Monday, November 20, 2017

Two Problematic Blasters of 2017 Topps Gallery

Topps, recently, has had a bad track record with bringing back beloved properties from their past.

Here's Topps Archives! 'No, that's not Topps Archives, that's a bunch of current players on old designs. Doesn't some card blogger do that?'

Here's Topps Tek! 'No, that's some high end product that takes out most of the fun and creativity of the original set.'

Here's Topps Gold Label! 'Yeah, that'd be great if it wasn't ultra-ultra premium and only sold in hobby stores.

So, needless to say, bringing back Topps Gallery and releasing it as a Walmart Exclusive with a card-per-dollar ratio worse than Stadium Club's...did not get a great deal of praise from collectors. I, as a stupid person, decided it'd only be right to grab a box or two of the product, and decide for myself whether or not it was worth the fuss.

I grabbed two blasters. 8 packs per, including a pack of Artist's Proof parallels. So let's get this over with.

25- Bryce Harper
140- Anthony Rizzo
67- Kyle Seager
137- Ichiro

Okay, so already we see a few problems- ARTIST PROOF means that it's an ultra-rare parallel inserted into packs with a low numbering. These cards are not numbered, and they're given away essentially for free. So...what the hell's the point of them?

Also, the stock is thick enough, but the matte finish is nowhere near the texture of the original Gallery set. Plus, as nice as the design is, it's simplistic, and not really near some of the more complex designs that made the set cool to collect. This is...pretty damned boilerplate.

Onto the rest of the blaster

Pack 1-
36- Tim Anderson. The backs, by the way, carry the tradition of split stats for every month of the 2016 season, which is really nice, and more effort-driven than the modern Topps' approach to stats.
85- Troy Tulowitzki. All of these were drawn by one person, Mayumi Seto. Tulo's does emphasize the bags under his eyes more than I'd like. Maybe he didn't get any sleep before the shoot?
89- Hanley Ramirez
104- Reynaldo Lopez. Also, the rookie backs have split stats for the minors, which is also a nice touch. Nice to see that Lopez had a huge June 2016, with 48 strikeouts and a 1.56 ERA. Hopefully he'll bring that to the South Side of Chicago.

Pack 2-
125- Manny Machado
92- Mark Trumbo
Masterpiece Insert of Albert Pujols, which is pretty cool, and comes one per 7 packs, so...this is my Masterpiece insert for the box, I guess. Not too bad, though.
11- Adam Jones. ORIOLES HOT PACK!

Pack 3-
43- Matt Carpenter. A shame that a Cardinal is responsible for one of the cooler cards in this set that I've seen.
129- Jordan Montgomery RC. GUMBY!
Hall of Fame Gallery insert of...the great Roberto Clemente. Pretty nice pull. Design is a bit more standard than I'd have like, but it's not bad.
22- Ryon Healy. Now on the Mariners.

Pack 4-
110- Chris Sale. I really, really like this one.
59- Khris Davis, still one of the more consistent home run hitters in baseball.
Gallery Heritage of Jose Abreu, in a really cool 1950s Bowman design. Very, very nice stuff.
48- Dustin Pedroia

Pack 5-
117- AARON JUDGE ROOKIE! Hooray, I can die happy.
99- Randal Grichuk
69- Blake Snell
86- Trea Turner, who will start having good seasons once he decides to stay healthy.

Pack 6-
150- Max Scherzer, 3-time Cy Young award winner.
144- J.D. Martinez, one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. Oh, and glad Gallery managed to ACTUALLY HAVE HIM IN A D-BACKS UNIFORM. Well done, Gallery.
HOF Gallery of Craig Biggio....and it's a BLUE BORDER, #'D TO 99. HOLY CRAP. That is a pretty nice pull, even if it's not an auto or anything.
58- Daniel Murphy

Pack 7-
126- Andrew Benintendi, 2nd-best AL rookie of 2017
35- Antonio Senzatela
HOF Gallery of Dave Winfield. Why's he got to be a Padre...
145- Didi Gregorius. Nice that the first box ends with a Yankee.

BOX #2-

Artist Proofs
34- Jake Arrieta
114- David Dahl. Hopefully he'll get to play in 2018.
66- Maikel Franco. Hopefully he'll remember how to hit in 2018.
11- Adam Jones

Pack 1-
131- Matt Harvey, part of the new-substantially-weaker Mets rotation.
32- Gregory Polanco
HOF Gallery of Ozzie Smith
123- Carlos Gonzalez. Didn't even BEGIN to hit for average this year..

Pack 2-
25- Bryce Harper
140- Anthony Rizzo. Nice to have the regular versions of these guys
Gallery Heritage of Miguel Sano, also looking great on a 50s Bowman design
8- Steven Matz

Pack 3-
67- Kyle Seager. And now we have the regular version of THIS one..
113- Andrew Toles
57- Jameson Taillon...GREEN PARALLEL #D TO 99. Also a pretty great pull, though not as good as the Biggio.
19- Carson Fulmer

Pack 4-
15- Yoan Moncada. I feel like there are a billion White Sox rookies in this set,
12- Max Kepler
Masterpieces of...Eric Hosmer, with a very creepy expression.
84- Trey Mancini

Pack 5-
38- Tyler Glasnow. Still doesn't seem to be ready for MLB play.
139- Jake Lamb
HOF Gallery of Rod Carew...on the Angels. Alright then.
115- Justin Verlander. Always nice for Topps to actually picture Verlander as an Astro.

Pack 6-
17- George Springer, W.S. MVP
97- Ketel Marte
Annnnd...a REDEMPTION...for a Auto Green Parallel of...Andrew Benintendi. Not a bad pull at all, as Benintendi's looking even better than he was last season, and may be sticking around in Boston. Hopefully Topps won't screw me over with this one.
55- Jose Bautista

Pack 7-
101- Cole Hamels
100- Clayton Kershaw
118- Adrian Gonzalez. This pack only had 3 cards. Well then.

So, to conclude...still a flawed product, that could have used some adjustments in some departments, but...not exactly bad. I still got nice hits from it, which is good.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MVPs: Well Deserved Edition

Now, I know what you're thinking. How am I not pissy about Aaron Judge not getting MVP? I mean, it's been 7 years since CC Sabathia got robbed for Cy Young, and you still go on about that, but why not this?

...Because I kinda knew that Aaron Judge wasn't gonna be MVP from his August alone. Like, unlike Jose Altuve, Judge was human this year. Judge made mistakes. He struck out a ton. But throughout the entire season, Jose Altuve hit for average, hit home runs like hell, played great in the field, and did a tremendous all-around job of playing baseball, as he's done every year since 2012. So, of course, he deserved the MVP over Judge, and I ain't mad.

With Giancarlo Stanton winning, you also need to talk about the fact that Joey Votto was trailing him the entire time, and almost won had it not been for 2 Stanton votes. I mean, both Stanton and Votto are among baseball's best, and while Votto has kind of already made his Cooperstown case clear, Stanton had a HUGE all-around year, hitting like hell the entire time, and still being able to hit for average. His 59 homers have drilled him into the records until somebody, probably him again, chases Ruth, Maris (and those other guys).

These two deserved to be the 2017 MVPs. For both, it was about damn time.

Cy Youngs: Repeat Offenders Edition

These were slightly less predictable than the Rookie of the Year picks, but...I could have guessed these. Unlike the last few years, there wasn't really one 'oh my god this guy needs to win' for these categories. Kluber deserved his, thanks to Chris Sale buckling in August, as well as doing (arguably) better work than he'd done in 2014 when he won his first one. Scherzer's THIRD (!!!) Cy Young is just proof that he's one of the best pitchers in baseball, especially considering he has as many as Clayton Kershaw now.

Tonight, we get some MVPs announced. I'm not a betting man, but if I was, I'd be putting money on Altuve and Stanton.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rookies of the Year: Was There Even a Doubt Edition

You could have called this in June.

There's no real discrepancy. No fraudulent voting. The two best rookies of 2017 won. They also happened to be among the best PLAYERS of 2017, so it made it really easy. Judge had an insane season, made a case for New York monarchy. Bellinger made it to the World Series, hit home runs off the strongest rotation in the bigs.

Both should have tons of congratulations in order. Tomorrow night, we get the managers of the year, so I won't mind if people take tomorrow night off.

Natural Departure

Last season, around July everyone was screaming about the Yankees' decision to put Carlos Beltran on the block, basically saying 'HE NEEDS TO WIN A WORLD SERIES, HE NEEDS TO SEE OCTOBER', bla bla bla. That was the most intense argument of the 2016 trade deadline, which proves, if anything, how week that deadline was.

Anyway, Beltran got traded, and he didn't get to a World Series. But...he signed with the team that, ironically, last acquired him with the sole purpose of getting to a World Series...and he got to a World Series, and won. So for a guy whose ring-search felt so urgent in 2016, the fact that he got one without a whimper in 2017 was kind of impressive. Which goes back to the sort of unheralded, impressive quality that Beltran seems to have.

Today, Carlos Beltran announced, with the ring on his finger I'm guessing, that the quest was over, and he'd be hanging up his spikes indefinitely, which definitely makes sense. The guy's 40 years old, he had a down season as a DH in Houston, and they literally had a funeral for his fielding glove this year. His best days were behind him and everyone knew it.

Plus, Beltran has had a whirlwind career, with a Rookie of the Year award, some monster seasons with the Mets, Cardinals and Yankees, and some impressive consistency in the heart of his career. In 6 years, when the Cooperstown cases show up, people will be citing his injuries as a way of stopping him from getting in, but I honestly think he has a really nice Hall of Fame case, and I think he's had a very full career, with the perfect ending.

Gonna miss him 'round the leagues, but if there was any correct point for Carlos Beltran to make his exit, now might be the perfect one.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Finality: 2017 Edition

After 50+ years of existence, the Houston Astros have finally won a World Series. How crazy is that? What's even crazier is the fact that they deserved it.

Five years ago, when the Astros were the butt of every joke in the league, I never could have thought a day like this would show up. This is pretty incredible, and well-deserved for everyone on the team. Plus, now Carlos Beltran, Jose Altuve and Justin Verlander have rings to take with them to Cooperstown.

That's the end of our regular MLB coverage for the year. I'm gonna try and keep updating the blog this month with box breaks, card prompts and stuff, but it might get a smidge quieter in a bit. Just know that I'm still gonna be following the game, and preparing for Uncustomed Heroes in December.