I've had this feeling coming on for a few years now -- that Allen & Ginter was becoming just another card set.
I've tried so much not to feel that way that I've been in denial for a long time. My enthusiasm for the set probably first started to wane around 2010, yet you can see my excitement for all things A&G all over this blog for the past four years. And I completed the 2010, 2011 and 2012 sets and am very close to finishing off 2013.
It's been a slow drain. A slow recognition that I'm not feeling it like I once did. This isn't really Topps' fault, although I'm sure one of their many critics out there would be able to pin it on them pretty quickly. It's more of me and the fact that either there hasn't been enough excitement in the last few A&G sets or I've just grown bored.
It's tough to dive into a brand new 2015 set that you're supposed to complete while you're maybe halfway through last year's set. This is why I've made only half-hearted searches for Ginter the last couple of weeks and why I haven't minded that I didn't find any until today.
So I grabbed a couple of rack packs all the while staring at a blaster (by the way, A&G first emerged here in August, which as I've said before -- but nobody wants to listen to empty pockets night owl -- is about the worst month to release a card set if you want me to buy it).
What I opened isn't going to get me to go back anytime soon.
But I'll discuss more while I open the cards -- that you've all seen before.
Rack pack 1:
#60 - Marcus Semien, A's
#233 - Ike Davis, A's
And we're off to a blazing start with two almost identical Oakland A's. I can see these being used at the eye doctor's office: bat on right shoulder or bat on left shoulder? How about now? Right or left? And now?
#170 - Chris Davis, Orioles
The images in this year's set are cropped much closer than in past sets. It's rather obvious and I don't think I've heard anyone else mention it. Although it makes this year's set distinctive, I don't really like it.
#253 - Carlos Beltran, Yankees
I like that the border colors change though. This is the best part of the design. It's fairly subtle, but in a binder, I'm sure it stands out.
#334 - Nick Tropeano, Angels (I don't know who he is, but his name sounds like a shady travel agent character on the Simpsons)
In a major break from tradition, base cards 301-350 are not short-printed this year. I don't know why this is, and it figures that just when I'm tiring of A&G they go and get rid of the most frustrating part of completing the set. I wonder how quickly I could complete this set if I had the enthusiasm for it I did in 2008?
#196 - Ian Kinsler, Tigers, regular-back mini
Makes the frankenset!
#MM10 - Nanabozho, Mythological Menaces mini
Nanabozho is neither male nor female, can turn into animals and plays tricks on people. One of his/her/its tricks is putting this card of a naked man/woman/animal into my collection.
#192 - Fernando Rodney, Mariners
#186 - Desmond Jennings, Rays
A Mariner and a Ray. And thus ends the dullest top half of a rack pack of A&G I've ever opened.
#277 - Starlin Castro, Cubs
#185 - Gus Malzahn, Auburn football coach
This might be my overall boredom with A&G talking, but I don't think the non-baseball subjects have been as interesting as in say, 2008-2012. I know that Masters of Knitting would be more interesting to me than a college football coach.
#SP-32 - Jose Altuve, Astros, Starting Points insert
This is the giant insert set that A&G foists on us every year. Like everything else, this used to be interesting. It's not anymore.
#GS-10 - Dolly the Sheep, Great Scott insert
RIP cloned sheepy.
#247 - George Springer, Astros
Bringing the dullest A&G rack pack I've ever opened to an end.
Rack pack 2:
#254 - Alex Gordon, Royals
The Twitter feud between Royals and Blue Jays fans is adorable. You're practically the same team, guys.
#69 - Christian Bethancourt, Braves
#257 - Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox
Kudos to cropping Sandoval tightly and still getting him in the frame.
#345 - Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
#332 - Matt Cain, Giants
There's evidence right there that cards 301-350 are not short-prints. This would never happen in A&G 2008-14.
#212 - Chris Tillman, Orioles, mini, regular back
Both non-insert minis make the frankenset binder! Actual success from these rack packs!
#154 - Rusney Castillo, Red Sox
#56 - Apollo Creed
OK, this is where the rack pack plunges from indifference to indignation. Both top corners of this card are massively dinged. I spotted it when I opened the top half of the rack pack and hoped that it wasn't a card I cared about.
Unfortunately, this is one of the few interesting things to me about this year's A&G -- Rocky characters as part of the base set. And as you can see, Creed is rocking his Uncle Sam hat. This is a magnificent card carelessly damaged.
I could go on, but My Cardboard Habit has already volunteered to send me an improved copy. A travesty avoided and night owl shuts up.
#121 - Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
#281 - Cory Spangenberg, Padres
The horizontal cards feature much more photo than past A&G horizontal cards. This is a big plus.
#SP-79 - Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners, Starting Points insert
Lovely. This will go in the stack with the other Iwakumas as I haven't traded a non-Griffey Mariner since probably 2010.
#AA10 - Flanged Mace, Ancient Armory insert
I think someone took a flanged mace to my Apollo Creed card.
#First-33 - Lady Bird Johnson, First Ladies mini insert
I think I got the cards mixed up. The two minis were together in this rack pack, just like the other one.
I like this insert set, and there is not a political feather on this bird's body.
#97 - Kendall Graveman, A's
And that does it. Two rack packs, three Oakland A's. That might explain my boredom.
I still plan to collect this set. And one day you will see a want list up. But it's almost out of habit, I'm afraid.
I'm not planning to turn completely around and collect Panini full-time, but right now Allen and Ginter is a solid No. 3 in the year's sets behind Stadium Club and flagship. We're talking about a set that used to be my indisputable favorite for several years, relegated now to No. 3.
I still haven't sorted out the reasons for this, but that ain't good.