It dawned on me the other day that I was much more passionate about new release cards back in 2011. Inspired by the pending arrival of my son that July, I had just gotten back into our glorious hobby after nearly two decades of complete cardboard nothingness. Essentially, I collecting like a chicken with his head cut off those first few months back in the fray. I was buying a little of this and a little of that but buying some of everything that came out. Unfortunately, this didn't last long enough to include 2011 Topps Update (TROUT!), but that's another discussion.
To show for my economic contributions, I am very proud to have a complete, hand-collated "birth year" set of 2011 flagship and Archives for my son to flip through one day and enjoy (or trade for a video game, or sell for beer money, whatever path he takes). I am also darn near close to completing the Heritage and Gypsy Queen sets from that year - with one and twelve cards remaining, respectively. Check out my NEEDS list and see if we can help each other! Not too bad though, overall.
But as you can divulge from my posts over the years since, my personal collecting habits have begun to steer away from modern releases. There's a myriad of reasons - some quite empirical while others are a bit more philosophical. It can be expensive to complete sets, pack by blaster by pack. Especially when you can just drop a little over $20 and bring entire Series home with no collating fuss and shipping included. The sellers usually even throw in a nice box. It's quite the inner conflict for this Collector, I assure you.
Because I still like to open packs of baseball cards!
There's still that rush to be had and, truth be told, there are still some pretty cool cards being made from a design perspective. The return on investment has become awfully risky, but there's no doubting the quality of photography and overall card construction for most sets...for the most part.
Enter son #2.
My family welcomed our third child into the world back in March, It's been a glorious, chaotic and beautiful circus ever since as we figure out life as a family of 5. I wouldn't trade it for the world! And since I'm a fair and just father (or at least strive to be), I can't help but look upon those great hand-collated sets from 2011 in my Card Cave. And then I look at what I'm doing for my youngest...and then I feel the itch to right the wrong....
And then I find myself in the card aisle at Target with a blaster of 2015 Gypsy Queen in my hand!
Yep. I'm at it again - officially, I'm announcing that I will be pursuing the complete base set of 2015 GQ for my kid. I have a long way to go after only (6?) or so rack-packs, but I figure that I have some time. I'm not sure if I'll chase all of the SP's like I did in 2011. I can't afford to make the rookie mistake again of buying all GQ blasters in the state, as much as I'd like to...and that's okay. I think everyone will understand.
In the meantime, it was a lot of fun to rip some packs and explore the latest edition of a set that is very sentimental to me. Here's a quick glance at some of my favorites:
The Shelby Miller represents what is probably my biggest "hit" of the rack packs, being a #'d /199 mini parallel. I'm a Braves fan, so this was a nice little bonus and the GQ mini's have slowly earned my appreciation over the years. I wish I could go back to 2011 when I amassed a considerable portion of a complete set of mini's. I didn't really understand what they were or how special it would have been to gather the whole run, so I ended up trading many away. That's okay - all part of the process.
BOOM! The next best thing to pulling a Brave is pulling THE Brave that managed to elude the Atlanta front-office rebuilding cyclone last off season and one of my top Player Collections - Freddie Freeman! This mini is a great addition and I can't wait to "binderize" the Freeman stack that sits atop the Card Cave table of chaos. Here's a look at the back of these cards, because I really love the GQ backs, despite their stat-less existence:
I thought this was a pretty cool insert as well:
Undoubtedly a vintage, throw-back insert set that I need to go research on Cardboard Connection, I enjoy the simplistic old-time feel of this art card. It's also a mini parallel, so unless I decide to go all out for mini completion, I might end up swapping this one out for regular sized cards that I need for my set-building efforts. Here's the back, so that we can all learn about "Crowding the plate":
Moving on from the smaller cards, here is a regular-sized insert card of Robbie Cano entitled, "Pillars of the Community". What a great concept for a baseball card! We're often inundated with only the very worst news and stories regarding our diamond heroes but Topps has decided to swim upstream and provide an encouraging look at some charitable efforts being made by ball players in their teams' communities.
Concept aside, this is a beautiful card. The image of Seattle is really sharp and means a little bit more to me as a former resident. I wonder if there was a discussion about working SAFECO Field into the background? In the end, I believe the Space Needle works better as the most iconic landmark for the Emerald City. At least they didn't go with the original Starbucks, am I right?
Here's the back of the "Pillars" Cano card:
I first noticed "celebration" and "walk-off" cards in the Opening Day and flagship sets a couple of years ago and I was immediately a fan. I think these types of cards capture the best parts of baseball - teamwork, family, competition, achieving your goal, having fun, etc. I think the concept works well in the Gypsy Queen format and this Royals card is a great example. Like the Pillars card above, I can't wait to see other cards from this insert set. Enjoy:
As I've mentioned before, I enjoy cards that pay tribute to a specific game or event and take care to match relevant images with relevant card-back write-ups. This GQ Walk-Off Winners card delivers on both accounts when I flipped this card over:
Part of the marketing effort by Topps includes the "bonus" pack of white-bordered parallel cards that accompany each rack pack. Sometimes these annoy me - other times, they look really nice and end up serving as excellent TTM material. I admit, the crisp white borders do look pretty nice - and are always welcome when they surround a new Mike Trout card:
Here's another white parallel that I thought looked awfully sharp:
In addition to the Freddie shown above, I had another great pack-ripping moment when I pulled an Anthony Rizzo base card! Yes, I am old and still get excited about base cards of my favorite players - no shame in my collecting game. Of course, now I need another one if I am going to "finish the race" and set this one aside for my son's set. Good thing I love the little guy :)
Here's the back - are the GQ card-back write-ups getting shorter? I know they were always succinct by design, but this one seems fairly random (which I do appreciate) and sparse at only four lines with additional blank space to be had towards the bottom. Thoughts?
Okay, so I have some work ahead of me to get my 2015 GQ NEEDS List posted, but hopefully I can stay the course and make a best effort to pull together some nice birth year sets for my youngest boy. Feel free to drop me a note if you think we can work out a swap. Long live set-building!
Thanks for reading -