Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2017 Sportlots purchases: a Barry nice finale, part 2

Time to finish up this series so I can move on to bigger and better things (namely pickups from COMC, eBay, and shows)!

Last time I showed off some Larkins from 1988-2000, and today I've got a similarly large chunk of cards that finish off that original run up to 2017 along with horizontal and non-standard sized stuff that spans 1988-2012.  Quite a ride!
First we'll finish off 2000 (after the last post's cliffhanger) with Topps' Opening Day and Upper Deck's totally weird Ionix.  Then you can buckle in for a nice run of 2001s that extends into the next couple scans.  This first bunch has some good lookers in Absolute Memorabilia, Bowman's Best, Donruss Classics, E-X, Finest, and Fleer Authority.  I give the Bowman's Best card a slight nod as my favorite but there's lots to like here.
I guess 2001 was a particularly strong year for Barry's cards because again there's some choice offerings here.  Fleer Premium had a nice design and Showcase looks excellent.  Leaf Limited brings some appeal with its strong foil game.  Private Stock (of one-relic-per-blister-pack fame) had a nice canvas style going on.  UD's SP Authentic and Sweet Spot were simple and solid.  Studio featured one of its top designs and I'm especially fond of this year's version because of the Private Signings 5x7 autos.  Topps Chrome looked quite nice in the upgraded version of the 50th anniversary product.  And then we finish the scan with one of my favorite cards in either post:  the Stadium Club entry from 2001 Topps Fusion.  Stadium Club's just about always a winner, and for some reason this design just really appeals to me.
It takes the first eight cards here to close out 2001.  Topps brings its solid Opening Day and a pretty nice Stars design.  Ultra has the best photo/design combo in the scan and the turn-two image is a big part of that.  Then Upper Deck owns the rest of the real estate with the fairly forgettable Reserve, decent MVP and Pros & Prospects, fun low-end Victory, and very cool Vintage products.  Then 2002 puts the previous year in the rear-view mirror with another cool Absolute Memorabilia design that's associated with an excellent product that's responsible for the cool Signing Bonus framed pieces you may have seen before.
Now we have a Donruss/Fleer one-two punch.  The former was responsible for the first four seen here:  Best of Fan Club, Classics, Fan Club, and Super Estrellas.  Classics looks fantastic as usual while the manufacturer should have chosen one of Fan Club or the Best of versions; Super Estrellas doesn't really do anything for me.

Fleer's offerings--which bleed into the next scan--are a bit of a mixed too.  Flair looks awesome, Maximum and Authentix are pretty good, and Focus Jersey Edition and Genuine are mediocre.  Considering the sheer volume of sets Fleer produced around then it's not a surprise that they weren't all winners.  You'd think I'd like the shininess of Genuine but it just doesn't do it for me.  Luckily Flair's there to raise the bar.
Fleer's 2002 dominance continues with the whole top row here:  the beautiful and artistic Showcase, the rather pedestrian Triple Crown, and Hot Prospects, which is kind of in-between for me.  The Leaf name features on the next two:  another pleasing Certified design and a decent Rookies and Stars (though I still find that brand unnecessary).  Then Upper Deck makes a cameo outside of its usual part of the alphabet with SPx and a design I don't really care for.  The bottom row is quite nice, though, with an excellent and patriotic Studio, vintage-themed Topps 206, and the sort-of-works Topps Ten.
Ultra starts us off here on a design that's not one of my favorites mainly because of the name/team piece.  Then Upper Deck goes on a nice run with UD Authentics (made to look like the '89 version, of course) and its turn-two photo, flagship (and a Griffey Sr. cameo), and the very cool 40-Man.  I don't think I'll ever put the latter together like I did with a couple years of Topps Total, but you never know!

2003 starts off strong once again with Absolute Memorabilia's shiny goodness, and it's joined by a solid Bazooka effort by Topps.  Then it's time to go on a three-card Donruss run with the brand's cool flagship product, the solidly-themed Champions, and the almost always great Elite.  I'll happily collect any '95 MVP cards of Larkin that get made!
Another big Fleer run dominates this scan, but first we start off with Donruss' Team Heroes, another fun product of theirs I like because it also includes some of my favorite 80s Tigers.

The next seven cards continue to illustrate Fleer going bonkers in the early aughts.  In my opinion Flair, Authentix, Genuine, and Rookies and Greats are all good to great while Focus JE and Patchworks were unnecessary, and Splendid Splinters has a weird color scheme thing going on that makes it look nothing like a Fleer product.

A pretty good Prestige design (you know I did that blue!) is a nice way to close out this scan.
Studio continues its strong run (which isn't nearly over!) and I should totally do a post on the lifespan of that brand.  Topps checks in with a nice trio of 205 (keeping things historical) plus Chrome and Opening Day.  Those blue borders on Chrome made for some great Refractors.  The second iteration of 40-Man wasn't as good as the previous one in my opinion, but I'm still glad UD made it.

Jumping ahead to 2004, Barry's final season, we open with a Donruss trio of Diamond Kings, Classics, and World Series.  The DKs look great and I'm glad Donruss was able to vary the designs a bit from year to year.  Classics looks fantastic as always, and I'm glad Larkin appeared in the product as often as he did.  And World Series' design isn't much to look at, though at least the theme is strong.

Fleer Platinum--a bit superfluous when you look at the Tradition card in the next scan--ends things here, but this time it's not the start of a huge run...
...because Tradition (see what I mean?) is the only non-Ultra card here from that year.  Leaf's design is solid enough and I have the Second Edition version of that card as well.  Studio...well, I don't think I have to say how much I love it at this point, right?  Donruss' Throwback Threads was a cool product though it kind of blends in with some of their other offerings from that time.  Topps Chrome featured another nice design as we get near the end of the era where they were good.  Ultra gives us yet another great double-play shot, and Upper Deck mixes things up a bit with what looks to be a stolen base attempt, maybe?

Then we get into 2005 with Upper Deck's Artifacts, a product on my shitlist due to the difficulty in tracking down the football versions from it that I need, plus another nice Donruss flagship design.  I sure do miss the good old days of that product!
The last card in the previous scan was a good omen for this one which is dominated by Donruss/Leaf/Playoff brands, most of which are beauties.  Those include Classics, Elite, Greats, Team Heroes, Leaf Century, Leather and Lumber, Playoff Prestige, and Studio; the only combo-breaker is card #8, another solid look from SP Authentic.

Of the Donruss products here Leather and Lumber is the one whose design I like the least, followed by the look (but not concept) of Leaf Century.  Classics, Greats, and Studio are all A+ for me while Elite, Team Heroes, and Playoff Prestige aren't far behind at all.

By the way, that Studio card is of particular note as it represents the sunset version of that fantastic product.  And that makes me want to show off all 13 of Barry's entries in its run:
Like I said, I may do a post focusing on these in the future!
And at last we reach the end of the verticals.  Solid offerings Throwback Threads from Donruss and Pros and Prospects from UD close out the year in cards 2005.  Then 2006 begins and ends with the beautiful Greats of the Game from Fleer, a product I'd sure love to see again these days.

The next two you see are 2013 Panini products:  Hometown Heroes and Prizm.  I've always thought the phrase "hometown hero" should refer to someone that's at least from that team's state, if not city, like the Cincy-born Larkin, so Barry definitely belongs here.

Two more comprise my 2017 haul:  Topps' Allen and Ginter and Panini's USA Baseball Stars and Stripes.  I have no love for the former while the latter's fun for me as long as it still includes players I care about (like Larkin and Jim Abbott).

And finally, two more went MIA while I was getting everything scanned (there were lots of piles, some of them huge...mistakes were made!) that caused them to end up here:  1995 Zenith and 2011 Gypsy Queen.  Like A&G, GQ can go take a long walk off a short pier for all I care.
The first of 3.5 horizontal scans opens with a '92 Fleer base shared with Twins legend Kirby Puckett and a hologram insert from '93 UD.  Three UD-branded cards including Collector's Choice cover '94.  1995 begins with a great sliding shot from Bowman, another from Sportflix(!), and a Gold parallel of the least popular Studio design.
'95 finishes with the trio of Summit, Topps Cyberstats, and yet another headfirst slide, this time courtesy of Upper Deck.  Summit returns for '96 as the only card from that year, and it's followed by a hit and miss Pinnacle pair from '97:  New Pinnacle--the hit with a nice design and a sliding Ryan Klesko getting doubled up--and XPress, a definite miss in my book.  Then we jump ahead to 1998 with two wildly different products:  Collector's Choice and Pacific's Omega.
Two more UD cards are enough to finish off 1998:  UD3 and a Retro insert called Time Capsule.  I don't think the UD3 design in '98 was as interesting as the debut version from the year before, but it was at least a fun way for Upper Deck to experiment with some crazy designs.  And I loved grabbing a Retro insert on the cheap since that brand was so much fun.  Omega then makes another appearance in the form of its 1999 version (which I thought was a bit of an improvement).

Speaking of looking a bit better, Upper Deck's 2000 HoloGRfX definitely shows signs of progress after the eye-melting 1999 offering, though it still wasn't that great of a set.  Fleer's 2001 Legacy shows plenty of promise but wastes a ton of space on literally nothing.  Upper Deck gives us a 2002 pair that includes a second appearance from the fun 40-Man product (card #1081, to give you an idea of the set's scale) and Vintage.  Then a jump ahead to 2004 brings another USA Baseball-related set, this one from Upper Deck celebrating the program's 25th anniversary.
Just two more "mainstream" horizontal cards here:  a typically strong action shot from 2005 Ultra and a textbook boring Topps insert pairing Larkin and Cleveland SS Asdrubal Cabrera, who I believe was captured mid-mlem (12/10, would bat 8th again).  Then we have a pair of junk wax-era stalwart Topps Bigs from 1988-89.

And now it's time to get into the smaller stuff:  1989 Topps Mini Leaders, 1990 Panini Stickers, 1990 Topps Sticker Backs, and 2001 Private Stock PS-206 Action.  Going even smaller there's a quartet of Topps Micros from 1991 and '92 (two each).

Last up in this scan are a Brass Coin from Pinnacle's crazy 1997 Mint product and a Fleer Hardball disc-like card from 2003.  But that's still not quite everything:
Some of you may recognize this:  an Opening Day Mini Poster from Fleer's 1998 collaboration with Sports Illustrated.  Definitely a fun throw-in in packs, and a useful one too!

And now I can finally say I'm done with this series!  After a crazy amount of cards scanned, edited, labelled, posted, and written about, Barry Larkin was the big winner after seeing his collection boosted by around 275 cards.  Chris, I'm coming for you!  While that probably won't happen in my lifetime, I'm thrilled to count a new total of 688 Larkins in his collection, just five shy of PC leader Cal Ripken Jr.

That was a ton of work and I know it's a lot to look at, so I'll happily take a breather (how will anyone tell given how infrequently I post?) before getting back to showing off more stuff soon!

Monday, February 19, 2018

2018 trade package #4: Bob Walk the Plank

As is always the case when I receive a bubble mailer from Matt at Bob Walk the Plank I was excited to bust it open and see what goodies were hidden within.  He and I have hit a pretty nice groove of sending some higher-end stuff back-and-forth, plus we both primarily collect an MLB team and college program.

This time three cards popped out of the envelope plus a note reminding me that I'd been drawn as one of the winners of his anniversary contest (happy four years!).  Considering what those three cards were, you'd be excused for thinking they were my prize, but that's apparently still to come.  Instead, the note ended with a word that summarizes the quality of the items we pass back and forth:


Take a look at the two cards below (plus one more over on TMM this evening) to see if that just about covers it:
This Panini Immaculate Collection patch of three-time Cy Young-winner Max Scherzer brought me back to a post from September of 2015, about two and a half years ago, where I showed off the same card sent to me by Matt (in a package that also included two autographs of Al Kaline!).  That one looked great with a large black swatch with stitching and a corner's worth of orange.  I'm happy to call this one an upgrade as the amount of orange is bumped up (still with plenty of stitching) and even a hint of another color (maybe white) at the very left edge.  What a stunner!

Oh, and if any of you are curious, I do still hold onto Scherzer stuff (including all the great hits I've received over the years) because he was a key piece on some good Detroit teams and blew up into a star while in Motown.  That means I have no motivation to sell anything of him I have even if his stuff is worth more now.  That said, I do now have a double of this patch that I'd be willing to trade if anyone is interested.

That was a great start but what was so great about this package that I was hyping it up so much?  How about




Um, yeah, so this is a first--I've never received a Griffey autograph in a trade package before.  I mean, the only other Griffey auto I own is in my collection because I pulled it out of a pack in a major stroke of luck.  So, yeah, BOOM indeed!

Fangirling over this aside, it's a very cool card made for Panini's 2016 Black Friday promotion, and Beckett tells me that 25 were made (just not numbered).  It actually arrived this way,
in a one-touch sealed with a Leaf sticker, but there was no way I was going to let such a great card go without a nice scan.  And a great card it is, starring Griffey's trademark excellent signature and a very cool photo of Junior in his earlier days with the Mariners.  Panini has often done a good job in hiding the lack of MLB logos (an overblown issue anyway) and certainly got the job done here.

I'm over the moon at adding a second autograph of one of my all-time favorites, and without spending a dime!  It'll definitely have an honored place in my Griffey collection, which is 600+ cards strong and growing.

Matt, thanks again for this crazy good ("100% awesome" tag in full effect!) trio of cards.  I don't even know how I'm going to hit you back, but be prepared for something awesome in response!

Friday, February 9, 2018

2017 Sportlots purchases: a Barry nice finale, part 1

The final player I'll be showcasing in this feature (with the exception of one more over on TMM, possibly even tomorrow) is HOF SS Barry Larkin.  I decided to save him for the big finish because I scored the most new cards of him out of all the PC guys involved in this enormous purchase--so many, in fact, that for my sanity I'm splitting his pickups into two posts!

There's a lot to see here so let's get down to it:
Starting smack dab in the heyday of junk wax we open up with some '88s and '89s.  Leaf and OPC issues from the earlier year are the sole base cards here, while an '89 Classic Travel Purple is one of many oddballs you'll get to see today.  The rest are boxed set-types from former heavy hitters Donruss, Fleer, and Score.  Card #9, from '89 Scoremasters, is a particular fun one done up in a very realistic artistic style.
Grabbing as many Larkins as I did (I'll reveal the total in the next post) allowed me to accumulate a totally wild variety of stuff, so get ready for a few more scans like this (until the more mainstream era of the mid-90s and later).  This time we're looking at items from '89-'91 with base from Sportflics ('89), Leaf ('90), and OPC and Score ('91).  Of course you already saw card #9 in Sabo's post, and I'm happy to repeat it here because it's a super fun issue celebrating the Reds' surprising World Series win the previous season.  Larkin shows some very Ozzie-like athleticism there!

A Topps Glossy Send-In and a couple more Classic issues from '90 and '91 join a pair of food issues from Jimmy Dean and Post cereal to round out another eclectic bunch.
We're still in the early 90s here for a few more scans--1991 and '92 to be specific.  The base cards hail from Studio ('91) and Bowman ('92) and there's also Score Cooperstown and UD Silver Sluggers from the earlier year.  The oddball side is populated by Score and Topps/Woolworth's boxed sets from '91 and Classic, Donruss/McDonald's, and Fleer/Citgo issues from the following year.  Notable for me here are the debut of the excellent Studio brand and the fact that Barry has a second card in '92 Bowman, a foil subset base I still need.
There's less odballness in this all 1992 scan, with Topps Kids and a McDonald's/Topps offering the only qualifiers.  On the mainstream end we have Leaf and its much better looking Black Gold parallel; a fun Score base subset starring big-head Barry; one of Larkin's appearances in the excellent sophomore year of Stadium Club; a pair of Topps Gold Winners; and a hint of things to come from Ultra with an All-Star insert.  Those Leaf Black Gold cards really do look nice and I think every time I mention them I say the same thing about just ditching the plain gray borders!
Now it's time to move up to 1993, the year I turned 10.  There are base cards from Donruss, Flair, Fleer, OPC, Pacific Spanish, and Pinnacle.  The Flair card--one of two featuring Larkin in the set--is the most notable as it includes a cameo from Barry Bonds.  We also continue the early-ish run of inserts with Pinnacle's Cooperstown, which was obviously right on the money by included the super-talented Larkin.  Meanwhile, Classic pops up once again with another Game card, and Duracell adds to the litany of retail brand oddballs.
1993 bleeds into '94 here with the latter claiming the last six cards.  Regular issues can be seen from '94 brands Bowman, Donruss, Flair, and OPC, with the Donruss card including a fun turn-two photo.  That seems to be longtime SS Rey Sanchez getting doubled up.

Inserts include a '93 Triple Play Action game card, '94 Collector's Choice's You Crash the Game (also a scratch-off), and '94 Donruss' Special Edition parallel.

The oddballs are the Post food issue and Upper Deck Fun Pack from '93.
Fun Pack makes its second appearance in a row here as it closes out 1994, and it's joined by yet another different food issue, Tombstone (anybody else that used to enjoy those mini deep dish pizzas besides me?).  A better Pacific design (other than the still-awful logo) and an SP look that's much nicer than the card to its left are the '94 base representatives, and they're joined by 1995 examples from Topps' Bazooka, Collector's Choice, and Fleer's EMotion.  The pair of inserts are both 1995 parallels:  Bazooka's Red Hot and Collector's Choice SE's Silver Signature.  I like how both Collector's Choice cards use excellent action photos!
I believe from this point onward we're pretty much done with oddballs until the next post.  This scan takes us through the rest of the '95s before starting back up with 1996.  There's a lot of solid and above cardboard with base from Pacific, Select Certified, SP, Stadium Club, and Ultra, plus a below-average Fleer design and a stinker called Topps Embossed.  That middle row is a great representation of the better stuff available in the middle of the decade.

The lone '96 entrant is an appropriately red Fleer Circa on a decent design that ended up going in the wrong direction as the brand evolved into Skybox Thunder, but was solid for its debut.

Our one insert here is a Leaf Limited Bat Patrol, a set with a design that might've been a bit better if they hadn't put the insert title at such a weird angle.
Now we're really getting into one of my favorite card eras:  the decade that began in the mid-90s.  We continue our '96 run with Donruss, Finest, Fleer, Pacific, Select Certified, and Studio base, and all of those feature at least pretty good designs, with Finest, Fleer, Select Certified, and Studio near the top of their game.  I am, of course, a shameless promoter of 1996-97 Fleer, the best two-year run of the brand's flagship product.

There are two inserts you can spot here:  a Collector's Choice You Make the Play game card and a Score Dugout Collection parallel, which was a nice copper-colored version of the solid base set.

The card I haven't mentioned so far is somewhat but not completely odd: a Stadium Club Members Only 50 of the guy who was named MVP that season.
1996 finishes up with an excellent Upper Deck flagship design (I love the award/achievement stamps) and Zenith, for which I'll always be grateful thanks to its awesome Mozaics insert.

1997's base in this scan is represented by Circa (see what I mean?), Donruss Limited, Fleer's E-X2000, and a twofer from Leaf.  Limited definitely had a higher-end feel at the time, plus Larkin shares his card with another SS who was popular at the time,
Rey Ordonez.  And the E-X2000 has an even more premium feel to it, which makes sense since just two cards came in each pack.

The pair of inserts you see in the middle row are Stick'Ums stickers from Collector's Choice.  For some reason these came in hobby and retail versions (left and right, respectively), though there's no difference in the stickers up front.
It's all 1997 in this scan, and aside from card #7--a Stadium Club Members Only issue again--everything is a base card.  Fleer's crazy Metal Universe product starts things off and is followed by another Certified product (Pinnacle Certified in this case).  Then we see a couple examples of the latter brand's experimentation thanks to Inside (the cards that came in collectible cans) and Mint (which included coins).  Then there's a pair of base Score on another nice, understated design, and typical strong examples from Studio and Topps Gallery.  Of course a double play photo like that should be framed!
The first two cards here close out '97 in style with Topps Stars (did the colors always look this faded on them?) and the beautiful photograph of Zenith.  There's a definite higher-end feel to their '98 counterparts thanks to Bowman Chrome, Donruss Elite, and Flair Showcase, and the latter there is one of the highlights of this whole scan.  The best of the rest is a very nice Fleer Tradition design, joined by another Metal Universe offering, Pacific's Paramount, and Pinnacle's out-there Performers.
The top row here is a fantastic finish to another good year of cardboard:  Sports Illustrated World Series Fever, Stadium Club, and Upper Deck Retro.  Fleer's collaboration with SI was always a highlight and UD's Retro was a short-lived but excellent product.

Half of the '99s can be claimed by Pacific in the form of Aurora, Crown Collection, and a not-so-ostentatious Prism set.  The others are base entries from Bowman, a very Certified-like Fleer Brilliants, and, yes, once again, Metal Universe!
This mostly 1999 scan contains another nice mix of brands that shows what the hobby was like almost 20 years ago.  It's interesting to look at the debut of Pacific's Private stock as it changed quite a bit the other years it existed (especially the relic-per-pack 2001 version).  Skybox's Molten Metal and UD's SPx are foil-infused eye-poppers.  Topps' contributions here hail from Opening Day and the third iteration of Stars.  Then another excellent Fleer Ultra base leads to a pair of UD products in Encore (a louder version of the base set) and Ovation, the product with the raised design that felt like a baseball.

Card #9 then begins the final year of this post with Upper Deck's Black Diamond.  While I'll always be a bigger fan of the '99 version, 2000 was another good year for that brand, one that had some very cool parallels.
Time to finish things off here before I get to part 2 soon.  This all 2000 scan is chock full of goodness so it's a great way to end this post.

The top row is an upper-end dream with Fleer's E-X, Topps' Finest, and Fleer Showcase.  That version of Finest happens to be one of my favorites and I can't think of a Showcase design I didn't like.

Meanwhile, the next four cards are all Pacific:  flagship, Crown Collection, Omega, and Private Stock (again, see what I mean?).  The flagship design is one of that manufacturer's best, and Private Stock was clearly a work of art that year.

Last up are SP Authentic and Stadium Club Chrome.  The former looks great as always, and the latter is a product I wish had continued.  That's probably because I pulled so many great cards from it, including a Derek Jeter I sold for good money and a Griffey Refractor.  I mean, really, Stadium Club cards are beautiful already, so why not Refractor-ize them as well?  That's Topps for you.

Congrats to all of you who made it this far!  After adding everything you see above, my Larkin collection sits at a very respectable 551 cards, so that's another fun milestone I can cross off.  Stay tuned for more of all Barry, all the time in my next post!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2018 trade package #3: Scribbled Ink

I'm keeping the trade post train rolling today with my second new trade partner in a row, meaning my collecting year got off to another nice start!  Fellow Michigander Paul from Scribbled Ink sent me a nice envelope filled with Tigers and PC guys, plus a few Wolverines that are showcased on TMM this evening.  Check out all this loot:
These Miggy cards are from Panini's 2017 Chronicles product, one that looked pretty cool to me because I enjoy offerings like Anthology (hockey) that incorporate multiple brands into one.  Topps Fusion is a good baseball example, though of course they dumped it like many of the better things they created.

Anyway, seen here are the base version as well as the Blue parallel (#d /399).  They have a kind of newspaper story feel to them, which is fun.
And just like that the non-PC portion is over and we dive right into my first alphabetical player collection:  Jim Abbott.  On the left is his 1992 Classic Game issue, and that's joined by Jim's Electric Diamond parallel from 1994 Upper Deck.  While the former's design isn't terribly exciting I think Classic nailed it with the photo selection.  And the '94 UD also includes a photo I've always enjoyed because, what's he pointing at?
Hey, it's former blog namesake Curtis Granderson!  I know I've mentioned a few times that I'm slowly collecting the Grandy-Man's cards from this 2007 Topps Generation Now insert, and it sure does help when people like Paul send them my way so I don't have to buy them.  As a reminder there's one card for each of Curtis's 31 doubles he collected in 2006.  The following year proved to be even better for the fan favorite as he joined the exclusive 20-20-20-20 club (doubles/triples/homers/steals) while putting up his career-high bWAR of 7.6.
I don't know how I managed to flip the order of just two cards of Mr. Padre Tony Gwynn in this scan, but I did, and by the time I realized it I just went with it.  On the left is the second instance of Classic's 1992 Game set, and again it comes with a very nice photo, this time starring a nice follow-through after Gwynn's sweet swing.  Then we go back a year for an oddball appearance via 1991 U.S. Playing Cards All-Stars.  "Ace of clubs" is a very appropriate title for the best hitter of his generation, no?
Here's a guy that doesn't appear in very many of my trade posts:  Drew Henson.  Maybe Paul remembered him as he starred for Brighton High School, about 45 minutes west of Scribbled Ink HQ, before heading to Ann Arbor, New York, and beyond.

This great trio starts with a 2002 Hot Prospects bat relic (#d /1000) made by Fleer, then moves on to 2003 with Donruss Champions and Upper Deck.  There's three of the best producers of cards in just one scan!  The UD design that year in particular was quite nice.
All-time great Reds SS Barry Larkin may be checking his swing here on our third example from 1992 Classic Game, but I didn't have to check to know that it was new to my collection.  I'm particularly glad that this set features blue borders as they go well with my guys who donned the maize and blue!
Hal Morris is another Cincy fan favorite (who also played a bit for the Royals) and I was happy to see three of his cards in this envelope.  Better yet, Paul continued to kill it with the product selection as once again we see three different manufacturers:  Upper Deck ('94 Electric Diamond), Fleer ('97 flagship), and Pinnacle ('98 Pinnacle Plus).  I'll just go ahead and continue to bang the drum for '97 Fleer as that product's best iteration.
Considering the airbrushing that went into this 2001 Royal Rookies Futures card of former pitcher J.J. Putz do you think they maybe could have 'shopped a smile on his face?  I'm at least happy to say that I have the Limited Edition version of this, as well as the autographed card, "limited" to 6,995 copies (which makes me wonder how many of the base and "Limited" version were made?).
Chris Sabo is our third example of a trio of different brands, and his hat trick is pretty cool in that it comprises a boxed set ('89 Fleer Exciting Stars), food issue oddball ('91 Post), and mainstream insert ('95 Topps Cyberstats).  That's a nice mix!
And as we close things out, this is my second straight trade post featuring a trio of blog namesake guy Justin Verlander.  Are you guys trying to tell me I should rename my blog to Three Many Verlanders?

Up top is a return to 2007 Topps Generation Now, and again I'm slowly tracking down Verlander's appearances, so this one is super helpful.  It represents his 9th of 17 wins during his AL ROY campaign of 2006.  In an interleague matchup against the Cardinals that ended up being a preview of that year's World Series (except, you know, with the Tigers winning this time), JV struck out 5 while allowing 4 runs in 6 innings.  He landed the win thanks to strong run support in a game the Tigers won 10-6.

Finally, the other two take us back to the beginning of this post and Panini Chronicles.  Once again Paul sent me a base version and a parallel, and this time the latter is the Gold version #d /999.  "More punchouts than a boxing champion" is a cool phrase to use on a card of a guy who was pitching in a town known for its boxing history.

Paul, thanks again for this super fun first package.  I hope to get to see you in-person at your local show this weekend or in the near future to pay you back!