One of the most important conversations I had last year came in the final stages of my mom's life.
She was in the hospital and we had already endured the end-of-life discussions with doctors and specialists around my mom's hospital bed. But, now, my dad and I were back at home, sitting at the dining room table in a room that could only be called a disaster, talking with the head of the hospice organization in the city.
He explained, like I'm sure he has to many people, that the end of life is not tidy. It is messy. "Death and dying," he said, "is messy." I looked around the room at medicine bottles everywhere, bills and notes and get-well cards strewn about. Common items like car keys and batteries, random cash and 27 different kinds of pens were scattered across the table and the counter next to it.
What the man said clicked in my head. Yes, what we had been through all these months, and especially the past three months, was definitely a mess. This fit the definition. It was a revelation. And from that point on, I soldiered through the disaster knowing exactly what it was.
My dad didn't. He wasn't well himself, but we weren't focused on him yet. He refused to accept what the man was telling him. He was forever looking for a cure for mom, a tidy solution. His conversations were often filled with "if onlys". He wanted an out.
People don't accept the way things end. It's often messy. Whether it's a divorce or selling a house or a certain presidential speech at the end of his term, or getting diagnosed for coronavirus as your team is winning the World Series. There are a lot of disasters. There have been a lot of disasters in 2020.
This is one of them:
I was wandering through youtube last night as I often do after work. I came across a video break of 2020 Topps Update. I was sort of aware that Update was being released this week and I decided to see if I could spot any Dodgers in this break.
I knew that Update would be seriously hampered by the delayed 2020 baseball season but I didn't expect this:
That is card No. U-93 in Topps Update. Tyler White was released by the Dodgers in mid-July, before the season even started, and had not played in a Dodger game since 2019.
Also, White had already appeared in a 2020 Topps flagship set, in Series 1:
White played a grand total of 12 games for the Dodgers in 2019. So that's two cards of a player wearing a Dodgers uniform in a 2020 product who didn't play in 2020.
As a team collector, I don't even like the idea of having those two cards in my Dodgers binders. It's a disaster.
I was baffled. And I immediately looked for the Dodgers Update checklist to see what else was in this suddenly very weird set.
More astonishment. More messy.
Terrance Gore appeared in a grand total of two games for the Dodgers in 2020. No at-bats. David Price, as you well know, opted out for the season. The all-star cards aren't based on anything current because there was no All-Star Game in 2020. And the "Active Leaders" cards are simply filler.
Alex Wood and Joe Kelly are the only cards that could be considered true Update cards, the reason Update was created in the first place.
But there are more questions. Russell Martin on the checklist? He hadn't played since 2019 either.
This is something that happened in 2019, obviously.
I then looked at the variations and saw that Mookie Betts had a Dodger variation card listed at U-268 but there was no base Betts at U-268 on the Dodgers checklist.
I looked around and this is the base U-268 card:
Betts appears as a member of the Red Sox, a team he hasn't played for since 2019.
This stuff might -- might -- be acceptable in Series 1, but not in Update.
There are a number of other examples on the Update checklist. Luis Severino has a card in Update even though he's also in flagship and never changed teams. Same with Rich Hill. And several others.
Update is the end of the 2020 cards season. And like many endings, so I've come to realize, it is a disaster.
There are obvious reason for this. The baseball season didn't start until the end of July. Topps pushed Update's release date back a couple of weeks because of that. But usually, Topps gets its photos for Update from early-to-midseason and it's already going to print in the summer, I believe. A couple weeks isn't going to make a difference in terms of content.
So that is the main reason why Update is a pathetic version of itself. There are even Home Run Derby cards (never a reason I buy update) that show past Home Run Derby winners. What?
This is not a product I want to buy and the flippers can have all of the Update off the shelves that they want. I probably won't even bother looking for it.
Topps did the best it could with what it had to work with, I guess. Personally, I think it would have been better if Topps cut the Update checklist down from 300 cards to the original 132. Or just scrapped Update altogether since it couldn't do an adequate job.
I suppose the last thought isn't realistic.
But that's just me trying to find a tidy solution to a messy, messy problem. We all wish our disasters were a lot neater.