I've done very well this year keeping myself from splurging on 2023 card product.
I've kept to a schedule of only what I know I'm going to like, or to longstanding traditions. I've bought only a couple hangers of Topps flagship at the start of the year and a blaster of Allen & Ginter. Yeah, I've gone nuts on Heritage this year, but the vast majority of retail buys have been with gift cards.
That's unlike me. But it helps that Topps has pushed back products like Archives and Stadium Club to the end of the year when I've either lost interest/am too busy/don't have the cash to blow. And it helps that Topps has plain cut back on the number of products.
But there was a return to the old days for me the other day. It was just one time. It won't happen again. I promise.
I was at Target for some Christmas shopping reconnaissance. I picked a mid-day, mid-week time, yet the parking lot was too full (only when I returned to my car and counted all the Ontario, Canada, license plates did I realize what was happening). After doing my duty, I went back to the card section, which was weirdly fully stocked, it hasn't been that way since 2019!
No Archives though. I ignored Chrome and A&G and a few other things, and pulled down a hanger of Topps Update. This has almost become an abysmal product in the last four or five years, but I saw a few good things recently on the blogs, so why not? Just one hanger.
Yuck, it wasn't good. I'm just not into modern baseball enough anymore for something like Update to have the meaning it once did. And I think we all know Update isn't anything like it was in the uncomplicated 1980s.
I have little to say about the hanger box, so I picked out 10 notables (aside from a few trade bait items) that -- eh -- I guess they're all right.
Here you go.
10. Spencer Strider, Braves, Stars of MLB insert
Strider finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. I don't get that. My guess is Johnny has this already, as he was sending me Update Dodgers like two weeks ago.
The combo cards that have been going on for like 20 years now still feel like filler but at least this highlights a key trade from 2023 and there's something written about it on the back rather than a random checklist.
8. Grant Anderson, Rangers
This card is solely here for the wind-up. Anderson appeared in 23 games in 2023 but he didn't make the postseason roster for the Rangers. Disappointing because one of the fun elements of Update is seeing guys from the the winning World Series team.
I do like the colored border sparklies, and, bonus, this is a rookie that I saw play during the season, which is not the case with a lot of rookies in Update (or flagship, for that matter).
6. Justin Verlander, Mets, 1988 insert
Update is never truly Update. I guess 2024 Series 1 is Update?
This card begins a string of Rookie Debut cards in which I've noticed that the pictures are pretty nice. I don't know if there are two cards of the Rookie Debut guys as in the past, I haven't looked at the checklist, but I should compare to see if they're doing something special with the RDs.
4. Brett Baty, Mets, Rookie Debut
See, that's a nice photo. A lot of the celebration shots in Topps lately have been wild chaos and this is a great celebratory shot. I don't even mind Francisco Lindor's blond curls, which made me wish he was wearing a hat at all times while watching games this season.
3. Anthony Volpe, Yankees, Rookie Debut
I can appreciate this shot even as a Yankee hater. Fans predictably went over the top for Volpe this year. He was OK (although try to convince anyone older than me that a .209 season is "OK"). He could be very good in the next few years, I don't know, I go out of my way to avoid watching the Yankees.
2. Michael Wacha, Padres
I know, this card probably sets off color alarms for some. The Padres' uniform choices have been suitably trashed for years. My wife is appalled every time she sees San Diego on TV. But I really like the Padres' City Connect uniforms that are completely unlike anything else they wear. Pink-and-aqua green, it's Ocean Pacific in the '80s baby. And it clashes completely with the gold/brown theme of the card. Love it.
1. J.P. Feyereisen, Dodgers
I've already written about how dumb it is that Feyereisen is in the checklist. He didn't play one game for the Dodgers and it was known before the season began that his chances of playing for them in 2023 were slim. He's not really wearing a Dodgers uniform on this card.
But, a Dodger card I need is always the best card in the box. Everything else goes out the window.
So, that was a return to the dark side. I won't be doing that again in 2023. This is probably my most efficient card-purchasing year since I started a blog. Finally, wallet, I'm listening.