Sunday, July 15, 2018

Back to basics

Back in January, I received a monster package from Adam of ARPSmith's Sports Obsession.

It was filled with all kinds of Dodger memorabilia, and in the following months I've found a place for just about all of it. The books are on the book shelf (waiting patiently to be read), the baseball is sitting on my roll-top desk, the children's Yasiel Puig uniform is currently in research and development as I ponder framing it and hanging it wherever I can find space.

But the stars of the package were the baseball cards, a whole bunch of early '80s Donruss and Fleer and a healthy box of Series 1 of 2004 Topps. It took me months to file all those cards, but I just finished the last batch of '04 Topps and it's ready to go next to my '05 Topps cards.

This seems like the appropriate time to address another package from Adam sent more recently. This one is much smaller and much more current. It's all Dodger needs from Series 2 of 2018 Topps flagship.

I know everyone is tired of seeing Series 2 cards, but just ponder this for a minute:

How different are these cards than, say, Stadium Club?

People flip out over the images in Stadium Club, but can't you see the Toles card in Stadium Club? The Dodgers team card in Stadium Club? Even the Justin Turner card in Stadium Club?

I can.

They are all Stadium Club-esque images and as the quality of flagship photos has improved, and the borders have disappeared, flagship is looking more and more like Stadium Club. (Some of this was addressed in the comments of my previous post, but I wrote this post before those comments were made).

So when people say -- "why can't flagship be like Stadium Club?" -- I think it's more like Stadium Club than it's ever been. Hell, all the pictures come from the same place, Getty Images. The only differences between the two are a little more gloss and a bit higher quality cardboard.

I think flagship has recovered fairly well from the dark years of 2016 and 2017. I'll even admit that the pictures are better than 2013-15, when the obsession with focusing on players' nostrils began.

So while people may be bored with Series 2 already, it feels good to me to go back to basics when I look at the cards in that light -- that flagship is now Stadium Club lite (so, why am I paying so much for a 5-card pack of Stadium Club?).

Adam also sent several of the Target-exclusive Cody Bellinger 2017 retrospective insert cards.

As I discovered a little while ago, this is a 30-card insert set, so I have a little ways to go on these.

Also, even though I'm talking about flagship here, this is not 1985 flagship. Take a look at the card on the top right.

That's right.

Every insert set has parallels now.

This appears to be a black parallel (note the black background at the top with the extra "highlights" word).

Doing a little bit of research on Trading Card Database, I found this set features blue, gold, platinum and red parallels. I didn't see black listed. And it's not numbered on the back, because why the heck would a collector want to know what they have?

Five different parallels of a store-exclusive insert in a flagship set is about the most modern thing about modern collecting. There is no way in the world I will be chasing all or any of those. And you can scratch that thing I said about getting back to basics.

I guess flagship  is "basic-er" than some other current sets. But there is nothing basic about modern cards.


  1. I noticed that about Stadium Club/Flagship as well. Stadium Club is more likely to have 3-4 random photos that everyone puts up and loves (like that Ted Williams from this year with his bat looking curved), but the photos are nothing different than we see in Flagship. I guess you see that as an improvement of Flagship; I haven't seen enough of the flagship this year to comment.

  2. I've been mentioning how the photography for Stadium Club and Flagship has seen a lot of similarities in terms of quality/uniqueness for at least two years now. Even if I don't own the cards themselves, everybody on the blogosphere loves talking about them and showing them off, so much so that even an indifferent collector like me could tell what was going on.
    Sooner or later SC is going to be obsolete again unless it can find some other niche (I do not want the alternative which is flagship returning to boring photographs).

  3. Before reading this post, I was already singing "Luckenbach Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys."

  4. I just picked up a complete set of the 2018 flagship after I swore I wouldn't (remember Arnold's zinger in Commando, "I lied.") Anyway, after leafing through it, I have to admit: this is an excellent set. The design has really grown on me, and the ribbon/waterslide is very Topps-esque. Overall the cards are very festive. And there some of the shots are outstanding, like Stanton, Happ, Kemp and Hosmer. Thank you, Getty!

    As for the future of the flagship and stadium club, I hope they remain separate entities, more like second cousins than brothers.

  5. I easily could see that Toles card being in Stadium Club. Guess that just means Topps needs to hurry up and start using borders again for their flagship cards.

  6. This year's flagship set is one of my favorites in a while (right there with 2015) and I agree the photography is as good as Stadium Club. There are some more unique photos in SC so I think SC still has the edge in "top ten" cards/photos, but a random pack of flagship would match up well against a random pack of SC. (Your post about SC repeating itself is well taken-but that's SC vs. SC)

    The insert/parallel thing is getting on my nerves. It's bad enough that there are five versions of each retail-exclusive insert..the least Topps could do is identify them.

  7. The Toles and Turner cards have excellent pictures and could very well fit into a set like Stadium Club. I think one thing that gets lost in the Stadium Club vs Flagship photo debate/complain session, is the fact that one of the sets is limited to just 300 cards, while the other is 700. For Stadium Club, you're only picking out photos of big name players, and I am sure the selection of photographs is large. Josh Fields is a middle reliever, how many cool action shots of him are there floating around? If I collected Dodgers cards, I would be happy to own some of his cards considering he's been with the team a few years now and he's the type of player who is not going to show up in the smaller sets.

  8. Stadium Club's action photography and Flagship's action photography do overlap a lot and I appreciate that 2018 Flagship in particular is doing a better job at getting more variety into the action photo realm. I also think (and love) that while Stadium Club takes some risk with photos that not *all* their photos are risky. As much as we like those amazing photos on cards it's nice to have some more-traditional "boring" shots to let everything breathe too.

  9. You should just have another kid and hold on to the Puig jersey until they are old enough to wear it.
    In all seriousness, I noticed the same thing with the Aaron Judge cards in Series 1. I thought I had a tone of doubles, but it seems that some had a bluish ‘smoke effect’ around them. I got a bunch of hanging boxes from Target and a bunch from Wal-Mart, so I couldn’t tell you where I got them from.