Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sunday Edition

A few weeks back on this blog I declared my intention to buy a factory set of 2018 Topps and just a couple of packs from each series.  That didn't work out.  I ended up ordering a box a few days prior to it's release.  My Target never has cards until at least a week or two after they're released, and I didn't want to wait.  Ordering didn't work out so well either.  Tuesday night I was alerted by my phone that UPS had delivered the box and that it was on my porch.  It wasn't.  After two stressful days a neighbor three houses down brought the box over after they found it on their porch.  Nice work UPS. In any event, I had my first box of Topps since 2015.

The box came sealed with that black pack taped to the exterior of the shrink wrap.  That's not a situation I found to be tenable, so I wasted no time in opening the box up and popping the display the way it was meant to be and immediately felt a degree of order restored to the universe.

Per custom, I opened my first pack and was happy to pull a Yankee and a Met.  C.C. Sabathia is a guy who has slowly become one of my favorite players, so it was nice to see him right off the bat.  That Travis d'Arnaud is one of my favorite cards to come out of the box.  So things started well.

Next I opened the black pack that was tapped to the outside.  1983 Topps is my favorite set of all-time, so I couldn't help but like these cards, even if they are kind of goofy and feel more like a toy than a baseball card.  As a collector who came of age collecting rookie cards in the 1980's, I'm pre-conditioned to love seeing Ryne Sandberg on the '83 design.  McGwire looks great (if not somewhat unnatural) as well.  The Dodgers are one of the teams from '83 that are towards my lower end of favorites, as I just never loved the blue/green border combo.  Don't get me wrong, I still like them, but I just prefer other team color combos more.  That said, it would have been epic if Topps could have tried to recreate the classic '83 card of Fernando warming up in the bullpen with this Kershaw.  The fourth card is blue for some reason (having long ago completed the '83 set, I'm pretty sure there were no blue borders in it), and is of some Brave rookie I'd never heard of.  This ended up being one of four Ozzie Albies I pulled from the box, and apparently the speculators are hot on this kid.  My bet is he falls somewhere between Ricky Jordan and Greg Jefferies for career numbers.

I was luke warm on this design when I first saw the images of it popping up online months ago.  I knew I liked it more than the last two years (which was a very low bar to clear), but didn't like it as much as 2015.  Having now opened enough of it to have a clear opinion, my first impression was more or less correct.  In fairness, I like it more than to just say "it's better than 2016 and 2017."  Those are two of the worst designs of all-time in my opinion, and this design is probably one the better one's of the last ten years.  Not exactly a span that will be remembered as a glorious run, but I'd put 2018 in my top three along with 2015 and 2013.  I like the scoreboard name effect a lot, and the slide doesn't bother me at all.  I think it's fun.  Here are some of the cards that caught my eye.

Joc, the Albuquerque Isotope Legend, remains one of my favorite players in the game.  I still believe he has the potential to put up monster numbers and be a regular All-Star.  This is a great card.

So much red.  The Ozuna is a great outfield catch card too, but I can't see his face.  That's weird.  Hamilton though looks great.  

Bregman is an Albuquerque kid.  Farmington, NM is the town I live in and every year it host an amateur baseball tournament.  They call it the Connie Mack World Series.  Each year ten (12 now) teams come and they're usually more or less the same teams, so it's not like the Little League or American Legion World Series with some massive qualifier to get here.  I view it as sort of an AAU Basketball All-Star event, but for baseball.  "World Series" or not, it's a big deal locally, and as the host Farmington gets a team in it every year.  And in what's become an annual tradition, the locals confuse getting an automatic invite as being meaning that they're as talented as the teams with future draft picks and Pac-12, SEC, and Big West bound college players.  Bregman wanted to play for Farmington his senior year of high school (unlike Little League you can also randomly pick up kids from anywhere at any seemingly any point in the season/playoffs).  Farmington told Bregman "we have enough bats."  So instead Bregman played for the powerhouse team from Dallas that's here every year and led the Tournament in hitting.  Farmington went 0-2 and mustered one run on an error.  Good call Farmington.  To his endless credit, Bregman was back in town recently to do a fund raiser for the coach of that team that told him to get lost, to raise money for that coach's sick child.  I can't stand the Astros, but I'm a Bregman fan.

It's a crowded outfield in New York right now, but hopefully that Red Sock the Yankees are stuck with can find a home somewhere else and Frazier can platoon with Gardner and Hicks.

This is just a great looking card of a great player who likely is destined to be forgotten by history when he falls short of Cooperstown like so many other very good but not Hall of Fame players.  The Tim Wallach's and Dave Parker's of the world.

Scooter Gennet endeared himself to me with a strong role on my fantasy team last year when as a spot starter he hit four home runs in one game and followed it up with a pretty good season.  My father is a die-hard White Sox fan, and as a result I watch a ton of White Sox games with him over the course of a season.  Frazier was one of my favorites, so when he was traded to New York, it was sort of a perfect storm for me.  There's a chance that could be the Cabrera kids are pulling from packs when he hits his 500th home run.  He's 38 shy.  Tyler Saladino has now assumed the role of my favorite White Sox.  I have no inside knowledge, but I'd put money on him being the most fun to go to Buffalo Wild Wings with for beer.

I'm calling this my favorite card.  Gardner has held the title of my "favorite active player" ever since Jorge Posada retired, and this is easily his best card ever.  Great work Topps.

As much as I like the front of 2018 Topps.  The backs are awful.  I want full stats.  I know that's not a law or anything, and as recently as the 1970's Topps wasn't giving me full stats, but I want them, and I'll judge them harshly anytime they fail to give them to me.  I view the Topps set as a sort of annual almanac.  I know kids today can find stats easily on their phones and no longer rely on Topps for crucial information like whether Cecil Cooper or Don Baylor had more career doubles, but it'd still be nice if they could.  I don't mind the social media information.  When I was a kid, I would have really liked it, had it existed.  I just don't think it needs to be so big.  I would have found it in the same font as the "bats:left" info on the top.  With the logos and large font, it almost looks like Topps is being paid by instagram.

Also included in the packs were spacers, or inserts as they're often called.  As far as I can tell the purpose of these is to gip collector's out of their money so they have to buy more packs to complete the set.  These 83's are admitedly pretty nice, but at the end of the day I'm just going to end up selling them, giving them away or sticking them in a white box in the closet to waste away the years in darkness.

This was the lone "SP" I pulled from the box.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the purpose of these SP's was to sneak in old retired players, or use photo's that were a little less traditional.  This is just an uglier version of Abreu's base card.  I couldn't get it listed on eBay fast enough.

This was my one "relic or autograph" per box card.  I understand the appeal of autograph cards.  Had a Vance Law autographed card fallen out of my pack of 1987 Topps I would have been excited for a year.  These "relic" cards though, they're just stupid.  Look if you like them, it's time somebody who cares about you sat you down and gave it to you straight.  These are dumb.  I hate telling anyone how to collect, but it's well past time we all had this conversation.  First of all, they're not baseball cards.  This stupid thing is about six times as thick as a baseball card.  It's ugly, and the small fabric swab is pointless.  What am I supposed to do with it?  Touch it and feel like I'm closer to Mr. Zobrist?  How about instead of cutting a bat or jersey into a hundred pieces, you stick a redemption card in the pack for a game worn jersey, or game used bat?  This "thing" pictured above is dumb.  Even my 1987 self would have been confused by this thick hunk of styrofoam and laundry.

The rest of the spacers were less than thrilling, albeit, two of them did get a rise out of me.  Those Topps Now spacers, aren't just dumb, they're offensive.  Topps Now isn't a baseball card.  They're made to order, and you know exactly what you're getting.  They're novelty items, like a plastic helmet that holds your ice cream Sunday.  Topps Now just happens to be made by a card company and be in the shape of a card.  They're glorified post cards.  These spacers celebrating how many people were tricked into buying a Topps Now "card" are just rude.

Finally, this printing plate fell out of one of my packs.  While it's clearly labeled a printing plate inside of a package that clearly claims to have cards inside, I'm not mad.  I like money as much as the next guy, and this is sort of like having a folded piece of cash fall out of the pack.  Naturally I've slapped it on eBay with an obnoxious price tag on it, in the hope that some giant Stanton novelty item collector will pull the trigger and I can turn it into a 1953 Willie Mays.  We'll see what happens.  I've never pulled anything numbered less than /50 out of a pack, so this is all new to me.

When it was all said and done, this is what it looked like.  I have to say, these Hobby Boxes are the way to go.  I pulled 323 of the 350 base cards in the set (I've already ordered the 27 I was short on sportlots, so don't look for a need list) and not a single double.  I'll pull four doubles out of three packs at Target.  To be honest, I sort of miss having duplicates, so I'll probably end up picking up a few packs at Target anyways.  I need to find a "spine card" for the 2018 binder after all.  I've also already sold four inserts that have paid for half the price of the box.  I hate the idea of being one of those eBay sellers, but I also hate the idea of spending over $50 at once on baseball cards like I did for this box.  So it's an ethical trade off.

If you see any spacers you want to trade for (or inserts if you will), let me know.  I'm happy to pull them off of eBay if they haven't sold yet and send them your way in exchange for Wallach's or set needs to be named later.


  1. Good for you getting some cash for those dumb inserts, I don't know why anyone would buy them.

    Love the '83 Dodgers blue-green. After L.A. getting stuck with pink in '79, '80, '81 and '82, this was welcome relief.

  2. Couldn't agree more on the Gardner. By far the base card of his career.

    Great pull on the Stanton. Hope you cash in on it.

  3. Tell me you found the Bryce Harper "Legends in the Making" insert (LTM-BH) in your packs. The back of the card talks about franchise records set by Vlad, Hawk, Gary Carter, and some guy named Tim Wallace! Found one of these in my packs today.

    1. The card actually says Wallace, not Wallach, btw... Seems like spell-check got 'em!

      Also, I happen to be a fan of relics, for no other reason than that they are something slightly different xD