Monday, August 20, 2012
2012 Panini Triple Play: Miles away from different
I have literally been staring at my computer for the last five minutes, thinking of some way to kick off this post.
With such an odd group of cards, there's just no good way to do it.
After surviving my first day back at school, my dad and I took a trip to the local Target to look for a few things. As is probably the case with a lot of other collectors, the trek inevitably found us standing in one specific portion of the store.
The card aisle.
Although I wasn't necessarily planning on buying any, I wanted to see if they had the newly-released Panini Triple Play set on the shelves.
I'd told my dad about them when I first saw the product info, which had to have been about a month ago. What initially peaked my interest was the budget-friendly price of a dollar per pack.
Being the generous man he is, my dad offered to buy me a few of the seven-card packs, since he was also interested in seeing what they had in store.
What those five packs yielded was perhaps the most interesting group of cards in recent memory.
I knew the set was going to be a bit different, but the simple term "different" doesn't even begin to describe them.
Once this card fell out of the first pack, I knew this set was inching towards uncharted territory.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
I must admit, these are the first Panini-brand cards in my collection.
And if the saying is right, first impressions really can go a long ways.
Since the almighty Topps is the only licensed card manufacturer these days, Panini had to come up with some way to make their set interesting without having access to any of the team names or logos.
Saying they accomplished that in an "unorthodox" way is the understatement of the year.
Some of the CGI-like pictures on the fronts of these are just downright horrifying. That Stanton belongs in a horror flick.
Amazingly enough, the base cards proved to me the most normal part of this insane set.
Every pack comes with a couple "puzzle" cards.
Each subject has nine different pieces. If you're lucky enough to get all nine of the Orlando Hudson pieces, for instance, the backs make up a giant-sized rendition of the picture featured on the fronts of each card.
At first gaze, I originally thought the packs had some sort of collation problem, since I pulled three Jose Reyes cards and two of the "O-Dog".
But they are indeed different, judging from the numbers on the front of each card.
Taking a brief break from the unabashed craziness of this set, I'll give credit to Panini for producing the first cards of Orlando Hudson as a member of the White Sox.
More accurately, congrats to Panini for producing the first nine cards of Hudson on the White Sox.
After staring at this card for a minute or two, I noticed something awesome.
The backdrops for many of the cards are relevant towards the city or franchise of each individual player.
The Brian Wilson card I showed earlier has little Golden Gate Bridge drawings over an orange background, while this Ichiro "puzzle piece" has a blue backdrop, with little anchors lining the space.
Although I'm still not sure what exactly a "Mariner" is.
These will probably start showing up in my nightmares at some point.
Each pack also comes with a special sticker "insert", although not all of them feature actual ballplayers. (Like this one.)
I've never been huge on "sticker cards" in this hobby.
Especially ones as creepy as these.
A little bit of normalcy.
Airbrushed logos aside, these are actually pretty nice, although it was the only one from the "Hall of Fame" subset that I pulled from my five packs.
But Triple Play wasn't going to let me bask in "normalcy" for long, because what I pulled from my fifth and final pack is a milestone achievement in my collecting career.
Without a doubt, it is the craziest, most confusing card I've ever received.
I've never had great luck pulling any sort of memorabilia cards from packs, given that most of my buys are of the retail variety.
Not that it matters, though.
However, I was surprised to see that familiar-looking piece of fabric staring up at me a few cards into my final pack of the day.
There was just one problem.
I couldn't find any clues as to who wore this "authentic" piece of baseball garb.
Looking for answers, I turned to the back.
All the back is good for is giving me a brief lesson on the history behind baseball jerseys.
On I went to "Baseball Card Pedia", my go-to source for baseball card info. Here's what they had to say on the topic:
"Each Reel Feel card features a piece of game-used material. However, unlike traditional game-used cards, there is no image of a player on the card, nor is there any mention of which player's piece of material is on the card."
That didn't help much.
So what the heck is it?
Well, your guess is as good as mine.
For all I know, Panini could've snuck into my house, pilfered one of my Little League jerseys, chopped it up, and smacked an "authentic" label on it.
I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do with it.
As it stands, I couldn't really tell you what my overall opinion of the set is.
When I first pulled them out of each individual pack, I wasn't a fan. The quirkiness of each one made me wonder if they were even binder-worthy.
But after flipping through my five packs' worth of Triple Play, it's started to grow on me.
I won't say that I'm a huge fan of the set, but I've found that I don't really hate it, either. And, in case you're wondering, they will indeed take their respective places in my binders.
At the least, I applaud Panini for trying something different. Most of all, I appreciate that they're mainly marketed towards kids, as the odd designs and 99-cent price tag would suggest.
Topps should really try something like that these days. (Ahem...Topps Total.)
I don't know how to close this post.
Such a crazy set of baseball cards will do that to you.