Friday, October 12, 2012

"F" is for filler

Almost two weeks after everyone else got their paws on some 2012 Topps Update, disinterested me finally found some cash for three measly packs of the stuff tonight.

Oh, I saw the cute, little Update blasters, too. But there's no way I'm buying $19.99 worth of Update. Topps Update hasn't been worth that kind of cash since, oh, maybe the mid-1980s. Back when the entire set was traded players and rookies and that was IT.

Update hasn't been that way for a long time. Now it contains traded players and rookies and all-star appearances and home run derby shenanigans and checklists and random combinations of guys standing in the outfield just TO PISS ME OFF!

In other words, Update is filled with Filler. Topps could cut the size of this set in half and it'd probably be worth more. You folks who remember when the Topps Traded set was 132 cards strong, do you remember how giddy you were when you got your hands on some of those? That was a solid set, from front to back. No filler.

Now, even though you've probably come across one, maybe two cards of Josh Hamilton in Series 1 or Series 2, Topps is going to foist another card of him on you in Update. I don't want to see established stars in Update unless they were either traded, or inexplicably left out of the first two series. A third card of Ryan Braun is meaningless to me.

And in the name of all that is good and righteous, none of this:

Yeah, that was six years ago. But it hasn't gotten any better. Maybe fewer guys standing around chatting, but still plenty of pointless cards.

But I already knew all this when I picked up the cards and I knew what I was getting myself into. Maybe it skewed the way I looked at these packs when I opened them. But probably not. Topps helped my critical view with some quality control issues.

So, here are the three packs. I will mark the cards that I consider filler with a big, red "F," which could stand for a few other things. I'll let your imagination handle that.

By the way, I consider any insert in Update as filler because I'm not interested in any of the 2012 Topps inserts. They are probably the worst inserts since at least 2008. You may think I'm being mean, but really, you don't have to think very far back to come up with an example of Topps doing finer work than this.

Pack 1

US94 - Kevin Slowey, Indians

US43 - Michael Bowden, Cubs
US310 - Kelly Shoppach, Red Sox

US192 - Josh Hamilton, Rangers, checklist F

(I know I said I wanted checklists back in the set, but even though I'm happy to see them here, it's basically filler)

US95 - Edward Mujica, Cardinals

TM-130 - Ty Cobb, Tigers, '87 mini F

GG-84 - Jim Palmer, Orioles, Golden Greats F

(Just in time for Halloween, Topps unearths these Series 1 monstrosities from the cold, dead ground where they belong).

US237 - Prince Fielder, Tigers, Home Run Derby F
US48 - Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians, All-Star Game F

US265 - Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox

US9 - Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, All-Star Game F
US10 - Mark Trumbo, Angels, All-Star Game F

Total worthwhile cards in the pack: 5 out of 12 (42 percent, or in other words, an "F")

Pack 2

US167 - Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks
US150 - Jake Arrieta, Orioles

US66 - James Russell, Cubs F

(Here is where we come across some fine craftsmanship. There is paper loss on this card in a very unfortunate spot for Mr. Russell. What am I supposed to do with this card?)

US222 - Jairo Asencio, Cubs F

(More paper damage)

US69 - Brett Jackson, Cubs

(Normally, I'd be fuming over three straight Cubs. But I'm just relieved one of them came out of the package intact).

US102 - Brandon League, Dodgers
US210 - Tyler Chatwood, Rockies

US248 - Felix Doubront, Red Sox

US285 - Ian Kinsler, Rangers, All-Star Game F
US118 - David Freese, Cardinals, All-Star Game F
US110 - Robinson Cano, Yankees, All-Star Game F
US173 - Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, All-Star Game F

Total worthwhile cards in the pack: 6 out of 12 (50 percent for an "F" -- quality control issues sabotage a much better score).

Pack 3

US198 - Michael Pineda, Yankees F

(More damage. Paper loss travels all the way into Pineda's name. By the way, Pineda didn't pitch a single regular-season game for the Yankees this year. No need for him to be in the Update set).

US174 - Javier Lopez, Giants
US227 - Mark DeRosa, Nationals

US34 - A.J. Griffin, A's

US141 - R.J. Dickey, Mets, Checklist F

329 - Allen Craig, Cardinals, World Series, gold parallel

(I could put an "F" with this because it could definitely be classified as filler. But I still can't do that to a gold parallel).

TM-147 - Johan Santana, Mets, '87 Mini F

US189 - Melky Cabera, Giants

US154 - Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins F

OK. This is stupid. Stanton had a card in Topps flagship. Granted, his name was "Mike" on that card. But an Update card for the sake of a name change is plain, unadulterated filler.

US75 - Rafael Furcal, Cardinals, All-Star Game F
US271 - Ryan Braun, Brewers, All-Star Game F
US68 - Fernando Rodney, Rays, All-Star Game F

Total worthwhile cards in the pack: 5 of 12 (42 percent, or an 'F")

Total worthwhile cards in the three packs (and the Giants cards are debatable): 14 of 36. Fourteen cards for  6 bucks.


Update could really be a terrific set without all the extra stuff. I doubt it'll ever be like the way it was, which is fine actually. I don't need to buy any cards at this time of year anyway.

But I certainly could do without the damaged cards.


  1. How can Ty Cobb bunting with that wild-eyed, creepy expression on his face garner an F? Especially on a smaller card, which would surely raise Mr. Cobb's ire and likely trigger some suspension inducing behavior in today's more rules-oriented day and age?

  2. I don't care about '87 minis, and Topps' relentless and repeated issuing of cards of certain legendary players has killed my interest in any of those players -- Cobb included-- on current cards.

    F's all around!

  3. Gotta admit...the Craig is a beauty.

    I bought four rack packs (way better deal than a mini-blaster) and was really happy with it, but there are some absurdities to Update:

    Rookies get two cards: base, mlb debut subset; and in some cases an All-Star one with a variation (thus, there are FOUR Bryce Harper base cards to chase).

    Topps inserts are awful, and so geared for memorabilia with their big open spaces and home plates/gold dishes waiting to be replaced by a swatch of the bat boy's JV sliding shorts.

    Blockbusters. Abysmal design - and Robinzon Diaz for Jose Bautista IS NOT a Blockbuster.

    Ohhhhhhkay gotta stop. I have my own blog..

  4. What you said..... x 100. All of it is garbage. But I must point out that among the hot chick Dodger fans you post I consider Kendra Wilkinson to be filler as well.

  5. My taste in women must not be questioned!!!!!


    (google her).

  6. As I was collating my set I was thinking the exact same thing, "Wow Topps has to come up with a ton of crap to fill this set."

  7. Give me the All Stars cards like it is 1988.

    Hey have you ever done a post on the best filler set ever (when was it) if not will you thanks

  8. Is the Griffin rookie card already spoken for?

  9. No, it's yours. Just send me an email.

  10. I've always been a fan of Update, possibly because I wasn't around to see the 110-card Traded sets of the '80s and '90s.

    I do agree with you that Topps could cut down on the "filler" with these. Too many guys received multiple cards in the base set. I sure don't need two Melky Cabrera cards.

  11. I haven't opened up any Update yet so I give myself an F.