I decided to order a blaster box of Topps Heritage recently. (Are we still calling them blasters?)
I'm losing interesting in traveling the short distance to check out the empty card aisle -- it's like repeatedly visiting the same restaurant and discovering that it's still closed. I heard that the Topps site had not sold out of Heritage yet, so I put in my order and the box showed up a couple days ago.
I wanted a box to open for a few reasons:
1) Now that it has arrived in the 1970s, Heritage is very, very, super interesting and way cool to me. I could talk about the new set and compare it with the old set for much longer than your attention spans can stand.
2) Heritage is covering the 1972 Topps set this year. Come on, I just wrote about that set.
3) '72 is the set -- as I've mentioned many times -- that was considered "what a baseball card looks like" when I was a kid. Yeah, that sounds crazy. But it was the '70s. It made absolute sense then.
4) Finally, do you remember, like not even three years ago, when Heritage or whatever new set came out, and you'd run to the blogs to read the 47 different takes from all the bloggers who had just picked up a box or two? What happened to that? I still want that to happen. So I bought a box so it can happen.
I admit, even though I love this design to death and admire the set above nearly any other in history, I'm a bit lukewarm on this year's Heritage. I won't try to complete it (that's a given) and won't come close to doing what I did with last year's set in which I'm just three cards away from finishing the base set.
Thanks to 2014 Archives, which used the '72 design, and several other '72 regurgitations in inserts and the like, it's not as exciting to me. This is a bad sign because my all-time favorite card set will appear on Heritage in three short years and I'm going to hate myself if I'm suddenly "bored."
But you don't want to read my existential card crises. You want to see the cards. Because that's what blogs used to do -- show all the new cards until you were sick of the new cards! So let's go!
#44 - Jose Altuve, Astros, In Action
As is my recent custom, I will show all the cards in the first pack and then just select cards after that.
Many of the packs I opened begin with an In Action card. Topps really went all in by using the many subsets that appeared in the original '72 set. In particular, there seems to be a bunch of In Action cards, which makes me wonder, did Topps really want to cut down on the number of players featured in the set this year?
#61 - Danny Mendick, White Sox
#91 - NL ERA Leaders
I like the League Leaders cards a lot. I've always loved the '72 league leaders cards, so damn colorful. Actually the '71 and '72 league leaders cards are among the best-looking ever made.
#300 - Ronald Acuna, Braves, In Action
Like the In Action cards in the '72 set, the backs include several different features. Some are puzzle pieces, some are write-ups about the player on the front, some have baseball quizzes.
I haven't heard much about who is featured on the puzzles, but this is Ron Santo, right? I know Mike Trout is one of the other puzzles. It's a bit odd to have a mix of legends and current players (although that is definitely Topps' M.O. these days) as '72 Topps featured only current stars for its puzzle topics.
#61 - National League Rookie Stars, William Contreras, Braves; Tyler Stephenson, Reds
Mixing teams on the rookie stars cards is something '72 Topps only did in the super-high series. But Topps does it all over Heritage.
#33 - Luis Robert, White Sox
OK, this card actually appeared in the pack upside down, like so:
I knew that meant something but I didn't know what, a quick glance for a serial number turned up nothing. I quickly flipped it back to the front to see if it was a photo variation. Nope, looked pretty standard to me. Then I returned to the back and saw what you probably all saw instantly.
It's a French text back (O-Pee-Chee, Ba-by).
These are 1 in 330 packs. Of some dude that card flippers flip out over.
There are certain cards that you know automatically is a card that should be sold. This is one. And so, it's about to go on sale even though I rarely sell cards. I don't know what I'll get. The set is so new, the card is rare enough, and the prices are all over the place. But it should pay for the blaster. So thanks Topps, for paying for my blaster.
By the way, I pulled the regular version of the Luis Robert card later in the blaster -- just in case I didn't figure out yet that something different was going on.
The French backs are lighter ... and, you know, have French writing all over them.
#456 - Miguel Sano, Twins
The high numbers are 401-500 again. (Booo!) You basically get one every three packs.
#285 - Alex Verdugo, Red Sox
That same hedge is on virtually every Red Sox Heritage card for like the 10th year in a row. If I was a Red Sox fan I'd be on letter No. 49 to Topps by now.
#144 - Jose Abreu, White Sox
Third White Sox card in the pack.
#70 - Joe Kelly, Dodgers
Weee! This card was not pulled for me in the team Heritage break over at Nachos Grande.
The rest of the pack write-ups will be shorter. Somewhat.
#36 - Juan Soto, Nationals, In Action
Let's address something that I didn't see at all until I scanned these cards:
The team name is stamped very lightly and in tiny type between the name and the "in action" banner. Was this a command handed down by MLB? ALL IN ACTION CARDS MUST DISPLAY THE TEAM NAME. Because team names did not appear on In Action cards in '72.
Licensing agreements are so damn weird.
Soto's card back lists yearly "Leading Batsmen" for the National League, going back to 1959. It's a bit vague on what "leading batsmen" are as there are no numbers next to the players' names. I knew right away it was "batting average" based on some of the yearly winners.
However, this is just Heritage replicating the '72 set. This is the back of the 1972 Darrell Evans In Action card:
Same deal. No averages listed (I never noticed that the 1969 and 1970 leaders were out of order).
#185 - American League Rookie Stars, Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles/Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox
This is the card that made me suspicious of Topps mixing teams for the rookies. Much like the Aquino-Alvarez card in 2020 Heritage, Topps placed two of the hottest rookies on the same card, then watched the insanity unfold.
#365 - Cy Young Award trophy
OK, this is both baffling and I love it.
I love it because some collector's brain is going to explode because they pulled a card of a trophy. I want to see that In Action. I love that Topps used one of the weirdest subsets it's ever created -- and a high-numbered subset at that -- and wedged it into the base set.
It's baffling though because the Cy Young trophy is basically unchanged since 1972 so why is there a card? Here is the card from '72:
Here are the two cards side-by-side:
This is dumb and fascinating.
There are differences -- the '72 plaque is blank while the 2021 plaque is designated to the outstanding American League pitcher. Also the ball is rotated in the disembodied hand. The hand is rotated, too. Also, rather obvious, the background in the '72 is reddish and the Heritage background is orange (The spacing in the word "Award" is different, as well).
I'm not doing very well shortening these pack write-ups. Sorry, I like '72 too much.
#189 - Albert Pujols, Angels
#298 - Jose Ramirez, Indians, In Action. Killebrew puzzle piece?
#103 - Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
As a set collector, I look at these as merely interference for obtaining a much-needed short-print.
#51 - Javier Baez, Cubs
#264 - Lucas Giolito, White Sox
#161 - Dexter Fowler, Cardinals
#297 - Jose Ramirez, Indians
#116 - Tommy Milone, Braves
#278 - Adam Eaton, Nationals
For the teams that weren't around for 1972 Topps, Heritage defaulted to 2014 Archives for the color borders. The Rockies have yellow borders, the Diamondbacks have lime green and the Marlins and Nationals have blue.
Not much of a difference outside of card stock.
#108 - Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, In Action
Yup, that's the Killer.
#68 - Carson Kelly, Diamondbacks
#288 - Jon Berti, Marlins
#201 - Ryan McBroom, Royals
Something tells me that the "leaning on the bat pose" might be a tribute to the Billy Martin card.
So I'm going to be watching those fingers!
#180 - Joey Gallo, Rangers, In Action
#301 - Blue Jays Rookie Stars, Nate Pearson and Tom Hatch
#232 - Trent Grisham, Padres
#22 - AL Postseason, Rays are AL Champs
Of course, what I NEED are all the Dodgers™ Postseason™ Cards!™
#33 - Luis Robert, White Sox (hey, pack-opening dummy, this is the regular Robert, look at that first one again).
#226 - Austin Riley, Braves
Watching you Riley!!
#154 - Framber Valdez, Astros
#319 - Chad Kuhl, Pirates
#104 - Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals, In Action
#284 - Josh Staumont, Royals
#100 - Jacob deGrom, Mets, In Action
Obviously, The Hammer as the puzzle.
#381 - Evan Longoria, Giants
This card has the exact same back as the Juan Soto In Action card.
#69 - Archie Bradley, Reds
#213 - Mike Soroka, Braves
#316 - Jeff McNeil, Mets
#352 - Jacob Stallings, Pirates
#16 - Sixto Sanchez, Marlins, In Action
Here is my first "So You're a Baseball Expert?" I knew the answer to this and I don't consider myself a baseball expert. The write-up seems a bit too scoldy. "Should have known better!"
#117 - Martin Maldonado, Astros
#40 - Freddie Freeman, In Action
#198 - Josh Donaldson, Twins
#205 - Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox (that hedge again)
#BFB-SC - Steve Carlton, Phillies, Baseball Flashbacks
Love the look of the flashbacks this year. Even better than last year.
#73 - Ronald Guzman, Rangers
#309 - Josh Bell, Pirates
#336 - DJ LeMahieu, Yankees
#246 - Shohei Ohtani, Angels, In Action
#151 - Josh Naylor, Indians
#353 - Justus Sheffield, Mariners
#349 - Abraham Toro, Astros
#149 - Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles, Boyhood Photos of the Stars
I don't suppose we're going to get any kid photos of someone playing the accordion like in '72 Topps. Too bad.
#313 - Nolan Arenado, Rockies
#403 - Corey Seager, Dodgers
Short-Print Dodger! Woooo!
Amazingly, there are just three Dodgers in the SP portion of the set this year.
#225 - Julio Teheran, Angels
#379 - Howie Kendrick, Nationals
#306 - Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, In Action
These are the "Hi-Lights" backs.
#79 - Bryan Reynolds, Pirates
#14 - Bryce Harper, Phillies, In Action
A Bryce Harper front and Mike Trout back. In 2013 I could sell this for monies.
#149 - Spencer Howard, Phillies, Boyhood Photos of the Stars
I am seriously, seriously considering putting this card in my Dodgers binders. It's a Dodgers card you guys.
#360 - AL Rookie Stars, Tanner Houck, Red Sox/Sam Huff, Rangers
#271 - Antonio Senzatela, Rockies
#72 - Miguel Andujar, Yankees (this guy has played in 33 games in two years and still shows up in sets).
#6 - Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
#211 - Astros Rookie Stars (Enoli Paredes Blake Taylor, Taylor Jones)
And we're done.
ARE YOU SICK OF HERITAGE NOW???????
That's how we did it way back in 2018. Or maybe it was 2016 or 2013. I don't know. I just know it used to be fun to see everyone showing off a bunch of new product at the same time.
Now, to do that, you have to go to some hour-long youtube video to watch somebody who doesn't know any of the names and only cares about the rookies. Stupid flippers.
But I'll still be here, opening new product when I can. Just don't expect this for Gypsy Queen or Bowman. And definitely not anything Panini.
Blaster power rankings: 2021 Heritage
Braves 5.5, White Sox 5.5, Astros 5, Pirates 5, Cardinals 4, Angels 3, Dodgers 3, Indians 3, Marlins 3, Nationals 3, Phillies 3, Red Sox 3, Rockies 3, Cubs 2.5, Rangers 2.5, Mets 2, Royals 2, Twins 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 1.5, Reds 1.5, Blue Jays 1, Giants 1, Diamondbacks 1, Mariners 1, Padres - 1, Rays 1, Tigers 1, A's 0, Brewers 0
Total Blaster Power Rankings (since 2017)
Dodgers - 52, Astros - 46, White Sox - 41.5, Braves - 40.5, Mets - 40, Yankees - 40, Blue Jays - 37, Cubs - 36.5, Cardinals - 35, Tigers - 35, Red Sox - 34, Indians - 32, Phillies - 31, A's - 30, Giants - 30, Pirates - 28, Angels - 27, Reds - 26.5, Nationals - 25, Padres - 24, Royals - 24, Diamondbacks - 23, Rockies - 23, Brewers - 22, Rays - 22, Mariners - 21, Twins - 21, Orioles - 19.5, Rangers - 18.5, Marlins - 17