Nice night we're having, perfect for some pack-opening live blogging. It's 9.02 in the pm where I am, and I have a short stack of six-card packs from a Kmart big box of Topps Series 2 I purchased earlier today. Let's get right down to it.
First, before we get started, I want to say a little thing about box and pack iconography. I don't know when it stopped, but boxes used to have images of lots of cards from the set plastered on them. Take 1984 Topps. A huge picture of Steve Carlton on the box top with other guys like Jim Rice around the sides. For 2007 Topps has David Wright flashing his gigantic teeth and eyebrows wrapped up in an American flag on its boxes and packs of Topps Opening Day. For the flagship set it's Ryan Howard for Series 1 and David Ortiz for Series 2. I'm not complaining; those two guys are great but...wait a minute--I am complaining. I need there to be cards on the sides of the boxes so that I know going in what I'm getting myself into. Right?
So anyway...can't get Pack 1's wrapper open...stupid foil...foiled too tight...these cards are gonna fly all over the room when I get it open like a pack of M&M's...first card is...
Zack Segovia, Phillies rookie. Wow, this guy looks like he's at least thirty, kind of like Greg Oden...Also, he went 16 and 6 in 2006 in minor league ball. Here's another complaint, quickly: because Topps has big block letters announcing rookie status, there's no room for minor league stats on the back. I want to know where this guy's been.
Adam Dunn, Reds. Good to see Dunn was given a 2nd Tier number (#520).
Orlando Cabrera, Angels. If you haven't seen any of the Topps Series 2, a) you're not a collector of new cards and b) there are a few things that just don't make sense. The first thing is that there are many true error cards throughout the set. So many, in fact, that Topps had plenty of chances to correct a card that was actually screwed up instead of promoting a card that was screwed up on purpose. One of things that doesn't make sense are the team names. One such team is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (nee California). They are listed as simply 'Angels.' It's backwards from how the Rockies are listed in the 2007 Fleer set (every team is listed by their nickname, whereas the Rockies are listed as 'Colorado Rockies'...it's like they're fucking with us just because they can)
Mickey Mantle Home Run #303 I hate this insert set. They should've done it by showing the Mick getting progressively more decrepit. Cards 1 through 100 could've been him in great shape, holding up a bottle of champagne. Cards 101 through 200 could be him smacking a home run, cards 201 through 300 would be him clutching his knees, 301 through 400 would be him drinking and glazed over, 401 through 499 him yelling at someone behind the scenes at a card show, card #500 at the Hall of Fame, and 501 through 565 gazing stoically into the distant. That seems more like a set I'd collect.
Chad Cordero, Nationals. Chad's got a nice clean signature.
Sean Casey, Tigers. I've always liked Casey. He's had a pretty good career, toiling in somewhat obscurity. If he'd had his peak years in a New York or Boston uniform, he'd be known by a lot more people.
Four good players, a Hall of Famer and a rookie.
Hector Gimenez, Astros rookie. Gotta love those rookies who've already had surgery.
Norris Hopper, Reds. Norris is my new favorite player. He's a true rookie; this is his rookie card. Plus, how great is this, they have his minor league stats--all nine years.
Manny Acta, Nationals manager. I thought Frank Robinson was the Nationals manager. Apparently not.
DiMaggio's Streak: Game 32 Here's another useless insert set. Again, this would've been great if it had been 56 cards of Joe counting his money.
Randy Winn, Giants. Can anybody tell me what Randy's first name is? Because I can't for the life of me read it in his signature.
Jose Bautista, Pirates. Jose's got his arm cocked at an angle that looks entirely unnatural.
One good player, one immortal Hall of Famer reduced to a boring insert, a rookie and my new favorite player, Crash Davis--sorry, Norris Hopper.
Brandon Morrow, Mariners rookie. Morrow's glove has a giant Nike swoosh on it.
Doug Slaten, Diamondbacks rookie. It's good to see that even career relievers get rookie cards in new sets. Used to be that you had to wait for the all-encompassing Bowman set for rookies of guys who may become the next Scott Linebrink or the next Jeff Nelson.
Angels team card. They look they're all in a boat together.
Ken Griffey, Jr., Reds. To quote Matthew McConaghey in Dazed and Confused, Alright, alright! Now we're talkin'! Big number 4-5-0. Good to see Topps is back in the business of Hero Worship.
Hit Parade: Gary Sheffield, Tigers. Not a bad looking insert, but the rainbow refractor shit is kind of annoying...and yet oddly soothing when you tilt it back and forth.
Tim Hudson, Braves. What's worse: the photo of Hudson's back or the fact that Hudson's win/loss has got progressively more mediocre over the years?
Two rookies, a team card, two great players and an insert of a lunatic. The best pack of the three, without a doubt.
...Two more packs to go...
Gavin Floyd, White Sox. Lots of photos in this set look like they were taken at a GlamorShots down at the mall. Too bad Floyd didn't opt for the fake bookcase, or even the forest; the charcoal doesn't work.
Brian Lawrence, Rockies. I know that on the back there's a quote that says Brian doesn't accept mediocrity, but damn that's a mediocre photo, the highlight of a boring-ass card.
Juan Encarnacion, Cardinals. I like that on the back Juan's stats are spaced real far apart because it's obvious Topps didn't have a block of text to include. He's been in the league for eleven years and they have the guy's stats presented like Phil Niekro.
Jason Bay, Pirates. Why is Bay checklisted at #411? He should at least be a 3rd tier number, like 445 or something. So this brings up a question: should there be such a thing as a 4th tier number? And if so, which numbers would be designated 4th tier?
Generation NOW: Ryan Zimmerman. What is with Topps and their inexplicable love of never-ending insert sets of cards that all look the same? I don't know if a company could be any lazier.
Checklist 2 of 3. I knew I wouldn't be able to go five packs without getting a checklist. They should've made checklists harder to find, like two or three a box. Then it would be more fun to put together a set, and make checklists more valuable to collectors.
Brett Myers, Phillies. How appropriate. Topps mentions Myers was an amateur boxer when he was a young teenager.
No rookies, one checklist, one good young player, an insert of another good young player and a lunatic Phillie.
Hideki Okajima, Red Sox rookie. Yeah, Okajima! Awesome.
Alex Rios, Blue Jays. Topps must've hired away all of Donruss' old baseball copywriters when they lost their baseball license. "For a stretch in early 2006, Alex was leading the league in hitting. In fact, he was batting .363 as late as June 3, and he made the AL All-Star Team. he later was sidelined by a staph infection, however." Fun.
Bud Black, Padres manager. Good old Bud Black, but where's the stache?
Mickey Mantle Home Run History #383. God, when will it end?
Opening Day: Mariners vs. A's. Jeez, another bad insert set. Topps is really hitting on all cylinders this year, huh?
Mike Sweeney, Royals. Like Sean Casey, I've always wanted to see this guy end up on the Red Sox. Even if he is always injured.
One awesome Red Sox rookie superstar middle reliever, one Hall of Famer on a dumb insert, two teams on one dumb insert, a star stuck on a perennially awful team, and Bud Black, one half of Black and Decker.
One hour, thirty-seven minutes. Five packs. Thirty cards. Four hundred eighty little colored boxes, five denoted rookies, nine stars, two managers, one team card, six inserts, one checklist, six commons and one brilliant card of immortal, career minor leaguer Norris Hopper.