That is a statement that you would have never heard me say 10 years ago or even five years ago. I mean, come on! Yesterday's designs are fantastic! They're waaaaaaaaay better than today's designs!
But that's how much of a hot mess Topps Archives is. It's changed my entire card view.
I was at the local Target yesterday, scrambling for a Father's Day gift (I hope others in my family are doing the same), and I turned up both Archives and Topps Series 2 rack packs on the shelves (there were loosies of Series 2, too).
This was an excellent opportunity to see which package I would enjoy more, given that I had seen neither except on the blogs. Of course, I knew full well which one I would like better. You don't pick up a thin pack of Archives -- 18 cards for $4.99 -- and a fat pack of Series 2 -- 36 cards for $5.99 -- and not feel the resentment growing already.
Before opening the Archives pack, I checked out the odds:
The "Base Card Short Print odds" (by the way, the term "base card short print" makes me feel like I'm standing in line in 1960s Communist Bulgaria waiting for bread) are 1:20, which isn't the horrific 1:70 of hobby packs, but it's still pretty galling. Twenty of these rack packs at 5 bucks each -- $100 -- will get you a short-printed base card.
That reminded me of how irked I am at Archives all over again, so I'm afraid I didn't care much for what came out of the packs. Here they are separated by design:
There was one fewer '76-designed card because of the insert, which I'll show in a moment. I would have preferred one fewer '83 card or '57 card because of how much nostalgia I have invested in 1976 Topps, but whatever.
The backs are pretty faithful to the originals (actually the fronts are, too). But I am reminded that despite the inclusion of three of the better Topps designs, these are also three of the most awful backs that Topps has ever made.
As for the cards themselves, they're the same as Archives has been since it was resurrected in 2012 in its current mutant form. Same thinness, same feel, same "I suddenly don't care about these and want them to go away" feeling I get when opening Archives in the past. I won't buy another pack.
But I am glad I bought this pack, because this was my insert:
I have a sense that nobody's going to be sending me Joc Pederson cards pretty soon so it's good to get this one crossed off before people discover that he's at least as good as that guy in Chicago that Topps keeps pushing as wonderboy.
So ... I opened that pack first in full anticipation that I would need a pick-me-up afterward.
Which is why we're moving on to the Series 2 pack. This pack is supposed to a continuation my quest to complete the flagship set this year. Whenever Series 2 comes along, I evaluate whether the completion idea is still a good one. I'm a little uncertain at this point, but I think I'll stick it out.
And now on with 36 cards of Series 2, which I'll drag out because I like it better than Archives:
#678 - Sam Freeman, Cardinals
It's odd seeing that number after so many recent years of 660-ish cards.
#544 - Travis d'Arnaud, Mets
#578 - Ender Inciarte, Los D'backs
His name is close to "incendiary" and I don't like it. The Diamondbacks are like a kid playing with roll caps on the sidewalk (remember those?). Just shut up, the Dodgers are trying to get something done here.
#438 - DJ LeMahieu, Rockies
LeMahieu turning two.
#530 - Chris Heston, Giants
The no-hitter guy. I miss the days when Giants pitchers would get bombed every start.
#393 - Danny Salazar, Indians
#368 - David Robertson, White Sox
#619 - Kevin Gausman, Orioles
#363 - Avisail Garcia, White Sox
#651 - Andrelton Simmons, Braves
The horizontal portion of the package.
#478 - Los Angeles Dodgers
#545 - Clayton Kershaw, MVP, Dodgers
#563 - J.J. Hardy, Orioles
Hardy staying in his running lane, like a good modern ballplayer.
#570 - Jarrod Dyson, Royals
#489 - Jeremy Hellickson, Diamondbacks
#558 - Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
#564 - Jose Quintana, White Sox
#529 - Ryan Flaherty, Orioles
#616 - Kris Bryant, Cubs
OMG, it's Wonderboy! Should I phone Topps? What'd I win? WHAT'D I WIN? I HAVE A KRIS BRYANT CARD EVERYBODY. I AM AN ACHIEVER!
#422 - Prince Fielder, Rangers, gold
Hmmm. I think I do owe Play At the Plate some cards.
#H-35 - Babe Ruth, Yankees, Highlight, 1934 insert
#HOR-4 - Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners, Heart of the Order insert
This is one of the new inserts for Series 2. It doesn't do anything for me, although I think Topps did an excellent job of making bats look like loaves of bread in a deli.
#FHR-34 - Alex Gordon, Royals, First Home Run insert
EH-9 - Derek Jeter/Lou Gehrig, Eclipsing History insert
Another new insert. This one recognizes Derek Jeter surpassing Lou Gehrig for the career team record in singles. Nowhere on this card is the word "bloopmaster" used. I'm disappointed.
Hey collectors! Spend all the free time you don't have collecting cards that don't exist!
#526 - Will Middlebrooks, Padres
The new Padres same as the old Padres.
#671 - Gerrit Cole, Pirates
#352 - Jaime Garcia, Cardinals
#395 - Chris Taylor, Mariners
#507 - A.J. Pierzynski, Braves
#439 - Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
This photo looks exceptionally dark.
#374 - Nick Martinez, Rangers
#626 - Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox
Photoshopping in action -- there's an insert set for you.
#435 - Mike Fiers, Brewers
#606 - Ian Desmond, Nationals
#579 - Jason Hammel, Cubs
#604 - Jordan Schafer, Twins
Last card, and, wow, it's a great one, too.
Even though everyone knows what flagship is all about at this point in the collecting season, this still was more interesting to me than Archives.
As I've said before, that's a shame, because there's no way today's players on yesterday's designs should produce that feeble of a reaction.
Perhaps it's time for a "How To Fix Archives" post.
Look for that next week.
Meanwhile, I'll take your Series 2 dupes.