The best way I can describe my feelings towards Topps A&G these days is: I like it, but...
I like it, but it used to be a whole lot better. I like it, but not enough to rush out to Target on the day of its release. I like it, but I never feel like I'm getting enough for my money. (It's hard to justify $3 for a six-card pack when almost all the singles wind up being dime box material at shows.)
I like it, but the only reason I even bought a blaster of it last week in the first place was because I stumbled upon some in a Target search for Big League. Still, despite A&G's nearly immediate ubiquity at card shows, I'm always good for a small retail break or two of it each year.
So let's take a look and see how this particular blaster treated me, shall we?
#7 Aaron Judge
Certainly not a bad way to kick off a blaster -- but Judge aside, part of my relative indifference toward A&G stems from the fact that I just don't have a lot to say about it anymore.
You know what you're getting. The design is good enough (I kinda like the rolled-paper look this year) but it's not enough of a departure from past incarnations to warrant any in-depth commentary. I doubt Topps is swaying anyone at this point. Those who like it still like it, and those who don't still don't.
This is A&G's 13th year (has it really been that long?!), and at this point, I don't think you're getting any converts.
#257 Andrew Stevenson
#35 Robinson Cano
#312 Carlos Santana SP
#MES-8 Cheese Rolling, "Exotic Sports" mini insert
The inserts are what continue to make A&G a fun break, if for no other reason that you simply never know what you're gonna find.
I mean, I pulled a card of Cheese Rolling. Cheese rolling. My Dad, the Anglophile, has told me in the past that there's a tradition in England where people get together and chase a wheel of cheese down a hill. The first person to catch it gets to keep the cheese.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would ever be immortalized a baseball card, and that's why I'm still glad A&G is around.
#WGB-3 Trunk Bay, "World's Greatest Beaches" insert
I really really really really really really really really dislike beaches, so this isn't an insert set for me.
#112 Yadier Molina
#45 Dexter Fowler
#200 Sandy Koufax
#33 Nicky Delmonico
#278 Paul DeJong, mini A&G back
#FG-34 Johnny Bench, "Fantasy Goldmine" insert
Kind of a dumb insert set, because Johnny Bench would probably tell you to go to hell if you asked him what his career WAR was.
#154 Raisel Iglesias
#12 Eddie Rosario
#137 Josh Donaldson
#305 Lewis Brinson SP
#MIH-2 Sitting Bull, "Indigenous Heroes" mini insert
Now this is an insert set I'd like to build.
#BEA-3 Modern Glove, "Baseball Equipment of the Ages insert
I admit, I was excited when I saw that there'd be an entire insert set devoted to all things baseball equipment in A&G -- it's a topic of huge interest to me.
But now that I have one, I'm kinda thinking they're better in theory than in-hand. I mean, here's a card of a baseball glove. Okay. What am I supposed to do with a card of a baseball glove?
I still don't know.
#187 Albert Pujols
#6 Chris Taylor
#9 Kris Bryant
Sparkles at his sparkliest.
#209 Fernando Rodney
#MBS-4 Postseason Beards (Archie Bradley), "Baseball Superstitions" mini insert
This was my favorite pull of the blaster, and a bit of a tough one to get (I think these inserts fall 1:50 packs if I remember right).
Other than the fact that Archie Bradley is a new player collection of mine, baseball superstitions are just a fun idea for an insert set.
#WT-37 Yadier Molina, "World Talent" insert
I still think A&G's yearly gargantuan insert sets are unnecessary, but every year I end up liking the design so I really can't complain too much about them.
#285 Jackson Stephens
#55 Biz Markie
2018 A&G features a notable uptick in featured celebrities -- less fantasy football bros and bad comedians, more Biz Markies!
Also of interest to me this year is Tommy Wiseau (The Room!), Christopher McDonald (aka Shooter McGavin), and H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's voice on Bob's Burgers), none of which I pulled from this blaster, sadly.
#24 Trey Mancini
#319 Harrison Bader SP
#129 Stephen Piscotty, mini black border
#MM-2 Europa, "Magnificent Moons" insert
Not an insert set I'd seriously build, but still kinda cool.
#110 Honus Wagner
#158 Yonder Alonso
#54 Carlos Gonzalez
#75 Chrisitan Yelich
#315 Christian Villanueva SP, mini
#FG-11 Roberto Clemente, "Fantasy Goldmine" insert
I have no idea what Zone Runs are, but I'll never turn down a new Clemente.
#103 Lucas Sims
#53 Mike Zunino
#69 Anthony Banda
#321 Nomar Mazara SP
#231 Michael Brantley, mini A&G back
#WGB-9 Cozumel, "World's Greatest Beaches" insert
Well that pack sucked.
#236 Luis Castillo
How can I own a card of something that doesn't actually exist?
#120 Cody Bellinger
#61 Randal Grichuk
#145 Genie Bouchard, mini
#WT-23 Masahiro Tanaka, "World Talent" insert
A fine way to close out a blaster: a neat insert of a dude I collect.
Even with all of A&G's ups and downs, I'm glad I at least indulged myself with a blaster (but not enough to buy another one). And while I may be somewhat apathetic towards A&G at this point, and though the set does have its faults, nothing else in the market today provides quite the same experience.
I mean, where else are you gonna find a Cheese Rolling card?