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As it gradually loses my interest

I made good progress the last couple days on my gift for Nachos Grande in the Not-So-Secret Santa gift exchange.

I didn't want to talk about what he sent me much until I had at least figured out what I was sending. And now that my gift should be on its way probably early next week, I can settle down with what Chris sent.

You already saw the Corey Seagers he sent. Those, probably, were what made me happiest, but they were just a small portion of the package.

I'll start with one of the "mini movie posters" that were in 2021 Topps Archives. I did almost nothing with this set except accumulate the Dodgers. This was a need and I think I have a page for it, so I am a happy owl.

A couple of random Dodger needs that were not Corey Seager cards. TCDB says I have 22 Dennis Santana Dodgers cards. It feels like more, like I have more of his cards than games he appeared in a Dodgers uniform. That number is 32, so I'm not far off.

A whole mess of Munnatawket minis, expertly created by Chris' departed friend Ryan. These are all from the "high series," as I already had several lower-numbered minis. The only dupe displayed here is the Jimmy Rollins.

There were two Joc Pedersons, but in the fine tradition of Allen & Ginter tribute sets, these are not repeats.

One is a Bazooka back numbered 24/25! That's pretty snazzy.

All of the above fit snugly into this box with a good portion of the 2023 Allen & Ginter set.

This was similar to the NSS Santa gift I received from Chris last year, consisting mostly of the 2022 A&G set. Chris hoped that this A&G send would "rekindle (my) love of Ginter for this year." But I'm afraid there's no hope of that, unless Topps wants to go back in time to what drew me in to A&G in the first place.

I've written many times how I'm slowly losing interest in Allen & Ginter since Topps changed the non-baseball checklist subjects to a collection of youtube/tik tok sensations and singers and comedians I've never heard of. Gone are the historical figures, interesting architecture/planets. There are some achievers still but it's just not my set anymore. If I want interesting, they're in the inserts.

As an example of how this set is losing its meaning for me, I have yet to update the A&G non-baseball checklist on the sidebar, once a highlight for me every year, now -- really, who cares? 
The second example is that Chris last year included all but the short-prints in the 2022 set. I had intended to track down the SPs myself, or at least the ones I found interesting -- there were a lot of 1970s ball players in the SPs last year. But I didn't bother to do that. Upon receiving this gift, I did look up on COMC which ones I was missing and put them in my Black Friday purchase. But then I had to spend a few minutes trying to figure out where I had stored the 2022 set Chris had sent. There is zero chance I lose track of my 2008 A&G set.

But all hope isn't exactly lost. A&G is the only current set that made my Christmas want list to my loved ones. That's mostly because I like me some inserts.

Also, there is enough interesting in the set that I could pick out 12 cards from this year that appealed to me. Let's look at those.

#12 - Dawn Staley. Allen & Ginter does a decent job of recognizing women sports figures that hardly get card recognition anywhere else. Other notable college women's basketball coaches have been included previously. Staley's longtime associate coach is Lisa Boyer, who hails from my area, I once wrote a story on her.

#11 - Crystal Reed. I haven't watched television shows in a decade or more, so I don't know who this is. She's pretty though. Topps could've used a better picture, which seems to be a problem sometimes with A&G.

#10 - Robert De Niro. A cool aspect of Allen & Ginter remains that you can pull a titan of the movie world out of a pack. 

#9 - DMC. I have never been into rap or hip hop, but DMC goes back to the '80s when rap was in its infancy and I have nostalgic feelings for Run DMC's '80s tunes. I also remember DMC from those old VH1 "I Love the '80s" series. The identifier on the back of this card "King of Rock" is strange.

There are a bunch of hip-hop types in this year's set, I barely know who these people are. I wish they'd spread around the music genres a bit, but this is probably an attempt to pull younger collectors to the set. It doesn't appear to be working. A&G blasters seem to be the last-surviving blasters in the card aisles I see.

#8 - Jim Bintliff. This card is part of the A&G tradition of informing collectors, which it doesn't do nearly enough of curently. Bintliff is apparently responsible for the Delaware mud that MLB uses to rub down baseballs.

#7 - Nina O'Brien. I always like the Olympic representatives in Allen & Ginter, especially the winter athletes. O'Brien fractured her leg in the most recent Winter Olympics and just fractured her leg again in training, meaning she's missing this year's alpine season.

#6 - Olivia Pichardo. I pulled this card in the gift blaster I bought, so I've got a couple now. Pichardo played for Brown University as the first woman to play on an NCAA Division I baseball team.

#5 - Rafael Nadal. I am a fan of tennis players appearing in A&G, they pop up every once in awhile. Since Nadal doesn't appear in the 2021 Topps Chrome tennis set I own, this is my first base card of Nadal (I own a relic card).

#4 - Lou Brock. A&G has padded its checklist with Hall of Famers for the last dozen years or so. It gets a little tiring seeing the same guys over and over. But I like the '70s guys (or in this case a '60s photo of a guy I knew in the '70s). This is a good time to mention that I like the colorfulness of the design this year -- it's a major difference from last year's set. It doesn't look much like A&G but I still like it.

#3 - Victor Wembanyama. Sneaking a sensation into the checklist seems like a way to draw collectors to the set, which makes sense. It is cool to have a card like this even though I don't follow the NBA.

#2 - Jackie Robinson and Miguel Vargas. These were the last two non-SP Dodgers that I needed so of course they're going to be rated highly! If I was attempting to complete this set, I'd need a couple more but that's not a problem this year and hasn't been since 2014.

#1 - Sarah Langs. The easy highlight of the set for me. I think everyone knows Sarah Langs' story. I am very aware of the devastating affects of ALS, having experienced it first-hand with my mother. It's a crazy disruptive disease to anyone who comes in contact with the person. For Langs to be so determined to do what she loves and in a public forum is admirable and almost mind-blowing. This is one of my favorite cards of the year.

I'm lucky to have the Langs card because I didn't receive all of the non-SP cards in the set. I'm missing around nine or 10. I guess all the boxes Chris bought this year weren't as complete (or maybe he didn't buy as many).
One thing to mention on the downside, rather than make it its own post.

Allen & Ginter added 50 short-prints onto the 50 it usually has this year, which is one of my least favorite card moves of the year. All of the 350-400 cards, I believe, are repeats of subjects in the first 300 cards, just with different poses.
The above example is the two Randy Johnson cards. Card on the left is #26 and card on the right is #399. Practically the same picture. This is a good way to annoy set collectors, team collectors and player collectors. I don't know who is chasing 350-400 but you're playing right into Fanatics' hands.

I do appreciate getting a nice sampling of this year's cards. I do like the look of them even if the checklist is causing me to lose interest. There could be a day when I don't bother to show of the new A&G cards during a given year. That day hasn't come yet.

But if you asked me in 2013 if I'd still be completing Allen & Ginter in 2023 if it was still being made, I would've said yes.


Jeremya1um said…
Love that Langs card! Nice of A/G to put her in the set instead of some bum like Manfred or another comedian we don’t care about.
Yo Ho HO and a bottle of Yoo Hoo, I need a Yoo Hoo. I want a Yoo Hoo. I need a Yoo Hoo. Do you have a Yoo Hoo? lol. Happy Holidays Greg!
Chris said…
"I'm the king of rock, there is none higher. Sucker MC's should call me sire.
To burn my kingdom, you must use fire. I won't stop rockin' till I retire."

That might be why DMC is mentioned as "king of Rock" on that card.
Nachos Grande said…
The fact that Topps went to 100 short prints was a bummer but I think it came out to basically the same overall odds if you also collect all of the full-sized inserts. Still, there's always probably more demand for the base set as compared to the inserts so short prints will probably always be in higher demand. Personally, I did think Topps did a great job with this year's mini inserts (which is usually my favorite part of Ginter each year). I agree though, we need more base subjects like "egg" or "Mt. Rushmore" rather than social media sensations.
Nick said…
I very nearly threw the SP of that Randy Johnson into my dupes box before realizing in the nick of time that it wasn't actually a double. The SP repeats are dumb in their own right, but come on Topps, at least use noticeably different photos.

Love the Munnatawket minis - didn't know there was a "high series"! That (Pirates!) Hank Greenberg is just excellent.
GCA said…
I guess the finest balance in choosing the cast of A&G is between attracting the young and hip, and maintaining the attention of us old dogs too. Ginter is the only new product I buy, and the other least favorite group is the current players that I don't know either.
Grant said…
The red Bazooka back Joc is really neat!
jacobmrley said…
I still love me some Ginter but I do miss the completely bonkers cards like the revolving door, the egg, or Pluto. Rather than a second Randy Johnson card, why not a crazy card? I know they have the insert subsets for such nonsense but somehow seeing a card with french toast or Benji among the Lou Brocks of the world in the actual set is more fun, at least in my head.
Fuji said…
That 2021 Archives Movie Poster box topper is really neat. I remember wanting to add the two A's posters to my collection, but it never happened. As for A&G... I'm not nearly as interested in the product line as I was five years ago (same reasons as you). If I can find a discounted blaster of this year's product, I'll buy it. Otherwise... the main cards I want are De Niro and DMC. I wish they focused more on 80's and 90's hip hop rather than the modern performers.
Jafronius said…
Great stuff from Chris! I'm sure your return is equally excellent!