Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Yawn! Ginter

I've had this feeling coming on for a few years now -- that Allen & Ginter was becoming just another card set.

I've tried so much not to feel that way that I've been in denial for a long time. My enthusiasm for the set probably first started to wane around 2010, yet you can see my excitement for all things A&G all over this blog for the past four years. And I completed the 2010, 2011 and 2012 sets and am very close to finishing off 2013.

It's been a slow drain. A slow recognition that I'm not feeling it like I once did. This isn't really Topps' fault, although I'm sure one of their many critics out there would be able to pin it on them pretty quickly. It's more of me and the fact that either there hasn't been enough excitement in the last few A&G sets or I've just grown bored.

It's tough to dive into a brand new 2015 set that you're supposed to complete while you're maybe halfway through last year's set. This is why I've made only half-hearted searches for Ginter the last couple of weeks and why I haven't minded that I didn't find any until today.

So I grabbed a couple of rack packs all the while staring at a blaster (by the way, A&G first emerged here in August, which as I've said before -- but nobody wants to listen to empty pockets night owl -- is about the worst month to release a card set if you want me to buy it).

What I opened isn't going to get me to go back anytime soon.

But I'll discuss more while I open the cards -- that you've all seen before.

Rack pack 1:

#60 - Marcus Semien, A's
#233 - Ike Davis, A's

And we're off to a blazing start with two almost identical Oakland A's. I can see these being used at the eye doctor's office: bat on right shoulder or bat on left shoulder? How about now? Right or left? And now?

#170 - Chris Davis, Orioles

The images in this year's set are cropped much closer than in past sets. It's rather obvious and I don't think I've heard anyone else mention it. Although it makes this year's set distinctive, I don't really like it.

#253 - Carlos Beltran, Yankees

I like that the border colors change though. This is the best part of the design. It's fairly subtle, but in a binder, I'm sure it stands out.

#334 - Nick Tropeano, Angels (I don't know who he is, but his name sounds like a shady travel agent character on the Simpsons)

In a major break from tradition, base cards 301-350 are not short-printed this year. I don't know why this is, and it figures that just when I'm tiring of A&G they go and get rid of the most frustrating part of completing the set. I wonder how quickly I could complete this set if I had the enthusiasm for it I did in 2008?

#196 - Ian Kinsler, Tigers, regular-back mini

Makes the frankenset!

#MM10 - Nanabozho, Mythological Menaces mini

Nanabozho is neither male nor female, can turn into animals and plays tricks on people. One of his/her/its tricks is putting this card of a naked man/woman/animal into my collection.

#192 - Fernando Rodney, Mariners
#186 - Desmond Jennings, Rays

A Mariner and a Ray. And thus ends the dullest top half of a rack pack of A&G I've ever opened.

#277 - Starlin Castro, Cubs

#185 - Gus Malzahn, Auburn football coach

This might be my overall boredom with A&G talking, but I don't think the non-baseball subjects have been as interesting as in say, 2008-2012. I know that Masters of Knitting would be more interesting to me than a college football coach.

#SP-32 - Jose Altuve, Astros, Starting Points insert

This is the giant insert set that A&G foists on us every year. Like everything else, this used to be interesting. It's not anymore.

#GS-10 - Dolly the Sheep, Great Scott insert

RIP cloned sheepy.

#247 - George Springer, Astros

Bringing the dullest A&G rack pack I've ever opened to an end.

Rack pack 2:

#254 - Alex Gordon, Royals

The Twitter feud between Royals and Blue Jays fans is adorable. You're practically the same team, guys.

#69 - Christian Bethancourt, Braves
#257 - Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox

Kudos to cropping Sandoval tightly and still getting him in the frame.

#345 - Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
#332 - Matt Cain, Giants

There's evidence right there that cards 301-350 are not short-prints. This would never happen in A&G 2008-14.

#212 - Chris Tillman, Orioles, mini, regular back

Both non-insert minis make the frankenset binder! Actual success from these rack packs!

#154 - Rusney Castillo, Red Sox

#56 - Apollo Creed

OK, this is where the rack pack plunges from indifference to indignation. Both top corners of this card are massively dinged. I spotted it when I opened the top half of the rack pack and hoped that it wasn't a card I cared about.

Unfortunately, this is one of the few interesting things to me about this year's A&G -- Rocky characters as part of the base set. And as you can see, Creed is rocking his Uncle Sam hat. This is a magnificent card carelessly damaged.

I could go on, but My Cardboard Habit has already volunteered to send me an improved copy. A travesty avoided and night owl shuts up.

#121 - Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
#281 - Cory Spangenberg, Padres

The horizontal cards feature much more photo than past A&G horizontal cards. This is a big plus.

#SP-79 - Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners, Starting Points insert

Lovely. This will go in the stack with the other Iwakumas as I haven't traded a non-Griffey Mariner since probably 2010.

#AA10 - Flanged Mace, Ancient Armory insert

I think someone took a flanged mace to my Apollo Creed card.

#First-33 - Lady Bird Johnson, First Ladies mini insert

I think I got the cards mixed up. The two minis were together in this rack pack, just like the other one.

I like this insert set, and there is not a political feather on this bird's body.

#97 - Kendall Graveman, A's

And that does it. Two rack packs, three Oakland A's. That might explain my boredom.

I still plan to collect this set. And one day you will see a want list up. But it's almost out of habit, I'm afraid.

I'm not planning to turn completely around and collect Panini full-time, but right now Allen and Ginter is a solid No. 3 in the year's sets behind Stadium Club and flagship. We're talking about a set that used to be my indisputable favorite for several years, relegated now to No. 3.

I still haven't sorted out the reasons for this, but that ain't good.


  1. I agree with your lack of enthusiasm but I think Nick Tropeano sounds like a low rent lounge singer. I do like Dolly's sly smile. That actually might be my favortie card in the set.

  2. Reading this at the had station waiting for had to fill my car. Eye of the tiger is on the radio, no joke.

  3. There are too many non-mini insert sets the last few years and the lack of short prints make me glad I decided not to buy a blaster last time I went shopping. I rank A&G just ahead of Gypsy Queen now and I haven't bought a GQ pack in 2 years.

  4. I avoid buying these cards because I hate getting non baseball cards in my pack of baseball cards. Also, when did 14 cards (*or 13 with insert) become a JUMBO pack?

    Alright, I am done with my old man griping. Now you kids get off my lawn!

  5. Okay - I need an Apollo Creed card. It's beautiful. Apart from the corners, of course.

    1. Junkie, I've got one. I'll send it your way.

  6. I agree with John, not a big fan of non-baseball cards in my baseball cards. Might buy a few singles of players I like from this year's set when they are cheap but that's it. Never really could figure out what the big fascination is/was with Ginter anyway.

  7. That flanged mace joke made me laugh out loud...

  8. I was a little burned out on Ginter a few years ago..like you said having a new year roll out on you while you're still halfway through the previous year is a bit tedious. Maybe next year...at least there is Stadium Club to keep things interesting this year.

  9. I like the partial borders in 3 colors design more than recent years. I'm missing the veteran players. I actually think there are fewer non-baseball cards this year but I'm not sure how I feel about that.

  10. Maybe Allen & Ginter should be like the World Cup or the Olympics and come out every 4 years? People that collect it really want to collect it all and that takes a lot of time.

  11. With sets like Ginter and Heritage having these nonsports inserts and (here) base cards, it makes me feel either that I need to start some sort of non-sports collection or simply ignore these sets except for picking up Brewers.

    Maybe in a few years I'll start that non-sport collection.

  12. Hmm.... Maybe Kerry is right. What if they rotated Ginter, Heritage, and GQ?

    Anyhow, if you're not building the Starting Points set, I'd love that Altuve. I'll find some cards to send your way.