Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Topps and Javier Baez sittin' in a tree ...

I have a lot to cover today so I hope you've brought your attention span.

I was out of town over the weekend, so I decided to update myself on this certain card shop in Buffalo that I had gone to several years ago. I'm always very busy when I'm in the city and intend to stop by, but never get a chance. Also, when the headquarters of Dave and Adam's Card World is in Buffalo, too, there isn't much time for other card shops.

I had noticed several times while driving by that the shop had been renamed to place less emphasis on cards and more emphasis on comics. OK, no big deal. Yeah, it's a sign of the times, but I've seen comics and cards peacefully coexist in the past.

But when I walked in, all I saw were comic books. Boxes and boxes and boxes of comic books, each box featuring rows and rows of comics. There were tables set up with boxes in the front room, and then in the back room, more tables, more boxes and more comics. On the displays on the walls, more and more and more comics.

I started to panic because I knew the guy behind the counter was going to ask me what I was interested in and I'd have to suppress saying either "nothing" or "I haven't bought a comic since I was 13."

I wandered over back to the front of the store, wondering where the heck the "cards" were that I saw mentioned in big letters on the store front, when I saw them: In a small corner and along a side wall, enclosed in glass, were loose packs in boxes of various product: Heritage, Topps base, and mostly NFL products.

That was it.

I'm still waiting to walk into a card shop that features cards in discount boxes that I read about often on blogs. I don't think I've seen that in a card shop.

Anyway, I was a little irked that people could rifle through thousands of comic books at their leisure while I had to ask to see cards locked in glass doors, and I didn't see much I wanted anyway, so I left.

And then went to Target.

Don't get mad. Yeah, I could have gone to Dave and Adam's, but they cater to box-buying and I didn't have that kind of money. I hadn't been to this Target for a few months so I wanted to see what they had.

It turns out they had enough for three blog posts. That's pretty good. And I don't just buy anything either (OK, I did just buy "just anything," but research, people, research!)

The first thing that caught my eye was something that displayed this on the front:

I had to have it.

As you probably know, this is the Topps National League All-Star team set that is issued fairly frequently. There was an American League All-Star blister, too, but there are no Dodgers in there, so, who cares?

The NL All-Star set is 17 cards strong featuring many star players. The pictures are all the same as the photos in the base set, although I believe there might be one or two who won't show up until Series 2 (I'm sorry, I don't have all my Series 1 cards memorized yet). The only difference is the NL logo in the corner and a different number on the back.

Of course, the stars of the show are the two Dodgers in the set.

There's the other one with the nifty little NL logo.

The rest of the players you all know, Andrew McCutchen, Paul Goldschmidt, Troy Tulowitzki, etc. It's not a "realistic" all-star team in that the set contains six outfielders and three first basemen, but I'm used to Topps playing with the rules of All-Star teams, even going back to the 1980s.

However, this particularly amused me:

Who the hell is Javier Baez and why under God's blue sky is he displaying a National League all-star logo?

OK, I realize Baez played a little bit last season and he's considered a top prospect. But his stats from last year do not read like any all-star I have ever heard of:

Every other player in the set features impressive numbers, most with bright red lettering that indicates they led the league in something. Kimbrel: 47 saves. Stanton: 37 home runs. Cueto: 242 strikeouts.

Here is Baez's card back:

*Played for Iowa.

Well, now, that's Major League All-Star material, without question.

Until I saw this card, I thought Topps had just gone on a rookie rant like it often does. Topps has done it for years. I've written about its devotion to Chin-lung Hu in 2008 several times. But inclusion in this All-Star set just brings it to another level.

It's rather obvious that Topps is promoting Baez. Here are the mainstream cards he has so far this year:

Topps base
Topps base (1st home run insert)
Topps Heritage (with Jorge Soler)
Topps Heritage DP combo (with Starlin Castro)
Topps Heritage New Age Performers
Topps Opening Day
Topps Tribute
Topps Spring Fever promo
Topps 1st home run medallion
Topps jersey relic, pin relic, stamp and coin relic

And now add the Topps NL All-Star team set.

Topps apparently has a crush on this guy. It can't stop talking about him.

I'm not saying Baez won't be an All-Star or that he won't have a great career some day. I'm just saying he's not an All-Star now and don't tell me that he is.

That's the checklist. He clearly doesn't belong with those other guys.

I understand that second base isn't the most fertile position in the National League right now, but this is just weird.

The Target also featured team sets for the Yankees and Red Sox and maybe the Mets, I don't remember. This is another one of those situations where I feel like I'm living on the wrong coast.

But this NL team set was the only 2015 Topps purchase that I made that day.

Just to linger on 2015 Topps a little longer, I have to finally name this set. It's obvious there's no real consensus after two polls, but I'm naming it what I like anyway.

It's now the Sonar Set.

Congratulations, 2015 Topps, you have a nickname.

Hey, I could have named it the Javier Baez Set.


  1. Kris Bryant should've been in that set.

  2. They have a crush on a lot of Cubs guys right now. They have all played great in the Minors which does not necessarily justify the love in Major League card products. Especially when those prospects have difficulty making contact with the ball and seemed destined to duplicate the stat line of Dan Uggla.

  3. Not sure if it falls under the mainstream umbrella, but Baez is in Gypsy Queen as well http://phungo.blogspot.com/2015/04/2015-topps-gypsey-queen-rack-pack.html (8th Photo)

  4. 2008 was absolutely the year of too much chin-lung hu. and andruw jones cards.

  5. I was going to call it a mistake but i doubt they would have gone through the trouble of adding him to the checklist on the back had it been.Wheres Altuve in that set?

    1. Pardon the "fubar".Clearly i am stuck deep in the past,lol.

  6. "He's from Iowa, he only has cards from people in outer space."