I had to make a foray into the retail world, including a super-brief visit to Target. Out of curiosity, I took an extra minute to check the card aisle, and I found some new* cardboard to gamble on. My buying and trading has ground to a halt due to the unemployment, but we got our stimulus deposit this week and I decided to splurge just a tiny bit as a belated birthday present to myself. We might not have new baseball for quite some time, but we can at least enjoy some new cards.
* Much to my surprise, there were also a few blasters of 2017 Diamond Kings on the shelf that Excell had trotted back out into the world. I wonder how much of that we’ll see now.
First up is Gypsy Queen. It’s – good? Sure. I like it. I don’t have too much to say about it. I’m not crazy on the nameplate and the abbreviations this year, but otherwise it looks good. I pulled two base Astros and a green Verlander from my rack pack, so that’s nice!
Yoooooo, hello Donruss. This is one hell of a good-looking set, and I’d happily take this over 2020 Topps – as always, all that’s missing are logos and team names. But this design is simple, fun, and very cool. I picked up a sample and scored three Astros, including the nickname variation of Altuve. I love it.
As has been the case for the past few years, Panini closes out the base set with an homage to an old Donruss design. This year it’s 1986, and the Diamond Kings at the beginning of the set follow suit. I pulled a nickname variation* of the Rickey Henderson from these retro designs, and a purple holo parallel of Mike Trout’s Diamond King card. The other neat pull is a Rapture parallel of Bo Bichette’s Now Playing insert. Panini is continuing to do nice work with the Donruss set, and it’s another example of why it’s a shame that Topps has an exclusive license.
* One thing I love about the variations in the Donruss set: they are plentiful. In the hanger pack I bought, I think I had three of them. The other nice aspect is that Donruss utilizes the back design to make it readily apparent if you are holding a variation. The main base cards have an old red D logo, while the retro portion features a black baseball in the card number area.
I also noticed that the 2020 MLB stickers were on the shelves. A quick look at the album revealed that Justin Verlander was on the four-sticker panel that comes with your album – so I had to pick up the album. Last year the panel cards were not in packs, and from the checklist that was released this year, it appears that happened again. The numbers that correspond to these stickers had no entries on the checklist that Topps put out. I grabbed a handful of packs as well, so let’s look at the Astros I pulled:
Surprise! I got both of the pertinent trophy cards. When I saw these trophy stickers last year, I just assumed that they were stock images of the awards. A closer inspection this year revealed that they are actual photos of the trophies awarded for the 2019 season. You can barely make it out, but there are little letters revealing the recipients here: Jacob DeGrom, Justin Verlander, Pete Alonso, and Yordan Álvarez – that makes these Astros cards!
I did actually pull a couple of Astros stickers, though. On the right is a League Leaders combo – one of two featuring two Astros pitchers. The other has Cole and Osuna. On the right is an Alex Bregman sticker from the Home Run Heroes subset. I feel like a little tweaking here would make this better – something about the solar eclipse in the background isn’t doing it for me.
I decided to go for filling out the album once again (I still need about 20 from last year, if you have them), and while that means that these two have been pasted in already, they would have made the collection on their own absent the album. These are from the Players of the Decades and Flame Throwers subsets. I’m not certain if all of the Decades stickers will follow suit, but that Stan the Man is gorgeous.
Of course, with the stickers come the backs. Out of the handful of packs that I purchased, I did pull a couple of Astros on the backs. I prefer these intact, but if you send me ones sans-sticker, I’ll accept those as well. There are 10 Astros on that checklist this year, and somehow Michael Brantley shows up twice. If you see him, or his twin, set him aside for me, will ya?
Alright then, perhaps I’ll blog some more tomorrow. We’ll see. It will depend on what I’m able to accomplish in the way of dad time, applications, skills building, and rest. If you start seeing old blasters pop onto the shelves, I’d be interested in knowing what’s returning. Stay safe though, for the love of Pete. Don’t go making wanton trips to your big box store just to get pictures of men in pajamas. We just got a 30-day facemask order for when we are out in public. Houston/Harris County seems to be handling this pretty well, and our public officials are being lambasted for erring on the side of caution. I understand some of the frustration, especially with small businesses and the hiccups in getting them funding, but the supposed outrage* over this mask order makes no sense – it’s not preventing you from doing anything, so just wear a damn mask. /rant.
* It’s probably all manufactured troll-bots stoking this up anyway**, but damn it all if it isn’t frustrating the hell out of me.
** Ugh, just remembered that the Chief of the Police Officer’s Union posted a letter saying they wouldn’t enforce the order and calling our progressive County Judge*** Lina Hidalgo the “so-called leader of the county.”
*** In Texas the County Judge is an executive – not judicial – position, essentially the president of the county. Hidalgo is an elected official, so the Union president can eat sh*t here as far as I’m concerned. He can mention HPD being thin and dealing with extra duties and that’s fine, but attacking Hidalgo in his official statement is crass and sh*tty.