At times, I feel like I'm missing out on some things.
As a rough estimate, I'd guess that about 98 percent of guys my age play video games on a regular basis. I'm part of the extreme minority. In fact, there hasn't been a gaming console in my room for a good five years.
On top of that, it always seems like most baseball fans consistently rate Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, and The Natural as three of the best baseball movies ever made.
I've always recognized them as quality films, but not much more. I seriously doubt they'd make my "Top 10" on that list.
In that regard, I feel like I've missed the boat.
I've had a similar relationship with Gypsy Queen over the years.
Most other collectors seem to froth at the mouth for GQ with each coming release. Personally, I've always seen it as an average set...at best.
The initial Gypsy Queen release in 2011 was decent. Last year's edition was far, far worse in my book. I ranked it ninth out of 10 total sets released in 2012.
This year, Topps did something that I didn't think was even possible. They managed to take yet another step back from their already hideous 2012 GQ release in 2013.
So, I apologize to all the Gypsy Queen lovers out there. Although I'll do my best to find the light at the end of the tunnel, this will be a bit of a scathing review.
Still with me?
I avoided it for as long as possible, but the "sampler" in me needed to bust at least one pack of Gypsy Queen, no matter how mush distaste I may have for the brand.
So, this past weekend, I purchased a single, loose retail pack from my local Target.
The price is one of my bigger problems with the product. Dropping three bucks for just six cards makes it awfully hard to feel like I received the most "bang for my buck", especially when it comes to a set like GQ.
Nevertheless, let's go through that single pack I busted, blow by blow.
Mr. Chris Davis here earns the dubious honor of being my first Gypsy Queen card.
He's not a "binder guy", but I think I'll be able to give him a good home with another blogger I know.
I collect cards of Nolan Ryan as a Met.
I collect cards of Nolan Ryan as an Angel.
I collect cards of Nolan Ryan as an Astro.
But, unless it features an interesting photo of some sort, I don't collect cards of Nolan Ryan as a Ranger.
I stopped trying to figure out my collection a long time ago. Again, though, I think I can find a good home for this one.
While it's a decent concept, I couldn't help but feel a bit shorted by the design of these "No-Hitters" inserts.
Unlike actual no-hitters, these don't really stand out in any way.
Against all odds, I actually pulled a second insert from this innocent retail pack.
While these are a slight step back from last year's "Glove Stories" series, I'm still a fan of these inserts in 2013.
However, Travis Snider isn't a "binder guy". Plus, I recently started building a stack of Pirates cards to send to another blogger sometime in the future. This is the newest addition to the pile.
Only now am I starting to realize just how many "connections" I've built during my time around here.
Initially, I had planned to keep this one.
Although he's not at the forefront of my many player collections, I've long had a large space devoted to David Wright in my Mets binder. I recently topped the 100-card mark with him.
After thinking about it, though, I decided that this mini would probably be more appreciated by another fellow blogger I know.
It'll be in good hands soon enough.
There's one pressing question I haven't quite answered at this point.
Just what is my big problem with this year's Gypsy Queen, anyways? Why do I feel like such a big party-pooper when it comes to such an otherwise well-received brand?
First and foremost, the borders. That depressing shade of gray should never see the light of day on a baseball card.
I'm seeing the same colors on the storm clouds outside my window right now.
On top of that, the photography simply seems second nature to the people in charge of GQ. As long as they can slap that big, ugly Gypsy Queen logo onto the top of each card, Topps figures that the photos won't matter all that much.
I mean, Chris Carter isn't even with the A's these days.
For what it's worth, he's a Houston Astro now.
And, although I haven't checked, I doubt many Astros found their way into this year's GQ checklist.
This atrocious pack concluded with Mr. Anthony Gose here.
I barely even know who he is.
Three bucks. Six cards. Two inserts. One mini. No "keepers".
As bad as it was, I wouldn't have had a problem with this being my only pack of GQ. I wasn't counting on featuring any more around here...
...until my dad surprised me with another loose pack this afternoon.
Thus far, it's become painfully obvious that my dad has had the magic touch with retail in 2013. I can't seem to pull anything decent to save my life.
Packs from my dad, on the other hand, seem to have quite a few "goodies" inside.
Once I saw Mr. Brock batting leadoff on this pack of GQ, I knew the trend would continue.
I haven't given Topps much credit for anything Gypsy Queen-related thus far, but I will say that this is a pretty nice piece.
The best part?
I can't say I've ever seen that particular shot of Brock before.
If only Topps would do that with all their legend cards.
I collect cards of Ozzie Smith as a Padre, but not a St. Louis Cardinal.
Don't ask me to explain why. I'm not even entirely sure.
In the end, "The Wizard" made for a nice addition to the stack I've started for the Cardinals fans in the blogosphere.
Like the "Glove Stories" inserts, the "Sliding Stars" series likely took a step back in 2013.
If this Jason Heyward "keeper" is any indication, though, they still make for pretty nice pieces.
I've actually had good luck with pulling cards of the "Iron Man" from packs over the years.
In continuing the trend thus far, this mini will probably go to one of my buddies in the blogosphere.
Mr. Uggla here is most definitely a "keeper".
Brett Lawrie isn't yet a "binder guy", so this one goes into the trade pile for now.
Still, there's a part of me that believes he should have a spot in my binders. I absolutely love his all-out style of play, but I'm not sure I can withstand another new player collection right now...
Ah, screw it.
Congrats, Mr. Lawrie. You're in the binders.
As far as my dad's pack goes, four "keepers" out of six ain't bad.
One more thing before I go, though.
Although I've bagged on GQ throughout most of this post, let's end on a high note.
I give Topps a supreme amount of credit for including the great Hoyt Wilhelm in this year's Gypsy Queen checklist.
Even if they relegated him to the headache-inducing world of short-prints.
Still, I thankfully managed to secure my copy of Mr. Wilhelm just days after Gypsy Queen hit the shelves.
If you happen to pull and minis or other variations of this one, though, please keep me in mind.
Apart from this post, don't expect to see much more GQ on this blog in the future. It's still one of my least favorite sets of each passing season.
Hoyt or no Hoyt, I don't think I'll ever fully be on board with the Gypsy Queen brand.