Sunday, March 19, 2017

Yarrrr, Matey

It's time for my annual blaster of Topps Opening Day, and there was a theme to this 11-pack box that became apparent very quickly.

2017 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-12 Pirate Parrot
Not much has really changed with the brand for 2017. There is still no foil, it still partially parallels the Topps Base set, Target still just charges $10 for a blaster, the inserts are still awesome, and I still can't tell which pack is the Bonus Pack.

Speaking of inserts, the Mascot set continues its run, even if they missed an actual mascot name or two. The Pirate Parrot was one of a few mascot cards to fall out of this blaster, leading the charge with a Pirates logo flag.  The Pirate Parrot, of course, famously appeared on Taylor Buchholz' 2008 Topps card, another of the most frequent Rockies cards I see on non-Rockie blogs, after the humidor.

2017 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-23 Clark
If you look closely, Clark, a newcomer to the mascot realm, has a Sharpie in his right...paw (?) and is ready to sign some autographs for Cubbies fans at Wrigley. Clark refers to one of the Chicago cross streets at which Wrigley Field is located, the other being Addison.

Despite the Cubs' long and storied history, they only brought on a mascot in early 2014, according to the back. That leaves just three MLB teams without one: the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels. Clark got to wave the "W" flag at the Cubs' victory parade last year, and maybe that's all the Cubs needed to break their century-long curse.

The Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988. Maybe they should look into it.

2017 Topps Opening Day Mascot Relics #MR-F Fredbird (MEM)
Have you picked up on the theme yet?

No, I didn't get 77 mascot cards in my blaster, but the NL Central was extremely well-represented, especially among the insert cards. Though I didn't expect to pull another printing plate like I did last year, a mascot uniform relic really fits the Opening Day set perfectly. It's even specified as a "Mascot-Worn Relic" right on the front. The Cardinals are not a pinstripe team, so no chance for one of those on the swatch, but it's a pretty fun card and shows that Opening Day doesn't take itself too seriously.

I also pulled Fredbird's base card, which helpfully informed me of his height and "hatching" date, in April 1979.

2017 Topps Opening Day Incredible Eats #IE-17 Cracker Jack & Mac Dog
One of the new insert sets found in 2017 is the Incredible Eats set, which looks to be a cross-promo with foodservice company Aramark. Their logo is on the back of both insert cards I pulled. The ballpark snack depicted here is about as baseball as it gets, a hot dog with cracker jacks on it. This snack happens to be available at PNC Park, home of, yes, the Pirates.

The foot-long hot dog at Coors Field makes an appearance in this set, a ballpark snack I've had more than a few of over the years. One of those with some onions on top really sounds good right about now. The set offers an interesting look at the cultures and cuisines that exist in various Major League cities (poutine in Toronto, pastrami in Queens, chicken and waffles in Houston, etc...), but the $25 stuffed corn dog at the Diamondbacks' Chase Field is not present.

2017 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-19 Gregory Polanco
The Pirates showed up again in the long-running Superstar Celebrations insert set. And twice more on the other two Superstar Celebrations cards in the blaster. This one of Gregory Polanco low-fiving Andrew McCutchen was my favorite of the three, and offers the best look yet at PNC Park, home of the Cracker Jack and Mac Dog. The Pirates ended up going on to a 12-1 rout of the Diamondbacks that day, starting off with Polanco's 3-run homer. Disappointingly, the video cuts out just before McCutchen and Polanco connect on their celebration.

2017 Topps Opening Day Edition #42 Yulieski Gurriel
The only rainbow foil parallel in the box was of Astros rookie Yulieski Gurriel. These Opening Day Edition parallels are stated to have a print run of 2,017, though no serial number appears, consistent with the past few years. There are a few games scheduled for April 2nd, but April 3rd, the day all 30 teams get under way, is printed in silver foil below the Opening Day logo.

What's that you say? The Astros are in the AL West now? Yes, I knew that, but it still doesn't sound right. And they suffered a computer hacking attack at the hands of the Cardinals not long ago. The issue has been settled, and the Cardinals were given little more than a slap on the wrist.

Gurriel is just a few months younger than I am, which is certainly on the old side for an MLB debut. But he played for Cuban teams since the tender age of 17, so this photo of him spearing a rocketing grounder isn't that surprising.

2017 Topps Opening Day #165 Alex Reyes (RC)
Perhaps some karmic adjustment has been forced upon the Cardinals, as their star pitching prospect will be missing plenty of time recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent just as Spring Training was beginning. At only 22, he has time to recover, but it will likely be a while before we regularly see him in Topps sets. The Cardinals, long a dominant force in the NL Central, now have the Cubs to contend with, along with a dangerous Pirates team.

2017 Topps Opening Day #115 Carlos Gonzalez
A few Rockies made it into the blaster, always a nice bonus. The Venezuelan slugger looks ready to take his place in the on-deck circle, all decked out in purple, right down to the batting gloves. He helped carry Venezuela to the second round of the World Baseball Classic, but they finished 0-3 in Pool F. The final will be on March 22nd.

But look more closely. What team logo is that on the roof of the dugout? Yep, Pirates. CarGo is scowling at the playing surface of none other than PNC Park. Even the Rockies cards can't escape the Pirates in this blaster.

2017 Topps Opening Day #100 Jonathan Villar
A Rockie even got a cameo appearance on another NL Central card, this one of a Milwaukee Brewer. Jonathan Villar, who represented the Dominican Republic in the WBC, narrowly missed an appearance in the final round, falling to Team USA partially thanks to this amazing catch that Adam Jones made to rob MLB teammate Manny Machado of a home run.

I'm not sure who that Rockie is. Possibly Cristhian Adames, who didn't get a base card in Opening Day or Topps Series 1. But if he has a cameo, the Brewers is as good a team as any when it comes to this particular blaster. Incidentally, the Rockies begin their season on the road in 2017, visiting the Milwaukee Brewers,

2017 Topps Opening Day #70 Jay Bruce
In case you forgot that there are five other divisions in MLB, here's one of Jay Bruce at Citi Field in a throwback Mets uniform. This one really jumped out at me, as those old Mets jerseys I grew up with are among my favorites from that era. It probably doesn't hurt that the first two regular-season games played in Rockies history were against the Mets in Shea Stadium. Even back then, the Rockies rarely began their season at home. 2017 will be no different, as Opening Day at Coors Field falls on Friday, April 7th against the Dodgers.

Some readers will recall that Jay Bruce wasn't always a Met. His previous team? The NL Central Cincinnati Reds. Todd Frazier almost made it into this post as well, before Bruce's blue and orange jersey caught my eye.

Between the snacks, the mascot, the players, division rivals, and even a clear opposing team, this blaster was almost like going to an actual Pirates game.


6 comments:

  1. That PNC hotdog is an abomination. A perfectly good dog ruined.

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  2. Opening Day is still one of my favorite sets, but I haven't collected it since 2011. I really like the price point, the mascots, and I dig the food inserts this year.
    I've never seen a mascot jersey card before!

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  3. I go to a lot of games and I've never seen that PNC Park hotdog before. Maybe I need you to buy my blasters. That was very Pirate(y).

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  4. Any chance you got some Indians in the blaster? I am trying to complete the Indians team set.

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    1. I got a few. Which ones are you looking for?

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