Friday, December 3, 2021

It's - - - new Baseball Card season?

Recently, I went to the grocery store. I enjoy going to the grocery store. I always hope those 70-90 count shrimp caught in American waters, without being pumped full of anti-biotics and heavy metals in some foreign country shrimp farm that used to be a Mangrove swamp, well, I hope they are on sale for a change.

And I used to always enjoy going to the grocery store because it also sold Topps Baseball Cards. Until, life changed, some, 21? months ago now. I forget.

But on this trip to the grocery store the other day, life changed back, a little bit. My local grocery store once again was offering brand-new Topps Baseball Cards.

So just in time for us all to celebrate a brand new Major League Baseball lock-out of the baseball players, I thought I would share some new baseball cards, with you.

First pack, first card:

This is one of my more memorable first-card-pulled from a new release. Not because it is a very, very good baseball card, which it is. It would be kind of cool if every No-Hitter thrown always got a commemorative baseball card, though I suppose that does happen these days with the Topps Now cards. I think they are probably more deserving of a singular baseball card than many cards. I have always thought that this type of event could make for a interesting insert set that would run across different years - whenever the achievement is achieved once again, a new card could be created and inserted into packs, with the same design kept running. But now, that idea is moot if the clock is ticking on Topps & Baseball Cards.

What is so striking is the way the name WADE MILEY just jumps off the card at you. Did Topps concede defeat and agree with the routine, loud complaint from collectors everywhere that the player name was just ridiculously small on the 2021 design and one of the dumberest things most of us have ever seen Topps do?

Oh well. Turns out, the large text on the name-plate-space on the 2021 Topps Baseball design always carries a larger font when the card is not a card of a singular player. Those cards were checklists and other filler duals, etc., that always used a descriptive text, rather than a player name. Like this:
And that was true in Series One and Series Two. It's just that for some reason it was hard for me to recall that much improved design choice on those cards, after routinely squinting at all the player names all the time on the majority of the cards.

As for this dual featuring, I dunno, 2 random Red Sox wearing yellow socks, it is cool to see the "city uniforms" that MLB experimented with this summer. I don't know if all teams had them or not. Maybe my baseball cards will answer that for me, some day, but I doubt it. Topps just doesn't seem to have the energy to explore things like that any more, aside from a few way easy efforts like this one.

Nor do I know what the color yellow has to do with the city of Boston. The back of the card tells me that is Enrique Hernandez and Alex Verdugo in the photo and quickly goes on a tangent about their reunification in Boston after playing in L.A. and mentions a "new uniform" to further muddy this card experience. "Top Shelf" refers to them batting 1-2 in the line-up on Opening Day, I think the card tells me.

Going back to that Chance Sisco card - it wasn't very long ago that Sisco Rookie Card cards were falling out of every package of Topps Baseball cards across more sets than I care to remember to count. Such a great baseball name, cool to see on a baseball card, you had to root for the kid. Now here he is a back-up Catcher on one of the worst teams in the league finally getting a regulation Topps Baseball Card after the season is over in the Update set. Quite possibly his "sunset" card, too. Au revoir, Chance.

And welcome back, COREY KLUBER
See how nice it is to simply read a baseball player's name on his baseball card? I want a whole set of these No-Hitter cards. Too bad several of them were late in the season and my random little dream of a season's worth of No-Hitter cards will have to be dreamed up by a new baseball card company I guess.

What a strange season for Kluber however. After pitching just 8 games in the previous two seasons, he doubled that total this year. And then went back on the IL to stay.

There were more regular baseball cards in my first pack, which was a now big, 14 card pack inside a blaster box, the only format available at start for Update at my local grocery store. Though I could bloggle on about each and every card in the whole blaster, I couldn't wait any longer to see how this next card scanned and I went on fast-forward a bit in the pack here -

These cards are that not totally common type of card that are a million or so times better in-hand, than they appear on the Internet, and I like them quite a bit. I'm not sure if they will drop in price into my price range but I would like to own many more of these. Maybe one of them will even feature a player who is already a Detroit Tiger rather than a future Tiger. I hope you pull one from a pack, because I doubt you will buy one after just looking at them on a screen.

Now the Black Gold inserts are actually a re-used design, though I never saw it "back in the day." This blaster was simply chock full of such re-used designs
However I quite like these "inserts." I have always liked 1992 Topps though I only generally hold one in my hands when I buy a re-pack product. I like that these cards use that solid card stock sometimes referred to as "vintage" stock. They seem actually thicker than the originals.

That particular card however, kept seeming familiar when I pawed and re-pawed through that first pack for some reason...
That's because I also found a brand new blaster of Archives on that delightful recent trip to the grocery store. Leave it to Topps to just make the usual blizzard of Rookie Card cards simply re-use the same basic live action baseball card photo like this.

A recurring feature of all "blasters" of Topps Baseball Card is some sort of special "Commemorative" card. So let's get this out of the way, right away
There is one upside to these cards - each year, the increasingly pointless nature of these things makes you start to feel a bit more fond of the ones you pulled from blasters in the past. Remember those silk reproductions of baseball cards? Wouldn't you rather have one of those than your very own plastic "patch" of the Topps 70 logo? You'll get another one in your very next blaster box, just like this one. So I hope you like them. I hate blaster boxes for the Topps Baseball set.

But the things hold the things I do want, brand new Topps Baseball Cards, so I had to buy one, to get cards like this one:
Johnny Lasagna!

I know, I know, it's rude to make fun of someone's last name. Maybe I should only do that if Loaisiga (I used the back of the card) were to appear in some kid-themed insert in the Opening Day set, if Topps even bothers to still make a kid-themed insert ever again. Given Loaisiga's performances this year, perhaps he will somehow someday make an Opening Day set, though this seems doubtful. I was happy to see his card, though something was striking about it, and even more so on another random reliever card I pulled:
The weirdest thing about the 2021 Topps Baseball design is it just can't decide it wants to go all the way with a "frame break" or really a "pointless graphics break." Sometimes that determined graphic element that juts into the card stops when it hits Baseball Player. Other times, it just, I dunno. Maybe this is a secret Acupuncture short print variation and the inside of Knebel'ls right elbow is the pressure point he needs for success in the Major Leagues. I don't think an actual human being decides how it should all work. Otherwise,
Looks painful.

Or maybe Topps is trying to tell the baseball world that Lance Lynn secretly wants to be a Closer so he can celebrate the big strike-outs more? I mean they have been carefully using hypnotic suggestion for years and years now that only Closers are allowed to be photographed celebrating a pitching accomplishment.

And we all know that Update is the Relievers set:
The upside of buying a blaster box: you will almost certainly pull a card from Your Team. And that is a basically OK card, with the Rookie already understanding how to just simply stay out of the way of 2021 Topps Baseball design. Plus I always like hypnotic Empty Seat cards. Though I'm fairly sure I could never ever rank such cards as they hypnotize me so very well.

It seems like it's time to find an insert card, too, as I have already moved beyond First Pack (best pack?)
I like Andrew McCutchen baseball cards. And as mentioned, I like 1992 Topps Baseball cards. So I really like this card. Ahh, the days of clean designs. Though I can't decide if the baseball card authenticity of using the 1992 shade of the color red as chosen by the Phillies at that time is the best choice for this 2021 card with the Phillies now using a much more primal bright red. I think these "new" 1992 cards might have also turned out well using the team's current decorator's decision, too.

Back during the actual 2021 season, I heard an interesting bit of trivia during the radio broadcast of a Tigers-Rays game: the Rays had already used 35 different Pitchers by mid-September. My immediate thought was: "I hope no one tells Topps this." And I knew at that same instant what the result would be in the Update set:
And I knew when I found it, I would immediately hit up Baseball Reference for the important detail, that I already knew anyway: Brent Honeywell Jr. pitched 4.1 innings in The Show this year.

It's nice and all that he got a Topps Baseball card out of it, but I sometimes wonder how much I need to keep cards like this one. Recently, his contract was purchased from the Rays, by the A's. When the wizards in Tampa can't even trade a player for a prospect somewhere in the 3-400 range of all those prospect rankings - does anyone expect this player will appear in MLB again? But, hey, I got a Rookie Card card out of it. Those are worth money, I hear.

Often however, I do like the Relievers Set:
Steve Cishek seems more likely than not to get a good card from Topps; this is (was? I so often wish Topps would make cards more useful by including Contract Status on the back, like Donruss used to do) his 7th team. Maybe he will make it to 9 and I can make it to 9 different teams for him on a binder page. Not easy to do.

Oh look, here comes another special card I've been wanting to scan from the moment I pulled it -
Oooh, Shiny

That's the foil parallel. I still do like Oooh, Shiny, most of the time. And I like seeing that Kaline memorial patch on each and every card I see it on.

Rony (yes, Rony, I know this because I am a Tigers fan as Topps certainly doesn't help you decode his name correctly here) pitched in even less innings than Honeywell Jr. did this year, but it's not really Topps's fault that Garcia, R broke a bone in his leg while landing awkwardly during warm-ups in early summer and couldn't pitch again. The Tigers are looking forward to having him come out of the bullpen in 2022. And I guess I shouldn't be disappointed with that Honeywell, Jr. card.

So it goes in the Relievers Set. Update is also the home of the Journeyman at other positions, and it seems like as with Jeff Franceour in years past it wouldn't be an Update set without
This is Hill's 11th team, the back of the card informs me, so perhaps he has a shot at having 9 different teams on 9 base cards in his baseball card oeuvre; I will be looking into that. But I think this card does an all too good of a job at portraying his thoughts on his place in the game these days. Probably, another sunset card.

I'm getting that where's-my-insert feeling again
I have always liked 86 Topps. And Kyle Tucker didn't play for the Astros during that one season, so this card is OK. These particular re-cycled, archival, historic, whatever you wanna call 'em cards don't get the honor of arriving on that sweet old heavy cardboard card stock like the 1992 cards do. I guess a 35th anniversary is just more we-gotta-fill-the-packs-somehow, or something.

Now next up I have the very thing everyone wants to pull from a pack of Update:
The Rookie Card of the National League Rookie of the Year

And a fine Rookie Card it is with a crisp photo selection of a live baseball swing, with undertones of the '77 wrapper and notes of that one most famous-est Update Rookie Card of them all.

That wasn't the only Rookie 2nd Baseman Card I pulled -
Now I'm getting confused. Did I accidentally move a card from my pile of brand new Archives baseball cards? It is getting late.

Oh, I know how to decode it - that Topps 70 logo. Also It is easy to tell that is not from the brand new Archives set because this card is in normal, almost pristine condition. Whereas all of the 2001 style cards in Archives had the same manufacturing defect, making them all even more worthless than they usually are. We'll see those soon.  It still amazes me that Topps went with that famous baseball color of dark pastel green for the 50th anniversary set. The Outfield Wall Set?

That card kicked off the insert portion of a pack, which then led to yet another new-old card
If you somehow purchased (it wasn't easy, this year) a package of Topps baseball cards from any set at all this year and you didn't pull a Jo Adell Rookie Card card, you were probably doing something wrong. The Jo Adell RC you were supposed to receive was probably stuck to another card, like this one was, hiding directly behind my 9th or 10th Jo Adell Rookie Card card I just scanned:
These things are so thick in Topps products this year you can pull two of them in a row in a pack, if you try.

I have never much cared for the Rookie Debut cards; pulling one 15 months after the actual debut game seems especially, ehh whatevs. Is a 1-for-4 Debut, with the Hit being a routine grounder that missed the defenders, deserving of a baseball card? Instead of another Tampa Bay reliever card? Hmmm.

This year though, I pulled my favorite Rookie Debut card ever - instant first place in the otherwise empty category -
A Tigers Rookie Debut card!

I'm pretty sure this is the very first time a Detroit Tiger has been on a Topps Rookie Debut card, or at least since the ill-fated Topps set of nothing but Rookie Debut cards way back in 1991, which probably had a Detroit Tiger card in it if I had the free time to look up things like that.

That card feels dangerous to me. I might start liking the goofy things if the Tigers keep getting more Rookies exciting enough to get their very own Rookie Debut card. 

Let's get back to a standard card type in the Update set, one that Updates which team an ultra-famous player is now playing for, and a card that many were probably anticipating in this set:

I am just under-whelmed here. Albert Pujols watches a fly ball fly off into the sunset while we watch his head dwindle away way way up there in the corner of the card. Is this really the best possible photo of Albert Pujols playing in probably his final uniform? I seriously doubt it.

The one upside here is that Pujols will probably get a more complete sunset card in 2022 Series One, which seems like it should be arriving next week since there is already snow all over the place where I live.

This card reminded me that I have a long standing personal wondering about a bit of baseball card trivia: which baseball card has the most League Leader in Italics notations on the back? This one has 23. It might be a minute before I pull another one that has that many, or before I check out some older cards for the answer. Or, maybe, two minutes. 

Speaking of all that glorious red ink on the back of that card, it also reminded me that - shouldn't an Update set have All-Star cards in it? Tradition is tradition, right Topps? It took a few packs to find one, which was surprising, but the ASG did represent, eventually
Wait a minute.

Well, we did finally get a star on an All-Star card after lo these many years, though perhaps the ASG logo has managed the feat in prior Update sets and I fell asleep. But this card introduces 2 shocks to the traditional system. For one, this card is an insert - it is not part of the 300 card checklist - that way we can get more Tampa Bay Reliever RC cards. So the All-Star cards will be harder to collect; some prefer that because they have little intention of actually collecting Topps Baseball cards as they only buy them in hopes of instant re-sale luck. So making these "inserts" adds "value" to buying a complete case of 12 Hobby boxes. 

But with what seems to be becoming a new standard modus operandi for the creation of Topps Baseball cards, no one could be bothered to actually design a different design for these "inserts." I guess creating Throwback Thursday sets of re-used designs all the time is just too tiring, or something.

I don't really have that much concern about an insert set using the base design. Just more, whatevs.

However this card got me thinking - isn't the All-Star game played at night? And where are the kooky ASG uniforms? I had to use that thing called the Internet to check them out, since I don't watch the ASG any more, after that change away from making the game somehow "count," which everyone else hated for some reason. And here they are:
Nice touch with the Canadian flag there. I would kinda like to see that on a baseball card.

But on the other hand, maybe these "inserts" are instead a sly throwback to old-school All Star cards, which put a special logo on just a player's base card, without using a frequently repetitive photo from the actual All-Star Game? Hmmm.

I guess I'll have to somehow see if the Tigers have an ASG insert card, which seems like a dubious proposition. But everyone is supposed to get a trophy in the 21st century, so I guess one probably exists. Really though, who saw Topps just bailing on the long running Update All-Star Game tradition? Another sign of the times at 1 Whitehall Street — my real concern with those "inserts."

Surely a package of brand new Topps Baseball cards would have some just regular ole baseball cards that would delight this particular baseball / baseball card fan without being special gimcrack of some sort or the other? Yes:
Home Run!

I have to admit, that like all Topps Baseball card designs, sometimes even this one just plain works, no matter how much I nit-pick it.

And I do like baseball cards from a nice sunny summer day, like this one. I give it an "A" though I just don't think I could give a 2021 Topps Baseball card an "A+" sadly. Those tiny player names will just never stop bugging me, ever.

That came from quite a pack of cards, particularly if you live 250 miles south of me:
Red, White, & Blue. Baseball cards.

Did I mention I love these brand new old 1992 baseball cards? These things can do no wrong.
oh, wait

I guess Topps really can't Update us very well any more after all. Yet even this card manages to pull off intrigue-ment — though it is just a standard baseball card with the usual white frame and seeing it on the Internet should be sufficient, I strangely have to recommend seeing this card, in-hand. The lighting of Bauer's face just seems to fit just right, after all. You'll see.

But I can't let that be the last 1992 card to show off, let's do a shot of Miggy and wipe that last card away:
Miggy likes 1992 Topps, too

I was happy to pull that card, cuz it goes especially well with some other pack-pulled cards from earlier this year, like this one -

and this one -

I really like these new-old cards this year and will be putting together a post about them, some day.

But now I'm starting to wonder if I scanned more old cards, or more new Update cards, hmmm. So I should probably close with an authentic new Baseball Card, and a good one. Which is naturally of a Reliever, one I am fairly familiar with from his many years playing in the AL Central. This is only his 8th team, so he won't make it to a binder page of 9 teams, 9 base cards. I have always liked following the Mexican players in Major League Baseball, due to my many friends from Mexico, and hope to visit the country - & go to a baseball game - some day. A week or two before I finally found some brand new Baseball Cards, he announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, so it was a nice thing to pull his final baseball card from 2021 Topps Update. Another sunset card, which is one thing the set is all about. 

Farewell, Joakim Soria:


  1. From what I've heard, cards have become more findable again at the retail level, so you should start having some better luck while grocery shopping. Oh, and I hate those metal patch/button things too. All I see is fodder for landfills every time someone shows one of those off.

  2. Since Topps started doing those generic "hits" in blaster boxes, I've stopped buying them unless I had no choice. I'd rather get 2 hanger boxes than one blaster box any day.