Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Not-so-short rant on short prints


The checklist for 2015 Topps Heritage came out yesterday and, like always, I search out the Dodgers as well as which ones are short prints.

I'm not too enthused about Heritage this year because the 1966 design is another one of the '60s borefests. The yellow-on-red used with the Dodgers (and the Yankees) makes it seem more of a food-issue card than a Topps card ... hey, wait ... maybe the design isn't so bad after all.

But I'm also not looking forward to chasing another round of Dodgers short prints. For the fourth straight year, the Dodgers have three or more SPs in Heritage. This year, it's four.

I went through the checklist and counted up the SP totals for each team. Here is what I found:

American League

Baltimore Orioles - 1; Boston Red Sox - 4; Chicago White Sox - 3; Cleveland Indians - 3; Detroit Tigers - 6; Houston Astros - 2; Kansas City Royals - 4; Los Angeles Angels - 4; Oakland A's - 1; Seattle Mariners - 5; Tampa Bay Rays - 1; Texas Rangers - 3 ; Toronto Blue Jays - 3

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks - 1; Atlanta Braves - 2; Chicago Cubs - 2, Cincinnati Reds - 3; Colorado Rockies - 3; Los Angeles Dodgers - 4; Miami Marlins - 4; Milwaukee Brewers - 3; New York Mets - 3;  Philadelphia Phillies - 1; Pittsburgh Pirates - 1; St. Louis Cardinals - 1; San Francisco Giants - 1; Washington Nationals - 6

I did that quickly because there's no time, so I may have miscounted. But after reading that, the first thing I feel like doing is sending sympathy cards to Tigers and Nationals collectors. Six cards each is just obnoxious.

Also, there are three teams with no short prints. They are the Twins, the Padres and the Yankees. The Padres kind of get screwed because three of the players they acquired in trades -- Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and James Shields are listed with other teams. Or maybe it's a good thing because two of the three (Upton and Shields) are SPs.

The fact that there are no Yankees SPs is bizarre to me. That's because my theory on the SPs is that they are loaded with teams that possess a large and faithful collecting base, the Dodgers being one of them.

That's why in 2015 there are four Dodgers SPs, in 2014 there were three, in 2013 there were four and in 2012 there were three.

But no Yankees SPs with all the Yankees collectors. That's strange.

The other aspect of Heritage SPs that highlights Topps' cynical side is how much they've gone over to loading the SP portion of the set with desirable players. Since 2013, virtually all of the Heritage SP cards are established stars, hot young players, or veteran notables traded to new teams.

Just look at the Dodgers for contrast:

2011 Heritage Dodgers SPs: Rafael Furcal, Russ Mitchell
2012 Heritage Dodgers SPs: Dee Gordon, Jerry Hairston Jr., Aaron Miles
2013 Heritage Dodgers SPs: Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez
2014 Heritage Dodgers SPs: Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez
2015 Heritage Dodgers SPs: Adrian Gonzalez, Zach Greinke, Kenley Jansen, Yasiel Puig

A definite cynical shift between 2012 and 2013.

I know why Topps does all this SP crap. Obviously, with all the player collectors out there, they will have no problem paying a little extra money to get an SP of their favorite player. A Heritage SP is nothing compared with some high end hit of that same player.

I also know why Topps loads the SPs with certain teams. All you have to do is look at the blogosphere to know there are a lot of Dodgers collectors (although I think the star power is a lot more a priority with Topps than teams).

The main problem with it is the problem I've had all along and the reason why I stopped attempting to complete Heritage sets over six years ago.

SPs are the antithesis of what Heritage should be. Heritage is a brand that harkens collectors back to the time when there was a set to chase with no wacky gimmicks. Sure, some cards ended up being short-printed, but that was only because Topps thought that collectors weren't going to buy the sixth series late in the summer, not because they're trying to get a collector to chase a Bryce Harper card all over God's green internet.

Heritage should be free of this stuff. Save the SPs for more modern-styles sets if there are now so many collectors who have grown up with them that they need them in sets.

I know it's pointless to say, with SPs being a standby for years now, but SPs in Heritage is just wrong.

13 comments:

  1. Last year the Giants had 6 or 7, I am very happy they have fewer this year.however the group break I just entered will probably just give me a bunch of base now.

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  2. I tend to be about as cynical as they come when it comes to card distribution from Topps. I am totally with you on the SPs here. If Topps wants to have a short-printed Heritage set, keep it for that High Numbers series thing with prospects that they have done in the past. I don't even buy those. I don't even know what is in those, even.

    I really don't see the point of the manufactured short print, other than having some cards with a "return on investment" for people to flip on eBay.

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  3. agreed. Heritage is over priced as it is... Topps wants you to think it's loaded with mojo hitz.... but those collectors won't touch it. It's us set collectors that buy it. Pay too much for it, and then spend years trying to track down reasonably priced SP's in the dime boxes.

    Heritage needs an overhaul. Fast. Before 2020. That's when it's gonna get real.

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  4. Why not dump the SPs and expand the set to 600 cards? After all, 1966 Topps had 598 cards.

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  5. I've got mixed feelings on SP's in Heritage. On one hand I get a little excited when I bust open my annual blaster of the stuff and I find an SP. But I completely agree with you that it's the antithesis of what this product is all about.

    In other news: hip, hip, hooray! Between the A's and Padres... I only need to chase down one SP.

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  6. After collecting anything and everything my first year back, I decided to simplify by limiting myself to vintage sets and Heritage. It was those 75 freaking short prints in Heritage that made me decide to just focus on vintage. In three years of trying, I never finished one Heritage set. Screw that.

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  7. I know in 2012 the Rockies had 7 SPs to track down. It's mostly been 3 or 4 though. I also seem to remember that Toronto had 9 SPs in 2011 I think. If they are going to be in the set (which I don't think they are going to change) then they should at least be equally spread among the teams. With 75 SPs, there should be 15 teams with 3 and 15 teams with 2. There should never be more than 3 SPs for a single team.

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  8. The Dodgers are the new Yankees. They spend a crap-ton of money, have a lot of big names, they have dedicated collectors and bandwagon fans, they're in a big market and they're polarizing. The Yankees have few big prospects, no big signings and have missed the postseason for a couple of seasons... they are *so* 2009.

    I don't like the SP's in Heritage, but I've come to accept that it's a set that I collect in a "close enough for government work" way. Last year, for the first time, I hung on to the SP's I pulled for teams & players I don't collect. I like 1966 more than most people, but it looks like I'm going back to turning my SP's into other cards I'd rather have.

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  9. At one time I didn't mind the SPs, but that was back when the Tigers only had a couple per set. Now, it is ridiculous. If they were evenly spread out among the teams, like a real set, that would be better. Also, if I remember correctly, a few years ago they changed the ratio from 1:2 to 1:3, making it more difficult. Heritage is no longer for a set collector.

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  10. I'm a Heritage guy. For my money, they could quit making all the other cards they make and just make Heritage. And there is nothing anyone could say about Heritage that would change my mind. The designs are classics. I love the '66 design and I'd put it in the top 3 or 4 Topps designs ever (behind only '65, '52, and maybe '67, and just ahead of '71). I love the team slash at the top, the simple name and position on the bottom. I especially love the counter-intuitive colors--purple for the Mets, green for the Giants, red for the Dodgers, powder blue for the Reds (admittedly, I've always felt bad for Indians and Phillies fans who got stuck with gray and, had they existed then, I'm guessing the Padres would have gotten the same brown they did in '69). As nice as the flagship design is this year, it still sucks in comparison to any of those earlier designs like the '66. And there is not a single posed shot in the flagship, not one. An occasional action shot is OK, but I want to see what my heroes look like, I want to be able to pose myself like them and pretend. I want to be able to see their faces with that faux look of concentration on them. If I want to see them in action, I'll watch a damn game. Jackie Bradley stretched out for the catch in center field? Who gives a rats' behind, what does he look like? Specifically regarding short prints.... I would much rather have short prints than a sixth series than I never knew about until decades later because they never ever made it to my neighborhood. Now THAT was just cruel. The Heritage update sets were like that for a couple of years, but, last year, the price dropped and they were available at hobby shops so even that experience got better. Let me put it into terms you might appreciate. Would you rather there be a shortprint of Greinke that you know about in advance and can chase or just pick up as suits you or would you rather discover at this late date that there was a high-number series in 1975 that never reached your neighborhood, that you never knew existed, and that each Dodger in the series goes for north of $200 (like the '66 Bart Shirley rookie)? And God help you if that high number '75 you'd never heard of turns out to be a star like a Seaver or Ryan (or Cey or Garvey). You want a set without shortprints? You've got the flagship for that. I did finish the Heritage set last year (the last card I was chasing, naturally, had to be a Met--Matt Harvey)--first Heritage set I've finished ever, I think--and let me tell you, I felt great when it was done and I look at that set nearly every day. Meanwhile, this year's flagship I finished off quickly and I never look at it. I'll take the Heritage experience any day. And I love the '66 design.

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    Replies
    1. Meh. I'd rather have a 660-, 726- or 792-card set that all comes out at once, where no card is short-printed, and I'd feel just as good about completing it as if there were 75 cards of artificial scarcity. But I hear you on the overemphasis on action. Bashing my Bradley card aside, I agree there needs to be more of a mix.

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  11. Preach, brother. I totally agree that Heritage should be sans SPs cos, well, it's a throwback product and therefore should strive to capture the spirit of the archival set in all ways.

    Though I have to concur with Stubby in a way: There is a sense of satisfaction from completing a Heritage set with SPs that you can't quite obtain from any other set-collecting experience. Of course, I'm a Heritage person, so I'm biased.

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  12. the short-prints can be pretty annoying at times. Im still stunned that i managed to get every heritage set done without buying a single box from 2001-2005. Im beginning to think that some of the inserts are short-printed such as the 05 NAP Manny Ramirez. That is one i have never seen surface anywhere on the web.

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