Tuesday, July 10, 2012
2012 Topps Allen and Ginter: A little of everything
I'm guessing that this will be an "A&G week" throughout the blogosphere.
I wasn't the first blogger to note the set's recent release, and I know I won't be the last. Even though I'm not buying a box, I'm looking forward to the "Gint-A-Cuffs" posts that await.
I believe A&G has been on the downswing these last few years, although that hardly stopped me from rushing over to my local Target this afternoon for a blaster and a rack pack of the stuff.
Besides, an average A&G set is better than most other releases Topps comes out with.
From what I've read, there's been a lot of hype over this year's product. So far, I'd put it right in the middle of my rankings of A&G sets from '06 to this year. (Behind 2008, '06, and '09, in that order.)
However, A&G still provided me with the "little of everything" that I've come to expect from it, the reason why I'll still be excited when 2017 Topps Allen and Ginter hits the shelves.
Before I start, I should note that my scanner doesn't agree with A&G for whatever reason. I had to place a non-white piece of paper behind the cards to make them scan properly, something you might notice with some of the scans I'll show in this post.
Let's start with the rack pack.
As I mentioned in this afternoon's post, I originally planned on purchasing just the blaster, but the rack packs roped me into its grasp, so I took the $5.79 plunge into one of those as well.
I should've just stuck with the blaster.
My initial 2012 A&G experience didn't go too well. The rack pack yielded almost nothing.
The Roger Maris base card was a nice pull, but my excitement over that would be subdued later, as you'll soon see.
And not in a good way.
I didn't need either of the minis the rack pack yielded.
One of the main reasons 2008 A&G was my favorite edition was because of the neat historical and oddball figures that were included in the checklist.
Names like Benjamin Franklin, Pablo Picasso, and Victor Hugo. Even Pluto.
Now it's been watered down to a former Notre Dame football coach whose last name I can't even pronounce.
Apologies to any college football buffs who might be reading this, but that wasn't one of my better pulls of the day.
I'm not a "Lo-Mo" collector, nor do I plan on cracking the A&G code.
Although I have to say, the "detective" aspect to this year's mystery code was a nice touch on the part of Topps. I've often wondered who Topps hires to come up with those things.
Both of these should be nice tradebait pieces. People always seem to want the code cards, and my SPs (Morrison) seem to go faster than I can pull them.
This was far and away my favorite pull from the rack pack.
I can already tell this is an insert set I'm really going to like. That's usually the case with any that feature a Minnie Minoso card, though.
The "What's In A Name?" inserts feature the player's full name on the front of each card, with the back going into detail about the history behind the name.
For example, Reggie Jackson's middle name of Martinez comes from his half-Puerto Rican father, Martinez Jackson.
There's always something new to be learned from an A&G insert set.
Thankfully, the blaster proved to be much better than the rack pack.
While I didn't pull the coveted Bryce Harper base card, the packs still provided plenty to help keep me happy.
This Carlos Beltran base card has me absolutely awestruck. The dark red in the background really makes this one stand out. While I'm probably the worst artist on the face of the planet (how I managed a "B" in my sophomore year art class, I'll never know), I can still appreciate good art when I see it.
This is indeed a true masterpiece on the part of Topps.
Apparently, neither of these guys said "cheese!" before Topps took these photos.
I'm still not sure how I feel about the framed borders in this year's set. All in all, I guess I like them. A decent change of pace. That "Yaz" card is certainly a nice addition to my HOFer collection.
Besides, you should see how my scanner reacts to the non-bordered A&G cards.
It isn't pretty.
I still don't like the horizontal base cards in this set.
They just look out of place. Besides, doesn't that shot of Justin Morneau look familiar? It did to me, at least.
Turns out it's the exact same photo that graces the front of his 2012 Topps base card.
In this afternoon's post, I brought up the fact that I saw a Carlos Quentin base card peeking out through the wrapper of the rack pack I bought.
Plus, I just showed you that Maris card.
Well, I already have quite a few duplicates thanks to the quality control at Topps. The bottom half of my rack pack resulted in the same exact base cards as one of the blaster packs I opened. My first QC control issue with Topps this year.
I guess I should be lucky that it took until July.
Speaking of quality control, let's move on to the minis.
Normally, a Mariano Rivera A&G back mini would be a nice piece of tradebait. Not this one, though.
All thanks to a dinged upper-left corner. If this were a "keeper" card of mine, I wouldn't care in the slightest.
But I know others do, and for good reason. A card fresh out of the pack should be in good shape. But I digress.
If anyone wants a dinged mini of "Mo", I'm your guy.
Let's move away from all that negativity.
I'm a positive person, after all.
My other minis turned out great, both condition-wise and player-wise. I've introduced a slew of new players into my "binder" lately, one of which is Mike/Giancarlo Stanton. Usually, I don't care much about the Home Run Derby. (I can only listen to Chris Berman say "Back, back, back!" so many times.)
Had Stanton not been forced to miss the event due to his recent knee surgery, I would've been deeply interested to see the distances of his homers. I've never seen anyone with more power than him.
Ever since Ichiro came to the States back in '01, I've been a fan of the Japanese "imports". Yu Darvish is no exception, so the mini of his was an especially nice pull. Although I voted for Jake Peavy for the final AL All-Star player, I'm glad Darvish made it.
Besides, Peavy got in anyways, so it turned out to be a win-win.
When I was about halfway through my blaster, I was happy to find that one of the packs yielded a mini short-print of one of my favorite White Sox players, Alexei Ramirez.
And as if that wasn't enough...
...the very next card in the pack was the regular size Ramirez short-print.
A happy coincidence.
Both of these are short-prints. One of them I like, the other I don't.
Can you guess which is which?
I'm all for Topps including the "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!" guy in their checklist, but I wish they wouldn't make them short-prints.
I get excited when I pull a SP of a guy like Ryan Howard, one of the kings of today's game who I'm happy to see is healthy and back with the Phillies.
Maybe it's just me, but a short-print of a wrestling announcer just makes me feel shorted.
I've always been interested in the real names behind some of history's biggest figures, baseball or not.
Mark Twain's real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Bob Dylan's real name is Robert Zimmerman. Ringo Starr's real name is Richard Starkey.
According to the back of this card, "Duke" Snider acquired his nickname after his father said, "Here comes the duke" after noticing a five year-old Edwin Snider strutting around the house one day.
I've learned more from Allen and Ginter cards than anything else in my collection, without a doubt.
As another blogger has already noted, this year's "Baseball Highlight Sketches" are simply amazing.
Definitely the best of the sketches in A&G's history, thus far.
Because of my interest in history, I'll definitely be going after the "Historical Turning Points" insert set. If you pull any extras, keep me in mind.
I'll also be chasing the "Musical Masters" inserts, although I didn't pull any of those from either the rack pack or the blaster.
This was the best card from my breaks.
A Hall of Famer, a short-print, and an exceptionally visually striking card, all rolled into one.
It doesn't get much better.
As for what I still need from this set, my base and insert wants are now posted on my wantlist on the sidebar on the blog, so please feel free to contact me if you have anything from those for a possible trade.
All in all, I'd say this was just an average set in the annals of A&G history, at least in my book.
But as I noted before, an average Allen and Ginter still beats almost every set out there nowadays. I won't be going crazy for it (as I've heard is prone to occur across the blogosphere), but I'll definitely be interested to see the results of everyone else's breaks.
There's still the fantastic base cards and the usual interesting inserts found in almost every A&G set. The intrigue is definitely still there.
That hasn't changed.