The 2013 card season is finally upon us!
After yesterday's unsuccessful search, I went on yet another "undercover mission" to my local Target this afternoon in hopes of finding some shiny new 2013 Topps cards.
I didn't care that it happened to be raining at the time. No way was a storm going to stop me from grabbing some new cardboard. (Hence the title of this post.)
Now that's dedication.
Or maybe just craziness.
I can't decide.
Anyways, as soon as I stepped foot into my local Target, I immediately took a glance towards the hallowed card aisles.
That's when I saw it.
A jumbo-sized shot of Prince Fielder himself. As the "cover boy" for 2013 Topps, it only meant one thing.
They had arrived.
The dawn of a new season was here.
I'd been saving the thirty-dollar Target gift card I received on Christmas for this exact moment. Plus, I'd scraped up a bit of my own money as well. I wanted to go a little wild with Flagship this year.
And that I did.
I had it planned. I was going to buy three blasters.
Ironically, when I got to the card aisle, I found that there were only three blasters left on the shelf. A happy coincidence, I guess.
Without a second thought, I grabbed that last trio of blasters. My mom even chipped in some cash for a rack pack as well.
I guess being an only child does have its benefits sometimes, huh?
Needless to say, I had an absolute blast going through my very first cards of 2013.
So...let's get to the actual cards, shall we?
In differing from many of my past "set review" posts, I'll be saving the base cards for last.
We'll start with the inserts this time around.
You know, I really have to hand it to Topps here.
Just when I thought the inclusions of "manu-patches" in blasters couldn't get any dumber, they go and do something like this.
And totally redeem themselves!
Extra points if you get the movie reference.
Yes, one of the blasters yielded another boring old manu-patch of a current ballplayer. The other two, however, caught me a bit off-guard.
I was not expecting anything this cool to fall out of those "special" packs inside each blaster. I am absolutely loving these.
This Palmer fits perfectly into both my "oddball" and Hall of Fame collections.
I actually wound up with a pair of these rookie manu-patches. But the other will be going to one of my fellow bloggers.
I won't say which right now.
You'll find out soon enough, whoever you are.
The familiar gold parallels look to be a tough pull this year.
Three blasters and a rack pack yielded a grand total of two different ones, neither of which I needed.
Thankfully, I don't care about parallels nearly as much as I did a couple years ago. I still like 'em, but I won't be chasing them down with much ferocity as in years past.
With odds like that, it's just not worth it.
Now these I like.
Evidently, Topps is still riding the "shiny" bandwagon in 2013 with these emerald parallels.
Although they're not nearly as neat as 2011's famous "Diamond Anniversary" cards, I do indeed like them more than last year's "Gold Sparkles".
Green is a vastly underrepresented color in the world of cardboard.
It's good to see it get some recognition around here.
Time for inserts.
Much like the parallels, I haven't focused all that much on the Flagship inserts in recent years. For me, the base cards are what make or break the set.
That doesn't mean I don't enjoy pulling an insert for one of my player collections, though.
Because I still get quite a rush from that.
Overall, I'm not all that intrigued by the prospect-centered "Chasing the Dream" subset. Probably a "meh", at best.
Still, I'm not one to turn down a new Mike Trout card.
This will definitely be a "keeper" for me.
I can't get too excited about these "Chasing History" inserts, either.
From the small sample I received from my breaks, it looks like it's this year's obligatory HOFers/current stars combo insert set. One that includes the same group of legends we keep seeing time and again in this hobby.
Still, despite my "shoulder shrug" attitude, I have to make an exception for this beauty.
Topps surprised me by using a shot of Feller that I'd never seen before. I'm a fan of any card with a crowded backdrop.
As a whole, though, these didn't have a whole lot to offer.
Interestingly, the three "Chasing History" inserts I received from my rack pack had a refractor-like finish to them.
I'm not sure if that was by sheer coincidence or if the "shinies" were specially made for rack packs.
Now that I look at them, the shininess does help bring out the design a little more.
The shinier, the better.
That's always been my motto.
These are a bit of an enigma for me.
I still can't decide whether I like them or not.
I'll admit, the "Old West" look of the "Calling Card" insert series seems to suit Mr. Dickey extremely well for some reason.
Overall, though, I'm not quite sure how I feel about them.
Only time will tell, I guess.
For me, this year's Flagship inserts only produced two surefire "winners".
The aptly-named "Cut to the Chase" series was the first.
Like the gold parallels, these seem fairly hard to come by. I only received two in this afternoon's breaks.
But, man. These things sure are cool.
The scan didn't do it justice.
These awesome die-cuts are a little thicker than an ordinary card. They also have an always-welcome refractor-like quality to them.
Given his recent passing, I cannot tell you how honored I am to have this majestic piece of Stan "The Man" in my collection.
It's a thing of beauty.
As far as inserts go, though, it really wasn't much of a contest.
These '72 minis were easily the best of the best for me.
Next to 1965 and '75, 1972 is my all-time favorite Topps design. To see them replicated in mini form is almost beyond comprehension.
Much like last year's '87 minis, the thicker card stock gives these a very "old-school" feel.
I cannot wait to add more of these to my collection.
As a whole, I have to give the edge to this year's inserts over 2012. The '72 minis are largely responsible for that.
Minis and die-cuts aside, though, I still feel that the inserts are a bit lacking in 2013. I've had that train of thought for the last few years, in fact.
At the very least, Topps could try and trim down the sheer number of insert sets in the future. There's just too many.
But, in the end, I can't get that upset about it.
As I said before, the base cards are all I really care about when it comes to Flagship.
And, in that department, the people at Topps hit an absolute home run.
In fact, I'll just get it out of the way now.
I like the 2013 design way better than last year's.
That's not a knock on 2012, though. I did enjoy the "surfboards" quite a bit.
This year's design is just that good.
Between the "ballpark" theme, the color-coordinated baselines, and the much-appreciated white borders, I honestly can't find many flaws.
I'm not sure if there are any.
I hope you're not sick of seeing these yet, because we're about to take a deeper look into the wide world of base cards.
Let's dig in.
For some reason, one of my goals with each passing set is to pull a card of the "cover boy".
Thankfully, I didn't have to wait very long to accomplish that feat. Mr. Fielder popped out of one of the first packs I opened from the initial blaster.
Welcome to the "cover club", Prince.
Topps took a page from their 2012 release by including quite a few "celebration shots" within their base checklist.
Although Aceves isn't yet a member of my treasured binders, I'll definitely be keeping this one for myself.
After all, how often do you see the rare "double flex" on a baseball card?
I'm not sure what the "theme" of this year's Flagship set will be.
After going through my pulls for the second time, I found a good number of "great grab" shots featured.
Perhaps a "Web Gem" theme is appropriate.
You've got to love this one of Mr. Middlebrooks.
How the heck did they manage to get a shot of him staring directly into the camera?
Here are a couple more "great grabs" for your viewing pleasure.
I can't thank Topps enough for granting Josh Reddick such a terrific shot.
It's refreshing to see that a fellow February 19th "birthday boy" is moving up the ranks in this hobby.
Before Reddick came along, Miguel Batista was my last hope.
Yes, folks, double play cards are still alive and well in Flagship.
I counted at least five from my breaks.
These were probably my two favorites, even though I'm still on the fence about the Hill. Is it considered a "double play card" if the ball is still in the guy's hand?
Double dip or not, it'll make for a tremendous addition to my Diamondbacks binder.
Evidently, Topps is continuing the retail-exlcusive parallel setup in 2013.
However, they've adjusted the system a bit this time around.
Instead of filling two packs per Target blaster with entirely red-bordered cards, Topps now includes two cards of the sort in each pack.
I'm still on the fence about that.
On the one hand, base/parallel combos always look nice in nine-pocket pages.
On the other hand, I think I'd rather just have two extra base cards than have these exclusive bordered cards invade my regular ol' blaster packs.
Still, these are my first cards of Youkilis and Lowe in their late-2012 duds. Trouble is, I didn't pull the base versions of either one.
Although they are fairly pleasing, I'd be in favor of Topps doing away with these in the future.
The other parallels are more than enough for me.
Much like 2012, this year's base checklist includes its fair share of simply stellar photography.
I'll just let you bask in the beauty of Dodger Stadium for a minute.
It speaks for itself.
As with "celebrations" and "great grabs", I happened to notice another overarching theme in 2013 Topps.
Much to my pleasure, Topps included a slew of throwback uniforms in this year's checklist.
Although reigning Cy Young winners are usually granted much more aesthetically pleasing shots, I still can't help but enjoy this card of Mr. Dickey himself.
I guess throwbacks just have that effect on me.
Even ugly throwbacks are awesome.
I'm not sure why, but they are.
In today's game, though, these are the "king" of throwbacks for me.
The Sox wore these beauties during every Sunday home game they played in 2012.
Needless to say, I can't tell you how awesome it is to see those famous red pinstripes on a baseball card. I was praying that Topps would feature them sometime during 2013.
So, thanks for that, Topps.
You certainly made this Chicago baseball fan happy.
Fan participation is always welcome on cardboard.
They sure make for some tremendous backdrops. I don't think there's any denying that.
I'm sure Raburn will be popping up on "Card of the Year" posts come December.
Going into this afternoon, there were two cards I really wanted to pull.
It's not that I would've labeled my breaks as a "disappointment" had I not gotten either of them. It's just...
Well, that's all moot anyways.
Because I did indeed pull the pair of cards I'd so desperately wanted.
The Inge was the first. And, boy, were the cardboard gods with me on that one.
Before I began my "break", I kept thinking to myself...
"I hope I get the Inge. I hope I get the Inge. I hope I get the Inge."
After seeing it on another blog, I just couldn't get it out of my head.
With that in mind, I kicked off my break with the rack pack. And just six cards into my 2013 "season", there it was.
Whew. That was a relief.
I even ended up pulling a second one for good measure.
Even if you don't care about the A's or Brandon Inge, you have to recognize the awesomeness of this one.
Shiny gold uniforms? Dugout shot? Fake fighting?
Now that has the makings of a terrific baseball card.
As great as the Inge is, though, I have to give Mr. Greenberg "Best Of" honors.
This was a card I absolutely needed to have. Although I'm sure I would've been able to acquire it eventually, pulling it out of a pack would've been a tremendous honor.
Thankfully, the cardboard gods were with me there, too.
It fell out of the third pack of my first blaster.
To see former Cub Adam Greenberg get another shot at the bigs last year was something else. Even though he struck out in his lone at-bat, it'll be one of those moments that'll stick with me for a long, long time.
And, if we're getting into specifics here, I now have an "ultimate short term stops" card on my hands. After all, stops don't get any shorter than one at-bat.
I still don't understand why the Cubs couldn't have given Greenberg his fateful "return" at-bat instead of the Marlins.
But I digress.
Either way, it was a special moment.
No matter what happens to him in the years to come, card #253 in the 2013 Topps checklist will always have the name "Adam Greenberg" next to it.
Nothing can ever change that.
You did good here.
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what else you have in store for 2013.
Yes, folks, I realize this is a late edit for this post.
But, in going through my pulls again, I noticed a neat little quirk about this year's Flagship checklist.
See if you can connect the dots here.
Derek Jeter is card #2 in 2013 Topps.
Yadier Molina is card #4.
Clayton Kershaw is card #22.
Cliff Lee is card #33.
Travis Ishikawa is card #45.
Craig Kimbrel is card #46.
Notice anything strange?
For many of the first 50 or so cards in the 2013 checklist, each player's card number directly corresponds to their jersey number.
It goes on and on.
Howie Kendrick is card #47. Chris Sale is card #49. Tim Lincecum is card #55...
It carries on to some of the higher numbers as well.
Will Middlebrooks is card #64. Barry Zito is card #75. Alfredo Aceves is card #91.
Sneaky move there, Topps. You almost slipped that little nugget past me. Frankly, I can't believe I noticed it.
It blew my mind a bit, I'll admit.
Anyways, just thought I'd put that information out there.
Do with it what you will.