Wednesday, February 1, 2017
My first retail purchase of 2017...
...is not 2017 Topps.
As is the case every year, I went to my local Target in hopes of finding some Flagship after hearing rumblings about it being on the shelves. Not only was the new Topps not in stock, but I found myself with a brutal case of the cardboard itch since I hadn't spent a single dollar on baseball cards in 2017 before this week.
That is not a good combination, and it directly resulted in me plunking down $20 for the special 25-card set Topps produced commemorating the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs.
Not greatest deal in the world, but at least it scratched the cardboard itch.
Ten of the 25 cards in the set focus on star players from the Cubs' series-winning squad.
While I do wish Topps would've produced single cards for each individual member of the roster -- the Albert Almoras and Mike Montogomerys of the baseball world need their love, too -- the checklist still does a fine job of highlighting the key cogs on the team (one glaring exception: where's Kyle Hendricks?).
Part of the reason I loved the 2016 Cubs so much was because they were just plain fun to watch, and every single guy on this page (and Rizzo, of course) contributed to that.
The other 15 cards feature specific moments from the 2016 Fall Classic.
Of course, I'm a little biased in saying this, but I'll say it anyways: last year's World Series was the greatest World Series of my lifetime, and I'm not sure anything will ever top it.
In the 2016 World Series, I saw the most miraculous comeback story I've ever had the privilege to witness on a baseball field.
I was watching in April when Kyle Schwarber destroyed his knee, and I thought he was done for the year and maybe part of 2017 after such a gruesome injury. Surely the rumors of him possibly DHing in the World Series after just a handful of games in the Arizona Fall League were nothing more than hogwash.
Not only did Schwarber play, but he hit a staggering .412 in the Fall Classic and cemented himself as probably the best pure hitter I've seen in a long, long time.
In the 2016 World Series, I saw a circus catch for the ages.
I didn't get a chance to watch this moment live -- I missed a couple games because of work -- but I've seen the highlight dozens of times since, and I'm glad Topps honored it with this quirky combo card.
In the 2016 World Series, above all else, I saw the single greatest game of baseball ever played.
With a combined 176 years of championship droughts between the Indians and Cubs -- and not to mention my own personal ties to the Cubs -- I don't think I'll ever watch another contest with as much on the line as Game 7 of last year's Fall Classic.
Things certainly got off on the right foot: I jumped for joy when Dexter Fowler belted the first ever Game 7 leadoff homer.
Though the Indians got two runs back on Jon Lester's wild pitch in the 5th, David Ross seemed to put things out of reach with a homer in what would turn out to be the last at-bat of his career the following inning.
Ross, perhaps the most famous backup catcher in baseball history, received what is probably my favorite card in the set as a result.
At this point in the game, I had one thing a Cubs fan should never have: confidence.
I won't lie to you: I was face-down on the floor crying when Rajai Davis hit his game-tying homer in the 7th.
No way could a team who hadn't won in 108 years lose a game like that. Enter rain, enter a rally, and enter Ben Zobrist, whose 10th-inning RBI double had me jumping around the living room. Soon, it was 8-6, Cubs.
But after two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, a walk and an RBI hit (by Rajai Davis, again) brought the go-ahead run to the plate. Once again, I found myself watching the TV between the gaps in my fingers.
And just when I thought Michael Martinez would seal the Cubs' doom and become the newest household name in baseball...
...they did it.
A weak dribbler from Bryant to Rizzo, and just like that, the Chicago Cubs were World Champions for the first time in 108 years. I still get goosebumps just typing those words out on the computer screen.
So, no, I didn't find any 2017 Topps, and yes, I did feel like a bit of a sucker dropping $20 on a 25-card set of baseball cards specifically designed to siphon money out of helpless collectors like myself. In the end, though, I'm glad I caved in and pulled the trigger on these.
I mean, how often do the Cubs win the World Series?