2011 Baseball Card Preview, Series 2

Well, we’re almost halfway through the year now and that means it’s time for an update to my last preview post that made some hilariously off-base comments about how Gypsy Queen wouldn’t be a hit. Now, in my defense, Gypsy Queen is partially a hit because of the perceived short-printing of the whole run and the exclusion of a bunch of stuff that was supposed to be in there (including the auto of Billy Butler, which was the only card in the whole set about which I gave one half a hoot). Also in my defense, I did admit that I believed it would sell just fine. So let’s just say it exceeded my expectations rather than simply calling me out on being wrong, okay? Seriously, folks, get off my back. Tribute was predictably forgettable so I got that one right. (Though I undervalued the Diamond Giveaway cards as well… probably should have done a case of jumbos for those as they’re selling for $4/ea.).

2011 Bowman (5/18/11)

Did he have to buy that Nationals jersey at the fan shop?

Very shortly, we will be forced to endure Harper Fever. I’m pretty sure Bowman is sold out almost everywhere distributor-wise and I couldn’t care less. I hate Bowman. I don’t like Bowman Chrome either (and I also hate Bowman Draft), but Bowman is a pure and simple cash grab. Nobody cares about anything but the chrome, so the base cards might as well be considered packing material for the shiny. In fact, most only care about the chrome prospect autos. Not to mention that Mr. Harper will simultaneously be appearing in this set in a major league uniform while appearing in a minor league uniform for Topps Pro Debut. Bogus. Hates them all. This set also looks to have about 5 too many insert sets. If Topps really wanted to be efficient about this set, they’d ditch the rookies and veterans, ditch the non-chrome base and all inserts and just make it a minor league set. Because that’s what it is.

How's that arm, buddy?

At least the design is okay. Horizontally, anyway. Dayf is right about the vertical ones.

2011 Topps Series 2 (6/8/11) and Factory Set (7/19/11)

Joe Mauer, coverboy to the max.

Last time I bought one of these, it had Eric Davis on the box.

I’m bunching these together because there’s not much to say. Though I do wonder if the 5-card red #’d parallel packs in the factory set will pick up some steam in lieu of the Red Hot Rookies which apparently don’t exist this time around. No word on any wrapper redemptions either, butI presume they’ll continue the weird ’52 sparkles. I don’t dislike this year’s base Topps, but I’m not collecting it. I do miss putting together basic sets but even Topps flagship suffers from some serious insert exponentiation (I thought I made that word up but the spellcheck didn’t catch it. It did catch “spellcheck” though). I’ll actually use this space for a bit of hobby commentary:

Who are the collectors that buy hand-collated Topps base sets from sellers? This is not a dig at all, but it just seems to me that it’s pretty easy to put together a plain Jane base set and get some other cool cards at a reasonable price along the way. Not to mention that the factory set has all the cards from both series. And, better yet, it’s $25 once the next years’ cards come out. I usually see the Topps base sets go for about $20 shipped. That’s a pretty reasonable price. So I’m guessing it’s people who have very small time and money budgets for collecting who like to see every card in the set around the time it comes out. Maybe they put them in a binder and flip through them on Sunday while the game is on the tube and that definitely loses its luster if you’re looking at last year’s cards. So am I way off base? Feel free to chime in because, as someone who loves busting packs, I’m struggling to see why you wouldn’t splurge on the extra $30 for a box to get the joy of busting and the chance at pulling something that will offset the cost of your set (we got pretty much one set per jumbo box last year). Again, not a dig, just a legit question.

2011 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts (6/15/11)

Who remembers Chinese yo-yos?

Haven’t heard much about this set? That’s not surprising, given it’s a $200/”box” and you get one cut signature per box. Of course, there’s no real checklist out there- just a brief list of the amazing super mojo hits that are coming out of this bad boy. You could get a Gehrig! You could get a Cobb! You could get a still-living, frequently-signing bench player from the 60s! And all this without licensing rights to the photos! How could this go wrong! I also happen to think that cut autos are pretty lame on cards, especially the way they’re usually done. In an antique mall as a kid, I saw a framed photo of Abraham Lincoln with a cut signature displayed below it. It was awesome. I’d hang it on my wall and show it to everyone who came in. I wouldn’t show that thing up there to my pet turtles. Obviously, I’m not the target market for this. Maybe when I’m rich I’ll buy a bunch of them. If I cut the card, I can frame the auto beneath a photo of the player and it will look awesome.

2011 Bowman Platinum (6/20/11)

Sorry, I couldn't find a good-sized actual card image yet.

Guess how I feel about this set? No seriously! And guess who’s in it again?! You got it! This one is shiny and empty and generally of little interest to me. This year promises to not attract me either, as there appear to be lots of sticker autos even though “all chrome autos” are on-card. I presume that means only the solo prospect autos, based on the photos. And you can rest assured that those touted multi-autos (one per $1200 case!) will sport the dread multi-sticker atrocities that plague lots of Topps multi-auto cards. If you haven’t seen what I’m talking about, just do a search for “gypsy auto” and see how many of those autos have the same type of sticker. Some of them are hilariously ugly. This set basically has no place in my collecting world and I’m kind of puzzled as to how it lives to see another year. I’m open to interpretations. It just seems like Bowman Chrome redux to me.

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter (7/21/11)

Sorry, I couldn't find a good-sized picture that wasn't that boxer auto that I've seen everywhere.

Everyone’s favorite makes a return and promises its share of quirk. I was into A&G a bit in the past few years, but I really just don’t have it in me anymore. I’m something of a reformed set collector and Ginter played a big part in that reform and I found the set totally annoying to collect. And I didn’t even get into the minis! Back when Topps T205 debuted (way back when in 2005), I went nuts on that set. I even almost completed it and a few of the mini back variation sets. Then it just got too hard as the prices of boxes rose and rose with so many people trying to do the same thing. That process took about 2 years with T205 and the same thing happened in 2010 to Ginter in 2 months. It became just unrealistic so I quit. Jon and I may grab a box for review, but consider me Ginter’d out at this point. A shame, as I do really love the mini relic and auto sets. Not that I have the resources to put one together. Maybe I’ll surround my cut auto/photo collection with Ginter relics and autos in that other live I start leading here shortly. I must admit that the many bloggers who cover A&G make it very easy to ignore the call- I can see all the cards on my fellow bloggers’ sites, so why bother picking up any packs myself? I will enjoy the quirk vicariously this year methinks.

2011 Topps Triple Threads (7/26/11)

If they all looked like this, I would be VERY tempted to buy some.

Here’s another one I’ve never touched and likely won’t this year. But last year honestly surprised me with some kind of sweet on-card autos. Now, it’s very hard to tell who signed on-card and who didn’t except by pounding the eBay pavement, but both Billy Butler and Chris Getz did. It’s been fun chasing those cards and I’ll do the same with the Royals that make it into this years’ set since it looks like the on-card autos are making a return. It’ll take some work to figure out who got stickered and I assure you that none of that work will be done first-hand as, with a price point of $200+ per 2-pack (!) box, this stuff is far too rich for my blood. The funny thing is, I could probably put together a rainbow of the two cards I wanted from last year’s set for less than the cost of a single box. Sure, I wouldn’t get to pull an Eddie Murray octo-relic that spells out “Badass” but I can live with that. Maybe I could take that extra money and buy a vending box of 1978 Topps and get a real badass Murray card!

2011 Topps Lineage (8/15/11)

Sorry, it was either another Posey or that '75 Lincecum. I found the extra space created in the design to fit the sticker quite poignant.

Topps’ love affair with itself for its 60th anniversary reaches a fever pitch in this Topps design mashup. Look, guys, I totally get it that it’s cool to see Lincecum on a ’75T design. But that’s no reason at all to make an entire set of current players on older designs. Heritage does that in a relatively classy way so let’s just let it run its course, please. All the reprints, reuses and retreads are turning into reruns. In 15 years, will anyone remember what set that jumbo Josh Hamilton on ’64T design came from? Just like the interchangeable reprints in 2010 and 2011 Topps flagship, these will be forgotten entirely. We’ve seen this before in sets that time forgot like Archives and Fan Favorites and they’re just not built to last. At least this set has half of its autos on-card, so they’re moving in the right direction. Plus the ’75 mini relic set is bound to be pretty popular and I bet it looks awesome too. No checklist on this yet, but the “classic” player selection offers a chance at some good old school Royals. I almost wish they’d pull a Fan Favorites type thing with this and rock some less frequent signers- that would justify the reuse of the designs in my opinion.

Summary

Look, I know there’s all sorts of negativity about the hobby floating around the blogs. And I really want to not be just another voice in that crowd. But, for someone who isn’t into sticker autos and feels that the retro redux thing is getting old, I have to say that there just isn’t much to get excited about in the hobby for the rest of the year. Topps Series 2 and Update will be fun to open as usual and I’m sure Ginter will have some nice surprises, but there’s nothing that’s making me want to bust out my wallet and make a commitment to building a particular set or chasing any cards that are actually within my grasp. Bowman and Bowman Chrome are sure to be big hits with Harper all over them and I have no doubt the price will rise too high for my blood. If I come across some blasters this year (like I did last year), maybe I’ll actually open them instead of selling them (3 Bowman blasters auctioned off at a total of $110 last year) just to feel like I’m a part of the modern collecting world in the second half of the season.

What are you guys looking forward to? Maybe not all of our readers are as down on sticker autos and prospecting as I am and have a better perspective on the whole thing. I’m content sticking to my cheapo vintage sets and Stadium Club for now, but it would be nice to get stoked on something coming out this year. There’s always football season…

2 comments to 2011 Baseball Card Preview, Series 2

  • Play at the Plate

    I’ll probably buy Ginter…and a blaster of Lineage. I don’t care for the Bowman line too much beyond getting my Rangers. I think I’m reverting to more of a team/PC collector than a set collector.

  • Joe

    Prime 9 cards redeemable only at hobby stores appear to replace the Red Hot Rookies promotion…I believe Topps also did the red border thing in last year’s factory sets, with cards /299

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