Friday, October 17, 2014
2014 Topps Update: A tradition ends
I have this tradition of buying a hobby box of Topps Update every year.
I've been doing it since 2007. To me, it's kind of like a grand flourish to the baseball season. Update is the last big set of the year, and a box of the stuff makes the transition to the fall and winter months just a little bit easier.
It's a tradition that about to come to an end here in 2014.
My budget didn't allow any wiggle room for a box this year. I'm not that disappointed, and I'm actually interested to see how the situation plays out. I'm thinking of buying whatever I can afford from Target and picking up all the other base cards I need off Just Commons.
Fiscally-speaking, it'll probably wind up being the better option. Breaking a box is fun and all, but is it really worth forking over the extra twenty or thirty bucks? Don't think so.
Besides, my appreciation for Topps Update is still there either way. Just like always, I was off to Target upon the first peep of its release on Tuesday. When I got there, I found Update as far as the eye could see and decided on a hanger box.
For no particular reason, I grabbed the third box off the rack.
After going through the contents, I'm considering making the whole "third pack on the shelf" thing a new tradition.
Design-wise, Update's new inserts aren't all that spectacular. The flashy "Power Players" design is meant to grab your attention, but it reeks of the unimaginative shiny-for-shiny's-sake phenomenon.
That said, I won't complain with a new card of The Legend himself, Jose Abreu.
Eddie Murray and "The Iron Man" are a couple huge names, but both of these insert designs are flat-out ugly.
Both contain copious amounts of pointless foil on the fronts. The "Fond Farewells" concept is actually a great idea, as I'm a huge fan of sunset seasons and the like.
Sadly, it sorely lacks in execution on the part of Topps.
I received exactly one parallel in my hanger box, but Topps made it count.
LaTroy Hawkins is currently 41 years young and in his second go-round with the Rockies. The veteran reliever has been ignored by Topps since 2011, so I was glad to see this gold parallel fall into my hands.
Now all I need is the base card.
Of course, the only real reason I buy Update is for the base.
For me, the set provides the first accessible cards of some of the game's brightest young stars. I don't have the time or money to track down all the Bowmans and Bowman Chromes and Bowman Chrome Drafts and Bowman Superterrifics or any of that.
I'm about as far from a prospector as you'll find, but I like to at least try and keep up with the up-and-coming rookie crop. Mookie Betts seems to have a bright future ahead of him in Boston, and Topps rewarded him with a spectacular shot for his Rookie Debut issue.
At first, I wasn't planning on adding him to my binders...
...but I took pulling his standard Update rookie card as a sign.
This guy needs to be in my collection. Besides, how could I neglect a guy named Mookie? It wouldn't be right.
Oscar Taveras looks to be another young outfielder with massive upside. Update provided me with my first look at him in cardboard form.
He'll be going into my binders as well.
It only took until mid-October, but I finally have my very first Masahiro Tanaka card(s).
As the cover boy for this year's Update, I pulled both his Season Highlights (top) and Rookie Debut (bottom) issues.
Two Mookies, a Taveras, and two Tanakas.
I'm not a big rookie guy, but I'd be lying if that didn't get me a little excited.
Another thing Update is (in)famous for is its gluttony of All-Stars.
With all the scratches, injuries, and whatever else, it seems like half the league makes it to the Midsummer Classic these days. That, in turn, waters down Update's All-Star subset.
This in-game shot of "K-Rod"...
...was followed by six straight AL All-Stars in my hanger box.
That's when it hit me.
It's not so much that there's too many All-Stars in Update. It's that there's simply too many boring ones. If every card featured a standard in-action shot (like the Rodriguez) from, you know, the actual All-Star Game, I'd probably enjoy them a lot more.
The fact that Topps gives us so many images of guys from the drawn-out Home Run Derby or just lounging around makes it highly repetitive and not very honorable at all.
And don't get me started on those God-awful warmup jerseys.
But enough about that.
Let's get to why we're here in the first place.
Because of my team-centric way of sorting, seeing guys in their new duds is a constant thrill for me. Adding that first card of someone like Chris Young to my Mets binder is a sweet feeling that's hard to put into words.
Granted, I guess this isn't the greatest example since Young was actually released by the Mets in August. He finished out the year with the Yankees.
Makes the whole Update tag seem kind of insignificant.
Young aside, Update does its job most of the time.
These are my first cards of all of these guys on their current squads.
I think my favorite of the bunch is the Dice-K. He was featured as an Indian in last year's Update, despite never actually playing a game for them. He resurfaced as a utility pitcher with the Mets late last year and throughout 2014, and that's the first card he's had with the franchise.
My first taste of what I hope is a constant stream of new uniforms in 2014 Update.
Another thing I like about Update is that it ties up some of the card season's loose strings.
Not all of them (STILL NO ANDREW MILLER?!?!), no, but enough to keep me at least relatively satisfied.
I get that guys like Jason Giambi and local hero Tom Gorzelanny aren't going to get a ton of cards. Both were featured in last year's Update, and both make their first 2014 appearances in this year's edition as well.
That's all I ask.
Even with the rookies and guys in new duds, my hanger box still had a few other surprises in store.
This Season Highlights card does a great job of commemorating King Albert's 500th homer. I think my favorite aspect of this shot, however, are the two seated Nats fans to the left of Pujols's raised hand.
The guy on the right is particularly unimpressed, casually sipping a beer while watching history unfold.
This was my far and away favorite from my first foray into Update.
Though he's the older of the two siblings, Jose Molina is constantly overshadowed by the younger Yadier. This terrific shot captures the backstop brothers in a candid moment at the Trop.
This is the kind of creativity I love to see from Topps, and there's a chance it'll pop up on my "Cards of the Year" list in a couple months.
I guess I should've known that Jose here would turn out to be a short-print. Only a couple days later did I find out that his standard Update card features your run-of-the-mill hitting shot.
I'm happy that I pulled such a captivating card, but sad that Topps felt the need to short-print the heck out of it.
All in all, this was an exceptional hanger box of Update and one that did a great job of showcasing why I continue to enjoy this product so much. Rookies, new duds, the whole nine yards.
Hobby box or no hobby box, Update is a fitting swan song for the baseball season.