Saturday, February 21, 2015

Opening Day is Nigh!

It's technically baseball season.

No, there aren't any games, home runs, defensive highlights, or pennant races happening yet, but pitchers and catchers have reported to their spring training camps for all but a few teams, so what better time to do a post about a box of 2013 Opening Day I bought from Dave & Adam's almost six months ago?

2013 Topps Opening Day Blue #113 Carlos Gonzalez /2013
Look familiar? It should, as Carlos Gonzalez does a lot of sliding into home plate here on Infield Fly Rule. I haven't shown this particular card yet, and these blue parallels are easily the shiniest things to be found in any box of Opening Day. Judging by that dirt stain on his jersey, CarGo clearly doesn't leave anything on the field when it comes to that oft-overlooked "fourth fundamental" of baserunning.
Though we're in the very early stages of the technical baseball season, as I write this, the Denver area is experiencing what's probably been the biggest snowstorm of this winter. Rather than venture outside, I spent a lot of time with my card collection today, as I sorted through my giant (but shrinking) boxes of duplicates for a new trading partnership with Brian from Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary.

2013 Topps Opening Day #78 Hisashi Iwakuma
Brian's has a mini-collection of commemorative patches (though not memorial patches) and I found a ton, especially on recent cards. I'm not sure whether I found a duplicate (or Topps Base version) of the above Iwakuma card, but that 35th-anniversary patch on the right sleeve is right up Brian's alley.

Lots of other collectors go for the throwback uniforms, and 2013 Topps (and thus, 2013 Opening Day) didn't disappoint in that area.

2013 Topps Opening Day #77 Mark Trumbo
Mark Trumbo was traded to the Diamondbacks for the 2014 season, but he got his start as an Angel, appearing here in an early-'70s throwback uniform, way before all that "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" nonsense. This card is even a two-for-one bonus, as there's a Texas Ranger, also in throwback gear, possibly beating the throw to first.

But Topps didn't stop there.

2013 Topps Opening Day #164 Jose Altuve
The Astros had some of the more memorable uniforms during the 1970s, and the color scheme sort of makes sense. When I see all those oranges, yellows, and reds, I think of some sort of sunrise in the Western desert. Frankly, Houston is pretty far from a Western desert, and Houston is definitely an oil town, so maybe it's meant to remind us of the Shell Oil logo.

The uniform number on the pant leg of the diminutive Jose Altuve is pretty distracting. The White Sox and possibly a couple other teams tried this, and I'm glad it didn't catch on.

If you're a fan of all these old uniforms, then be sure to visit A Cracked Bat. She's giving away some Kellogg's 3D cards on one of her recent posts. Though I claimed one of the Astros that she had available, there are a few still up for grabs.

Anyway, the base cards are really pretty solid (and foil-free!), but before I move on, I'd like to show one of the best "hits" I've managed to pull from a box of low-end cards.

2013 Topps Opening Day Autographs #ODA-DW David Wright (AU)
An autograph card of David Wright, the star third baseman of the Mets! I've seen his autograph before, and I really appreciate its legibility, which gives me something to aspire to. I also like that he signs his uniform number, a welcome bonus. That's the only way my friend knew that it was Edwin Jackson who signed his ticket stub when the Cubs visited Denver last summer.

Yes, it's a sticker autograph, which I don't mind nearly as much as some other collectors do, but we've all heard of David Wright, and the photo even has one of those patches that Brian likes so much, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Mets franchise.

But this isn't the reason why I keep coming back to Opening Day. It's not the $10/blaster price. It's not the base cards, which are more or less the same as the flagship set. For 2015, even those won't differentiate themselves with a lack of foil, as the base set finally uses it sparingly. And again, it's not the occasional autograph, although pulling a big name like David Wright is somehow more satisfying when it comes from a low-end product. Anyone with money to burn can spend a stupid amount on a box of Museum Collection and end up with an autograph of a high-caliber player, but it feels like such a bargain when it's from a $20-something retail box.

2013 Topps Opening Day Play Hard #PH-20 Yadier Molina
It's the inserts.

The inserts that pop out of almost every pack of Opening Day never fail to put a smile on my face. They usually have a few new sets that only exist for a year, like the "Play Hard" set above, and "Fired Up" last year, as well as others that make recurring appearances.

Play Hard cards are a sure-fire favorite for any collector who likes those plays at the plate or double plays. In fact, how awesome is that card? Yadier Molina, one of the most charismatic and driven players in the league, isn't even behind the plate on his own card. This could easily be Carlos Ruiz's card, or Yadi could be defending the plate against any baserunner. Instead, Molina himself is elbows up for a collision, consequences be damned.

Of course, plays at the plate changed quite a bit with the 2014 rule change, something this next player is in favor of.

2013 Topps Opening Day Stars #ODS-4 Buster Posey
Buster Posey lost most of his 2011 season following a knee injury and broken leg that he suffered while defending the plate. That didn't stop him from winning the NL MVP award and his second of three (and counting) World Series rings the following year, but I'm sure he's in no hurry to go through all that again.

The "Opening Day Stars" cards are 3D, and though they scan terribly, they have appeared in numerous Opening Day sets over the years, and they'll be making another appearance in 2015, which will be released next month.

Like "Play Hard", "Ballpark Fun" was another set that was unique to 2013.

2013 Topps Opening Day Ballpark Fun #BF-2 Josh Reddick
And it had a lot of post-game shaving cream pies in the face. Not only is Josh Reddick the beneficiary of baseball's equivalent of a Gatorade shower, but he's wearing an Oakland Oaks uniform, the minor-league team (who then became the Vancouver Mounties) that played in Oakland for the first half of the 20th century. This card has it all, especially for those who have a mini-collection of interview cards.

Why Josh Reddick, when I could have used a half-dozen others from this insert set? Well, that's my way of wishing my buddy Nick at Dime Boxes a happy birthday, who shares February 19th with the Oakland outfielder.

Anyone who's collected Opening Day has to know how I'll end this post. Right? What's everyone's favorite insert set from this brand?

2013 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-16 Orbit

Come on, look at that card and tell me you don't want to bust some packs of Opening Day.

Orbit, who returned to Earth (sorry) prior to the Astros' 2013 move to the AL West, was their mascot during the 1990s and the final years of the Astrodome. Orbit was replaced by Junction Jack when the Astros moved to Enron Field, which became Minute Maid Park following the implosion of the Houston-based company.

Junction Jack was a train engineer rabbit that was only somewhat less terrifying than the Donnie Darko rabbit (click at your own risk). But happy times have returned to Houston again, with Orbit the Space Alien taking over the "00" uniform number and his rightful place in the Astros' locker room.

And with that, and as the snow continues to fall, we tick ever closer to Opening Day 2015, and a whole new set of mascot cards to smile at.


  1. "Ballpark Fun" was one of the better insert sets I've seen in a long time. The Reddick is one of my favorites. Looks like a great box!