Thursday, May 23, 2019

Little Big League

I recently realized that I never got around to making a Sets of the Year list for 2018.

I'll give you the abridged version: Stadium Club was #1 (again), but after that things get a little more complicated. I really liked Flagship, Archives was solid but a tad disappointing -- and then there's the dark horse called Topps Big League, which I thought made a helluva debut last year. Nice photos, simple design, relatively large checklist, budget-friendly price. If I had to go out a limb I'd say it was indeed runner-up to Stadium Club last year.

All this makes me even more guilty that I didn't know the 2019 version of Big League was set to release until days after it actually came out.

Ironically, I only discovered 2019 Big League was on the shelves when I saw a Twitter photo of some dude buying 87 Bowman megaboxes, and a comment on that photo saying something along the lines of: Everyone else can buy Big League (the word bro may have been inserted in there somewhere, too).

HEY: I'm everyone else! Keep your megaboxes, I'll take Big League. I ran over to Target and saw that, yes, Big League was indeed in stock. I bought a couple blasters and a rack pack, and in the fun chaos that ensued, I came away with the opinion that I like the 2019 version more than its terrific debut. I know I like the look better: pennant-based logos always get me, and the design as a whole has a very familiar feel to it.

I don't know why, but I think of my Little League concession stand when I see these cards, which is a high compliment.

Big League is the only set around nowadays where I can honestly say I read all the card backs -- how else am I gonna learn that Eric Thames has a karaoke bar in Korea named after him?

While they're not the real draw of Big League, the parallels are still fun to get -- I believe the blues are exclusive to blasters, and the yellows to rack packs.

Better yet, perhaps my favorite aspect of Big League is back in 2019: I get to cut cards out of the blasters! Panel-based cardboard has long been a thrill for me (even if I can't really explain why), and I grabbed the two blasters with Shohei Ohtani and Kris Bryant as the cutouts. I've since bought a third blaster with a Mike Trout, but some other local collector (who I've yet to meet) hoarded all the Juan Soto blasters, which is the fourth and final card I need from the slim cutout set.

And so the Hunt for Soto is on.

The inserts are a smash hit with Big League as well: I honestly don't think there's a bad look in the lot (though I could probably take or leave those strange Caricatures).

I'm also particularly fond of the "Wall Climbers" since all 10 cards in it are mini-collection hits.

May release date = dudes in new (albeit photoshopped) uniforms!

Opening a set like Stadium Club is obviously exciting because almost every card is a masterpiece, but there's something to be said for something like Big League where photographic gems are thrown in here and there.

I know I wasn't expecting to pull anything like that Moncada (a dual mini-collection hit!) or that epic Chris Taylor when I sat on my bed and started ripping these packs open.

The random intervals of fun in this set almost catches you off-guard, and that makes opening a pack of Big League a thrill that keeps me wanting to come back for more.

It's probably not a set for the case breakers or deep-pocketed enthusiasts among us: it's a set for you and I, the "everyone elses" in the collecting universe.


P-town Tom said...

Nicknames and Wall Climbers? That's fantastic!
If the fun and randomness level of the backs is as eclectic as last year, then I can't wait to get my hands on some!

Mike said...

Great set!...i'll keep a look out at the vendor gig for "returns"!

night owl said...

FINALLY, someone who likes this year's Big League design better than last year's. I agree. It has so much more character.

The Shlabotnik Report said...

I've bought two blasters, and I've yet to get a "fun" base card; I just get the usual photos. Oh, well... There will be more opportunities.

I've set aside a Juan Soto blaster box for you.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

I like last years design better myself. I did get my 2019 Braves though, well the base cards anyway. I still say Topps should use this design for the Opening Day set.

Trevor P said...

I just left a comment on NO's blog that I thought the design of Big League was merely "functional." That was before I got my first look at this year's offering here. This is an awesome design! I love it.

Fuji said...

Those landscape shots are indeed photographic gems. Personally... I think the photography and card backs carry this year's set.

defgav said...

Gotta admit I'm not really digging this set. I can't help but feel like every card is miscut. The design just bugs me.
And some other blogger (GCA?) recently posted about how, cost per card, Big League really isn't as low-end as we'd like to think.

Bulldog said...

I agee. I think they hit it out of the park this year. The design is great and this really is a fun set. I'm still on the fence bout picking up a hobby box but I'll definitely grab plenty of these cards this season one way or another. Some photos on some of your cards and well said - random fun. Great post.

Adam Kaningher said...

I didn't know 2019 was out already. I still have some unopened 2018 lying around because I am so behind.

JediJeff said...

I think that Chris Taylor could be car of the year. Such a great image and well framed.

acrackedbat said...

outside of GQ, I've managed to avoid most everything out there. I love BL this year! I'm a sucker for those pennants too. I see great possibilities for my mini-collections too: geared-up catchers, plays at the plates and floating bats! I have a birthday on the horizon. I'm asking for BL and SC!