Unfortunately for me, however, the NHL lockout has resulted in companies slashing their number of releases this year, due to the lack of rookie contact, so hockey's loss is baseball's win, as I now have more funds for the National Pasttime.
Anyway, with the release of 2013 Topps, the new baseball card season is officially underway, so I did what most Topps collectors do in this case: pick up a box of Jumbo packs.
I always go with the jumbo packs for two reasons: one, each box contains the full 330-card base set, and two, you get three hits. I did get the base set out of mine, and you all know what these cards look like, so let's get to the inserts and the hits.
Each year, Topps has SP variations for a few of their base cards. It has ranged anywhere from retired players, to celebrations, to post-game-interview pies-in-faces. This year, they are going with "Out of Bounds," swapping the player's regular photo for one of him making a spectacular fielding play on, near, or in the stands. I pulled one, which was of Royal Alex Gordon.
And, as the parallel that just won't die, I pulled four Topps Gold card, all serial numbered to 2013. Mine are Felix Hernandez, Scott Downs, Maicer Izturis, and Endy Chavez.
The one-per-jumbo-pack parallel this year is a green foil card, which looks pretty close to the cognac parallels of 2012 (or was it 2011?) Anyway, I pulled Felipe Paulino, Scott Feldman, Craig Breslow, Casey Kotchman, Bronson Arroyo, Jordan Pacheco, Kurt Suzuki, Heath Bell, Doug Fister, and Scott Hairston.
As a follow-up to last year's 1987 minis, this year, they paid tribute to 1972 with their one-per-jumbo-pack mini cards, I did pretty good with my player selection here, getting Bryce Harper, Yu Darvish, Buster Posey, Felix Hernandez, Josh Reddick, Paul Konerko, Colby Rasmus, Chris Sale, Adam Jones, and Trevor Bauer.
One of the other one-per-pack inserts is Chasing History, which gave me Harmon Killebrew, Frank Thomas, Yogi Berra, Paul Konerko, Mike Schmidt, Stan Musial, Rod Carew, R.A. Dickey, Robin Yount, and Mark Buehrle.
Chasing the Dream is an insert set for the game's newcomers. I pulled Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Jesus Montero, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Millone, Josh Reddick, Drew Pomeranz, and Drew Hutchinson.
Calling Cards is one of the cooler insert sets that Topps did with this release. It features a drawn/painted image of te player and looks kind of like an old WANTED poster from the old west. Here we have Albert Pujols, CC Sabathia, Jonathan Papelbon, Aroldis Chapman, and Kevin Youkilis.
One of the rarer of the inserts is The Greats. The player's image is painted, and it has a thicker card stock. making it very similar to a high end release, like the base cards you might get with something like Triple Threads or Tier One. I got two, Mariano Rivera and Reggie Jackson.
The most well-received of the inserts definitely has been Cut to the Chase. This is an all-die-cut insert set that has a foil finish similar to Topps Finest and just looks amazing. I did ok with mine, pulling Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, and Andrew McCutchen.
Like previous years, Topps mostly does their hits as parallels of their regular inserts (Peak Performance, Golden Moments, etc.), but unlike previous years they spread it out to four of their inserts, with Chasing History, Chasing the Dream, Cut to the Chase, and The Greats getting the "hit" treatment.
I pulled an autograph of then-Pirates, now-Red-Sox pitcher Joel Hanrahan. The "History" that Hanrahan "Chased" was the Pirates consecutive saves record of 24. He broke the record on July 4, and added one more to set the new franchise record at 26.
Now maybe it's just me, but whenever I see Joel Hanrahan's name, I always think of this scene from Slap Shot.(WARNING: Strong, offensive language)
Thankfully, Joel's wife is named Kim, not Suzanne.
Anyway, this year, Topps did their manufactured relics of award winners, recognizing players who have won the Silver Slugger, Cy Young, and MVP Awards. Mine was Tim Lincecum, and I must say, these are some of the best manu-relics that Topps has ever done. There is a lot of detail in the award replica, and they make it really stand out and look nice by using a black felt backing, instead of just having blank cardboard behind the award.
Lastly, there was the big hit of the box that I didn't even know was a big hit, until I did a little bit of research: a World Series Champions Jersey relic of Barry Zito. To me, it just looked like a plain grey jersey card with a serial number, but apparently, people see these as a whole lot more, and they sell on the secondary market for RIDICULOUS amounts. I have already sold this one on Ebay for $80.98. Seriously. For a plain grey swatch.
I was curious to see if there was something special that made this card more valuable. Logic told me that this card was in such high demand because it must be from a jersey worn in the 2012 World Series, so I checked the fine print on the back. It identified it as a World Series Champions card, but the specifics on the swatch get the typical Topps "...not from and specific game, event, or season" treatment. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the fact that I sold a plain grey swatch card for $81. Far from it. I'm just curious to know what makes these cards so valuable.
Well, here it begins again. I told myself I would cut back on baseball this year, but now, that I got Series 1, I'll have to get Series 2 down the road. Then there's Allen & Ginter, Gypsy Queen, Heritage, and Archives. Damn it.
Well, here's to cutting back in 2014.