Saturday, March 26, 2016


I'm really not the type to go out and bust packs of products right when they hit the shelves. I usually buy the Topps factory set in July or so (or wait until Christmas), and I pretty much entirely ignore Update and Bowman at retail. For things like Heritage, A&G, Gypsy Queen, Archives, etc... I'll wait until they start showing up via trades. And I won't touch ultra-expensive stuff like Finest, Triple Threads, or Museum Collection until I see them at card shows in half-off toploaders. Even for sets I really like, such as Stadium Club or Chrome, I might just buy a pack or two at the store. Sometimes Topps Series 1 when it's been a long winter and I'm itching for some baseball.

But the one thing I do get pretty near its release date is Topps Opening Day. By then, most of spring training has elapsed, and even a few players are preparing to start the year on the disabled list. My fantasy baseball draft is usually just days away. Add in the low $10 price at Target, and you've got yourself a sale!

2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-20 Justin Bour
That also means that the Cardsphere has usually moved on by the time I get around to writing about something. It's rare that I lend my voice to the new release cycle, which also means it's pretty rare for me to be pulling the same cards as everyone else at the same time. But with a release date about ten days ago, it keeps popping up in the cardsphere, often with some of the same cards in this post.

Part of what keeps me coming back to Opening Day are the inserts. The Justin Bour Superstar Celebrations insert card was actually right behind Bour's base card in one of the middle packs, which I featured in my previous post. Didn't really know much about him before, but I won't forget his name now! And I doubt he'll forget getting doused in Gatorade by fellow Marlin Dee Gordon, who will make another appearance in this post.

2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-8 Justin Bour
Bryant must have done something extra special to drive the Cubs to empty two Gatorade containers on him. You'd think these guys were multi-millionaires or something. That's gotta be, like, fifty bucks worth of Gatorade in there. And whatever's coming out of the clear one looks a lot more like a small iceberg than just some chilled liquid.

Even though Topps is fully paid up with MLB (and Getty Images, I'd assume), they still refer to the Gatorade shower as a "sports drink bath". Careful not to use trademarks! And Topps breaks the "no foil" rule on these insert cards by adding it to the Topps logo.

I could go on, but between these two and Johnny Giavotella, I'll stop depicting all that Gatorade carnage.

2016 Topps Opening Day Alternate Reality #AR-6 Kris Bryant
This is a new insert set called Alternate Reality, showing players in their secondary uniforms. Kris Bryant, the darling of baseball card prospectors everywhere, is showing off lots of Cubbie Blue right down to his elbow guard and batting gloves. Other bloggers have suggested that this would be a great set to examine some actual alternate histories, like if Jackie Robinson was called out at the plate in 1955, just like Yogi Berra insisted all those years. Or if Jose Tabata didn't stick his elbow out while facing Max Scherzer last year. Or if the Rangers got Just One More Strike back in 2011. Or any number of blown calls that have affected games and records over the years.

What might be more entertaining is if they show players who suit up in the wrong uniform. Not sure how often that happens, but Junior Lake did that once in a road game a few years back. With all the alternates and throwbacks they use these days, it's bound to happen once in a while.

That's two Kris Bryant inserts, in addition to his base card. This has been a great blaster so far.

2016 Topps Opening Day Foil #OD-1 Mike Trout
And for one of the foil parallels, I pulled Mr. Card #1 himself, Mike Trout. This, of course, is from when Trout scaled the center field wall to rob Jesus Montero of a 3-run home run. Between this and the Bat Flip card, Topps picked some great photos from last season! Like Opening Day parallels in years past, this one lists the actual date that (most) games begin—there are a few games on April 3rd.

But all indications suggest that this is supposed to have a serial number. The print run is claimed at 2016, but unlike in past years, the serial number is nowhere to be found, front or back. Beckett, Topps, and even the fine print on the pack wrapper say it should be there, but they must have dropped it for 2016. Come to think of it, I think Topps did the same thing in 2015. Which is fine; it's their product. But they ought to double check the sell sheets. At least they put the date back.

2016 Topps Opening Day Heavy Hitters #HH-12 Paul Goldschmidt
Moving on from that slight disappointment, here's another fresh insert set, Heavy Hitters. As you might imagine, this is filled with power hitters that can mash a baseball into the waiting glove of a fan in the cheap seats. Jose Bautista is in that 15-card set, as is Nolan Arenado. But I pulled this one of Paul Goldschmidt. While I'm far from a Diamondbacks fan, I'm pretty sure this is a Coors Field card, judging from the purple banner at the top of the dugout, and the purple-shirted spectator in the upper right, who is probably an usher. That banner helps me pick out plenty of cards shot in Denver, and the Diamondbacks and other NL West teams are prime candidates to end up on one.

2016 Topps Opening Day Striking Distance #SD-14 Mark Teixeira
Teixeira, whose surname is even harder to spell than LeMahieu, is just six homers shy of 400. He's easily within "Striking Distance" of that milestone, as yet one more novel insert set tells us. 400 is quite a mark, but as the back points out, he'd be up there with Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones as the only switch hitters to eclipse that number. Ichiro's in the set too (twice, actually), though of course not for home runs. He's nearing 3,000 MLB hits (not even counting the thousand-plus he racked up in Japan), as well as 500 steals.

I really like the concept of this insert set; it helps focus your attention around the league as the season progresses and each of these players makes their run at the milestone. And with services like MLB.TV, it's as easy as ever (and $20 cheaper this year!) to keep an eye on them.

I didn't get paid to say that.

Even with all these new insert sets, there's still room for some of the old classics. The Gatorade-heavy Superstar Celebrations set is an Opening Day veteran, as is everyone's favorite.

2016 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-4 Wally the Green Monster

I didn't unearth Dinger this year (pun shamelessly intended), but I did get this very Muppet-like mascot of the Boston Red Sox. The Green Monster...get it? I can't quite tell if that orange stuff is supposed to be his hair or his eyebrows, but with the left field wall they have in Fenway (and visible on this card, no less), how could they have any other mascot than this?

One classic insert set I didn't pull anything from was Opening Day Stars, but Topps ditched the lenticular surface this year, which marks the end of an era. Even though they don't appear to move the same way that Sportflics cards do, they're still fun to run your fingernail across. I know that's not great for their condition, but I can't help it.

So far this has been a pretty awesome blaster. Lots of postgame celebrations, pretty darn good photography, inserts and parallels of some of the game's hottest young players, and that legendary bat flip.

How could I top all that?

Well, remember I mentioned Dee Gordon would be making another appearance?

2016 Topps Opening Day Printing Plates Black #OD-129 Dee Gordon /1
That, dear readers, is a printing plate.

Out of a $10 blaster of Opening Day.

Yes, I was pretty shocked. On average, I'd need to open over 3,000 of these 7-card blaster packs to pull one. I guess that one must have been the bonus pack.

I've had good luck with Opening Day before, including that David Wright autograph, but this is definitely above and beyond. It's only the second one I've ever found, and the first was in the already-scarce 2014 Topps Mini. My jaw definitely dropped. I'm sure supercollectors run across these all the time, but this sort of stuff doesn't find its way into my collection very often. Seeing one gives you a whole new appreciation for the detail and design work that goes into these, and it is pretty cool to know that every copy of Dee Gordon's card came from this.

Well, indirectly. They use offset printing, which is why the image isn't reversed. But still. I like it even more than a true 1/1. While it is a unique collectible itself, it's one that had a hand in creating all the rest of them. And even then, you still need three other colors to get the whole picture. It has to have some help from others to get the job done.

That may be a bit too sappy and philosophical for a hobby blog, but it's good to take a step back once in a while and look at the bigger picture to see all the interconnectedness in something as simple as a little rectangular baseball card.


  1. That sure was a great "get" from a retail package. It's always neat to see someone get something that has those kind of odds attached to it.

    P.S. A little sap and philosophy is a good thing, especially on a card blog!

  2. That was one heck of a blaster! I think the Superstar Celebrations may be the best insert set going in the hobby these days.

  3. That's one of the best blasters I've seen! Congrats on some great pulls!

  4. Love the blue Trout and the Gordon plate.

  5. That blaster was insane! I have the Arenado Heavy Hitters and Opening Day Stars and the Carlos Gomez Superstar Celebrations. Interested?

    1. Sure, that would be cool. How can I get in touch? I didn't see any contact info on your site.