Friday, March 25, 2016


Though that is Felix Hernandez's card number in 2016 Topps Opening Day, more importantly it's NASA-speak for the number of days remaining to MLB's opening day! A few games start up on Sunday, April 3rd, though most teams begin play the following day, which is what the foil parallels have listed.

Now that we survived our seemingly annual giant March blizzard in Denver, we can start digging out, waiting for a foot and a half of snow to melt and drain from our roofs, backyards, and baseball diamonds. But "snow series" have become more common in Denver, so we're not out of the woods yet.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-92 Jean Segura
Digging into my annual blaster of Topps Opening Day from my local SuperTarget, there's your first look at a 2016 card on Infield Fly Rule. Jean Segura is laying down a bunt with pretty good form. And like them or not, 2016 Topps finally got rid of borders for the base set for the first time, well, ever. There is that cloudy area behind the player, which does serve to frame the photo, but it's quite a departure from what we've seen since the 1950s.

But there's plenty more you can do with a bat than just bunt.

Like, oh, I don't know. Maybe belt an epic go-ahead home run with it in a deciding playoff game, then fling the thing one-handed right at the visitor's dugout and into the history books.

That would make a great baseball card.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-187 Jose Bautista

This was the second card from the second pack in the blaster, and though I haven't seen one from 2016 Topps base, this is just about the same thing, though zoomed in a little bit. Along with that Dinger mascot card from 2014, these $10 Opening Day blasters tend to give me just what I'm after.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-17 Kris Bryant
Kris Bryant is one of the most promising young prospects in baseball, and he's certainly the most sought-after player in baseball cards these days. I'm sure I could flip this lowly base card on eBay for a buck or two. But I'd rather hang on to it, and I'm interested to see what he and the Cubbies will do this year. It's always hit or miss with "Future Stars" cards, but I think this one's a pretty safe bet.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-181 Justin Bour
Justin Bour maybe less so. Although he finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting behind the winning Kris Bryant, he still mashed 23 home runs last season. Yet he's far from a household name (maybe because he's a Marlin), but that could change at any moment.

I haven't said much about the design yet, and I do like this 2016 set. The banner in the corner reminds me of a blown-up 1993 Topps, and the layout is effective. No vertical names or distracting cluster of information. The team logo is pretty large, though not quite as imposing as 2010, but I'm not so sure I like how it's partially obscured behind the banner. The banner can slant either left or right, and it's pretty much dependent on the team logo which way looks best. The actual Marlin in the logo is almost entirely obscured here, but the Diamondbacks, Brewers, and Mets look pretty good with this banner orientation. The White Sox, Rockies, Cubs, and most others look better the other way.

This is also kind of a busy card, even without foil. The key elements are pretty clean, but add in the Opening Day seal, the Future Stars lettering, and the Topps Rookie Cup, it starts to look pretty cluttered.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-123 Johnny Giavotella
You might think this is one of the Superstar Celebration insert cards that Opening Day is known for. But no, just a base card. Baseball players have taken the Gatorate shower way further than the NFL, who still pretty much reserves that for clinching a playoff spot. In baseball, pretty much any game-winning hit can earn it. I've noticed that camera crews are getting pretty good at stepping out of the way in time. The photographer also used a really fast shutter speed here, as the water droplets are frozen in midair, cascading around Giavotella's neck.

You need a fast lens to do that, especially at the end of a night game. That means a wide aperture to grab enough light in the slightest fraction of a second. Which equals a shallow depth of field, thus causing all those blurry backgrounds people have been noticing in this year's set. That's been the case for quite some time, but there just must be something about this design that makes it more noticeable. Maybe the edge fading they're using instead of a true border. Regardless, I'll take some blurry backgrounds to get shots like this. Do we really want to return to all those posed shots Topps gave us in the late '60s where the left field facade of Yankee Stadium was clearly visible on almost every card? In my opinion, all these pin-sharp photos are just fine with me. These horizontal ones especially are like holding tiny HDTVs.

And we haven't seen one straining pitcher's face yet. But don't worry, that's coming.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-188 Troy Tulowitzki
No big deal here, just a Rockies franchise player batting for the Blue Jays.

As a Rockies fan, this is just weird. It's taking a long time to get used to this trade. I'm sure this is old hat to all you Dodgers and Tigers and Yankees fans who trade and sign and release players of this caliber on a regular basis. But our transactions are more along the lines of Daniel Descalso, Brandon Barnes, Brett Anderson, etc.... Yes, once in a while there's a Holliday-for-Gonzalez type of trade, and Jose Reyes did come over in the Tulo trade with all the pitching prospects, but more often than not, a casual fan has no idea who's coming or going.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-155 Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi, a guy who's been on my Fantasy squad once or twice, led off three straight Rays starting pitchers at the tail end of one pack. I think Odorizzi's been in the league a little too long to be labeled a Future Star. He'll be hitting that all-important 27th birthday in about a year, and I really don't see this guy becoming a late bloomer like Randy Johnson, who took a long time to develop control.

But even a middle-of-the-rotation guy like Odorizzi could be a game changer if he somehow ended up on the Rockies.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-113 Alex Cobb
The Rays have a pretty good rotation, though with Alex Cobb out until late in the season rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery, their success in the always-tough AL East is far from certain. Though if they do manage to win the division, it will be the first time in the Wild Card era that five different teams win their division in five consecutive years.

Thanks, reddit.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-49 Erasmo Ramirez
With Cobb Out, Erasmo Ramirez will have a more solid spot in the Rays rotation. He looks dwarfed by the pitcher's mound from this high angle, and it may be a Shadow Shots candidate for Johnny's Trading Post, even with the banner and the fade-out in the way.

I'm really not kidding that I pulled these three cards in a row. Three Rays righties, all with straining mid-pitch faces.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-39 DJ LeMahieu
Finally, it just wouldn't be right to leave out the Rockies. This is a great double-play shot of second baseman DJ LeMahieu, continuing the great tradition of Rockies middle infielders with difficult-to-spell last names. Looks like this is from Chase Field, as Jake Lamb is wearing a throwback Diamondbacks jersey, their original pinstriped design with purple and teal. Also don't forget that Pepsi ad on the outfield wall.

Speaking of Pepsi, the last time I had one was in 2009 at Angel Stadium with my dad. Not the last time at a ballgame, the last time period. Soda just isn't my thing.

Potato chips, on the other hand? Well, let's just say that the expiration date on a bag of chips is one of the most useless pieces of information in my day-to-day life.

I'll wrap up the base cards here, but I'll have another entire post devoted just to inserts and parallels. You already know I love Opening Day inserts, and this blaster was a pretty lucky one in the parallel department.

Stop by as the countdown continues!


  1. I actually passed on a blaster of Opening Day at Target the other day. Instead I might try to get the Pirate Parrot auto!

  2. Not a bad blaster so far with the contents. I see LeMahieu has another DP card, just like last year. And we get a bonus throwback uniform on the slider. Now I need two of them!