The Road to Opening Day

Spring Training is now over, and I have to say that I haven’t been all that excited about it the past couple years.  I hate to keep bringing it up, but I think the main reason is that February and March have been the busiest months of work.  It’s been rare that I could focus on any hobbies or fun or social activities at all sometimes, and so trying to follow games that didn’t matter…didn’t matter to me.

The other big reason is that lately there weren’t many surprises expected to come out of camp.  The roster is basically set, even with (or because of) the young talent.  So, there are no prospects you hope to make a good showing, because they’re all blocked by others.  Sure you could possibly keep tabs on how well the 25-man people are performing, but there’s no point in that either. A good spring training doesn’t mean they’ll have a good season.

Still, it’s something that plenty of people care about, which is good.  And the games are good opportunities for new pictures for baseball cards.  That’s where Topps comes in.  They made a Topps Now Road to Opening Day set for every team and I decided to pull the trigger on it.  There were some incentives built in so that if certain things happened in the season, you got bonus cards.  Cubs didn’t hit any of those milestones.  But I still got the set – the one with an autograph packed in.  You could get one of 4 players and so there was little downside.

Let’s take a look.

New father Baez

We’ll start with Javy.  I know some people hate the posed shots, but I like them.  This looks like it was done in a studio with a backdrop instead of on the field, though.

As far as I know, the MLB review of his abuse accusations are still pending

I’m using Russell to show the backs.  These have a nice foilboard shimmer going on, which was a surprise.  Overall the stock is solid.


Now we come to the part of the program where we look at players that are no longer with the team.  Our big 2017 acquisition was a good one.  We weren’t able to keep Wade for more than that season, however.  Not collecting him, but also not breaking up the set, either.


Montero was dropped from the team under some weird circumstances.  I thought the situation was B.S. but we’ll discuss that another time.

No Hitta!

Jake served us well in his time with the Cubs. Much better than anyone expected, but I’m not sad to see him leave.  2017 was a bit of a decline and personally I get the feeling that this will continue.


One drawback to not following the team in the off-season was I wasn’t sure if Lackey actually decided to retire or not.  Looks like he has indeed put his teeth out to pasture.


We do still have the rest of these guys, though.  Lester will be our Opening Day starter (barring some injury, I guess), and that’s quite alright with me.  He’s had a lot of success with the Cubs even though he’s been overshadowed by Arrieta.


Also this guy stole some of the thunder.  I don’t think anyone expected Kyle to do as well as he has, so his star is still rising after 2016 and a lesser, but still good 2017.  We’re watching him closely to see if we have a fluke or not.

Al Al

Robot run!  Almora was expected to be a big star, but that hasn’t fully panned out.  He’s a good role player for us, though.  Maybe with more playing time things would be different but the outfield is crowded.


C’mon. You know this guy.  It’s weird to have an MVP winner on the team again.


I’d love to see this guy make a run to give us two MVP winners.  He’s been in the top 5 a couple times.


I love this posed shot.  Clearly he’s uninterested and that makes it funny to me.  Here’s hoping Jason can keep improving to get back to the player we were hoping for.

N Zob

I like Zobrist, but I still think keeping Castro would have been the better move for the Cubs.  Weird they call him an OF here.


This is a great non-posed shot.  I’d like to see more photos of players running out of the dugout or bullpen.  The angle is dynamic too.


But I saved the best photo for last.  Look at those shades. Look at the reflection.  The expression. The catcher’s mask!  Now that’s a classic card!

Now, that’s the whole team set, but what about the autograph, you say.  Bryant and Rizzo were both possible.  I think Wade Davis was too, but out of the four possible players, I got….


Mister Jason Heyward.  I have to say I’m not disappointed.  Sure Bryant is the obvious choice for what would be ideal (just to avoid future costs of buying one), but I needed this too.  Heyward has a solid autograph and you know I’m a fan of the picture, so this is a win!  A win that matters!  Let’s go, Cubs!

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