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1999 E-X Century Baseball Review

For those that were wondering:
1) I am not dead.
2) I have not been abducted by aliens.
3) I have not abandoned this blog.

Now that that’s out of the way, I present you with my latest box break, 1999 E-X Century. Seeing how I had already broken E-X2000 and E-X2001 TWICE, how could I not bust this? The “E-X200(x)” line, which started in 1997, was renamed “E-X Century” for 1999, but the product remained the same. There were 3 premium cards per pack and 18 packs per box. Originally, these went for about $6 a pack, but I recently bought a box for about $30. Here’s what I got…

Base cards: The base set is comprised of 120 cards. Cards 1-90 make up the short set while cards 91-120 are shortprinted prospects which are seeded in every other pack on average. The base cards have the same type of clear plastic surface used in the previous year’s E-X. In total, I received 44 short set cards and 9 shortprints, with no duplicates. The shortprinted cards were nothing special, with the only notable players being Adrian Beltre and Trot Nixon.

E-XQuisite (1:18 packs): The most common insert found in this product is called E-Xquisite. Falling at a rate of 1 per box, these cards feature a black border and a smoky background. I pulled a Jeremy Giambi, which normally wouldn’t elicit any excitement, but when we flip it over………………PSEUDO-GANGSTER BACK!!! Are you reading this, Mr. Harris?

“We’re givin’ it up for ya, J.G….’cause we like what we see. You already tore it up in Triple-A, smackin’ 20 dingers in ’98. Brother, please. You’re bound to thrive in K.C. You’ve been showin’ us all in the Show-Me State, and we’re convinced.”

Good ol’ Skybox.

What WASN’T Pulled: Yeah, seriously, I’m at this part of the review already. Well, you can’t talk about old E-X without mentioning the Essential Credential Now and Future parallels. In 1999, the Now and Future parallels featured silver and gold backgrounds respectively. The print runs for the “Now” cards were equal to the card’s number in the set. The print runs for the “Future” cards were based on the card’s number, subtracted from 121 (#1 would be limited to 120, #2 to 119, and so on).

Favorites for Fenway ’99 – a star-studded 20-card set with inserts that can be found in every other box. Speaking of the ’99 ASG, who could ever forget those pre-game festivities?

Milestones of the Century is a 10-card set commemorating milestones reached by the likes of players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and even the New York Yankees team. The print runs vary by milestone and range between 17 and 400. For example: McGwire (70 – ’98 HR total), Bonds (400 – 400 career home runs and stolen bases), Yankees (114 – ’98 regular season wins).

This was also the first time E-X offered game-used cards, shoe pieces to be exact, in the Authen-Kicks set. There were 9 players in this set and the print runs ranged from 160-205. Some players include Todd Helton, Troy Glaus, Scott Rolen, and J.D. Drew. Autographed cards of J.D. Drew were also randomly inserted in this set.

Final Thoughts: You aren’t guaranteed a whole lot when you open a box of this product and I didn’t get much. I pulled one insert in this box and it was of Jeremy Giambi. That should tell you something. Despite receiving a dud of a box, I still wasn’t disappointed. Being an old Fleer fanatic (as well as a glutton for punishment), I like this set now as much as I did back then and will probably bust another box in the future with the intentions of putting the set to rest. If you liked flashy cards from the 90’s, this product is for you. You just might want to break more than 1 box!

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

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1997 E-X2000 Baseball Review

In 1997, I was a dorky little seventh-grader who had the luxury of attending card shows rather frequently. Every month or so, a show would hit this little mall about 5 minutes away from me. There would be around 40 tables or so per show, each with their own specialty. Some had strictly vintage while some had only the hottest new inserts. Some sold both wax and singles while others just had a table filled corner to corner with wax boxes that just begged to be ripped. At the time, E-X2000 was the one product that really caught my eye. It was a super-premium product that was a traditionalist’s nightmare. A pack cost about 5-6 dollars and you got TWO cards. Two!! I thought the idea was pretty asinine at first (it really was), but after busting a couple packs, I soon loved the product. Each card was colorful and featured an embossed image of the player against a background window that revealed a sky setting when you held it to the light. Very nice!

Of course, I was young then and couldn’t really throw around that kind of scratch on wax. I wasn’t like one of those moronic 12-year-olds on Youtube who open mid/high-level stuff and bitch because they got crappy pulls. So….I decided to shop for one of these boxes online and finally rip one of these babies! It took a little searching, but I finally found one for around $40 and here’s what I got (MUCH better than E-X2001!)…

Base cards: The base set is comprised of 100 cards, of which I pulled 43 without any duplicates. The first half of this set (OK, well actually 51 cards) features the American League players while the last half features the National League players. To determine the order of players in the set, the teams are arranged in alphabetical order. For example, the Anaheim Angels (not that freakin’ ‘LAA’ crap) would be at the beginning of the set while Toronto would be in the middle, finishing things up for the junior circuit. Then, at card number 52, things pick up again with Atlanta and so on. Every team had at least 2 representatives in the set, which explains why Jermaine Allensworth made the cut. For those unaware, he was an outfielder for the Pirates at the time. If you didn’t know that, then you probably actually have a life. Can you guess which team had the most representatives? Come on, guess……….give up? It was the Atlanta Braves with a whopping NINE (Glavine, Andruw, Chipper, Klesko, Lofton, Maddux, McGriff, Smoltz, and Wohlers – Geez, this set was tailor-made for Dayf). Also, the Yankees and Mariners tied for 2nd place with 6 players a piece. Moving on…

Stardate 2000 (1:9 packs): If you’ve seen other E-X reviews, then you know about the Stardate sets. These feature an array of prospects and young stars who had about 1 year’s MLB experience or less at the time. I pulled cards of Andy Pettitte and Brooks Kieschnick. Other players in this set include A-Rod, Jeter, and Rolen. These cards have the space theme going for them, but aren’t nearly as busy in design as the following year’s inserts.

Hall or Nothing (1:20 packs): Here’s yet another play on words from Fleer, but time it comes in a very attractive insert set. These are bronze in color, die-cut, and well, just check out that Lofton above. These fall at approximately 1 per box, but I ended up with cards of both Kenny Lofton and Roberto Alomar. There are 20 players in this set altogether. I assume these were people that were deemed HOF candidates, but it’s interesting they’d have A-Rod in it as at that time, he only had about 1.5 years of experience under his belt. Oh well. Anyway, I break those 20 players down into these 5 categories:

Those Already in the Hall: Ripken, Gwynn, Sandberg, Boggs, Eckersley, Murray

Those Who Will Get There: Maddux, A-Rod, Thomas, Griffey, Piazza

Those Who Were Great but Flamed Out Shortly After 1997: Belle, Gonzalez, Vaughn

Those Whose Status is Debatable: Bagwell, Alomar, Lofton

Those Degenerates Who Make the Sport Look Bad: Bonds, McGwire, Clemens

For the record, I fully endorse Robbie Alomar for the HOF. I just hope the voters can forget how he was with the media and the John Hirschbeck incident. As for the other 2, I guess I just don’t quite see it happening, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Credentials (299 produced): Now on to the hit of the box, which came just 2 packs into my break, a Credentials parallel of Ryne Sandberg, numbered 150/299. Rather than the typical colorful border, these cards feature a white border and say “credentials” in small print in the upper-right corner. There are no specified odds on these cards, but I have seen quite a few box breaks in which none were pulled. I was fortunate enough to not only pull one, but of a Hall of Famer as well! There is also a sister parallel to this called Essential Credentials, which feature a blue sparkle-finish and are limited to just 99. Take this Rickey Henderson, for example.

What WASN’T Pulled: There is a case hit insert (1:288 packs) entitled “A Cut Above” in which the cards are cut to look like a giant buzzsaw. These cards are nice, but can you imagine trying to put that in a soft sleeve/top loader? Sheesh! Also, in every 500th pack on average was an Emerald Autograph Redemption card for 1 of 6 autographs. In a nutshell, it was Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Darin Erstad, and 3 total scrubs. It’s not like the redemption would’ve done me any good now anyway.

Final Thoughts: I think this just may have been my favorite box break so far. Everything from this box looked awesome and the Sandberg was a very nice hit. If I can find another box or two, I’ll definitely be in pursuit of this set. Two-card packs aside, I can’t think of anything negative to say about this product except that it’s a shame cards aren’t made like this anymore.

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

1998 E-X2001 Baseball Review Box DEUX

I guess I really am a glutton for punishment. I decided to open another box of 1998 E-X2001. You may remember the review of this product I did earlier, but in case you missed it, check it out. Seeing how I’ve already described this product in detail earlier, I’ll just quickly go through the results. The good news was that I was able to find this box online for as cheap as I found it in the store in NJ. The bad news was that once again, there was nothing real noteworthy in this box. See for yourself…

Base cards: In this box, I received 45 base cards with no duplicates, which was 1 more than the 44 I received from Box 1. One of the packs from Box 2 contained an extra card. In a 2-card pack, I received 2 inserts and 1 base card. Between the 2 boxes, I have 79 total cards out of the 101 in the set and 10 duplicates (which includes that Wood EXCH). If you have any of these laying around, please let me know and I will e-mail you a wantlist. I want to finish this set out. I assure you, I will NOT be opening any more boxes of this crap E-X2001.

Stardate 2001 (1:12 packs): Box 1 yielded cards of Jaret Wright and Richard Hidalgo. Box 2 yielded cards of Jaret Wright (again!) and Jose Cruz, Jr. Well, they were hot back then anyway. Just a couple more dollar-inserts for the tradebox.

Cheap Seat Treats (1:24 packs): The first box yielded a card of Vladimir Guerrero, which I promptly traded. This time, I pulled 2 of these inserts: Scott Rolen and Tony Clark. In some bizarre twist, both of these came from the same exact pack, along with a base card of Chipper Jones. Hmm, so it was a ‘hot pack’ and featured the hottest hitter in baseball. Interesting. As far as luck went, that would be all from this box.

Final Thoughts: Fortunately, this box was once again available for cheap. Even though I pulled an extra insert this time, it was still a pretty pedestrian box overall (no autographs, credentials, etc.). This was probably one of those products that was better to open by the case, rather than the box, but they can’t all be winners. I suggest that if you decide to open some of this product, get more than 1 box if possible. They’re cheap enough, it’ll take a few boxes to make a set, and the bigger hits seem to fall in every few boxes or so anyway. Plus, if you get any duplicates, be sure to contact me!

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

1998 E-X2001 Baseball Review

Last year, I took a trip back to my old state of New Jersey and visited a card shop that I had frequented for years. I found out that the store was under new ownership. I met the new owner, a man named Spencer, and saw that he had much better prices than the previous man in charge, especially on wax…..especially on older wax. One shelf in the store had several unopened boxes from 2003 and before, dating all the way back to 1998. I decided to take a chance on the oldest box he had there: 1998 E-X2001. I was able to pick it up for about $35, so I decided it was worth a shot. A box of this product consists of 24 2-card packs. Yes, that’s right, only 2 cards per pack. Here’s what I got:

Base cards: The base set is comprised of cards 1-100, and then there’s an extra card of Kerry Wood, which is listed as card 101. Apparently, the Kerry Wood base card was available only through a redemption, seeded 1 in 50 packs. I’m not sure about the story behind this card, but apparently the complete set includes either the Wood base card or its redemption. I pulled one of these redemption cards in my box. I also pulled 44 other regular base cards with NO dupes (which is always a plus). Unfortunately, I didn’t get much else in this box.

Star Date 2001: Seeded 2 per box, these futuristic space-themed cards may remind some of the 1994 Ultra Rising Star set. I got cards of Jaret Wright and Richard HIdalgo. No cards in this set book for over $3 though, with Magglio Ordonez being the biggest name in it.

Cheap Seat Treats: Here’s yet another cool insert from Fleer. They were a die-cut insert made to look like a stadium seat. The “seat” actually folds out to reveal the player’s body. This set featured guys who could balls into those seats, such as Frank Thomas, Andruw Jones, Albert Belle, and so on. I pulled a Vladimir Guerrero, but traded it to one of the finest traders on The Bench, robwes207. Below is a link to what these inserts look like: Cheap Seat Insert.

That was all for this box. No autograph (1:2.5 boxes) or Essential Credentials parallels (varied numbering based on where they fell in the set) made it kind of a bummer. However, the base cards are still very attractive and it did leave me with a pretty nice starter set if I decide to go that route. I do take solace in the fact that I got this box for such a discounted price. I think if I had opened this particular box when the packs went for $5-6 a piece, I’d be pretty ticked. 🙂

As always, thanks for the read and thanks for supporting this blog!
-John