Thursday, July 5, 2018
Let's form a club, 2018 edition
Rejoice, my friends, because Stadium Club is once again upon us.
This is, as far as I'm concerned, the perennial Set of the Year (tops on my list all four seasons since its 2014 revival), and anyone who's ever bought a pack of the stuff probably knows why.
Of all the sets around these days, Stadium Club really feels like the one that's made most for collectors who appreciate the minutiae of the hobby rather than profit-seeking box breakers.
I think that's because, unlike the unceremonious churning out of a lot of the similar, dull brands out there right now, you really get the sense that the people in charge of making this set at Topps have fun a whole lot of fun with it -- just look at the images they choose.
And on a personal note, it came out at a perfect time for me since I was able to grab about 90 percent of the remaining SC base I needed at the card show last weekend.
(Though I did purchase some retail in the days prior, perhaps against my better judgment since, of course, the very first table I stopped at on Sunday had a huge stack of Stadium Clubs for a dime.)
I can't say much that hasn't already been said in Stadium Club's illustrious history other than the fact that, between the packs I opened and the singles I found at the show, it's easily apparent that 2018 SC is another surefire winner.
Once again, it's the king to beat for Set of the Year honors, current stars and legends alike.
My frankensets almost get washed over when Stadium Club comes out, because so many of the great shots of players I haven't (yet) inducted into my standard team binders are no-brainer choices for many of the card numbers.
But, as I amazingly seem to say every time, none of the greatness you've seen thus far were even among my ten favorites from this year's checklist -- so here, as per my annual tradition (never an easy task), are my Top Ten favorites from 2018 Stadium Club.
#10 -- 2018 Stadium Club #234 Adrian Beltre
#9 -- 2018 Stadium Club #187 Dustin Pedroia
Oh how I've missed seeing the big glove on baseball cards!
#8 -- 2018 Stadium Club #54 Masahiro Tanaka
A perfectly framed shot of Yankee Stadium club, yes, but what really makes it for me is that timeless wool (or at least I think it's wool) warmup jacket -- I honestly didn't even think guys still wore those.
#7 -- 2018 Stadium Club #15 Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez doesn't even play for the Red Sox anymore, but that doesn't stop this from being a funny favorite from this year's set.
#6 -- 2018 Stadium Club #248 Mariano Rivera
I can just hear dramatic classical music running through my head whenever I look at this card.
#5 -- 2018 Stadium Club #9 Zack Godley
Can't say I own any other cards of a dude jumping into a pool.
#4 -- 2018 Stadium Club #167 Dexter Fowler
In addition to the elegant panorama of the St. Louis skyline (a beautiful city I've seen firsthand), I love this card for all the little meta-images that comprise the whole.
The scoreboard alone provides us with a wide-angle shot of the home run Dexter Fowler has apparently just hit, a zoomed-in look of that same shot, and a reverse angle of the very same photo we see on this card (!!!!!!).
#3 -- 2018 Stadium Club #56 Jon Lester
If I had to pick, Pitchers at the Plate are my favorite of my mini-collections to chase, and they're almost extinct in the card industry these days (let's hope the universal DH never gets adopted).
But then Stadium Club comes along and produces a card of Jon Lester taking a cut, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the shot in question captures the moment of his first career home run last year.
Coincidentally, I bought this one at the show this past Sunday...the very same day Lester hit his second career home run.
#2 -- 2018 Stadium Club #180 Ted Williams
Need I say anything?
#1 -- 2018 Stadium Club #74 Ichiro Suzuki
My #1 was a tough call this year -- almost an even split between Teddy Ballgame and Ichiro here.
In the end, I decided to give the honor to Ichiro since he's one of the kings of my collection, and this could very well be his sunset card. If it is, I can't think of a better way for the guy to go out than with this masterful tribute.
Once again, I salute you, Stadium Club.