Last Monday, if you'll remember, was the real Opening Day.
My routine on arguably the greatest day of the year is fairly simple. Plop myself down in front of the TV and take in as much wonderful, glorious baseball as humanly possible.
The pinnacle of the day for me is, of course, watching my beloved Cubs for the very first time. Unfortunately, this year provided a bit of a roadblock in that department.
It took the form of a dreaded math quiz.
By the time I got out of class and took that darned quiz (which I aced, by the way), the Cubs-Pirates contest was pretty much over.
As it happens, though, I ended up taking a trip to the local mall with a friend that very afternoon, which is home to the nearest Target. That's when it hit me.
Since I'd missed the majority of that afternoon's festivities, why not rip open a pack of cardboard as my own little personal Opening Day celebration?
In the end, I decided that "celebration" would involve a rack pack of Heritage, which I ripped open later that day.
True, it did result in one of my most pressing wants with the above Maybin "throwback" piece.
Plus, I'll give Topps credit here.
Although I'd largely ignored them in the past, I'm really liking this year's "combo" cards.
The Harper/Jones quickly established itself as one of my favorites from the 2013 checklist.
And, yes, I did pull a few other miscellaneous cards for my binders.
The Dempster is my first card of him in a Boston cap, while the Pettitte features one of the goofiest facial expressions I've ever seen on a piece of cardboard.
By and large, though, this rack pack was a dud. That's pretty much been the story of my Heritage experience thus far.
Coupled with my initial breaks, I have now pulled 60 base cards from the three 20-card Heritage rack packs I've purchased. (My dad bought the lone "winner" I've busted.)
Not one insert. Not one short-print. Not one chrome parallel. Not one of those uber-limited autographed whatevers. Nothing but base cards. And I haven't even needed most of the base cards I've pulled.
This experience confirmed what I'd been thinking for a long time.
There's no use shelling out my already limited funds for more Heritage or Gypsy Queen rack pack duds when I have the great people of the blogosphere around to help.
A couple recent trade packages I received further emphasized that.
Recently, Brad from the great blog "Red Sox Fan in Nebraska" reached out to me, saying that he had quite a few hits to my 2013 wantlists.
I came very close to purchasing one of those Opening Day "fat packs" to celebrate Opening Day, which may well have been more fitting. Seeing what that feeble Heritage rack pack landed me, perhaps I should've just gone that route.
Except for maybe the Maybin, this awesome Chapman piece kicked the tar out of anything from that Heritage break.
While it's tempting at times, I'm not sure I'll be buying any more Opening Day at my local Target.
If bloggers like Brad keep sending me stacks of ones I need, then there wouldn't be much of a point.
Besides, the local flea market just opened up again.
I should probably start saving my money for that, anyways.
On top of his Opening Day hits, Brad also managed to knock out quite a few of my remaining Heritage needs as well.
Knowing that he'd combed through my 2013 want list, busting open Brad's recent trade package was a bit like opening a pack of cards.
The difference, of course, was that I knew I was going to need every single one.
Whether it was Russell Martin in his new Pirates duds, a sans-goggles "Papa Grande", or Mike Matheny's very first manager card, my success rate in this "pack" was a perfect 100 percent.
Why can't my Heritage rack packs be like that?
Early this week, I received yet another hearty helping of Heritage.
This time, it came from Roger, who runs one of the most recent adds to my blogroll, "Sportscard Mask-A-Rade".
Much like Brad did, Roger took a good look through my 2013 want lists and put together a nice assortment of Heritage for me.
I know I'm probably one of the few who feels this way, but I'm sad that Brian Wilson hasn't signed with a club yet this year. I'm missing "The Beard".
And, while I'm sure he'll be a part of a loooong season in Miami, I'm loving that Juan Pierre card.
Roger was even gracious enough to send a couple short-prints my way.
When it comes to Heritage, I've found that most people like to trade SPs for SPs, which is completely understandable.
However, given the crap luck I've had with my breaks so far, it didn't look like I was going to have any short-print trade bait.
That's what made receiving this pair of stars all the more sweet.
On top of all that, Roger also threw a couple inserts into his recent trade package.
I've never made it a point to track down the "Baseball Flashbacks" insert set on a year-to-year bases. But, since most of them feature Hall of Famers, I usually end up with the 10-card group after all is said and done.
On the other hand, I've always placed a supreme amount of pride in chasing the Heritage "News Flashbacks" inserts over the past few years. I've completed each set since their inception in 2008.
Although I'm still a ways away with the 2013 edition, I'm confident that I'll eventually have all ten in my collection at some point down the road.
The LBJ gets me one step closer.
Other than Flagship, I don't see myself busting a whole lot of retail packs in 2013.
For sets like Archives, Heritage, or Gypsy Queen, I've found that the three-dollar loose packs and various rack packs often leave me wanting.
Especially with the type of luck I've had so far.
In the end, I really should stick to trading.