Friday, July 27, 2018

I take back some of it

I should know better than to evaluate a card product based on a couple of samples. Or evaluate it based on scans displayed online.

Even though I called Topps' Big League Baseball a "perfectly pleasant card product" and as collectable as anything out on the market, I felt I was a little bit harsh in my initial review.

After seeing two Big League Dodger cards sent to me from a fellow collector, I was unimpressed. I thought the cards seemed weirdly small, the photo images weren't doing it for me, and the backs were difficult to read.

But this is a product that definitely benefits from evaluating it as a whole -- meaning buying some packs, you big dummy -- rather than reviewing one, solitary card.

After snagging a pair of fat packs or hanger packs or whatever these are, I was struck most by the sheer joy of getting a fat stack of cards all at once. After growing accustomed to pulling just 14 cards out of an Allen and Ginter hanger pack and about the same for Stadium Club, it's nice to go back to the days of some of the more substantial packs of cards.

That's two healthy 30-card stacks, one pulled from each pack. I suppose it helps that the one I opened first contained a Dodger card on the top. The third card in was a Dodger, too.

From then, it was a delight leafing through the 30 cards apiece. Since this set is almost devoid of gloss or foil, it reminds me of all those packs I opened back in the 1970s and '80s. This is how cards are supposed to move when you shuffle through them. This is how they're supposed to feel.

I don't think I'd be quite as interested if there weren't so many cards in pack, say, if I bought your average single pack of Big League. But going through all those cards at once I was able to swim in the little moments in Big League that are pretty all right.

As mentioned before, seeing the image travel outside the border never gets old.

And, for once, I can understand what Fuji is talking about when he says he likes properly cropped photos -- meaning you can see all arms and legs. Although I'm not a stickler for that, it does look nice when the whole player is included.

Each 30-card pack features 25 base cards, one insert, one variation and three gold cards. Here were mine:

Things worked out better for the golds in the second pack.

I happened to pull the base card and the variation card of Salvador Perez (I pull his cards often), so I thought I'd compare the backs.

I think the variation backs are just a tiny bit more readable than the base backs. (And it needs to be readable if we're getting factoids like Perez wearing perfume when he catches to mask his stinkiness).

And that brings me to my three original complaints about the set.

1. The type is too small on the back.

Well, I won't take that back. It really is too small. 

2. The photos are standard fare, nothing exceptional.

I won't take that back either. They're on par with flagship, which is nothing to be ashamed about, by the way (I like flagship's photos -- particularly its cropping -- much more than over recent years).

3. The cards seem smaller than an average 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 card.

I will take that back. I think what is smaller is the actual photo image, because -- duh -- there's a BORDER on these cards! I apparently have grown so accustomed to no border already that I thought the cards had shrunk.

I also will take back my general feeling that I am unimpressed with these cards. It's a neat set to collect if you are really into it. (But I won't take back being mad about the removal of the Bark in the Park Dodger card).

Personally, I like the comparison of these to the Bazooka sets from about a dozen years ago. Big League has that kind of feel. And those weren't really my thing either.

I'd like to think that Topps can do better than this in the modern day collecting world, though. People have raved about the set featuring "box-bottom" cards that one can cut off the box, similar to what you could do with Upper Deck OPC in 2009.

However, UD OPC was much better than this set. It had a third more cards. And even more nifty photos. And OPC had posed and candid shots, like the old days, something Big League Baseball avoids.

So, no, this set is not 2009 OPC. But it's not Opening Day either.

And that's perfectly fine.

Really, that's a compliment.

No, really.

(P.S.: I elbowed aside a mass of children grabbing for these packs in the card aisle).

(P.P.S: Not really).


  1. Overall I like the set, the font on back does suck as I have CRS syndrome.

  2. Haven't seen the Big League brand up close but I like what I'm reading so far. The inserts do nothing for me but I really like the base design. Must have just missed them when I was in Target a couple weeks ago. It would be nice to get some real value out of a 'value' pack; the two 12-card packs of Stadium Club I bought cost me $10 and yielded nothing better than a Nolan Ryan base card, a Khris Davis insert, and a crapload of Pirates. (I did get 3 Dodgers though)

  3. OPC beats Big League for me as well, but Big League is the closest I've seen to OPC in a while (maybe ever). The cards even kinda look alike.

  4. I've described these on Twitter as reminding me of the joy of just opening packs of cards and flipping through to see who I got in the stack. Packs are a decent size (and bang for the buck) and they just look and feel like an older product (in a good way).

  5. Lol. My voice has finally been heard. I'm one step closer to Topps hearing my "properly cropped photos" complaint.

    I'm not sold yet on these cards, but I like the comparison to Bazooka too. I didn't really like those products when I first saw them, but I'd love to open up a few boxes of Bazooka now. Maybe I should grab a few of these and tuck them away and in a few years, I'll love them.

  6. Sal doesn't just use any perfume before the game. He uses VICTORIA'S SECRET perfume.