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…
…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:
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…
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.
Alternate Reality… Another OK insert, but I’d like to think they could highlight something a little more interesting than alternate uniforms.
Shiny Brian McCann (Yawn)
The yawn was directed at the shiny parallel, not necessarily at Brian McCann.
Superstar Celebrations… Quick, which one is 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.
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?