Thursday, June 23, 2022

Opening Day Is Upon Us (Part 2: Inserts)

Voting for the All-Star Game is well underway. If you haven't voted in the first round, you have about a week left to do that. I did submit a few ballots during the first couple days, and it's so much easier now than when I was a kid. I remember the old paper ballots, and I used to vote so many of them at once that the kitchen table would be blanketed in tiny white paper dots. Things are a bit more environmentally friendly now.

Meanwhile, as the season approaches its halfway point, I'm still over here writing about Opening Day. Specifically, the inserts and other goodies from a blaster of 2022 Opening Day that I got shipped from Target. 

I'll never be caught up again, will I?

And I'm sure I'll hold the record for the last post in the community about Nick's 10th Anniversary giveaway. Sorry, Nick.

2022 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-19 Mariner Moose

As promised in Part 1, and as longtime readers probably predicted, I did pull a card of a very patriotic-looking Mariner Moose. I've still yet to see one of these gigantic animals in the wild, but that chance is ever-present in the great state of Colorado. I hope that my repeated luck in pulling Mariner Moose cards isn't negatively impacting my luck of seeing a real one, because I'd love to someday.

In the meantime, I'll rely on Topps to keep me in a steady supply of Mascot cards.

2022 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-7 Dinger

It goes without saying that I've never seen a triceratops in the wild, either. But Dinger makes plenty of appearances on my mascot cards and in person at Coors Field, too. Here's a shot of him all dressed up to host the Purple Carpet show prior to the 2021 All-Star Game at Coors Field. I'm not sure exactly, but this is probably in front of the new McGregor Square building, just across 20th Street from Coors Field.

Hard to believe that was almost a year ago.

2022 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-9 Orbit

The 2022 All-Star Game is being held in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. It was supposed to be there during 2020, but that of course was cancelled due to the pandemic.

There were lots of mascots on the concourse at Coors Field during the All-Star Game. I remember seeing Fredbird, the Phillie Phanatic, and of course Orbit. Though I'm not sure Orbit will be particularly welcome at Dodger Stadium considering the cheating scandal that happened during the 2017 World Series. As pictured on this card, maybe he's limbering up with squats to be able to escape angry fans.

And where's the 2023 game going to be held? That would be Seattle, giving our friend the Mariner Moose a real opportunity to shine.

2022 Topps Opening Day Opening Day #OD-2 Detroit Tigers

The other insert sets found in Opening Day are never as fun as Mascots, but they're still worth a look. Here's the redundantly named Opening Day set, a fifteen-card set featuring half of the MLB teams and their performance on Opening Day 2021. 

The Tigers, in particular, won their season opener in Detroit thanks to a home run from Miguel Cabrera. His turn at the plate began rather normally, but a sudden snow flurry rapidly picked up over the course of his at-bat, ending with the ball just clearing the right field fence.

The future Hall-of-Famer gave fans at Comerica Park memorable moments in two consecutive Aprils, as he got his 3,000th hit two months ago against the Rockies.

2022 Topps Opening Day Opening Day #OD-9 Kansas City Royals

I don't recall the Royals making the highlight reel that day, but they won their 2021 home opener in a 14-10 slugfest against the Rangers. The card back tells us that fan favorite Alex Gordon threw out the first pitch that day, all the way from his longtime station in left field.

I saw the Royals visit Coors Field in May, the 29th team I've seen play. I missed my chance at the Expos, but only the Minnesota Twins remain to be checked off.

2022 Topps Opening Day Bomb Squad #BS-10 Giancarlo Stanton

Nearly as plentiful as Mascots in this blaster were cards from the Bomb Squad insert set. This 25-card set features some of the game's best home run hitters, new and old. Giancarlo Stanton, one of many slugging Yankees, is frequently on the highlight reel for launching baseballs deep into the Bronx night. He is far off his league-leading pace of 59 from his 2017 season, his final as a Marlin, but he still has a respectable 14 so far in 2022. 

The #16 patch on his pinstriped sleeve honors Whitey Ford, who died in 2020.

2022 Topps Opening Day Bomb Squad #BS-7 Babe Ruth

Stanton traces his lineage as a slugging Yankee all the way back to the granddaddy of them all, George Herman "Babe" Ruth. Not much needs to be said about the Sultan of Swat, perhaps the greatest-known player to ever take the field. Nevertheless, the card back gives us plenty of unique statistics, starting off with his career total of 714. The Bambino also led the AL in homers twelve times, and two of those seasons were 35 ahead of the second-place finisher.

They didn't really call home runs "bombs" back in those days, but Ruth's colorful and alliterative nicknames like "The Colossus of Clout" more than make up for it.

2022 Topps Opening Day Bomb Squad #BS-16 Jim Thome

He might not be on the Mount Rushmore of baseball players like Ruth, but Jim Thome is in the Hall of Fame, and he has 612 home runs to thank for it, good for eighth all time. He's pictured here as a Phillie, but he spent most of his career with Cleveland. He was the first Phillie to compete in a Home Run Derby, and the card back also tells us that 17 of his homers came on a 3-0 count.

I seem to remember the baseball world getting into quite a kerfuffle last year when young stars like Fernando Tatís, Jr. and Yermín Mercedes took pitchers deep on 3-0 counts, apparently violating the sacred unwritten rules. I don't remember hearing much about that during any of Thome's 17 blasts.

2022 Topps Opening Day Triple Play #TPC-1A Mike Trout / B Shohei Ohtani / C Anthony Rendon

A trio of Angels (though not the Russian ones from 1993 Topps #633) make up this odd-looking insert card from the Triple Play subset. Mike Trout (who possesses a Ruth-esque nickname of "The Millville Meteor"), Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon all make appearances, and the card includes a perforation between each player. If you were to separate these, they would be slightly smaller than an Allen & Ginter tobacco-sized Mini. This design also includes the same divot on the top border we saw in 2008 Topps, which everyone disliked for encroaching on the photo.

There isn't much room on these card backs, but somehow Topps still left a ton of white space. Mike Trout's storied career is boiled down to eight All-Star Game selections, more than any other Angel.

Sadly, Anthony Rendon's season came to an end last week due to wrist surgery, but the Angels have added an exciting breakout star to their lineup in Taylor Ward, a five-season veteran who is finally finding his stride.

2022 Topps Opening Day Blue Foil #72 Gavin Sheets /2022

I didn't pull any cards from the exceptionally rare Walk This Way, Luck of the Irish, or Dugout Peeks insert sets, so we'll close with the only Blue Foil parallel I found, a Rookie Card of Gavin Sheets. No relation to former Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets, but he is the son of former Orioles outfielder Larry Sheets. I haven't heard much about him, as he only has 98 games under his belt, but he fits right in on a young White Sox team playing for the oldest manager in the game.

As is usual with Blue Foil parallels, their stated print run is equal to the calendar year, but there is no serial number to be found.

That about wraps up Opening Day, just in time for summer.