My approach on 2021 Topps, after seeing the cards, empty shelves and the tales of inflated prices, was that I could last the entire year without buying any.
The effort wasn't worth it. I'll just take my Dodgers and go home.
I went to Target once after the release date a couple weeks ago, I don't really remember what day I went, and saw empty shelves and shrugged.
So, move forward two weeks and it's birthday season. Those who have read this blog for awhile know I have a lot of birthdays in my family in March and it's the primary shopping time of the year, besides Christmas. I went to Target yesterday for a few items and I made sure to check the card aisle, just in case. I didn't expect to find anything, but I think you know me by now, I have to buy my first packs of the season if I have the opportunity. It's worth a look.
The shelves seemed fairly empty as I approached. But they weren't. When I got there, I saw maybe six or seven 2021 Topps baseball blasters scattered about. I also saw a couple of fat packs sitting on a shelf.
There were no signs saying "no more than three per customer" or "product sold at customer service." I took one blaster, walked to the self-checkout, it rang up $19.99 (not whatever price I've been reading about on the internet), I walked to my car, drove home and opened it.
Doesn't that sound like every card aisle trip prior to 2020?
It was. And I had to wait only a couple of weeks to get my requisite first cards of 2021. It took me until Feb. 25. Hell, I remember when you couldn't buy cards until March or April. Everything about Thursday was very normal.
No line, no hoarders, no high prices. Maybe everyone's moved on to solely basketball and Pokemon. Fine with me.
So, I thought with everything back to normal now (heh), I'd write a very normal rundown of my first (and only) blaster of the year. I know everyone's seen the cards. But I had seen just one of the cards in person before yesterday. So I must have my little party.
My pack-opening experience didn't start of well for someone who is sick of being reminded of how old he is every day.
My first card of the season is a player I don't know. Not only that, but I couldn't read who it was when I pulled it out of the pack.
I'm not going to go into the same rant I already wrote, but you should have seen me tilting the card, scooting my chair closer to the window, squinting to READ THE DAMN NAME. I DON'T KNOW WHO THIS IS!
Finally, with enough light sources on it, I could figure it out the letters. And I still didn't know who it was.
#122 - Nick Heath, Royals (RC)
Two-for-two in not knowing who the player is and not being able to read his name. Topps is prepping my room for the nursing home.
Three-for-three. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?????? Triston seems in need of some second helpings (the card back tells me he's 6-5, 165 pounds, I figured that out only after I turned on the desk lamp at 1:30 in the afternoon).
150 - Shohei Ohtani, Angels
Thank goodness, someone I know. As a reward, I will display the back of Ohtani's card.
There you is. Fairly bland except for the fun Japanese League stats. The backlit internet, with all its biggie-sized voodoo, isn't very good at conveying the tininess of type, but it's just as tiny and difficult to read on the back as it is on the front. I don't know when Topps started making it so unreasonable (I'm sure it coincided with me turning 50), but here is a brief comparison:
That is a real, live 1986 Topps card (not the fake ones we're receiving as inserts) and I have no trouble reading that, even with the dark background. Did everyone's vision evolve so the whole world besides me can read 5-point type now? I am so old.
#308 - Jay Bruce, Phillies
Decent photo. I'll stop here to provide basic card observations, some of which you've read here and other places.
The photos, although they might not necessarily say it, have that empty-stadium feel. Many of the pictures are taken from overhead, because photographers were not allowed to shoot at field level due to COVID restrictions last season.
I still don't like the design but it does grow on you a little as you go through them. It's still as Bowman as possible without being Bowman. But, again, that's not a problem for me unless future flagship sets also have Bowman looks, which will then cause me to confuse 2021 with 2023 with 2026. Let's hope that madness doesn't happen.
#21 - Eric Sogard, Brewers
As is tradition, I will show each card from the first pack. But I don't necessarily have something to say about all of them.
#247-Mallex Smith, Mariners
First mask appearance.
First mask around the neck appearance.
I didn't know this insert had chrome parallels until coming across this, but I should've known. They're apparently one per 10 packs.
I'm assuming we don't care about Luis Robert anymore but I felt special. The stock on these is more of a traditional card stock, which is neat.
#260 - Eduardo Escobar, Diamondbacks
I'm so glad I can upload these photos before I type them. I can look at the image to make sure the name is correct instead of squinting at the card.
#15 - Mookie Betts, Dodgers, World Series
Wooo! First Dodger pack pull. And since the Dodgers won the World Series, I'm showing the back of every last one.
🎵🎶 Memories. 🎶
#155 - Seth Lugo, Mets
#293 - Rougned Odor, Rangers
Here is the design-element that we're supposed to like, I guess. The slashes line up from card-to-card. I suppose this is cool if the cards are going in a binder. But my 2021 Topps will be headed straight to a box.
OK, from here on out for the rest of the packs, I'm only showing stuff that interest me/I have enough patience to upload.
The wins leaders on the back are comical/sad. One guy with eight wins, two with seven and seven with six.
#209 - Mike Foltyniewicz, Braves (mercy, I see a trip to the eye doctor in my future).
#110 - Ian Happ, Cubs
#275 - Joey Votto, Reds
#259 - Chris Paddack, Padres
#56 - Steven Matz, Mets
#262 - Mark Cahna, Athletics
#115 - Willie Calhoun, Rangers
TDH-6 - Jeff Bagwell, Astros, Doubleheaders insert (the card number is impossible to read)
I enjoy these a little. I'm sure there are several card reprints in this set we're all sick of seeing, but I don't mind seeing a 2006 Topps image on a card back.
#T52-10 - Francisco Lindor, Indians, 1952 Topps Redux insert
Lindor Hot Boxy Box!!
#191 - Wilmer Flores, Giants
#261 - Blake Snell, Rays
Another year of rooting against this guy, I guess.
#198 - Corey Seager, Dodgers, World Series
I was in a group break for the 2021 Dodgers and have most of the team set coming to me already. That's my fear when buying some cards after a break. But I'll take all of this Corey Seager card. It's highly amusing, from the monster vehicle in the shot to knowing that Seager doesn't want to be up there at all.
Game 6! Wooooooooo!
#276 - Marcus Semien, Athletics
#300 - Yordan Alvarez, Astros
300? Really? The guy hasn't even had 100 hits in a season.
#116 - Nico Hoerner, Cubs
I can read the "Future Stars" part.
#78 - David Peterson, Mets (RC)
#144 - Anderson Tejada, Rangers (RC)
#211 - Salvador Perez, Royals
#232 - Albert Almora Jr., Cubs
#5 - Julio Urias, Dodgers
The Dodger content in this box is strong and about to get stronger.
#309 - Francisco Lindor, Indians, foil parallel
Maybe not as strong as the Frankie Lindor content though. I don't know why this scanned pink, it doesn't look like that in person. It sure does look like something out of Panini Donruss.
#T52-17 - Evan White, Mariners, 1952 Topps Redux (RC)
"Redux" is an interesting word choice. Not something you hear much. Roger Angell introduced me to that word.
#11 - Max Kepler, Twins
#264 - Leody Taveras, Rangers (RC)
#329 - Mike Minor, Athletics
#13 - Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Three Dodgers in a pack is pretty damn good and somewhat unusual for me.
2021 cards with '80s references are great. (That movie is 35 years old this year. Oof).
#256 - Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers (RC)
KEEP THEM COMING!!!!
I feel like I've been landing Keibert Ruiz cards forever, yet this is his rookie card.
#143 - Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles (RC)
#253 - Carlos Correa, Astros
#129 - Daniel Murphy, Rockies
#175 - Brad Hand, Indians
#186 - Luke Voit, Yankees
Overhead shot. The "BLM" sign is noted.
Here is Kersh's flagship card. I've been pulling his cards for a dozen years now. He's less than 500 strikeouts to 3,000.
#86B-17 - Christian Yelich, Brewers, 1986 design insert
I can read the card backs on these. Well ... not the card number.
#T52-46 - Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
#102 - Paul DeJong, Cardinals
#141 - Caleb Smith, Diamondbacks
#28 - Luke Weaver, Diamondbacks
#280 - Kevin Kiermaier, Rays
I was going to scan the Kiermaier card because he's a notable World Series guy but the photo is quite dull.
#23 - Nomar Mazara, White Sox
#255 - Austin Hays, Orioles
#212 - Robbie Ray, Blue Jays
I'm trying to determine if this is photoshopped using just my eyeballs. I'm saying yes. (By the way, I'd love to see visual evidence of Buffalo's park in the Blue Jays cards).
#14 - Do It For The Fans!/Do It For The Cutouts, White Sox, checklist
One of the few cards in the set where you can see the cardboard cutouts.
#97 - Niko Goodrum, Tigers
#302 - Max Muncy, Dodgers
#254 - Zack Britton, Yankees
#237 - Willy Adames, Rays
UPSIDE DOWN CARD!
THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT!!!!!!
OK, I'm back.
I guess I should finish this.
#T52-11 - Alex Bregman, Astros, 1952 Topps Redux insert
#136 - Marco Gonzales, Mariners
#127 - Wilson Ramos, Mets
#179 - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, World Series
I have now received all four Dodger World Series cards in a single blaster. 2021 cards are already better than 2020 cards.
#98 - Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Blue Jays
#312 - Marcell Ozuna, Braves, Home Run Leaders
#320 - Anthony Santander, Orioles
#279 - Danny Mendick, White Sox
#313 - Matt Shoemaker, Blue Jays
#1 - Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
One of the unexpected developments in the pandemic was the abundant hair displays from MLB players. I love it. It reminds me of the '70s. Well, not Tatis' dreads, but everything else.
#218 - Matt Olson, Athletics
#51 - Sean Manea, Athletics
#70YT-57 - Ozzie Smith, Cardinals, 70 Years of Topps
I don't have a full grasp on what this is. I don't know why they're showing Ozzie Smith on the front and then writing about what was going on with Topps cards in 2007. What does Ozzie have to do with this?
There are probably 200 of these things, right?
#223 - Luis Robert, White Sox
#309 - Francisco Lindor, Indians
I have now pulled all the 2021 Lindor cards in the world.
#178 - Albert Pujols, Angels
The rows of type are appropriately small on this card back.
#265 - Mike Clevinger, Padres
#297 - Alex Bregman, Astros
#46 - Jesus Luzardo, Athletics
#183 - Cristian Javier, Astros (RC)
#244 - Spencer Howard, Phillies (RC)
#157 - Aroldis Chapman, Yankees
#234 - Lorenzo Cain, Brewers
#33 - Yonathan Daza, Rockies
#T52-13 - Max Scherzer, Nationals, 1952 Topps Redux insert
I think that's the first National I've pulled. Big difference between this year and last year.
#2 - Roberto Osuna, Astros
#228 - Blake Taylor, Astros (RC)
#258 - Walk-Off Apart/Distant Celebration, Giants, checklist
#130 - Josh Bell, Pirates
And that was the blaster.
Except for this thing:
Better-than-average subject. But I don't know why we're still calling these a "patch." The cloth patches disappeared quite awhile ago. All this is is some flimsy plastic thing and it's not even in there straight.
Don't congratulate me for this. Congratulate me for finding 2021 Topps cards two weeks after release while other people are standing in line for the stuff or overpaying for it online.
Now that the deed is done. I will be on my way.
See you, 2021 Topps ... when Series 2 comes out. Maybe.
(Blaster power rankings (since 2017): Dodgers 49, Astros 41, Mets 38, Yankees 38, Blue Jays 36, White Sox 36, Braves 35, Cubs 34, Tigers 34, Cardinals 31, Red Sox 31, A's 30, Giants 29, Indians 29, Phillies 28, Reds 25, Angels 24, Padres 23, Pirates 23, Brewers 22, Diamondbacks 22, Nationals 22, Royals 22, Rays 21, Mariners 20, Rockies 20, Twins 19, Orioles 18, Rangers 16, Marlins 14).