Thursday, February 13, 2020

30 Year Collecting Anniversary / Box Break: 2020 Topps

With the release of 2020 Topps it marks the 30th year since I started collecting trading cards. 30, where as the time gone?

It still seems like yesterday that my family was going up to the timeshare my parents had in the mountains of North Carolina. I got to bring a friend along with me this time. His name was Aaron and we were good friends from church. We both would've been either 12 or 13 at the time. We both played ball growing up, but we lived on the other side of Charlotte from each other so most of our time together was at church. I don't recall talking about sports and I sure didn't watch much sports at the time, however Aaron is responsible for getting me into collecting cards. Sometimes I want to thank him...other times I want to kill him! He didn't know how easily the collector bug would bite me or that 30 years later I would still be buying small square pieces of cardboard with pictures of athletes on them!

On the way home my family stopped at a flea market and that is were my first wax pack purchases came from. Back then I had more 1990 Donruss than I did Topps. I'm sure why that was the case...maybe Donruss was more plentiful back then? Either way, I was instantly hooked on baseball cards. I always loved the sport, I just never paid attention to the majors. Growing up in Charlotte I didn't have a team...but eventually I would adopt the Braves as my team thanks in part to my late grandfather and dad. I had so much fun organizing the cards into number order, reading the backs and just thumbing through looking at the photos. I'm not sure if I would have believed myself if I told my 13 year old self that I would still be buying and collecting trading cards 30 years later. Amazing.

While I don't own a lot of what I did as a kid, I have so many fond memories of cards. Part of this is because it reminds me of time spent with my dad and my grandfather...sadly who both are no longer with us. It reminds me of a simpler time. Everything seemed to move at a slower pace back then. Now time just flies and it's crazy has fast it does.

The 2020 baseball card season also marks the 11th year since I've actively been back in the I did miss a few years of collecting...I mean at some point didn't we all pay more attention to girls than cardboard?! I started collecting again with the birth of my first daughter. I even started this blog shortly after I got back on board. While my interest has waned a little over the years, I can't begin to express how excited I am about the upcoming baseball season. My plans for collecting this year will be scaled back (at least I'm planning to do that) I am also excited about this year's new card releases and of course this starts with the latest edition of Topps' flagship product. I grabbed a Hobby box online using some Christmas money and while I'm a little late to the breaking party, it's time I bust open my box. I better enjoy this too because I may not have the opportunity to bust many boxes this year.

I thought I'd approach this box break post a little differently than I have done in the past and try to break down the different aspects of the set separately. We'll start off with the base design and then touch on the photography.

When the solicitation images first hit the 'net I wasn't sure what to think. I knew I wanted to cut back my spending/collecting with the new year so I initially thought I could use the design as my excuse to skip the set. However the more and more I looked at the various images the more I could feel myself being reeled back in. While I prefer the horizontal orientation design over it's vertical design counterpart, I do like how the design shifts between the two y axis' helps mix things up a bit.

Photography wise I enjoyed many of the in field action shots this year. Above are two examples of some of the photos catching the players in the middle of trying to get an out or turn a double play.

Enrique Hernandez looks more like a pitcher with a high leg kick in this photo. I wonder if that Nats player was called safe or out? Not to be out done, my guy Dansby Swanson has his second consecutive awesome photo in flagship Topps. Last year it was him sliding into home base while this year it's trying to pull what appears to be a double play...on another Nats player! Rest assured I'll be chasing down the various versions and colored parallels of this card.

The infielders aren't the only ones that were caught in action. Jesse Winker and Ramon Laureano are doing their best to pull in a likely home run. Laureano looks like he's got some good vertical skills...look at how far he's off the ground! Perhaps he really is a future star?

Sprinkled into the mix of cards this year are these celebration cards. They come in both orientations and feature some great photography. While I'm not a Yankees fan, how can you not like this card? I'm guessing they were just doused by the water cooler and the photographer was in the right place at the right time.

One of my favorite aspects of this year's Topps set are the horizontal cards. Honestly I would have been fine if Topps had produced an entire set featuring the wide lens. The only drawback of this is that when you put the cards in 9 pocket pages the design with the players name is upside down. While my OCD may chip away at me, I'm not turning these upside down when it comes time to get them in pages.

In addition to some of the great action shots (like Willy Adams from above) this design also features some good photography. This card of Travis Demeritte stood out for this reason and because he was a former Braves farmhand.

Play at the plate cards never get old and here we have some pretty good shots featuring Kurt Suzuki and Roberto Perez.

I love what Topps has done with the Team Card this year. While the photography isn't as great as these two on every card, these are also a nice addition to the set. Don't both of these teams look so happy? Too bad the Braves flamed out in the NLDS against the red birds last year. 2020 will be a different story for the my Braves...mark my words!

Now we shift gears from a look at the base cards over to the parallels and inserts. It seems like the overall odds for the parallels have been upped over last least in hobby packs. Retail is a whole other animal. By the way, I'm 99.9% sure that my hobby box did not yield one single SP card and certainly no SSP cards.

Gold parallels fall 1:14 hobby packs and my box yielded two...which is right on the average. The gold doesn't stand out as much as it has in previous years so it's easy to overlook these. I was happy with the Trout and apparently this Yordan Alvarez has his fans. Both will be offered up for trade.

The Rainbow Foil parallels return and fall 1:10 hobby packs. Perhaps I beat the odds a bit with 3 in my box. The Rendon card I'll probably keep and the Brewers celebration card will be going in a certain cynical guys pile. Vargas will be up for grabs however.

Did the Advanced Stats parallels make their debut last year? Regardless they are back and unless you have a keen eye you'll miss them. I sure did while I was opening packs, only finding this parallel of Goldschmidt while I was sorting my cards the other night. Can you tell which is the normal base and which is the parallel?

For the stats/number geeks out there I'm sure these parallels are a hit. I'm not against them, but I usually look more at the front of the card than the back. Regardless I beat the odds as these cards fall 1:359 hobby packs.

Personally I could care less for these Best of Topps Now cards, however I do realize that they do serve a purpose. Not everyone is aware of the online exclusive Topps Now cards, even though they are entering their 5th season this year. A picture of a baseball card doesn't excite me and I'm hoping someone out there will want this Ohtani card. These "advertisement" cards fall 1:18 hobby packs.

Decades' Best cards have fun design and this is one set I look forward to chasing. I especially love the Chipper Jones card from this set. These cards fall 1:7 hobby packs.

Decade's Next inserts fall 1:24 hobby packs and apparently come in colored variations. This set spotlights rookies and other young and up and coming players.

The black background of my laptop makes it hard to notice that these Decade of Dominance inserts are die-cut. I don't know why I'm such a sucker for die-cut cards, but Topps doesn't do this nearly enough in my opinion. Of course this comes from a guy who's still waiting on a follow up to the Topps Laser set from the 90's! These inserts fall 1:35 hobby packs and also have various colored versions.

The Home Run Challenge scratch off cards return again. Perhaps this is the year I'll actually scratch off the box on the back to reveal a code and I'll take a stab at guessing the game the player hits a HR? I hear this Yelich kid is pretty good. These cards fall 1:24 hobby packs.

These 1985 style inserts fall 1:4 hobby packs and as in past years also come in various colors. I don't believe I'm going to chase this set, opting to keep just a few players. Most of these will also be available for trade soon.

I loved the reprints Topps featured in the "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" insert set years ago, but since the rehashed idea is starting to feel a little stale to me. Topps Choice seems to continue this reprint tradition. These fall 1:28 hobby packs and also come in various colors such as this blue Kris Bryant. The hobby pack lists the odds of these blue Topps Choice as 1:636? I'm quite fond of the 1991 design so I like this card and the blue border doesn't look half bad either.

If you're looking for "hits" like autos and relics then you really shouldn't be buying flagship. However Topps does guarantee one auto or relic in each hobby box and my box yielded this Major League Material relic of Sonny Gray. I know, I can hardly contain my excitement here. If you look in the bottom left corner though you may see on his shoe that this card is serially numbered 048/199. I believe this is the black parallel. If I'm reading the small print odds on the hobby wrapper it appears the normal Major League Material relics fall 1:136 hobby packs while the serially numbered black parallels fall 1:717 hobby packs. OK. This card too will be up for would be nice if I could swap it for a Braves player.

The last bit from this box I get to share is the contents of the hobby exclusive silver pack. These contain 4 tricked out 1985 chrome parallels...which look nice, but ultimately don't do much for me. That said, I'd gladly swap any of these 4 for other players I collect, especially guys from the ATL.

Final verdict. Overall I'm very impressed with Topps' effort for 2020. This is always an exciting time of the year for us collectors as it marks the beginning of a new season of cards. It also signifies that the beginning of a new season of the game we all love is also just around the corner. I also want to comment on the collation as I've seen a lot of comments online about it being horrible. Maybe that's more in retail packs versus hobby packs, I don't know...but this box yielded 90.9% of the base set and 70.3% of a master least according to the Trading Card Database when I logged what I had. Not too shabby. I have bought some retail packs, mainly for the retail exclusive Turkey Red inserts. I would have probably bought more but so far I've only found 2020 Topps at one Walmart and by the time I got there all of the hanger boxes were gone...only singles, a few blasters and 4 fat packs...which I bought. I'll probably buy more retail as I can find them as I would really like to pull some more of the inserts, especially the Turkey Reds. Great job Topps, great job.