Saturday, September 1, 2012

Playing the hits

I try to keep the topics varied on this blog.

It's one of the things that has kept me writing consistently over the last nine months or so. The hunt for that next post idea is what motivates me as a blogger.

As a result, even I find it a bit odd that this is already my third post on Panini Triple Play since its release a couple weeks ago.

And I can't promise that it will be my last.

With the budget-friendly 99-cent price tag, my dad and I have caught a touch of the pack-ripping bug.

There was the original five-pack break after my first day of school.

Then, a few days ago, my dad told me that he'd bought six more packs for me during one of his own recent trips to Target.

Finally, we had an eight-pack bonanza over lunch last afternoon.

That's a total of nineteen packs over the last couple weeks, which might just be a personal record for my collecting career.

As I always say, it helps to have a family who supports this hobby. I've certainly gotten my fill of this set, and it's pretty much all thanks to my dad's generosity.

It's a good thing, because this set has the potential to be one of the greatest of the recent card generation.

Since I haven't seen it get much publicity anywhere else outside of the blogosphere, Triple Play is already bordering on "cult" status, in my view.

One of the greatest things about this set is that there's no chance of getting a hobby-defined "hit" in any of the packs. Even the generic jersey card I pulled in my first helping of Triple Play is still numbered as part of the base set.

Then again, what is a "hit", anyways?

From what I can tell, it's pretty much a catch-all term for any high-dollar pull in the hobby nowadays.

However, a "hit" to me is simply any card that I enjoy. If it's a hundred-dollar HOFer game-used card, so be it.

But most of the time, it's a card like Matt Garza's Triple Play issue.

Those little paw prints in the background are awesome. It might be my new favorite card of Garza.

That's a definite "hit" in my book.

There's a significant correlation to perfect games and card prices.

If I wanted to, I could've sold my dozen Philip Humber rookies for a pretty penny after his perfecto in April.

Even before his perfect game, Felix Hernandez cards were a hot commodity on the market. I can't imagine how inflated the prices have been since.

Everyone wants to cash in on that one big "hit".

You won't pull any huge autographs or jerseys of "King Felix" in a pack of Triple Play.

But I don't think there's any denying that his base card is a "hit".

In fact, it's easily one of the best cards I've pulled this year.

Triple Play isn't the only new set that's hit the market in the last few weeks.

I found a box of Topps Chrome on the shelves of my local Target last afternoon.

From what I hear, the Yu Darvish autograph is one of the big "hits" this year, one that is definitely a coveted item to many collectors out there.

Given that he's on his way to an NL MVP award, I'm sure anything of Andrew McCutchen will command some decent moolah as well.

I've always liked Topps Chrome. There's enough variety there to keep me at least moderately interested.

Still, I just can't bring myself to spend three bucks on a four-card pack. Unless I absolutely love the set, it's probably not going to happen. Plus, it kind of reinforces my point from a post I made a few days ago.

Besides, I'm sure the Chrome base cards will find their way into dime boxes within the next couple months. I'll just pick them up then, as always.

For that same three dollars, I'll take three seven-card packs of Panini Triple Play over that skimpy four-card collection of Topps Chrome.

It's a no-brainer.

I'm still noticing new things about this set.

Whether it was intentional or not, Triple Play managed to pay homage to a tactic of some of the earlier Topps/OPC sets of the '70s and '80s.

Triple Play utilized the old-fashioned way of updating the everyday collector.

The top-right of Hudson's card reads, "Signed by Chicago on 5/22/12".

Lee's card says, "Traded to Miami on 7/5/12".

I can't remember the last time I've seen the "Signed by..." or "Traded to..." footnotes on a baseball card.

It's especially evident that a last-minute change was made to Carlos Lee's base card. After all, I don't see what a rocketship has to do with the Miami Marlins.

Kudos on the "throwback" updates, Panini.

This is probably my favorite "hit" out of all the packs of Triple Play I've opened thus far.

Any one of these would've been a huge add to my collection, but I was fortunate enough to pull one of my favorite current player, Ichiro Suzuki. (By the way, more props to Panini for including his last name on this card.)

The backs of these provide a little snippet of a story from the ballplayer's youth. This one told the tale of how Ichiro wrote a school paper about wanting to be a big league ballplayer when he grew up.

I think it's safe to say that Ichiro's dream has come true.

In this day in age, there's a huge place for "hits" in this hobby.

However, the fact that Triple Play lies outside of that realm is one of the reasons I love this set so much.

I've done a complete 180-degree turn with these thus far. As I described in my initial Triple Play post, I didn't much care for the cartoonish images or lack of team logos. I questioned whether they were even "binder-worthy".

When I wrote that first post, I was somewhere in the middle. I didn't have much of an opinion.

As it stands right now, I'm a full-on supporter of this set. It's broken down some of my pretensions about the industry. While a logo or team name helps, a set doesn't necessarily need them to be successful.

All it needs is something to make it stand out. Something unique.

Some sets might pack their checklist with what some collectors might call "mojo hits" to attract consumers. Interesting to some, but not at all unique in the high-end focus of the hobby these days.

Triple Play did just the opposite.

They looked for the exact opposite in the card market. Panini made a set for the low-end collector, a set that takes the term "unique" to a whole other level.

If the name of this blog is any indication, a set like Triple Play something which I've secretly wanted for as long as I can remember.

Thank you, Panini.

Triple Play has been a breath of fresh air in this current hit-based market.


night owl said...

I think what's telling is how dismissive the "what's new in baseball card news" crowd has been about this set. Too busy talking about the super short-printed atomic bomb refractor of some rookie football dude.

Play at the Plate said...

I've long been an unabashed Panini hater. Still, I like these cards. Nice write up.