A couple of you have messaged me for trades. I haven’t fully updated the want list yet – hopefully tomorrow!
Next up on the posting side, however, are the inserts! There were 5 more regular insert cards in this box than my series 1 jumbo box. Basically, the Stepping Up insert came in every pack – whereas the Free Agent 40 set from the first series came 1 every other pack. Either way, there’s still about 2-3 more insert sets in series 2 than I would prefer.
As is the usual, I’ll go in the order of “least favorite” to “most favorite”.
Speaking of the set called Stepping Up – this is probably my least favorite insert from series 2. That doesn’t mean it’s bad – it does seem like a good idea with a targeted theme. It covers guys who have shined the brightest in the clutch. Guys like Koufax, Reggie, Rivera – all players who make sense here. Madison Bumgarner? Definitely makes sense. Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto? Great first baseman – but I’m not so sure they’re in the same category. The write-up on the back discusses their clutch hitting, but that’s not the same as being nicknamed “Mr. October”, or striking out 15 batters in a World Series game.
I think this highlights a problem I tend to have with modern sets. Including historic greats makes the current players tend to pale in comparison. Not always – Mad Bum definitely fits the bill here. But I can’t help but look at Jacob DeGrom and wondering “why not Christy Mathewson or Bob Gibson”.
The next set is called Eclipsing History. Now this set had some potential. It features 2 players, with one player who passed another player in some statistical category. The background is a space design – i.e., and eclipse. They have some cards with the moon look for this, others with the “sunny side”. I do appreciate that. But the execution is where this gets lost a bit. And it comes down to bad use of the retired / current player concept. Some of the cards are great – Hank Aaron passing Stan Musial for the NL hits record. That’s a mark worth celebrating to me.
On the other side though is Mike Trout and Rod Carew. Topps is “celebrating” when Trout reached the 2,000 plate appearance barrier. He then passed Rod Carew on the ALL-TIME ANGELS ON-BASE PERCENTAGE LIST!!!!!! No offense to Carew or Trout – but this has holes all over the place. Let me count the ways. First, 2,000 at bats is completely arbitrary. I think the MLB minimum for stats like this is 5,000 at bats anyways. Second, it’s not only a record that Trout might not hold on to – I fully expect him not to. Third, it’s Mike Trout. Every time I look up at MLB Network or ESPN – I’m seeing some stat where he’s got the most homers by age 23 or something like that. There are just much better and more historical statistical comparisons Topps could have used.
The next one is a continuation from series 1 of a set called Highlight of the Year. This set picks a date of a notable accomplishment. The design isn’t bad – I like the old beat up baseball in the back. I like how each series is numbered in chronological order – though they restart at card #31 for series 2. There are some pretty good accomplishments here – and Topps has picked some photos you don’t see all the time. The biggest gripe I have – I’d have picked the last game of the 1941 season for the Splendid Splinter over 1942.
This insert set – ‘Til it’s Over – takes a phrase from the great Yogi Berra. It highlights great comebacks. Unlike the Stepping Up insert set, I think this one really works. The retired players don’t overshadow the current players. The weakest comeback below might be Nolan Ryan. Yes the Mets had an “Amazing” comeback in 1969 – but young Nolan Ryan was far from the poster child for it. Perez helping the Royals comeback in the Wild Card game, Cain helping come back from a 2-0 series deficit against my Reds? Those were epic moments that catapulted their team to impressive playoff runs.
Heart of the Order is another cool set. I like the design, and the write-ups on the back are interesting. They’ll tell you things like what Yasiel Puig has a career OPS of 1.021 when he hits clean-up. Thought it’s karma (for my fantasy baseball team) that I’m posting this on a day he got bumped to 6th in the order.
First Pitch was my favorite insert from series 1, and I was looking forward to it this series. It’s still a cool set, and it’s still one I really like. In fact, I think the subjects in series 2 are an improvement from series 1. The Grateful Dead guys are great additions, Kelsey Grammer is in the set. But overall, I think Topps could have done a little bit better here. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago teams make up over half of the full set. A Reds first pitch card would have been nice. The good thing is – this is an idea that doesn’t have to die with 2015! I hope Topps keeps churning these out in the future.
Baseball Royalty is next on my list. These cards are very thick, and thus very nice. In my world, the thicker the card (within reason), the better. Topps usually does these thicker, rarer sets nicely, and this is no exception. In fact, it’s a little better than some of the ones from last year. The write-up on the back of the Mays card is great. It describes how his number was 24, he made 24 All-Star games, the Giants now play their games at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, and every May 24th they celebrate Willie Mays Day. Fits the bill here.
So that’s my favorite insert set from series 2. Next up are the hits. I’ll break the tension now – unfortunately there was nothing too exciting in this particular box.