Oriole Fans Need Not Apply: The Uneven Playing Field Of 2016 Topps Opening Day

For anyone wondering why I even care about Topps Opening Day, it’s because I’m taking the “Frankenset” approach to 2016.  Sure, I like this year’s Heritage, but I’ll never chase down the short prints.  Same goes for Archives.  This year’s Topps flagship set is somewhere south of inspiring, so I decided that if I were to open any packs with the “Cloudy ESPN” design, I would shift some of my buying to Opening Day.  I figure that the OD inserts are a little more fun, and OD is a bit cheaper, so if I can get this card at OD prices…
2016 Topps Opening Day Jason Kipnis
…Well, why not?  I even went and bought a blaster, which I’ll tell you about down further.

I was checking out the base set checklist for 2016 Topps Opening Day, looking to see which cards I’d be most interested in tracking down, and was surprised to find only three Orioles in the base set:  Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Chris Tillman.

There are even fewer Reds:  Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton.

On the surface, I can deal with that.  It’s hard to get a handle on how good the Orioles will be this year, other than the general feeling they’re going to be involved in a lot of 11-9 games.  The Reds are rebuilding and don’t have many household names left.  Naturally, Topps is looking to appeal to as many fans as possible, and the base set and inserts are going to be slanted towards the nationally popular teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers.  I get all that.

I just wasn’t prepared for the disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots”.

I went and sorted the base checklist by team, and I realized just how many cards some of the team sets have.  There are 10 Tigers and Blue Jays, 11 Red Sox… And then there are 15 Yankees.  FIFTEEN.  Twelve more Yankees than Orioles, despite the fact that any team in the AL East is about as likely to finish last as finish first.

Here’s how the base set breaks down by team:
15 cards – Yankees
11 – Red Sox
10 – Tigers, Blue Jays
9 – Astros, Royals, Marlins
8 – Cubs, Dodgers, Mets
7 – Diamondbacks, Indians, Padres, Cardinals
6 – Brewers, Pirates, Giants, Rangers, Nationals
5 – Braves, Rockies, Twins, Rays
4 – Angels, White Sox, Athletics, Phillies, Mariners
3 – Orioles
2 – Reds

I then followed this up with another move that was ill-advised in terms of maintaining a positive outlook on life;  I looked at the checklist to see who got left out of the base set in favor of some of the fifteen Yankees, eleven Red Sox, yada yada yada.

Here are some of the players who were left out in order to make room for Dellin Betances, Hanley Ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Pineda, Rick Porcello and four Yankees rookies:  Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, MLB Home Run leader Chris Davis, Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Nolan Arenado, Eric Hosmer, Brian Dozier, Chris Archer, Evan Longoria, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.

…Plus David Wright, but given his injuries and struggles of late I’ll forgive them for that.

I’ll admit, this kind of thing is likely nothing new, but I’m paying more attention now and it gives me something to gripe about.

The slighting of the Orioles continues in the Mascot insert set, where there is no sign of the Orioles Bird… Here’s a card of his from 2013:
2013 Topps Opening Day Orioles Bird
How can you disrespect such a patriotic avian?  Two other teams which have mascots were also left out:  The Giants (Lou Seal) and Nationals (Screech and/or the racing presidents, take your pick).  To be fair, this might be more of a licensing issue than a disrespect issue.

FYI, Mr. Met is replaced by Mrs. Met (and I have no problem with that).

OK, now that I’ve gone off about The Slighting Of The Orioles (The long-lost sequel to The Taming Of The Shrew), let’s get to the blaster I bought and what I pulled from the four packs that I’ve opened so far…

I got a not-in-Series-One card of Mets pitcher and Long Islander Steven Matz…
2016 Topps Opening Day Steven Matz
The “Future Stars” banner in light grey against the blurry/foggy background turns out to be really hard to read… for what that’s worth. One of many elements about 2016 Topps that makes me wonder if Topps printed off any kind of proofs before they finalized this design.

Heavy Hitters… Nothing special, nothing terrible.
2016 Topps Opening Day Heavy Hitters Miguel Cabrera

Alternate Reality… Another OK insert, but I’d like to think they could highlight something a little more interesting than alternate uniforms.
2016 Topps Opening Day Alternate Reality Carlos Correa

Shiny Brian McCann (Yawn)
2016 Topps Opening Day Brian McCann parallel
The yawn was directed at the shiny parallel, not necessarily at Brian McCann.

Superstar Celebrations… Quick, which one is Derek Norris?
2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations Derek Norris

Woohoo!  Phillie Phanatic!  Naturally, my favorite Mascots are Mr. Met and the Oriole Bird, but I have to admit, The Phanatic is funnier than either of them.
2016 Topps Opening Day Phillie Phanatic
In my mind, the Phanatic is looking down at the Topps fog and saying “What the– who left this dry ice all over the field?”

So that’s the end of this gripe-and-scans post. I don’t know that this will greatly affect the amount of OD I buy, but it’s still depressing to know that I’m five times as likely to pull a Yankee than an Oriole.

I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this (“NO!”) but is anyone else going to buy Opening Day this year?

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13 thoughts on “Oriole Fans Need Not Apply: The Uneven Playing Field Of 2016 Topps Opening Day

  1. I bought a handful of OD packs here in Japan for the fun of it. It’s the only packs that are cheap enough here for me to justify buying them.

    I got an Ichiro and Kershaw. I did pretty well with the odds, pulling the harder inserts and a couple parallels too. I traded my extra base and inserts (seriously, I did well there) to get other inserts and an Altuve base card for my collection. No hits or short prints but other than the tough pulls I managed to get what I needed for my type collection.

    I kind of disappointed by the inserts. Nothing here I want the full sets of which is a shame. Not even any 3D cards it seems.

    I like the idea of a yearly Frankenset but I’d never do it myself!

  2. To be honest, I like this year’s opening day set. Between the lack of the removal of the “Future Stars” logo, to the fact that some cards have different photos than their series one counterparts, and also the numerous rookies and occasional traded players. Still, I’m kinda annoyed about how my Phillies have only 4 cards, but the Yankees (I will never forget 2009) have 15. Also, I was looking forward to Greinke and Miller Diamondbacks cards. Still, this years opening day set (As biased as it is) is much more exciting and less bleh than in recent years. (Few cards from the past few years stand out to me as important cards to have)

    • Even if I weren’t buying packs of OD, I’d be tracking down some of the ones with different photos or photoshopped uniforms… Previously, that an the now-gone 3D cards were the main appeal of Opening Day.

  3. I usually buy a few packs of OD. I don’t like how the OD logo changes places. I’m not sure about previous years but I never noticed it then like I have this year. They are cheap and fun so my main gripe will get overlooked when I finally get around to buying some.

    Jason

  4. I like Opening Day, although I do miss the 3D Opening Day Stars cards. I like the inserts in this set. I try to collect the blue foil parallel every year. That Brian McCann is one of the 33 I am still missing.

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