Friday, February 10, 2017

Grading the inserts

I sent my first shipment of cards to Commons 4 Kids today. It was great big ol' box, packaged in the wrong way because you know the post office and its Rules. The box was full of Dodger dupes (trust me, fellow Dodger traders, you have all of these cards already).

It felt good to get a bunch of extra cards out of the way that were just sitting there unwanted. But it's a never-ending battle, as you know, because, good gosh, it seems like Topps' collation is worse than ever.

I have bought one blaster, one hanger box, two fat packs and one loose pack of 2017 Topps. That comes out to 217 base cards (That may not add up correctly, a few cards are parceled out for trade packages). Out of those 217 cards, 77 of them are dupes. That's almost 36 percent! That seems like a lot, doesn't it? I know it's a small sample size, but, damn, if I was trying to complete this set, that would be deflating. Better order your hobby box and forget about the card aisle.

Also, out of those cards, I've pulled three dupes of inserts. With the amount of inserts these days, you'd think I wouldn't be pulling insert doubles so soon.

Inserts and I don't exactly see eye to eye. I do like many of them and have completed a few insert sets that particularly interested me. But the problem is, most of them don't interest me at all. And we're in another year of that in 2017.

I figured I'd rank this year's inserts, from the ones I least like to my ... well, I guess you could say "favorite." There is a lot of differing opinions on this year's inserts. The same inserts that people like a lot others don't like at all. (oh, no, card collectors are polarized, too!).

This year's inserts are also confusing. There is even differing opinion on how many base inserts there are. Some say 9, some say 10. I say 7, maybe 8. And you'll see why in a minute. Hopefully I didn't leave any out. You know how confusing Topps likes to make this.

8. Topps promo insert: D

I don't know if this is really an insert set but it's listed as one. Topps has been including reprint inserts of its most famous cards in sets for like a decade now. The best thing I can say about this is at least the kept the ad to the back of the card. But it's not anything that's going to make me scramble to get the Jackie Robinson promo card.

7. MLB awards/Gold Glove fielding award inserts: D+

These are listed as two different inserts because the fielding award cards are only available in Target. But these cards look exactly the same and they're the same insert to me. The fat, colored diagonal lines that Topps has been using for some of its inserts the last three years do nothing for me. And Topps sure does love gray in its designs these days, a color that is almost always boring.

6. MLB Network employees insert: C

I like the idea. I like the studio lights motif. I just wish the pictures were more interesting. I'm not exactly sure what you can do to spice up cards of a bunch of analysts and show hosts in business wear, but the cards as they are -- head and shoulders shots -- aren't doing it for me.

5. Topps Salute/Jackie Robinson Day inserts: C

Here is another insert that is separated into two different ones that I've lumped together. The Jackie Robinson Day cards are available only in blasters, so that's the reason for the separation. But I'd rather just lump these all together because they look all the same and it's a heck of a lot less confusing that way. The Salute cards, by themselves, have at least 4 different designations: Father's Day, Mother's Day, Legend and Rookie. (Once again, Topps, I have a full-time job). But don't worry about me collecting them because the design is real blah. This is using the old Upper Deck trick where you make the base version of these cards as dull as possible ("let's make the border brown ... you know, the color of dirt") so the numbered parallels (red, etc.) stand out.

4. Bowman Then & Now insert: B

I've read the outrage: Why are these cards in Topps? This is a Bowman insert! That doesn't bother me. Topps and Bowman are the same company. I like these. They're better than the recent Then and Now inserts and it's cool to see the player's first Bowman card, especially for someone like me who doesn't collect prospects. However, I don't like the selection of the autographed Bowman rookie cards for the "Then" picture with many of these. Stick to cards that were attainable.

3. 1987 Topps tribute inserts: B

Somewhere inside of me, very close to the surface now, is a rant about Topps' favoritism toward '87 Topps. There was no 30-year retrospective for many of the previous Topps sets that I enjoy a lot more. If there is an '87 Topps tribute set but no '83 Topps tribute set how does anything else make sense? But some people are still goofy over '87 Topps and that's probably why this insert is here. I do like how the cards are presented, the thicker cardboard, they make for nice collectibles. However, there is no way I should be pulling a second Trea Turner when I have pulled just four of these cards so far.

2. First Pitch insert: A-

I think anyone who is not a "baseball players ONLY" collector likes these. I feel myself getting a little beyond these the third year in, but that's probably because there's only one Dodger first pitch card in Series 1. All I need to do is pull the Joan Jett insert and I'll be happy again.

1. 5 Tool insert: A

I like these quite a bit. I liked them even more when Fuji mentioned somewhere that they would make great posters. And then I remembered posters somewhat similar to these when I was in that "poster-buying demographic". Yes, these would be very cool posters.

The 5-Tool cards are the only ones I could see myself collecting, although I consider the top 4 in this list collectible (and the MLB Network cards too if you're really into cable TV analysts).

With this post, I don't know how many 2017 Topps posts I have left. Probably a few more, but I will be dialing down on any random pack purchases thanks to 77 doubles out of the first 217 cards.

Commons 4 Kids, get ready for another package sooner rather than later.


  1. I have the Joan Jett card, do you want it too r rather wait to pull it yourself?

  2. I can understand why many are tired of the 87T themed inserts over the last few years. However, 1987 is right in that sweet spot of where kids that collected then may be getting back into the hobby and have fond memories of it. Or they may be like me and never stopped, but I'm at that age in life where I am buying the "old" stuff like 1987 Topps to relive a little bit of my youth. It will ALWAYS be one of my two favorite baseball card sets.

    -kin (

  3. Heidi Watney yes. Brian Kenny no. I fall in the demographic of being massively enamored with 1987 Topps. But, I'm sticking with the original. Bonds, Canseco, McGwire, Strawberry and so many others are so perfectly 1987. Turner, Harper, and all the others just don't look right in '87-style.

  4. 1987 was the year I got back into collecting, so I don't mind the favoritism towards that year. But beware, the collation in the hobby boxes aren't much better. I've opened 5 of the 10 jumbo packs in the box so far...except for the inserts, 2 of them were exactly the same.

  5. The only inserts I care about this year (so far) are the 1987 set and the 5 Tool. The rest are crap.

  6. FYI, there's also a Wal-Mart exclusive Silver Slugger insert set which has the same design as the other awards sets.

  7. A number of people have commented on the fielding award cards not saying "Gold Glove", but I'd like to know why that Jansen doesn't say "Trevor Hoffman Award".

  8. The 3rd paragraph is exactly why I bought 2 packs of cards last year and why I have yet to by any this year. Topps collation issues are something I commented on frequently when I attempted (poorly?) to write a blog.

  9. Your Top 3 and my Top 3 are the same. I'm looking forward to pulling them in dime boxes (which I should be avoiding, but can't because I have an addiction problem) at the next card show I attend.

    P.S. Wish I could take credit for the "poster" idea, but I was actually just agreeing with another blogger, who I can't remember off the top of my head.