So this was the week that 2014 Topps came out. I suppose if your week was rather mundane then you can define it that way.
My week contained a sick dog (still sick, thank you), a minor surgical procedure (irritating the hell out of me right now), a four-day long snowstorm (have you ever seen one foot of snow fall in two hours? I hadn't until Wednesday night), and an ungodly stressful week of work brought on by Super Bowlympics (god, I can't believe I once liked sports).
So thoughts of 2014 Topps were on my mind, but physically going to a store wasn't.
Today, finally in recovery mode, I ventured out and reached over the very tall man with the shaggy beard pondering a blaster box of football of some sort (don't do it!) to grab a hanger box of 2014 Topps. It's a little more than I wanted to buy, but it contains a good representation of what's in the set and that's the idea here.
Before I bought them, I had seen all the 2014 card talk all week on Twitter. And the same thing happens every time. Somebody criticizes the cards and then someone criticizes the critics. This bothers me a little. I can see having an issue with people who rip EVERY last move Topps makes. But I think there is room for collectors who buy cards even though those cards may not be their favorites.
Because I happen to do that.
1. Buying cards at the start of the year is a tradition. It goes back to childhood. Sometimes tradition is still fun even though the world has changed. Opening packs will still be fun as long as cards are cards. I don't have to love them to buy them.
2. I don't necessarily KNOW that I won't like the cards. Yeah, I know going in that I don't like some of what Topps does with its base set and I know going in whether I like the design or not. But you never truly know what a card or a set is like until you actually look at them in your hands. And you've got to buy cards to do that.
3. Critiquing cards is expressing love for the hobby. It's the same as any art form. I remember as a teenager waiting for the new record of whatever group. When we finally saw the record in stores and bought it, we would hash over what we loved and hated about the new record/the new sound as only true devotees do. True fans love their hobby and critiquing it is a way of holding on to it, a way to see that nobody hurts it, a way to love it, by expressing what they think is right and what is wrong.
This is why I make sure I buy at least one pack of flagship every year. To celebrate the arrival of new cards each year. To celebrate why it is special. To keep the hobby alive, through praise or criticism. Because I love it.
And now, after all that mind-numbing sap, here is a hanger box of 72 cards from 2014 Topps, like it or not:
#150 - Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
The first card of the year is of the NL MVP. That's much better than previous first cards of the year.
By the way, I read the back of this card and it says "little girls weep when they meet him." Andrew's got to stop taking away their ice cream cones.
#77 - Aroldis Chapman, Reds
You were wondering if there are throwback uniforms in this set? There is an endless supply
#20 - Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
You were wondering if there are Rockies in this set? So many that I'm going to start counting (1).
#2 - Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
#109 - David Freese, Cardinals
#217 - Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
#134 - Josh Donaldson, Athletics
#211 - Dioner Navarro, Cubs
I was getting bored so I'm showing the back. New to the backs this year is a category for WAR. I made a decision a long time ago, in the early stages of college, that numbers were going to be a small factor in my life. Now I'm paying for it by wondering how someone's career total can be "4.9" when there is nothing higher than a "2.0" in any individual year.
#152 - Jonathan Herrera, Rockies (2)
#268 - Don Kelly, Tigers
#230 - Andre Rienzo, White Sox
#69 - Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (3)
#231 - J.R. Murphy, Yankees
We've reached the horizontal portion of the hanger box. Let's pause and look at the design.
I've already said that I'm not crazy about it. That team tab on the right has been ripped by more than a few bloggers. I didn't realize the swoosh on the bottom was foil and I actually like it. In fact, in hand, the design looks better than I thought (which is why you buy the cards!). I already like this set better than 2012 Topps.
Perhaps most important, this design reminds me of something and I am going to figure out what it is before 2015. I think when I do figure it out, I will like this set a lot more. It strikes at something familiar from the past. Just have to pull it out of my brain.
#13 - Juan Nicasio, Rockies (4)
#22 - Mike Napoli, Red Sox, World Series Game 1
#103 - 2013 AL Batting Average Leaders (Cabrera, Mauer, Trout)
#312 - Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
#59 - Nate Schierholtz, Cubs
#178 - Erik Johnson, White Sox
#235 - Jason Kipnis, Indians
#25 - Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (5)
I remember when someone on the blog tried to tell me that purple wasn't a primary color for the Rockies.
#157 - Matt Adams, Cardinals
#110 - Wil Myers, Rays
Back-to-back rookie cups!
#262 - Jeff Keppinger, White Sox
#319 - Ryan Goins, Blue Jays
#48 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
#260 - Zoilo Almonte, Yankees
#3 - Jarrod Dyson, Royals
#273 - Mark DeRosa, Blue Jays
Because the Super Bowl?
#87 - Tyson Ross, Padres
#317 - Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
#50 - Buster Posey, Giants
The real reason Posey got home plate collisions abolished? He wants his teeth intact.
#43 - Mark Trumbo, Angels
#293 - Mike Zunino, Mariners, future star
#68 - Sean Burnett, Angels
#75 - Brandon Barnes, Astros
No bat necessary when you have an awesome arm tattoo I think is what this card is saying?
#209 - Carlos Quentin, Padres
From the special unannounced subset called "Dim Bulbs".
#282 - Rex Brothers, Rockies (6)
#8 - Coco Crisp, Athletics
Coco needs to start a movement in which at least 25 percent of MLB players grow afros (yes, even the white guys). Baseball will become more popular than ever before.
#173 - Brandon League, Dodgers
Ugh, my first Dodger is him. If I want it to be winter forever, all I have to do is think of League on the mound in a Dodger uniform.
#117 - 2013 AL Earned Run Average Leaders (Sanchez, Colon, Iwakuma)
Iwakuma, you need to puff out your cheeks more.
#161 - Adrian Beltre, Rangers
DON'T touch his head!!!!
#64 - Will Venable, Padres
#94 - Mitch Moreland, Rangers
#29 - 2013 AL Home Run Leaders (Davis, Cabrera, Encarnacion)
#205 - Seth Smith, Athletics (gold parallel)
Of course, it's an Athletic. Seth, go sit over there in the corner with the Marlins and the Mariners. You're banished to the box forever.
#40 - Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers (red something-or-other parallel)
This is the pull of the box. And I want to call these "the walls are covered in blood" parallels. Think that'll work?
#TM-3 Fred Lynn, Red Sox, '89 parallel.
These things are "1989" only in the vaguest sense. 1989 Topps:
1. Was not die-cut
2. Was not mini
3. Did not feature Lynn as a Red Sox (he was a Tiger)
The cards look weird, like some kid cut it out of a larger card (that said, I know I'll have Red Sox fans clamoring for this).
#UC-40 - Bo Jackson, Royals, Upper Class insert set.
Classy and boring. Like walking through Lord & Taylor.
#FN-13 - Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics, Future Is Now insert set.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. These generic insert sets are coma-inducing. Can we get some inserts back that are about something?
#296 - Domonic Brown, Phillies, red parallel
#243 - Ryan Cook, Athletics, red parallel
#126 - David DeJesus, Rays, red parallel
Domonic is set aside for someone. The others are floating in the breeze. I think I'm going to like the Walmart blues better this year, which is a rarity.
#89 - Jarred Cosart, Astros, future star, yellow parallel
#127 - Yusmeiro Petit, Giants, yellow parallel
I've read that the yellow parallels are retail-only, which is cool for a collector who is retail-only. And aside from the fact that there are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many parallels, I like these a lot better than I did when I first saw them online.
Again, this is why I buy cards I don't think I'll enjoy.
#315 - Jose Quintanta, White Sox
#291 - Brandon McCarthy, Diamondbacks
#203 - Cliff Pennington, Diamondbacks
#308 - Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Lots of White Sox, too. And lots and lots of throwbacks.
#240 - Ernesto Frieri, Angels
#93 - Ryan Sweeney, Cubs
#37 - Nick Hundley, Padres
#135 - Eric Sogard, Athletics (I knew I should have counted A's)
#130 - Scooter Gennett, Brewers
#80 - Jack Hannahan, Reds
#140 - Jonathan Broxton, Reds
#58 - Dan Straily, Athletics
#4 - Cody Asche, Phillies
#115 - Brett Oberholtzer, Astros
#283 - Andrelton Simmons, Braves
Not sure why he gets a Future Stars logo, since most Future Stars are guys I've heard of only slightly.
#95 - Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays
#226 - Sean Doolittle, Athletics
And with that awesome card, the A's take over the Rockies with the seventh card in the pack.
A's and Rockies. Yeah, this is going to be a hell of a trading season.
That's the whole hanger box.
So what have I learned here?
Well, I like the yellow parallels better than I thought I would. I like the design a little bit better than I thought I would (still not thrilled with it). I think the '89 minis are an abomination.
There's always something to discover in a new pack of cards.
Like it or not.