It was pointed out to me quite awhile ago that I don't keep up with the latest activity in the card world. I don't keep track of release dates. I don't discuss various bunkery performed by card companies that much. I'm not on the pulse of the latest in cardboard.
That's true. I think you can say that about the rest of the card blog world, too. It was a different world around here 6 or 7 years ago. Most of those "newsy card blog" people have migrated or disappeared.
As for me, I am much more casual when looking for new cards and nothing underlines that more than this year's Allen & Ginter product.
In past years, I not only knew the release date but was ready to pounce as soon as the date arrived. I was into the Gint-a-Cuffs and very eager to complete the set. But as the years went on, I started to tire of it and the task of completing it wasn't nearly as important as other cardboard goals.
After six straight years of completing A&G, I'm still several short-prints away from finishing 2014 and not even to the "I better put up a want list" stage with 2015. I'm fairly certain I'll be able to say I completed seven straight A&G sets. But I'm just as certain I won't complete nine straight A&G sets.
So, yup, I just bought a blaster of A&G product for a set that I don't intend to complete. Welcome, A&G, to how I treat every other card product. You've regressed to the mean.
I am so late to opening this that I've seen several openings of A&G from people who don't care for it or know much about it. I didn't even bother to buy it when when I knew for a fact that it was sitting on shelf just a couple of miles away.
That isn't to say I wasn't eager to see what was inside. A&G may be getting stale and is probably no more exciting than a box of Stadium Club or even Archives to me now, but it is still interesting. I think it will always be that way. So, let's see what was interesting in this blaster -- and, we're foreshadowing here now, it was definitely interesting.
There's your 2016 pack:
Time to rip:
#20 - Michael Pineda, Yankees
A&G is known for loving the Yankees, so I'm glad we got it out of the way. The first card allows me to feel up the cardboard, and I agree with what others are saying -- it's different. The backs have a Heritage feel to them. This is pretty big news. It's actually kind of nice.
#86 - Adam Jones, Orioles
Another noted 2016 element is the "ribbed" effect in the watercolor design behind the player. It's not as obvious in person, so it's not nearly as distracting as it appears here. Overall, I like the card design. I've liked the A&G design the last four years.
#MIW-3 - Eagle, Mascots In The Wild insert
Retail-only insert. The write-up on the back ties animal/bird featured to a respective baseball team. This one mentions the Nationals.
#284 - Orlando Cepeda, Braves, mini, regular back
That's a nice mini. The Braves are probably the third option when I think of teams Cepeda has played for, and I appreciate Topps selecting that option.
#309 - Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks, SP
#112 - Kris Bryant, Cubs
#266 - Anthony Rendon, Nationals
#245 - Dwier Brown, Actor
The floating object that A&G is using this year to designate non-players takes some getting used to, and given my dislike for when Topps floats its rookie cup in mid-air, it's a safe bet I won't get used to it.
#77 - Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays
#NG-41 - Jackie Robinson, Dodgers, Numbers Game insert (that's right, it's No. 41, not 42).
Ooh. A Dodger I won't have to beg for. The Numbers Game insert is the massive-sized insert A&G would like you to collect this year. The backs are very interesting, particularly the part about who else wore that player's uniform number. A&G drops a Sonny Siebert reference on the back of Jackie's card, which is much needed and appreciated.
#255 - Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox, A&G-backed mini
Another nice mini. At the end of this post, I'll review which ones made it into the frankenset blaster. I know you're all looking forward to it.
#45 - Laurence Leavy, Superfan (a.k.a. Marlins Man)
Twitter's obsession with this guy is beyond me. I've actually unfollowed people over it. It's not like I don't like the guy, it's just whyyyyyyyyy do people have to talk about him so much.
Another solid pack. But not the interesting part yet.
#125 - Carl Edwards Jr., Cubs
#194 - Mike Trout, Angels
#NW-15 - Devils Tower, Natural Wonders insert
The Gypsy Queen-like borders are not appealing. I think the photo would stand out better with a more traditional border.
#335 - Shawn Tolleson, Rangers, mini, regular back
#316 - Ryan Weber, Braves, SP
I don't know.
#231 - Kaleb Cowart, Angels
Not as interesting.
#167 - Jeff Samardzija, Giants
#189 - Buster Posey, Giants
#135 - Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks
Quite possibly the worst pack I've opened all year, and I've opened 2016 flagship.
#NG-69 - Jacob deGrom, Mets, Numbers Game insert
#268 - Frank Thomas, White Sox, mini, regular-back
Nice job salvaging the pack, Frank, speckled bicep or not.
#157 - Gerrit Cole, Pirates
Please, let's move on to Pack 5.
#12 - Trevor Story, Rockies
#99 - Luis Severino, Yankees
That's a nice-looking card. Too bad a Yankee is in the middle of it. Put a Dodger in there and that'll add a little harmony to the world.
#BL-20 - Willie Stargell, Pirates, Baseball Legends
Can't beat that uniform.
#USM-24 - Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Mayors mini insert
One of you A&G junkies take this off my hands. My tolerance for politics is at an all-time low. I don't want any mayor cards.
#330 - Zack Godley, Diamondbacks, SP
Pulling all the Diamondbacks SPs with this blaster. No idea who Godley is. (*goes to handy internet*). He has 9 games pitched this year, which is totally worth a card in a 350-card set. If I ever am tempted to complete this, all I have to do is go back to this card.
#82 - Gerardo Parra, Rockies
I'm running out of time on the interesting. Is it interesting enough for you? Wait a little more.
#209 - Andrew Miller, Yankees
Now with the Indians, where he can grow hair again.
#11 - Howie Kendrick, Dodgers
Apparently doomed to play left field forever, where some horrible playoff blunder is just waiting to happen.
#NG-34 - Eric Hosmer, Numbers Game insert
#FF-10 - Sand Cat, Ferocious Felines, mini insert
Awwwwwww, look at the fluffy, wittle, sweeping, kitty ... YAH!
#236 - Brad Boxberger, Rays
#85 - Prince Fielder, Rangers
#139 - Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
Just go ahead and make Bochy look like a genius, Gonzalez. Really, I don't mind.
#AGR - Rod Carew, Angels, framed relic
Weeeelllll ... that is INTERESTING!
It's been quite awhile since I pulled an A&G relic that I like as much. A star of the '70s, right there (albeit not in the preferred Twins uniform)! My unusual run of retail purchasing luck continues.
#104 - Byron Buxton, Twins, A&G-backed mini
#343 - Shelby Miller, Diamondbacks, SP
ALL THE DIAMONDBACK SPS!!!!!!!!
#220 - Matt Duffy, Astros (not the Giants fielder who was just traded. The pitcher with like 8 games in the majors. Thanks, A&G).
Here's pack 8, as anti-climactic as it is.
#269 - Maikel Franco, Phillies
#84 - Robinson Cano, Mariners
#NG-14 - David Price, Red Sox, Numbers Game
#NW-12 - Dead Sea, Natural Wonders insert
#35 - Jayson Werth, Nationals, black-border mini
#51 - A.J. Ramos, Marlins
Here are the minis that made the frankenset binder:
Welcome, men. None of you were able to do something about the side-by-side Jason Kubels in the binder, but that Kubel is a crafty former Twinamathing.
I have to say that was a lot more interesting of a blaster than I had hoped. It won't get me to collect the set, or play Gint-a-Cuffs, but I do believe Allen and Ginter has still got it.
And so do I.