Today's my dad's birthday, yet somehow the afternoon coalesced into him giving me cards over lunch.
Someone should really tell him that birthdays don't work that way. In reality, Dad's had these cards for me for about a week now -- he picked them up during one of his vendor gigs at Target when he stocked the shelves with the newest card releases: Gypsy Queen and Donruss, highlights of the current time of year which Night Owl perfectly deemed "The Dead Zone."
And while I'm not hugely excited for this portion of card calendar, I still think the fact that my dad gets to stock cards at Target is one of the coolest things ever.
Like pretty much all past years of Gypsy Queen, I still remain almost perfectly apathetic about 2018 GQ.
Really, as I sit here before my keyboard, I can't will any words from my fingertips. I have almost nothing to say about GQ other than that the rack pack and couple loose packs my dad gifted me did come with a couple firsts: my first card of Evan Longoria as a Giant and my first card period of Daniel Mendgen, a young handlebar-'stached A's pitcher who happens to share my birthday (I'm a year older than he is).
With qualifications like those, I have to collect the guy, don't I?
This was the only insert I got from my GQ packs and by far the best pull of the lot.
Seriously, why can't all Gypsy Queen cards look like this?
Next up from Dad were a couple hanger packs of Donruss, or as I've taken to calling it lately: The Accumulation Set.
I don't really collect Donruss, I accumulate it. Each year's checklist is filled with guys I collect, and while their designs are usually yawners, they do help me pad the binders a bit. And maybe that's not the greatest reason to buy packs of a set, it'll have to do, because this ain't Stadium Club or Archives.
For that, I'm always good for at least a few packs of Donruss each year.
But while it's become the cool thing to hate on Donruss (and god knows I've done a lot of that in the past), I must admit: the designs of the past couple years have started to give me a tiny amount of hope.
This year's look is about on par with 2017's surprisingly attention-getting design, in that it pays obvious tribute to a past edition of Original Donruss with the shooting stars of '84 (and even includes some guys like Rod Carew who were in the actual '84 set).
Because of that, I don't think it's mere coincidence that this year's inserts are an homage to the '84s, my personal favorite in the long (and often tepid) history of Donruss designs.
And while I don't usually support new brands tinkering with old templates, I have to say that blue borders look pretty darn cool with the shooting stars.
Nothing to say about these, really, but figured they deserved a look.
We seem to be entering an age of endless variations in today's hobby, and Donruss appears to have fallen victim to the madness as well.
But unlike the variations-for-variations'-sake chase cards Topps tries to foist upon us (like the five pages' worth in GQ alone), the Donruss variants at least keep things fun. Donruss is different from most Topps brands in that I don't really buy it for the base cards -- I buy them for the variety they offer (and you certainly get a lot of it, which is more than I can say for the one insert I pulled in five packs of GQ).
So if Nickname variants and Milestone variants add to that variety (including a nod to Mookie Betts's prodigal bowling career), then I'm all for that.
And while I don't judge retail value on sheer quantity, this photo might explain why I feel ripped off every time I open Gypsy Queen.
On the left in this photo is a hanger pack and two loose packs' worth of GQ (retail value: about $16). On the right are two rack packs of Donruss (retail: $10). Which would you rather have? I never thought I'd say this a few years ago when I despised Donruss more than any other collector I knew, but: I'll take Donruss.
Happy birthday, Dad, and thanks for these cards and the thousands of others you've added to my collection over my many years in this hobby -- but really, I'm supposed to give you stuff on your birthday, you hear?