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2001 Fleer Genuine Baseball Review

Here’s the first of what I hope will be a lengthly string of breaks. Again, I apologize for the lack of new material recently. The box in this break differs from the rest I’ve broken so far in that this product guaranteed “hits.” I’m not the biggest fan of chasing after “hits,” but I thought it’d be fun to mix it up once in a while. Coincidentally, this is the most recent box-to-date here, and comes from the year of Ichiromania 2001.

Fleer Genuine was a product I never really understood. I mean, what was so Genuine about it? The fact that most of the time it was Genuine crap? Perhaps. In its latter years, it “evolved” into Genuine Insider and featured cards where the jersey swatch or autograph was tucked inside the card and had to be pulled out to be displayed. Of course, these cards were made when Fleer was just about a year away from dying so….draw your own conclusion. Despite some absurdities, there were 2 concepts used in Genuine that I had always been a fan of: the inclusion of past All-Star Game Programs as a boxtopper (this was used in 2002, the year of the worst ASG in history, THE IRONY!!!) and a legendary (IMO) game-used set entitled Names of the Game.

NOTG featured 34 cards, each of which featured a game-used piece (24 had a bat, the rest had a jersey) from a superstar, past star, or HOF/Legend. The lineup was staggering and looked something like this:

Yogi Berra, Orlando Cepeda, Rocky Colavito, Andre Dawson, Bucky Dent, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Ford, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Lazzeri, Don Mattingly, Willie McCovey, Johnny Mize, Pee Wee Reese, Cal Ripken, Jr., Phil Rizzuto, Ivan Rodriguez, Preacher Roe, Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bill Skowron, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider, Willie Stargell, Bill Terry, Ted Williams, Hack Wilson

Ladies and gentlemen: THAT is how you make a game-used set. Aside from Bucky Dent, the set is totally devoid of filler. Each card is limited to just 50 and 22 of them come with an autographed version, numbered to 100. They are all hand-numbered as well! Taking a shot at pulling one of these beauties may just well have been my motivation for opening this box of 2001 Fleer Genuine. There are 24 packs of 5 cards each, and “hits” come in every 8 packs so let’s see what was pulled….

Base set: There are 100 cards in the basic short set. Each card basically has a bunch of rectangles, one inside another, with a team-specific color theme making up a broken border on the outside. Each player’s name can be found scrolling upwards on the left side in a generic, silver font. Right above this is the team name, written in a thin point cursive style, that I suppose is intended to make the card look classy. Overall, my short set is 78% complete after this box, with 32 duplicates! Bleh.

Genuine Upside (numbered to 1500): Following the short set is a 30-card rookie subset entitled Genuine Upside, limited to 1500. Basically, if you didn’t hit the Ichiro or Travis Hafner, you got nobodies. I got a pair of Red Sox players: Sun-Woo Kim and Juan Diaz. Hmm, what are the odds of hitting 2 rookies on the same team?

High Interest (1:23 packs): All of the basic insert sets in this product have the same exact insertion ratio, 1:23. Also, they are all die-cut cards. This first insert is called High Interest and features a stock market theme to it and a predominantly green background. My pull was of Pedro Martinez, another Red Sox player!

At Large (1:23 packs): These cards have the same die-cut design as the Lasting Impressions cards from 1997 Pinnacle Certified. They feature the player seemingly standing over a stadium. Look out for that giant Giambi!

Pennant Aggression (1:23 packs): The final basic insert is entitled Pennant Agression. I’m pretty sure Fleer later used this in one of their Fall Classics sets or something of that nature. The card is shaped like a pennant and well…..um…..that’s basically it. Once again, I pulled Pedro Martinez. Seeing how Dave and Adam’s is located in NY, I’m starting to think they purposely sent me all the Red Sox cards. Ha!

Autographics (1:24 packs): You may remember this set from my Fleer E-X and Fleer Focus breaks earlier. Well, in 2001, Autographics returned in a big way. In 2000, the set was spread across 5 different products. In 2001, the list expanded to 8 and a couple of those (Platinum and Genuine) included 2002 products! The complete list is as follows: Fleer Focus, Fleer Genuine, Fleer Premium RETAIL, Fleer Showcase RETAIL, Fleer Triple Crown, Fleer Ultra, 2002 Fleer Platinum, and 2002 Fleer Genuine. Of course, the odds differed from product to product. I was pretty much guaranteed to hit one in my box, and I did, of Milton Bradley, who has been tearing it up the first half of this season. There are also a couple of parallels to this set: Silver (/250) and Gold (/50).

Genuine Coverage Plus (numbered to 150): These are a fairly tough pull, seeing as how they are limited to just 150 and there only 10 players in the set. These cards feature the team logo on a blue backdrop, and feature a little bigger swatch size than normal. My pull was Andruw Jones. It’s a pretty nice card for an underachiever (and by that I mean him, NOT me!).

Tip Of the Cap (numbered to 150): Finally, the last insert/hit of the box, the game-used hat card. Like the Genuine Coverage cards, these are also numbered to 150. You don’t see too many hat cards out there, so at least it stands out a little. This card features 2 pictures of Eric Chavez, a close-up and an action shot, on opposite sides of the dark green hat swatch. There are only 13 total players in this set, so I imagine this wasn’t too easy a pull either.

What WASN’T Pulled: Unfortunately, I didn’t hit any of the Names of the Game cards I spoke so highly of earlier. I also found it interesting that both of my game-used hits were of the uncommon variety and fairly low-numbered. Most boxes will yield a jersey card from the insert sets Final Cut and Material Issue, both of which are seeded 1:30 packs, but come with patch variations and have known shortprints. I also didn’t pull a redemption for a Jeter autographed sheet which expired ages ago.

Final Thoughts: Like I said earlier, Fleer Genuine has had its share of terrible products and ridiculous ideas in the past, but I feel like the 2001 version (the premiere edition!) is not one of them. As far as the base set goes, the design is decent and there is one big rookie to shoot for (Albert Pujols was not in this set). The insert sets are designed well and there aren’t too many of them. 3 inserts, each seeded 1 per box, on top of your “hits” seems about right to me. I’m not crazy about seeing a meaningless 1:4 pack insert in every pack or seeing no inserts at all to go with the guaranteed “hits” when opening a box. With that said, you won’t see any late-1990’s Ultra or late-2000’s SP Authentic on here! Ok, well, I might give the Ultra a try someday. Anyway, the game-used cards also look very nice in this product for the most part and you’ll pull an autograph in every box, which is always nice. I don’t know if this product is notorious for bad collation, or if I just got unlucky when it came to attempting to finish the base set, but I don’t see any other downers to this product. For about $65, it’s worth a shot (unless you pull a ton of Red Sox like I did lol).

As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own breaks!
-John

2000 E-X Baseball Review

2000 E-X was a product I loved back in the day, and I mean LOVED. I recall opening tons of this stuff and having some moderate success. Some of my hits then were: an Edgar Martinez Genuine Coverage card (1:144 packs), a couple autographs, and some real sharp E-Xceptional inserts. I guess what really drew me to this particular product was that it had the beautiful cards that came along with the E-X name, but for less money. As much as I liked the clear cards E-X offered in 1998 and 1999, something about shelling out $5-6 a pack and just getting 2-3 base cards, with only an occasional sparse insert, seemed unsettling. The local card shop had 2000 E-X for about $4 a pack, but at least in every 3 packs or so, you got to look at something that wasn’t just a plain base card. Sheesh. I never did get to open an entire box at once back then, so I decided to do so now. For a hair over $50, I bought a box (24 packs, 3 cards per pack) on ebay and here’s what came from it…

Base cards: Compared to other years, this E-X set has a very short base set. There are only 60 basic veteran cards, followed by another 30 prospect cards. Each prospect card is numbered to 3499. The base cards are not clear like they were in the couple previous years, but are still very colorful, have a refractor-like front, and look very sharp. I received 57 of 60 cards to the base set with 6 duplicates and 2 prospects (Danys Baez: 3493/3499 and Brad Penny: 0904/3499). I already had the base set finished before opening this box, but if anyone can help me finish this second set, it’d be greatly appreciated. The cards I am missing are 1, 6, and 22.

Generation E-X: The most common insert in this product is Generation E-X. They are found 1 in every 8 packs. These cards feature a black background with a streak of red near the top. Originally, I thought this was an insert set just for prospects, but Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Alex Rodriguez (who were already stars) were included so….I guess the theme was stars under the age of 30 or something?! I have no idea. I received Alfonso Soriano, Tim Hudson, and Adam Piatt. Well, 2 of those 3 became successful big-leaguers. Not bad.

E-XCiting: Here we have a unique insert set in which each card is die-cut and made to resemble the player’s uniform. These are seeded 1 in every 24 packs and look AWESOME. I pulled a Randy Johnson card. You gotta love these kind of “outside the box” type of inserts. The name is appropriate as well.

E-Xplosive: Alright, so this one isn’t quite as exciting, but is still pretty cool nevertheless. These cards feature an explosion graphic and are limited to 2499. Once again, I got The Big Unit, numbered 1832/2499. On a side note, there seems to be a trend with me pulling inserts of the same player in the same box.

E-Xceptional: This is my personal favorite insert set. These card feature the same technology used in the “jambalaya” inserts in basketball (although these aren’t nearly as rare). There are 15 players in this set and each comes in 3 different colors. The common type is red and is numbered to 1999. The uncommon type is green and is numbered to 999. The rarest type is blue and is numbered to just 250! I pulled a red version of Nomar Garciaparra numbered 1006/1999. I may try to put at least the red set together one of these days. I love the looks of these!

Autographics: Last but not least is the well-known Autographics set. Altogether, 133 cards were randomly inserted into 5 different Skybox products: E-X, Skybox, Skybox Dominion, Skybox Impact, and Metal. The odds of finding an Autographics card varied in each product. In the case of E-X, they were seeded 1 in every 24 packs, the most generous odds of the bunch. There is also a purple foil parallel limited to just 50, but I did not receive one of these. My autograph was of “Little Sarge” Gary Matthews, Jr. This wasn’t quite as good as the Andruw I mentioned in my last post, but at least it was someone I’ve heard of. As you can imagine, there are some HUGE names in this set. There’s one thing I can’t understand though. Apparently, the Mark Bellhorn autograph from this set has the same BV as the Tony Gwynn and Frank Thomas! I guess some people REALLY wanted it for their ’04 Red Sox roster set?

In closing, boxes of 2000 E-X aren’t exactly the easiest ones to find. It took quite a bit of searching, but in the end, I was pretty satisfied with my box. If you are able to find a box (that’s not hideously overpriced), I’d say it’s definitely worth a shot. You’ll probably come close to completing a set and you’ll find an array of cards that look incredible. You’re pretty much guaranteed to hit an autograph, perhaps of one of the game’s top stars? If you’re lucky, you can pull a Genuine Coverage card, which could feature a jersey swatch from Ripken, A-Rod, Jeter, or Bonds, among others. And if you’re real lucky, an Essential Credential parallel could be awaiting you, like this one of Derek Jeter. The possibilities are seemingly endless so GOOD LUCK!

As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own box breaks!
-John

1999 Skybox Premium Baseball Review

In addition to 2000 Topps Gallery, another box I recently picked up for cheap was 1999 Skybox Premium. Unfortunately, this box wasn’t nearly as good as the Topps Gallery, as you probably guessed based on the cards I decided to showcase in the scan above. First off, I should say that I don’t dislike this product. The base cards are pretty nice. They are colorful and plentiful. The inserts weren’t bad either. I just got stuck with a dud box, but for $24, what could I really expect? Each box contains 24 packs of 8 cards so at a dollar per pack, I could at least say I got some nice looking cards. Anyway, here’s what I pulled:

Base cards: The base set is comprised of 300 cards, while the master set is comprised of 350 cards. I’ll explain this in a minute. The base cards are very colorful. The front of every card features the player’s initials in cursive letters, directly above the name/team/position information. All of these feature a gold, shiny font. The players also have a blend of colors directly around them, somewhat like “motion lines.” That sounds a little strange, but if you look at the Nomar Garciaparra base card above, you’ll understand. With that said, the first 222 cards are strictly veterans. Cards 223-272 feature 50 different players designated as “rookies.” This is where that master set thing comes into play. The 50 “rookie” cards are not shortprinted themselves, but they DO have a shortprinted variation that are seeded 1 in every 8 packs. How can you tell which is which? The SP’s feature full body shots of the player while the basic cards feature close-up shots. Thanks to reader Enomes for correcting me. Cards 273-297 make up a subset called Spring Fling. These cards, both front AND back, are designed to look like a postcard. There’s even a mock postmark on the back! Kinda cheesy but kinda cool…..I guess. Finally, 3 checklists at the end round up the base set. In this box, I received 181 of 300 cards with 2 duplicates and 3 shortprinted rookies. When the only one of these rookies you can recognize is Joe McEwing, that’s never a good sign.

Live Bats: These card were seeded 1 in every 7 packs. I ended up with Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, and Scott Rolen. I’m not sure how to begin describing these so I’ll let the scan do the talking. They’re not particularly bad-looking inserts, but somehow, I just don’t feel them.

Soul of the Game: Looking like something straight out of the early 1970’s, these cards can be found 1 in every 14 packs. I pulled a Mike Piazza here. Boy, he sure does show up in my breaks a lot! I don’t want to use the word “groovy” to describe this insert set, but it just looks……um……..nevermind.

Star Rubies: This might’ve been the hit of my box here, sadly. This parallel features an awesome finish to the card with red font all over and is limited to just 50. I should note that the SP rookies also have this parallel, only numbered to just 15. It was pretty cool finding one of these, even if it was just Javy Lopez. On a side note, if I ended up pulling one of these of Paul O’Neill, this would’ve instantly qualified for one of my favorite breaks ever. 😀 Remember, pulling a card /50 was pretty rare at the time, so this might’ve been a 1:2 box pull (or more perhaps?).

So concludes another old box break of mine. Like I said earlier, I don’t dislike this product. I just felt that this box in particular just didn’t offer much and have that one standout pull, but I guess all products have those. There were several other inserts I didn’t receive any of: Diamond Debuts (1:49 packs) Show Business (1:70 packs), Intimidation Nation (numbered to 99) and Autographics (1:68 packs). I thought maybe I would’ve hit at least one of those with a 24-pack box, but it was not to be. If you think about opening a box of this product, I hope this review doesn’t discourage you. The set and inserts are pretty nice overall and there’s always a chance at a big pull. Autographs aren’t that unattainable and have a decent checklist that features the likes of A-Rod, Gwynn, Glavine, Schilling, Rolen, Burrell, Alomar, and many others. I just hope that if you do decide to try a box of 1999 Skybox Premium in the future, that you’ll fare better than I did.

As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own box breaks!
-John