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Playing in the Big League

My 2020 Topps Big League team set arrived in the mail today.

I mentioned the other day that I decided to grab the team set in a bid to avoid buying packs and blasters of a set that I traditionally like too much and therefore spend too much money. The incentive to do this, which was stronger than ever at the start of the year, is even stronger now that the card aisles at Target and Walmart are both danger and disaster zones. (I know I could order blasters online but if I'm not collecting the set, that doesn't make much sense to me).

I realize this undermines the usual trades through the mail but hopefully I'll be opening packs of stuff at some point again this year. The pack rip itch will never go away.

And the thrill of getting these Big League cards all in one shot was too exciting today. As I pulled the cards out of the envelope, Tom Cochrane's "Big League" ran through my head -- "my boy's gonna play in the big league, my boy's gonna turn some heads" -- which has been a common occurrence ever since Topps Big League became a thing three years ago (yeah, I know he's singing about hockey).

It's still running through my head and probably will be until these cards are in a binder.

The team set cost the same amount as a blaster, maybe a tiny bit less, and did not contain any Marlins, Nationals or Giants.

It also contained this card:

This is my first Mookie Betts Dodgers card. It feels extra good to own this card because as you know there was a bit of concern that offseason trades and signings such as this one were going to be magically erased if there was no season. I suppose there still could be no season and then I don't know what happens -- I've pretty much given up paying attention. But if the transaction is voided I STILL GOT MY MOOKIE BLUE CARD!

I needed to make absolutely sure that this was a legitimate Mookie Betts Dodgers card, not some photoshopped fakery. I turned to trusty Getty Images and they didn't let me down.

It's real! He's a real Dodger on that card!

I have my doubts about this one though. I don't think the Dodgers have worn their white or road gray uniforms in any exhibition games this year, it's pretty much been blue jersey tops.

More on the Roll Call cards in a minute.

This, however, is definitely photoshopped. It doesn't look right at all.

Here are the rest of the Dodgers in the set:

The notable player missing in this team set is Justin Turner. Seems like a pretty large omission. Big League, at 300 cards, has never promised to fully represent each team. I expect the absence of players like Ross Stripling, A.J. Pollock and Chris Taylor. But Turner should be in there.

Overall, I'll repeat what I've said both here and in the comments on other blogs:

I like the design a lot, it's the best Big League design thus far and really makes the thing collectible (I didn't mind the other two designs but I can see why they would dampen a collector's enthusiasm). It sure looks like 1998 Upper Deck Retro, and to a certain lesser extent 2009 O-Pee-Chee and a couple other sets. The photo selection continues to be interesting, which is a great perk for what's considered a "low-end" set.

The team set came with the League Leaders cards, which really weigh down Big League.

I've never liked the Top 3 Horizontal Look that has been prevalent for like 20 years now in Topps sets. I'd prefer if the front showed the first-place guy in the AL and the first-place guy in the NL like in the '70s and '80s. If that was the case, I'd have to put only one of these things in my Dodger binders -- ERA Leader Hyun-Jin Ryu here.

But with this current configuration, this is what I've got to add, too:


Bleh on the backs, too (although I love the card number orientation!).

I mentioned this last year, but can't we put together a top 10 for each category on the back please instead of regurgitating what's on the front? Why would this be difficult?

However, the Big League player card backs remain tremendous as they have all along. These are the card backs that I grew up with, basically. And the "Did You Know" factoids are where the backs shine the most (Although I see they're still going with that center justification).

This one is odd. I feel like I'm missing something. Did mom lose a bet with Will?

The Award Winner cards are back. Again, the card backs go with a paragraph blurb about Cody's stats, rather than something interesting like "recent NL Most Valuable Players". Seriously, that takes less time to compile than writing that blurb.

The Big League caricatures have never been impressive. The Flipping Out insert is new and it's very much like some 1993 Topps/Upper Deck Kids product.

Those are the Dodgers Roll Call cards. I enjoy these very much. I am always a fan of LETTERS IN BIG FONTS ON CARDS. License Plate backgrounds are a lot of fun.

So about the only thing this didn't include are the hits, of course (and who cares) and the parallels. I'm sure I'm going to want some of those orange and some of those blue parallels, so I'll scoop those up however and whenever.

But it's good to have the team set cards without worrying whether someone coughed on them.


Angus said…
Well, I think that was worth the cost of a blaster. Having the inserts included makes it worth it.

Love Tom Cochrane! Saw him play a great concert with Red Rider in my last year of high school! I wore out a cassette of his Symphony Sessions back in the day. I'll have to bring that CD next time I meet you to drive to Syracuse.
bryan was here said…
Love the Tom Cochrane reference. Any time you can work a Cochrane song into a conversation is a winner. As for Big League, the set, I picked up a blaster from the first year they had it and to me it reminded me too much of Topps Total from the aughts. So I kind of passed on it going forward. Now that you feature some of this year's edition, I feel that I might not want to sleep on this. These cards are nice all the way around. I actually might drop some coin on a blaster box. Those Roll Call cards remind me of a insert from an early '90s Donruss/Leaf set.
Kind of retro, kind of modern. Worth another shot.
Alex Markle said…
These are sweet! I may have to pick up a team set myself, though I know I'll grab a blaster box if I see one at Target this week.
Brett Alan said…
Good points, especially about Justin Turner's absence.

If that is a photoshop job on David Price, and it probably is, kudos to Topps for adding the correct 2020 All-Star Game patch!
P-town Tom said…
Yes, there are some glaring omissions from the checklist, and Justin Turner is certainly one of them. I was bummed when I found out they cut the checklist from 400 to 300 cards.
acrackedbat said…
I haven't had the urge to bust a box this year until BL. May's card is fantastic and going into my hair pages. So many excellent photo choices. White borders make this gal happy.
Nachos Grande said…
Big League is getting closer and closer to the quality of the old Upper Deck Collector's Choice line (and I mean that to be strong praise lest it comes across as sarcasm, the old CC line was one of my favorites).
Elliptical Man said…
Voting for the Kershaw base.

I guess the inserts didn't really do it for me.
The Roll Call inserts are sweet looking.
Commishbob said…
If I was going to collect anything these days, this set would be the one. That's not totally an OK, Boomer thing because I do like Stadium Club, but this is much more my style, clean & simple bordered front, nice backs.
I don't mind the front design of the League Leaders cards, and I actually like the blurb on the back. But I'm really hung up on the lack of players' names on the front.
Fuji said…
I'm targeting a complete set on eBay. I'm gonna be patient and wait for prices to settle (assuming it does). When that happens, I can't wait to read through the Did You Know trivia.
Matt said…
I've had months to get used to it, but it still makes me sad to see Betts in Dodger blue...
Nick Vossbrink said…
This is the set I buy to enjoy the rip. So of course I haven't found any yet. Really bummed about the decrease in size to 300 cards. 400 was great in that you didn't accumulate a tone duplicates after a couple blasters. 400 also meant that the checklist was sufficiently large to get most everyone you'd want from a team set.