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It's the wood that makes it good

This month is quickly becoming the most unpleasant month of my life. If I was an alcoholic, I'd be in so much trouble right now.

But I'm not. Which means I do stuff like buy a bunch of baseball cards instead. Binge busting replaces binge drinking.

Life definitely owed me something yesterday. It owes me for the whole month, heck, the whole year, and about all I could do to get at least some payback is charge down the street after work and see if the Target had some of that 2019 Big League Baseball.

I haven't bought any current cards since sampling a pack of Opening Day in March. I wasn't missing them much either. But this Big League looked like a little more fun, even more fun than last year's product, which I liked well enough.

My appreciation for this year's Big League comes naturally from the design. I've read some bag on this year's design. I don't get it. I find it more appealing than last year, which was a bit too bland. This year's design makes you take notice, and there's nothing wrong with that.

For starters, the borders feature a wood theme, a tried-and-true staple of baseball card design. Even though everyone has beaten the 1987 Topps horse beyond recognition, you can still make a wood-themed set that doesn't look stale. These wood borders work and they also help make the colored parallels a little more interesting than last year's.

The second design element I enjoy is how the photo frame is tilted. That messes with the OCD crowd but I think it makes things much more interesting. It gives the impression of pictures randomly stacked, see how the photo bleeds into the "photo" underneath it? That's cool. The tilt reminds me of the old 1982 Kmart set.

Also, the photo edges are cropped, which I kind of enjoy, too. Let's have a set that adjusts our idea of how a picture should be presented.

So, anyway, I bought three blasters of this stuff. They were $8.99 instead of the usual $9.99 for some reason. I think that's about 17 cents a card. Not too bad.

I'm going to show the highlights of what I received by going pack-by-pack and displaying the "best" card of each pack, plus any inserts. Of course, all Dodgers will be displayed, too.


It's the Ohtani box. Make sure you cut along the edges!

Pack 1

Dodger card:

It's your front-runner for NL MVP. That's right, Yelich. This card is much better than yours.

Best card in the pack other than that one:

Alex Bregman says that Bellinger card is OK.

Inserts. One goldie per pack and I like them A LOT better than the ones from last year's set, even if it's a Giant.

Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: This is how old I am. Alex's grandfather wasn't a scout who signed Ted Williams as a player. He was dealing with Ted Williams while I was on this planet.

Pack 2

Best card in the pack:

Bat flip!

Inserts: This set is crawling with Ohtani cards. I think I pulled 47 of them.

Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: I need to know more about the giraffe story.

Pack 3

Dodger card:


I'm a bit partial to the Max Muncy card in this set (sadly, I didn't pull it), but this is just beautiful.

Best card in the pack other than that one:

Don't know who he is but I go with catcher gear when all else fails.

Inserts: The Blast-Off cards are nifty-looking.

Favorite "Did You know" factoid: I'm not opposed to eating insects, but I'm also on the side of folks who say there's plenty of good stuff to eat before you start frying bugs.

Pack 4

Best card in the pack:

The Padres did quite well in the boxes I bought.

Inserts: The nickname cards are back.

Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: Hosmer apparently was once an alternative music radio station programmer. I'd pick almost 100 bands ahead of the RHCP, maybe 500.

Pack 5

Best card in the pack:

Felix is here by default. It wasn't an exciting pack.


Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: I suppose there are lots of interesting vehicles in D.C. I can't envision doing the same thing where I live. It would be pick up truck after pick up truck.


Four blues per blaster and I have the blues after these four. Three of the four teams here I wish never existed.


It's the Juan Soto box. Cut here!

Pack 1

Best card in the pack:

This pack was full of dupes (yeah, already).

Inserts: I am not feeling the caricature cards this year, I think they were better last year.

Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: Nothing. Too many references to diet, losing weight and charity drives. I think the teams' PR guys got ahold of these cards.

Pack 2

Best card in the pack:

Love the base-running shots.

Inserts. I will be pulling Salvador Perez cards for the rest of my life.

Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: Sheffield is an egghead.

Pack 3

Dodger card:

Ferris did very well last night.

Best card in the pack other than that one:

Only because it's a "player-in-his-new-uniform" card.


Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: The title of this post is a Seinfeld reference, so you know I'd squeeze this one in here.

Pack 4

Best card in the pack:

More Padres


Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: I'm a little disappointed Kate Upton isn't mentioned but the knowledge that Verlander drove around in a purple Ford Taurus as a teenager does explain some things.

Pack 5

Dodger card:

I like that card.

Best card in the pack other than that one:

That's an awesome shot.

Inserts. I don't know about some of these nicknames.

Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: I admire Brock Holt for admitting this all the while being completely horrified that he's admitting this.


Another painful selection, Moncada card aside. I would like you to note that a Giants card is the only one I pulled in both gold-border and blue-border form. Only I am capable of doing this and I wish someone would take my special powers away.


The Mike Trout box. Of course, who else would it be?

Pack 1

Dodger card:

Last Dodger card I would pull. I am sad.

Best card in the pack other than that one:

How about an entire set of just players running.

Inserts: I want so badly for Mitch Garver to beat out that Sanchez dude for a starting spot in the All-Star Game. It will never happen BECAUSE OF BULLIES but that is my fantasy.

Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: Assistant head groundskeeper sounds a little bit like "assistant to the traveling secretary."

Pack 2

Best card in the pack:

There are so, so many action shots in card sets these days that photos like these really stand out. I mean really stand out. And they look so classy and clean and my god, what happened to baseball cards????


Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: I had to look up what "The Blacklist" was, even though I've heard of it. Turns out it's a crime thriller series. And that's why I've never seen it.

Pack 3

Best card in the pack:

This guy again. I don't know why I picked it. Guess I'm getting bored.


Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: It's always those evil cows.

Pack 4

Best card in the pack:

It's a tie! There are more "run-of-the-mill" shots in Big League than you probably have been led to believe, but that's only because people can't help but show the really good ones.


Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: I was tempted to go with Francisco Lindor's, which was that he liked math class the best only because it's the only room in the school that had an air conditioner, but I must admire young players who respect the movie classics. Long live the '80s!

Pack 5

Best card in the pack:

Go, man, go!


Favorite "Did You Know" factoid: That is quite the spectrum of music performers covered there.


These are the best of the Blues from those three boxes. Still no Dodger, though, which seems like a waste of perfectly good blue-border parallels.

If I was of the mind of trying to complete a modern set (which hasn't been my mind-set since 2015), I think Big League would be the one I'd try to collect. It's not nearly perfect. Like last year, the cards are so thin, you could serve smoked ham on them. Even the design has a couple drawbacks. (I don't know what the ticket theme is trying to accomplish).

But what do you expect for a low-end set? I'm a low-end collector. I know that. And I like goofy stuff like tilted photo frames and wavy pennant flags and yet another wood-themed set.

It's not a bad little set. Especially if it can get me through some tough times.


Zippy Zappy said…
"This set is crawling with Ohtani cards. I think I pulled 47 of them."

Feel free to send me all of them.
Billy Kingsley said…
I like the design of the set...not trying to complain but the base design seems familiar to me, very reminiscent of this set:'96-Winston-Cup-Rewind-WC11-Dale-Jarrett?PageIndex=1 . And the Wall Climbers is basically 1996 Pinnacle recolored. However, I would be heavily collecting this set if baseball was my thing. I like the design, I like the photography, I like the Trivia on each card.

I've been known to photograph cars in parking lots as well...especially at car shows. When you don't realize there's a person in it until you've taken the photo is a little awkward...
Bulldog said…
I liked these cards in hand and the more I see the more I want to buy even more. The photos are fun and the design does it for me. Great cards in your pull. If I had to choose a favorite I'd go with Bellinger, Hosmer, Carp, Robles, and Moncada leading the way but Carp and his salsa take it for me. Great post.
acrackedbat said…
Highly affordable, excellent photo selection, I gotta get me some of these! You deserve a little fun, Greg. Good days are ahead.
Ah man, I loved the Blacklist. Go Raymond, my kind of bad guy, lol.
Oh, and the leading lady is a local girl
Adam Engel robbed three home runs in one week last August. Interestingly, after rewatching the video of those catches, I don't think the photo on the Wall Climbers card is any of those three. One if them is shown on his Flagship card though.

I love the Modcada card. Except for the logo on the socks and the c-flap, that picture could have been taken during a Sox-Brewers game in 1983.
steelehere said…
The photoshop work to put San Diego on Manny Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers uniform is one of the worst jobs I've seen on a card this century.
madding said…
Easily the best set of the year so far, although I suppose that's not really saying much.
FYI, Target had a stealthy 10% off sale on all trading cards last week; that's why your blasters were discounted.

My first blaster had nothing but "run of the mill" photos, and I felt like I was sold a bill of goods. Good thing I've got other people's cards to keep me going!
Fuji said…
A. I only have a drink once or twice a year and can't remember the last time I actually paid for one... so I'll take cards over alcohol too.

B. I was scratching my head over your blog title being a Senfeld reference, so I had to search it up on YouTube. I'm assuming you're referring to the Night Guy skit. That was hilarious. I totally remember that from back in the day.

C. I binge watched the first few season of Blacklist. Kind of lost interest over the years though, but I'm a huge fan of James Spader in that show.

D. I might just purchase a complete set just for the "Did You Know" factoids.
night owl said…
Title is a quote from Newman in the Kenny Rogers Roasters episode, one of my favorites.
Mike Matson said…
Well to be fair, Hanson is now a Bison.
That Pillar is nice, but now his Superman act is in San Fran.
Fuji said…
I hate you (not really). I watched the whole episode of The Chicken Roaster on Hulu listening to Newman's lines trying to figure out how it ties in with Night Owl. Then I realized you were referring to the title of this particular post. I hate myself. Have a nice day.

By the way... I hadn't watch Seinfeld in years. After watching that episode, I might need to go back and watch the series again.
Big Tone said…
These cards kind of give off a juvenile vibe If that makes any sense.They remind me of those Sports Illustrated for Kids cards.I like the wood as well just not crazy about the pronounced BL logo.
BaseSetCalling said…
I liked the Alex Gordon card a lot, also Judge, Jhoulys Chacin powder blue bonanza, another good Inciarte card, and Salvador Perez also coming through with the bubble gum. Manaea’s Highlight card is well done.
Jafronius said…
Mr Shlabotnik beat me to it...yes, Target had a 10% off sale on baseball cards last week. It is stealthy in that it's up to the store to put up the sale sign in the aisle (only 1 of 3 in my area had it up). I bought several packs and a blaster box to take advantage of the sale; collation is still bad, I have quadruples of several cards.

Excellent Seinfeld references throughout!
Jon said…
A radio station programmer with terrible taste in music... shocking!
Angus said…
I really like the photo on the Chris Taylor card, and love the grin on Matt Olson on his baserunning card.
GCA said…
Dangit! Missed the sale! Gotta get me some of these, but was going for hobby boxes. Will have to check with my local dealer 'cuz there aren't any shows for a while.

Never seen Blacklist, but Megan Boone keeps getting better looking every time I see her.
The base set design may not be my favorite, but I appreciate all the elements of this year's Big League set. The inserts and parallels are fun, but the photos are my favorite part of the product. The action shots are stellar but, you're right, cards like Mookie Betts are a nice departure from the numerous action images.
BaseSetCalling said…
I finally ran across an image of the great-grandfather of the ‘Caricature’ inserts in this set; I knew they had an ancestor in baseball card history: 38 Goudey
Defenders50 said…
Three blasters is almost enough for two people... (sorry couldn't resist continuing the Seinfeld references).
Nick Vossbrink said…
Lots of nice photos this year. I'm not sold on the design but maybe I'll change my mind when I rip my two blasters. I'll probably get two Corey Seager parallels since that seems to be my lot in life.

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