Thursday, February 12, 2015

Baseball is Right Around The Corner - So I bought a Pack of Cards

I am looking forward to the upcoming baseball season more so than recent years past. Which, on the surface, is kind of odd seeing how:

  1. The Orioles are more than likely to regress to a .500 team.
  2. The Cubs are going to be better thus making tickets more expensive
  3. The Lightning are poised to make a decent run in the playoffs cutting into the start of the baseball season.

Yet, here we are. In the depths of winter I am getting excited for pitchers and catchers to Florida and Arizona. Not only that I am actively putting together Topps Series One Baseball. Normally, I don't buy cards before Opening Day. And when I do buy cards I just buy a box and then collate them. This year I feel like doing it the old way. Packs om packs. And the first pack came from the unlikely source of Wal-Greens. Yup, on a quick trip to buy cat food and bandages I noticed that Wal-Greens was selling Topps fat packs. So I picked one up. How did the first pack turn out?

First Card of the Season -

Phil Hughes. The former Yankee has found a new career in Minnesota (where he just signed a four-year extension). This was also going to be my 2015 wallet card (behind the curve as always). Unfortunately, due to the stream-lined wallet The Duchess bought me last year, the card doesn't fit. So I'll have to wait for a mini-card I guess.

First Card of a Player I Didn't Recognize -

Shawn Kelley -

Six seasons in the majors? Hmm.Twelve-year old Justin G. would be disappointed that 38-year old Justin G. doesn't know everyone in the majors.  He would also be disappointed that I was writing about baseball cards and not featured on them.

First Player Pictured in a Uniform He Won't Be Wearing This Year -

Sergio Santos. Santos signed with the Dodgers as a free agent in January. Through the years I've been back and forth on the “air brush a uniform on a player”. In some cases (Orioles new acquisitions) I like it. In other cases (everyone else) I don't care for it. I'd rather the photo on the card capture an authentic, if unrecognizable, piece of history. Plus some of the airbrush jobs are horrendous.

First Card of a Hopeful Chase Hall of Famer -

Michael Taylor. The former Clearwater Thresher finally gets his long-awaited rookie card. Sometimes I forget how long it can take a player to make his way to the majors. Oh wait, it's a different Michael Taylor? Damn it.

First Baltimore Orioles Card -

Team card. It's kind of a fitting that it would a team card. The 2014 were really a sum of the parts being greater than the individuals. As the back of the card pointed out they did manage to mash 211 home runs which, along with a pretty good defense and bullpen, propelled them to 96 wins and an AL East Title.

Unfortunately, I don't think it's going to be that easy this year. Everyone around them in the AL East made significant moves to better themselves (except for the Rays, but you never know with the Rays). The Orioles big acquisitions? Wesley Wright and Travis Snider. While I like Snider as a potential sleeper pick I don't see him offsetting the losses of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. Throw in the weird Dan Duquette to Toronto saga and it was just an awkward off-season. So far I've kept pretty calm and trusted in DanBuck, but this season just feels like a step back. But we might have a second half of the season that features Dylan Bundy AND Kevin Gausman in the rotation and that will be fun!

First Chicago Cubs Card -

Also a team card. Happy fun card (also the last time Starlin Castro smiled in a Cubs uniform). I'm not sure where the Cubs will finish this year, but I do think they are going to be fun to watch. Who knows how their prospects are going to turn out, but there is a solid chance that within a year their infield is going to be Rizzo at first, Javier Baez at second, Starlin Castro (or Addison Russell) at short and Roy Hobbs reincarnated Kris Bryant at third. That's not bad. Oh yeah and Jorge Soler running around in the outfield.

First Insert -

Hank Aaron ar-che-types. The fact that it is Aaron helps mitigate the fact that I don't care for most of the inserts that have come to bloat the flagship series. On the surface this particular set doesn't bother me, but breaking up the word archetypes really bothers the shit out of me for some reason.

First Insert I'll offer on Ebay for a starting price of $0.99 -

Javier Baez 1st Home Run. We'll see how it goes. C'mon idealistic Cubs fans, bid away.

So for $4.99 I got 36 cards (well 35 cards and one coupon) closer to completing the series. Overall I like that that Topps is bringing some color back to their base set. After all they've done just about all they can do with the white border design over the last few years. There are too many inserts, but there are always too many inserts. Once again there are variations in the base set. I'm not as against that as most people, but it does annoy me simply because I have to go to two or three places to see if I have a base card or a variation that I'm going to trade away for nothing.

I'll still make a go at completing the set. Hopefully I'll be done sometime before the next millennium.

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