Well, welcome back card aisle, you're looking rather ... uh ... disorderly.
This was the sight at my neighborhood Target yesterday. As disorganized and scattered as it appears, I can count three different baseball card products (four, if you add the MLB stickers) in just this small crop of the card aisle.
This is as many different kinds of baseball card products that I've seen on area store shelves since March. With Covid quarantining and the inexplicable ransacking of card shelves across the country, I've purchased almost no cards in person for the last six months. (On Twitter I mentioned these were the first 2020 baseball cards I had seen on shelves since March, which isn't quite true. I forgot I picked up a couple of scattered packs of Series two a couple of months ago. That's how forgettable Topps flagship is this year).
Within that frame are a couple of hanger boxes of 2020 Topps Fire, a half-filled gravity feeder of 2020 Stadium Club and, up at the top, a gravity feeder with a decent number of 2020 Allen & Ginter packs, along with some hanger packs of Ginter that are cut out of the frame.
That was the extent of the baseball selection on the shelves. There were a few more Topps Fire loose packs, hanger boxes, and I believe, the only baseball blasters there. That was it, and the rest of the shelves were in shambles.
However ... we non-flippers can't be choosy can we?
I was overwhelmed by this. Holy crap, actual baseball cards! I had actually come to the card aisle specifically to pick up some binder pages as I had run out. When I saw the baseball cards, I grabbed a few and started to leave and almost forgot about the pages I had first intended to buy!
This is what I grabbed:
I thought I was quite restrained. I didn't have much cash anyway.
I've sort of gotten out of the habit of opening random packs, which has turned out to be a good thing, as you'll see in a moment. It was kind of exciting to be doing this again -- I had opened those couple of Series 2 packs and a blaster of Big League that my daughter had ordered for my birthday but that had been it. It was nice to be doing what I've been doing since 1975 again.
But it's not 1975 anymore.
Mercy, I know 1975 Topps was bright but that's like staring into the sun. Everybody's eyes OK?
This is one of the three designs in Topps Fire this year. There are always three different ones and, I admit, I kind of like them even more than previous years of Fire.
I do like these, too. They have a very mid-to-late 1980s/Miami Vice flavor, with a little early '90s thrown in. If I want to get sentimental, I would collect just this subset. But the players don't make me sentimental. Too many rookies, as usual.
The third design didn't yield as many cards. We're still in the '80s here, like stepping into a video game from that era, with all the grids and moons. I don't know what the name would be, but something with "missile" or "galaxy" in it.
This is the only Dodger card I pulled out of everything that I bought. And now you know why my heart isn't broken too much by the lack of product on store shelves.
Especially when I'm also pulling stuff like this:
Three different Jose Berrios cards. Thirty-two cards in the Fire packages I bought and three are of Jose Berrios. I don't know the odds of that happening, but all of my old complaints about pack purchasing are coming back to me.
Some of the parallel stuff. The one advantage to buying packs is trade fodder. It's nice to have that again. There aren't nearly as many team collectors as there was on the blogs 10 years ago, or I would be in deep trouble with my lack of pack purchases. But some of these will come in handy (I'm not showing them all because a couple are surprises).
All right, that's enough of Fire, let's get to the traditional favorites, A&G and Stadium Club.
Your typical 2020 Allen & Ginter base card. You've heard nothing from me on the design of A&G this year, I was kind of keeping quiet because I'm not crazy about it.
The shadow effect on the right side is just not doing it for me. My brain just sees a gray spear alongside the card. Also, the other shadow effect -- on the words Allen & Ginter -- doesn't correspond with the shadow on the subject image. It's as if two different suns at different heights in the sky are shining on this card (yes, I know I'm thinking about this too much. Blame my brain).
Since I didn't pull any Dodgers in A&G, I was forced to look for legends -- there are a ton -- and the non-sports cards.
The above legends are not short-prints, even though the entire short-print section of the set are legends. You dig?
These legends are short-prints. I continue to be the only one pointing this out, but I was just pulling Magglio Ordonez cards out of sets when he was an active player, like in 2010 and I was sick of it then. I'M STILL NOT NOT SICK OF IT. Stop doing this! Where is Greg Luzinski? Where is Gary Gaetti? Where is Jose Rijo or Doug Drabek or Carney Lansford? I could cite hundreds of past players more deserving than Ordonez or Luis Gonzalez. If you can't be nostalgic about a retired player in a set what's the point?
There should be a cut-off. If you're no longer playing, unless you've been retired 20 years, you don't get to be in a current set.
Meanwhile, the Doc Gooden card is fabulous.
These are the only two non-athlete base cards that I pulled. I've already mentioned that there are fewer non-baseball players in A&G's base set than ever before and the subjects chosen aren't great anyway. It's the main reason I'm down on this set. The above two are OK. Derrick Goold is a veteran sportswriter (yay!) who performed life-saving CPR on a videographer before a game last season. Courtney Hansen is a TV personality for automotive shows. She's a looker for sure (remember the A&G Babe o' the Year? Probably the 2020 candidate), but since she's into cars and hot rods and such I had no idea who she was. There's a lot of that in 2020 A&G.
More bad flashbacks from pack purchasing. I pulled just two minis from my three packs. I was shorted a mini in pack two, which has happened before and is very annoying, because if I'm not trying to complete the A&G set, the main reason I'm buying the packs is for minis.
I did not walk away from my A&G packs enjoying them, which is quite the downward plunge for A&G. And, yes, I have ordered a complete Dodgers team set of A&G, something I would have never dreamed of doing five years ago.
All right, so with a less than impressive series of A&G packs, I turned to Stadium Club because SC is almost always interesting. It's also a set I've seen quite a bit on the blogs already and from what I've witnessed, it seemed that Stadium Club had peppered the set with even more interesting photos than in previous years.
I've often wished that more of the SC cards had cool shots because the ones that are more standard look pretty limp sitting next to photo greatness.
But, nope, there a lot of ordinary photos in Stadium Club this year, too. I seem to have pulled all of them in the packs I bought.
Maybe I was distracted by these three cards. Two dudes I don't like (Posada is another one of those guys who shouldn't be showing up with the legends yet) and a painful memory from last year's playoffs thanks to Ryan Zimmerman.
Those were the best of the bunch from my three packs.
None of these pack purchases have made me sorry that I'm not trying to complete these sets or sorry that I've been getting my Dodgers from this year via online means. I've grabbed most of the Stadium Club Dodgers from box breaks at Nachos Grande (I'm fighting off the urge to request shipment of my Dustin May auto RIGHT NOW!).
But that doesn't mean I wasn't happy to see those packs waiting for me!
It gave me hope that perhaps the days of card buyers freaking out are starting to wane (a few Twitter followers had theories on this -- including a couple of "yeah-buts"). Maybe A&G and Stadium Club aren't exactly flipper material but seeing anything on store shelves at all is an absolutely positive development in this year of 2020.
But, seriously, the pack content needs to get better if I'm going to come close to matching the days of once-a-week trips to the card aisle.