It's hard to say what my absolute favorite time of the baseball season is.
I guess it all depends on when you ask me that question.
At the beginning of March, I'll say that spring training is the best part of the season. Warm weather and hope are just around the corner.
If you were to ask me in early July, I'd probably tell you that the All-Star game is my favorite. It's amazing to see the best guys in the game under the same roof, actually playing a semi-exhibition game that isn't a travesty. (Which is something I can't say about the All-Star game in most of the other major sports.)
Come July 31st, I always maintain that the trading deadline is the best time of year. The anticipation of finding out who will get moved or stay put is invigorating, right up until that afternoon deadline.
If someone asked me at this very moment what the best part of the baseball season is, I'd have to say that we're living through it right now, especially with the extra Wild Card one-game playoffs on Friday.
I can't wait.
It's pretty much the same with the baseball card season.
With cardboard, there are only two conceivable answers, at least in my mind.
The first is that fateful day when the first releases of the new year are on the shelves. Thankfully, 2012 gave me the first opportunity to display that awesome feeling through writing. My post on the topic is still one of my sentimental favorites from my history as a blogger.
We're right in the middle of my other favorite part of the baseball card calendar.
Topps Update time.
As a collector, it's the first chance I get to see guys immortalized in their new uniforms on cardboard, mostly guys that switched teams during the course of the season. Update also does a great job at filling in some of the loose ends that Series 1 and 2 may have missed.
Although I already pre-ordered a hobby box, I couldn't help myself. After seeing Update pop up around the blogosphere, I wanted to get a little "sneak peek" of my own before the box arrived.
My trip to Target yesterday came up empty. Since I wanted to grab a little lunch anyways, I figured I'd pop in this afternoon and see if anything had changed in Target's card aisle.
Most of the "good stuff" at my local Target is located on the bottom floor. It's usually not even worth it to go to the top floor. It looked like a tornado had swept through the few times I've gone up there.
A quick check once again found that Target hadn't gotten any Update in yet. So I decided to try something I almost never do.
I went to the top floor of my local Target, just to make sure the place was Update-free. I had to rub my eyes once I arrived at the barren top-floor card aisle.
Amongst all the unorganized and mismatched packs, they actually had Topps Update on the shelves. A box full of rack packs, sitting right in front of me.
Since everything was going haywire and all, I figured I'd go a little crazy myself.
I actually purchased the rack pack that was sitting on top of the box, something that's usually a no-no in my book.
As I walked away with my purchase, I noticed the name "Harper" staring at me from the back of the see-through wrapping. My first card of the phenom and the newest "binder inductee".
The top pack proved to be a pretty good choice, after all.
Since I'll probably posting about Update a lot more once my box arrives, I won't go too much in depth with what my rack pack held. I'll just show a few of my favorite pulls to give you an idea of what this year's Update set is shaping up to be like.
So, without further ado...
I'm starting to think that Ryan Theriot is becoming one of those guys who just "looks wrong" in any other non-Cub jersey.
One of the most painful days during my time as a Cubs fan was when they dealt Theriot to Los Angeles at the deadline in 2010. I don't know that I'll ever get over that trade, as he was easily one of my favorites to watch on a daily basis.
He's bounced around since his time on the North Side, playing with the Dodgers and Cardinals before winding up in San Francisco this year.
At least Topps gave him a heck of a shot for his cardboard debut with the Giants.
My first card of Hairston as a Dodger.
I'm still trying to find a copy his Heritage short-print. The chances of that happening in the near future are slim, though. One of the biggest Dodger collectors in the blogosphere didn't track it down until yesterday.
Speaking of which, I don't think I'll ever be able to see one of these awesome "play at the plate" cards without immediately thinking of the blogosphere.
Of course, we all probably know why.
Since the Dodgers are so popular around the blogs and all, I thought I'd give their fans a peek at how their big deadline acquisitions look on cardboard.
I'm fairly certain that the Victorino is an actual, non-photoshopped shot of him as a Dodger. That is Dodger Stadium behind him, isn't it? (I'm awful at the whole stadium identification thing.)
The jury is still out on the Hanley. I've it looked over a few times and I'm still not sure. If I had to guess, I'd say it's real.
These guys look pretty good in the Dodger blue.
Like Victorino, Ryan Dempster is no longer a "zero-year" member.
The Rangers originally drafted him way back in 1995. Seventeen years later, he's finally pitching in Arlington, and I finally get to add him to my Rangers binder.
I have to believe that the Damon will go down as his "sunset" card. Although I'd love to see him catch on with another team next year, I don't see it happening.
A tip of the cap is a fine way to go out in this hobby.
Here's a couple of injury-plagued pitchers making their cardboard debut in new uniforms.
Once I saw the name "Ben Sheets" on the Update checklist, I knew it was a card I had to have.
Now, I can honestly say that I pulled what figures to be his last card on the exact same day he retired from the game.
How cool is that?
Just a couple of other "fun" cards from my rack pack.
It's too bad Greg Dobbs isn't a member of my binders.
A shot of him giving Hanley Ramirez a piggy-back ride would look great in a nine-pocket page.
None of the inserts I pulled ended up being "keepers".
However, I think I stumbled upon a Robinson Cano "hot pack" or something. Two parallels in the same rack pack.
I'm glad Topps chose to bring back the numbered Gold parallels, although I wish they didn't give them the Cognac treatment. The Golds will consist of all 990 cards from Series 1, 2, and Update, like last year's "liquorfractors".
All in all, I'm loving what I see from my "sneak peek" of Update. Needless to say, I'm counting down the days until my box arrives.
Until then, I'll be out enjoying the best time of the baseball year.