2019 Donruss MEGA BOX Break!!!

I had a root canal performed on a badly decayed and broken tooth today. So it seemed appropriate to talk about 2019 Donruss.

I'm not comparing the two, in fact for the first time in it's existence under Panini's watch, I was looking forward to the new Donruss release. The week it came out, I planned on buying a hobby box from my LCS. But once I was there, I spent most of my budget on some great vintage singles from 1960-1973. Forgetting all about the Donruss until after my debit card was run. So I grabbed 8 packs at random from an opened hobby box in the store, paid for them and went on my way.

Later that night, I found the 2019 MEGA BOX for sale at the local Targets. 112 total cards, exclusive "Pink Fireworks" inserts and a guaranteed autograph for $40. Oh why not... I liked what I got from the hobby packs earlier, so let's give this a MEGA shot at impressing me.

So here's my take on 2019 Donruss. A logoless alternative to Topps products.

Let's start off with the simple base card for 2019 Donruss. May as well be the featured player on the packing, Shohei Ohtani.

Obviously Donruss has to choose photos that hide as much of the team logos as it can, making the photoshopping less time consuming. For Ohtani's card, I have to look closely to even notice the A with a halo is missing from his helmet. Even though his first home run of 2019 helped the Angels beat Minnesota earlier tonight (well, it was tonight when I started writing this. It's now about a week later...), it's good to have Ohtani back hitting. Recovery from Tommy John Surgery means we wont see him pitch in 2019, hopefully swinging a bat wont hurt his arm rehab and set him back further.

Another great logoless picture. This Cabrera was one of my favorite base cards in the set. The empty seats of Comerica make Cabrera stand out. Even without the D...

Flipping through the first couple of packs, the base cards started to remind me of another set that I have very fond memories of. Well, you need to strip away a whole buncha triangles and trapezoids... But if you did, you'd get...

1992 Bowman!

That may be a stretch to some, but I still get a strong 92 Bowman design vibe from 2019 Donruss. At least more than any other Donruss set in it's initial run... And there no holding a candle to the sheer awesomeness that is future Hall of Famer, Gary Carter, signing autographs at the dugout. Complete with a bat rack and line-up card taped to the wall! As an added bonus, the full front cover of the Expos 1992 Spring Training program on display!

This may be my favorite card of 1992...

But it's 2019...

Donruss, not Bowman...

Where Donruss starts to loose me is when they do too many color alterations on uniforms. All the red is removed from the Twins jersey and pants, when it really doesn't need to be. And here's hoping Sano can get to Minnesota soon and be healthy. Giving the Twins batting order even more power, to continue their surprising push to the best record in baseball. That go ahead home run in the 7th, against the Angels last night was a great start!

And a 31-16 record at this point in the season is a rarity in Twins history. 

This is a FUN team to watch.

Thank you Rocco!

It's early...

Love the Phillies throwback uniforms, despite having no P...

Despite a bad start against the Angels (though there's no shame in giving up multiple hits to Trout and Pujols, they're certain Hall of Famers), Berrios continues to develop into a top starting pitcher. Sure hope the Twins are able to sign him to a long term contract.

For only a 250 card set, it's funny that the Rockies closer gets a card. His numbers for 2018 were not all that good... The missing "Colorado" across his chest stands out a bit more here...

Washington's alternate dark blue jersey looks nice on cards, even without the curly W.

The Rated Rookie subset looks better than the base cards. Though McNeil needs a little orange in his uniform, even if it doesn't say Mets.

This year, the last 50 cards in the set are patterned to look like 1985 Donruss. (Like last year's 1984 Donruss tribute.) They did okay with that. Obviously, there cant be the team logo in the corner, but they should have stuck with red stripes on the side. And I'd like that classic Rated Rookie logo on the rookie cards, as both 2019 (regular) and 1985 Donruss used. That being said, I like this card a lot. Lotsa deep rich blue from all the empty seats at Rogers Sky Centre Dome.

Beyond what they are legally not allowed to do, I think it's decent reproduction of 1985 Donruss. A set I really like. And a good excuse to cram another Expos card into this post!

Topps Pitcher Face has been replicated by Donruss here. Gonsalves remains a top prospect with the Twins despite a less that stellar few games in the majors last year. He's currently on the AAA Injured List.

Don't get me wrong, 2019 Donruss is absolutely loaded with gimmicks, most of which are pretty pointless. Do we really need photo variations? Granted, I like this picture a lot more than the other one. But I couldn't tell you which is base, and which one is the variation.

Or which one is short printed, if either of them are. 

Or if I really care...

Catcher's fielding on Donruss cards are always a good idea. You don't have to put in the work of removing a Detroit from your chest, and you get what could pass for a licensed card.

I know that's a hot take, only everybody has been saying that about Panini baseball for years... 

And hey look, it's Target Field!

The (1985) Diamond Kings look really nice. While not the classic paintings made by Dick Perez throughout the 1980's, these have the feel of what the Diamond Kings subset was back then. My issue is still with the white stripes on the card front. Panini should have either went with the red, or used some kind of color scheme. Either go with a different color stripe for the different set (like red for base, blue for rookies, gold for Diamond Kings, etc...) or maybe use a varying dominant team color. For example, maybe green stripes on an Oakland A's card... Yellow on a Pittsburgh Pirates card... Black stripes on a White Sox card?

Something more dynamic than white. Which makes the cards look unfinished in my mind.

Twins blue would look really nice on Kyle Gibson's card...

Panini went all in on pink this year. Each base and 1985 card has a pink foil parallel, issued at some sort of fairly common scarcity. Some cards look better than others. Jake Cave is one of the best I got from either the Mega Box or the 8 hobby packs I picked up in mid-March.

Another parallel, Stat Lines, is a carry over from Donruss of the early 2000's, when they were made by Playoff cards. (Which had bought the Donruss name after Pinnacle Brands filed for bankruptcy in 1998, but that's a long involved story I don't feel like getting into.) Stat Lines parallels pick a certain number from a player's career, then serial number a card to that number. In Ponce de Leon's case, it's his .205 career opponent's batting average against. These cards are given a non-pink silverish foil treatment.

When I bought the 8 hobby packs from my LCS, the display box advertised 1 autograph and 2 relic cards per 24 pack hobby box. Playing the odds, buying 8 packs would be 1/3 of the box. This should give me a good chance at one of those three hits. That was my thinking going in.

The first pack I opened, yielded this...

With all traces of orange removed from Machado's uniform, I guess I now know what Machado would have looked like if he signed with the Yankees last offseason....

And see how much better the red stripes look! 

A few packs later, I pulled the second hit of the box with a larger jersey chunk of Pirates prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes. I like the modified Rated Rookie logo to highlight the prospects who have yet to play in the majors. Hayes is the son of former Phillie, Rockie and Yankee third baseman, Charlie Hayes. Once again allowing a baseball card to make me feel really old...

To further neuter the LCS's open hobby box of value, the last of the 8 packs I bought (leaving at least 12 still at the store) contained the largest and best hit of the guaranteed three:

At the time I pulled this card, Eloy Jimenez was the top prospect in the White Sox system. He'd just been sent down to AAA, instead of making the major league team out of Spring Training. Unofficially due to service time issues. About a week later, Jimenez signed a huge contract worth a possible $75 million over 8 years. Without service time looming anymore, he was brought back from AAA, and made the White Sox roster out of Spring Training.

Jimenez is still one of the top young players in all of baseball, and to pull his autograph from a pack was an early  highlight of the 2019 card collecting season. I'm not focused on acquiring autographed cards for key players in baseball, but when they fall into your lap, they are welcome additions to my permanent collection.

Sorry to anyone else that went to Pal's looking for loose packs of 2019 Donruss, there likely wasn't much left in them...

Since it's been almost 2 months since I bought those packs and the Mega Box, I don't remember which cards came from which source. It doesn't really matter anyway...

Back to more pointless inserts!

Like Blake Snell. I missed it the first time I was going the packs, but Snell is serial numbered 66/99 (cool number). I wondered why it was special, then I flipped it over.

Oh, the card back is refractory foil... 


It's not a Stat Line insert like this:

Matt Olson gets nearly 2.5 times the amount of serial numbered Stat Line cards than Daniel Ponce de Leon has...

What do you think about Stat Lines and rainbowey Matt Olson cards Rob?

Rob approves!

Since Rob isn't appearing on a Donruss card, I didn't have to Photoshop out the A's.

Another insert set (with varying numbered parallels) are the Franchise Futures. 

I picked this one up from the small box of loose singles from new releases the shop keeps up at the register. At $1, it was a no brainer pick up. From the state of his box of Rockies singles, I'm his only customer that has ANY interest in Rockies cards... It never occurred to me to flip the card over. Franchise Features show a current star on the front, with a top minor league prospect on the reverse. I was happy enough with the front to not have a second thought of what was on the back... Which wasn't the next card. I honestly don't remember the back of Blackmon's card.


There's a Royce Lewis card in the set, and I got it from the second pack I opened! Not having to follow Major League Baseball's strict rules on who can be in what sets, Panini can put whomever they want in the set. All they need to to do is agree on a contract with the minor leaguers.

As I'd mentioned, at the time I bought it, I didn't know the Blackmon card featured a second player on the back. So I didn't think there would be a major leaguer behind Royce. The Lewis card appeared to be a plain glossy finish with no rainbowey refractoriness going on. Which made sense, Blackmon's card is serial numbered and an obvious parallel.

I flipped Lewis's card over, expecting to see a basic write up or some stats. Instead I'm greeted by...

Oh, it's Carlos Correa... Well, guess I don't mind him having to face backwards in the Twins binder...

This past weekend, the Rockies called their top prospect up from AAA Albuquerque. I've been anxious to see what Rodgers can do in Colorado for several years now. While his first few games didn't set the world on fire, he did have an RBI ground out in his first at bat, and got his first major league hit on Saturday. Here's to hopes he can solve the Rockies second base woes. I knew the choice to not re-sign D.J. LeMahieu, would leave a big hole in the infield, and shows just what a big part of Colorado's recent success he was.

Rodgers shared a card with this Dodger... Who thought that was a good idea?

And Alex Kirilloff makes the set too? Nice! 

And who is he stuck behind?


Gotta admit, I'd love to see Kirilloff put up similar numbers to Judge, in right field for the Twins. 

Even first base if need be... 

Had to show the deGrom just because I liked the way it scanned!

Border of Stars Parallel set? 

Why Panini...

Speaking of why... A Wacky Nickname parallel set? 

Wacky and Tacky!

I only pulled one Ronald Acuna base card, so I'm not sure if this is a nickname, or if he personally wants to be addressed in such a complicated manner.

This one in particular really bothers me. If Trevor Story's Wacky Nickname is really just Trev, why not leave him out of the set. It looks less like a Wacky Nickname than it looks like the typesetter got tired and took an nap. Not noticing he forgot to type the or Story...


I've always wanted to be able to do that!

The Mega Box provided me Kyle Freeland's Rainbowey Pink Parallel, which actually works. Pink and purple don't clash as poorly as pink and say... Green. More importantly, what happened Kyle? The Rockies REALLY need you to pitch better. Your chances to get Colorado back in the race are rapidly dwindling.

Please don't become the next Ubaldo...

Rainbowey Pink Parallels are not to be confused with the selling point of the Mega Box, the Pink Firework Parallel!

As far as I could tell, Panini only made Pink Firework Parallel cards of the insert cards. I didn't get one base card from the regular set.

Like the 1997 Donruss Domintors design a lot. 

I don't know what this is, but I know I don't like it. And that has nothing to do with Aaron Judge, and everything to do with the design of this card. My best guess is this is intended to look like a carded action figure, but I think it just looks dumb. Almost like they started off with a good idea, then got sleepy and left it unfinished.

I blame the guy behind Trev...

Panini sure keeps forcing the Judge on me with this box... Though I do like this throwback to the 1985 Donruss Action All Stars set. Somewhat subdued, the Pink Firework gimmick works well with this design. Although I was expecting the Pink Firework gimmick to be more dominant. On many cards, it's just not as bright as a Topps Refractor gimmick. I bet you have to have logos in order to make it shine with the same brightness!

More 1985 tributes with the Highlights insert set. I always like when significant moments from the previous season are given some mention.

So does Rob! 

How did Sean Manaea's No-Hitter sit with you, Rob?

Rock out dood!

How much do you think Derek Jeter wishes for a do-over on the Yelich trade?

The 1995 Donruss Elite Series design was one of my favorites back in the day, so its definitely nice to see again. In Pink Firework form! Would have liked anyone but another Yankee, but at least it wasn't Aaron Judge... This box had enough of him already...

Spencer Torkelson?

Okay... That's enough 2019 Donruss... 

Oh yeah, the advertised Pink Firework guaranteed autograph...

Harrison Bader of the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Definitely not a Cardinals fan, but Bader looks like he could develop into a decent major leaguer. Not a superstar, but a solid player that logs 8-10 seasons of above average production. Not flashy, but the type of player that championship caliber teams typically employ.

The autograph of a player I like to have in my collection.

Especially a Pink Firework Parallel autograph!

Overall, I have to say I got a favorable impression of 2019 Donruss. I enjoyed opening the packs, as they were simply fun. Putting aside the lack of logos, Panini did a good job in making this feel like a classic Donruss release. Not classic Donruss base set of the 1980's and 1990's, but one of their "premium" lines.

Like Leaf... 

Yet, I feel like this was an all out assault by Insert Card. Very little substance here. Like a sugary kids cereal. Has the basics, but is so bloated with fluff that it gets kind of annoying after a while. Come on Panini, you could make this set a REAL tribute to the Donruss name! Make it the traditional Donruss 660 card set, with lots of cards of middle relievers and back up catchers! Be the TRUE alternative to Topps. PLEASE!!!

As awesome as that would be, it likely will never be. After all, could you imagine how difficult it would be to scrub the logos from, say 1000 (accounting for more inserts than needed) photos? Well, I bet a decent design team of 5 could probably knock that out in a week. Not exactly a monumental task...

Oh well. I guess my wish of a second baseball card brand will continue to go mostly unfulfilled... I liked what this was, but I likely wont buy a lot more. There will soon be other 2019 cards sets worthy of my attention...

Speaking of wishes...

Big props to Topps for honoring the Montreal Expos with an insert set in the upcoming Topps Archives release. 2019 being the 50th anniversary of the Expos playing their first game, Topps is making a set featuring top Expos players and events in Montreal Expos history. I hope they put some effort into really telling a story through these cards. Expos fans deserve to see our favorites one more time in card form. 

And of course there will be autographs and variations...

Which I will collect...

Bet Jeff Loria doesn't get a card! 

Or Bud Selig...

Who is worse than 700 root canals...

How do you feel about 2019 Donruss, Rob?

Root Canals?


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