Wednesday, March 22, 2023

2022 Topps Holiday Blaster!

 I think it's time to open some more cards! Let's go back in time a little bit for this one. I know the 2023 cards are out and being opened. But, I still had this box of 2022 Topps Holiday I hadn't talked about yet. This is always a fun set. It's a great way to get some variety into my collection by adding unique parallels to my favorite cards.Plus the chance at clever hits is a nice draw.

How did this box go? Let's find out!

There's the box. How very festive.

And the packs, also decked out in their holiday best. The box also includes this die cut ornament card. As you can see, it's annoyingly big. Not exactly sure what to do with this thing. But, it's a fun idea and goes along with the theme.

A rookie card of Jarren Duran. I like this year's design. The holly border is obvious, without being overwhelming. And the snowflakes let you know right away that this is a special set.

Rafael Devers seems to be enjoying the snowfall like a big kid.

Trevor Story looks like he's trying to hit the snowflakes with his bat. I don't think that would be effective.

And there you have it. Nothing to brag about. But, a fun box with a few Sox cards to add to the collection. That's really all I'm looking for from this set.

How did your box go?

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Karrington True Visits Section 36!

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Karrington True is passionate about supporting first responders, a future sports executive, and the current Miss Wayne County Area. I was flattered that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. 

So, let's see what happens when Karrington True visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Wayne County Area crown?

Many people may not know, but the first title I ever held in the Miss America Organization was Miss Wayne County Area so it feels amazing to go back to Miss Kentucky again with the title that holds such a special place in my heart - it has become a full circle moment.

So many of the towns in Kentucky are small, like my hometown, so it is important to me to support local businesses when I travel the state - this is also where you find the best food! The Black Stallion Grill in Monticello, Kentucky is one of my favorite restaurants in the Commonwealth and happens to be in Wayne County so every time I am passing through that area I stop and eat…After a long pageant day, I headed straight there!

I’ve eaten at the Black Stallion a lot, but this time might have been the most heart-warming. After enjoying my ‘usual’ I noticed a little girl out of the corner of my eye and waved to her. She was shy and bashful, but her mom brought her over to ‘meet the princess’. She crawled in my lap and we had a fun conversation about what she wanted to be when she grew up, her favorite Disney princess, and chicken nuggets. You never know who’s tiny eyes are watching!

Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Wayne County?

My ‘why’ always starts with the Commonwealth’s first responders. As the daughter of a career firefighter, it is important to me to shed light on the issues our first responders face, create a community of first responder kids like myself, and to bring awareness to the work Supporting Heroes provides in honoring the service and sacrifice of those who give the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

I recently launched a school tour to teach Kentucky’s kids about fire safety! I’m bringing my friends Miss Mingo, Curious George, and Clifford the Big Red Dog along to share the importance of fire safety and what to do in emergencies… with a little literacy squeezed in there!

My goal is to speak to over 100 kids before I compete at the state pageant in June/July. I’ve been fortunate enough to partner with Kentucky State Fire to give each kiddo a fire helmet of their own and other fun goodies! But one of the best parts is getting to bring my dad along so kids can meet a real fire-fighter, try on turn-out gear, and most importantly see a firefighter in full gear. It can be very scary for kids in emergencies to see firefighters with masks on, loud respirators and more - so I want to show these kiddos there is nothing to be scared of!

What part of the upcoming Miss Kentucky competition are you most nervous about?

Rob Metzger
I’m in the process of adding rhinestones to my talent gown and you have to glue them one-by-one… so I’m a little nervous they’ll fall off! I guess if they fall off it’ll be a sweet way to leave a little sparkle wherever I go.

I’ve already put 1,500+ stones on the gown and I only have one layer done so I’ll be stoning from now until the day I do my talent (haha)! It’s been really fun to add a special touch to a gown… I’m going to be so proud of the work I put into it once it’s finished. Any guesses on how many stones it’ll take!?

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Supporting Heroes”?

Supporting Heroes is dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice made by first responders who gave their lives in the line of duty, and our promise is to care for the loved ones they leave behind. My relationship with Supporting Heroes has spanned 15 years and we have accomplished so much. We have expanded the ways we serve our survivors to include increasing immediate financial aid to $5,000, providing honors and funeral planning services, assisting with federal benefit applications, providing transportation to national memorial services, supporting families during criminal proceedings, as well as expanding our coverage areas to include Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri. All of this would not be possible without commitment from volunteers and community members in joint dedication to our heroes.

Personally, I have used this initiative advocating for supporting Heroes to bring light to many of the issues our first responders face today. From a lack of resources and adequate training programs to increased cancer risk and more. I have partnered with many local departments and Kentucky State Fire to assist in training exercises as a victim, spread awareness about the dangers of cancer exposure from the fire carcinogens left behind on gear, and start conversations surrounding our first responder’s mental health. I have also used this initiative to talk to everyday Kentuckians and teach about live-saving practices such as fire-saving practices such as smoke detector maintenance, CPR, emergency planning and more. 

Rob Metzger
I could say that I did not choose Supporting Heroes, but they chose me… instead the reality is that I was born into a family of first responders and my love for these heroes is greater than any ‘choice’. Families like mine always have the constant worry in their back of their minds that sounds like, “will my loved one come home safe today?” because it is often a question of when tragedy could strike and not if. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that brave men and women will fall in the line of duty and for my family that was September 2007, when Jerry Stucker gave the ultimate sacrifice. Jerry was a beloved hero, friend, and member of my father’s fire department. Through this tragedy I saw Supporting Heroes work firsthand and my involvement with the organization never stopped. Sadly, tragedy is often unrelenting and struck again in January 2021m when firefighter Mark Stewart lost his life. While line of duty deaths may never end, it is my hope and ultimate goal for Supporting Heroes to have the resources available to cover every line of duty death, across all 50 states. Until then, I am committed to positively changing one life at a time, starting here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

As a talented dancer, what is your favorite part about performing on stage?

Thank you for the compliment! I’m pretty clumsy in real life but can somehow put a foot in front of the other without falling when I’m dancing! I have been involved in some form of dance my entire life… from ballet lessons as a little kid, to musical theater performances, to being captain of my pom and hip-hop teams in high-school… Dance has always been a place of refuge for me. One of my dreams was to become an Irish dancer but I always found a reason to stop myself from it. I’m so glad I took that leap of faith and joined the Bluegrass Ceili Academy! I have learned so much about who I am as a dancer, been challenged in ways I never had before, and gained one of the most amazing families!

You graduated with a masters degree in sports leadership from University of Kentucky. Where do you hope those studies will take you?

Rob Metzger
I am so fortunate to be back in the soccer world after a year in public affairs and governmental relations. Soccer really does have a special place in my heart and has been such a big part of my life and professional career. My biggest goal (or Mount Everest as I call it) would be to break the barrier in professional soccer and become the first female general manager of a major soccer club in the United States. It would also be a dream come true to have the opportunity to work for my favorite English Premier Club team, Chelsea FC.

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

If I could be a Disney Character for a week I would hope the last day of that week would fall on the day I travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky for Miss Kentucky… and I would want to be Mary Poppins.

This might strike you as an odd choice, but I want to be practical here and Mary Poppins has the magical bag that holds anything and everything. I’m a heavy packer and take so much stuff to Miss Kentucky! It would be amazing to have that magical bag and make packing a breeze! I know my dad would appreciate it since he carries a lot of my stuff usually (haha)

At Kentucky you had the opportunity to work as Director of Operations for Women’s Soccer. What was that experience like?

Life-changing. Challenging. Exceptional… the list goes on and on! The time I spent as the Director of Operations for the University of Kentucky Women’s Soccer Program is something I will be forever grateful for. 

I was the first Undergraduate Student to hold a Director of Operations position at the University of Kentucky and within the Southeastern Conference, so I was expected to rise to any and every challenge. When I started, I was 19 years old, had never booked a hotel room before, and half the team was older than me… I was also the only female on staff. 

I’m fortunate to have worked with the best coaching staff who understood my aspirations and created an environment for me to learn as much as possible and get one step closer to reaching those goals. Also, having a front row seat to cheering on amazing student-athletes is just…wow! It’s so eye opening to see the work these kids put in on and off the field.

Working in Athletic Operations during the Covid-19 pandemic is a whole other story. This season was the most challenging, but I know if I can get through that - I can get through any challenge!

The icing on the cake was earning my Master’s Degree completely debt free and with a 4.0 GPA. Lastly, getting to work in one of the best athletic departments in the country, at my alma-mater, and within the state I love so much is incredibly special! 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

There are so many traditions and unique features at baseball games that speak to the sport itself and the teams…but the one thing I would love to do would be to dust off home plate with the little brush! The umpires I have seen do it take it very seriously and are incredibly precise. Anyone can throw out the first pitch, but who gets to dust off home plate besides the umpire!? I would love to do that as Miss Kentucky!

You know that I am a soccer fan at my core, but the memories I have of my great-grandpa and his love for baseball have a special place in my heart. There were countless times when he would accidentally butt-dial me and all I could hear was the baseball game he was at in the background - he loved the sport and sharing that with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


So, "brushing off home plate" is a new one, but I love it! 

As always, I want to thank Karrington for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish her luck when she competes for Miss Kentucky! It would be fantastic to have the first Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Karrington during her journey as Miss Wayne County Area. You should be sure to check out her title's Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on. 

Thanks again Karrington, and good luck!

Monday, March 20, 2023

2023 Topps Series One Blaster!

More Cards! Yup. It's another blaster of 2023 Topps Series One! I don't know about you, but I'm having trouble shaking the shopping mentality from the pandemic shortages when it comes to buying cards. I still feel like if I see blasters in the wild, I should buy a bunch because you never know when they'll show up again. So, I bought a couple of these right away. I know. By now I should realize that they'll be around. Especially the Topps flagship. But, I just can't help myself. So, we're opening another box.

How did this box go? Let's find out!

I'm just now noticing that the design of the box mimics the design of the cards. Am I the only one who didn't realize that right away?

And the same thing with the packs. Very well done.

My first impression is the "future star" may be generous when talking about Duran. But, he's apparently been playing better this spring, and might just earn a bigger role with the Sox than I might have expected. No a huge fan of the "Future Stars" banner here. Seems like an afterthought in the design

A nice Sox rookie here. Like how the red jersey works with the card design.

Speaking of future stars, here's a nice RC of Brayan Bello. If he's as good as most people think, this will be a key card from this box.

Ditto. Not a bad box if you're going to get the RC of two Red Sox supposedly can't miss stars. No complaints here.

Not a future star. Or a Red Sox.


My goodness these Stars of MLB cards are hideous. They were a terrible forced set last year, and Topps, for some reason, decided to continue it through to this year. I don't get it at all. At least Devers is definitely a Star of MLB.

And there you have it. It was basically a Red Sox hot box, grabbing the top to Sox base cards. Not a bad haul at all.

How did your box go?

Friday, March 17, 2023

Kierra Hilts Visits Section 36!

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Kierra Hilts is passionate about saving shelter animals, a talented dancer, and the current Miss Miami Beach. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. 

So, let's see what happens when Kierra Hilts visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Miami Beach crown?

After winning Miss Miami Beach, I was able to spend time with friends and family, and we had a really sweet celebratory dinner. It is so nice after an eventful day to spend time with those who matter most to me, and I really appreciate all of their support. 

Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Miami Beach?

During my time as Miss Miami Beach, I have a goal of reading to a school in every county in Florida. Currently I have read to over 58 classrooms, which totals out to around 1,300 children impacted. During this school tour, I talk to school children about my platform, We C.A.N. Achieve No Kill, as well as what they need to know before they adopt an animal. 

What part of the upcoming Miss Florida competition are you most nervous about?

I am always the most nervous for an interview because it is my first impression with the judges. With that being said, the interview portion is also my favorite phase of competition because it is my chance to share my passions with the judges. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “We C.A.N. Achieve No Kill”?

When I was thirteen, I had a school project and decided to start working in animal shelters as part of that project. I would visit the shelter every week and fell in love with volunteering with animals. After learning how high the animal euthanasia rate was in the U.S., I saw a need for educating our communities on the different ways we can lower these sad statistics. Since then I have worked with Best Friends Animal Society and started my own grassroots team in my community, volunteered under a lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States, visited classrooms throughout Florida educating children on my platform, fostered 11 puppies, and volunteered over 700 hours in our shelter. 

As a talented dancer, what is your favorite part about performing on stage?

I love being able to share my passion for dancing on stage. I've been dancing since I was five years old and now that I am in college, I rarely have the opportunity to dance. Being on stage and performing brings me back to one of my early life passions and allows me to express myself. 

You are currently attending Florida State University. Where do you hope those studies will take you?

I plan on obtaining my Bachelors in Science degree in Nursing and Political Science with a double minor in Psychology and Biology. After completing my degrees, I hope to obtain my Nurse Practitioners license and work in a hospital.

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

I would be Moana. She is my favorite Disney Princess because of her free spirit and confidence. I think that I would also love to live on a tropical island and would really enjoy being so close to the water. 

If you had an extra ticket to see the Red Sox play the Marlins, who would you take with you? Why?

I would take my dad with me! My dad is a long time sports fanatic and would enjoy the experience more than I ever could. I think he also deserves so much and a nice day at the ballpark would be the perfect way to spend our day. 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I would love to throw a first pitch at least one time in my life. It would be so fun, even though I'm not sure how great my throw would be, to have that opportunity. 


I would definitely love to give a first pitch a try! 

As always, I want to thank Kierra for visiting with us, and for sending along the picture to go with the interview.

I also want to wish her luck when she competes for Miss Florida! It would be fantastic to have another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Kierra during her journey as Miss Miami. You should be sure to check out her title's Instagram and organization's Instagram accounts. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on. 

Thanks again Kierra, and good luck!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

2022 Topps Stadium Club Blaster!

Doesn't look like I've opened any of this yet. Hopefully you're not all tired of it by now. I've always enjoyed the Stadium Club brand from the very first set. I love the way it lets the pictures speak for themselves and doesn't try to overdo it. It just presents the photo, and makes the needed information as unobtrusive as possible. It's a beautiful set. How did this box go?

Let's find out!

Here's the box. Always amazed that Alonso doesn't get more hobby love. I mean, he's an all-star playing in NY who has hit more HR than Aaron Judge the last four years. What's going on there?

At least he's on all the packs.

While this photo of Fisk isn't really anything special, the graphics of the set let it live life to its fullest. Normally I'd complain about the name being in foil. But, unlike the flagship set, the player info isn't the important part here. If you can't figure out who the player is, it's there. But if you can it disappears. 

The uniforms are still hideous, but this picture of Verdugo makes them seem a little less so.

A nice action shot of Wong here. I think I actually like the tight cropping in this case, even if it means losing his hand. I like how he really fills the shot as opposed to getting a lot of crowd behind him. 

And there we have it. Three Red Sox cards, and nothing to get too excited about. 

How did your box go?

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

2021 Topps Big League Orange Alex Verdugo

 This week is MS Awareness Week. As as attempt to try to help raise multiple sclerosis awareness, I thought I'd contribute a couple "orange" themed posts this week. Here's the second one.

Let's talk about this card...

I, along with the rest of Red Sox Nation, keep waiting for the breakout season from Verdugo. While he's certainly been a quality player for the Sox, he seems like he's just on the cusp of being an all-star. Maybe this is the season it all gets put together. Especially if he wants that extension!

Like I said with Sale, the Big League set itself is a little confusing to me. Was there a huge demand for a cheap little fun set beyond Opening Day? What makes this set "cheaper" or "more fun" than flagship? And, from Topps's perspective, how is this cheaper? Easier to make without all the 1 of 1s? If that's the case, I'll gladly forgo those in flagship if it means a cheaper product. After all, the base set should be the ones kids go after anyway.


If you are able, I highly recommend you support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's efforts with a donation. You can find the link here.

Support their efforts to help change the world for people with MS!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Emily Benz Visits Section 36!

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Emily Benz is passionate about reading, a nursing student, and the current Miss Maple Leaf. I was so flattered she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. 

So, let's see what happens when Emily Benz visits Section 36!

What made you decide to try for the Miss Maple Leaf crown?

Last year I represented my home county under the title of Miss Chittenden County, but I knew that this year I wanted a title that represented my love for all parts of Vermont. They say home is where the heart is and I almost feel as if there are pieces in my heart scattered all across Vermont; I am so lucky to be able to say that this whole state is my home. The Sugar Maple tree is our state tree and plays a big part in our economy. Vermont is the largest producer and supplier of maple syrup in the nation and the changing colors of the trees during foliage season is a huge leaf-peeping attraction; it felt fitting to represent my love for this state under the title of Miss Maple Leaf. 

What has been the biggest surprise about your time as Miss Maple Leaf?

Last year I gained so many new and lifelong friends competing for the title of Miss Vermont; I was overjoyed to hear that many of those friends were returning this year to compete along with a bunch of new delegates! Getting to know everyone competing this year and cheering each other on through our time as local titleholders is hands down one of the best parts of this organization. I have especially enjoyed being able to work with Miss Maple Leaf’s Teen and collaborate with each other on our Community Service Initiatives. The connections made and sisterhood gained through the organization was something that I had always heard about, when I competed for the first time I was shocked at just how real it was. I have two older brothers and always wanted a sister growing up; this organization has given me the support of a whole century’s worth of sisters and for that I will be forever grateful for! 

What part of the upcoming Miss Vermont competition are you most nervous about?

I’m bringing a new talent to the Miss Vermont stage this year! While I am very excited and absolutely love every part of what I am putting together, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous to showcase it in front of the audience. I’ve always been a creative person! I love the challenge of learning a new hobby or starting a new project when it comes to arts and crafts; my talent this year feels like a combined representation of that. It’s been a challenge learning this new skill, but the process has also truly been so much fun. I can’t wait to reflect that excitement, passion, and love into my performance on the Miss Vermont stage in April. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Let’s Read: Empowering Today’s Readers to be Tomorrow’s Leaders”? 

I have always been an avid reader, my love for literature was established early on and has followed me throughout my life. My mom is also a Kindergarten teacher, I spent many days in her classroom growing up watching her foster a love for books in her students. When I got old enough, she would let me read to her class during read-aloud time. In high school, I became a literacy tutor and began helping elementary students build strong literacy skills. This experience made me realize just how many students did not have access to age-appropriate literature outside of school. When students don’t have access to books they are put at a disadvantage in their education and at an increased risk of dropping out of school down the line. I wanted to make sure that these students had every opportunity they could to pursue their dreams; every child deserves to share in the joy of reading and the chance to advance to higher education. So, in 2019 I started Let’s Read as a community-based project. I primarily collected new and used books to be distributed to students all across Vermont and served as a mentor for students in their reading journey; I have since collected and distributed over 1,000 books! Today, I have a Let’s Read website that features posts to get children excited about books, a literacy resources page to connect families to free reading material through the power of the internet, a reading club to encourage students of all ages to read for at least 20 minutes a day, and a goals setting workshop to teach students how to map out their path towards achieving their dreams through setting SMART goals. 

What is your favorite part about performing your talent on stage?

I mentioned earlier that I am bringing a new talent to the stage this year! However, regardless of what I am performing, my favorite part of performing my talent is being able to share something that I am passionate about outside of my Community Service Initiative and my love for the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization. Every woman who competes is truly so talented and well-rounded in what they do; I always see that reflected in the talent portion! I’m thrilled to be able to share my creative side and love for art through my talent performance this year. 

You are currently studying nursing at Castleton University. What drew you to that field?

I always knew that I wanted to go into the medical profession! Science was my favorite subject in school. I loved how the complexity of all the different science courses I took in school challenged me and how there was always something new to learn. I landed on nursing because of the caring aspect of it; I have always been a very caring and empathetic person, after getting a small taste of nursing through working as a Personal Care Assistant I knew it’s what I was meant to do. I have plans to work as a mother-baby nurse after I graduate in May. I’ll be working with a variety of antepartum, postpartum, and newborn patients! After a few years of nursing experience, I hope to return to school to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and work in the NICU. 

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

That’s a tough question; I love so many Disney characters! However, I would probably have to choose Ariel. She was my favorite Disney princess growing up and I think it would be so cool to explore the ocean from her point of view. Also, who wouldn't want to be a mermaid or live at an oceanside castle for a week?

If you had an extra ticket to see the Red Sox play at Fenway Park, who would you take with you? Why?

I would probably have to choose my dad. We always went to Vermont Lake Monsters games together when I was little. I would love to be able to go to Fenway with him and see the Red Sox play, especially if it was against the Yankees as he is a New Yorker!

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest baseball fan. I am however a HUGE hockey fan! This past Winter Classic was held at Fenway and I would have loved to be able to attend; maybe I’ll be able to see it the next time Fenway hosts. Although, if I had to choose a baseball event at Fenway then I would have to say Vermont Day for sure! 


I want to go to the Winter Classic at Fenway too! 

As always, I want to thank Emily for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish her luck when she competes for Miss Vermont! It would be fantastic to have yet another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Emily during her journey as Miss Maple Leaf. You should be sure to check out her title's Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on. You should also check out the Let's Read website to see how you can help Emily empower readers.

Thanks again Emily, and good luck!

What people are reading this week