Friday, March 24, 2023

Shohei Ohtani, some WBC and, oh yeah. The Caveman!


I didn’t watch the World Baseball Classic.

            Not for any position-taking reason.

            And there…sigh...there are a lot of those out there.

            I didn’t watch the World Baseball Classic because a lot of game times didn’t coincide with the schedule that I keep. Up at 4:45 to write, pass out on the couch by 9:15…usually to old Genesis albums, Radiohead, or Yo La Tengo, after watching Cheers reruns on my phone. And I didn’t watch it because, well, I’m not that interested in it. I never have been. Not being interested in something doesn’t mean I have an opinion on the World Baseball Classic, or that I think it’s pointless. It actually looked like a lot of fun. And the players and the fans seem to be into it both from a fun aspect and from a patriotic aspect. That finale certainly was something.

            This card is really freaking cool.

            Too bad you can only get in in a bundle of six cards.

            And I know, I know, Mike Trout is the face of Major League Baseball, even though he could probably walk through an airport undetected.

            But…can we maybe agree that this guy is the global face of baseball?

            Full disclosure, I like Shohei Ohtani.

            I’m a fan.

            I like Shohei rookie cards.

            I like Shohei base cards.

            I like Shohei on past Topps designs.

            I think this might be my favorite looking Shohei card

            I don't even mind Shohei unlicensed


            He’s one of those players who excites me as a baseball fan. It’s probably wrong-headed of me, but at my age it’s hard getting excited about players who are decades younger than me. They don’t seem so immortal. But Shohei kind of does. He can hit! He can pitch! I’ve been watching baseball as a regular fan for over forty years, and I’ve never come across a player like him. Hits for power. Pitches for strength and speed. We had all of those big names in the 1980s: Bonds, Mattingly, Canseco, McGwire, Dawson, Brett, Ryan, Clemens, Gooden, Schmidt…the list goes on and on and on. But not a single one of them batted .273 with 34 home runs while winning 15 games and striking out 219 batters.

            Shohei is special.

            He batted .435 in the WBC

            He had a 1.86 ERA and struck out 11.

            He’s one of the few players, not wearing a Pirates uniform, whose cards I tend to keep around and/or acquire when in the mood.

            I was glad to see Japan win the WBC.

            I have a special place in my heart for Japanese baseball.

            When I was in Japan in 2019, I watched a lot of Japanese baseball in hotel rooms, when I still wasn’t watching a lot of Major League Baseball.

            That changed when I got back to Brooklyn.

            And by late July/early August of 2019…I was collecting again.

            So, draw your conclusions where you will.

            Also, surprisingly, this isn’t a blog post about Shohei Ohtani.

            Not entirely.

            It may surprise some of you, but I don’t watch a whole hell of a lot of Spring Training baseball either. Spring Training games always feel like extended BP and pitching sessions to me. I’ll catch an inning here and there. I caught an inning of a Phillies/Orioles game while enjoying one of the best burgers in my life, in a Bay Ridge bar. And I managed to catch the Pirates about two or so weeks ago, when they were playing…ah, I don’t even remember. The most I do with Spring Training is listen to podcats on baseball, read articles about prospects, and hope against hope that my favorite Pirates don’t get injured and have to miss regular season baseball.

            All apologies to you Altuve fans out there.

            So, what is this blog post about, at least in part….

            …is Don Robinson.

            Yes, that Don Robinson.

            The Caveman.

            Veteran of 15 major league seasons. 109 wins, 106 losses, 57 saves, 3.79 career era…Don Robinson. He played mostly with the Pirates. A little bit with the San Francisco Giants. And one strange 1992 season spent with the Angels and Phillies…that I don’t even remember him playing in. But that would make sense. After, Donnie (that’s what we called him in Pittsburgh) got traded to the Giants for Mackey Sasser (who played a surprising 9 years in the Big Leagues) and 50,000 cash, I kind of forgot about him. Kind of didn’t miss him when he was gone, considering he was past his starting pitching prime, and was pitching mostly in relief.

            Don Robinson was a part of the old Pirates to me.

            The 1979 World Series team that I don’t really remember.

            Part of the downturn in the early 1980s that saw members of that team retire, or get traded somewhere else.

            Donnie pitched mop-up work.

            Donnie blew saves.

            Donnie gave up that effing 500th home run to Mike Schmidt.

            But…absence makes the heart grow fonder.

            I know some fans don’t enjoy the trickery of Spring Training broadcasts. The mics on players in the outfield. The mics on batters. The guests in the announcer’s booth who talk over the action. I’m of a mixed mind over it all. Kind of like the World Baseball Classic. But during that Pirates Spring Training game, Bob Walk (one of my favorite Pirates pitchers) and Greg Brown brought Don Robinson into the booth for three innings to talk Pirates baseball, circa late 70s to mid/late 1980s.

            And I was glad to see Donnie.

            Glad to hear what The Caveman had to say about his career, his relationships with Chuck Tanner and Jim Leyland; the reverence nearly every Pirate of that era has for Willie Stargell.

            I forgave the blown saves.

            I forgave the mop up work.

            I’d forgiven him giving up that 500th home run to Mike Schmidt at Three Rivers Stadium.

            At least I think I do.

            Donnie’s appearance in the broadcasting booth was so nostalgic, it had me wondering if I should add his cards to my box of Buccos.

            I have Robinson’s cards in team sets and doubles.

            And he did pitch 10 seasons in Pittsburgh.

            And collecting guys whose cards cost a dime…can be fun.

            One of the things I thought about as Donnie was speaking to Walkie and Brownie (yeah everyone gets a nickname today), was how he could hit the ball as well as pitch it. He’s no Shohei Ohtani, mind you. But The Caveman was the rare pitcher (when pitchers could still hit for themselves) who could ACTUALLY HIT THE BALL. I remember not having that eye-rolling sense of when-are-we-going-to-get-the-DH-like-the-American League-has dread whenever Donnie Robinson came to bat. The man amassed 13 home runs in his major league career. He hit a career high 3 home runs in 1989 for the Giants. As Donnie Robinson talked the old days for three innings, I found myself getting nostalgic for the not-so-distant past of baseball where pitchers (at least in the NL) still hit.

            Which brings me back to Shohei and what a freak he is.

            Pitching every so many days.

            DH-ing when he’s not.

            Or is he that much of a freak?

            I guess in this era of analytics and specialization he is a freak. Analytically it doesn’t seem smart to play Shohei as much as they do. Or healthy, I guess. We certainly didn’t see Donnie Robinson bat on days he didn’t pitch…although I do remember him pinch hitting a time or two. I mean we can say it’s a National League vs American League thing back then…but there was no Shohei’s in the AL back in my day either.

            And there could’ve been.

            So, why wasn’t there?

            The only thing I can think is that you had more position players back then and less pitchers on a roster.

            That said, this meandering blog post was meant to be a celebration of the past.

            And a celebration of what we have now.

            I’m looking forward to seeing what Shohei Ohtani does this season.

            …and I’m hitting those 10-cent bins the next time I’m in Pittsburgh, and getting me some Donnie Robinson cards.


***I didn’t get a chance to mention this in my last blog post, and novel writing duties kept me from doing one last week…but I got something really cool in the mall a few weeks ago.


            Custom made Pirates card from Nick Vossbrink.

            I’ve been a fan of Nick’s custom work for a while, and I enjoy his blog for his takes on collecting. So, it was very cool to have this random act of kindness show up in my mail box.        

            Here’s a closer look.

            I’m rooting for Jack Suwinski in Pittsburgh this year. He was a rare bright spot in another terrible season, in 2022. A kid who came from AA to the Bigs and managed to crank 19 home runs in 326 plate appearances.  He did have a minor 0-26 setback and spent some time in AAA before rejoining the Big League ball club, and he’s not having the best spring either…but I’m pulling for him. This card Nick created is from the 2022 Father’s day game, when Jack hit 3-home runs…with his old man in the stands.

            Here’s the other card.

            Ah, the Willie Stargell. I’ve been tweeting a Topps off an on for them to use this image on one of their Stargell inserts or, more specifically, in Stadium Club. But Nick answered my prayers, so who needs you now Topps.  I truly love this card. It’s a fantastic and original addition to my Willie Stargell PC. 

            Thank you so much, Nick!

            If you don’t know Nick’s work or want to read his takes on collecting, travel, autograph seeking etc, you can find his blog right HERE.

         And here’s to baseball truly being back this coming week!

 Thanks for reading! Happy Collecting!

NEXT FRIDAY: TBD: but it's going to be something Opening Day baseball related! 




Friday, March 10, 2023

2021 Topps....the set so nice? I tried to build it twice.



            The above picture. About a week ago I posted it on Twitter with the Tweet: The set so nice I think I’ll build it twice. Or…something to that effect. The reason I did that is because I’ve been trying to get like cards from random boxes all together in one box. When I saw how many 2021 Topps Series 1 & 2 base cards I had, my first reaction was, holy shit, that’s a lot of base cards. My second reaction was wondering if I had enough to build a second set.

            Turns out I didn’t.

            But I was close.

            I need 18 cards in total to build a second copy of the 2021 Topps base set. One card from Series 1 (Mitch Keller, a Pirate, no surprise there, as he’s in a few sets of Pirates cards I’ve kept aside), and about 17 other cards from Series Two, most notably the Jazz Chisholm rookie card and, no surprises here again, Ke’Bryan Hayes’ rookie card.

            18 cards for a second set.

            It gets worse.

            Here’s a photo of the doubles that I have left after building the second 2021 Topps base set.

            That’s too many 2021 Topps cards.

            I don’t even like the design that much.

            Honestly, I think 2021 Topps is the closest I’ve seen them get to making a base set that resembles the kind of uninspired work the Panini company does with baseball product. No offense to Panini lovers, but I don’t like what they produce. Even if they had MLB licensing at their disposal, I’d still consider them a far inferior rival. That’s not to say I’m putting 2021 Topps on the level of Panini. I just think it falls into the category or the more generic of Topps base releases.

            And maybe that’s because it was 2021. And the planning, if I’m speculating here, was done mostly in 2020, when there was a global pandemic raging. Design meetings done by Zoom.  I don’t know. Or maybe Topps plans their designs years in advance, and pandemic or no pandemic, we were getting the Panini-ized 2021 Topps base with its small print, no matter what.

            Let’s shift gears here.

            One of the things that I love about base cards is the way they anticipate the new baseball season while paying total homage to the previous baseball season, obviously via the stats on the back of cards, league leader cards, post-season cards, all-star cards and now, sadly, photos of players in City Connect uniforms. But, as I was sifting through and sorting and building 2021 Topps again, I realized, and probably not for the first time, how truly unique this set is.

            Topps 2021 details not only the baseball season that came before it.

            But the pandemic itself.

            I know, I know, you’re all wondering why it took me this long to make connections. It didn’t. I just continue to be fascinated by the idea. Case in point, look at these images.

            In 2021 they run pretty similar.

            A close-up on the batter in the box.

            A close up on a batter swinging.

            The pitcher seemingly alone on the mound and in the stadium.

            You can do the same for batters on base, batters rounding bases, guys in the field, guys in the outfield. They are all close-cropped images that try their best to limit the idea that the truncated 60-game MLB season, in 2020, was played without fans in attendance.

            Obviously, that’s not always the case.

            I swear I wasn’t playing favorites with the Red Sox.

            But you look at the cards. The close-up shots. The ones, and there aren’t many, that actually show the empty seats.

            A card like this.

            Or this.

            And you stop for a second. And think. What’s missing? What’s missing?

            Oh…it’s me.

            And you.

            And you and you and you.

            We’re missing.

            I know we all have those sets from our youth that put us in a time and place. I’ve sure gone on and on about 1987 and being thirteen, and how profound collecting was to me back then. But the images on those cards are indistinct from other years, since the advent of in-action shots on cards. There are players on the field. At the plate. In the dugout. And there are FANS. Actual fans in the stands in all of those cards in all of those previous years.

            Except 2021 Topps base.

            For the most part.

            I mean you have your few dozen photos taken at Spring Training or a doctored photo here and there.

            But most images look like these.

            Some look like this.

            And it’s not as if Topps shied away from the pandemic. One of my favorite cards in the 2021 Topps base set happens to be this one.

            And if you’re taking team photos for team cards.


            Spot any masks?

            It was hard to think of where I was just two short years ago, too, when sorting through those doubles. I was still home from work, at least every other day. Which might explain why I bought so many. My library was closed to the public. They had us some into the branch in shifts. I hadn’t seen half my staff in almost a year. I was still unvaccinated when 2021 Topps came out. A week after their release, my wife (thankfully vaccinated…I guess if breast cancer gave us anything, she was able to get vaxed before regular people could) had to fly to Buffalo because her father, my father-in-law, was dying. We didn’t see each other for two weeks other than on FaceTime. I spent a lot of time alone. I opened a lot of those packs.

            I…well, you get the idea.

            And I’m sure a lot of you were in your own situations.

            So…Topps 2021 base. Not my favorite set. But a loaded one in terms of what it means, culturally, personally. It was also a set that anticipated a return of fans to baseball. Remember the capacity rules? The spaced seating. Etc.

            Ah, what a decade to be living in.


Thanks for reading! Happy collecting!


Friday, March 3, 2023



By Russell Streur


Topps 2021 Formula 1, Card 1, Lewis Hamilton, 2021 Champion Driver.


I’ve always been a fan of Formula 1 racing.  Not always the biggest fan or the most committed fan, but ever since the early 1970s watching Jackie Stewart on the European courses on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, I’ve always paid at least some attention to it.


Even just the names conjure the speed and the art of the open cockpit sport.  The great Ferrari, McLaren and Williams teams of the 80s and 90s all the way to today’s Red Bull and Mercedes juggernauts.  And the drivers—some version of a more modern Top Ten, in no particular order except by chronology—Emerson Fittipaldi, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell, the awful death of Aryton Senna, Damon Hill, the tragedy of Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen.


Over last summer, I became a serious fan again, and in the autumn happily exchanged the punts, penalty flags and the point-after attempts of NFL afternoons for the hairpin turns, chicanes and grandstand straights of the international motordromes and street courses in the earlier Sunday time slot.


Formula 1 races are set to a length of about 190 miles.  Depending on the circuit, between 50 and 80 laps are run in about 90 minutes.  Races are capped by a two-hour limit.  Maximum speed is regulated at 360 km/hr (223.6 mph). Each course is unique and infinitely more exciting than the usual ovals of the Indy circuit or the endless laps of NASCAR, and so are the races themselves.  One last bonus—no commercials during the broadcast.  The season runs from March to November, and the winter lull is a fine time a look at the sport’s new trading cards.


Topps won rights to Formula 1 cards in 2020 and began full production in 2021.  There are five product lines:


·         Topps Now

·         Dynasty

·         Sapphire

·         Chrome

·         Flagship


Topps Now cards are issued under an order-as-you-go process, $9.99 per card, each available for a limited time, with the press run limited to the number of orders received.  The 2022 set wound up with 81 cards.  Though bundling discounts are available (three cards for $24.99 for example), a collector is still looking at a $700 minimum outlay for a season.


Topps Now 2022.

Card 079, Max Verstappen of Red Bull wins his 15th race of the season.


Dynasty is a boxed pack of a single autographed relic card with a going price of around $2,000.  This is the luxury level and not collecting.  It’s speculation.


Dynasty, Lewis Hamilton

Image Source:  The Cardboard Connection


Sapphire is the high-end of three consumer product lines.  Count on spending a minimum of $350 for a hobby box that contains a total of 32 cards distributed in eight packs of four cards each. Scans don’t do any justice to Sapphires.  Printed on thick, full glossy stock, the cards are simply elegant. 


Sapphire Card 110, Kimi Raikkonen

Image Source:  LottiCards


Chrome is the mid-range set but it’s a pricy mid-range.  A hobby box containing a total of 64 costs around $200. Scans don’t do much justice to Chrome cards, either.  A high-quality product, just a notch below Sapphire.


  Chrome Card 102, the Aston-Martin AMR21 driven by Sebastian Vettel.


The Formula 1 Flagship line is the set-builder product. It sounds reasonable enough, 175 cards to the base checklist:


Cards 1 thru 57:                 F1 Drivers

Cards 58 thru 79:              F2 Drivers

Cards 80 thru 95:              Crew

Cards 96 thru 115:            F1 Cars

Cards 116 thru 137:         F2 Cars

Cards 138 thru 154:         Grand Prix Winners

Cards 155 thru 170:         Drivers of the Day

Cards 171 and 172:          F1 Award Winners

Cards 173 thru 175:         Rookies


A motivated collector might sensibly compute that a collection of this set size could be built from foil packs at a patient pace and a tolerable price.  But there are ten deliberate variations, and 138 inserts—Predators, Debriefs, Relics, Flags, Variations, and the Sports Cars of 1961 subset—and the production ratios to consider:


Variations 10 cards. 1 to 165 hobby packs.

Predators 15 cards. 1:6 hobby packs.

Debriefs 20 cards. 1:4.5 hobby packs.

Relics 38 cards, 1:36 hobby packs

Flags 30 cards. 1:9 hobby packs.

Sports Cars of 1961 25 cards. 1:4.5 hobby packs.

And the math becomes daunting and the cost prohibitive for the full collection. Completing the base set from buying hobby boxes of foil packs though, is certainly doable, if the collector will be content with whatever inserts come along the way and still be happy with the results. I’m that collector, and here’s what a set looks like.


Formula 1 Drivers.  To no surprise, the Formula 1 drivers are the star cards of the collection.  Ten teams compete in Formula 1, and each team fields two cars, so there are spots for 20 drivers.  Injuries or replacements will add two or three drivers to the roster standings each year.  Drivers are shown in formal, candid or helmeted poses.

Left to right:  Card 13, Pierre Gasly; Card 4, Sergio Perez.


Gasly won his first Formula 1 race in 2020 at the Italian Grand Prix.  Perez won his first Formula 1 race in 2020 at the Sakhir Grand Prix.


Top:  Card 43, Max Verstappen; bottom, Card 21, Valtteri Bottas.


Verstappen placed third in the 2020 driver standings and then finished first in 2021 and again in 2022.  Bottas finished second in driver rankings in 2020 and third in 2021 for Mercedes.  He currently drives for Alfa Romeo.


Left, Card 28, Daniel Ricciardo; right, Card 54, Carlos Sainz.


Ricciardo is a veteran driver and has served stints with Renault, McLaren and Red Bull teams.  Sainz has followed a similar path, with Red Bull, Renault, McLaren and Ferrari.


Formula 2 Drivers.  Eleven Formula 2 teams provide training and experience to prepare drivers for Formula 1.  Brazilian-born Felipe Drugovich won the 2022 Formula 2 championship.  Theo Pourchaire of France finished second in the standings. 



Left to right:  Card 60, Felipe Drugovich; Card 78, Theo Pourchaire.


Other drivers came from countries less closely associated with Formula 1 racing.  Guanyu Zhou of China finished in third-place in the 2021 F2 standings and currently drives with the Alfa Romeo team.  Jehan Daruvala of Mumbai, India, fell out of the Formula 2 circuit at the end of the 2022 season after failing to advance during a three-year window of opportunity.


Left to right: Card 61 Guanyu Zhou; Card 67, Jehan Daruvla.



Crew.   Crew cards will never be as popular as the drivers or the cars, but without the crews, there’d be no racing in the first place. 


The Mercedes brain trust:  left, Card 81, Toto Wolff, Team Principal; right, Card 80, James Allison, Technical Director.


Formula 1 Teams 2021.  In many ways, the Formula 1 Constructor’s Championship carries as much prestige as the driver’s championship.  Ferrari holds the most titles with 16, followed by Williams (9), McLaren (8), Mercedes (8), Lotus (7) and Red Bull (5).

The top three F1 teams of 2021.

Top to bottom:  Card 96, Mercedes Petronas, Lewis Hamilton, Driver; Card 98, Red Bull Honda, Max Verstappen, Driver; Card 107, Scuderia Ferrari, Carlos Sainz, Driver.


Formula 2 Teams 2021.  The Italian sports car manufacturer Dallara builds all of the Formula 2 machines.  For driver development, each is built to the same specifications.   The 2021 version features a V6, 3.4-liter, turbo-charged six-speed Mecachrome engine capable of reaching 620 horsepower and speeds up to 335 km/hour (208.159 mph).  The cars run on Pirelli tires with the wets and slicks specially configured for Formula 2.



The top three F2 teams of 2021.

Top to bottom:  Card 117, Preema Racing, Oscar Piastri, Driver;

Card 118 UNI-Virtuosi, Guanyu Zhou, driver; Card 124,Carlin, Dan Ticktum, Driver.




Grand Prix Winners. Lewis Hamilton won 11 of the 17 races run in 2020.  Other winners that year were Valtteri Bottas (2), Max Verstappen (2), Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez.  Six drivers won races in 2021:  Max Verstappen (10), Lewis Hamilton (8) and Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas each with a single trophy.



Card 157, Winner Portuguese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton



Drivers of the Day.  Fans vote for the Driver of the Day in Formula 1 races.  On November 29, 2020, Romain Grosjean of the Haas team crashed at high speed into a safety barrier during the first lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix.  The impact split his car in half and ignited the fuel.  Grosjean was able to escape the fiery accident with foot and hand injuries and minor burns.  Fans delivered him the Driver of the Day award for his escape.  He is currently racing for Andretti Autosport on the Indy Car circuit.



Card 157, Driver of the Day Bahrain, Romain Grosjean




Award Winners.  Lewis Hamilton won his seventh world championship in 2020, tying him with Michael Schumacher for the most ever, and propelling the Mercedes team to a record seventh-straight constructor’s championship. 



The Hamilton Mercedes Combination. 

Top:  Card 171, Lewis Hamilton, champion driver; Card 172, Mercedes, champion constructor.



Rookie Cards.  With the field limited to ten teams running two cars, there’s not a lot of room for rookie drivers.  The now-dissolved Uralkali Haas team of 2021 fielded two:  Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.  The son of seven-time Formula 1 champion winner Michael Schumacher, Mick won the Formula 3 European championship in 2018 and the Formula 2 championship two years later.  He is now a reserve driver with the Mercedes team.  Nikita Mazepin is the son of Russian agricultural fertilizer mogul and Uralkali sponsor Dimitry Mazepin.  Haas severed ties with Uralkali and the Mazepins in March of 2022 following the elder Mazepin’s support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Nikita no longer races in Formula 1.

Left to right:  Card 174, Mick Schumacher; Card 175, Nikita Mazepin.


Variations.  There are ten official variations.  The Card 9 versions of Fernando Alonso are shown below.



Card 9, Fernando Alonso, base (top); variation (bottom).


Predators Inserts.  Predator cards feature the top 15 drivers on the circuit.  Backs contain brief biographies of the drivers. 

Apex Predators, McLaren Team.

Left: AP-DR, Daniel Ricciardo; right:  AP-LN, Lando Norris.



Debrief Inserts.  These inserts pair drivers with team principals.




Top to bottom:  Card D-8, Sebastian Vettel and Otmar Szafnauer, Aston Martin;

Card D-13, Carlis Sainz and Matteo Binotto, Ferrari;

Card D-2, Estaban Ocon and Davide Brivio, Alpine.




Relics.  On average, relics are found once in every 36 hobby packs.




Daniel Ricciardo with Uniform Patch

Image Source: LottiCards


Flags of Foundation Inserts.  The nationalities of the drivers are recognized on these cards.  






Flags of Foundation

Top to bottom: FF-SV, Sebastian Vettel (Germany); FF-GR, George Russell (Great Britain);

FF-JV, Juri Vips (Estonia)




1961 Sports Cars of 1961.  These inserts mimic the Topps 1961 Sports Cars series.  The original cards measure an oversize 2.5” by 4.75”.






Sports Cars 1961

 Top:  1961 Topps Card 7, Maserati 5000 GT.

Bottom: T61-AG Antonio Giovanazzi, Alfa Romeo.


Blaster Box Foil Inserts.  Blaster boxes contain their own set of insert refractors.


Blaster Box Foil Inserts

Top:  Card 96, Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Team.

 Bottom: Card 61, Max Verstappen, Driver of the Day, Russian Grand Prix.



Parallels.  Checker Flag parallels are issued one per hobby pack.  Bordered parallel cards are produced in the following counts:


                     Aqua / 199

                     Blue / 99

                     Gold / 50

                     Orange / 25

                     Black / 10

                     Red / 5


Left to right:

Card 14, 23/50, Yuki Tsunoda; Card 69, 05/10, Juri Vips; Card 20, 038/199, Nicholas Latifi.



Card 46.   Sergio Perez wins the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix for Red Bull Honda.


Podium.  I bought 456 cards building a base set from foil packs and a left-overs lot of commons.  239 were unique and 217 were duplicates.   Not a bad ratio.  Two last missing cards came from the singles market.  No complaints about the distribution of inserts and parallels.  Total cost, $322.18.  I’ve spent money in worse ways, that’s for sure. There wasn’t any big-ticket card in the packs I opened to objectively prove a dollar value but the buy and sell traffic is all on the higher shelves and in the grading anyway.  Collecting for the sake of collecting is measured in a different currency where the numbers only tell a small part of the story.


Bottom line, I’m satisfied, and I’d do it again, no regrets.


Will I collect the 2022 set?  No.  It’s a larger set, 200 cards this time around, and even though the extra 25 is a small number, small numbers add up.  But no mostly because there’s only so much to cover between driver, team and car, and 19 different cards of Max Verstappen and 17 different cards of Lewis Hamilton in the 2022 collection don’t give me a thrill. 


So, a pass on the 2022 set, also no regrets.


The 2023 season starts Sunday.   Time to see if anybody can catch those Red Bulls this year.


Except where noted, all images from the author’s collection.