Topps' flagship set this year was my biggest card disappointment. I won't say that it was a major disappointment because I really didn't want to try to complete another flagship set after putting my all into 2015. But 2016 Topps was not even close to my style and the disappointing part is that this set probably indicates the direction in which Topps is headed.
So I bought very little Series 1 from this year's set and even less Series 2. I thought about ignoring Update altogether because:
1) I don't want to keep seeing those smokey photos.
2) I know half of the cards will show players in the pukey retro Padres All-Star uniforms.
But, in the end, I had to get at least one hanger box to see if I could find some Dodgers and a couple other items that I could salvage from the burning wreckage of the 2016 Topps collecting season.
I'm showing these cards approximately two weeks after Update arrived. Today was the first day I even looked for it. It appeared that nobody had touched any Update product at my Target, so maybe it had just been stocked, or maybe nobody cares.
After all, I'm still missing like seven Dodgers from Series 2. You'd think enough people would have wanted to get rid of their Carl Crawfords and Brett Andersons that I would have 10 of each card by now. That's probably an indication of the popularity of this set.
But let's get to the cards inside the box. I promise you there is something I liked within.
#US273 - Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks, All-Star
First card features those stealth uniforms that have invaded national sports. They remind me of the kids who didn't have rain slickers so their moms cut holes in garbage bags and sent them to school.
#US83 - Bud Norris, Dodgers
Woo! First Dodger who is probably not even a Dodger anymore!
This card reminds me of something.
Can't really put my finger on it.
#US223 - Jose Fernandez, Marlins, All-Star
What can you say except "RIP".
#US33 - Aledmys Diaz, Cardinals, All-Star
#US190 - Trayce Thompson, Dodgers
It's a little disturbing how quickly Thompson disappeared into the ether after he was injured. He went from a Dodgers sensation in the late spring to a nonentity. Not even the Dodger Twitter people who discuss every fourth-stringer in depth mentioned him anymore. Gives you an idea of how fleeting the MLB life can be.
#US68 - Adam Duvall, Padr ... er, I mean, Reds, HR Derby
Here is a look at those retro Padres HR Derby uniforms. You're going to be seeing these a lot.
Also, let's get a close up of the HR Derby logo:
Don't forget that it's the "T-Mobile Home Run Derby". It's even referred by that on the back of the HR Derby cards. There is no way that would happen if Topps wasn't the sole card licensee of MLB. Yup, MLB has made Topps its bitch.
#US102 - Aaron Hicks, Yankees
I know a Yankee fan that rips this guy constantly.
#US201 - Mookie Betts, Red Sox, All-Star
#US168 - Robbie Grossman, Twins
#US4 - Jake Arrieta, Cubs, All-Star
The day Jake Arrieta got traded to the Padres. Also, a nice advertisement for one of Wrigley Field's rooftop seating operations.
#US117 - Tyler Naquin, Indians
I feel obligated to show all World Series participants.
#US232 - Clayton Kershaw, DODGERS, All-Star
You're looking at the worst card of the year. I knew this card was coming. You'll notice that Topps picked and chose which All-Stars would be featured in their own uniforms and which would appear in Padres pregame get-ups. Lucky me, I get Kershaw in mustard-and-dog-crap. This is some Padre fan's wet dream. Enjoy it, San Diego, when you're being no-hit by him next year.
#US182 - Hyun-Soo Kim, Orioles
#US144 - Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, HR Derby
#US245 - Howie Kendrick, Dodgers
Fourth Dodger so far. There will be more. I thought Kendrick should have played in the postseason more.
#US88 - Tyrell Jenkins, Braves
#US32 - Juan Uribe, Indians
#US146 - Alex Hanson, Pirates
#US223 - Jose Fernandez, Marlins, All-Star, gold parallel
I don't even want to know the price people are putting on this card.
#12 - Tony Gwynn, Padres, 3000 Hits Club insert
Weird-looking insert. I'm sure it will go to one of the 15 card bloggers who collect Gwynn.
#FP-6 - Aubrey Plaza, First-Pitch insert
Weeeeee!!! The best non-baseball player card in the entire set! I wanted this card from the moment it appeared in the checklist. I've already professed my appreciation for Parks & Rec. April Ludgate was one of the best characters in the show. Also, Plaza grew up playing softball, which is so cool I can't stand it.
#12 - Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks, 500 Futures Club insert
The Goldschmidt hot box continues. This set is where Topps assumes a bunch of youngsters are going to hit 500 home runs, so we can all laugh at the cards 20 years from now.
#US86 - Stephen Vogt, A's, All-Star
The horizontal portion of the box has arrived.
#US52 - Wil Myers, Padres, All-Star
Finally, someone who belongs in this uniform. Here, Myers and Adam Duvall say goodbye before the smoke robs them of precious oxygen.
#US218 - Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, T-MOBILE Home Run Derby
#US221 - Yankees Keystoners
The two players are referred to on the back only as Gregorius and Castro. I realize I am bothered by this more than I should be, but it's my career background speaking. The players have full names (Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro), you have the room, use them.
#US157 - Jameson Taillon, Pirates, rookie debut
I like this card.
#US71 - Kelly Johnson, Mets
I like this card, too.
#US174 - Starlin Castro, Yankees
#US7 - Blaine Boyer, Brewers
Throwing the Brewers fans a bone.
#US110 - Bryan Shaw, Indians
#US187 - Justin Wilson, Tigers
#US124 - Junior Guerra, Brewers
#US184 - Yovanni Gallardo, Orioles
#US106 - Ji-Man Choi, Angels
#US156 - Geovany Soto, Angels
#US249 - Tony Wolters, Rockies
#US58 - Jameson Taillon, Pirates
#US28 - Alfredo Simon, Reds
#US43 - Michael Conforto, Mets, rookie debut
#US129 - Peter Bourjos, Phillies
That is one modern scoreboard behind Bourjos. Pretty cool.
#US23 - Ian Desmond, Rangers, All-Star
#US75 - Alex Colome, Rays
#US208 - Pedro Strop, Cubs
#US289 - Cesar Vargas, Padres
#US143 - Drew Stubbs, Rangers
#US29 - Jon Moscot, Reds
#US178 - Albert Almora, Cubs
#US165 - Drew Butera, Royals
#US74 - Brandon Nimmo, Mets
#US77 - Wade Miley, Orioles
#US141 - Buster Posey, Giants, All-Star
#US197 - Brad Brach, Orioles
#US198 - Carlos Gonzales, Rockies, All-Star
#US267 - Michael Saunders, Blue Jays, All-Star
#US149 - Matt Bowman, Cardinals
#US155 - Nolan Reimold, Orioles
Awfully foggy there. I don't know how you catch a ball in that.
#US38 - Cole Hamels, Rangers, foil
Scanner won't tell you it's a foil parallel, but it is.
#TF-12 - Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, Franklin insert
These are weird. It appears to be a blatant advertisement for Franklin sporting goods with a bunch of Franklin references on the back. Can't wait for the Cialis insert set.
#TAR-16 - Peter O'Brien, Diamondbacks, Target Rookie insert set
These are those inserts that are suspiciously similar to the "Birth Years" cards that White Sox Cards has been doing for as long as I've had a blog. I've already promised this card to the Cardboard Curmudgeon, who is collecting these. I don't know if I could collect them. I get depressed when I'm reminded that people born in 1993 are in the majors.
#US142 - Andrelton Simmons, Angels
#US217 - Monsters of Motown (J.D. Martinez/Miguel Cabrera), Tigers
#US285 - Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, rookie debut
If you're keeping track (and I am), this is the sixth Dodger card, including Plaza. This was expert hanger box selecting.
#US1 - Manny Machado, Orioles, All-Star
I love the socks. I might get branded old-school a lot of the time, but anything players want to do with the socks is OK with me. I love any shoe statements, too. Go nuts.
#US163 - Matt Wieters, Orioles, All-Star
I know I've pulled many Dodgers, but this is overwhelmingly an Orioles hot box. (P.S.: I'm told that's not Matt Wieters in the photo. I guess that's what happens when you spend half your career on nonlicensed cards).
#US246 - Jay Bruce, Reds, All-Star
Scratch that. It's overwhelmingly a Padres hot box. There is no sign of Reds on this card.
#US260 - Ichiro Suzuki, Marlins, checklist
#US179 - Ezequiel Carrera, Blue Jays
#US22 - Neil Walker, Mets
#US8 - Pedro Alvarez, Orioles
#US261 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Tigers
#US121 - Ender Inciarte, Braves
And that's it.
While those won't be the last 2016 Topps Update cards you'll see here (or the last 2016 Topps cards you'll see here), it will be the last Topps flagship cards I will buy from 2016 -- unless I'm forced to pick up Dodgers singles online.
With only a few pockets of happiness (the first-pitch cards, some of the photos), this set has convinced me to focus on other areas of my collection more seriously. I've always been a "flagship first" kind of collector because that was what was around when I was a kid. But it causes me to go nuts with things I don't really need, like accumulating a bunch of 2013 cards while having no intention of completing the set.
I think 2016 Topps has convinced me not to do that anymore. Unless I really like the set -- and it doesn't look like that will happen until 2018 at least -- I'll just buy a few packs and be done with it. It's kind of what I did in 2012 and 2014, but I'm going to crack down even more.
If I look at it that way, then the 2016 set hasn't been that much of a disappointment because it's taught me to move on with my collecting life.
Hopefully, I can kick the non-vintage flagship habit for good.