As I was kind of expecting, Update managed to bring me out of my temporary blogging hiatus.
I figured I'd grab a handful of packs of Target, post about that, and then pick up the rest of the singles I needed from Just Commons. Sounds easy, but the baseball card gods had another plan in store.
I checked my local Target on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of last week hoping to find some Update, all to no avail. Since I had to work all weekend and thus had no time to make any more Target runs, I said screw it and just ordered a hobby box off Ebay, which -- thanks to some ultra-fast shipping -- arrived this past Monday.
This was the first box of anything I'd opened since 2013 Topps Update, and the sheer box-busting experience reminded me how nice it is to have a steady income and a little bit of extra money to throw around.
It also helped that, by a wide margin, this ended up being the best box of anything I've ever opened (not that I open many boxes, obviously).
I wound up learning a lot from those 36 shiny hobby packs.
I learned that Mike Trout is a darn good baseball player.
(Although I didn't really need a baseball card to tell me that.)
I learned that, like most of what Flagship puts out these days, Update's inserts (for the most part) aren't anything special.
Though early '70s Reggie and Willie Mays as a Met did offer up a couple glimmers of hope.
I learned that Topps has some strange things going on in the collation department.
Each and every one of the dozen gold parallels I pulled from this box were of the horizontal variety.
That's fine with me, because horizontals rule.
I learned that Topps is either lying to me or just trying to unload as many of these buybacks as possible.
According to the back of the pack, the odds of pulling a buyback card are 1:18. That doesn't explain how seven of these fell out of a 36-pack box. (You'll see the other one soon.)
Unless someone is really pining for a '78 Topps Larry Parrish, what am I supposed to do with these?
(Yes, Night Owl, the '75 is already earmarked for you...)
I learned that ALL-STAR CARDS ARE FUN AGAIN!!!!!!!!
No more shots of baseball's best standing around looking like zombies! Now we get tips of the cap, autograph shots, jersey presentations, even selfies! (Selfies on baseball cards = kinda interesting...selfies in real life = dreadful.)
(Although those pillbox hats are still ugly as sin.)
I learned that Todd Frazier is the man.
I learned that sunset cards are alive and well in Update.
I'm glad Dan Haren finished out his career as a Cub.
I learned that rookies can have just as much fun as seasoned vets.
I learned that I have fallen in love with this card for reasons I cannot explain.
I learned that there needs to be more baseball players named Jumbo.
(And whoever chose this photo is a mastermind.)
I learned that, as great as this card is, Tulo looks strange as a Blue Jay.
But even stranger is the sight of Jose Reyes as a Colorado Rockie.
And I learned that I'd forgotten Jeff Francoeur was in the big leagues.
Finally, I learned that, for whatever reason, I have a sneaking suspicion that the baseball card gods blessed this box for me.
1) I pulled a snow camo parallel (numbered to 99 copies) of big time rookie Carlos Correa which will pay for most (if not all) of what I spent on this entire box.
2) The baseball card gods managed to get me excited over a buyback, which I thought was impossible.
Wilbur Wood is one of my favorite players of the '70s, and now I get to add a (semi) new card of his to my binders.
3) The one big hope I had for this box was to pull all three(!) Kris Bryant base cards, because I didn't want to have to buy them for inflated prices on the secondary market.
The baseball card gods took care of that within the first eight packs.
(And I believe that Rookie Debut autograph shot is the first sighting of the new Wrigley Field scoreboards on a baseball card.)
4) I pulled one photo variation short-print, and it just so happened to be a picturesque nighttime shot my favorite current big leaguer.
I'd actually placed a bid on this same card on Ebay before I received this box, because I figured out of all the photo SPs, what are the odds I'd get THIS one?
I'd never been happier to get outbid.
5) Though I still like his High Numbers card better, Pat Venditte -- the switch-pitcher himself -- fell out of the fourth-to-last pack of my box.
I guess the baseball card gods wanted me to sweat that one out.
6) Out of that same pack fell the one card I was really, really, really, really hoping to get out of this box.
I very nearly fell out of the chair I was sitting in when I found out that Pete Gray had a card in this year's Update. It hails from the "Pride and Perseverance" insert set, which honors ballplayers who overcame disabilities to play at the game's highest level.
Among the others I pulled were Jake Peavy (who is legally blind without corrective lenses), Jim Eisenreich (who has Tourette's Syndrome), and Jason Johnson (who is a Type 1 diabetic), but my far and away favorite of the bunch was Pete Gray.
Gray played for one season during the war years (1945) with the St. Louis Browns and hit .218 in 77 games, which is a feat beyond comprehension when you account for the fact that he lost his right arm in a childhood accident.
This is just the second card I own of Mr. Gray, and I can't believe it came from a mainstream Topps checklist. (A couple others from this insert set are in my Just Commons cart as we speak.)
All in all, this is definitely a step up for Update, which, admittedly, had seemed a little stale these past few years.
And I'm not just saying that because I got a box from the stuff of the baseball card gods.