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Why I buy cards I don't think I will enjoy

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.

Here's why:

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

Very nice.

#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.


Hackenbush said…
Not great. Not terrible. I like some of the ones you showed, Coco, De Rosa and Schierholtz. Maybe my wife will give me a pack or two for my birthday. Otherwise I can live without them.
Don said…
I will probably pick up a rack pack soon, just to buy a pack. I will wait and buy a complete set later as I don't have the money to try and complete it the old fashioned way.

By the way, I do like the horizontal cards. I am reminded of a pull tab when I see it. Maybe you can call this the pull tab set.
I was sorting all of my cards by team over the last couple days and realized I have more Rockies than anything else. I live in a state bordering Colorado and I still don't know any Rockies collectors.
Nick said…
I still can't figure out why there are so many Rockies in this set. And I'm jealous of that Coco. Definitely an early "Card of the Year" candidate. As is the Doolittle.

While there are way too many this year, I do like that Topps makes some retail-only parallels. It's like an added bonus for us "retail-only collectors", as you said.
Zippy Zappy said…
If the JR Murphy RC and Zoilo Almonte cards are for available I'd love to trade for them.
Zippy Zappy said…
*are available.

Stupid brain.
hiflew said…
Okay before wants to contract the Rockies because they got a fair number of cards this year, let's look at the facts. In 2013 Series 1, the Rockies got 6 cards and 2 of them were not on the Opening Day roster. There are a total 11 Rockies (12 counting a league leaders card) in Series 1 which is exactly 1/30th of the set. Since the Rockies are 1 of the 30 teams in the majors...that sounds about right.

BTW View from the Skybox, I am a Rockies collector. I'll email you.
Phil said…
You sound just like me. I wasn't too thrilled about the design until I got some today. In hand the design looks better. The '89 die cuts are horrible (I also got a Red Sox one, which I do collect and it was Jimmie Foxx). Though I don't care for the yellow cards. Also judging from the scans of the red borders, I am glad I got the Walmart box with the blue ones. I got the same Bo Jackson insert, and I agree that the subsets are boring.

After I went through the cards, I found most of the only ones I still want on justcommons and so I should save some money since I don't have to worry about this set until at least series 2 comes out.
Josh D. said…
That is a beautiful Bo.

On the base cards, there is too much going on without much reason behind it. I think it is the worst design of the 2010's so far.

Scott Crawford said…
If Josh and the others haven't shaken you down for Bo yet and you're not keeping him, I'll take him as part of our Ryu-rainbow-building trade.
Anonymous said…
The pull tabs are a little reminiscent of the tabs in a pop-up book. Maybe if you pull on one the player would swing the bat or something nifty like that.
night owl said…
I'll set them aside for you, Kenny.
arpsmith said…
Just picked up my first cards today and like you I enjoy them more than I thought. Hoping you can part with that yellow Giant in our next trade...
Nachos Grande said…
This would be a gorgeous set if it were Bowman...but for Topps flagship it reminds me too much of Bowman to be enjoyable. That said, you are correct in that it is best to buy at least one pack before totally writing off a set - so until I do that, I'll keep an open mind (or at least I won't totally close my mind, how's that)?
Ryan G said…
I hope to have some Topps in hand tomorrow. I'm not sure if boxes have arrived in Japan yet or if I'll have to wait another week. Like you, I'm just going to give it a shot, and for the same reasons - tradition, testing, and talking (er, critiquing - I wanted three Ts).

You remind me of when I watched Hunger Games this month. A couple of friends came over, and especially with the beginning of the movie, I was critical of what I saw. The overly-shaky camera work, predictably dramatic storyline which they rub in your face, etc. So they commented that I must have not liked the movie. But I have seen thousands of movies, and I recognize obvious tropes, plot twists, dramatic effects, and so on. So while I enjoyed Hunger Games, I can see both the forest and the trees. I guess that's what we do, right?
Mark Hoyle said…
I'll be first on the list to clamor for the Lynn card
I also really like the Lemonade parallel. Wait 'til you see the Pea Soup parallel in person.
unclemoe said…
I hate the cropping on these cards. Oh and McCutchen was on the top of my first pack too! OMG! Twinsies!
Fuji said…
There's nothing wrong with an Athletics hot box. The more I see this product, the more I like it. The set's design is growing on me... possibly my favorite out of the past five years. My friend is going to the A's fan fest next weekend and she's offered to grab some 'graphs for me. Might have to buy a blaster and hope I pull that Coco.
jacobmrley said…
I have some Dodgers for you from my packs, don't worry.

It's funny, I posted my 2014 review without seeing yours first and it is amazing that we pretty much highlight and bitch about the same things...though I fell short of calling the 1989 minis an abomination, I just called them underwhelming and irrelevant.
Bo said…
WAR "Wins Above Replacement" - it is a cumulative stat, not a percentage. So you would add the wins a player added each season to get the career total.
Anonymous said…
Dang, I think this is my favorite base design since 1995. The inserts, parallels, and variations/SPs are all almost universally terrible, but the base design itself is an all-time great to me.

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