makes for a perfect horizontal card, lining up just right with the fiery explosion that is a key part of this design. The font at the bottom would fit pretty well on a 1990s card, and it doesn't interfere with the photo one bit.

2017 Stadium Club Beam Team #BT-MT Mike Trout
These insert cards all vaguely look like they could be part of the same insert set. But I did pull one card from each of the insert sets found in Stadium Club this year, certainly a well-rounded blaster. Mike Trout's "Beam of Might", as described on the back, was his 150th career home run, which, when combined with his 500+ runs scored by his age-24 season, puts him in the company of the Hall of Famers he's usually mentioned with, like Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott, Ken Griffey Jr., Jimmie Foxx, and a few others.

Trout's greatness is undeniable, and he's sure to appear on many more insert cards in the years to come. I may even have a chance to find his expensive rookie card from 2011 Topps Update, one I've yet to even spot in the wild. I'm not sure which of these three insert cards I like best, but this one of Trout reminds me of a wire wheel, the type you'd find on a 1960s Jaguar roadster. It's a mesmerizing pattern, one that pulls your eye away from Trout's nonchalant greatness.

2017 Stadium Club Contact Sheet #CS-CC Carlos Correa
The Contact Sheet insert set returns from last year, which faintly retains the filmstrip theme, but goes for more of a street art look this time around. The AL West is very well-represented in this batch of insert cards, and the Astros (I remembered their new division!!) are running away with the division this year. Who knows, we might end up seeing a Dodgers-Astros World Series, which wouldn't be much fun for East-coast TV viewers, but would certainly be a great matchup. Corey Seager and Carlos Correa, two exciting young shortstops, could put on quite a show this October.

Correa, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, is already the Astros career home runs leader for shortstops. Unfortunately, he's been injured for several weeks, but should make his return sometime in September. Like Mike Trout, Correa had to have thumb surgery this season, but if Trout is any indication, these pro ballplayers can recover from a procedure like that without missing a beat.

2017 Stadium Club Black Foil #138 Renato Nunez (RC)
Unlike the insert card stars that regularly appear on the highlight reel, I've never heard of Renato Núñez. A young Venezuelan, he played a handful of games for Oakland during last year's September call-ups. He's been doing quite well in Triple-A, already up to 30 homers for Nashville this season. With stats and hair like that, a starting job in the Majors can't be far behind.

This bat barrel mini collection candidate is a Black Foil parallel, which can be found in 1:8 packs. Beam Team cards are a bit rarer at 1:24, but pretty much all the rest of these can be expected in your average blaster. It's easy enough to identify this as a parallel, which was actually fairly difficult when this brand famously returned in 2014.

2017 Stadium Club Sepia #285 Orlando Arcia (RC)
Even easier are the Sepia parallels, which have a very Upper Deck-friendly copper foil. Orlando Arcia, another Venezuelan, is shown mid-throw, perhaps even throwing out his former Twin brother, Oswaldo. The Arcia brothers are not twins, it's just that Oswaldo used to play for the Twins. He's a Diamondback now.

That pun would have worked better if Oswaldo were still a Twin. Clearly, no one in the Minnesota front office ran that one by me.

Anyway, this parallel isn't my favorite. The pin-sharp photography this brand is known for gets lost in this format. Even the Rookie Card logo doesn't get the familiar red, white, and blue treatment. I suppose there are only so many colors to choose from when making these colored parallels, but I think Topps channeled a bit too much Upper Deck on this one.

2017 Stadium Club Gold Foil #21 Randy Johnson
Easiest of all to pull, there was a Gold Foil parallel to be found as well. Like current Mariner Felix Hernandez, Randy Johnson is also on that very exclusive list of pitchers who threw a perfect game. The Big Unit's came in 2004 against the Braves, making him the oldest pitcher to throw one. This photo is not from that game, as it came on the road, but Johnson was clearly in his usual form of striking out batters left and right, judging by that K-meter over his shoulder in Chase Field. Only Nolan Ryan has more career strikeouts, with Johnson punching out 4,875 batters in his Hall-of-Fame career.

Based on this jersey, I'm guessing this one is from Johnson's second stint as a Diamondback from 2007-2008. And his towering 6'10" height certainly comes across on this card, well-framed despite the lack of a border.

I didn't pull any autographs, variations, or rare parallels, but this blaster still has one more trick up its sleeve. Remember how I said I pulled a card from each of the insert sets? The four common ones you've already seen, but there is a fifth.

2017 Stadium Club Instavision Gold #I-KB Kris Bryant /50
That moment when Kris Bryant scooped up a grounder to make the final out of the 2016 World Series is about as unforgettable as baseball moments come. And it's a perfect moment to showcase on this rare Instavision card, whose theme represents the colored pixels on a modern HDTV. The inset image has a rainbow finish, the gold foil marks this as a parallel, and oh yeah, there is a /50 serial number!

This Instavision gold card is listed as a mind-bogglingly rare 1:2,286 packs, and I could easily flip this for more than I paid for the whole blaster. I'm planning on keeping this one in the collection, as it's definitely one of the best hits I've ever found in a blaster, except maybe that Dee Gordon printing plate.

They might be pricier than loose packs, but I tend to have good luck with blasters, and they're certainly a deterrent to pack searchers. Who knows, I might find one marked down next summer when I go hunting for Bunt again.


  1. I'm not the biggest fan of Stadium Club inserts. I can't remember the last time I said this... but I think I'd rather just have another base card instead. With that being said... congratulations on pulling that very rare Bryant. One out of 2,286 packs? That's equivalent to winning the lottery. That's awesome!

  2. I'm still on the hunt for the base Bryant Instavision for my World Series binder. I was pretty excited you pulled one, then I realized it was the gold parallel.
    Regardless, that's a really nice pull!

  3. Sweet pull! I've cut way back on box breaks and pack purchases this year. This has allowed me to pick up the cards I want from more products issued. I have to agree with Fuji - the Club inserts are mostly lacking, esp for the price point.

    1. I suppose if Topps gave us the base cards of Stadium Club, with the inserts from Opening Day, and a set size like Flagship, that's the only product anyone would buy.

  4. Every time I read one of your reviews, I can't help but wonder how it is that no one has hired you to do them professionally! Someone like Beckett could really benefit by having your kind of talent among their staff.

    And I too am in agreement about the inserts being sort of unnecessary in this set. It seems like with the photography on the base cards being as good as it is, you could just easily increase the set size, have a certain number of them be short printed, and just consider those to be the inserts.